Friday, October 28, 2011

Santa Monica Pier

After two more days of conference, I decided I needed a break. A local suggesting renting a bike and riding along the shore. I thought this was a good plan.

I headed toward the beach, and found myself next to the Santa Monica Pier. This is a stereotypical fair/tourist trap location, with colorful characters, memorabilia shops, restaurants, and of course an amusement park.

It was a sunny afternoon, so I soaked a bit of the atmosphere on the pier itself.

When I got to the bike rental place, it turned out they close early, and so I had to change my plans. Instead I took my shoes off and went to explore the beach.

Below the Pier there was a forest-like maze of wooden posts that held the structure together. The receding tide exposed mussels and barnacles growing on the base of the columns. The local seagull population used the opportunity to explore various food options.

Walking along the beach, there were large number of seagulls roaming the water line.

Returning to the columns, I discovered several large sea stars hiding among the mussels.

Few local kids collected stars into a large pile. I am not sure if this ecologically correct (although I assume that the fact that these stars survive here means that they are resistant to such exposure). However, it gave me a nice photo oppertunity.

The forest like feeling of the pier structure led to games of light and shadows.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Getty Villa

From New England I continued to Los Angles. It has been a while since I last visited here. Since I was in town for few days I got a chance to go on few excursions.

One of the destinations I wanted to go to for a while is the Getty Villa. This is a museum built by Paul Getty near the Malibu coast in the late 60s. It is built as a replica of a Roman Villa from Pompai with the aim of accurately reflecting how that Roman nobel house looked at the time.

I remembered the Villa very strongly from a childhood visit. When I revisited Los Angles few years ago I learned that it was closed for renovation. It reopened in 2006, after almost 10 years of renovations. And so I took the rental car and drove to the museum.

This was also an excuse to try out my new camera. It is a "mirrorless" camera, a new generation that attempts to combine classic dSLR with compact camera. This is a very small camera, but with exchangeable lens of good optic quality. I wanted to see what I can do with it.

The Villa is surrounded by a formal garden with pools, shaded walkways, and many sculptures.

The house itself is built around a center courtyard with its own pool.

Inside there were display of the large Roman/Greek collection.

From the second floor balcony I could finally capture the size of the large formal garden.

The dining hall was a room that had views to both the inner and the outer gardens. Its ceiling was decorated by elaborated painting, and the floor was colorful marbles.

Going back out to the garden, the sun was low on the horizon, and very few people about.

On my way back toward the city, I was driving next to the sea shore. I could see large pelicans hovering over the water. I decided to stop and enjoy a bit of the shore before continuing. My camera did not have the zoom lens for capturing pelikans, but I did get to see many other water fowl.

It was a good thing I took a break, because immediately after I hit the notorious LA rush hour traffic. It took me over an hour and half to drive back (the outgoing drive was 20min).

Saturday, October 22, 2011

New England Weekend

Traveling to a conference in Los Angles, I stopped to spend the weekend in the Boston area. This was a chance to catch up with friends/colleagues. We did get a chance to get outside as it was a nice fall weather.

On Saturday we attended the Head of the Charles Regatta --- a traditional rowing boat competition with teams from all over the US (and some from abroad). Usually this fall event has terrible weather, but the day turned out to be sunny and nice. We didn't pay too much attention to the rowing, but enjoyed the crowed and the fair-like atmosphere.

On Sunday we drove to the country to a farm to collect pumpkins. Here fall colors were clearly noticeable.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Weekend Diving in Eilat

The last few times I dived (e.g., in the Gubal Area or Cyprus) I felt that my photography was off. I recently got the new (totally rewritten) edition of Martin Edge's "The Underwater Photographer". I read it from cover to cover. This is considered, for good reasons, the best book on the subject.

This long weekend trip was a chance to exercise some of the ideas and principles I read about while they were fresh in my mind. I felt that the result was a pleasant improvement.

Lion fish and soft corals

Frogfish sitting on an old rope knot 

Featherstarts (crinoidea) on a coral 

Many small shrimps

Tiny goby on a whip coral

A "night feather"

Frogfish at night, with extended bait

Trumpet fish displaying night pattern 

Large gorgonias 

Glass fish and soft coral

A fish hiding in the sand