Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Where Sheep May Safely Graze

The Ring of Kerry is perhaps the most visited place in Ireland.  Lots of things to see.  The weather changes so fast that I was blessed by the Good Lord who created the heavens and the earth to allow me to take a photo of the sheep grazing on the green.  Initially, they were sort of bundled together.  Then I think one sheep saw us so it decided to check us out.  True to sheepish behavior, the rest followed.  The formation makes for a great photo op.  Serendipity, perhaps.  Providential, indeed.

Suggested music to go with the image:  Bach, Where Sheep May Safely Graze

Hope your day is going well.

#SimplyTrafalgar #TrafalgarInsider #Nature #sheep #Outdoor

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

She-wolf in Siena

According to local legend, Siena was founded by Senius and Aschius, two sons of Remus and thus nephews of Romulus, after whom Rome was named. Supposedly after their father's murder by Romulus, they fled Rome, taking with them the statue of the she-wolf suckling the infants (Capitoline Wolf), thus appropriating that symbol for the town. 

To keep the twins cool while being nursed, the she-wolf fanned them with her tail.  Thereby inventing the phrase… breaking wind.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Chilling on our holiday


The Brunello is a must-try in my opinion.  It is a wine produced in the Tuscany Wine Country.  Many ages ago, a deadly pestilence wiped out most of the grapevines in Tuscany so they have to import vines from the New World, which would include California.  So the next time you want to impress a date, order  a Chianti, and tell your date that the wine's origin is from California.      

The Punk IPA is all right.  I still prefer the San Diego Brews like the Stone and the Ballast Point.  There was no IPA on tap at the airport so I had to settle for the bottle.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Oh Manchester

Oh Manchester, may you find peace and comfort in the Possessor of Heaven and Earth.

Testing The Cortex App on the iPhone 7 plus

Why iPhone 7 plus

I'm finding myself more and more using the iPhone 7 plus than my other cameras because it so so convenient to carry around.  My iPhone 7 plus can hold up to 124 GB.  The top of the line holds up to 256 GB.  That's like having 10 SD cards.  I also bought extra  200 GB on my iCloud in case I need more space.  I pay less than $3/month for it.

My iPhone photos sync with my iMac automatically using Lightroom Mobile.  It's a smartphone version of the regular Lightroom- essentially the same as Camera Raw.  I could pre-process my images on my smartphone and when I open Lightroom on my iMac the pre-edited images (as well as the un-edited ones) are already there.  I would move the files to an external drive for storage and future editing.

For simple easy editing, I will just use Snapseed app on my iPhone.  It can process RAW files but the edited version can only be saved as jpg, which is fine if I just want to share or post on the web.

It's a nice workflow for me.  Very convenient for a lazy old guy like me. I discovered the benefits of the iPhone after my sciatica flared up during our trip to Northern Italy years ago.  Hauling my 5D and several lenses pretty much crippled me.  So I investigated the Apple iPhone.  I used the iPhone 6 on our Great Britain trip.  But the 6 only shoots in jpg and the image files are only 8 megapixels.  Then the 7 plus came out with 12 mp and RAW capability.  That is why I got it.  It has two lenses.  Approximately a 24 mm and a 50 mm.  I could always get an external lens like close-up or tele or super wide.  But so far the two lenses fill my need.  

Cortex Camera App 

I recently downloaded the Cortex Camera App for my iPhone 7 plus, and have been very impressed with the results.

Cortex Camera has been around for years, but on current generation phones the image-stacking application is what makes this App powerful and user-friendly.

Here’s a glance at what you get:

  • Images stacking anywhere from 10-99 frames. You can choose manually or set to auto for the app to decide for you.
  • Shoots JPEG or TIFF
  • Records raw data (select supporting devices)
  • Supports front facing camera and telephoto lens on iPhone 7 Plus and can toggle quickly between all lenses.
  • Motion compensation for better results when hand—holding during longer shots
  • ‘Enhance Shadow’ option to expose darker areas without looking unnatural
  • Shutter timer
  • Grid overlay.

The above example image was shot with 30 frames, which is the default value for this App.  Since the final image is a composite of several shots, the file size is huge.  I shot the image above in Tiff with a file size of about 90 mB.  This can be problem if the storage capacity of ones iPhone is small.  Hence, the App probably should be used prudently.  As not all images will require photo stacking, this may not be an issue.  Also it is best to use a suitable tripod as always in any photo stacking process.  I happen to just prop my iPhone on a table for this shot, and I was fortunate to get a decent result.

Overall, I think the Cortex Camera App rocks.  At $2.99, it's chump change compared to what it can do.

Using the Portrait Lens of the Cortex Camera.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Boy Peters

Boy Peters was one of the first images I shot back in 2011 that caught the attention of Getty Images.  I never thought of freelancing for Getty so when they asked me to be a contributor of course I was honored.  

I look at this picture and I still like the expression of this young boy.  He is much bigger now.  Not as cute as then.  A bit more demure perhaps.  Why do children become more conscious of themselves when they get older?  


Monday, May 22, 2017

Do You Think I'm Sexy?

Juzno:  Mr Churchill, what kind of cigars do you smoke?

Churchill:  The best, of course.

Juzno:  And what would that be?

Churchill:  Churchill, of course.

#shotoniphone7 #iphoneography #winstonchurchill #windowdisplay

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Enjoying Chianti in Siena, Italy

Siena, like other Tuscan hill towns, was first settled in the time of the Etruscans (c. 900–400 BC) when it was inhabited by a tribe called the Saina. 

The service in Italy's restaurants are generally slow.  (The same can be said of Spain in my experience.)  Being on a tight schedule, Rose and I would at times buy some food to-go and just eat it in the public square.  The nice thing in Italy is one can order a bottle of wine to-go and drink it outside.  Interestingly, almost everyone drinks in Italy, and yet there seems to be no problem with alcoholism.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Chilling out on our holiday (part 2)

The Calasole is another wine from Tuscany.  Not as great as the Vernaccia di San Gimignano, which is produced in the hill town of San Gimignano in Tuscany.  (Sorry but I don't have an image of the Vernaccia as Rose and I ended drinking it right away.)

Still, the Calasole is not that bad.  Plus it makes a great photo subject while waiting at the airport.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Kitchen Sink as Art

Sometimes a mundane chore turns out to be an opportunity for weird creativity.  I was in the process of washing the dishes when I realized that the dirty utensils and stuff on the kitchen sink were assembled in a way that pleased my eyes.  I pulled out iPhone 7 plus and snapped a couple of images.    For this one, I used the camera on the Lightroom Mobile App, which allowed me to capture the image in RAW format.  The photos in the App automatically syncs to my Lightroom on my iMac.  With a few tweeks, I was able to get the result that I had envisioned in my head when I first saw what was on the kitchen sink.  Here is the original unprocessed image:

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Happy Tuesday

Rose brought home some flowers last week and placed them on the kitchen top.  The piece stood there for days until today I decided I would practice my iphoneological skill once again.  Here is how it came out using the Portrait Mode of the iPhone 7 plus:

It's decent but not very exciting.  I do like the Depth of Field feature on the iPhone 7 plus.  But it needs a bit more snap.  So I processed it using Snapseed.  It's a nifty App from Google that can be downloaded for free.  The App was originally made by Niksoftware, which Google bought.  I tell people that Snapped is the best thing since slice bread.  Google continues to expand Snapseed's features.  The latest is the App can now process RAW files.  A big plus I think for photographers who shoots in RAW format.  It's my go-to in case I want to quickly process photos that I took with the smartphone.

Hope your day is going well.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Love is in town

"Language... has created the word 'loneliness' to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word 'solitude' to express the glory of being alone." - Paul Tillich

Friday, May 12, 2017

Two Hail Marys

Statues inside the Basilica S Maria degli Angeli e Dei Martiri in Rome.  The church was a few blocks away from our hotel so we decided to check it on our first day in Rome.  It is not as popular as the Basilica of St Peter or the Sistene Chapel but it has some works by Michaelangelo.  A rare find of hidden treasures if I may say so.  These statues are some of his contributions to this church.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Magic Bike

Rome may not be the art capital of the world but with some imagination it can be.  Taken on our first day in Rome.  I was more interested in the culture and the urban decay of the city.  I did shoot images of the churches like the Basilica of St Peter and the Sistine Chapel and so forth but most of all I love taking photos of bicycles.  Especially ones against an interesting background.

Hope your day is going well.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Windmill Kinderdijk (Repost)

Somewhere in Benelux

Dear Ms Real Estate Person,

I saw this great real estate for rent in Amsterdam.  It's in a small village called Kinderdijk.  It only cost 400 EU per month to rent.  Running water is abundant.  And the building is three-story high.  No central air conditioning though.  But I figured I can fire up the wood stove.  I've never used one before but there are a lot of dead grass around the area so I should be good for ample supply of fuel.  The only caveat - which may not be a real big issue - is I have to maintain the windmill.  How hard can that be?  Just turn on the thingamajig lever and the flags start spinning.  Easy as 1, 2, 3.  I wonder about the running water in this area.  The locals tell me that the entire area could get flooded if I don't operate the windmill every day.  I find this hard to believe.  How can a teeny bit of water rise up so rapidly?  Anyways, I wanted to request you to look into this building more in depth because I think I want to buy it.  Yes, I'm quite serious.  I want to move to The Netherlands.  I've been practicing on drinking Dutch Beer and have been able to tap dance well on wooden clogs - and this I can do after a couple of rounds of beer.  A group of women are a delight to see.  They stand around and you can see them through the windows as they beckon you to come in their house.  It's proof that no central heating is required as one could not help but notice the summer clothes they are wearing.  I do find their taste for summer clothing a bit too revealing.  Never mind.  I am really more interested in fixing up the old windmill.  That should keep me busy for a while.  Please let me know as soon as possible what you find out.

Sincerely Yours,

Originally posted April 22, 2015

Monday, May 08, 2017

Earl while his mojo is working

Juzno:  Can I make a request?

Earl:  I don't do request. Can't you see that I'm a hip old jazz artist portrayed in classic film-noir black and white?

Juzno:  How did you get those streaks behind you?

Earl:  I don't know but every time I play the sax they seem to follow me.

Juzno:  You really are a hip old jazz artist.  Are you portrayed in colored?

Earl:  Never.  Colored is a bad word.

Juzno:  Oh.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Man as Abstraction (Repost)

“An artist is a man who tries to express the inexpressible. He struggles and suffers knowing that he can never realise his most perfect ideal.” – Alvin Langdon Coburn, 1916

I think that Coburn was right to some degree. Without stating the obvious, he implies that the artist will never be content with his art. What I disagree about Coburn’s statement is that his reason for discontent is based on his assumption that man’s intelligence will continue to expand in the light of more perfect knowledge of himself and the universe. I think that it is precisely this expansion of man’s knowledge that he talks about that will drive man to despair and anxiety. As I look at myself and as soon as I’m past my physiology, and if I am truly honest with my assessment, the more I learn about my condition and the environment I am in, the more things don’t make sense. The more I strive to achieve the perfect art form, the more I realize that such pursuit will likely result in vain.

Originally posted April 19, 2012

Friday, May 05, 2017


“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” 
Søren Kierkegaard

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Jojo and his magic harmonica (Repost)

Jojo was a man with tweed polyester slack and 70's disco era polyvinyl shirt.  We called him the Walking Plastic Show, and everybody loved him.  Once he showed up in our neighborhood with a junk harmonica he traded with a Traveling Shaman.  He played all kinds of weird notes and told us that they were called blues notes.  We have never heard of the blues before but we called the sound Chinese Rock and Roll.  The notes never made sense to us.  But the sound was magical.  It made us forget who we were.

The last time I saw Jojo, he was married to Sweet Loretta Mollie who thought she was a woman but she was another man.  Jojo told me that he was leaving his wife to sail to Xianggang Guangzhou to become a monk.  I have never heard from Jojo again.  I would like to think that he is still playing his magic harmonica with those weird notes to the place where he had found peace.  Selah.

Originally posted March 30, 2015, February 13, 2016

Monday, May 01, 2017

Seeking Refuge in Canal Wyndham

Canal along Wyndham Hotel, Amsterdam.  Shot with Fujifilm Xpro-1, 35mm.

Somewhere in Amsterdam

Dear Lonely Hearts Editor,

It's been a few weeks since I last wrote to you about my prospect of moving in with Joe of Oregon.  It turned out that he was not what he claimed to be.  He has a wife with six children.  The oldest is 24 years old and still lives at home.  His youngest child is a paragon of nuisance.  I believe that the character Dennis the Menace was inspired by him.  One time while we were having dinner at Joe's house, without my knowing it the kid tied my feet to the chair.  I then realized that he tried to light a couple of matches that were stuck on my sandals.  Good grief.  I have since left Joe as it was obvious to me that this kind of arrangement would not work out.  I needed some space to clear my head so I decided to flee to Europe.  Right now, I am somewhere in Amsterdam.  I am currently writing this missive as the sun is about to rise.  It is a gorgeous sight to see.  The canal is clean.  The locals tell me that the water is potable.  That is good to know.  I think I will stick it out here for a while.  In the meantime, I would like to renew my subscription to the Lonely Hearts Magazine.  Alas, I am again a proud owner of the Lonely Heart.  Please send it to the address above.  As I may be in different places in the next few months, I will advise you on my new address.

Sincerely Yours,

© 2015 Rob Castro