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From Rio to the Rainforest - Second Stop: Rio de Janeiro

Teddie Watts

Our trip from Iguazú Falls to Rio was relatively uneventful.  Free-for-all boarding (instead of by seating zone) of the airplane is a bit unsettling, like musical chairs ? will I have a seat when the music stops??? 
 

Guide

Rio de Janeiro translates as “January River.”  Europeans first encountered Guanabara Bay on January 1, 1502.  The city was the capital of Brazil from 1763 to 1815 during the Portuguese colonial era. A later blog will have pictures of Petropolis, also known as the Imperial City of Brazil.  The Summer Palace of the second Brazilian Emperor is located there.  The population of the city of Rio de Janeiro is about 6,000,000.  Rio was Brazil’s capital until 1960, when Brasília took its place (a later blog will be on Brasília).  Residents of Rio are known as Cariocas.  Our local guide in Rio, Celso, was a good example of Cariocas.  He was always happy, interested, and quick to dish ?the gossip? about local people and places.
 

Castle

Sand

 

The city is divided into the historic downtown (Centro); the tourist-friendly and commercial South Zone with Rio?s famous beaches; the residential North Zone; and the West Zone.  There are large sand castles on each of the beaches.
 

 

Wall

 

Wall colors

 

Most flat surfaces in the city are covered with graffiti, and many buildings have security fences.
 

 
When we arrived at the hotel we met the rest of our group, as Iguazú Falls was a pre-trip excursion.  After lunch by the hotel pool we departed for the Urca district where we boarded cable cars to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain.  The 360-degree view was fabulous.
 

 

 
The next morning we took a cog train ride through Tijuca Forest up Corcovado Mountain to the lookout where the towering statue of Christ the redeemer stands.  The Obamas had been there the day before.  I got a face-on picture of the statue, but I thought the one from behind was more interesting.
 

 
The view from the café near the statue was spectacular.

 
In the afternoon, after a fabulous lunch at the famous Cafeteria Colombo (with a table full of different desserts), we toured Colonial Rio.  I didn?t take many pictures of the Baroque architecture, but got a couple of good shots of local color.
 

 
According to Celso, the top apartment once belonged to Carmen Miranda.
 

 
Girls of Ipenema!
 

 
The interior of a city government building.
 

 
In the evening, there was an optional tour of Rio by Night that included dinner at a typical local Brazilian restaurant.  Along with an extensive buffet of side dishes, waiters bring skewers of a variety of grilled meats and slice them on your plate for as long as you can eat!
 

 
After dinner we went to the ?Plataforma 1? theater for a folklore and carnival show.  We got a real taste of what Carnival must be.  The costumes were fabulous.
 

 
I took a couple of shots from the balcony off of our room at the hotel.  Two are the beach the other is a slope to the left of the hotel covered with a shantytown, or favela.  According to Celso, working class Cariocas live in these towns, as rent in the city is prohibitively expensive.
 

 
Bye for now.  Our next stop is Petropolis, the Imperial City.


From Rio to the Rainforest ? Or My 2.5 weeks in Brazil

Teddie Watts

Recently club member Teddie Watts traveled to South America the blog below tells about her trip and shares some images from the adventure.

From Rio to the Rainforest

Our grand adventure began at the intersection of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay, where the Parana River joins the Iguazú River.  Prehistoric lava flows created tiers of rock that became 275 different waterfalls shared by Argentina and Brazil, as the Iguazú River separates the two countries.  The separation caused a bit of a delay, as we had to clear emigration/customs both going into Argentina and then going back into Brazil (but my passport got a new Argentina stamp).  A small train took us from the park entrance to the falls.

From Rio to the Rainforest
 

Brazilian people were so friendly; I was given this beautiful baby to hold on the train to the falls.


 

Our visit to the Iguazú Falls included both the Brazilian and the Argentinean sides of the falls.  Numerous, long catwalks are built on both sides providing close views of the great waterfalls.  Some catwalks were ¾ of a mile in length.  The sides fold down to protect them when the river floods.  This was one aspect of the trip that was hard to visualize.  When we went in March, at the start of the rainy season, the rivers were already high. (The Amazon and Rio Negro showed marks on the trees a good 9-10 feet higher than what we saw.)  Argentina had most of the catwalks while Brazil’s walks mostly focused on panoramas of the Argentinean side as well as close-ups of the thunderous Devil’s Throat.

From Rio to the Rainforest

Devil?s Throat: When Eleanor Roosevelt saw the falls she reportedly said, ?Poor Niagra.?

From Rio to the Rainforest

From Rio to the Rainforest

We had the opportunity to go on the Macuco Safari, a guided tour in the Brazilian Iguassu National Park. It involves a trip of 2 miles through the forest in open trucks followed by transferring to a safari-type 4-wheel drive truck to get down to the river.  After clambering down the riverbank and across a narrow, partially submerged ramp to a floating pier, we got into BIG lifejackets and into an inflatable boat.  The boat took us upstream to see the Devil?s Throat from the bottom of the falls.  We had magnificent perspectives of the falls.  Our boat cruised along the bottom of the falls—surrounded by them with the water hitting the end of the boat.  The noise was deafening and the movement of the water and heavy mist was awe-inspiring.  Actually it was more exciting than some folks expected, and one woman stood up and said, ?I have to get out of here!?   
 
This website includes videos of the falls from different locations. 

From Rio to the Rainforest
 

The day before the boat trip, a boat from the Argentine side of the falls hit a rock and capsized causing several deaths.  We could see the investigation of the accident from above.

From Rio to the Rainforest
 

This is our tour group.

From Rio to the Rainforest
 

Our three days in Iguazu went by quickly.  In the evenings after sightseeing we sat by the hotel pool and ate pizza, drank wine, and got acquainted.  On the third day, we left for Rio de Janeiro.

From Rio to the Rainforest

If you look hard, you can find Foz do Iguacu toward the bottom of the colored area.

From Rio to the Rainforest

Looks like a great trip - thanks for sharing Teddie!


Capturing an Outer Banks Sunset

Lisa Snider

Nearly every year for the last 18 years, my immediate and extended family has made a summer pilgrimage down to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We make this trip in early June, renting the same large house in Kill Devil Hills, affectionately known as The Sound Crab. The Sound Crab is a multi-level house on stilts, with two wrap-around decks and a crow?s nest, offering a spectacular view. It also features a private pier which leads down to the Albemarle Sound, which stretches out far and wide behind the house.

From early evening until dusk, the pier is a peaceful place to sit and stare out at the Sound, letting your cares drift away. The water is shallow and still and while sitting here, you face the West. I have watched as a lone Crane fishes for his dinner, and enjoyed watching the fish jump at sunset, making tiny circular splash rings that grow larger as they land. 

The ?golden hour? is my favorite time of the day, and while I enjoy daydreaming on the pier, my favorite activity is to photograph all that I see and experience during this sweet time of day. With my camera in tow, I love to walk down to the pier, or find a spot on one of the decks of the house, or perhaps climb up to the crow?s nest, and patiently watch as the sun begins to dip behind the trees which line the far side of the Sound.

As the sun sets, the magic begins. I have photographed the most beautiful sunsets from these vantage points, more beautiful than any sunsets I have experienced at any other location, including on our cruise to the Caribbean, or my trip to the famed Key West, Florida.

Back in 2006, I was rewarded with my greatest sunset photographic experience, to date. It was our last night at the Sound Crab, and my last chance to capture the sunset over the Sound. It had been a cool and cloudy week and the sunsets, thus far, had been unremarkable. As we drew closer to sunset, I readied my camera equipment and waited hopefully, perched high up in the Crow?s nest. 

I watched the sky and grew excited. As the sun began to slip downward, the sky turned beautiful hues of blue, pink, purple and yellow, and I witnessed one of the most beautiful sunsets I had ever seen. I pressed my shutter button in rapid fire succession, trying to capture all of the beauty unfolding in front of me.

Far below my perch in the Crow?s nest, my mother and daughter sat on the pier, taking in the same beautiful scene, but from a different vantage point. They marveled at the sunset but also at a fisherman, who floated by the pier in his small boat. His image was reflected by the setting sun on the surface of the water, and added such a wonderful point of interest to the scene, something I had never photographed before.

I worked quickly to try and capture every angle of light, every square inch of the scene. Realizing that my aerial view would make a wonderful panorama, I was careful to shoot the pictures so that they ?overlapped? one another horizontally, so I could piece the pictures together in my software, later. I stayed outside to shoot until the light had completely faded away, and the mosquitoes began to fancy me as their dessert!

Once back at home, I could not wait to open all of my images in Photoshop Elements 5. I enjoy ?playing? with an image in my software after capture as much as I do taking it. I love to add and subtract elements from my photographs, and enhance or subtract color. When I am finished, I have created something far greater than what I started with ? sometimes, a work of art!
     
After opening all of the images, I created a new, blank landscape document, and copied and pasted the images from 4 different photos onto the new, blank document. By hand, I lined the photos up so that they overlapped, thereby creating a new, large, panoramic image. I ?zoomed in? on my new panoramic image, and spent a great deal of time trying to get the placement right, moving the individual layers, as necessary. After I was satisfied, I flattened the layers.

I loved the image of my daughter and mother sitting on the bench together; however, I had a picture of my Dad sitting in that exact spot on the bench, from a previous trip. What a wonderful Christmas gift this panorama would make, I thought, if I copied and pasted my Dad into the image, sitting next to Mom on the bench. While I would be taking some creative license with this adjustment, I knew that they both loved experiencing the golden hour in OBX, and I was sure they would love a photograph capturing that memory.

I located the older digital photo of Dad, and used the magnetic lasso tool to carefully draw an outline around my Dad. Then, I zoomed in on the panorama target image, and used the copy and paste tools to copy his image, and paste it into the new panorama. Using the move tool, I moved the image and placed it on top of my daughter?s image, and then resized the image to match that of my Mom, sitting on the bench.

After I was satisfied that the size and placement of my Dad in the image was correct, I flattened the image. Finally, with the image still ?zoomed in,? I did some tweaking of the shot with the clone tool, to make sure the elements from the various pictures blended together seamlessly. Lastly, I used the Sharpen tool, to sharpen the image, and then saved it has a high resolution (300 pixels) JPEG, as I planned to print it. 

In order to present this panorama as a gift, I would need to have it professionally printed and mounted. I decided on a gallery-wrapped canvas, and used Penn Camera in D.C. to create it. They did an excellent job with it. My parents were thrilled when they opened my canvas - a ?work of art? depicting their cherished memories. The results can be seen below.

Outer Banks Sunset

If you haven?t tried creating a panorama image from a series of your landscape shots, give it a try. The newer digital cameras feature a Panorama setting (?Panorama Assist? on my Lumix camera) which provides a grid on the view screen, enabling you to easily line up your landscape photos to overlap, at capture. The newer software, such as Photoshop Elements 8, offers a Photomerge tool which will align the photos automatically, or you can do the alignment by hand, as I did. Finally, have your image professionally printed on high quality paper or canvas and Ta da! - You have created your own work of art, suitable for hanging.


An adventure in the belly of a lighthouse

Guy Stephens

Lighthouse columnClub member Megan Snider (also the club’s secretary) is not only a very talented photographer, but also a superb writer.  In fact when not taking great photos of food Megan is a full-time editor and columnist for Southern Maryland Newspapers.  Additionally Megan not only writes for her own blog, WriteMeg a book review website but also contributes regularly to the club’s blog.

Recently Megan authored an article titled “Right in the belly of a lighthouse” for the Southern Maryland Newspapers.  The article tells the story of a field trip Megan took with the Calvert Photography Club to the Calvert Marine Museum.  I highly suggest you read the article which is a great story about Megan conquering her fear of heights to enjoy the view from the Drum Point lighthouse.


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