A New Experience….

For years we have been using Netflix, first using the external Roku device that plugs into your TV.  This allowed you to watch thousands of movies for just $7.95 a month.  With the new “smart TVs” an external device is no longer needed as many different apps are built in to the TV.

Within the last year I have ordered different items on Amazon.com and often they would prompt me to become a “Prime” member.  The cost is $99.00 per year and includes free 2 day shipping on items purchased.  I always declined because I didn’t order that much merchandise to make it pay for itself.

AmazonRecently however, I was surprised to find out that for that yearly fee much more is included.  First you can watch unlimited movies on your computer, TV, or other smart devices.  Second you can enjoy free streaming music on your computer or your cell phone, and thirdly you can install the free Amazon Photo app to instantly back up all your photos!

Netflix recently raised their price to $9.99 per month to watch movies, and that’s all you get, just movies.  If you take Amazon’s $99 per year and divide that by 12 months it figures to just $8.25 per month and you get movies, music, and unlimited photo back up.  Needless to say I cancelled my Netflix account and signed up to be an Amazon Prime member.

I used to pay 99 cents or $1.29 per song using Apple’s iTunes.  Now I can download a whole album for free with my Amazon Prime account.

Today everyone in the world with a smartphone are taking billions of photos!  But the one big problem is that we are living in an age of lost photos.  People are carrying around hundreds and hundreds of pictures on their phone, and if the phone crashes, guess what?  Your prize photos are gone forever!  With the free Amazon photo app the minute you take a picture it’s backed up immediately.  That’s great peace of mind!

So, if you like watching movies, love listening to music, want all your photos backed up, and get free 2 day shipping on products ordered, sign up to be an Amazon Prime Member!  Oh, and did I mention that if you have the Kindle app on your device that you have access to over 800,000 free eBooks!  Check it out.

Vacation–May 2016

It’s always fun to get away for an adventure and to create a memory.  We loaded up the car the first week in May and headed Northwest.  The first night we spent in Vegas.  We’ve been there so many times that this time we stayed off the strip, away from the hustle and bustle of wall to wall people and the gambling scene.  It was very relaxing just to stay in the room and do nothing.  (You may click on all photos for a large view.)

#40It’s fun taking secondary roads to really enjoy a trip as opposed to the major highways.  We just took our time, stopping in small towns and taking photos.  The second night we stayed in Ely, Nevada.  After checking into our motel we drove around and explored.  We spent time at the old railway station and enjoyed watching an old locomotive leave the station on a crew training mission.

Twin FallsThe third night we bunked up in Twin Falls, Idaho.  The city was very clean and modern and we enjoyed the short ride out of town to view the falls for which the town was named.

Departing SkylineA couple of days later we parked the car and boarded the Crown Princess in Vancouver, BC for a seven day cruise of the Alaskan inside passage.  This was the skyline as we departed on our voyage.  If you’ve ever been on a cruise, then you know that you can partake of fabulous food 24/7.  It’s an easy way to gain weight!  There are activities all day long while at sea, and entertaining acts in the theater in the evening.

Crown Princess in Glacier BayAfter a day at sea we spent all day in Glacier Bay.  The weather was very cooperating with sunny skies and very pleasant temperatures.  It was a great time on the main deck while people partied and took photographs.  The sight of the snow capped mountains and the glaciers was breathtaking!  The ship was 19 stories high and we our room was on the 12th floor which offered wonderful views as we cruised.

Cruise Ship in Glacier BayThis photo shows the majesty of the mountains in the bay as a sister ship passes in the distance.  The mountains make that ship look awfully small!  Our next three ports of call were Juneau, Ketchikan, and Skagway. The downside was that it rained at all three stops, but we didn’t care.  Got off the boat, opened our umbrella, had fun shopping and having lunch.  On our stop in Juneau there were five cruise ships docked.  With an average of 3,000 passengers each, meant that 15,000 people invaded the city at one time!  Of course many stayed on board because of the weather.

KetchikanHere we are docked in Ketchikan. I took this picture from our 12th floorG&D on the Pier room balcony which illustrates how high we were from the water.  The rain had stopped for a time while we took this photo with a $5 selfie stick we picked up at one of the gift shops.

The cruise was very pleasurable and afforded a wonderful memory.  One of the highlights was meeting a couple from Ontario, Canada.  We spent a lot of time with them and thoroughly enjoyed their company!

After the cruise we back tracked through Vancouver to the US border.  The line of vehicles was very long and itSeaTek at Sundown took over an hour just to be waved on by a border guard.  We spent that night in Seattle right next to the airport.  This was sundown from our window. Being a retired Jet pilot, I got a real kick out of having breakfast the next morning with an Alaskan Airline Captain.  We talked for over an hour about aviation and photography.

From Seattle we headed South and then West to highway 101 which we took all the way to San Francisco along the coast.  The surprise of our lives came when we drove down the coast of Oregon as it was truly unbelievably beautiful!  Although we drove through a lot of rain it didn’t dampen our spirits as we stopped for many photos.

Light House Impression DancersWe drove out of our way to see this lighthouse at Cape Beach South of Light HouseBlanco.  That day it was closed to tourists so I took this shot at the gate which was about 400 yards away.  Turning to the left and looking down the coast was this scene.



Oregon Coast - EditedAnother off highway experience was a short trip to a high lookout.  The rain stopped here but you can see the storm ahead of us as we continued Southbound.

The beauty of the coast and the fact that we took our sweet time made for a real adventure!  So many unique and picturesque towns along the way and we stopped at them all.

Port Orford, Oregon-1024This is Port Orford, where we had lunch and enjoyed this view from the
restaurant’s picture window.  Next door was a visitor’s center where we sat and talked to an older gentleman about the beauty of Oregon's coast.  If you like clam chowder it doesn’t get much better than what we had many times for lunch!

The BeachAt one of our coastal stops we drove right down to the ocean, got out of the car, enjoyed a leisurely stroll, and took pictures.

On top of the hill behind us was a very popular restaurant where we had lunch with this ocean view.  Great salad and seafood.  I just can’t say enough about the Oregon coast!  We will want to do this again sometime. The Mary D. Hume

Further down the shoreline we stopped at Gold Beach.  Another day,
another great lunch.  In the bay close to where we ate was the Mary D. Hume.  She was built in 1881 and served the sea for 97 years!  She sits there today with many stories and memories buried aboard.

Redwood ForestNext we did something we’ve wanted to do for years and that was  driving through the Redwood Forest.  The drive was slow on a very narrow dirt road and sometimes hairy when meeting a car coming the other way, but well worth it!  The trees are some of the tallest in the world and you can see the girth of this big boy!

One of our last stops was in San Francisco where we had dinner with friends we had met on a Mexico cruise we took last year.  That was very enjoyable and the next day we headed home.

If you wanted a really cool vacation, fly to Portland, rent a car, drive down the Oregon coast to San Francisco, then fly home.  This is roughly a 16 hour road trip in which you could take your time to enjoy!

Footnote:  I love the way technology advances everyday, especially with phone cameras.  I lugged my heavy and expensive Nikon DSLR on this vacation, but all these photos were taken with my Samsung Galaxy Note
5. The new Galaxy Note 7 will arrive on August 2nd, and I can hardly wait for the new camera enhancements!

Photo Tips

Note 5-BlogPhotography has experienced a huge change since the transition from film to digital!  In film days every shot would cost you 25 cents.  Now with digital cameras we can shoot away and it costs us nothing.  The lesson here is never take just one shot of your subject.  Take several so you can choose the best one.

Professional photographers are still using DSLRs.  They are expensive but offer many benefits over point and shoot cameras.  The technology is advancing so fast in the photo world that point and shoot cameras will soon be a thing of the past.  Most of the time the best camera is in your pocket or purse, and it’s your smartphone!  With the release of each new phone, the cameras get better and better. 

I am currently using the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, which in my opinion has the best phone camera on the market today.  It even has a pro setting where you can set many options you would find on a DSLR, like exposure compensation, while balance, shutter speed, ISO, etc.

I will give full credit to Steve Jobs, the former CEO of Apple, for the explosion of the popularity of taking pictures, probably with the release of the iPhone 4.  Now the world is taking videos and photos with their phones, but here’s an important point that I’ll bring to the table.  Because of that fact, we are living in an age of “lost photos.”  Why?  Simply because people are carrying around hundreds of pictures on their phone and not taking the time to back them up!  If and when the phone crashes, guess what?  No pictures!  Don’t let this happen to you.  Find out how to back up your photos and even your contacts so you won’t be sorry.

Snapseed2Now on a lighter note, let me tell you about the most exciting thing I have found about taking photos on your phone!  I talk about it in all my photo seminars and I tell everyone I meet about it.  What is it?  It’s a photo editor for your phone and it’s called “Snapseed!”  It’s incredible and it’s free.  You may download it from the Apple store or the Play store if you have an Android.  Rarely do you take a photo that is perfect.  Every photo takes a little editing to make it look its best.  Snapseed comes with 8 tools and 12 filters.  With a few clicks you take that average looking picture and change it to a real “looker!”  Sure it will take a couple of extra moments, but it will be worth it if you want to show off great photos!  Download it, play with it, learn it, and have fun!