Everyone laughs when I take out my camera on a plane. It’s not good – the conditions. You are at altitude moving along at 500 mph shooting through scratched plexiglass with sunglare and cabin reflections. Try a night shot? Oh brother! It’s a slow shutter speed that will surely blur your image. “Every once in a while a blind squirrel gets a nut.” Never give up. I go with a shutter speed of 1/100 sec. Let the ISO run on auto. Press the shutter and hope for the best. Nuts! Yup!
This was my view landing in Jeddah. In the 11 o’clock position (in the traffic circle) is the world’s tallest flag pole. Yes! They made the traffic circle just for the flag. Urban planning? Yup! There is a traffic jam going ‘round that circle every single day and night that lasts for hours and hours. No one can complain to the king? When he goes through his motorcade has a path cleared by the police. It’s nice to be king. Oh! No trees either. There are lots of people.
And now, it gets dark at night. My weather changes. And at night it gets really dark! The view is unpolluted. There are lots of trees. I have to look closely to see any lights in the dark. Nice. I can do this for a while. Serenity. Don’t mess with mine.
I’m on the move this week. Forgot to post in advance. There is some great and grand weather in the Midwest. It’s a few days after the election. I’m still shocked and surprised. I’ll begin to post again in the next few days as time permits. Meanwhile I’d prefer to keep my thoughts to myself. For change it might be better to follow the adage: “if you have nothing nice to say…” So, let’s just talk about the weather.
Never ever! Never ever fly through Riyadh. I said it twice. You have been warned!
It’s a beautiful airport. It is a transit hub that funnels passengers to Jeddah/Mecca. Flights leave from multiple airlines continuously. I arrived from the US on a 6PM flight. My connecting flight to Jeddah was at 9PM. Plenty of time. I watched the board for announcements beginning an hour before the flight. Ten minutes after my flight departed, they posted – “Departed” – on the flight status board. No gate. No warning. No last call. Nothing. They never announced the gate number. This was the start to the nightmare. I caught a flight out at 1AM. Flights leave every hour. My plane was half empty. So go figure. I got to Jeddah airport and was met by the hospital driver. We threw my bags into the trunk. The driver turned to me and asked if I had the keys. No! He called another driver – for a spare key? No! For tools to break into the car! At 4AM we are in the parking lot breaking and entering. Really! It was a long flight made longer by a series of errors.
Never ever fly through Riyadh to make a connection. I have heard horror stories from others. If you feel inclined to ignore the warning….
Did I mention Saudi Arabia is Muslim? And they do not allow any other religious symbols to be displayed. No cross or bible. They are confiscated. And the censors….well I was on Saudi Airlines and a scene was edited with blurred bubbles. What? It was a cemetery. And there were crosses. And all the tombstones were blurred out. Geez. Actually it’s amusing to watch censored movies. You see there is considerable latitude for the particular censor and the movie he blurred. Some will blur a woman’s bare neck. I’m not talking cleavage. Anyway, there is hardly a block where you don’t see a local mosque. My hospital has one built in and available on the ground floor. Hey! Catholic hospitals have chapels. And the minarets are striking and picturesque.
And sunsets are spectacular. A water treatment plant is nearby spewing lots of pollution. My partner always said sunset in Bayonne was spectacular because of the pollution… The minarets all have speakers that blare out prayers at prayer time. Five times a day starting at dawn, they pray. Well, not everyone prays each and every time. But there is plenty of call and plenty of opportunity.
You want weather? I saw weather. Unfortunately, I cannot demonstrate here how absolutely breathtaking it was to drive through. It was dusk. The rain all day lifted enough so that there was no fog at all. The air was crisp and cool. Moist. The sun peeked in from the right and shone under and against the clouds. How special? People were stopping to get photos with their smartphones. We got a full rainbow. I can only show you half.
The clouds were changing rapidly. The light was fantastic but only for a few fleeting moments. Free show! And then it was gone. The clouds were so ephemeral. Storm clouds were still gray with rain to my left. It was nature at its most awesome. Enjoy the show. I wish you were there.
Hoverboard is a term and phenomenon that exploded into my consciousness recently. It was a mythical device shown in the movie Back to the Future. Kids are now on it all over the place. Where have I been? Under a rock, obviously…. And they are dangerous, lots of orthopedic fractures have resulted. There’s video where they explode – unintended of course. But, I digress. I’m catching the sunset at the cornice and there are two guys (yeah, large kids ride these things sometimes) in my frame complete with sunset afterglow and the world’s tallest fountain. Yes, an interesting commentary starts. Old vs new, make way for the modern. Two cultures are clashing, each oblivious to the other. Smart phone in hand, it’s another way of showing that you are cool and ignore the world around you. Sunsets are a dime a dozen. The guys are looking in different directions. The old and the new, someday oil will be exhausted and then what? Yeah, then what? Meanwhile, kids are short because the fall to the ground off a hoverboard is less. I guess I’m too old for this. Or, it’s a long way to fall…
Every night is not excellent. So you go with what nature gives. You need to be on the spot. But clouds are not always cooperative. But as with many things, it is location, location, location.
Then you just have to make lemonade if you are given lemons. I’ve shown you the fountain before. It’s a jet engine and touted to be the world’s tallest fountain. I take pictures of it ‘cause it’s there. Like Everest baby, like Erverest.
So a night later Laura came to visit and we did the sunset again. She’s Julia’s best friend.
And Laura was introduced to the reflection sunset in the glass to which she commented, “That’s a Victor picture.” Her family pays enough attention to acknowledge my cunning use of photographic technique to get different rather than mundane. I didn’t know they noticed. And since Laura’s dad is pretty good with a camera, that is high praise.
There were four of us to watch the sunset, so the mystery fifth is a bonus. Perhaps it was the good fairy of sunset photography going by with a smile.
Here’s a new variation on an old subject. Jules and I walked the beach and the sun sets due west. I was watching the afterglow and noticed the window reflection. Voila! A new perspective and it was an unexpectedly extraordinary find. It’s neat to find something you have never seen before in a scene you have shot so many times. Yup, an old dog learns.