The Sun Rises Over La Habana

I had heard prior to my arrival in La Habana that the waves had been crashing onto the Malecón (seawall) with much more force than usual. So naturally, on my first day in the city, I awoke before dawn to trek out along the 8 km long Malecón looking for some good photo opportunities. Sure enough, the waves did not disappoint.  They were colliding mightily against the Malecón, rising up 2-3 meters and splashing out onto Maceo Avenue. A couple of times, as I was setting up to take a photo, I would have to dash out to the avenue to avoid getting drenched. Lucky for me, there were hardly any cars out at this time of the day. Or people either. Just the occasional fisherman standing atop the wall hoping for an early catch. But we were all fortunate to witness a glorious sunrise over the Morro castle. What a great way to start the day.

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Playa Paraiso in Tulum

There is only one road within the jungles of Tulum, Mexico and it runs right along the beach. All you will find on this road are some boutique cabañas and small Mom and Pop restaurants serving up scrumptious fish tacos. No hi-rises or splashy hotels. You can pull over pretty much anywhere and enjoy miles and miles of unspoiled white sandy beaches and turquoise waters. And its been like that for many years in spite of the overdevelopment going on in the Mayan Riviera. I’ve been there many times and this is my preferred spot to lay out. It is called Playa Paraiso (Paradise Beach). That is the perfect name.

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Denise LugoJuly 6, 2013 - 2:20 pm

Tulum

The Fallen Giant

It is hard to comprehend how big the Redwood forest trees are if you have never been there. As you walk around, it is amazing to see the magnitude of these giant trees that have been here for 100’s of years. Most grow to over 300 ft. and some have even been around for over 2,000 years! To get a sense of scale, zoom in to the photo and you can see a young boy in the distance leaning against one of the trees. Just as amazing are the many fallen trees lying about the forest. Imagine being there when of these mighty giants came crashing down through the forest. I wonder if there have been actual witnesses to that. Well, if there have been, they are probably lying underneath the trees now.

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City Night Lights at the Disney Hall

What are the best cities to explore after dark?  I know Paris has a well deserved reputation as the city of lights, but there is always room for others on the list. In downtown Los Angeles, there has been a big revitalization going on in the last 5-10 years.  I remember a time as recently as the 1990’s when you wouldn’t want to walk around downtown after sunset, but now it’s one of the most desirable places to live in LA. I frequently see young people out after dark walking their dogs. If you are out in downtown around midnight, this is one of the city streets you might encounter. Watch out Paris! LA wants your title.

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Last Night of Baseball at Chavez Ravine

I am so excited that another baseball season is upon us. I have always been a big baseball fan and while every city might claim theirs is the best venue to watch a baseball game, I will always prefer Dodger Stadium. It is celebrating its 50 year anniversary this year and it still beats many newer stadiums in providing a great baseball atmosphere. Throw in its long baseball history, the wonderful views of the mountains and the downtown skyline, and Vin Scully calling the play by play and you’ve got yourself a pretty good day at the ballpark.  I took this photo on the last day of the baseball season in 2011. The Dodgers had a tough season but finished strong. Very few fans came out to see this last game. They probably had much better things to do this evening but not me. I was on top of a hill in Elysian Park, in the dark, taking photos, until the police came to escort me out. It hadn’t occur to me that I was the only one there. I didn’t mind. There was no place I would rather be knowing that the Fall and Winter would soon be upon us and the next game here wouldn’t take place for another six months.

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Clarice DaFonJuly 4, 2012 - 5:00 pm

Fantastic picture! I LOVE city night lights! ♥

Rafael BautistaJuly 4, 2012 - 11:45 pm

Thanks @[711343215:2048:Clarice]. This is taken from Elysian Park above Dodgers Stadium. It’s one of L.A.’s hidden treasures. Not many people are familiar with it. I take the kids all the time.

Clarice DaFonJuly 5, 2012 - 3:19 pm

I read your posts last night about it. I can’t wait to go there next time I’m in LA! Btw, how come you’re not in Playa?? Time to take beach and bikini pictures! 😛

Rafael BautistaJuly 5, 2012 - 11:55 pm

I’m not in Playa right now, but I have more Playa photos coming soon.

El Matador

Southern California has many popular beaches with cool names like Oceanside, Newport, and Venice. Then there is this little slice of beach up in Malibu named Matador (Killer). I wonder why someone would give it that name? Maybe it’s because the steep hike to and from will leave you gasping for air. Or it could be the scattered rocks can prove to be quite dangerous for swimmers and surfers alike. I believe it is because the waves come charging at you like a bull does against a matador. That certainly was the case with me. One minute, I was standing stoically on a rock, like a matador, taking photos. The very next minute, the waves came rushing at me like a Pamplona bull run and completley drenched me, almost knocking me off the rock. Luckily my photo gear was not damaged but this ended up being the last photo I took that evening. But it was worth the drenching. I turned and left like a triumphant matador after a hard fought victory over the dangerous bull.

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Manuel Gutierrez NavarreteApril 23, 2012 - 4:31 pm

Hola Rafael, esta fotografia esta de enmarcarse.

Rafael BautistaApril 23, 2012 - 4:34 pm

Gracias, Manuel, por tus comentarios. Me da mucho gusto que te agraden las fotos.

Midnight Drive

It’s tough to get a good photo of the Los Angeles skyline when no one will allow you in any of the buildings. I was trying to get access after work hours to a rooftop at some of the downtown buildings but was not having any luck. Unless you work in a particular building or have special clearance, you will not be allowed in. The security folks at the front desk had no consideration for my artistic endeavors. There are many points around the city where you can admire the LA skyscrapers but I had already photographed them previously. This time, I was hoping to get a photo up close and personal. But it was not to be. The anti-creatives would prevent my artistic vision from being realized. Dejected, I got in my car and drove away. But not before I pulled over and took this photo from the sunroof of my car. I vowed that the next time, I will be taking photos from the sun decks of their rooftop pools. Count on it.

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Twin Peaks

Whenever I visit a city, I try to identify where some of the best panoramic views can be found. Some cities, like Rio, Seattle, or Paris, only have one or two. But in San Francisco there are many spots where you can enjoy some spectacular views of the city. And they are usually free. You just need to have the weather cooperate with you. San Francisco is known for its ever present fog so I lucked out on this day since the skies were clear and the evening lights were just being turned on. It was taken from the South Peak lookout which is part of the hills known as Twin Peaks. If you are ever in San Francisco, make it a point to come here and enjoy the views. Just pack an extra sweater or jacket as it gets very cold up there.

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The Sun Sets on Hollywood

One of the many activities to enjoy around the Los Angeles area are the hiking trails in the surrounding mountains. Of these, one of the most popular and hardest to get to is the trail leading up to Mt. Hollywood and its fabled Hollywood sign. It is located in a residential neighborhood and some of the locals are not to keen on people parking in the very narrow streets to go hiking or take photos of the sign. If you zoom in to the photo, right next to the “Y”, you can make out the unwelcoming greeting to visitors written in chalk on the ground. After the grueling 45 minute hike up to the sign, you are treated to a spectacular view of the Hollywood hills, Griffith Park Observatory and downtown Los Angeles. Did you know there is a lake right smack in the middle of Hollywood? And a pet friendly park popular with locals. While you can dismiss the homeowners complaints and go about your hike, be careful about jumping the fence to get up close to the iconic letters. It is monitored by security cameras and the letters themselves have speakers mounted on them. If you get too close, the speakers will warn you to leave the premises and don’t be surprised if a police helicopter follows.

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The Carpinteria Coast

Driving the California Pacific Coast Highway allows for many scenic views. You can pull over for a break and admire the green and blue hues of the Pacific Ocean or just take your time driving and enjoy the lovely scenery. This is in Carpinteria just south of Santa Barbara. It was taken on a cloudy Father’s Day trip with the family. On this 20 mile stretch you are likely to encounter surfers, campers and seals laying about. There wasn’t much activity on the rocky beach below. Just the usual sound of waves crashing onto the shore. That never gets old.

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