Saturday, March 5, 2011

Crepes - It's why we go to Paris - right?

Took a little sojourn to Paris. And directly after checking into our hotel, we headed out for some Crepes. My personal favorite is a Crepe with Nutella and Banana. Apparently that Crepe is strictly for breakfast and I had to "settle" for a Crepe (well maybe two Crepes) with only Nutella.

About 10% of the enjoyment of the Crepe is watching it be made right before your eyes, 10% is directly eating it right on the street and the other 80% is how ridiculously tasty a big, thin, French pancake with a chocolate-hazelnut filling can be.


It was chilly out - so when the guy making the crepes poured the batter it created that steam

Notice my other crepe - with the Nutella already on and waiting to be eaten!
And my personal interpreter (a/k/a/ my hubby) pays for this culinary delight. Although, moments before this crepe was finished a gorgeous Parisian woman walked into the store and the guy totally dropped our order to wait on her. Needless to say - hubby not impressed. I say - if you are a gorgeous Parisian woman - why not command all attention??? Porque-pas?


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Welcome "Home" - Omaha, NE

Please excuse my lapse in posting. We have had a little change in plans. We have relocated from our beloved New York City to my childhood home of Omaha, NE. This change brings many wonderful things with it, but it also brings some challenges. The biggest begin that, Omaha just does not feel like "home" to me. I know that I grew up here, I know that my family lives here. But Omaha just does not "speak" to me. I look around, and I don't feel anything here. Least of all in the suburbs - they are absolutely distasteful to me. Making a "home" here is going to be a challenge. I don't mean the purchasing of a physical home, but I mean really feeling like I belong here - which I currently don't. This is the first time that I have lived in Omaha without any plans to leave again. Scary.
So having said that, I have set out to find Omaha, and help it speak to me. I relate very well to urban areas. They feel soulful to me - the energy of the people of a city, both past and present make it such a vibrant place.
One issue I have with Omaha is that it is constantly demolishing the old. The past. The history. How will we know where we came from if all there is here are shiny new buildings, perfectly manicured green spaces and factory created "public art"? How inspiring will this be to future generations? Are we even thinking about future generations?

I decided to try and find my place in Omaha. I am not sure how that is going to happen, or how long it will take. I have started by looking at what history is physically left here. Trying to connect somehow to this city that I now call home.

I started downtown this morning. I had no desire to visit the Old Market, Gene Lahey Mall, blah, blah blah. For some reason that all feels very commercial and contrived to me. I am looking for the real nitty-gritty. I went north of the interstate to an area where the history has not completely been wiped out (although Omaha's finest businessmen and political leaders are well on their way to destroying the history here as well) to 16th and California. Hey - by the way - when did Mike Fahey get a street? Oh I guess when he demolished acres of land for his new Baseball Stadium when there was a perfectly good one in the now not so desireable part of town - but I digress....

I neglected to take a picture of the edifice of the buildings here, I was looking for detail - sorry about that. The address is 611 N 16th St. Omaha, Ne - I tried to link the Google map - but alas, it would not work.

1. I looked this building up on the county assessor's website to see what the story was. This building was built in 1900. Making it a grand 110 years old. Not bad for Omaha. Sadly - it is now owned by Creighton University. Which more than likely means that its days are numbered. Creighton does not have a history of restoring the buildings that they purchase. So take a look now - because you never know when the wrecking ball is going to strike this one.
This is the top north-west corner of the building and it looks like, at some point, There was tin hammered to the brick - or maybe the brick was removed, and this is what is under it? I would love to see the room behind those windows!

2. Koory's Variety Store. No further information available online - but it sure would be interesting to know more about it. This was apparenty the last commercial tennant that occupied this building. How long has it been since people painted signs on windows? I don't know, Wal-Mart and Target gave up that practice years ago....

I shot most of these images with my nifty-fifty 50mm prime lens with the aperture wide open! Here is a little depth-of-field "variety". :-)

3. The building next door (which also appears to be abandonded) apparently used to be a hotel. The only remenants of that history that I could detect were the faded, painted letters on the brick beside the door. I am really not a huge fan of a lot of post processing of photos, but I did try this one out in Black and White - and it seemed to work well. I liked it better than the color version. I actually had to use a fill flash to capture the lettering, it was so faded.

Then I walked around to the side of the building. It appears to have been an alley way there, it was brick, but concrete has been poured over the brick - but there are some really cool pieces of Omaha history in that alley. I will get to those in a minute... There is a grassy lot to the north of it now, but I suspect there were buildings there at one time. Hmmm...I wonder who owns that lot??? (My money is on Creighton!)

4.There is a door on the side of the building that must have been the entrance to the apartments. There was a main door, now boarded shut and a screen door.

5. I wonder who tied that piece of fabric there? Were they trying to keep the door open? Or closed?

6.  The alley. The far building is the one that I originally began photographing. But when I reached the alley I say this amazing creeping vine. I have no idea what it is. I scoured the internet looking for a match - but found none. The closest thing I could find was some wild grapes. But the leaves are turning, and they look stunning against the red building behind the primary one. The red building is currently a warehouse for Sols Jewelry and Loan a local pawn shop. This is the back of the building.

7. YOU BUY. Omaha has always been very consumer driven. This is an old painted advertisement on the side of the building, just as you turn into the alley. I could not make out the rest.

8. Berries? Grapes? I don't know, but the vine was everywhere, and has started migrating onto Koory's Variety Shop.

9. The coal shute. Old School.

10. Just totally in love with is creeping vine. Love Autumn colors, and my 50MM prime!

11. I don't know how long it takes one of those vines to grow - but that's a pretty good security system. I doubt anyone is going through that door.

12. Again, the vine. Please forgive me - I am quite mad about the colors!

13. J. What is it? No clue. It was on what looks lilke an old electricity post. But I thought it looked cool.

14. This is one of the two utility hole covers that I found in the alley. This one is stamped OEL&PCo. Anyone? Anyone? OK, I looked it up. The OPPD website says that it absorbed the "Omaha Electrical Light and Power Company" in 1916, when it was formed. I am thinking, that's a really old cover. Kewl. I wonder how many of those are still around?

16. The second utility hole cover that I found reads "Wearne Bros Omaha NEB". I did a little internet digging on this company - and in fact the state of Nebraska has this company listed as a foundry in 1912. Kewl again. Ever seen one of these? I haven't before today!

I spent about an hour making these (and many more that I didn't post) images this morning. And I only walked about 1 1/2 blocks. I was excited to share these images, and my interest has be perked up to find out a little more about the city. Hopefully - I can call it home, and mean it.

Thanks for reading - if you made it this far!!! Please feel free to comment on any of the images, or what I have written. Love to hear from you!

Umm Nidal

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Late day visit to Coney Island

We love going to Coney Island late in the afternoon. Its cooler, most of the crowds have dispersed. We can spend a few relaxing hours enjoying the ocean. This afternoon we had a different experience. We knew that something was wrong when we were walking up the boardwalk and the police helicopter was hovering overhead. Someone was missing in the water - and all the emergency response units were out looking for them. As we got to the water we saw that it was high and very choppy. Not a very inviting ocean to wade in. The waves were coming high up on the beach, and the life guards were keeping people out of the water.

I still don't know the outcome of the missing swimmer. The scene was further down the beach, and we saw all the emergency vehicles leave. We are hoping that they were found.

Note: I have been trying out Flickr for my photo hosting - I am not entirely happy - it seems to boost the saturation and sharpness of the photos - distorting them. Also the URL links don't seem to work from Flickr anymore - or I can't figure out their new system - so I am not able to modify the size, and am stuck with whatever size they give me. Annoying. Grrrrrr......

Here are some pictures of our afternoon:

I found this poor umbrella - clearly planted before the tide came in:


This is another view of this poor umbrella - along with the close of the day at Coney Island:


The Pier


A gull:




Parachute Jump I:


Parachute Jump II:


Very excited to be going to another photography workshop tomorrow at the International Center of Photography. I will be blogging about it!!!

Umm Nidal

Saturday, July 31, 2010

And now, without further interruption.......

YES! I finally found time to blog again. Due to a super-crazy schedule switch a few months ago, I was out of touch for awhile. But I have decided that its time to make a little time for me again, and the things that I love. I want to return to the photos that I took in Algeria - I was not done posting about all the wonderful places that we visited, and now without further interruption......

The Martyrs Monument.

Algiers is city that is built up from its Mediterranean port up into the surrounding hills. The Monument was placed high up in those hills, to look over the city of Algiers. The Martys Monument was built to honor all of the Algerians who died trying to oust the French from Algeria. This monument was constructed for the 20th anniversary of the independence of Algeria. It's breathtaking, and it has a huge public space where people gather, children play and is a wonderful oasis in the middle of a bustling city.

This is the view of the plaza that lies directly in front of the monument. Below the plaza is a subterranean shopping mall and at the opposite end is a national museum.

This photo was taken at the base of the monument, looking up. The three columns represent three palm trees that are sheltering the eternal flame for the Martyrs.

A little perspective.....

The sky was really beautiful that day, it made you feel like you were literally in the clouds!

This is right on the outskirts of the monument, it's an area called Salembeir. It's where my husband grew up and it's a wonderful close-knit community. Where they also enjoy a bit of TV......

Our house. Very, very old-school Algerian. Survived more than its share of earth quakes and keeps on standing. I also have yet to figure out where that bush is coming from. Apparently this is quite charming in Algeria - I just see a really good place for bugs to hide (old-school Algerian bugs) . Ick.

Next up - Jardin D-Essai.  An absolutely gorgeous garden that was in disrepair for years and dates back to the Ottomans - and some say earlier.

Umm Nidal

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Holiday in Algeria - Tomb of the Christian Woman

Hi! I am trying out blogging from Flickr to see how the image quality is here. This series of photos are from our visit to the Tomb of the Christian Woman near Tipaza, Algeria.

There is not a lot of information on the Tomb itself. From what I was able to gather, the Tomb is from the first century, or thereabouts. And was built for the North African King Juba II and his wife, who was the daughter of Cleopatra and Marc Anthony.

Sadly - it has not been taken care of well, and there have been a few attempts to destroy it. But I enjoyed seeing it very much, and hope that Algeria takes care to guard the history within it's borders.

These fellows were much braver than I would ever be!

Nidal, my husband and our Niece Hadyl had some fun climbing.

This photo gives you an idea of the size of the Tomb

The next two pictures are details from stone carvings. The stones appear to be scattered around the bottom of the tomb, You can see them in the left of the picture above. I guess that they may have been scattered there, but attempts to knock the Tomb down. But the carvings are amazing. And it is really incredible to think of someone putting their effort into carving these stones more than 2000 years ago. And they are still here today for us to appreciate. I am sure that my photos don't do them justice.

Algeria has many archaeological treasure. Many are very close to the capital city of Algiers, and many of them allow you to roam among the ruins and see them up close. What a treasure!

Next up - The Monument to the Martyrs in Algiers.

umm nidal

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Grand Central Station

I am going to sneak a non-vacation picture post in here.....

This weekend I had the opportunity to take a class at the International Center of Photography, here in NYC. It's a photography museum and school here in NYC that has been a great help to me figuring out how to use my camera. The class was all about getting the right exposure "in the moment". Which is quite difficult when you are shooting in manual mode. In my point-and-shoot, on automatic, my camera guessed at what the right settings would be - and was right....sometimes. But it's nice to be able to set the 4 components of exposure by yourself. It allows for much better photographs in the end. 

What are the 4 components of exposure? Well, I am glad that you asked! They are:
1. ISO (Sensitivity of the Sensor)
2. Aperture (how bright the light is striking the sensor)
3. Shutter Speed (how long the light strikes the sensor)
4. Depth of Field (the result of aperture, distance from your focal point, lens focal length and sensor size)

Yep - takes lots of practice. 

The teacher we had was a professional photographer named Lester Lefkowitz. Amazing photographer and great teacher. He managed to get permission for our class to photograph inside Grand Central Station. Which, by itself is not prohibited - but it is with Tripods! We got tripod passes! Very cool. So I got to try out my tripod in Grand Central Station. Grand Central Station is very majestic, and very old (by U.S. standards!) It's a favorite tourist destination. Believe it or not, at one point they were going to tear it down. Thankfully, they decided to restore it instead. Here are the results of my morning of photographing:

Early Morning

Chandelier and Skylight

Ghosts in the Passage Way (not really ghosts, just used a shutter opening of 4 seconds. Because I could.

More Ghosts

Carvings on the ceiling

The ceiling is painted this amazing turquoise blue and has constellations painted on it, in gold. Its very striking

Then I wandered down to the lower concourse, and found this grill that was carved out of marble

There is also a famous restaurant called the Oyster Bar on the concourse. I won't go near the stuff - but its easy to find the restaurant, if that's your thing....

I found this bank of phones. I have not seen such shiny clean public phones in NYC for ages. No one was using them, they practically begged me to take their picture....

I said good-bye to the lonely phones...and went back out to the main hall

It was getting busy - so I tried some more long shutter-speed shots. Why not?

The last thing I photographed before we headed back to class was some carved marble I found in the Vanderbilt Hall. The light was very cooperative.

So that was my field trip to Grand Central. Thank You for humoring me. I am processing the next batch of pictures from our trip. 
The Tomb of the Christian is up next....

Umm Nidal