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Morning photo: Old stuff

Relics …

The stones of this abbey courtyard in Austria tell their own story.

FRISCO — In a change of pace from the recent series of Summit County scenics. we’re digging back in the archives and looking for some old stuff — not just old photos, but photos of old things, like the centuries old courtyard of an Austrian abbey founded several centuries before Columbus set sail to the New World. Traveling in Europe and visiting some of the ancient monuments always gives me a fresh perspective on history, helping me understand the transient nature of what appear to be even the most urgent current events. As much as we may haggle and shout over the topic du jour, it’s always worth considering the bigger picture. Continue reading

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Morning photo: World Heritage

Around the world with Summit Voice

Corfu has a reputation as a hedonistic hotspot for northern Europeeans, but with cultural roots stretching all the way back to the Byzantine era, the old town's designation as a World heritage site is well-deserved. Click on the pic for more.

SUMMIT COUNTY —UNESCO’s World Heritage program is one of the worthwhile tourism endeavors that I’m familiar with. By choosing landmarks with cultural or environmental significance, the organization draws attention to some of the planets most cherished sites. In Colorado, Mesa Verde is the only World Heritage site so far, and the “black helicopter” crowd isn’t making it easy to suggest additional spots. I don’t really catalog the sites I’ve visited — in fact in some cases, I’m not even aware that a place is listed as such. But most of them are pretty cool places to spend a few days whether they’re listed or not.

The entire Dutch island of Texel is listed as a World heritage site for its extensive and undisturbed coastal dune ecoystem. Click on the pic for more.

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Morning photo: Neolithics

Building blocks …

A stone arch window in the wall of Ali Pasha's catle overlooks the Albanian city of Butrint.

SUMMIT COUNTY —Stone is such a fundamental part of the human experience that an entire age was named after it, coinciding with the emergence of Homo sapiens as tool-using animals.

Though we’re now living in the age of information and technology, we’re still surrounded by structures that were built of stone thousands of years ago — cathedrals, walls, spiritual sites — that will probably remain long after the last computer chip sizzles into oblivion.

At our worst, we use stone as a symbol of power and control; to imprison, enslave, and in the worst case, to kill our fellow man. It’s no wonder stone figures so prominently in some of the essential mythologies and religions of various cultures, from David and Goliath, Uluru  and Medusa, to the stone figures on Easter Island.

So how about a definition: The hard, solid, nonmetallic mineral matter of which rock is made, esp. as a building material.”

And here’s another, from Merriam-Webster online: 1: a concretion of earthy or mineral matter: a (1) : such a concretion of indeterminate size or shape (2) : rock b : a piece of rock for a specified function: as (1) : a building block (2) : a paving block (3) : a precious stone : gem (4) : gravestone (5) : grindstone (6) : whetstone (7) : a surface upon which a drawing, text, or design to be lithographed is drawn or transferred.

Today’s photo essay was prepared for the #FriFotos Twitter chat started by @EpsteinTravels. The weekly social media gathering features a different theme each week. It’s become one of the liveliest venues on the web, with hundreds of travelers and photographers sharing their interpretations of each week’s topic. I wasn’t sure how many stone-related photos I’d be able find in the archives that are worth posting, but in the end, there was quite a trove of interesting shots. Continue reading

Morning photo: The Blackberry trail

Cell phone cameras have come a long way

Autumn rains spurred a wildflower bloom at the start of the Mediterranean rainy season on the Greek Island of Corfu.

SUMMIT COUNTY — Scrolling through my Blackberry, I found a trove of photos that I’d nearly forgotten about. It’s quite amazing what a halfway decent phone camera can do, as long as the light is good.

That’s what my dad emphasized when he gave me my first camera when I was 12: “Make sure the sun is shining over the back of one of your shoulders,” he said.

I carried that Asahi Pentax Spotmatic everywhere for a few years, trying time exposures on city streets, looking for snowy scenes in the Taunus Mountains outside Frankfurt, and playing with the aperture to adjust the depth of field and find the sweet spot of the lens. Eventually I learned that you can break the rules sometimes and still get a good shot.

Most of these images were lightly post-processed in iPhoto, just to tone down some of the highlights and sharpen a few edges here and there. Continue reading

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