Category Archives: Photography

These posts are meant to display photographs I’ve taken.


Our next stop after Vienna was Bratislava, capital of Slovakia. Frankly, I found Bratislava intimidating, because it was the first time I’d ever been in a country where the written language (on signs and so on) made no sense to me.  I understand enough German and French to get by; in Amsterdam the language was close enough to German for me to guess at meaning (don’t tell the Dutch that!); anybody who lives in California has some idea of Spanish.  But the Slavic languages are a mystery to me.  Fortunately everyone I really needed to talk to spoke English.

The earliest recorded town in this location was founded by Celtic tribes around 200 B.C.; when the Roman Empire expanded this far north, the town became part of the Limes Romanus, or the border of the Empire. The town has had at least four names over its history; the country has only been independent since the Velvet Divorce in 1993.

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Also posted in Personal, Vacations Tagged |

St. Stephen’s, Vienna

Between tours we had some time to explore St. Stephen’s Cathedral.  The current form of the cathedral dates to the mid-14th century, a combination of the Romanesque and Gothic styles.  The first church on the site was consecrated in 1147.  The Wikipedia article has detail on the cathedral’s ring of bells, which is still in use, although we didn’t hear it.  I’ve been interested in church bells since reading Dorothy Sayers’ The Nine Tailors.  The Wikipedia article has much interesting information about the cathedral.

In some towns, the Dom or the church is up on a hill (so people can take refuge in it when the river floods).  I didn’t check the topo map for Vienna, but the Dom here is right downtown, in (of course) the Stephensplatz.  In fact it’s right across the square from some of the most modern architecture you can imagine:

St. Stephen's, Vienna

St. Stephen’s, Vienna

The bulgy glass edifice is Hans Hollein’s “Haas Haus.”  Wikipedia doesn’t have much on it, and neither did any of the tourist sites I found when I Googled it; it’s just a building.  It seems to have been built deliberately to reflect the Dom.

Notice the elaborate tile patterns on the Dom roof.  You’ll see it again in Budapest, where it’s even gaudier, when I get that tour posted.  I don’t know if that’s a Central European thing or what.  None of the other cathedrals had patterned tile roofs.  Notice also the three black gables with Gothic arches, on this side of the Dom below the tile roof.  Those are not black because they’re in shadow.  They’re black because they haven’t been cleaned yet, from seven hundred odd years of wood and coal smoke!  That’s what the scaffolding is all about, next to them.

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Also posted in Vacations Tagged |

Driving Around Vienna

Well, not entirely – but a good deal of our “Vienna city walk” was done on a bus, hence the odd things that sometimes appear in my photos.  You’ll only see the ones I could reasonably salvage.  If you just want to go look at photos, you’ll find the Vienna gallery at this link.

The first thing we saw as we turned into town was the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, in Mexicoplatz:

St. Francis of Assisi Church, in Mexicoplatz

St. Francis of Assisi Church, in Mexicoplatz

Also known as the Kaiser Jubilee Church and the Mexicokirche, it was built around the turn of the 20th century to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria, and consecrated in 1910.  I was interested because of the combination of church styles:  all those round arches are very Romanesque, and yet it has a handsome set of flying buttresses, usually associated with the later Gothic style.  The bus turned a corner, and we continued our tour.

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The Wachau Valley and Dürnstein

Having left Melk Abbey around noon, we sailed on down the Danube toward the Wachau Valley.  This was the first day we had had unfettered access to the soi-disant “sun deck,” and of course it was overcast, although by the time we set out the rain which had poured down on Melk had slacked off.  As usual, this post includes some but not all of the photos I took that afternoon; you can find more of them at the gallery Dürnstein and Wachau Valley.  You can also see larger versions of anything in the gallery.

on the Danube

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Also posted in Vacations Tagged |

Melk Abbey

Melk Abbey is a famous Benedictine abbey in Austria, in the town of Melk on the Danube River.  (Well, famous to the cognoscenti; I never heard of it before the trip.)  I can’t give you the panoramic photo from across the valley because, first, we never saw it until the buses dropped us in the parking lot, and second, the day we visited, it rained buckets, off and on.  Here’s a view of the town and the river, from the walls of the abbey, part way through the tour.  If it looks as though rain is pouring down, it is.

Melk, from Melk Abbey

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Museumsdorf Bayerischer Wald

Museumsdorf Bayerischer Wald translates as “Museum Town Bavarian Forest” – isn’t the German nicer and more euphonious?  This is an open-air museum some miles from Passau, in Tittling.  (Yes, really.)  The bus ride took us about an hour, as I recall, through the Bavarian countryside.

Bavarian countryside

You can barely see a range of hills through the mist – we were told that was in the Czech Republic.  It was a lovely day if rather warm.

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Also posted in Personal, Vacations Tagged |

Visiting Passau

We were supposed to dock in Passau at 9:45 AM and spend two and a half hours walking around the town and attending a noon organ concert at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, before returning to the ship for lunch.  You’ll find all my photos in this gallery.

I’ve mentioned before that we had trouble with traffic jams at locks.  At 9:45 that morning we were stuck in a major traffic jam at (I’m fairly sure) the Kachlet lock on the Danube, just upstream of Passau.  I don’t know exactly how long we stayed there; my diary says that “we” (the passengers) suspected the Embla of paying off the barge Loretta so they could use its dock long enough to offload the passengers into buses.  No proof of this except a photo of the Loretta, floating near the dock.

The barge Loretta

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Also posted in Vacations Tagged |

Sunset over the Bay

I took these photos on October 12 – that’s how long it takes me to get around to things.  On October 12 I attended the Oakland East Bay Symphony‘s 25th Anniversary Gala (I’m a board member of the parent organization, East Bay Performing Arts).  The Symphony decided to have its Gala in the new Penthouse suite in the remodeled U.C. Berkeley Memorial Stadium; and I figured it was the only chance I’d ever get to see the penthouse suite, since I don’t attend Cal football games, and if I did I’d be sitting in the cheap seats.  I’m also annoyed at the U.C. Regents for (among other sins) spending all that money to reinforce a stadium which is still sitting Right On the Hayward Fault – the fault trace runs the length of the oval.

But it was a nice party, and the food was good, and the view as the sun set was amazing.  I’ve taken panorama photos of San Francisco Bay on other occasions (see my gallery Views of S.F. Bay, which includes these photos and a few more from this session), but usually I’m using my Canon T3i or its predecessor.  In this case the only camera I had was my old smartphone, an HTC Droid Incredible 2 (since replaced).  Also, I’m usually somewhere on Grizzly Peak or Skyline Boulevard, looking down from a much higher vantage point. I think I got pretty nice photos that evening, I hope you agree.

Here’s the Campanile at dusk:

Campanile at dusk

The Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands:

San Francisco Bay

And the Campanile as the lights came on:

Campanile lights

By that time it was getting too dark for my measly phone camera to cope, so I quit.  But it was a lovely evening.

Also posted in Neighborhood Tagged |

The Shirt King of Oakland

Walking along Lakeshore Avenue the other day, I passed a dry cleaners’ window I hadn’t noticed before:

shop window

The actual sign said “George’s,” above the motto, but I couldn’t get it with my phone without stepping out into the street.

The window caught my eye because of the old laundry equipment.  You can’t see it from this angle, but the iron with its cover flipped back is full of charcoal briquettes (probably originally lumps of coal); that’s how you ironed laundry before electricity. A friend of mine once lived on a boat – when I visited them I saw her Coleman iron, a mid-20th century version of the coal-fired iron.  Hers was more modern looking than the ones on eBay but it still had its pressurized tank of white gas.

Next to the coal-fired iron is its predecessor, a flatiron – you had two of those, one to sit on the stove and heat up while you ironed with the other.  The wringer, of course, is obvious; and though it’s hard to see, there is a washboard tilted against the left side of the window. The blue thing that looks like a pistol is (I think) an old sewing machine.

Why am I so interested in old laundry equipment?  According to family legend, once upon a time my grandmother supported her five kids by taking in laundry and washing it “on the board.”  These were all tools she might have used.  Thank God I never had to do that!

Also posted in Neighborhood Tagged , |

Weirdness in Napa

This is the first in a series of posts I plan on various photos I’ve taken with my smartphone.  The camera in the phone is trash, compared to my Canon T3i, but the T3i weighs about 7 pounds, including the 75-300mm lens, and sometimes I just don’t want to carry it around.

Last spring, I drove up to Napa to have lunch with an old friend, and we ended up in the Oxbow Public Market, over by the river.  This is quite a fascinating indoor market, and we had a lovely lunch at a Venezuelan restaurant (Pica Pica Arepa Kitchen).  But as we were wandering around, I saw probably the weirdest menu offering I’d ever seen, and I took a photo of it with my phone:

photo of menu on the wall

Both of these took my fancy and I had to have a picture.  But the World’s Most Expensive Ice Cream Sundae – can you imagine what a banana split would taste like with those three syrups??  I do like the option of having a cellist, though.  I’m pretty sure this was offered by Three Twins Ice Cream, which is a fairly odd name in itself.

I’m sorry to say we didn’t try any of their ice cream.  Well, I can’t afford the sundae, even if it does support a land trust, and my waistline definitely can’t afford the Twinasaurus.  We opted for chocolate in a nearby booth.  I believe they do offer some more normal ice cream treats.

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