Panoramas from Sint Maarten and Saint Martin

As I mentioned in previous posts, the island is divided into two portions, I would love to say halves, but I am not one hundred percent sure that the square mileage would be equal.  Anyway, as I was saying, it is divided into two portions, one under Dutch rule and the other under French rule, and in my photo jaunts across the island I actually managed to take photographs for two Panoramas, one in Sint Maarten and one in Saint Martin, so neither side can claim I didn’t do one, right? Right.

That being said, I am no expert on photography, much less Panoramas, but I liked both that I took, they have their appeal and, of course, their faults, but I give them both over for your viewing pleasure (or disgust, whichever label suits you).

In Sint Maarten, the Great Bay is where the Cruise ships filled to overflowing with tourist anchor and dock, there is a roadway that winds its way up the hillside on the opposite side to the area where the ships moor, and there is even a lookout point on that road set aside for viewing the scene.  Because of its vantage point high up in the hills, I needed only take three overlapping photographs to produce a simple panorama of this scene.  Fortunately, there were two cruise ships in the bay that day, so the image has that little extra caveat.

Great Bay, Sint Maarten, Netherland Antilles

I was taken to a spot on the French side that is not frequented by people, my memory fails me a bit here, I think it is somewhere near Baie Rouge (I welcome any clarification).  It was a little late in the afternoon and the sun was setting to my left, so I got a little colour change in the sky, I find that my best Panoramas (that include skies) usually are done nearer to the midday hour.  For this Panorama I wanted to include the shallow waters near the shore as well as the skies, so I took the photographs in portrait orientation mode, this meant more photographs to encompass the view than if I had used a landscape orientation for the camera.  In total I used thirteen (13) photographs for the panorama, and only cropped out a portion to the left that was too much into the afternoon sun.

Near Baie Rouge, Saint Martin, French Antilles

Sometimes one photograph of a scene is not enough to express the feeling that envelopes a person, that’s when you either take a veritable cornucopia of photographs of the large and small items of interest in the scene or you do a Panorama  🙂

I hope you enjoy the images I have shared, please click on them to see them larger (hopefully) at my site.

Stella Maris

Whilst in Sint Maarten, I went to church at a small Catholic church not too far from where we were staying, and when I say “not too far” I mean a couple of minutes walk.  The church was called the Mary, Star of the Sea, Catholic Church.  On a separate occasion, I walked over to photograph it from the roadside, and although I have already posted and uploaded to my site, at least one photograph of it, I had reserved one for later processing.

The name of the church had captivated me, I assumed that its location was partially responsible.  I couldn’t remember seeing a particular effigy bearing the name during my growing years, but I do remember the phrase “Mary, Star of the Sea” being part of hymns and litanies, and probably a prayer.  I was surprised to learn that the Latin was Stella Maris, which happened to be the name of the Primary School I went to as a child.  It is strange that many of us go to schools and seldom, if ever, question the origins of the name of the school.

Like this church, the school I attended was located on a coastal area, Mary, Star of the Sea, is the patroness of seafarers.  Under this title she was believed to intercede as a guide and protector of those on the seas either as travelers or workers.

On this photo I did something unusual (for me) I used an orange filter for a special effect and did a high structure monochrome, the original was nice enough in colour, but I thought it warranted a bit more “umph” for impact.  I hope you like it.

Mary Star of the Sea, Catholic Church, Sint Maarten

Casualty of a Hurricane

From the first time I steeped out and saw Simpson Bay from the house, I was fascinated by this wrecked boat that was in the water a bit east of the house.  I took many photographs of it, from different angles, I used different apertures, tried out a polarizer filter on it, I shot it from the house and from along the shore, it seemed I just couldn’t get enough of it.  Like most of the large “debris” found along the coastlines of St Maarten, it was a casualty of a hurricane, one of the many that sweep down Hurricane Alley every year, or given its current state, maybe more than one hurricane.

Even though I posted a photograph of it already during my Sint Maarten visit, there was one I had reserved to do some more processing to at a later date, and I would like to share that one with you.

Anchored in the bay,

locked up for the night,

All prepared for the worst

Of the Hurricane’s awesome might

All is peaceful,

Nothing out of the norm

Suddenly seagulls cry out

Wails of the oncoming storm

Winds howl and push

from the bow to the stern

Waves rise and crash

Of the shoreline, nothing to discern

Minutes and Hours

Battling in the fray

unable to tell

the difference ‘tween night and day

The anchors slip

waters filling the hold

is this the fates’ decree

to perish, the tale left untold?

The winds ease,

and the rains abate

Starboard lies the shore

but below lies its fate

Battered and bruised,

seaworthy no more

Never to set sail again

now nothing, but an eyesore.

The Rock and The Church

I had just finished processing two photographs from my recent trip to Sint Maarten, and as I processed them I knew that I would be including both in one blog-post, then as soon as I put the title into the post I was reminded of a bible quote:

And I say to you: That you are Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (From the Gospel according to Matthew, 16:18)

Now the post, nor this blog-post has nothing to do with that quotation, it merely sprang to mind as I gave the post it’s title.  Some portions of Back Street (and Front Street), Philipsburg have nicely rendered cast-iron stump columns that mark the end of the pedestrian pavement and the beginning of the vehicular roadway, but there are a few spots along the street where these do not exist, at some of these spots, they have put large (maybe medium is a better description) rocks to keep the vehicles off the pedestrian walkway.  One of these intrigued me and that’s the photograph that I want to share first:

As a pedestrian on these streets, I was very hopeful that this rock, like Peter, would prevail against an errant vehicle if not the Gates of Hell.

Farther down Front Street, Philipsburg, past the Jewelery Shops and Casinos, there lies the Roman Catholic church of Saint Martin of Tours, it extends from Front Street onto the Boardwalk facing the Great Bay.  I have to assume that either the hurricanes don’t hit too hard here or this church was built to prevail.  I took the opportunity to take some multiple exposures with the intent to try an HDR image.  The pews are stained a deep reddish wood colour and this is very evident in the photograph.  The few people who go to pray during the day must be accustomed to crazy tourists snapping photographs since it didn’t seem to bother them as I took my time getting this shot, of course, I tried to be as unobtrusive as possible, but that quite hard for a man of Chinese descent with a rather large camera in hand.

St Martin of Tours Catholic Church, Philipsburg, Sint Maarten

This HDR is a composite of three exposures, 0ev, +2ev and -2ev, I still have some issues with alignment, but I think I am getting the hang of it.

The Deck Weeks 31 and 32

I have to play catch-up this week, since I missed out on uploading my Deck photo for last week, so this week is a double upload and blog.  I had already decided what photograph I would have most likely used for the Deck, but I did not get a chance until this week to process the remaining images from my vacation.

The Deck photo for Week 31 is a parting shot from St Martin, over on the French side, on the beach front near Marigot, we were waiting for the boat to arrive for our final adventure, a chance to see the corals and fishes under the sea through the transparent underside of a “glass-bottomed” boat.  My underwater shots came out terrible, but I loved this scene from the shore:

In the last week, I took photographs on three occasions, one was at a funeral, the other two were on afternoon walks with Nikhil, but for some reason I was not getting the “feel” for the scenes or subjects.  My final photograph of today turned out to be one that I was pleasantly surprised with, I took another shot at the New Thriving Chinese Restaurant.  The image is a pseudo-HDR, since I also wanted to try out a new software that Nikhil had recently introduced me to, it is still in the Beta (testing) stage, but I am rather impressed by it.  It introduces a new type of HDR called HDR ReLight as well as doing the regular tone mapping type HDR, but it also processes RAW files, which I shoot primarily.  This was the portion that I wanted to try, and I was rather pleased with the result, the software is Oloneo PhotoEngine, give it a try if you like HDRs or you shoot in RAW.

Here’s the photo for the Deck Week 32, I hope you like it.

Chillaxing

The last few days here in Sint Maarten, we didn’t move around too much, so not many photos per day, and since I travel out later today, this is my last blog from here.  Recently, we mostly stayed near the house, chilling out and relaxing,or as folks say these days, chillaxing!

It’s been a wonderful holiday, and I am glad I didn’t drive, since I got to enjoy the beers 🙂  Also, this island has more roundabouts than any I know of, and half the time I don’t know what direction I am headed in.

I don’t know if I will take many photos today (if any) so I say goodbye to Sint Maarten, with SD Cards full of images, and a heart full of happiness and memories, of course I am sad that I am leaving my family behind, but they follow in few days.

As usual, not all the images are in the blog, check the Sint Maarten 2010 album for all the new images.

Fort Amsterdam and The Plane

The eighth day of our stay in Sint Maarten, we started off with a visit to Fort Amsterdam, its ruins are a bit unusual, a part of it was apparently used as a radio station at one time.  The attractions at the fort are things like the cistern or reservoir, long unused, the old buildings or what’s left of them, the canons of course, the views from the different parts of the fort, and while we were there one attraction was wildlife, specifically a young bird who let me get close enough for a few nice photographs.

The Cistern/Reservoir at Fort Amsterdam

Canon at Fort Amsterdam

Resident at Fort Amsterdam

A view from Fort Amsterdam

The fort, although something that would be considered a national heritage site, is located on private land behind a Hotel/Resort, so I had to take at least one photo in the compounds 🙂

We then went off to the beach near Maho where the beach curves around behind the airport, and the aircraft head straight down the sea, over the beach and onto the runway for landing, there was a photograph by Jesse Diamond that my brother had forwarded to me prior to this trip, and both he and Nikhil insisted that I try to take an inspired photograph like it, so that was the main purpose of going there, getting Coronas at more than twice the normal price was just incidental 🙂

Beach Flyover, Princess Julianna Airport, Sint Maarten

Before heading home, we took a stop at a Nature Reserve where they have horseback riding among other activities, got a few photos, but only managed to really like these:

Cactus

Duck!

Back home I waited for the evening to arrive so that I could play with the setting sun, seated on the veranda, camera at my side and a cold Heineken to my lips, life is good.

Walk along the beach

As usual, on this trip, I can’t put all the photos in the blog, so click on the ones here and go straight to the site for all 42 new additions to the Sint Maarten 2010 album.

Sunset, Simpson Bay, Sint Maarten.