St. Augustine, Florida

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The last stop on my grand tour of Florida was the historic city of St. Augustine. It is one of the oldest cities in North America, and has a well-preserved late 17th century Spanish fort as well as some wonderful Spanish Revival architecture from the Gilded Age, courtesy of Henry M. Flagler, business partner of John D. Rockefeller.

Parts of the old town feel a bit like a tourist trap, but there is a lot of charm beyond the main drag and outside of holiday season. Alas, this visit was very short, but St. Augustine is definitely a place I will return to again for more inspiration

Great American Solar Eclipse

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August 21, 2017 was the first time in my life that I have witnessed a solar eclipse. From my viewing location in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, it was partially obscured by the clouds so the Sun’s corona was not visible during totality and a thunderstorm rolled in shortly thereafter. Nevertheless, this celestial spectacle was well worth seeing, even despite other inconveniences such as oppressive heat and humidity and hours spend in crawling traffic.

Even though I thought I have practiced taking pictures of the Sun with the solar filter, I was still not as prepared as I could have been. My tripod was not tall enough to point the camera high in the sky and to comfortably look into the viewfinder or at the screen. The clouds necessitated changing the camera settings frequently to adjust for lighting changes. All of this, unfortunately, precluded me from capturing a series of consistent images. Besides, those last few moments before totality when the Sun’s light was quite literally extinguished were so mesmerizing I was compelled to put the camera down and just watch in awe. 

I will definitely try my best to photograph another eclipse, such as the one in the U.S. in 2024. With the lessons learned and a bit of luck, the pictures may come out better.

Florida Space Coast

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Another stop on the grand tour of Florida that I undertook at the end of last year was the John F. Kennedy Space Center. I do not consider myself a space geek, but touring the the actual launch pads from where humans took off to the Moon and later countless Space Shuttle missions were launched was a very moving experience. And the current state of the facility is a testament to the opening of yet another great chapter in space exploration saga, with the launches by private space ventures like Space X conducted from the same launch pads. One day, I will definitely return there to watch and capture an actual rocket launch.

Another memorable part of the visit was viewing the artifacts form the Moon missions, such as the enormous Saturn V rocket, one of the Apollo command modules and various implements used by the astronauts on the Moon. It was also very exciting to these those items, and I was envious that I did not live through that time. I cannot imagine how exciting and inspiring it was to witness those historic missions first hand. Hopefully, we will live long enough to see another comparable milestone in space exploration.

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