Tuesday, October 24, 2023


 I took my camera and macro lens into my subdivision's woods to try to capture some fall leaves.  Here is what I got.

One way of trying to capture the woods generally.

A potpourri of fallen leaves with an oak leaf as a centerpiece.

Looking up at leaves still clinging to the trees.

This was my favorite leaf of this group.  I especially liked this leaf for its color and its veining.  I guess I liked it so much I have two slightly different looks.

Finally, a leaf sporting raindrops from an early morning shower.


Monday, October 16, 2023


Istanbul, a city of more than 20 million people, has over 3,000 mosques.  We visited four major mosques during our tour of the city.  All four were distinctive on the inside but at least the three largest had similar architectural styles on the exterior.  They all featured a central dome, along with numerous partial domes, and all included minarets.  Although I took photos of the major, as well as a few minor, mosques, I had some trouble identifying which was which from the outside.  Here is what I figured out (I think).

Hagia Sophia, the oldest of the mosques, even though originally it was built as a Christian church in the 6th century CE.

The Blue Mosque, from the early 17th century CE.

The Mosque of Suleyman the Magnificent.

And a couple of smaller mosques that caught my eye.

And this larger, mystery mosque (perhaps another shot of Suleyman the Magnificent?).



 In this post I am including some photos I took in Istanbul that didn't seem to fit in with any of the other posts from my trip.

Ali Pasha, our superb tour guide.

 Scene taken from the Golden Horn of the New District, including the Galata Tower, built in 1349 CE.

The Obelisk of Theodocius, an obelisk the Turkish "borrowed" from Egypt and erected in 390 CE on what turned out to be the grounds outside the Blue Mosque

Below is some detail from the obelisk's pedestal.

The courtyard of the Nuruosmanye Mosque, situated next to the main entrance to the Grand Bazaar. (I just happened to like this composition.)

The cats of Istanbul are ubiquitous and generally seem well cared for.  This cat apparently could not read English.

The tour group's final event before the farewell dinner was a cruise on the Bosphorus.  Unfortunately all of our time on land was spent on the European side of Istanbul, which straddles Europe and Asia, so I did not get an opportunity to set foot in Asia, although I can say that I spent time in the Asian waters of the Bosphorus.  Here are a couple of ornate buildings on the Asian shore that I shot as we passed.

The interesting thing about this last building was that when I looked at photo closely after returning home I discovered that I had taken the shot during a wedding.  A photographer was taking pictures of the bride and groom as we were passing by.  Here is a blowup of a part of my photo showing the camera guy at the lower left photographing the bride, with the groom standing at the top of the staircase.



 On the final day of touring in Istanbul, we were treated to a presentation on Turkish rug making, following which we were encouraged to wander through the Grand Bazaar, and then visited the  city's Spice Market.

Turkish Rugs.

Our group met at one of the rug merchants and enjoyed a highly educational lecture and explanation of the variables that can go into the production of handmade rugs.  It was quite impressive and included not just a demonstration of how hand-tied rugs are made but also a display of truly beautiful rugs.  

A finely made rug, say 5 ft. by 8 ft., might contain over a million hand-tied knots and take upwards of a year to make.

Grand Bazaar.

After the presentation we were free to wanter around in the Grand Bazaar, containing some 4,000 shops all under one enclosed area.  These are, of course, small shops, but what was amazing was that there might be, say, 8 to 10 shops in a row selling more or less the same merchandise, e.g.,  jewelry.  Here is a sampling.

Yes, there were shops that only sold chess sets.

This last was a shop that only sold discs each containing a representation of the evil eye.

Spice Market.

Later, we walked from the Grand Bazaar to the Spice Market.

The question I kept asking myself when touring the Grand Bazaar and Spice Market was, "Who is buying all this stuff?"  There seemed to be an enormous mismatch between the amount of merchandise and the number of shoppers.


Sunday, October 15, 2023


 On our fourth day of touring we visited the Dolmabahce Palace as well as a Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox church.

Dolmabahce Palace.

Apparently not satisfied with the Topkapi Palace, in the 19th century the ruling sultan built a new palace a couple of miles north of the Topkapi Palace on the shores of the Bosphorus.  If anything, the new palace was even more ornate, more opulent than the old.  In some ways this was a last hurrah for the Ottoman Empire, as it was the final abode of the Ottomans until their exile in the 1920s, after which the palace was left empty.  Now it is, in effect, a museum.  Built in 1844, the palace has a much more European feel in terms both of architecture and of furnishings and decor.  Although we took a lengthy (perhaps too lengthy) tour of the palace, which is huge, no photos were allowed of the interior, so my photography was limited to the exterior.

I actually took this first shot of the palace while on our cruise of the Bosphorus on the final day of touring.  I turned it into a black & white to accentuate the architectural lines. (I also darkened the cloudless sky to add a bit of drama to the shot.)

As I mentioned, the only photos I took were of the palace's exterior.  Here is what I got.


Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church.

While we toured four different mosques, we visited only one Christian church.  All of the mosques were of a size that dwarfed this venue, though it was a lovely little church, both inside and out.

Interesting symbol over the main entrance to the church.  

While we were cautioned that each time we entered a mosque we needed to remove our shoes, I was gently reminded that I needed to remove my hat when I entered the church.

Outside the church I was attracted by the leaves of was a small tree, which I was told was a Judas Tree.  Perhaps apropos as a Christian symbol.