Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Northern Beaches: Sylt, Germany

Sylt Beach, right across from Denmark Shore. Photo by Alina Oswald
 Sylt, the north-most island of Germany, with its long beaches banding its entire length, is located at the border between Germany and Denmark and connected to the continent by a railway. It has a weird T-like shape, it's remote and cold most of the time, and, in the off-season, is deserted. Water is freezing, but sand is of a unique quality.
"Peeking Through at the North Sea" Sylt, the German Island. Photo by Alina Oswald. All Photos in this post Copyright Alina Oswald, 2010. All Rights Reserved.

"From Sand to Sea" on the beaches of Sylt, the German Island. Copyright Alina Oswald, 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Sylt in B&W. Copyright Alina Oswald, 2010. All Rights Reserved.

"Sylt Sea Sand" Copyright Alina Oswald, 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Supermoon Rising

The supermoon. Every 18 years the Moon gets on a point on its orbit where is the closest to Earth. That's when we get what we call the Super-Moon. It happened this year during the weekend of March 18th, 2011. I got to watch the supermoon rise over the Manhattan, illuminate the waters of the Hudson, and then passed on the Jersey Side to continue yet another night round over the continent.

"Big Moon: Nature & Man" Copyright Alina Oswald, 2011. All Rights Reserved.
"Supermoon Over 9/11 Monument" Copyright Alina Oswald, 2011.
I waited for the Supermoon-rise for quite a long time. I waited patiently, freezing next to my tripod, holding on to the camera, switching from gloves to no gloves while trying to capture the sunset as it reflected over the Hudson and Manhattan. And then, when it all went dark and quiet, I saw It (or should I say... Her?) The Supermoon, sneaking up from above the buildings. One could easily confused it for another Manhattan coppery light. It was a (source of) light, all right, but not man-made. It was all the doing of Mother Nature.
Supermoon-Rise Over Lower Manhattan. Copyright Alina Oswald, 2011

"Crowned: Supermoon over World Financial Center" Copyright Alina Oswald, 2011. All Rights Reserved.
"Supermoon Super-Reflections" Copyright Alina Oswald, 2011
As it started to rise from just north of Lower Manhattan, the reddish turned goldish, and then pale. The Supermoon provided the source not only of a super-back-light (or background light) which silhouetted the Manhattan, but it also provided a super-reflection, silhouetted the Hudson waves and ripples.

I took a few shots of the Supermoon and its super light and reflection as I followed it from Jersey City promenade: watched it rise over the Lower Manhattan, the Hudson River, sending slivers of light over the Jersey City 9/11... monument, and farther.

As it left us behind, the Supermoon began to rise higher and higher, becoming slightly smaller, yet still full moon (it was a full moon, indeed), continuing to shed its light over the rest of the continent and the world.

PS: I photographed the last full lunar eclipse last year, on Dec 21st. I totally froze to take the shots then, too. I froze then much more than I did this past weekend. Both experiences were--and will remain--priceless, though, despite the shivers, despite the fact that, each time, they reminded me that I need to buy a longer lens...

Above all, photographing the moon/the Supermoon has helped me reconnect with Mother Nature, rediscover the immense beauty and the power it has over us. This weekend was yet another reminder that, in some strange way, maybe, Mother Nature is always watching over us, like the Moon. Sometimes we do take notice.

PPS: this post was reshared on CNN iReport.

As always, thanks for visiting,
Alina Oswald

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Majesty in Hawaiian Waters: Whale Watching

"Whale Tale" Copyright Alina Oswald, 2010. All Rights Reserved.

"Whale Sunset Breath" Copyright Alina Oswald, 2010. All Rights Reserved.

"Whale Back" Copyright Alina Oswald, 2010. All Rights Reserved.
Beaches are fascinating places. They are oases of serenity, safe havens where we can feel safe enough to reach within ourselves and embark on a journey of self-discovery... Beaches are not only that, though. They are unique in more than one way because they offer us a... platform, a place from where we can safely rediscover not only ourselves, but also the simple, yet so complex Nature around us.

I had the unique opportunity to watch whales on their way from Hawaii to Alaska last year, in April-May, when I visited the Hawaiian Islands. I was on a boat trip, back from Lanai to Maui, when, around the sunset hour, within the peacefulness of the ocean, I could spot the black back or the white tail (the back of the tail) of a whale, until one of them blew out some air and water right into the sunset glow. I was glad I still had my long lens on the camera. It was one of these moments when I realized that my long lens wasn't really long enough...

Watching whales respecting them and their habitat... there are only a few things as miraculous as serene as this kind of experience. It happened to me only once before, in Provincetown, MA.

Hopefully next time I visit Hawaii I'll be able to enjoy these majestic animals again... and maybe spot some dolphins, too

Thursday, March 3, 2011

AIDS Economics

Money doesn’t bring happiness. Money, alone, cannot solve the world’s AIDS crisis. Money is not the sole solution to a life-and-death kind of problem that AIDS still is. Yet, without money, without the appropriate funds, all the AIDS service organizations, all the non-profits serving the AIDS community, will be forced to close their doors leaving many of those living with the virus and depending on their help, in limbo.

With the recent budget cuts overtaking pretty much every aspect of our lives, this kind is scenario becomes more of a reality than just a hypothesis. Conform the National Minority AIDS Council, for the last five months the federal government has operated on the continuing resolution that kept this year’s budgets at last year’s levels. Therefore, for the same five months, agencies have planned their budgets on the assumptions that this year’s budget would be approximately the same with the previous year’s one. Yet, the House Appropriation Committee had planned on even deeper cuts for agencies which are critical to people living with HIV/AIDS. The proposed cuts include:

$1.3 billion dollars from Community Health Centers
$1.57 billion dollars from the National Institute of Health
$923 million from the Center of Disease Control and Prevention
$327 million from Family Planning 
$280 million from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

These “draconian cuts,” as the National Minority AIDS Council’s website calls the massive cuts, leave agencies with only seven months to react. That means that the agencies will feel a double effect of the cuts, having only half of the time (half a year) to react. We can only wonder what will happen if they run out of time. We can only wonder what will be next.

The AIDS economics are tough to start with. Add to that the current overall economic situation and you have some kind of Perfect Storm...

As always, thanks for visiting!
Alina Oswald