May 20, 2018

Archives for July 2011

The Bells of San Juan Capistrano

The Mission San Juan Capistrano is part of the Catholic Parish of San Juan Capistrano.

The Great Stone Church of San Juan Capistrano had four bells hung in the tower.

When the church collapsed in a massive earthquake, in 1812, the four original bells survived, although the two larger bells cracked and split open.  They were hung in a bell wall. These bells are one of the mission's most picturesque features.  Due to the damage caused by the earthquake neither produced clear tones afterwards. Regardless, they were hung in the campanario that went up the following year.

The two largest bells were cast in 1796, the others in 1804.  Recently the two largest bells were recast, and the originals rehung in the ruins of the Great Stone Church.

In 2000 the bells were removed from the bell wall and used for molds to make copies. They were saved after the copies were made, and placed in their current location in 2004. The two large bells on display within the Great Stone Church are now the original bells. The large bells in the bell wall are copies.

Bells were used in the missions to call everyone to the church for services starting at sunrise, to communicate the time of day and to regulate daily life in the community. In the mission era neither the priests nor the Indian neophytes had watches.

The bells used in the early missions were sent by ship with other supplies from New Spain (Mexico) and were considered essential in founding a new mission where they were hung from poles until a church could be built.

The bells show the dates they were casted.

Bells were blessed in a special service.



Gone Fishin’

What attracted me to this night scene on the Ocean Side beach in San Diego was the abandoned chair. With nobody in site, it was the lead-in to an almost vertical line to the end of the pier.

The shore-line left to right, the line from right to left with the anchor poles penetrates the water surface and then the pier itself from left to right forms a an s-curf.

I just loved it!



100 Men … America’s Best

This unique picture was captured by Francois Swart at the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery late afternoon,
just as the sun was setting on the grassy hilltop of Point Loma overlooking the bay and city of San Diego,
where this historical cemetery is situated.

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While Francois was busy taking this and other pictures it took him back to the words “100 men … America’s best” in the well-known song by S Sgt. Barry Sadler, “The Balad of The Green Berets.” Francois describes this moment, with the last sun rays setting over the last resting-place of these fine soldiers, as symbolic and overwhelming. This picture is his contribution of honoring these soldiers.

Here follows a brief history of this national monument as published on the official websites of The United States Department of Veterans Affairs, The State California Military Museum and Wikipedia.

The origins of this hillside cemetery dates back to February 1852 when President Fillmore set aside the southern portion of Point Loma, about 1,400 acres, for military purposes (which included the cemetery).

The (then) one acre cemetery was located on the crest of the point and first was used in the 1860’s as a burial-ground for the San Diego Barracks –simply known as “Post Cemetery, San Diego Barracks (Point Loma)”. It became Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in 1934 and was placed under the Veterans Administration National Cemetery System in 1973.

The cemetery is now over forty times that size. Today, Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery serves as the final resting place for thousands of veterans of the Armed Forces who answered the call of duty in the nation's service. There are approximately 75,000 veterans lying in Fort Rosecrans who, in the course of four great wars, fought for the cause of freedom.

This cemetery is also a California registered historical landmark, first registered on December 6, 1932.

Jeffrey T. Naas wrote a Memorial Day poem to honor those buried at Fort Rosecrans entitled, “On Rosecrans Hill”.

In honor to these veterans and their families.


Exif Data:

HDR: 7 Images bracketed by 0.7; Focal Length 52 mm; Aperture: f5.6; Metering: Matrix; ISO: 100; Camera: Nikon D2x; Lens: VR 18-200

Quinceañera – Kimberlyn Chiroque



Last Saturday, while taking photos on Coronado Island, I came across Kimberlyn Chiroque and her mother.  She was all dressed up and at first, being a wedding photographer, I thought that she was a bride.  I went along to congratulate and compliment her for being such a fine bride, when I learned that this was her Quinceañera.

 Not knowing what that meant she explained to me that this was a Latin American tradition when a girl turns fifteen.  I found the following, very interesting, information on

 “Quinceañera (lit. meaning One (f.) who is fifteen), is the celebration of a girl‘s fifteenth birthday in parts of Latin America and elsewhere in communities of immigrants from Latin America.  This birthday is celebrated differently from any other birthday, as it marks the transition from childhood to young womanhood.[

In Mexico, the birthday girl is fixed up with fancy makeup. Traditionally, this was the first time she would wear makeup, but more recently this is no longer the case. She also has her nails and hair done especially for this occasion and dresses up with a fancy dress that she had chosen in advance.  In the Mexican tradition – and if the teenager is Catholic – the quinceañera festival begins with a Thanksgiving mass.  For this mass, the teenager comes dressed with a formal dress, usually quite creative in fashion and reminiscent of what a western bride or princess would wear. Traditionally, the quinceañera would wear a pink dress to symbolize her purity.


Mexican girls cannot dance in public until they are fifteen except at school dances or at family events. Thus, the quincenera waltz with the chambelanes is the girl's first ever public dance. There can also be other rituals such as the ritual of the last doll (“La Ultima Muñeca”). This ritual based on a Maya tradition and it is related to the birthday girl's possession of a childhood toy of her liking. It makes reference to the last such toy in her life since, after the quinceañera event, the girl is now coming closer to marriage and adult life. Another ritual is the ritual of the shoe. In this ritual the teenager's father changes her flat, low-heel shoes to high heels, symbolizing, again, the girl's passage into maturity.”

 When they realised that we are from South Africa and have not attended any of these celebrations before, her mother kindly invited us to Kimberlyn’s celebration in September.

 We’re looking forward to attend this big event!

Mind Your Head

While driving home from Old Town, San Diego, I decided to do some ‘plane spotting'. I went to this point near the San Diego airport where, as from what I have heard, the airplanes reach the lowest point over a building before landing. While the sun was setting I got this perfectly lit photo of a plane flying over a parking garage.

I used a tripod and the following camera settings: Aperture f6, Shutter Speed 1/500s, Manual Focus – because you only have a split of a second to focus and auto focus will be too slow, Matrix Metering, Exposure -1/3 (to compensate for the bright sky). Focal length for the lens: 28 mm.

To get the right composition was more tricky as I had to capture the photo with the airplane wing intersecting with the corners of the building! Had to do a couple of trial shots to get that right.

Mist, Skyline and a Sailboat …

The preparations for capturing this scene started early morning with a pancake breakfast at Point Loma Café  (the psychological preparation).

From there I had to take the ferry from the San Diego Harbour to Coronado Island.  The trip on the ferry was a cheerful experience.  With the passengers, accompanied by their bicycles, we arrived at Coronado Island.

What impressed me was the ability of the famous San Diego “June Gloom” to be able to interpret the calendar.  This was basically the end of June (3rd July) and the fog was draped densely across the city skyline.

While walking on the shoreline, along came this sailboat, composing itself right in front of my camera lens begging to be included in my photo.  I willingly abided, because the buildings in the background was so elegantly covered by the mist and the sailboat was the ideal focus point to round it off.

I hope to be able to share many more of my precious San Diego moments in this blog!

Oceanside Night Photography

These two photos I dedicate to my dear friends, Thomas and Jessica Giesel, who introduced me to the photographic opportunities in Oceanside, San Diego. Thanks, I appreciate your effort.

Looking at these two photos, you will realize why I appreciate it so much. I will definitely return and return and return to the Oceanside coastal line. This top photo was taken from the pier at sunset. This is a stack of 7 images to create the smooth and creamy look of the water. You can, of course, use a slow shutter speed as well.

The little beach houses in the image below can be seen on the top photo just to the right of the middle. Amazing what you can do with a zoom lense. It was taken from exactly the same spot, just zoomed in.

A Landscape in the City

While driving in a neighborhood in San Diego I saw this magnificent view from the city. I wonder where else in the world will you find such a beautiful scenery in the heart of a city?

Towards the upper left of the photo you can see a bridge which is part of the I15, one of the busiest highways in the USA. The average daily traffic on the I-15 ranges from 170,000 to 295,000 vehicles ( So busy and yet so tranquil.

This scene just reminded me that I must ALWAYS try to take my camera with me. No matter where I go. If this wasn't the case, I would have missed this lovely landscape photo.