Jeffrey Keyser Photography: Blog en-us (C) 2013-2019 Jeffrey Keyser Photography All rights reserved. (Jeffrey Keyser Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:47:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:47:00 GMT Jeffrey Keyser Photography: Blog 90 120 Chipotle-Bacon Onion Bombs Chipotle-Bacon Onion Bombs

They're in the smoker. Making them is easy; the wait is the tough part.

Chipotle-Bacon Onion Bombs 1Chipotle-Bacon Onion Bombs 1


]]> (Jeffrey Keyser Photography) Chipotle bacon beef cilantro food onion pork smoked Fri, 03 Jul 2015 17:55:55 GMT
Tonight's Menu: Lemon Risotto

]]> (Jeffrey Keyser Photography) Lemon Risotto dinner green lemon rice yellow Tue, 11 Feb 2014 02:45:43 GMT
Frigid Temps Set the Stage for Great Images -5° where I was parked.

The lung-burning cold prevented staying out in the elements for much longer than an hour, or two, at a time, but the cold air brushing against the warmer water created a ghostly fog over the waterways of Cumberland Valley. These Canadian Geese, along with a variety of ducks, gulls and swans didn't seem to notice the near-zero temperatures.

Let Sleeping Geese LieLet Sleeping Geese Lie

Geese In The MistGeese In The Mist

]]> (Jeffrey Keyser Photography) Boiling Springs Canadian Geese fog geese mist morning sunny winter Fri, 24 Jan 2014 04:00:00 GMT
Fun in the Snow

Last night's dusting of snow motivated us to go out this morning to shoot some winter portraits. I had hoped to start shooting while the snow was still powdery, but due to a variety of delays, we started than expected. As it was a sunny day and the temperature was starting to rise, we scrapped our original location and sought out a cooler location that still afforded the quality of light I had envisioned for this shot. To meet this requirement, I needed a location sheltered from the southeastern sun and, hopefully, sheltered from the prevailing winds from the west. I found this in one of our great Cumberland Valley state parks. Whereas temperatures in Carlisle were in the high 20s, it was 15° at our shooting location. 

Careful site sellection allowed me to get the planned shot and unexpected gusts of wind made for some fun outtakes...

]]> (Jeffrey Keyser Photography) fun girl snow winter Sun, 19 Jan 2014 00:30:00 GMT
Morocco - Day Trip to Essaouira Panoramic view of Essouira from atop the Riad Mimouna.

Wanting to communicate a broad view of Morocco, I set out for the port town of Essaouira this morning. The two major options are by car (rental or taxi) and bus. The two bus lines are CTM and Supr@Tours. I still haven't seen a CTM bus, but heard it was the cheaper of the options and wanted to avoid getting stuck on the "Chicken and Goat Bus". I found a petite taxi (car) at the Jemaa el Fna and arrived at the Supr@Tours terminal around 8:10, hoping to get on the first bus (8:30). However, the first one was fully reserved, so I got a seat on 9:00 bus and bought my return seat to avoid getting marooned in Essaouira overnight. Since I had about 30 minutes to kill and hadn't had breakfast, I grabbed a chocolate croissant and cappuccino at the terminal cafe. While this gave me something for my stomach, the true benefit was it afforded me a place to sit down away from the burgeoning crowd in front of the buses.

At 8:35 I went over to the Essaouira bus in preparation for the 8:45 board time. Almost immediately a dude with a clipboard showed up and started checking and marking tickets. I boarded the bus to find someone in my reserved seat on the very cramped bus. When I engaged this person, I found out this was actually the 8:30 bus. Like a salmon swimming upstream, I made my way off the bus and made sure the guy with the clipboard wouldn't give me any hassle boarding the 9:00 bus with a marked ticket. An American working in Ethiopia had also boarded the 8:30, so we stood there, discussing the need for a complete lack of expectation when traveling in Africa. He made a comment about us being on the "Comfort Plus" bus, which turned out to be the most comfortable bus I've ever ridden. It was a full-size tour bus with three seats abreast, which were well-spaced front-to-back, allowing a decent recline and even had leg-rests. I scored a single seat on the left side of the bus in both directions.

Including a 15-minute coffee and toilet stop, the bus arrived in Essaouira just shy of noon. Even before the doors opened, hustlers started showing up with offers to carry tourists' bags to their hotels. By this point, all semblance of patience (and courtesy) had gone out the window and I just pushed through the mob and headed for the entrance to the walled medina. I was starving and the street vendor food looked a little sketchy, covered in flies and/or bees, so I started scoping out cafes and restaurants, but the options were pretty thin. Since this is a fishing port, I figured there must be something along the water, so I pushed westward, through the crowded main street, lined with vendors' stalls and shops. 

One of the Essaouira secondary streets.

The crowds thinned out and the streets narrowed and weaved as I continued toward the shore. Less of the harsh afternoon sun was reaching street level and there was a dampness in the air, along with the faint smell of the ocean.  

On the south end of the seawall I found the Riad Mimouna. The  hotel looks like it may have been built for Moroccan royalty. The host escorted me up to a covered roof-top terrace overlooking the ocean.

Hallway, just off of the lobby in the Riad Mimouna. View from my table at the Riad Mimouna.

As with most restaurants I have encountered in Morocco, Olives are served as a complementary appetizer. Relaxing in the shade, watching the waves, a gentle ocean breeze and snacking on that's how to spend an afternoon in Morocco!

The lamb was a cooked perfectly rare and was seasoned just right (as were the vegetables) and while I'm making any excuse possible to hang out on their terrace as long as possible, why not top off the meal with Creme Caramel? And how much as all this great food and off-the-chart atmosphere? ...about $15. I guess I've been living in Europe too long, because my point of reference for a meal of this quality would run about twice as much in Germany. Oh, the $.60, or so, I spent on a half liter of bottled water would have cost about $4 in Germany.

Rack of Lamb (tree ribs) with steamed vegetables and potato croquettes.

When I had reserved my seat on the return bus this morning, I had requested the last bus. What I got was the last Comfort Plus bus (17:00). This was disappointing, as the sun was starting to drop and was casting some nice shadows, but I didn't want to miss my ride.

In speaking with a British couple, there is a 30 dirham premium for the Comfort Plus bus. However, at 200 dirham ($25) round-trip for the three-hour ride, I didn't think it was a bad price. To put this in perspective, it costs 50 dirham ($6.25) for the 15-minute taxi ride from the Jemaa el Fna to the bus terminal, which is a bargain by both US and European standards. On the other hand, the guy working in Ethiopia told me he paid his hotel 15euro for his taxi to the terminal.

Want to see more...?

I am blogging this trip to build content and traffic for my website. Please visit my gallery to see my best images of Morocco. Feel free to comment.

]]> (Jeffrey Keyser Photography) Africa Essaouira Lamb Morocco North Africa Olives Riad Mimouna Sunny Wed, 23 Oct 2013 23:45:00 GMT
Morocco - Riad Dar Limoun: A Great Place to Unwind My goal for lodging in Marrakech was to find an inexpensive hotel, near the Jemaa el Fna meets minimal health standards. Having never traveled to Morocco, I had no knowledge of hotel maintenance standards or what sanitary conditions I may face, and was specifically concerned about bed bugs. As soon as I arrived at the Riad Dar Limoun, my concerns were put to rest. It is very clean house, built in the Moroccan style, with turned wooden latticework and arabesque archways. It is decorated in traditional Moroccan fashions and exceeded my expectation for a traditional atmosphere. The Riad is a short three to five-minute walk to the Jemaa el Fna, but far enough aware that the din of the crowds, Gnawa musicians and Snake Charmers don't reach into the Riad's peaceful atrium.

The Dar Limoun's atrium is a great place to start one's day.

My assigned room on the first floor opens directly into the atrium, where a daily traditional Moroccan breakfast (Berber Bread, butter, jams, cream cheese, hard-boiled egg, fresh-squeezed orange juice and coffee) is served daily. The atrium is a great place to start one's day, whether in a relaxed pace or when running off on a scheduled excursion. As I understand, traditional Moroccan architecture is void of window panes and this Riad is no exception. Even with easy access to the atrium and ornately barred, but glassless windows, there is no loss of privacy, as there are internal shutters on the bathroom window and there's an ample curtain on the bedroom window.

The first floor room has direct access to the atrium.   The many plants and vines which adorn the atrium, keep noise to a minimal and add to the pleasant garden atmosphere.

Staying at the Dar Limoun feels more crashing at a friend's house than staying at a hotel.

I wasn't feeling well today, so decided to stay in and catch up on my photo editing and blog entries. While I was working in the atrium, the housekeeper, not knowing that I wasn't feeling well, asked if I would like some tea. I have no idea what variety it was, but it was probably the best tea I'm ever had. Leaves were loose in the pot and I was able to finish the pot without the tea growing bitter. Its warmth was soothing and its taste hit the spot. While sitting here I thought to myself, "I could make a habit of afternoon tea at the Dar Limoun."

The Riad Dar Limoun should be on anyone's "short list" when planning a trip to Marrakech.

]]> (Jeffrey Keyser Photography) Guest House Hotel Marrakech Morocco North Africa Riad lodging traditional Tue, 22 Oct 2013 23:47:00 GMT
Morocco - Camel Trekking in the Sahara If you like these photos, check out my other images from Morocco.

Fuad at the Riad Dar Limoun was kind enough register me for an overnight camel trekking tour on the edge of the Sahara. The tour company (Anodo) sent a guy on a motorcycle to pick me up at the hotel. We loaded in to a 15-passenger mini-bus and set out for Zagora, a small town near the edge of the Sahara. To get there, we had to traverse the Atlas Mountains. BTW: Having driven for thirty years, or so, I never knew you could remove all danger from passing on a double line, on a blind curve, on a high mountain road just by tapping your horn twice and starting your passing maneuver.

After dropping down out of the mountains, we stopped in Ait Ben Haddou, a filming location for many notable films: "Gladiator", "Kingdom of Heaven", "Lawrence of Arabia", "The Mummy" and others.

Apparently a new movie set under construction at Ait Ben Haddou.

After the tour, we had a Tagine for lunch, before getting back on the road for the final four-hour push to Zagora.

Tagine Kefta (Ground Meat: Beef and/or Lamb)

I had hoped we would be at out Berber camp in the desert in time for "Golden Hour" so that I could shoot the dune with some warm, raking light, but the longer we drove the longer the shadows were getting and I was growing more certain, by the moment, that today's intended photographs were not going to happen. Once we arrived in Zagora, we were shown to a "super market" (smaller than most US convenience stores) where we could purchase water and those who had not previously purchased a shemagh were directed to a shop "conveniently" across the street where they were told to purchase one. Having read other tour vendors' websites, I bought one in Marrakech, but those who didn't bring one paid the same (50 MAD, or $6.25) for a plain white piece of cloth, hacked off at an apparently random length. By the time we finally saddled up, we were getting well into "Blue Hour" and it was apparent we would not make camp before nightfall. However, it was a pleasant two-hour ride from our drop-off point to the Berber camp.  

As soon as we arrived, a strict program of drink tea, have dinner (Tagine Chicken with potatoes, carrots, onions and olives), more tea and entertainment around the [concrete) fire pit was enforced. I don't know if it's to keep people from getting bored, to keep people out of trouble or actual Berber/Taureg tradition, but it was way too fast-paced for me. (Maybe I've been in Germany too long, but it seemed like a rushed evening.) While we were having our after dinner tea, one of our hosts drug over some branches and tossed them on the fire pit. Once the fire was going, we were directed to sit on the four large carpets surrounding the fire pit and were entertained with traditional nomadic songs until the fire died away to embers.

I had wondered what the sanitary conditions might be, but it turned out this was a more commercial venture than I had expected. There was a concrete-floored "facilities" tent with toilets, showers and sink. The water wasn't hot, but it was running. The main/dining tent and the four to five-person sleeping tents were all metal-framed, but covered with traditional Moroccan fabric to appear as authentic as possible. As best as I could tell without pealing back the rugs, all buildings, er "tents", had concrete floors. The sleeping arrangement was co-ed on single mattresses on the floors. Sheets, blankets and pillows with, albeit sand-covered, pillowcases were provided. The tent was hot from baking in the sun all day, so I opted to sleep under the stars. This worked out well, sInce I had planned to shoot Star Trails, anyway. I sent my camera on its way and curled up beside it on the ground, wrapping myself in the provided blanket, using my polar fleece as a pillow and wrapped my shemagh around my head to maintain warmth. I woke up around 4:00 to the snarls of wild dogs fighting not too far in the distance. I checked my camera, only to find out it stopped shooting at only 33 frames! At this point, the moon was shining bright and there was no hope for Star Trails, so I went back to sleep.

Staged Berber camp. Sleeping under the stars in the Sahara.

I set my phone to wake me just before sunrise and the Sahara did not disappoint.

We had a quick breakfast of flatbread, butter, jams and coffee and saddled up for what was supposed to be two hour return trip. I had planned to tip our hosts anyway, but typical of what I've experienced in Marrakech, everyone has their hand out. These guys were no exception; there was a basket on the sand as we topped the dune to mount out camels. Although I didn't time it, our return journey could not have been more than 45 minutes, as we met our mini-bus on the same road on which we were dropped off, but much closer to the camp. It was enjoyable, but not as advertised AND restated by the Berber guide when the saddled up in the evening. Although the 600 dirham ($75) fee covered two days of vehicle travel, with driver, breakfast and dinner, entertainment and camel ride was well worth the money, I was disappointed and felt a bit cheated out of the full "main attraction," especially considering we were two days on the road for the camel trekking experience.

Part of the enjoyment of this visit was the great people in the group: British, German, Japanese, Polish, and Spanish.

All things considered, this was an amazing trip and I appreciate the fine staff of the Riad Dar Limoun for scheduling it for me.




Oh, in case you're thinking about trying that passing trick, it doesn't always work...



Want to see more...?

I am blogging this trip to build content and traffic for my website. Please visit my gallery to see my best images of Morocco. Feel free to comment.

]]> (Jeffrey Keyser Photography) Ait Ben Haddou Atlas Mountains Babel Ben Camel Camel Trekking Gladiator Haddou Ouarzazate Sahara Zagora lawrence of Arabia Mon, 21 Oct 2013 02:10:00 GMT
Morocco - The Marrakech souks and vicinity Not everyone is so easily convinced it is safe to approach the snakes, but note the limp snake in the charmer's right hand.

There's absolutely no need for an alarm clock, at least in the medina; there's a morning call to prayer at 6:00. Although it sounds like the loud speaker is directly overhead, my laptop's mic barely picks it up. I started the day with the typical Moroccan breakfast of Berber flat bread, a hard-boiled egg and coffee in Dar Limoun's atrium, below. Although they do not call it Turkish coffee, they use the direct boil method, where the grinds and water go into a pot and are unfiltered. The beauty of the Dar Limoun is that, although it's only a three to five minute walk to the Jemaa el Fna, it's far enough away that one can retreat from the noise of the square and relax.

Venturing into the souks

The Marrakech souks are a labyrinth of narrow streets, attached to and northeast of the Jemaa el Fna. While the evening market in the Jemaa el Fna is marked by the wonderful aroma of charing meats and the repetitive drones of Gnawa musicians the souks are a souvenir hunter's paradise. It's not just the shop-owners and people they have working the streets and allies, calling out, "What you want, my friend" and, "Come. I will make you good price.", there's also the aromas (sometimes pleasant, other times assaulting the senses) of spices, nuts, locally-tanned leather and the air of the exotic. It doesn't take much to imagine a camel caravan, just having brought their wares across the Sahara to the souk...maybe they just did. There is everything you've always needed, but just hadn't realized it: tin lamps, handwoven berber carpets, tassels, spices, clay Tagines, etc. 


The Jemaa el Fna by day

Snakes are evidently not the only ones being charmed in the Jemaa el Fna. There are a variety of local hustlers who seem know how to entice dirhams out of tourists' pockets.

Snake Charmers harassing lethargic Cobras, Desert Vipers and a variety of undetermined snakes that act as if drugged. Monkey trainers.

The French influence is obvious in the carriages, which take tourists on rides around the Jemaa el Fna and vicinity. Water sellers in bright costumes.


Want to see more...?

I am blogging this trip to build content and traffic for my website. Please visit my gallery to see my best images of Morocco. Feel free to comment.

]]> (Jeffrey Keyser Photography) Africa Marrakech Morocco North Africa Seller Snake Charmer Souk Tagine Water cobra jemma el Fna market peddlers rugs snakes Fri, 18 Oct 2013 11:45:00 GMT
Morocco - Day of Arrival Outer edge of the Jemaa el fna

Ryan Air

Flying Ryan Air wasn't the painful experience I had heard others mention. Flight was on time. Staff was pleasant, including the Polish and Hungarian flight attendants, who spoke perfect English. Seats were comfortable. I scored a window seat at the door, so had plenty of legroom.

Passport Control

Of the 24, or so, lanes at Passport Control, mine was the slowest. After standing there for about 15 minutes, I started taking note of where other lanes were moving. At thirty minutes, a person who was previously right be side me was being serviced. At 45 minutes, the policeman checking our passports gets up and starts chatting up the dude in the next stall. It took a little over an hour to process the thirty, or so, people who had been in front of me when I got in line.


After pulling my duffle from the almost empty belt (even though I was the first person off the plane) and navigating customs, I head for the ATM to get some Moroccan dirham. After waiting for the dozen, or so, people in front of me, I took my turn at the ATM and found that it wouldn't recognize either of my cards, so I was reduced to exchanging the few euro I had brought for dirham, just to take the bus to my Riad (guest house). First order of business tomorrow will be seeking out a usable ATM or bank.

Jemaa el Fna

The Jemaa el Fna ("The Assembly of the Dead") is the central plaza of the Medina. It is so named as it was where the heads of fallen enemies were put on display on poles. Today it is the hub of all activity in the Medina. While merchant carts fill the plaza during the day, food vendors take over in the evening. Anyone who knows me, knows that I don't feel I've truly visited a place until I've sampled the local fare. As long as you can get past thoughts of poor sanitation and the potential lower abdominal pain, the food is quite good.


I made a reservation at a Riad near the Jemaa el Fna, so I would be close to the places I am working: the Jemaa el Fna, souks and other, yet to be determined, parts of the Medina (old town). Although the map on the booking site showed it right off one of the corners of the plaza, it was about 100 meters away, down some narrow, dimly lit, unmarked streets and allies. I found a shop owner who spoke passable English and was able to point me in the right direction. However, that didn't prevent a teenager from accosting me when he saw my bags and "Just off the Boat" appearance (think Brody from "India Jones: The Last Crusade" when he first showed up in Cairo).  

Nowhere near the standards of the places we normally stay when traveling, it was EXACTLY what I had in mind when I starting thinking about this trip more then two years ago: inexpensive, friendly and traditional. I remember thinking, "As long as I don't get bedbugs, I'll be happy." Not a problem here; it is very clean. However, I forgot to buy shower sandals before my trip, so I'll need to seek out some tomorrow, along with bottled water (for drinking and brushing teeth). New first order of business: water.

Dinner in Jemaa el Fna

I had read warnings about using the food stands' utensils and plates, so was pleased to see my lamb kebab served on paper. Then the guy places a saucer of olive salad in front of me. When I said no thanks, he insisted, "gift". One of the tenants of Islam is hospitality, so as not to offend, I dug in, figuring it is better to be a gracious recipient than offend my host.



Want to see more...?

I am blogging this trip to build content and traffic for my website. Please visit my gallery to see my best images of Morocco. Feel free to comment.

]]> (Jeffrey Keyser Photography) Jemaa el Fna Marrakech Morocco North Africa Olives escargot market mint tea snails strew vendor Thu, 17 Oct 2013 23:45:00 GMT
So long, for now, Germany... My family and I have had the privilege of calling Stuttgart, Germany home for the last three years. While living on the German economy has its challenges, I am going to miss the friendships I have developed here: US ex-pats, co-workers and locals. While here, my family has experienced 11 countries for the first time: Austria, Belgium, The Czech Republic, France, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and, of course, Germany. Living here provided an opportunity to my family to visit new places, including a few historical sites, experience other cultures, first hand and for my kids to develop their world view.

My oldest daughter is a freshman in college, studying graphic art and photography. Visiting sites from antiquity and seeing pieces of art her classmates may only know from text books has given her an appreciation for art history by making it real. She has stood at the foot of Michelangelo's "David," visited the Vienna's Museum of Natural History and gazed upon the "Venus of Willendorf," wondered through and photographed many cathedrals she is yet to study.

My son had little interest in site-seeing and taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity his fist year here, but after a spending the better part of a summer back in the US, he exhibited a whole new appreciation for Europe. While here he developed his baseball skills and had a great season (primarily behind home plate), helping the USAGS Texas Rangers to and winning the IMCOM-E championship in a nearly undefeated season. He's now Catcher for our home team back in Central PA.

My youngest daughter (and fellow adventurer), truly embraced the opportunity to live in Germany. Building on good foundational soccer skills, she played on Stuttgart Select (the premiere American training team), the local German girls team and was selected to participate in the Olympic Development Program, trained under Sascha Blank, a former player for the Karlsruhe men's pro team.

Living here would have not been possible without the support of my wife, who came to Germany at great sacrifice to her own career. She is now getting settled in Pennsylvania and taking the Public Relations world by storm. Should you need help with your company or organization's image, she is usually accessible via Facebook.

Having spent the last three years adventuring around Europe, sometimes not traveling too far from home, has helped us gain a new appreciation for our local surroundings. As I return to the US in the coming weeks, I'm looking forward to planning adventures in our own "back yard." But for now, some parting images from last night at the Stuttgart Volksfest...






]]> (Jeffrey Keyser Photography) Mon, 14 Oct 2013 10:57:59 GMT
The Very Beginning; A Good Place to Start  

I started my love affair with photography in the spring of 1983, when I got my hands on a viewfinder fixed focal length 35mm. The years have blurred my recollection of the brand, but it did what what a camera needs to do: protect the film from unwanted light and let in the light I wanted, shaped how I wanted. Not that I had any idea what I was doing when I started, this camera permitted me to control aperture and shutter speed. The only thing I knew about film speed was that faster film was better for low light situations and sports AND that it would result in more pronounced grain (directly analogous to what we see as "noise" in digital photography).
My parents indulged my passion and, that Christmas, gave me a camera I still own and use, on occasion, today--a Minolta X-700 with 50mm lens and a Minolta programmable flash. Much like today's cameras, it's built-in light meter could calculate a proper exposure, but it relied on manual aperture and focus adjustment. Still, this was a big deal in those days, considering the cost of film, processing and enlargements associated with each exposure. Next came more lenses, a Toyo Optics zoom and a wide angle. Working with the X-700 allowed me to start with long exposure photography (star and vehicle head/taillight trails).
I decided to persue a degree in photography at the Rochester Institute of Technology, but succumbed to my Mother's urging to start college with some general education studies at Messiah College, a small, private liberal arts college in Grantham, Pennsylvania. I started off my first semester with Photography 101 as an elective, but soon found out that my credits wouldn't transfer and decided to see my education through at Messiah. I gained interest in other fine art courses and declared my major as Fine Art (concentration in sculpture), but I took several graphic arts courses along the way.
After completing my bachelor's degree (where I had also taken a variety of computer courses), I was offered a job with a large printing company, where I would establish their first Electronic Prepress department. While the I didn't use my knowledge of photography to any great extent here, the company owner/President showed great faith in me and provided me ample opportunities to grow my skills in computers graphics as well as general computing. After ten years with that company, I couldn't go any further and moved on focus on computer and information security. Again, not much use for photography, except for instances where a photograph was the best way to document a physical security problem. Jump ahead another job and now I'm traveling internationally and need a way to document my travels. Enter the Sony DCS-W80, a fine pocket camera. It didn't allow an over abundance of control, but it was compact and, with its underwater housing, allowed me to follow in the foot (or should I saw flipper) steps of Jacques Cousteau to photograph aquatic sealife, while snorkeling along my travels, often on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.
After my job took me to Germany for a three-year tour, I invested in a Nikon D7000 DSR to document my family's time in Europe and as a way to spend some quality time with my oldest daughter, before she heads off to college, where she is planning to study graphic design and photography. (She's also a Nikon shooter, having received a D90 from her mother and me for her 16th birthday.) Given her school and social schedule, the time together piece didn't work out how I had hoped, but I've had a great time documenting our travels, my kids' sporting events and photographing the amazing sites throughout Europe, Africa and Asia.
Who knows where this journey will lead me, but I'm using this blog to share it with anyone interested. I can also be found on Facebook and as one of the administrators of the Facebook group "US Photographers in Europe" (USPE).
]]> (Jeffrey Keyser Photography) Fri, 28 Jun 2013 19:30:00 GMT