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Welcome to Puerto Rico by GPS

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Photo of Orlando Mergal holding a Canon Camera. Courtesy of Puerto Rico by GPS.

Hi, my name is Orlando Mer­gal. Wel­come to Puerto Rico by GPS!

If you’re plan­ning to visit Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico by GPS is the place on the web where you can learn exactly how to get to most land­marks and attrac­tions with­out ask­ing any­one for direc­tions, and —most impor­tantly— with­out get­ting lost!

Puerto Rico is the small­est of the Greater Antilles, also known as the West Indies.  Our cap­i­tal —Old San Juan— was estab­lished in 1508.  Old San Juan is the sec­ond old­est city in the west­ern hemi­sphere and the old­est con­tin­u­ously inhab­ited city in U.S. ter­ri­tory. Santo Domingo de Guzmán, the cap­i­tal of the neigh­bor­ing Domini­can Repub­lic to our west, is older than Old San Juan by 12 years.  But hey, I like Old San Juan better.

What can I say?  I’m biased. I live here!

I was born in New York City.  But my par­ents, who were both born in Puerto Rico, returned to the Island when I was nine.  So I’ve lived all of my adult life on the Island of Enchant­ment, and of course, I know it inside out.

My for­mal train­ing is in busi­ness com­mu­ni­ca­tions.  But I’m also a pro­fes­sional land­scape pho­tog­ra­pher by pas­sion.  When I’m not work­ing on one my many com­mu­ni­ca­tions projects you’ll find me with a cam­era strap around my neck explor­ing my beau­ti­ful Puerto Rico. Many of those shots —includ­ing the one’s you’ll see on this site— are avail­able for sale on our sis­ter site Puerto Rico Pho­tog­ra­phy.

So What Makes Puerto Rico By GPS  Different?

First, it’s not gov­ern­ment spon­sored.  Every­thing you see on Puerto Rico by GPS has been cre­ated by me: the pho­tos, the copy, the gath­er­ing of infor­ma­tion, the audio, the video, the maps… every­thing.  Sec­ond, I don’t —and I won’t— sugar-coat real­ity.  If some­thing is beau­ti­ful and well main­tained, I’ll tell you.  But if it’s dan­ger­ous or run down, I’ll tell you too.

ThirdPuerto Rico by GPS is an ongo­ing con­cern. So I’ll be con­stantly adding new infor­ma­tion and updat­ing any­thing that changes, for the bet­ter or for the worse.  I’ll visit inter­est­ing loca­tions, inter­view the peo­ple in charge and add those inter­views —in video or audio form— in the blog section.

But most impor­tantly, the infor­ma­tion on Puerto Rico by GPS will not be of the highly struc­tured, dena­tured and “san­i­tized” vari­ety found on many travel sites.  Here you’ll find the real thing: unadul­ter­ated, raw and real. That is my per­sonal promise to you!

Puerto Rico has everything!

Puerto Rico is the ideal vaca­tion des­ti­na­tion. Where else can you find 16th Cen­tury Span­ish Forts, the most beau­ti­ful and well-preserved colo­nial city in the West­ern Hemi­sphere, the only sub­trop­i­cal rain­for­est in U.S ter­ri­tory, one of the largest cave sys­tems in the world, the largest single-dish radio tele­scope obser­va­tory on the planet, the best and most var­ied cui­sine in the Caribbean, night life like you won’t believe and, of course, the most gor­geous beaches any­where in the world? That’s right!  In Puerto Rico!

It’s all here!  But sadly, most peo­ple never get to expe­ri­ence it.  Most tourists visit Puerto Rico just for a day.  They arrive by ship, dock at San Juan bay, and spend around eight hours in the Old City.  That’s it!!! And, since many of them don’t know their way around, they gen­er­ally see the two forts (San Felipe del Morro and San Cristo­bal) and spend the rest of the day wan­der­ing around the old city with­out grasp­ing the full impor­tance of what it is that they’re seeing.

Well, that’s what I’m here to change!

With Puerto Rico by GPS you’ll learn about every land­mark and —most impor­tantly— you’ll be pro­vided with its exact loca­tion.  That way you’ll be able to enjoy it first hand, if you wish, and not just see it in pretty pictures.

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Click on the player and learn how to pro­nounce the name of each par­tic­u­lar loca­tion in Spanish

You’ll also learn how to pro­nounce the name of each loca­tion cor­rectly; in Span­ish.  Under­neath every head­line you’ll see a small audio player. Hit the play but­ton and learn how to pro­nounce it like the locals do.

And if you’re stay­ing on the Island for a few days —or maybe even for a few weeks— you’ll get to see places that 99% of our vis­i­tors sim­ply never get to see; places that make Puerto Rico the spe­cial des­ti­na­tion that it really is; places that make it the shin­ing star of the Caribbean!

So go ahead. Put on a com­fort­able pair of walk­ing shoes, rub on some sun­block, grab your wide brim hat and a bot­tle of water, pop a fresh mem­ory card in your cam­era, and let’s go. And if you’re even more adven­tur­ous, jump on a rental car, hit the road and lets explore sunny Puerto Rico together!

orlando

2 Responses

  1. jim leming

    Orlando, only 2 weeks till we head your way. Have cer­tainly appre­ci­ated all the resources and advice you have pro­vided. All set w/ wifi access, reser­va­tions, and pos­si­ble restau­rants. Being as pho­tog­ra­phy is your area of exper­tise, could you tell me if my Sony DSC-H20 will auto­mat­i­cally cap­ture the aurora of the biobay, or will I have to manip­u­late it man­u­ally?? I have for­got­ten what lit­tle I once knew about speed and aper­ture set­tings. Any sug­ges­tions would be greatly appre­ci­ated. Thanks, Jim

    • Orlando Mergal

      Hi Jim:

      I’m glad to hear that you’re almost set to visit Puerto Rico. I hope you enjoy your stay.

      First of all, let me pref­ace my answer with the fol­low­ing blank state­ment: “most night­time pho­tog­ra­phy is shot in man­ual mode”.

      Now, there’s a tech­ni­cal rea­son for that. When your cam­era meters a scene it tries to aver­age it out to 18% gray. That’s more or less what you would get if you shot green grass in mid­day sun­light. But most of a night­time scene isn’t green (or 18% gray for that mat­ter). It’s black. Hence, try­ing to shoot a night­time scene where there might be a mul­ti­col­ored aurora will only result in gray pic­tures with an over­ex­posed aurora.

      When you talk about an aurora I’m imag­in­ing the after­glow that you get about half an hour after the sun goes down. If that’s the case, your best bet would be to shoot in man­ual mode and use a tri­pod. I can’t stress this enough. This type of shot will often be 1/4 of a sec­ond long or maybe even longer. So there’s no way you’ll hold your cam­era steady that long.

      Take, for exam­ple, the image of “Fort San Felipe Del Morro” that’s at the begin­ning of one of my lat­est posts “Old San Juan At Dusk”. That image was shot at ISO 160, with an aper­ture of f11.3 and at a shut­ter speed of 6 sec­onds. With­out a tri­pod that shot would have been impossible.

      Oh, and don’t for­get a cable release. At expo­sures that long even the slight­est vibra­tion will ruin your shot.

      You’ll also need to bracket. What’s that? Shoot a cou­ple of frames above your “cor­rect” expo­sure point (let’s say +1 and +2 stops) and a cou­ple under. That way one of your shots will be perfect.

      Finally, I’m not sure if by “aurora” you were refer­ring to the glow that you get in the water if you run your hands through it. If that’s what you would like to cap­ture then that’s a totally dif­fer­ent story.

      For starters you’ll need a high ISO because the tiny phy­to­plank­ton that pro­duce that glow don’t put out that much light power . From there I would go with a shut­ter pri­or­ity set­ting based on 1/125 or 1/60. And if your images come out a lit­tle over­ex­posed dial in an expo­sure com­pen­sa­tion of –1 or –2 stops.

      Puerto Rico is a trea­sure trove of pho­to­graphic oppor­tu­ni­ties. So have fun and enjoy your trip!

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