Tag Archives: historical

Of National Parks and Classic Cars

Looking back on the past week or so I realize that I’ve spent a lot of time uploading slightly refined versions of photos previously taken rather than taking anything new. As much as I may enjoy looking back on old holiday snaps, I’ve come to realize over the years that no picture of crater lake…

Crater_Lake_NP_23

… can really do the place justice. While I’m reminiscing joyfully in my head about the place, the rest of the world just says, “oh. lake. Cool…?” Totally understandable. Those determined stalwarts who wish to may check out Crater Lake National Park, Diamond Lake, Oregon, and the Umpqua River. I don’t really expect you to necessarily do so, but as this blog is primarily dedicated to what I’m doing photographically, there’s your answer.

No, what I’m really here to chatter on about is the Zionsville fall festival. As the seasons turn here in Indiana we find ourselves ready to celebrate the coming onslaught of winter. I wandered out see what could be seen on Sunday of last week and ran into a classic car show. I’d rather forgotten how much I adore the visuals at these things. All the wonderful chrome details are just generally dazzling. I need to make a point to get out to more classic car events.

I just can’t get enough of these shiny, gas-guzzling old birds. Even when I was a wee lad I dreamed of owning a 57 Chevy in cherry red. Until, of course, I realized what it would cost to drive a 57 Chevy in cherry red. Ah well.

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2013_ZVille_FallFestival_23

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2013_ZVille_FallFestival_22

And that’s the day that was, more or less. If you’ve got a classic car or anything else that needs photographing drop me a line. I’ll be there with bells on.

PS: Click any photo for a closer look and go look at flickr if you want even more photos.

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The Old Round Church – Richmond Vermont

We had some time to kill in Vermont so we took to roaming the countryside somewhat randomly. One of the things we stumbled upon was a unique church built in 1812 with a round configuration. The volunteer tour guide explained that the church was a combined congregation from several neighboring localities so the shape was rather apropos of the spirit of the place.

From 7-31-2013 Richmond, VT

The original construction cost $3,000 and was paid for by sales of the pews. Once you bought a pew, it was yours to sit in or pass down to your heirs as you saw fit.

From 7-31-2013 Richmond, VT

If you’re nice, they’ll let you stand in the pulpit and say a few words.

From 7-31-2013 Richmond, VT

From time to time they have concerts in the place and a pipe organ was brought in from some other neighboring historical building.

From 7-31-2013 Richmond, VT

It looks rather octagonal on the outside…

From 7-31-2013 Richmond, VT

… but it’s round enough on the inside.

From 7-31-2013 Richmond, VT

I close with the view from the pulpit.

From 7-31-2013 Richmond, VT

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Vacation, Niagara Falls and the Dynamics of Post-Processing

A week or so ago I took off for the east coast with three intentions close to my heart:

1.  Take lots of photos.  Not just random touristy crap but shots with a sense of artistry in mind.  Shots that make me think when I get back.

2.  Do #1, but be patient and let the art come to me rather than trying to force it.

3.  Make time each day to sit down and write about whatever happened during the day.

As I sit back here in Indiana after a week…. yeah, I have to give myself a complete F-.  I took lots of photos but it was, frankly, lots of random touristy crap.  I wasn’t patient and I sure as shylock didn’t write about anything on vacation.  So here I am a week later trying to piece together the fragments of a vacation that, admittedly, was a lot of fun, but left me with more bullet points than I started out with.

One major addendum to #2 has been opened and it came to me as I sat at the kitchen table processing photos from the trip.  I realized that I was in some sort of bizarre race with myself to just put out product.  Like a McDonalds fry cook I was pushing out identical hash browns rather than trying to savor the details.  I recall during various points in the trip that I was shooting for the purposes of HDR but when I got home I couldn’t be bothered to actually do the processing required.  I’m happy to drive 20 hours across the country to take a photo, but that 60 seconds required to process it correctly… well, screw that.  I have a Facebook audience that demands instant gratification… or… wait… maybe it’s just ME that demands instant gratification.  So here we pick up a #4

4.  Be patient with post-processing, taking hours or days or weeks to generate a quality finished product rather than just a quick one.

What does this mean?  Well, many things.  Sure, you want to take the time to balance everything visually in a proper manner but this also means tagging and adding descriptions and taking the time to put down the words that go with the picture.  Sure a picture may be “worth 1,000 words” but a few scant words go a long way to making those 1,000 “words” much more meaningful.

***

The words I should have written last night about Niagara run somewhat along the following lines….

The night before we drove from Vermont to Buffalo in an bleary 6-hour stretch that lasted until 3am.  We pulled into the hotel in a state of paranoia about whether the desk clerk would have held our room for us so late into the night.  Luckily for our sanity, he had received instructions from his predecessor so we were not unexpected at that ungodly hour.  Mercifully, checkout was not until 12 and we used every minute of that in our beleaguered journey to the land of wakefulness.

Rubbing the sleep from our eyes, we motored onward to Niagara and my impressions of the place warrant another spate of bulletpoints.

a.  When I was a wee lad in the early 80’s traveling with my grandparents, we roamed from west coast to east and the world seemed an open book.  Sure there was kitschy  randomness but it was the exception.  Arriving at Niagara  I was stunned at just how… commercial… the whole thing had become.  My mind wandered to times 400 years previous when Samuel de Champlain stumbled upon the site and discovered this monumental natural phenomenon. It really puts into perspective how much we’ve sanitized the natural world for our consumption. We’ve taken the awesome spectacle of nature and enclosed her in guard rails. It makes a one rather sad, to be frank.

b. The number of languages spoken by the people in evidence here made me want to go back and study my German, French, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese and Danish with much more attention. We spent many hours wondering “what language was that?” as we walked around listening to the varied cacophony. As a xenophile who appreciates other cultures much more than his own, it was endlessly gratifying to see people from all over the world enjoying the same bits of America which held our attention.

c. The falls is a rather striated locale. On the Canadian side, you have a casino and what looks like the most abundant accommodation. From the American side, it looks like the Canadians really have their shit together. This could be a totally wrong impression since we were passport-less on the American side and thus, completely stuck, but the other side of the river… yeah, it looked like flipping Nirvana. On this side, we had a view of the falls, mostly under construction and a huge 7-story building that someone built without any knowledge of who would actually bother to rent space in it. The first floor is a souvenir shop worthy of any good flea market and the second floor is a “made in America” shop that offers t-shirts and random unsavory food items. I’d heard that the Canadian side was “better” but I had no idea it was this unequal.

d. The American side of things offers several “attractions” for an extra fee. For $15 a person you can go out on a boat and get closer to the falls. This is the “Maid of the Mist” that’s been running for ages. The boats do go fairly close to the base of the falls and I guess… well, we didn’t choose this particular option for our extra $50 but it seems like it would be tolerable. We chose instead “The Cave of the Mist” in which you can walk up a wooden stairway and get right under the hellacious torrent of the falls themselves. Part of me is disappointed that they did this at all really. They took a natural wonder and put stairs under it after all. Another part of me … well, the part of me that stood there under the falls getting drenched was delighted by the idea. It should be noted that I intentionally didn’t take my camera to “The Cave” because of the risk involved in taking $2,000 worth of camera equipment under a waterfall. As it turns out, except for the “Hurricane” platform, my camera would have been fairly safe.

Alright, all that diatribe was pursuant to waiting for the upload to finish so let’s get on with the photos.

I was surprised… and yet not surprised… at the crowds. It wasn’t terrible on a weekday but it wasn’t exactly intimate.

From Niagra Falls, NY

It is truly amazing to think that this small overlook is the juncture between two huge lakes, one emptying into another. What’s more, it’s been a focus of human attention for millenia. No matter how the tiny humans may scurry and worry, the Earth carries on in its well-worn groove. Makes one feel more than a bit insignificant.

From Niagra Falls, NY

What strikes me here is the rocky profile under the water. For tens of thousands of years, water has poured over this rocky decline. Yet this sharp point persists, resisting a million, a billion tiny nibbles from every minuscule particle of sediment that made its way over the falls.

From Niagra Falls, NY

The Canadian side has high-rises, a casino, even a Burger King. The American side…. well, it has a flea market. I’m not exactly sure what that says about us, but taking away all that, it is a truly epic sight.

From Niagra Falls, NY

Here are my three traveling companions for the trip.

From Niagra Falls, NY

Ahhhh, the observation deck… This also leads to the “Maid of the Mist”. That attraction costs $15 per person. Luckily, the organizers were nice enough to offer a $1 trip down just to look around. This is what we paid for. It was a $4 well worth it. Not sure $60 to go out on a boat would have been similarly well received.

From Niagra Falls, NY

From the observation deck, I recalled the intent to capture the falls “as if frozen”. This is my attempt at 1/1000 of a second. Doesn’t look much different from the standard.

From Niagra Falls, NY

Here are the “Maid of the Mist” crowd.

From Niagra Falls, NY

One has to admit that taking a step back, the whole area is pretty phenomenal. This has been going on, pretty much as it is now, for thousands of years. Those glaciers did us a favor. Whether you believe in God or not, this is not a place to be taken lightly.

From Niagra Falls, NY

Looking the other direction, we have the bridge to Canada.

From Niagra Falls, NY

Laura is always chippper….

From Niagra Falls, NY

I leave you with the awesome majesty of the falls. Pounding on and on for centuries.

From Niagra Falls, NY

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French Lick, Indiana and West Baden Springs

Our real vacation of the year approaches so it seemed wise to go warm up on some nearby tourist attractions. This previous weekend we went off to see the gem of Southern Indiana, French Lick.

You can tell we’re all really excited.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

First stop, French Lick hotel and casino.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

We’re far from the only ones in evidence on this glorious summer day.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

The interior is decorated in middle-American gaudy.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs
From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

And the front desk guy made sure we saw the “baskilisks”. I guess they are kinda basking.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

The place gets a Fonzi-style thumbs-up from the cherubs.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

Kids got bored more quickly than the adults, as usual.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

In the main formal dining hall, chandeliers as far as the eye can see it seems.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

When photographing, it always pays to look up.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

But there are more modest light fixtures. I love the lines in this one.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

Overlooking the sulfurous gardens…

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

The stench of the springs left some people rather minimally impressed.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

No shortage of fancy

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

“Read the sign…”
“On the door…”
“The Sign….”
“Right there!…”
“The sign!!”
“Read the sign!!!!”
“Oh nevermind…”

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

Pluto never looked so happy.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs
From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

After the first hotel, West Baden offers another more majestic example of the genre.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

The central lobby is a huge domed area 200 feet wide

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

… with a pendulous chandelier hanging from the ceiling 135 feet above the floor.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs
From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs
From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

While you’re waiting for your parents to get tired of looking around, you can even play a game of checkers…

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

…or just fall asleep altogether on one of the many pieces of wonderfully comfortable furniture.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

Lots of stained glass is on offer.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

And the well-manicured grounds also offer a cemetery for those in the mood for such things.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

But watch out for the frogs. They spit.

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

Alright, enough of that. I’m out of here…

From 7-13-2013 French Lick Indiana – West Baden Springs

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St Louis Day 2 – The Arch, Science Center, History Museum

I started out the day setting the alarm for 5:00am to catch the sunrise. ┬áIn my raved and under-researched mind, I imagined the sun coming up in the middle of this…

From 6-11-2013 St Louis

As you can tell, that completely failed to work out. Instead, it managed to come up about 40 degrees to the left. Even so, it wasn’t a bad backdrop.

From 6-11-2013 St Louis

Despite the huge miss in estimation, the Missouri dawn was worth seeing.

From 6-11-2013 St Louis

Hours later, the kids requested the St. Louis Science Center as their first stop. After yesterday’s photos, I felt the zoom lens was more than a bit soft and went with the fixed 60mm macro instead. This isn’t a bad choice for a museum as it’s the fastest bit of glass I have, but the fixed focal length does tend to make my photos more centered on close-ups and textures.

I tend not to take a lot of photos of fixed displays, but these seemed amusing.

From 6-11-2013 St Louis
From 6-11-2013 St Louis
From 6-11-2013 St Louis

The kids weren’t overly amused by the science center; there was a distinct sense of “Is that it?” So we moved quickly on to the Missouri History Museum. Outside there was a van for the local senior living center. The kids’ pointed out, rather amusingly, that it should be “SunSET Senior Living”

From 6-11-2013 St Louis

Everyone seemed fascinated by the 1904 Fair exhibition.

From 6-11-2013 St Louis
From 6-11-2013 St Louis
From 6-11-2013 St Louis

And of course it’s not a visit to St. Louis without seeing the Spirit.

From 6-11-2013 St Louis

After a couple of hours of history, the kids were ready to move on again. The next step was supposed to be the Frank Lloyd Wright house but the picker of said location failed to let us know to make reservations. So we ended up at the sculpture park instead.

We all had endless fun with this giant eyeball.

From 6-11-2013 St Louis

This huge red… something…? Was … well, huge?

From 6-11-2013 St Louis

It at least attracted the attention of some model and her photographer. In the spirit of taking pictures of photographers…

From 6-11-2013 St Louis

The whole thing was rather avant garde

From 6-11-2013 St Louis

This representative from the land of fairie has wings made of airplane propeller blades. Rather apt.

From 6-11-2013 St Louis

The last order of business for the day was the Arch monument itself.

From 6-11-2013 St Louis

I was here a few years ago and I can’t help but feel that I took the EXACT same photos but with better equipment. I’m half afraid to look.

From 6-11-2013 St Louis

OK, I know I took this one. I’m hopeful the color’s better this time.

From 6-11-2013 St Louis

I love this one but it’s fairly hard to tell what it is. Shot at 8mm fish-eye directly under the arch.

From 6-11-2013 St Louis

This time we actually bothered to go up and see the sites from the top of the arch. Not for the claustrophobic that’s for sure.

From 6-11-2013 St Louis

And that seems to be… now that I look back on it, pretty much the day that was.

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Wide-Angle Zionsville and Time-Lapse

Today was my day to wander around Zionsville; since I like to be democratic, I try to see to it that each of my lenses gets some air-time on occasion. I hadn’t had the 8mm wide angle out in a while so today was its day.

My 8mm isn’t the highest quality lens in the universe so the focus isn’t terribly sharp but for all that it sure is… well, wide.

From 5-30-2013 Zionsville

And the color’s not bad either. Though perhaps that’s more because I sorta know what I’m doing when I process the photos.

From 5-30-2013 Zionsville

Wide angle is always good for amusing perspective tricks. Or… no, not tricks… my arms really are this long.

From 5-30-2013 Zionsville

And I’m REALLY tall. Heeeelllloooooo down there.

From 5-30-2013 Zionsville

The top two pics are taken from on top of an old train trestle; there’s a wooden walkway down to the creek bed.

From 5-30-2013 Zionsville

And it’s wonderfully old-looking from below.

From 5-30-2013 Zionsville
From 5-30-2013 Zionsville
From 5-30-2013 Zionsville
From 5-30-2013 Zionsville

Finally, it was an active cloud night so I did a couple of time-lapses that are at times moderately amusing. Not terribly, but maybe worth 30 seconds.

Clouds…

Sunset…

So I guess that’s the day that was.

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Carmel at Dusk – May, 2013

Every single evening when it’s cloudy out, I bemoan the fact that I’m missing the sunset.

Every single evening when it’s not cloudy, I sit on my butt and barely bother to look outside.

Tonight, I made a point to go and chase the sunset.  The colors really are better in the first and final hours of the day.

From 5-28-2013 Carmel at Dusk

Did I mention…. soooo green.

From 5-28-2013 Carmel at Dusk

Low perspective on the water.

From 5-28-2013 Carmel at Dusk

I’m always a sucker for the contradiction between nature and the stern and metallic man-made objects…

From 5-28-2013 Carmel at Dusk

Coxhall Gardens.

From 5-28-2013 Carmel at Dusk
From 5-28-2013 Carmel at Dusk

Love the gentle curve above and its reflection.

From 5-28-2013 Carmel at Dusk

The fiery dusk

From 5-28-2013 Carmel at Dusk

And that was pretty much the day that was.

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