Monday, December 28, 2009

The Big Snow '09

We ended up with over 20 inches of snow in the Philadelphia area by the time the snow stopped falling on Dec. 20th. That was more than the total amount from snow storms in the early months of 2009.

Below, a few before / during and after shots I took:

This wooden planter is probably just over 12 inches tall, and you can see just how much even that was covered by snow.

Another thing resulting from the heavy snow was that my internet connection was down for all but a few minutes of the Dec. 19-20 weekend. It has connection problems on and off even on good weather days, but it was worse than usual during the snow storm.

Now, in the last days of 2009, more snow is heading our way from the Mid-west according to the Weather Channel forecasts. I hope there won't be as much, although snow is being forecast for 4 days out of the coming week. My biggest concern is the commute to and from my college campus beginning on Jan. 12th, as well as the parking conditions complicated by any snow accumulation.

So, I'll be staying tuned into the latest and if I'm not back on here before then, hope everyone has a safe and happy New Years!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Snow Storm Brewing

This coming weekend, I had plans to go out to Shady Maple Smorgasbord and also do some photography in the surrounding area. I found out that the PA Wolf Sanctuary and an area protected by the Natural Lands Trust were not too far away. However, the weather forecasts began to call for not only really cold temperatures, but also a winter storm warning. It sounds like it will be a big one, with local events cancelling and people getting stocked up today.

So, in my area, the year 2009 is coming to a close with snow…much like what the early months of the year experienced. The surrounding areas of Philadelphia saw snow coming down in January, February and March this year. I’m hoping that we don’t get too much snow as we go through the next few months, what with my commute to campus starting soon. Below is a slideshow I put together of my neighborhood’s snow scenes, with images spanning from January to March 2009.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Main Line Photo Project

As viewed from the St. David’s exit of the Blue Route, this is a photo I took of some insignia detail that crosses over Lancaster Avenue. Taking this exit is the way we often go when heading out to the areas of Wayne, Berwyn, Devon and Paoli. A recent drive heading toward those areas from Exton, PA inspired the idea for my Main Line photo project.

I was coming from a family dinner at the Cracker Barrel in Exton and afterwards followed Lancaster Avenue / Route 30 back to the towns mentioned before. Along the way, I noticed a number of historic structures dotting either side of the road often referred to as the Main Line. Although a passenger on this particular trip, I didn’t get to take photos of these structures as most were in difficult spots or noticed at the last minute.

However, I managed to map these structures out with the help of Google Maps and made note of anything nearby when next approaching them. The street view feature also helped in finding some places to get off the road to capture images of these intriguing old structures. Now if only I could find out about the history of each one to go along with any photos. There are always the historical societies…and whatever I find out, I’ll add in a future post.

I have to say that I’ve been interested in this stretch of road, and the area surrounding the Main Line, since my high school days. That is when I first started to see the areas of Wayne, Berwyn, Devon and Paoli on a regular basis. Back then, I remember thinking, “I would really love to live around here someday.” The back roads are so scenic, but I love to see the little shops right along certain parts of Lancaster Avenue as well. Overall, when going through this area, I can feel of real sense of the local history and American tradition.

In the near future, I’ll head back up for a drive along the Main Line and look for my planned out photo stops here and there. A couple of the structures I want to get photos of are abandoned and have no historical markers onsite. These types of old buildings always draw me in, wondering what the history is behind them and if they’ll be restored to their former glory. In the meantime, they inspire my imagination about their stories going back to various times.

Check back soon for photos and any history I can dig up.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Autumn's Artistry

This year was the first time I really got the chance to capture the vibrant colors of Autumn using my digital camera. Most photos were taken by chance, rather than on outings specifically looking for colorful scenes of Autumn in my area. It is past peak time for leaf-peeping throughout the mid-Atlantic and northeast regions, according to Fall foliage maps on the Web site. So I am looking forward to next year’s round of leaves changing from green to many vibrant, warm shades.

My slideshow of Autumn leaves includes photos from River Winds restaurant in New Jersey, Marcus Hook Park, and downtown Media, PA. Among the last few photos in my slideshow are a few taken from inside my car as it started to rain one evening earlier this month. The rain drops gave the view I had of the red leaves gave it somewhat of a mystical, ethereal look.

With a little luck, maybe I’ll get to do some Autumn leaf-peeping around scenic New England…which I have never visited before. I’ve always wanted my first visit to the New England states to be during the season of Autumn, a classic time to go. Another place I’d love to visit during Autumn next year is the historic New York town of Sleepy Hollow, along the Hudson River.

But for now, hope you enjoy the photos in my slideshow of beautiful Fall foliage!

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Parade for Veterans Day

On Veterans Day, I went to downtown Media, PA for a parade honoring and saluting those who serve in our military. My family has some military history within it, so anything veteran-related is close to our hearts. Both of my grandfathers (no longer living) served during WWII; one in Europe and the other who served in Pearl Harbor when the attacks happened. Then my dad went on to become a part of the 101st Airborne during the Vietnam War. He was not able to get the day off from work on Veterans Day to go to the parade, so it was just my mom and I attending.

While at the parade, I was able to get a number of patriotic photos as it is another subject area I like to photograph. Anything that has that All-American spirit to it is inspiring to me, so when I see something symbolizing America, I want to represent it in my favorite form of art. In the slideshow below are some of the photos I took at the Veterans Day parade, along with the last two photos in the slideshow. The first of those two is my dad’s 101st Airborne hat and a bag of brochures from the PA Veterans Museum.

The very last photo in my slideshow was taken on the way home from the parade and has some extra background to it.

Shortly after 9/11, I spotted a message in a heart-shaped sign and the American flag hanging on someone’s wooden picket fence along Pennell Road. The stretch of road with one lane in each direction is usually pretty busy, so getting a photo wasn’t easy. It is on the passenger side of the road when heading in the direction of Baltimore Pike from Aston, PA; with no place to pull over out of traffic. But on Veterans Day this year, I had an unusual moment of being the passenger at a not-so-busy time of day and with no cars behind us. So I could finally photograph the patriotic display, a display that speaks volumes.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A New Focus

I decided to change the purpose of my blog page slightly, from a focus on various outings to a focus on my overall experiences with photography. This is due to not always getting out for some photography as regularly as I would like to. If the weather is bad or my schedule doesn’t allow it, etc., I might not be able to post anything for a while. Or, I may have something to write about but no new photos to go with it; much like when writing about places I want to visit for the first time.

So to avoid a lack of posts somewhat, I thought I’d change my focus before I get too much further into posting on here. Besides, I have many subjects that I like to capture images of; historic places and nature of course, but also current events, artsy things, etc. The first photo below is one I took at a Peace Rally I covered for the West Chester University of PA campus newspaper, The Quad. The second photo I took is one example I consider on the artsy side.

In starting my new focus, I have a new venture coming up in the general world of art and that is the possibility of being in an art show for the first time. The alumni association of my local community college is holding its annual art show for members this December. I graduated from the community college back in December of 2006 with my liberal arts degree and minor in journalism.

The participant application and fee both have to be in by November 20, and I have a few things to do before then. I’m working on writing a short artist statement, as well as deciding what five photos to submit. After that, I have to get them matted or framed and hand-deliver my photo entries to the alumni association. The easiest part of this is narrowing down my photo choices to only digitals for their sharper appearance.

I’m not sure how much it will cost to have photos matted, and money has been an issue lately what with the economy. If I find a low enough price, I will definitely be able to enter the art show; otherwise, I will wait for future art shows when there is more money.

There are more advanced areas of photography that I want to learn about, such as infrared black and white photography. I’m inspired to do so by the works of photographer Simon Marsden, who takes dramatic and haunting photos of European castles, ruins and landscapes. I upgraded from the 35mm Minolta Maxxum 5 film camera below; and have been using my current camera, a digital Canon PowerShot S5IS for two years now. It doesn’t have an infrared feature, so I’ll need another camera in the future; preferably a digital SLR by Canon or Nikon.

One goal with infrared photography is to capture wedding images. I never really thought of wedding photography to a serious degree before, although my cousin’s wedding photos were very inspiring. They weren’t done in infrared; it was a mix of the scenery, candid and posed shots that inspired the idea to think more about wedding photography as another subject matter.

Friday, October 30, 2009

New Jersey

Although a neighboring state to me, New Jersey is another place that I have not explored all that well over the years. I have family Clarksboro and Lakewood, and have been to a few other areas including some of the shore points. However, there are a number of places in the Garden State that I have found out about online and would like to see as well.

For starters, there is the town of Lambertville which I found something interesting about after someone on Facebook posted photos of a trip there. In particular, the photos were of the old abandoned Lambertville High School and of course that was intriguing to me right away. So I’m planning to stop in that area when I visit New Hope, PA as Lambertville is just across the river.

Another town I’d like to check out is historic Smithville, having seen something about that on the Travel Channel. The town was featured on of the Travel Channel’s programs about weird destinations due to being linked to the Jersey Devil legend. Well, with or without the Jersey Devil legend, I know I’ll enjoy a visit to Smithville for some historic small town scenery. I’ve always been more into settings like that instead of a big city life.

Also, I am hoping to go back to Cape May on Halloween this Saturday and if I do, I’ll write about that and post photos as soon as possible. I love Cape May, yet unfortunately, never get to go there on a regular basis; my last two visits there being in the late 90s and before that in 1993 on a high school trip. As for shore points I haven’t been to…those include Asbury Park, Point Pleasant, Sea Girt, Barnegat and Avalon…but those will be for other trips to the shore. A boat tour of New Jersey lighthouses would be nice, too, now that I’m thinking of multiple shore points.

While writing about New Jersey travels, I’d like to recommend the River Winds Restaurant in West Deptford to anyone who is looking into holding a special event somewhere. I went there this past weekend for one cousin’s baby shower and everyone loved the location with its beautiful maritime themed detail and great views of Philadelphia.

The restaurant is new, having still been in construction back in the late Spring / early Summer part of this year. Here are some photos I took of both the restaurant and its riverfront views.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Taking Flight

I was always very interested in the story of pioneering woman aviator Amelia Earhart, so I’ve been waiting a while for the release of “Amelia” in theatres. When I first heard about it, it was as though filmmakers knew I had wanted to see a movie about this brave woman. Now that I’ve seen the preview, I am already amazed at Oscar-winner Hilary Swank in this role and the scenes shown so far. So, for this post, I decided to write about places I’ve been to (and hope to go to) that are linked to flight history.

With the family connection on my Mom’s side to the Outer Banks, there has always been an interest in aviation history going back to the Wright Brothers. There are no ancestral ties to Orville and Wilbur Wright that we know of; our interest comes from the connection between the Outer Banks and humans taking flight. So, in a way, I guess that is what draws some of my family to that particular part of human history. Below are some photos I took during my visit to the Outer Banks in June 2004.

My grandfather (on my Dad’s side of the family) worked on helicopters at his job. As a kid, my Dad was interested in space exploration programs such as Apollo, collecting related memorabilia along the way. Later, he was a part of the 101st Airborne division in Vietnam. From all of that comes his interest in going to air shows including those at Willow Grove, PA and Millville, NJ. Below, some of my photos from at least one air show I went to a few years back.

So my family is where I inherited my own interest in aviation history from. I always wanted to go to the Air & Space museum and D.C., see the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds perform aerial stunts, and see a space shuttle launch in person. The slideshow in this post includes photos I took of the displays at the Air & Space museum (including that of Amelia Earhart), and aerial stunts by the Blue Angels and other planes over the Millville air show grounds.

Having visited the Air & Space museum and watched the Blue Angels fly overhead, there is one more flight-related goal I have. I still haven’t seen a space shuttle launch in person and there aren’t many launches left at this point. Hopefully, I’ll get to visit Titusville, FL soon to witness one of the final moments of the space shuttle era. As the part of space exploration that my generation grew up watching, a space shuttle launch has always felt like something I should see in person.

I think in general, everyone has some degree of fascination with flying; maybe because to fly means escaping our natural ground setting and going into new territory. Humans became curious about it at some point, and a handful of pioneering people began to see what we could do in the skies. Below is another photo I took while in the Outer Banks and visiting the Wright Brothers museum.

Having not flown anywhere myself yet, the skies are still new and unfamiliar territory for me and I hope to see many places. Eventually, I’ll have my own first flight experience to help me on my way to all those far off places. The pink-tinted skies over my area one day prompted me to wait for a plane to fly overhead and take the picture below.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Next Stop - Philly

I have been to Philadelphia, the closest big city to me, a number of times and it is amazing how much I still haven't seen. So, while in the City of Brotherly Love next weekend, I hope to visit multiple sites.

The photo below is one I took during my last visit into the city, which was fairly short; just to see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall.

Other times, I have only gone to Penn's Landing for fireworks and stadiums for concerts. It has been years since I visited the zoo and major museums of the city. As for what I would like to see / do in and around Philadelphia for the first time, the list includes:

  • The Betsy Ross House
  • Old City Tavern
  • The Mutter Museum
  • National Constitution Center
  • Elfreth's Alley
  • Fairmount Park
  • Boathouse Row
  • Laurel Hill Cemetery
  • Museum of Art
  • Dining on the Moshulu
  • Cruise on the Spirit of Philadelphia
  • Carriage ride
  • Ride the Ducks
  • Double decker bus tour
With all of those things to see and do, I probably couldn't get it all done in one day's time and I'll only be in the city for one day.

I'm actually not much of a big city person, although I do like day trips into the city. One other trip into the city, by train, was for a job interview years back. It was the first time I went into Philadelphia by myself and I was so nervous, but only half of that was because of the interview. I didn't get that particular job in the end, but everything else went well. One thing is for sure though; it is somewhat hard to believe that I ventured into the city by myself back then. Only the job prospect made me do so, but it was a moment of adventure for me when I think about it.

That adventure is still in me, only for the sake of travel itself...although fulfilling travel goals has been difficult what with the economic situation these days. I think about all of the places I want to visit, local or not. I hope I get to see as many of them as possible because of the inspiration that these places give to people.

Being in a big city for just a day is exciting to me, with so much going on and so much to check out; definitely a source of inspiration. So I'm looking forward to next weekend and how many sites I'll cover while in Philadelphia this time around.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October Spirit

The season may officially start in September, however it is October that really makes me feel the spirit of Autumn. The festivities are in full swing for Halloween all month and there are so many to choose from.

I found out about an apple harvest festival taking place near Gettysburg, a town that I would love to go back to soon. I have not been back since a camping trip at Artillery Ridge Campgrounds in 1994. Anyway, along with the apple festival during the first two weekends this month, why not check out the best-known haunted sites of Gettysburg?

Other military-related and thought to be haunted sites I'd like to visit include Fort Delaware and Fort Mifflin. Chances are better that I'll go to Fort Mifflin first, or else wait until next year to see both forts with earlier planning.

There are a few events and places in particular interest me the most regarding the spirit of the enchanting Autumn season. These include a train tour of Fall foliage in West Chester, PA...a haunted trolley tour in Cape May...and the legendary town of Sleepy Hollow, NY. I have never been to Sleepy Hollow, so going there has its own little bonus.

If I could fit it in this year, I'd also love to visit another place for the first time...and especially close to Halloween. That place is the historic seaport town of Salem, MA...but that will definitely have to wait until next year.

As a fitting end to this post, below is a photo I took years ago on a family trip. For the longest time, I could not remember where we saw this place. I hadn't written anything on the back of the photo or in a photo album about it. I just knew we had seen it either on the way to Williamsburg, VA, or to Johnstown, PA. But then, I stumbled across something about it on the internet. The info on the internet revealed that it was located in Ashville, PA (Cambria County), confirming we had seen it on the way to visiting relatives in Johnstown. I just wonder if this place is still standing and if so, if it still looks like this.

Happy Haunting!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Return to Valley Forge, Part 2

While exploring Washington Chapel, I came across a number of things to photograph both in and outside of the structure dedicated to our first president. I definitely didn’t capture all I wanted to, so I’ll definitely have to go again at another time.

Inside the chapel is a breathtaking sight with very detailed pews, miniature revolutionary soldier statues and colorful stained glass. The high-vaulted ceilings, like the one in Washington Chapel, are always impressive architectural features to me as well.

Also, like the tower room containing the Justice Bell, there was a sign in the chapel pertaining to fundraising efforts to maintain it.

Walking the open-air halls or standing in the courtyard, I was surrounded by beautiful Victorian Gothic stone windows. It was like exploring an old abbey somewhere in the countryside of England, rather than being in Valley Forge, PA.

This particular scene below I felt was my favorite one near the chapel because it looked so enchanting and timeless. It looked like a movie setting in which a medieval maiden awaits the return of her knight in shining armor.

Aside from the surrounding ornate windows, my favorite details within the courtyard included these two pieces below. The flower plant looks like something I would use to decorate a garden with because of the particular old look to it. The statue of the kneeling woman was a little difficult to figure out a decent angle for photographing the statue, though, but is a nice photography subject all the same.

There are definitely a lot of beautiful details at the chapel; too many to get all of them in one visit, so I know I'll have to go back another time.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Return to Valley Forge, Part 1

This past Sunday, I finally went returned to Valley Forge to photograph Washington Chapel and the tower standing next to it. For anyone who has not yet visited the chapel and tower, both are full of intricate architectural detail. Many details represent the history of the structures as well as honor our first president and the descendants of his army.

Exploring the structures was like taking a walk back in time to a few different historical eras, from medieval to Victorian Gothic Europe. That is just what I love about visiting historic sites…how they connect you with another place and time long ago. You can almost picture yourself being back in those eras as you are surrounded by old world architecture and the history being depicted.

As soon as I saw this door, a feature of the tower and seeming straight out of a medieval castle, I had to take some photos. It is not hard to imagine people dressed in medieval attire walking in and out, or past, a door such as this. Aside from not actually standing at the door of an actual medieval castle somewhere in Europe, that is.

Down a hall from the medieval door, there is a small room containing the Justice Bell and a number of surprises to go with it. Entering from the direction of the hall, you are face-to-face with fundraising efforts to maintain the tower. It might not make for a great photo; however, the protection, restoration and maintaining of historic sites are no doubt of great importance to me.

The surprise in the bell room came from looking straight upwards; the stars-and-stripes decorated ceiling with a tribute to the Daughters of the American Revolution.

There were also these two details on the wall above the hall entrance to the bell room; a well-made mosaic of Washington and a beautiful stained glass window.

The staircase leading up into the heights of the tower didn’t cross my mind until a small door opened and several visitors poured out. A warning sign accompanying the very steep, narrow winding staircase then came into view. I only went up a few steps to take the photos looking up into the staircase; not sure I would be comfortable climbing the distance in such a tight space.

I took a large number of photos of both the tower and the chapel. So I am stopping here for now, deciding to make this into two-parts about my most recent visit to the area of Valley Forge National Historic Park. This focused on the tower and its interior details, so the second part will focus on the chapel.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Outer Banks Dreamin'

In June 2004, I was taking in the warm-welcoming scenes of North Carolina’s Outer Banks for the first time since I was five years old. Below is a slideshow I created which reveals the many moments captured through the lens of my Minolta film camera; from lighthouses and marinas, to beach houses and natural scenery. Is it any wonder why the Outer Banks is such a beloved place?

By the way, just in case the slideshow doesn't play on here, you can also check it out on my youtube channel which is caroldfotojrn247. It is my most recent video upload on there as well, entitled "Outer Banks 2004."

The only regret was not writing about that trip to the Outer Banks while there, so that words and photos could work together in capturing memories.

However, there is the possibility of returning to the relaxing Outer Banks sometime soon with a few of my cousins. Although the plans are still just within the phase of talking about going, there is a great desire to make the trip happen. Between me and at least one of my cousins, we will definitely take a lot of photos throughout our stay. Not only that, but I hope to have learned more about video and will also be blogging about each day spent in the Outer Banks.

That reminds me…I need a new wireless device for my laptop as soon as possible; the internet does not work when I leave the house. Not good for anyone interested in travel writing and travel photography, that’s for sure.

Anyway, through our common grandfather, my cousins and I have many ancestral ties to the Outer Banks and we plan to meet up with relatives when we go. My mother has been in contact via email with some relatives since before the 2004 trip and also met with them at the time. That particular trip to the Outer Banks happened partly for the sake of family history as well having the chance to return after so many years.

The most interesting thing found out so far through my mother’s family history research is that one ancestor was a keeper at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. It would be interesting to see what else my cousins and I could find out on a future trip.

I am not sure yet how many of us will be going, however there was a particular beach house I noticed the last time there. It was called, “Six Cousins Cottage,” located near the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum, and I have six cousins on my mom’s side of the family. If only we could all stay at that beach house for a big family gathering with all of our ancestral ties to the Outer Banks.

Until that next visit, I am sure that I will not be the only one Outer Banks dreamin’.