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’.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Saving La Ronda

Facebook is where I first heard about the historic mansion known as La Ronda, located on Roscommon Road in Bryn Mawr, PA. Due to its history and architectural detail, many people have been rallying for the mansion to be preserved rather than be demolished. As someone who loves historic sites, I decided to go up to Bryn Mawr and see the La Ronda mansion for myself and photograph its ornate exterior details.

The window details were really impressive as well as the chimney with a style you just don't see everyday...or anymore for that matter.

I also love this detail on the front wall of the mansion, such as the sculpted bust of a knight in armor above a family crest shield. It's the kind of detail that speaks of great history associated with La Ronda.

I have seen a few old photos of La Ronda’s interior posted online, and they showed how grand the mansion really was. There was a great hall, like those you would see in a high society scene from many historical period movies. If only there were scheduled tours of La Ronda to this day, but given the situation of whether or not it will be preserved, I’m not sure about the interior condition. On the Facebook group page called “Save La Ronda,” someone posted a message that the mansion was being ransacked for artifacts prior to demolition.

However, I know that those on the preservation side still hope to save the mansion from being demolished and I would love to see it saved as well. It is a wonder to me that this place, or any other historically significant site, could possibly be torn down. Any historic site in tells some part of the story of the country they are located in. For more information on the La Ronda mansion, check out the Web site.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Visions of Nature

Whether on vacation, taking a short road trip or even just going out around the local area, nature can offer many images to a photographer. There is no telling what will be seen, or where, and so the camera is always on hand these days when on the road. In some respect, a photographer may not be surprised to come away with nice images of nature from certain places. However, other places have been a surprise regarding the location of the photo taken and how something suddenly catches the eye.

The photo below was taken at a local cemetery during the early part of May 2008, on a day with no particular plans. The splash of pink petals set against the green of the trees and lawn was appealing; and in this, a surprise find. This calm scene, although taken in a cemetery, seemed to say “life” with the pink blossoms of Spring on the bush.

The following photo was taken a few years ago while walking around at Delaware County Community College between classes. The scene was found just tucked away behind the main campus building containing all the classrooms. It is another example of how random exploring can give way to something pretty in nature, such as the colorful leaves of autumn.

During an Outer Banks vacation in June 2004, a thunderstorm developed overnight halfway through the week, knocking out power until the morning. The photo below is of the remaining stormy skies as viewed from the 3rd floor deck of the Cape Hatteras Motel. As much as storms can scare people, they always draw us in to some degree. It was the dark stormy blue colors of the sky against the ocean that warranted taking a picture and capturing it forever.

Whether someone is into photography or not, one thing is for sure; nature, with all its colors, can inspire the artist in everyone. Nature is something that can easily turn a casual photographer into much more, and even inspire travels to see other places for the first time. Personally, there are so many visions of nature out there which have yet to be seen. So there will be many more posts here in the future, sharing nature captured in images from many places.