Sunday, December 19, 2010

Photo Crafty

While shopping for a few more gifts this past weekend, I found a book that combined photography and crafts. It had a lot of creative ideas about putting together various ways of displaying photos. One example had a photo in the corner of a large frame, accented by a number of details...strips of lace, ribbon, charms and descriptive words relevant to the photo. The book also included lists of the material needed to complete whatever photo and craft project that could come to mind. Inspired by the content of the book, I decided to buy it and come up with some project ideas of my own.

Over the past few months, I had been thinking about trying my hand at scrapbooking. I thought about doing this for one or two projects here and there, combining my photography. The photo and craft book seems to be a way to slowly go into scrapbooking, rather than creating entire scrapbooks. I don't know how regular scrapbooking can be as a hobby for me, since it takes a lot of time. However, I want to try to create a scrapbook sometime. I have a lot of favorite themes to choose from as the main focus.

So along with going out on short trips and documenting them with photography, I'm going to venture into these photo projects. I'll start by putting ideas down on paper, then get to work on small projects with my photos. I'd like to create something that reflects particular trips that I take, adding related embellishments to a project. That's a start for now.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bridge Conditions at Delco Area Train Station

I was on an assignment for my college campus news, taking photos at a train station on Nov. 19 for a Septa story. The assigment was to take photos of the Septa trains, people boarding and getting off of the train.

While waiting for the train, I was taking photos of other subjects and the bridge going over the tracks was of particular interest. I noticed that the bridge had piles of bricks used as added support going across under both lanes. It brought to mind the infrastructure problem across America, with many bridges and roads needing serious repair.

Here is a link to one photo I took of the bridge: The link will take you directly to my photo in the news site's user photo gallery.

I've been told that this particular bridge in on a list for some major work, although I don't know when that will happen. I haven't been on a Septa train in a long time, so I'm not usually down by the bridge. It shocked me to see just how bad the bridge looks when viewed from the train station parking lot.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Why I Love Classic Cars

What I love about classic cars is the whole nostalgic feeling that they bring to people. It is a rare treat to see these classic cars outside of a car show. They are appreciated by multiple generations and I feel that they are the "ancestors" of today's cool cars. People love the Camaro, Corvette and the Mustang as well as other cool cars that continue to be made. The love of cool cars is still visible today as new models of the Camaro, Corvette, Mustang and others are designed.

So when word goes around of an upcoming car show, it's usually put on the calendar of local things to do. The most recent one was held near the end of August and featured a variety of cars from multiple decades.

I first heard about the car show from a friend that lives nearby and who was planning to check out the cars on display. The car show was held in a shopping center parking lot and just outside of a local diner with a 1950s theme. The Beach Boys and music by other classic bands could be heard throughout the parking lot, emphasizing the nostalgic event.

My classic car show favorite has always been the '57 Chevy Bel Air, convertible or not. What would a classic car show be without them?

My favorite car with current versions is the Camaro, also represented at the car show as a 2010 "Bumblebee" painted one entered the lot. As the owner drove through the lot, people turned to admire the bright yellow Camaro featuring two racing stripes as it cruised by slowly.

Memories Grill was the place to get lunch that day, continuing with the nostalgia of a classic cars and classic music. The diner features 3-D wall decor of various classic cars, including a pink cadillac driven by Marilyn Monroe.

While finishing some lunch at the diner, a guy sitting at the booth behind me suddenly said, "Elvis has entered the building." Everyone seemed to light up with smiles when they saw the elderly man dressed in a likeness of Elvis' white jumpsuit. Of course, a few moments later, he left the building just as my booth was being cleared.

I caught up with the Elvis impersonator again outside and he posed for a photo, then said, "Thank you, thank you very much."

I'm looking forward to the next car show held in the area or further away for an interesting road trip. I know that a 1950s weekend is held at the Jersey Shore, but I'll have to wait until it is scheduled for next year. No matter where they are, car shows are always a fun Summer excursion to go on.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Day at the Renaissance Faire

It's been a while, but as promised, I'm reflecting back on a late Summer excursion to New Jersey for the Lakewood Lions Renaissance Faire.

It was a family excursion that started out with my mom, grandmother and I heading across the Delaware River bound for Lakewood. Once there, we stopped at an aunt and uncle's house since my cousins and I had arranged getting together for the event. My aunt and one cousin's boyfriend decided to join us for a day of renaissance festivities as well.

Taking two cars, we were on our way to the recreational park where the renaissance faire was to be held. We arrived within 15 minutes of leaving my relatives' house and were directed to park by some men dressed as monks for the faire. A girl in a purple velvet renaissance dress handed out programs of the day's scheduled events that would take us back in time.

With our cars parked, we then had the option of either walking about 10 minutes or taking a three-minute bus ride into the faire grounds. We opted for the short bus ride since there were varying walking abilities in our group. The blue and white Township of Lakewood bus winded its way through a wooded area, bumping here and there as it passed by lion-themed shields.

The bus unloaded and we entered into the renaissance faire grounds, filled with tents of vendors selling a variety of crafts. A few knights on horseback entered behind us before we began our way down a slight grassy hill to souvenir shop. One vendor, "Celtic Chairde Creations," caught my eye with a front table covered by a Celtic knot work tablecloth.

According to a brochure I picked up at their tent, the word "chairde" means "friends." Their tent had a lot of bath and body products, along with some crafts such as this "Ireland" stitching and others below.

I didn't by anthing yet, wanting to work my way around and see what the other vendors had in store for us. So I began to leave the tent and rejoin my group, when who did I see walking up the hill but Captain Jack Sparrow!

"Hey, Jack Sparrow!" I called out, and the very good likeness of Johnny Depp's popular pirate character turned around, reacting in full character.

We continued down to the bottom of the hill, where a procession of costumed characters was beginning to go by. Knights on horseback, belly dancers, medieval maidens, fire baton twirlers, and pirates were all there walking to a beating drum.

After the procession made its way up where we walked down from, some of us stopped to check out a little pirate scene. Like a scene out of "Goonies," the skeletons of two ill-fated pirates lay slumped against barrels of gun powder (or maybe Jack Sparrow's rum). A skull and crossbones flag, ship's wheel, cannon and a pile of cannonballs completed the swashbuckling scene. My grandmother loved the ship's wheel in particular, as she loves maritime-themed objects.

We worked our way up the hill, completing a u-shaped tour of the renaissance faire vendor tents before finally reaching a stage area. A pirate reenactment was starting up, during which a few interesting things happened.

As the reenactment got under way, I turned away for a moment to see a mysterious and fully masked Paladin knight talking with my aunt. It didn't seem like anyone else in my group noticed yet, their full attention on the pirates and the display of swordsmanship. When they turned to see the knight, they got a kick out of him as well, not expecting to see him there with my aunt. He had signed a paper listing various renaissance faire characters that attendants could get autographs from.

The next thing that happened was a shock to my ears because I stood leaning against the right side of the stage. That turned out to be a little close to the pirate action going on in the coming moments. One pirate standing in front of the stage and closer to the opposite side seemed to look in my direction. He threw something at an enemy reenactment pirate who stood somewhere between us. Suddenly, a medium-sized cannon only two feet to my left went off and startled me! Of course, nothing was actually fired out of the cannon. However, my hearing was somewhat muted for the next few minutes. It sent a few laughs through those attending the renaissance faire with me that day, and I couldn't help but laugh as well at that surprise.

During one part of the pirate reenactment, Captain Jack Sparrow showed up again and seemed to be making a bargain with the other pirates. When the bargain didn't work out, he went running into the crowd standing opposite where we were. Picture the scene in "Pirates of the Caribbean II," when Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) doesn't want to leave the island without Jack. Then he sees Jack trying to outrun the island natives and catch up with the pirate ship. When Jack is shown from behind running along the beach, that is exactly what the renaissance faire Jack Sparrow looked like. As I mentioned, he was in full character and did a very good job with the voice and mannerisms of the movie pirate.

Following the pirate reenactment, the next big attraction at the renaissance faire was the jousting event. I was really into the renaissance spirit by this time and bought a flowery halo with streamers hanging down the back, deciding to wear it at the joust.

A crowd gathered at bleachers across from the vendor area of the renaissance faire and awaited the arrival of the knights. We could see them riding slowly around a bend to the jousting grous, or lysts, as you might hear them called in the movies. There were a few cars parked nearby, giving humor to any photo of knights in shining armor as they approached on horseback.

One knight with long, flowing blonde hair finally galloped past the crowd on a black horse and then began to address everyone. He announced the two jousting knights as they each took a turn riding past the crowd and waving. Before the joust began, the crowd was divided by the announcer, who assigned rooting sections to the knights. A little friendly verbal jabs were exchanged between the opponents, bringing laughter to their respective fans.

Then the action began with some surprising practice runs that included the knights taking turns trying to slice a cabbage while galloping by. But that's only part of it, because the cabbage was placed on top of a helmet worn by a brave renaissance faire character. The following practice involved jabbing, while mounted on their galloping horses, a target placed on some hay.

The jousting began shortly after that and early on, the knight who I rooted for was knocked off his horse. However, he eventually won the joust and I even got a piece of broken lance autographed by him.

I have more photos that I took at the renaissance faire posted on my flickr page at:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sports Photos

I found out today that two of my sports photos made it into my campus news, for the upcoming issue. This is the first time I've ever had sports photos published. The photos were from the men's alumni lacrosse game, and although sports is not my usual subject area, it was fun just trying to get some good photos. It's more experience for me with taking action photos. This was also the first lacrosse game I had ever gone to.

Working My Camera Settings

Before moving on to more road trip posts, I thought I'd write a little bit about my photography class this semester. Some work for the class includes taking photos that will go with articles in the campus news. Other work involves practicing with the technical settings such as aperture, shutter speed and ISO. These are the areas that I needed to learn more about. Up until this photography class, I would take photos and concentrate on general composition.

This is one of the photos I took while practicing with the shutter speed settings on my camera. It's a view of I-95, looking southbound. A truck on the opposite side was pulled over for a while as I took a series of these photos.

What's interesting to me is that I've always wanted to try and get those streaked images of nighttime traffic. Something else I'd like to do with long exposures is to capture star trails. I think I'll get to that point sometime as I continue to learn more technical photography skills. For now, I know the triangle of settings that work together...aperture (for example, written out as f/5.6), shutter speed (1/250) and ISO (400).

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Recent Photo Excursions

My Fall classes have kept me pretty busy lately, although all very interesting. However, I will write about and share images soon from two recent photo outings with different time period themes. I'll be posting on a local car show sponsored by a 50s diner, followed by a renaissance faire in New Jersey.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

NYC Bound

The first week of classes has come to an end, although not without assignments to work on. So this will just be a short post for now.

Next week, there is a campus involvement fair which I look forward to attending so I can sign up for a few things. Beyond that, I am already signed up for a late-semester shopping trip to New York City. It cost only $10 to sign up and because this would be my first time visiting the Big Apple since my high school years, I thought, why not?

I can't wait for this trip and I hope to get some good photos of the city!

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Goal to Reach

We are thinking about another trip to the Outer Banks, possibly for next Summer, because of a personal goal in the family.

My Mom had two heart attacks at the end of June and through cardiac rehab, she has been doing much better. When I went with her to a cardiac rehab session, I noticed a photo hanging up on one wall. I was told that it was of a previous patient at the cardiac rehab center, and that the photo marked a goal he had reached.

In the photo, he was standing in the chilly environment at Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire. A few days before, I was watching something on the Weather Channel about the observatory and its surrounding climate. So I pointed the photo out to my Mom and told her about the conditions there, and then she suddenly had a goal in mind.

"I know," my Mom said, "my goal will be to climb to the top of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse!" When we went to the Outer Banks in June 2004, neither her nor I climbed it even though it was open to do so.

I hope that we will be able to make the trip, because now it represents more than just going on vacation. If things work out and we find ourselves back in the Outer Banks, I plan to record our climb up the winding red stairs of Cape Hatteras Lighthouse on video. Then, I will capture some video of the view from the top. We should share the video with the cardiac rehab workers who helped my Mom during her sessions there.

One thing is for sure...they will be as glad as we will be if her goal becomes reality, just as the patient who reached his Mount Washington Observatory goal. It will be great to reach the top of the lighthouse, and in doing so, beating her heart scare.

It depends on a few other factors as to whether or not we can arrange the trip for next year. However, after what happened this Summer, being able to join other tourists to view the ocean from the top of the lighthouse will make for a very happy moment.

As time goes by, I'll update on here about the plans to help my Mom reach her goal at the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Smedley Park

My high school friends and I were originally going to have our 1st reunion at Rose Tree Park, but changed it to Smedley Park. It is located next to the Springfield Mall in the Delaware County area of Pennsylvania, not too far from Rose Tree.

Anyway, I thought I'd share a few photos of the scenery at Smedley in this post. One of my friends might do a full write-up on her blog page about the reunion itself. So I want to save that for her, and just post photos I took of our surroundings at the park.

I may go back to Smedley another time and take some more scenic photos of other areas there. The road into the park winds around past a few picnic areas until finally reaching a dead-end a few hundred feet beyond where the Blue Route sits overhead. At that point, it just curves around in a cul-de-sac so visitors can easily make their way back out.

And there is a snapshot of the Blue Route going overhead, which provided us with some extra shelter beyond the tarps we had set up. This is a view looking northward at the highway, which spans from Delaware County to the PA Turnpike.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

NJ Shore Points Trip - Part 3

At this point of our NJ shore excursion, we were relaxing in the shade of the pavilion and umbrella-covered picnic tables. My mom, grandmother, aunt, cousins and I had cooled down from the boardwalk stroll in the hot sun. For a few hours we just talked and enjoyed our view of the ocean, maybe 100 yards between us and the waves.

I had hoped to get some photos of people surfing, but I'm not sure if that particular beach area was for hangin' 10. The boyfriend of one cousin said that the surfing is more in other spots along the NJ shore. So there were mostly some people on boogie boards and just generally keeping cool in the water while plenty of others relaxed on the sand.

What I like in the way of water sports is boating, although I have only rarely been out on boats in my life. I inherited the family interest, especially on my mom's side, in all things maritime - marinas, lighthouses and a variety of ocean-going vessels. So as I sat in the shade, I snapped photos of boats sailing along the shore and somewhat wishing to be out on one. Well, maybe sometime I'll go on one of those boat excursions for a sailor's view of lighthouses in NJ, DE or MD.

Gazing out to the horizon, I saw a large white ship but it was very faint due to all the humidity that day. This was the first glimpse, just to show how faint it looked from our view on the pavilion.

I thought it was a cruise ship at first as it came into better view, but it didn't have the numerous decks going up from the main deck. Below are the much improved views we eventually had of the distant ship.

This last photo of the ship is the closest zoom-in that my camera would allow. I think with just a little bit more, if not double, the zooming power would have revealed what name was on the side of the ship. Well, it was an interesting thing to see since it isn't every day we see such a large ship like that.

A while later, we decided to head back to the car and it was a much cooler walk this time around on the boardwalk. It was so much easier to enjoy the scenes in the cool breeze of the late afternoon. We watched some sea birds resting out on rocky jetties, and even two people trying to surf the waves. I never saw anyone actually get up on their surfboards, but it wasn't a good view to get photos of them either. They were far past the area where we had parked by an entrance to the boardwalk. So surfing photos will be on another trip to the NJ shore, but it was overall an enjoyable trip.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

NJ Shore Points Trip - Part 2

Continuing on from my last post, we began walking along the boardwalk at Spring Lake towards a structure off in the distance. The boardwalk here was not wide like that of Atlantic City, and was lined with benches. It was a pretty hot day, so we took short breaks along the way and noticed that each bench had a dedication on it, honoring someone who had passed away.

While walking further on toward the structure ahead, I stopped a few times to capture some of these beach scenes below.

Such scenes make me want to visit the California coast someday as well...I always have wanted to go there. The scenes of boats and the ocean, however, weren't the only attraction for us at Spring Lake. There were so many beautiful beach houses just across the street from the boardwalk. We could only imagine what it would be like to have an ocean view from one of those beach houses. My grandmother even loved some of the pretty wooden fences enclosing the yards in Spring Lake. I loved the columns, balconies and fancy wrought iron details that gave the beach houses a classic look.

When we were just a few yards away from the structure, a pavilion as it turned out, we passed a bunch of colorful beach bikes secured at a bike rack. So many people were seen riding around this scenic beach town on bikes resembling these.

After the bikes, I noticed some maritime detail decorating the wall just out from under the shade of the pavilion. Coming from a family that loves maritime history, I stopped to take these two photos.

I also saw this "Hands Across the Sand" flier hanging up on the wall, since the event had taken place earlier that day. It was interesting that the flier, at least this one, was posted next to the wall detail of sea birds. I felt that it was another way in which someone was raising awareness of the wildlife affected by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Inside the pavilion, there was a little shop to buy snacks, water and souvenirs...and we were so glad to see that! We bought huge bottles of cold water and two of us had frozen fruit bars to cool down with in the shade. There was a little sitting area with round picnic tables covered by umbrellas, so we sat at one table and just took in the ocean view.

There is still a lot more to our NJ shore trip, so I will stop here for now. To be continued...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

NJ Shore Points Trip - Part 1

On June 26th, we set out on the delayed family trip to Point Pleasant with the only drawback that day being the heat. It was my mom and I, plus my grandmother (who loves going to see the ocean) heading up to Lakewood. There, we picked up one cousin and unexpectedly, my aunt decided to go as well. Before we left their house, other shore points were suggested to avoid the possibly more crowded Point Pleasant.

The five of us left the house and while not sure yet where we'd end up, we decided to grab lunch at a nearby Cheeburger Cheeburger. Another cousin, the youngest of my cousins in this part of NJ was working there in the cool 50's themed diner. As we walked in, the first thing I saw was this cardboard likeness of film legend James Dean.

Lunch was, service, atmosphere. With my burger, I had a sugar-free raspberry Shake-a-Soda which was served in a style that reflected the diner's theme.

After lunch, we were on our way again to pick up one more cousin from the area and it was decided that we'd go to Manasquan. Once there, it turned out to be a bit crowded and we were unable to find a place to park. It seems like a nice beach area to visit another time, and it was an area of NJ that we hadn't seen before...the first of many that day. Here are some photos I took there as we attempted to look for a place to park.

This old structure looks like it has some stories to tell, with how weather-worn it appears. I didn't catch a glimpse of any signs indicating what the structure is, but very interesting.

With no parking spaces to be found, we continued on our way again to see how things would be at Spring Lake. In Spring Lake Heights we spotted an Irish pub and decided to stop there for a few moments, so I took these photos.

I found out later online that Spring Lake has a very large population of people who are of Irish descent. Irish is what makes up the majority of my ancestry, so it was interesting to find out about the town's Irish connection.

The next time on the road, we were heading to the shore point of Spring Lake and we saw so many beautiful beach houses before parking the car. Some were across a lake that was being occupied by a large flock of swans. The best photo I managed to take of a swan was of one with its head underwater for a moment.

I'm going to leave off here for now, since there are still a lot of photos I want to post with the stories behind them. The trip so far was already interesting what with seeing so many things and being in places for the first time. To be continued...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Heat Waves, Storms, and Travel

During this week, I have been tuning in to the Weather Channel on and off keeping an eye on the weekend forecast. This was due to plans to visit Point Pleasant, NJ with family. Early this week, the forecast seemed all clear. On Wednesday, things did a 180 with rain and storms being called for Saturday through Tuesday.

We've had some scorching hot days and severe thunderstorm warnings two days in a row, Wednesday and Thursday. I didn't know until afterward, but my area was under a tornado watch for part of Wednesday. We did get a thunderstorm, but it wasn't so bad here that day.

Yesterday, however, it seemed as though we were in for one mean storm...very high wind gusts, cloud-to-ground lightning included. I looked out my front window at one point and the sky still wasn't stormy or ominous looking. Less than five minutes later, I looked out there again and a very dark cloud was looming overhead. That is when I took the photo below of the huge storm cloud.

These two photos I took were of the stormy view out back, another reason why severe thunderstorms always have me on edge! It makes me wonder how I'd be as a storm chaser...or someone who goes on storm chasing adventures with the pros. I doubt I'd really have the guts to do that, what with how nervous I get from the severe thunderstorms here.

The thunder and lightning started shortly after and the rain was pretty heavy towards the end as the wind whipped it around.

As the storm approached, I noticed that I had lost my internet connection...although that happens here sometimes even during decent weather. That, of course, is a total hassle for me as I use the internet to research for term papers, share photos, blog, tweet, etc. Below is a screen capture I made, which shows the disconnected internet icon on my computer's task bar. To the left of the speaker volume icon, the double monitor icon was missing a blue indicator not to try the internet because it's down.

Once I was able to get back online, I found out that some friends had lost power, saw large hail coming down and even big trees getting knocked over. Similar stories were also being shown on the Weather Channel and via story links posted by news outlets that use Facebook.

Meanwhile, the Weather Channel's weekend forecast changed again...this time calling for a sunny and hot day on Saturday. So, that was good news to see that once again it may be sunny instead of rainy and stormy on a day of plans. We'll see what happens, although I am looking forward to visiting Point Pleasant. These plans were already held off once because of car issues and other things, and it will be my first trip to this particular NJ shore point.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Exploring Near Arcadia U

For a while now, I've been wanting to visit Grey Towers Castle at Arcadia University or catch a glimpse of it for photos. I searched online to see if there were any scheduled public tours between semesters for those interested in architecture photography. Not really finding much on that, I did come across some other places of interest. I found out about them while researching the route to Arcadia University. The route, following Skippack Pike, has many historical buildings that I'd like to check out. However, there is one more very stunning place of historic significance that is entirely new to me...further to the East / Southeast of Arcadia.

That stunning place is Lynnewood Hall, not too far from Arcadia University as it turns out. So my search about Grey Towers Castle led me to the blog page of another person on here. From that point, I learned that efforts are in progress to save Lynnewood Hall and I'm so glad to find that out. It is always a great thing to find others who care about saving historical places. I feel that these places need to be saved, especially because you never know what stories from history may be found in the process.

Last year, at the beginning of October, demolition on the La Ronda mansion began after preservationists tried to save it. I had only just heard about La Ronda about a month or more before it was lost, and went to take some photos of the beautiful structure. I hope that for Lynnewood Hall, the preservation community sees a better outcome of a building saved for restoration.

Below are some of the photos I took when I went to see the La Ronda mansion early last September. I also have a slideshow of more La Ronda photos on my youtube channel.

Although it was lost, maybe La Ronda can serve as a preservation example of why Lynnewood Hall should be saved. I'm thinking of it in these terms...that we don't want to keep losing our history, and so Lynnewood Hall should remain standing. With each historic building we lose, big or small, it means more parts of our story in America lost. That is why I believe in preservation.

There is a tour coming up at Lynnewood Hall, so I think that will be a good time to explore the area surrounding Arcadia. I'll make it a roadtrip to Grey Towers Castle and Lynnewood Hall, along with any other interesting points in between.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Very Pretty Preserve

I'm backtracking a little bit with this post, back to April 18th, when I did some volunteer photography for an event hosted by Natural Lands Trust. Held at the Hildacy Preserve, the event was in appreciation of members who have been supporting the nature organization's efforts for a number of years. The preserve is just off of Providence Road / Route 252 in Media, PA after you drive the stretch of road over the Springton Reservoir heading north.

This was my first visit to the Hildacy Preserve and while there, I saw many things that added beauty
to the picturesque location. Below are just a few of the photos I took as I explored the grounds of the preserve.

Many trees at Hildacy had ivy vines climbing up their trunks. Also, the little stone bench was a really nice part of the scene here. It reminds me of a garden piece you might see at an old literary site in England. Of course, some British writers were inspired by nature's beauty, which is another reason little details like this make me think of English literary sites.

I took this photo from inside the nature-oriented office building on the grounds when I noticed the leaf-shaped wood cut-outs.

Ivy also climbed the side of the big red and white barn at Hildacy.

I'm looking forward to any chances I'll have to visit other Natural Lands Trust preserve areas in the
future. The Natural Lands Trust field guide of preserve areas includes photos showing very beautiful, scenic places...great for local eco-outings.