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Photosbycate Weblog

A Photo Essay Blog

Archive for the category “Travel”

Historic Monuments Old and New

This past Saturday, I took the tramway to Roosevelt Island for a late winter wander around South Point Park and, to see for the first time, the just opened FDR Four Freedoms Park.

The sun was shimmering in a cloudless blue sky and I took advantage of the large windows and fantastic aerial views, as seen from my side of the car, to capture the urban scene below me as the tram silently, smoothly sailed across the Island of Manhattan to the Island of Roosevelt.

When I alighted from the tram I headed south toward the infamous Renwick Ruin walking along the river, enjoying the suns rays on my face and the expansive views of Manhattan.  Although warm, there was still enough snow on the ground to add to the composition of each image; this was my first time on the island during the winter months. The trees on the island were absolutely beautiful in their bare natural state with twisted bows and gnarled trunks; these abstract designs against the morning sky accented the foregrounds or acted as frames for the shots.

As I’ve mentioned many times before, I love to photograph old, crumbling, rusted, broken-down, laid-to-waste, structures and the Renwick Ruin, a.k.a. The Small Pox Hospital has all of the aforementioned elements. Designed by architect James Renwick, Jr., it opened in 1856 as a hospital and later a nursing school, finally closing its doors a century later where it has sat secluded, on the end of the island, slowly deteriorating.

The building is now under re-construction with future plans to reopen it to the public. But, for now, it is protected by a strong black wrought iron fence, and its skeletal remains held up by steel brace supports. Still, amidst all of the decrepitude and dilapidation the beauty of the neo-gothic architecture can be seen and admired.

Through the pane-less windows, I sensed the spirits of the forgotten looking back at me as my lens focused on fragments of this monument’s past. The sun illuminated the roofless interior and I saw part of a wall from what might have been a patient’s room. Looking up I saw the rusted remains of a staircase still climbing toward a nonexistent floor.  Vines and weeds, growing with complete abandon, have pushed, shoved and squeezed their way into every brick nook and cranny yet, this natural destruction only added to the haunting mood of the ruins.

Adjacent to the Renwick Ruin is the newly constructed FDR Four Freedoms Park, designed by architect Louis Kahn, which sits at the southernmost end of Roosevelt Island with a memorial to FDR capping the tip. The park is a narrow long spear-point of four acres bordered by a regiment of Little Leaf Linden trees. You can access the park along the river promenades on either side or walk up the wide open-air staircase of white Mount Airy granite at the base of the spear point, facing the memorial and New York Harbor behind it. The trees were the most striking part of this park at this time of year because, the bare branches were bright red contrasting sharply with the snow covered lawn and the white granite that is the foundation of this park.  The memorial, also made from this same stunning granite, is a three sided roofless enclosure cradling a floating bronze bust of FDR, who was up to his neck in snow, though still conveying his leadership and vision adroitly captured by the artist Jo Davidson.

Walking back toward the tram, I came upon a large gaggle of Canadian Geese enjoying a sunny day in the park, nibbling at tiny bits of vegetation that the melting snow revealed, curled up with beaks under their feathers taking a nap or walking up the pathways two by two. They did not seem to be bothered by me or my camera and I happily spent an hour following them around like a paparazza.

The afternoon was waning as was my energy nevertheless, before boarding the tram back to Manhattan I spent a few minutes shooting towards the lowering sun creating starbursts and silhouetting the landscape.

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A Wee Walk in the Woods

Saturday morning my lady friends and I were off again via the Metro North railroad bound for Hastings-On-Hudson, where we spent the day walking  the Old Croton Aqueduct trail. It took us a bit to find the actual entrance – a bit meaning walking up San Francisco style hills –  but once found, it was an easy trail to follow – meaning flat.

Not as scenic as I had imagined unless you count the back yards of people homes to be a scenic view but, the weather was gorgeous and there was still quite a bit of color on the trees that lined each side of the trail. Our goal was to walk from Hastings-On-Hudson, through Dobbs Ferry and ending in Irvington; a total of 7 miles. As we walked, the air was redolent with the smells of autumn, the breezes gentle and the sun lit up the trees like Christmas. We met locals running or riding their bikes, some with family and others with their dogs, all very friendly, making this trek in the country a hospitable one.

As I mentioned in the above paragraph the trees were the dominant photographic subject along the trail, therefore, my goal was to find trees that had not only color but abstract shapes or something different about them, like a green beard of ivy, or pronounced knot, or a huge corner shelf of brown fungus. In composing a few shots I used the trees to frame a distant view as seen only from the trail. Some trees were already denuded of leaves and the dark arthritic limbs stood out in contrast to any surrounding color and made for a “Halloween-esque” photo.  We did find a spooky abandoned old home complete with peeling paint, broken boarded windows and doors and a forsaken wooden porch, which I just loved.

After a few hours our stomachs began to protest loudly and we left the trail walking through the town of Dobbs Ferry in search of a place to eat, drink and be merry;  after all Olga and I were celebrating our November birthdays and we wanted a place that would delight our palettes. On Chestnut Street off of Main we found The Cookery and oh, what a find this place was. An incredible mix of flavors, the like we’ve never tasted before: French toast topped with fresh made smoked mozzarella and green tomato jam, cauliflower ravioli in lemon brown butter with candied pumpkin seeds that made me moan with every mouthful, a crostino of fresh ricotta and drizzled with sweet truffle honey, fried Brussels sprouts that were light, crisp and salty. Every ingredient was a taste sensation to the mouth and every bite savored, and those were just a few of the delectable delicacies on the menus.  It is worth the time and ticket to take the train up to Dobbs Ferry just to experience a meal there.

Stomachs satisfied we waddled out of the restaurant and into the sunshine and made ready to get back on the trail and walk off the mountain of calories we happily consumed.  I took a few shots of the town before we trudged up another of those steep, lung bursting hills where we found the trail again and continued our walk toward our final destination of Irvington. Wending our way along, the late afternoon sun shone with an Alpenglow that turned the leaves to deep rich gold, red and bronze. The trees cast long dark shadows along the trail and crows cawed as they prepared for end of day.

We exited the trail as the sun began its evening decent and entered the town of Irvington walking at a leisurely pace, enveloped in the small town atmosphere, eventually arriving at the train station which would take us back home to the hustle and bustle of city life.

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Alien Bubbles, Goats and a Ghost

At 9:54am Saturday, I boarded the first ferry from Hunter’s Point South Park in Long Island City sailing to Governors Island. This was my first time taking the East River Ferry from LIC and I enjoyed a 60 minute ride on the river instead of on the subway, making stops in Brooklyn and Manhattan before arriving, via the Buttermilk Channel in Upper New York Bay, at Governors Island.

The day was beautiful with clear blue skies and cool autumn temperatures and all was sublime as we sailed along until……..…we were boarded by Alien Bubbles of Hope from another planet!!! Yes, I’m telling the truth! There they were just waiting for us at South Williamsburg’s Schafer Landing. All green and bubbly with snow white beards, they clambered aboard and before we knew it we were surrounded. These neon green bubble beings claimed they came here to give hope to the people of planet earth. Fortunate for us earthlings the bubbles were very jolly and pranced and danced around the deck of the ferry making everyone smile and laugh. As we reached Pier 11 they said farewell and took leave of the ship running merrily down the pier towards Wall Street to spread more hope, and God knows Wall Street needs it.

We made it to our final stop, Governors Island without further alien intervention and as I walked up the path from Yankee Pier towards St. Cornelius Chapel, I saw a goat prancing on top of a steaming pile of compost. After the bubbles of hope this did not surprise me so, I wandered over to the chicken wire and wood enclosure for a closer look. The goat was a resident of the Earth Matters Composting Farm which sits across from the Chapel. This tiny farm offers urban composting lessons to children and adults and has a small “zoo” of 2 goats and a smattering of very colorful chickens. I was smitten by one chicken or rooster in particular, with an unruly feathered afro. Talk about an alien being. It looked like a feather duster with legs. It was quite fast and not at all a willing photography subject, the same could be said of the rest of the fowls, and I had to chase it around before I could get a decent shot. The goats were determined to escape the enclosure and made sure they stood right at the gate entrance. If anyone came in or out they would push past their legs and make their great escape only to be caught by the keeper and carried back in, complaining all the way. This went on all day long. The goats were indeed very sweet if slightly stupid with surprisingly soft hair and hypnotic horizontal eyes. When it was my time to leave I manage to back out an inch at a time with a goat snout pushing against my crotch. When I felt the gate was open enough for me to pass through I gave a final shove on the goat’s head, bid him adieu and made a clean get-a-way.

After the farm I walked through Nolan Park, surround by the stately old Governor’s mansions, where the Fete Paradiso was in full swing with children and their parents riding on vintage carnival rides and carousels. These museum quality 19th & early 20th century machines made their debut at Governors Island this summer. They are beautiful whimsical works of art and are a delight to look at as well as ride. The one-of-a-kind Bicycle Carousel was just gorgeous and my favorite of all of the rides. This was a truly unique attraction with a Parisian flare.

My final destination for the day was Fort Jay; here you step into a time capsule filled with the remnants from the Revolutionary and Civil wars. In the quadrangle you can walk on cobble stone streets, climb up to the porches of the old barracks and walk along peeping into windows or relax in a white wicker rocking chair. Walking through the old parade grounds one can imagine sights and sounds of soldiers being put through their daily paces. In its military heyday the fort was protected by 10” & 15” Rodman Canons. Today there are only a few still standing as sentinels but, at one time, these mighty canons lined the entire perimeter of the fort as evidenced by the many empty platforms encircling the grounds.

I had just finished taking some photos of said canons and was walking along a grass verge when out of the corner of my eye a wisp of filmy skirt floated behind a wall. I immediately followed it and saw a woman dressed in 19th century costume with a long white veil covering her face walking away. Did I just see a ghost?  She moved quickly and seemed as if to disappear behind a door, window or wall whenever I was but a few feet from her. At one point out in the middle of the quadrangle, she flew right past me, her skirts and veil billowing out behind her. I fumbled with my camera and managed to catch her blurred image as she passed through an open door that led down to a dark, dank cellar. She beckoned to me and in trepidation I followed. As my eyes adjusted to the dark I saw I was in a cold damp empty circular room of crumbling brick, with black heavy metal doors in the walls. The ceiling was vaulted and crisscrossed with rotting timber beams. And then I saw her, a diaphanous figure searching in vain hope, for someone or something, I knew not what, and then she was gone. I looked around me and no one was there. I was all alone.

Bootleg Booze and A Cuppa Tea

Welcome autumn!!

My girlfriends and I kicked off the advent of autumn with our first fall Metro North One-Day-Get-A-Way or ODGAW as we call it, with The Farm Fresh Organic Food, Prohibition Moonshine, & Fine Tea tour. The six of us met at Grand Central Station, purchased our breakfast goodies and boarded the train for a two hour trek up to Dutchess County. Upon arrival at the Wassaic station we were picked up by a tour bus that would take us to each of our three destinations.

Our first stop was in the Village of Millerton, where we stretched our legs while sauntering through a local green market with each vendor’s table spilling over with organically grown vegetables and flowers, bars of fragrant homemade soaps and my pick of the lot; sweet delicious maple syrup, a dollop of which I add to my morning coffee. As my friends were browsing the shops and talking to the locals, I wandered into a big red house known as the Florist Shop filled ceiling to cellar with twiggy baskets, dried and fresh flowers, potted plants, wreaths, knick-knacks & gim-crackery of every description. I was in a photographic wonderland and the proprietors were gracious enough to allow me to walk around and take my fill of photos.

Around 1:00pm we met at Harney & Sons, Fine Teas and settled down to a lovely lunch of tea and sandwiches. After a short while I left my friends to finish their meal so I could prowl the little shop, camera in hand. I spent a few minutes talking with the proprietor Brigitte Harney and with her permission took photos of the many delicate tea cups, saucers and pots decorating the room as well as the array of teas, sweet syrups, cookies and coasters on display and all available for purchase. With full bellies and a slight reluctance we left this place of cozy gentility and boarded the bus for our next adventure.

Our second port of call was the most intriguing of the three stops and located on a farm in Pine Plains: Dutch’s Spirits Moonshine distillery. When we arrived we were met by Lydia Higginson, the Deputy Director of Dutchess County Tourism and Ariel Schlein, president of the distillery. Ariel guided us on an incredible journey back in time via a maze of tunnels that had been dug out under the direction of the infamous 1930’s gangster, Dutch Shultz. Dutch created an underground bunker to hide his illegal but very profitable bootlegging business. This bunker has recently been designated a national historic place by the NYS Historic Preservations Office  and Ariel is in the process of building a museum dedicated to the bootleg error of this part of the country. The farm acted as a natural facade to this whole booze making enterprise. The raw product was created in stills in an old cow barn and then the distilling, bottling, and distribution operations were done down in the bunker. The barn and a few dilapidated chicken coops are still standing and were all a part of the pretense of a functioning rural farm.

After the tour we were invited to a tasting of alcoholic beverages produced by Ariel’s company, Dutch’s Spirits and as we boarded our bus for the third and final leg of our trip, found ourselves in a very jovial frame of mind.

Last stop: the McEnroe Organic farms and as the name implies this farm produces organically grown produce and meats and are the makers of premium compost and soils. We were given a tour of the composting facilities and the green houses and nurseries, which were quite impressive and grew some of the biggest tomatoes I’ve ever seen. After the tour we had an hour to run around the farm and or shop in the McEnroe Market, but of course I chose to stay outside and photograph this peaceful farm-scape with acres of wide open fields and a sky filled with gray, white and purple clouds. A few minutes into my walk I found a few farm animals. A variable gaggle of gobbling white turkeys greeted me being very excited to meet someone from the city (and a vegetarian too!) and have their pictures taken. Right next to them on the other side of the fence was a whole pile o’ pigs, grunting and snuffling and eating a late day snack of over ripe mushy tomatoes tossed on the ground.  Some of the pigs were shy and others pushed their muddy snouts up to the fence to investigate the camera. There were some sheep and they decided to keep their distance but I managed to get a nice picturesque shot of two of them in the foreground and actually looking toward me. The rest of the group just kept their faces buried in the grass. I took the hint and made my way back to my friends who were boarding the bus and we bid farewell to Dutchess County until our next ODGAW in October.

Enjoy the trip.

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Wave Hill

It was back to the Bronx, not the Botanical Gardens this time but to another garden overlooking the Hudson River; Historic Wave Hill.

Early Saturday morning my friends and I met at Grand Central Station stocked up on coffee, scones and sticky buns and hopped aboard a Metro North Train to Riverdale. Once there it was a short shuttle bus ride to Wave Hill, where we spent the day walking among the beautiful botanical gardens that surround the newly renovated Wave Hill House.

As you walk through the old mansion gates of Wave Hill you veer to your right and then make a left entering upon a wide lush expanse of lawn. Your eyes and body are drawn directly to the beautiful vine covered Pergola where one can sit and enjoy the picturesque views of the Hudson River and the New Jersey Palisades. As you leave the Pergola, on your left is where the pathways and trails through the gardens and greenhouses start, taking you all around the 28 acre public gardens.

We started in the lavish Flower Garden, where I honestly thought that there would be very few flowers in bloom this late in the summer but was happily surprised by the variegated beauty that lay before me and it seemed like spring never ended. Almost every flower had a bee in its flora bonnet except for one, that had a huge black hornet busily doing its hornet thing, lucky for me, and that I did not really observe until I saw it through the view finder. I gently pressed the shutter and then very quietly and quickly backed away. Butterflies were flitting around from flower to flower completely and complacently oblivious to my lens, their antennae delicately probing and their paper like wings absorbing the warmth of the morning light. I was blown away by the variety of flowers and the many shades of yellow, orange, red, purple, blue, and pink  a variable Crayola Crayon box of colors, and a mixed heady fragrance tickled your senses with each gentle breeze that blew.

In the Herb and Dry Garden there were small peppers that were the same size and shape of a Christmas tree light, in an egg-plant purple hue and I always assumed that pomegranates grew on trees and so was surprised to see the tiny blushing red buds growing on a bush at my feet!

The Alpine House gardens where the succulents live and thrive were my favorites. I love how these hearty plants grow with independent abandon climbing, crawling, hanging and creeping over the stone pots that hold them. They come in all different shapes and sizes:  sharp and smooth, twisted and curved, curly and straight, prickly and pointed, plump and thin, wide and narrow, long and short. One plant with blue dragon like scales grew right through the garden wall.

The Aquatic Garden was a spectacle of reflections and a cool oasis after a walk through the dessert plants. Again color was dominant here too; with watery plants the color of rhubarb and emerald floating next to strawberry and peach hued lotus blooms. The scene was calm and meditative and made it very hard to believe that you were still in New York City.

Sun flowers seemed to be everywhere and I loved capturing them back lit by the sun. There was one burnt orange flower that with the sun directly behind its delicate petaled head, gave the illusion of a powerful fiery star burst against the blue sky.

When the sun was at its highest we took refuge inside the Wave Hill Manor House where we had a quick lunch of sandwiches and salads at the Cafe’. After our meal we continued our tour to a large wooden gazebo nestled in the Wild Garden where my friends sat chatting in the shade as I continued my botanical crawl looking for more plant life to photograph.  I enveloped myself in a stand of tall green stalks, found tiny dark pink flowers sitting on crooked stems, a single plump Mulberry that had sprouted ahead of its siblings on a lone branch, a row of blue berries hanging from curled leaves and a cluster of  brown-orange berries sparkling in the bright afternoon light.

When I was done I made my way back to my friends and we decided to call it a day, actually we called it a wonderful day, and boarded  the shuttle which took us back to the train station in Riverdale.

As we waited for the train’s arrival we noticed people fishing and sunning themselves along the water’s edge and wondered how they got there. We walked down the platform and found an opening that led us across some old tracks no longer in use, which we crossed and found ourselves on the banks of the river.  One of my favorite photos of the day was of my lovely friend Olga Kildashova sitting on the rocky shores of the Hudson River next to the rail road tracks which I’ve entitled: White Russian on the Rocks.

Relax and take a walk through a summer’s garden.

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Skulls, Stones and Dinosaur Bones

If you can’t guess from the title of this post, I went to the American Museum of Natural History. I haven’t visited these hallowed halls of earth science and history for over ten years and since last Saturday was very hot, humid and grey, indoor photography was the thing to do.

I used my 50mm 1.4 lens knowing that I would be in very low light with limited use of flash and this lens is perfect for low light situations. Keeping the aperture at 1.4 gave me a very shallow depth of field and, combined with an ISO of between 800 and 1000, provided enough light to allow me to use a  shutter speed fast enough for hand holding the camera. I did not use flash because almost all of the exhibits are behind Plexiglas and that would have reflected back the light, obscuring the image.

I had a big challenge using only a 50mm fixed focal length lens when shooting the dinosaurs. I had to get up close and creative. Therefore, to convey the immense size and ferocity of the prehistoric giants, the dinosaur shots are in bits and pieces capturing a mouth full of razor sharp teeth, a cavernous rib cage, a swish of an enormous and powerful tail or a colossal tibia.

I wandered through the most popular Halls: mammal, human, cultural and fossil and, as my lens is a portrait lens it was perfect for portrait shots of apes, chimps and skulls of long dead ancient ancestors. With so shallow a depth of field the part that I focused on is sharp with the rest of the image veiled in a soft blur. This softness added to the dynamic of the image especially to the skulls, imparting a spooky feeling as if those dark empty eye sockets were looking straight through you. I definitely have a macabre streak.

The most challenging place to shoot, lighting wise, was in the Frog exhibition. This room was completely dark and the only light was from the small enclosed displays. So I had to push that ISO up as far as I could without creating too much digital noise and get the lens as close as I could without actually putting it against the glass which was verboten.

There were frogs of various sizes and some were just lounging around in their simulated pond homes, some sleeping, some hiding and as I found out later when reviewing my images, having amphibian sex! Yep, right there in the Museum of Natural History! When I was taking the photo I thought to myself “Gee, he seems to be smiling.” The little exhibitionist!

My favorites though, were the tiny brightly colored frogs busily hopping around and going about their tiny frog business. One mustard colored little frog with ink black eyes was giving me the “hairy eyeball” as I was crouched down trying to get my lens to focus through the thick glass enclosing it. It really did not like me and each time I had a good view of its face it would deliberately turn around. They were just marvels of color and a few quite poisonous. The most striking frog was black with yellow polka dots (that was a poisonous one.) The others had skin with vibrant hues of red, azure blue, and emerald green.

I saved the best for last; The Halls of Minerals and Gems. Oh, I was in heaven ogling the beautiful gems in their natural state and drooling over the finished faceted stones, some the size of door knobs and, a multitude of colored diamonds. There was the biggest blue star sapphire I have ever seen, The Star of India, 563 carats AND 2 billion years old! Can you dig that?

The minerals were equally as impressive. One that caught my eye was a large wedge with deep orange crystal flakes on top; it reminded me of a slice of pizza with cheddar cheese (not very poetic but you will see what I mean.) I spent a few minutes photographing a gorgeous display of quartz crystal over two feet wide. I spotted a piece of gold in its natural state the size of a dinner plate. Truly mind boggling.

Enjoy the photo tour.

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Aboard the Pioneer

I have been on quite a few of the many exciting day cruises via New York Water Taxi, The Circle Line, The Zephyr, The Sea Streak, and other ferries that sail upon the Hudson and East Rivers, but never have I taken one of these tours on a sail boat. I was looking for something exciting to do the day after Independence Day to make my four day weekend a real holiday. I Googled “sail boat cruises on New York Harbor” and voila! up popped an ad for the Pioneer a 19th century schooner, captained by Rich Dorfman, offering two hour sails around the harbor leaving from Pier 16 at South Street Sea Port.  Perfect! I booked Friday July 5th at 3:00pm.

The day was possibly one of the hottest day so far this summer but I knew once we were out on the water the temperature would be at least 10 degrees cooler.  As I rode the subway downtown to the seaport I thought about what I wanted to shoot. I have many images of this iconic harbor so I thought I would concentrate on creating images of what I saw all around me; the veins, muscle and heart of this 128 year old notable vessel.

Stepping onto the deck of The Pioneer you are enveloped in a working nautical world of  ropes, pulleys, pins, poles, clamps, chains, hoops and hooks. Stretched out lying on my back and looking up, I felt like a fly caught in a spider’s web of  twisted rope stretching across the sky above me. The sky was brilliant blue with white fluffy clouds that  provided a stunning back drop to the billowing sails that were illuminated by the suns powerful rays. I used the many ropes and lines to frame the skylines and historic objects that passed us as we journeyed over the water.

We sailed smoothly quietly with a gentle swaying that calmed the soul and made the heart soar with a feeling of freedom and adventure. The theme song from Treasure Island “Setting Sail”,  played in my head as I carefully walked around taking photos, chatted with the crew and for a few hours lost myself in the realm of wind and water.

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Happy Independence Day America!

July 4th is one of my favorite holidays, being a fiercely independent woman, and I’ve put together a little Fourth of July slide show for my friends all over the world. These photos are from a mix of images that I’ve taken over the past few years from some of the historic places in New York City such as: South Street Sea Port, the Brooklyn Bridge, Liberty Island, Governor’s Island, and Battery Park.

My Fourth of July wish to You

May your life be prosperous and FREE.

May you have space to spread your wings and fly.

May you have the courage to stand by your convictions.


From My  Independent Heart to Yours,


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Gee-gaws and Cannoli

This Saturday, I belatedly celebrated two birthdays with my girl-friends; a luncheon at Da Nico’s in New York City’s famous Little Italy. Now, to get to Little Italy you have to pass through the equally famous and bustling China Town. Both of these areas of lower Manhattan are a “must see” in every tourist guide book and therefore jammed packed with people from all over the world taking in the sights, sounds, taste and smells of these historic districts.

I ascended from the subway onto Canal and Lafayette Streets, the hub of China Town, at 10:30am. We were not meeting until 1:30 so I had plenty of time to wander the streets with my camera to capture some of  the neighborhood architecture and ethnicity as I made my way through the throngs of visitors and locals. The shop owners had just opened their doors and the hawkers were already outside enticing the passersby with the best and cheapest prices for their wares. Hanging from the awnings and homemade displays of each shop were hand bags, shoes, hats, fans, umbrellas, jeans, scarves, shawls, flip-flops, T-shirts, jewelry, and thousands upon thousands of NYC souvenir gee-gaws for people to take home as a fond reminder of their trip to New York City. There are street artists too, who for a small price will immortalize your name on a long rectangular pre-printed paper canvas in flowing colorful script interspersed with Chinese good luck and happiness symbols. I couldn’t help myself and bought one for each of the birthday celebrants.

Along Canal Street there are Chinese fast food carts with thin delicate noodles entwined with savory meats and vegetables packed in Styrofoam containers, if you prefer to eat on the go, or you can choose from the many restaurants offering Dim Sum, and stuff yourself with a wide and delicious variety of delectable dumplings.

When I reached Mulberry Street I made a left and stepped into the heart of Little Italy and watched as the restaurant staff prepared for the hungry afternoon crowds. Tables were put outside on the sidewalks and covered in festive cloths, brightly color umbrellas were popped open, bus-boys rushed by balancing long stacks of chairs to be placed around the tables. Next, shiny silverware and sparkling glasses were put out alongside tiny vases of flowers and lastly the laminated menus listing mouthwatering Italian dishes were laid opposite the forks and knives. There were gifts stores nestled in between the restaurants and cafes just in case you missed a trinket or two in China Town.

There are hawkers here too, but they are enticing the passerby not with touristy treasures but with delectable dishes of pastas, chicken, veal, and seafood prepared in rich sauces that will make you swoon with caloric happiness. If you are a pizza lover you’ve come to the right place. You have a wide choice of  hot, crisp, crusty, cheesy pies accompanied by a bottle of the finest Italian wines.  For dessert you have your pick of cafés to enjoy a leisurely cappuccino or espresso and a mind blowing creamy cannoli; as advertised by some poor guy who was wearing a king sized cannoli costume as he walked up and down the street handing out menus. A job you could not pay me enough to do.

As crowded, hot and noisy as these neighborhoods are you can’t help but get caught up in the festive tourist atmosphere and if you are like me usually wind up buying something that you really don’t need and walking away having spent way more than you intended, but somehow, feel you got a bargain.

With all of the incredible aromas assaulting my sensing and my stomach growling like a lion, I knew it was time for me to put the camera a way and get ready to eat, drink and be merry with my best friends.


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The Brilliant Colors of Autumn

I sit here in my bed snug and warm with a huge mug of high octane coffee listening to the wind howl outside my window in anticipation of hurricane Sandy, and felt this was a good time to finally write about my first autumn trip of the season.

Last Sunday,  my friends and I went to Hyde Park, NY on a visit to the Vanderbilt Mansion and then a return trip to the Poughkeepsie Walkway.  The day was beautiful with warm sun, blue skies and scudding clouds. When we arrived at the mansion I left my friends to take the tour and set out on my own to walk around the mansion grounds and take photos of the gorgeous views embellished in a pallet of autumn color. The striking contrast of red, yellow, green and orange against a deep blue sky is manna to a photographer’s eye.  I stood at the edge of the property, took a deep breath of crisp autumn air, and looked out over the Hudson River Valley at a landscape that had all the elements of a Bob Ross  painting, with happy little trees and textured layers of hills and clouds.

An hour later I circled back around and walked toward to mansion to meet up with my friends and take a few shots of the mansion. I was surprised when I came upon what looked like a huge columned library or small college and discovered that this was the Vanderbilt Mansion once called “home” by it owner Frederick Vanderbilt. The white, cold, hard stone architecture stood out like the proverbial sore thumb from the natural serenity of its surroundings but it still had a severe beauty of its own against the dark blue sky that I captured in off angle compositions.

When my friends emerged from the tour we piled back in the car and headed toward the Poughkeepsie Walkway. If you had read my post last year, I left NYC with bright clear, sunny skies and when I exited the train at Poughkeepsie the skies were completely clouded over. So, I had high hopes, on this day, of getting some shots with sun light. Although, the wind picked up and some clouds did roll in, the majority of the walk was sunny and I recaptured scenes that had plenty of color, light and shadow.

The late afternoon sun started to yawn and stretch giving off a warm glow that intensified the colors on the trees, adding a gleam to the Mid Hudson Bridge, a shimmer to the water below and so ending our fall foliage sojourn in Dutchess County.

Through the images below enjoy a walk through the vivid colors of my favorite time of year, Autumn.

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