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Archive for the category “Travel”

The Gallant Gantries

This past Sunday I had no real plans, no photographic theme in mind, I just needed to get out of the apartment and take some photos. After two buses and two trains, I found myself rambling along Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City heading towards Gantry Plaza State Park. This truly is my favorite type of day; me, myself and I walking camera in hand and shooting whatever “we” please.

The most dominant and interesting building on the Boulevard is the historic 1894 Gothic Church of St. Mary, whose red brick tower and white-tipped spire ascended toward the sky. Turning on 49th Avenue toward the waterfront and the famous old gantries that the park received its appellation from, I kept my eyes open for the unusual and unique subjects that make up my urban portfolio. My favorites from this walk being a craggy splintered hole through blue painted strand board, a tiny empty bottle of Bacardi Rum tucked into a broken rusted pipe, and a brick wall dotted with small white drainage spouts. So urban picturesque! 

By the time I arrived at the park the sun had taken a nap behind the cloud cover turning the sky a striking blue grey that imparted more drama to the wide angle shots. In a few hours though, the sun awoke and pushed aside some of the clouds and exposed a nice wide expanse of blue sky streaked with white.

It was cold and windy and the little bit of snow that had fallen last Friday was now crusty with ice and very slippery. I was hoping for icicles hanging from the giant thick iron nuts and bolts that are the skeletons of the gantries but, no such luck. Still, I was able to create images sandwiching my subjects between great open sky and fine lacy snow.

It being a cold January day, there was nary a soul about the water’s edge and that was just fine with me. I loved the austerity of this cold winter’s day, as it accentuated all the sharp angles and smooth curves of the piers jutting out from the parks shore, enhancing the bold industrial past of the Gantries and the lofty apartment buildings behind them. The seagulls were out sunning themselves on the pylons or surfing through the air as I walked out on the piers to admire the Manhattan skyline and turn my own face towards the warming solar rays.

Below my feet were tiny dark purple winter berries and spiked brown plants buried in the snow as well as the paw print of a big ole puddy-dawg! Thick tufts of dried blonde grasses swaying in the wind lined the inside of red rusted rail tracks; another reminder of the bygone days when the Long Island Rail Road ran cars right down to the water’s edge to receive cargo off loaded from ships via the Gallant Gantries.


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Ice, so very nice.

Last November when I was photographing in the Mitsubishi Wetlands at the Bronx Botanical Gardens, I made a mental note to go back on a cold winter’s day when the wetlands would be covered in ice. This past Saturday the temperature was in the low thirties, not a cold as I would have liked for what I wanted to photograph but, good enough.

The pond was beautiful! It had an opaque frosty rime that had just started to melt with the morning sun, exposing patches of clear, cold blue water beneath it. Golden brown leaves, blown into the pond on warmer days were now imprisoned in the ice along with the dried wetland grasses. The tiny water fall that separates the upper and lower ponds pushed the water out causing thin layers of ice to fracture like a broken mirror. Below the ice and water were bright emerald green aquatic plants kept from freezing by an aeration system that pushed up bubbles of oxygen that bobbed and popped around the ice and leaves creating terrific abstract patterns. In another part of the pond thick dark cracks appeared in the ice and looked like frozen bolts of lighting.

I knew it was too warm for the falls at the Bronx River to freeze over but, I had to go there just to listen to the water rushing over the rocks and drink in the peace and serenity that surrounds me whenever I am near water. The river behind the falls was smooth as glass and reflecting the surrounding trees and I reveled in the fact, as I photographed, that I was the only one standing out there on the edge of the rocks over looking the falls.

On my way back walking through the Thain Forest trail, I spotted a large puddle, which had frozen solid, in the middle of a grove of trees and although both my fingers and toes were blue from being out in the cold all day, I stayed for a little while longer to capture this icy moment in time.

Tis, the freezin season!

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Getting My Goat

We had a gorgeous first day of the new year; clear blue skies and around thirty degrees, just right for January. I was on a quest to get images of goats and/or sheep for this year’s Chinese New Year card, that I will send to my sister-in-law Tracy who is from Chengdu China, now living in New Jersey with my brother Patrick and adorable handsome nephew William Yu. So, where else would I find these country creatures? Right smack dab in the middle of Manhattan’s Central Park. – the Children’s Zoo in particular.

I entered the park at 60th and Fifth Avenue and was quickly absorbed into the hundreds of tourists milling about and like me, taking photos of the most popular sites in the park, like the pond which had a thin layer of shimmering ice floating atop of it. Along the shore of the pond were beautiful opalescent green headed ducks (males) and their golden brown mates (females), preening and paddling around and I captured a cute demure couple, The Mallards – Mark & Millie, who posed willingly for me. OK, I just happen to get a lucky shot of them when they stopped cleaning their feathers for a nano second.

I strolled around the pond capturing reflections, a few street musicians, and especially the horse-drawn carriages that are a huge part of Central Park history and culture and are not being abused and that for some insane reason our Mayor is trying to make extinct! before making my way to the zoo.

Once in the Children’s Zoo I made a bee line for the corral that houses the sheep and goats and other barn yard animals. Despite the cold the children were out in force squealing with delight when an animal would poke its head out of the fencing to lick their hands in hopes of getting a treat. The goats were not shy and therefore easy to photograph but, the sheep were enveloped in a thick woolly coat making it hard to tell which end was front or back. I could barely make out their eyes so dense and curly was the wool and just covered in hay.  I thought of removing all of the annoying pieces of straw sticking up every which way in post processing but, then I thought “what the hey” (Get it, hay – hey? A little New Year humor here, lighten up will ya!) Anyway, I thought it better to show the sheep as they were. There was a very lonely looking cow that I talked to for a few minutes and photographed her beautiful natural shape while she stood warming herself in the sun and then patted her silky smooth nose as I said goodbye. Besides the goats, cow and sheep there was what looked like a giant Jack Rabbit. This was an Argentine Patagonian Cavy sitting very royally allowing the visitors a brief audience with him or her. Not something you see everyday in Manhattan, well maybe royalty but, not Cavies, then again I’m sure I’ve sat next to a few on the subway.

Enjoy these New Year images.

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The Year Book

The Year Book 

One minute to Midnight on the Eve of a New Year

My mind flips over a dozen pages still Sharp and Clear.

As I view Life’s Images of all that has taken place

I reflect on the Wins with Triumph and Grace

With a Wince I see Failures and I quickly turn

Determined to remember Lessons Learned

Closing the book I make no Promises, I make no Deals

I gather up all my Self-Confidence, dig in my heels

In my hands I hold a New Book with pages Clean and White

And Bravely walk Straight into the Dawning Light

 Wishing You All A Happy, Healthy and Most Wonderful New Year

Love Ya,


Rain or Shine was the Event so, Off We Went

We bought our tickets ahead of time so no returns, and boarded our train despite the rain. Cold Spring’s Holiday Candle Light tour was planned for this day along with Claudia’s “29th” natal day. It rained and rained and rained, it even poured, then it rained some more.  The candle lights were snuffed by the wet but, we duly registered at the town hall where we met and picked up a map and a ticket for the open house tour.

At the doors of each house we donned little blue paper booties because our feet were wet and we would not mess up the floors. The hospitality was warm and friendly and we were thankful to be dry. A quartet Christmas Caroling entertained us on the porch which brought a tear to my eye. Then we sallied forth back out into the rain. It rained as we went from house to house, it rained as we sat eating brunch, it continued to rain as we splashed up towards the holiday craft-fair at the church. There were not many people there at this holiday fair and can you guess why? Need I say it again? Haven’t your heard? I won’t even say that four letter word. The shops were full of gifts for the season and we saw no reason not buy a trinket or two since the waterworks outside were coming down in buckets, we thought well f–k it.

Despite this sodden tale of wet and woe we really had fun as we always do wherever we go, because that’s what friends are for and I really need say no more!

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iPhoning Around

This afternoon while taking a walk along the East River in good old Astoria Park, the sun was shining and the sky was blue with streaks of thin white cloud and the river was calm and reflecting like a mirror. I quickly pulled my iPhone out of my pocket, knowing that I had only a short window of time when the tide would change and the rare smoothness of the waters would wipe away the gorgeous reflections of the Hell Gate and the Triboro bridges that span this great river.

A few weeks ago as I rode the Metro North Railroad up to the Botanical Gardens I turned in my seat and faced the window. I attached the fish eye lens to the iPhone and waited as the train pulled out of the tunnel beneath Grand Central Station. As the train barreled along  I held the iPhone up close to the window and captured a series of photos as we streaked through Harlem toward the Bronx and over the Harlem River Lift Bridge. I’d forgotten about them until today, when I reviewed my photos from this afternoon.

Enjoy this little eclectic group of images that I pulled from my pocket.


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The Last of the Autumn Wine

Tis November and autumn’s colors have peaked with multi-hued brilliance, allowing the trees to settle down for a sleep and a snore until spring elbows them awake to leaf once more.

I ventured into the wetlands at the Bronx Botanical Gardens this past Saturday and, what a little bit of Eden this is.  A meadow turned red and brown with flora of purple, gold and yellow. Two ponds, mirror smooth connected by a low water fall rimmed with native grasses, frilly ferns and picture perfect Pitcher Plants.

Along the many garden paths to follow there is the Meadow Path where stands a grove of River Birch trees and a huge grey boulder split in half. A short walk along the Woodland Path is the Rock Garden; a wellspring of alpine flowers, woodland plants and a cascading waterfall.

I spent the afternoon walking around capturing the light and color of this small oasis of nature in New York City.

Enjoy a sip of the fall vintage.

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A Village Enveloped in Ivy

We Gals were thwarted this past Sunday, by circumstances too numerous to detail here in this blog, from a scheduled visit to Rhinebeck, New York. Fortunately, we had a plan B and put this into action arriving at Cold Spring, New York ready for a day of small town entertainments.

The uber-friendly village of Cold Spring in Putnam County, New York, is one of our favorite get-a-ways when we just want to spend a day outside of the city wandering around with no particular itinerary and no major decisions to make except, where to brunch. This day, it seemed, the whole world had the same idea as We 3 because, I have never seen the place so busy with tourists in the many times we  have visited and it took a lot of patience to get a photo without a group of people in it. As soon as you step off the train it is a short walk along the platform which leads you right onto Main Street, the epicenter of Cold Spring. Here you can catch a trolley car to Boscobel and Garrison Landing, both great places to visit. Main street is full of antique shops, art galleries, cafes, restaurants, inns and lovely colorfully painted houses.

The sun had left us when we exited NYC and the skies of Cold Spring were dark grey which turned my photographic theme for the day from scenic autumn to small town autumn. As per the title of this blog almost every building is covered with beautiful English ivy that burned flame red and orange so there was plenty of color for me to capture. The town was costumed for Halloween and the shop keepers where just opening their doors and putting their wares out onto the sidewalk to entice the passersby, offering me plenty of “street stuff” to photograph.

Windows and doors were my dominate subject matter as they were framed in ivy and painted blue, purple, yellow and bright red. I don’t know why, but I’m fascinated by red doors and happily found two that satisfied  this attraction. From time to time as I walked up Main Street I would veer off onto a side street to photograph the beautiful historic homes with their wide wooden porches  and ginger bread roofs against fall’s deep colors.

We had brunch at Cathryn’s Tuscan Grill and a late afternoon cup of coffee with dessert at the Foundry Cafe. A sweet ending to a sweet day.

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An Armory Castle Isle

Claudia, Janice and I were off again on the 2nd of our one-day-get-a-ways riding the Metro North Railroad’s Poughkeepsie line straight up to Beacon, NY. Once in Beacon we walked a short distance to the water’s edge and boarded a ferry which took us up the Hudson River towards Pollelpel Island better known as Bannerman’s Island and the amazing but crumbling Bannerman Castle.

Disembarking, we all gathered on the landing at the base of the island taking photos and excitedly chatting to each other as our guides introduced themselves. We were then herded up a winding wooden staircase to the top of the island where, the aged castle greeted us upon metal crutches in regal but, fragile state. We had very dramatic sky the whole day and when a ray of  light beamed down through a dark cloud it lit the castle like a celestial spot light. Although worn and weathered the castle still retained its pink brick color which was emphasized by Autumn’s beautiful warm hues that surrounded this emblem of a 19th century Scottish-American entrepreneur.

This was not your run-of-the-mill castle, in fact, it was built to house tons of explosives, ammunition and other accouterments of war, by Francis Bannerman VI. He and his father built up a military surplus business near the Brooklyn Navy Yards after the American Civil War, which made them gilded age millionaires. The good people of Brooklyn, fearing that some day they might get blown to smithereens, ask Mr. Bannerman to find another home for his possibly unstable stores. And so he did. He purchased Pollelpel Island in 1900 and in 1901 built his Scottish Castle. He obviously didn’t live in the castle but, he did build a smaller castle like mansion further up and back on the island where, he and his wife raised a family and his military salvage business continued to prospered until his death in 1918.

I found the place absolutely fascinating and just lost myself in the ruins over grown with weeds and flowers from the once loved and cultivated gardens of Mrs. Bannerman. Since the Civil War was responsible, in a way, for the Bannerman’s success there is a noticeable cannon ball motif found in the design of both the castle and the mansion. I stumbled upon concrete cannon balls everywhere I walked peeking out from under thick layers of colorful vegetation. On one side of the mansion a piece of the facade had fallen off exposing the inner wall which was rimmed by brick and surrounded by laurel leaves carved into the surface. Above this design is a tiny tattered confederate flag held in the fingers of an uniformed arm and above that, you guessed it, a cannon ball.

The foliage in this part of Duchess County was more colorful than down in NYC and the lighting as I mentioned earlier was even more dramatic as the sky was now grey and filtering the suns rays diffusing the light and enhancing nature’s colors making them just pop!  There were oak, walnut and horse-chestnut trees that freely littered the ground with their reddish brown nuts. Walking around in the damp cool air, I really felt like fall was here.

The afternoon was beginning to wane and the clouds sprinkled us with drops of rain, a signal for us, along with growling stomachs, to head back down to the ferry and back to Beacon where we chowed down at Poppy’s Burgers & Fries. Oh, those wonderful salty crisp fries! With full bellies we wandered around Beacon for an hour before heading back to the train station where we sat on the water front platform, shivering in the chilly evening air while waiting for our 6:12 train which was going to be 25 minutes late! Mother Nature though, sensing our discomfort sent forth a fiery sunset to warm our hearts.

Enjoy this unique bit of New York history.

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Foraging For Foliage

Although it is mid-October here in New York City, we do not see peak foliage until close to November. On Sunday, undeterred by nature’s tardiness, I decided on a nice long  neighborhood walk  in the warm sunny weather, searching for the autumnal colors wherever I could find them.

Most of the trees and bushes were as green as a summer’s day but, one or two had taken the lead and turned to vibrant yellow or gold, rimmed with touches of red. Some trees had just a handful of leaves, a small leafy bouquet, in orange and amber among the deep green. The ground was littered with leaves that were the first to turn, transforming from supple green, to red to crisp crunchy brown and ornamented with big tawny acorns; their cupules tossed like tiny French berets in the soil.

I passed a house whose chain link fence had a riot of crawling, creeping, twining flowering ivy, completely covering it with blooms in blue and white and dark purple. Plump autumn berries hung from bushes in hues of gold and coral and a flitting Monarch with stained-glass wings in Halloween colors of black and orange landed on an amethyst flower right in front of my lens!

In Astoria Park I looked for and found color in the bushes and wild plants growing along the East River, gilded and illuminated by the sun. I used these bright plants as frames for the bridges and passing tugs guiding ships up the river.

My home town of Astoria displayed more color than I had thought and happily, there is still more to color to come.

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