Vivid Sainte-Chapelle

After the iconic Eiffel Tower,  Sainte-Chapelle with its amazing stained glass windows is my favorite place to visit in Paris. The height and vivid color of the windows create a stunning effect. As you look at them, you wonder how they stand, as the stone supports are quite tall and thin and the walls appear to be “all window.” The chapel’s architecture and windows date to the early 13th century. It’s hard to image the construction taking place 800 years ago. 

#stainedglass, #saintchapelle, #Paris, #thingstodo, #iconic, #architecture, #history, #Louisix, #13century, #chapel, #church, #art
Admire the stained glass of Saint-Chapelle in this wide angle photograph taken with the Sony a7rII.

This royal chapel, commissioned by Louis IX on Ile de la Cite in Paris, is located near Notre Dame Cathedral. If you buy the Musee Pass to pay admission to numerous museums and monuments for a 3-5 days, this beautiful church is included. I recommend going on a sunny day!

Walking the Gardens of Versailles

After October 30 this year, the fountains at Versailles shut down for the season, but the gardens still offer a lovely long walk. Some yellow leaves held their place on the trees and reflected the low afternoon light. Without the water flowing, we were able to see the amazing sculpture of the fountains, especially these horses and men rising from the water.

#versailles, #Paris, #daytrip, #gardens, #walk, #November, #water, #season, #fountain, #bike
Zoom in to examine the baroque sculpture at the center of the pond. Versailles Gardens, November 2018.

I always enjoy seeing the locals enjoying these gardens — walking, biking and even taking out a paddle boat. The scene reminds me of New Yorkers enjoying the pastoral beauty of Central Park. 

What do you see in the Hall of Mirrors?

It’s impossible to visit the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles without feeling a sense of awe toward the history that was made here. First of all, it is visually dazzling with 17 floor to ceiling arched mirrors reflecting the light of 17 windows of equal size. The gold leaf and the baroque paintings that decorate the walls and ceiling date to 1678 and the reign of Louis XIV, before the French Revolution.

#versailles, #france, #louisxiv, #mansart, #architecture, #travel, #chandelier, #mirror, #hallofmirrors, #treaty, #goldleaf, #baroque
A glimpse of the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles, France, witness to history.

Beyond the architecture and the stunning visual effect of the space, one must reflect on the history made here through the centuries. “Within the hall, the German Empire was declared in 1871 (Deutsche Reichsgründung)[1] and the Treaty of Versailles signed by the victorious powers of World War I in 1919.”  (Source: Wikipedia).

 

Rosecliff in Newport, Rhode Island

Soon after I flew home from the Wild West of Wyoming, I found myself booking a flight to Rhode Island to help out with the grandchildren. I can’t say no to an invitation like that!  In fact, I got myself to Newport a day early so I could visit a few of the historic mansions built by American Industrialists at the turn of the century (c. 1900).

Rosecliff is a gleaming white mansion inspired by Le Petit Trianon, Marie Antoinette’s private retreat in the gardens of Versailles, near Paris, France. Silver heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs commissioned architect Stanford White to design and build Rosecliff in 1899. It was completed in 1902 and was often the setting for lavish parties. This elegant home has a grand ballroom in its center that spills out to a grassy lawn, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. You may recognize it as the setting for the movie The Great Gatsby. If you are very fortunate, you may have attended a wedding reception here.

I found it interesting to learn that the exterior may look like white marble, but it is actually made of white ceramic, which was made more quickly and economically in molds.

#rosecliff, #newport, #white, #architecture, #greatgatsby, #gatsby, #mansions, #historic, #rhodeisland, #travel
Rosecliff was a private home until 1971, when owners Mr. and Mrs. J. Edgar Monroe donated it to the Preservation Society of Newport County.

#rosecliff, #historic, #architecture, #1902, #newport, #mansions, #newportmansions, #greatgatsby, #gatsby #makeanentrance
Stanford White’s heart-shaped grand staircase is unique and unforgettable.

This weekend, I’ll have the opportunity to compare Rosecliff with its inspiration, Le Petit Trianon in France, as I am currently visiting France and hope to tour Versailles this weekend.

If you are interested in touring Rosecliff or other properties like the Breakers, The Elms, or Marble House, refer to the Newport Mansions website for hours and admission fees.

Secret of the Aspens

The shimmering golden aspens of the Rocky Mountains are known for their white trunks and brilliant fall color, but did you know their biological secret? Clumps of aspen trees are actually clones of each other. Yes! They share the same DNA.

The National Forest Foundation explains it this way:

One aspen tree is actually only a small part of a larger organism. A stand or group of aspen trees is considered a singular organism with the main life force underground in the extensive root system.”

#aspens, #aspen, #trees, #vertical, #trunks, #whitetrunks, #forest, #clone, #yellow, #fallcolor, #pattern
Stands of golden aspen trees flourish in Grand Teton National Park. September, 2018.

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Along the Teton Fault

Did you ever wonder why the Grand Tetons rise straight up out of a flat valley? The Teton Fault separates two tectonic plates at the foot of the mountains. For the past 10 million years, the mountains have inched up to 13,700 feet, while the flat valley floor has sunk to its current level at 6,800 feet above sea level, according to the National Park Service.

During the Ice Age glaciers moved south from Yellowstone region, filling the valley and then eroding the mountains into jagged peaks and melting into lakes. All of this geology history tells a fascinating story too gradual for us to observe, but we can observe the changing seasons and fall color.

#valley, #grandtetons, #jacksonhole, #gtnp, #golden, #sky, #sunnyday, #wyoming, #grandteton, #landscape, #nikon
The valley floor appears golden in late September along the Teton Fault in Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park.

Do the colors in this scene leave you feeling uplifted?

(The facts in this blog were provided by the National Park Service.)

Sunset on Jenny Lake

Grand Teton National Park is such a strong magnet for landscape photographers, that many of the popular lookout points are quite crowded for sunrise and sunset. Tripods legs are interlaced, and I consider myself lucky if the people around me are cooperative and friendly.  If an inexperienced photographer starts to set up in front of another photographer who has established his spot, look out! There will be fireworks.

Our workshop group of nine had this spot on the edge of Jenny Lake to ourselves. Check!  When we first arrived on the lake shore to see a bright blue sky and backlit mountains, I wasn’t sure how much I liked the location. We had carefully climbed down a rocky hillside, carefully making our own path over boulders and downed trees. I moved to the right and left, looking for foreground elements to create an interesting composition.

As we waited for the sun to sink lower and lower, the show began. Our group became very still when the orange light show reached its peak, and every photographer tried to perfect a long exposure.

#nikon, #howto, #grandtetons, #grandtetonnationalpark, #jennylake, #sunset, #lake, #reflection, #sky, #vibrant, #log, #nationalparks, #jacksonhole
Here is my final image of the evening resulting from a 2.5 second exposure at ISO 100 and f/16, an aperture that kept the foreground and the distant mountains and sky in clear focus.

As I packed up my gear, I could hear others murmur, “Did you see that reflection on the water?”

How could you miss it?