Feels like Charleston

A second floor sleeping porch, the perfect place to catch a breeze on a hot, muggy night might remind you of houses in Charleston or Savannah or New Orleans. But this picturesque home is found in Sewickley, Pennsylvania where I live.

Painted white with black shutters and shrouded with green trees, it seemed like a good subject for infrared photography — a medium that shows green foliage as white.

Infared photography shows foliage as white and skies black.
Infared photography can be processed many ways, but one way shows green foliage as white and skies as dark or black on a sunny afternoon.

I have just started this week experimenting with Infared photography, having bought a Sony 6300 camera and having sent it to LifePixel to have it converted to “Super color” Infared. Stay tuned to this blog for more interesting results.

Inside The Vessel

This wide angle photography taken inside New York City’s iconic structure The Vessel shows the beauty and rhythm of its geometry. Judging from the size of the people climbing the Vessel, you can appreciate its size.

The entertainment value of the Vessel is so high, that I didn’t feel the least bit tired climbing to the top.

In this image, you can simultaneously observe the Hudson River, the rail yards, the top of the Vessel, the intriguing blue circle at the core and the elevator track on the lower left. More on that blue circle later!

I feel the best aspect of the image is the symmetry of the staircases. Does the childhood board game “Chutes and Ladders” come to mind? The copper outlines really stand out against the dark grey flooring and glass panels. I just love this design!

You can find The Vessel in Hudson Yards by taking the New York City subway 7 train to its western terminus.

New York’s New Icon

New York City has so many major tourist attractions, that a new iconic work of art and architecture can open without the whole world knowing about it. I’m talking about the Vessel in Hudson Yards, the new Eiffel Tower or Saint Louis Arch of the 21st century. It’s a unique structure: a circular copper staircase that you can ascend and admire the changing views and geometry of its structure from different angles.

The Vessel’s location in Hudson Yards is especially fascinating to me, since my daughter Erin, the structural engineer, worked on its foundation, which is a super strong platform over the train tracks adjacent to Penn Station. Imagine a platform that can simultaneously hold a skyscraper and a park! Long before I visited the site, I was amazed by the engineering behind this development.

While construction on many buildings in Hudson Yards is ongoing, the Vessel opened earlier in 2019 along with an adjacent mall anchored by the only Neiman Marcus in New York City. Numerous high-end shops and restaurants are open in the Mall, adding to the enjoyment of an outing to the Vessel.

You can buy entrance tickets to the Vessel online ahead of time that will give you admission any time on a particular date. If you wander over to Hudson Yards (convenient via subway), you can buy a same day ticket that grants admission for a particular hour, to prevent overcrowding.

I loved the Vessel, and will share several photos from my walk inside it. The Vessel is handicapped accessible with a cleverly designed elevator. Go ahead and put it on your bucket list!

Gargoyles of Notre Dame Cathedral

If you climbed the North Tower of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, you must have enjoyed the gargoyles at the top. These fiendish dragon-like sculptures evolved in the Middle Ages originating in nearby Rouen, France. Some gargoyles decorate the end of rain spouts, and others are merely decorative, effectively keeping the evil spirits away.

These Notre Dame Cathedral gargoyles overlook the city of Paris and the Eiffel Tower. Photo in 2004 by Catherine Kelly.
This horned and wingless gargoyle overlooks the west facade of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Photo in 2004 by Catherine Kelly.

Check this blog tomorrow for more gargoyles from the North Tower of Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris.

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.

Back to School at Hogwarts

It’s early September, and school starts a new academic year. Does your school look like Hogwarts? This sunlit cloister of Durham Cathedral in England looks a lot like Hogwarts, Harry Potter’s school, because parts of the Harry Potter movies were filmed here.

#durham, #durhamcathedral, #cloister, #harrypotter, #movie, #harrypottermovie, #school, #september, #sepia, #blackandwhite, #bw, #shadows, #architecture
Durham Cathedral’s Cloister was the perfect setting for Harry Potter’s school Hogwarts in the movies.

Rendered here in a sepia-toned, black and white photograph, we can appreciate the sunlight and shadows of the Norman architecture. I recall similar architecture at the University of Sydney in Australia.

My Absolute Favorite Castle, Alnwick

After touring Edinburgh Castle, Bamburgh Castle, Lindisfarne Castle, Durham Castle and Alnwick Castle in North England and Southern Scotland, my favorite one (hands down) was Alnwick Castle in England. All of them are interesting and worth a visit, and there are even more to see in the region — Stirling, Duane and more. I’ll tell you why I enjoyed Alnwick Castle the best.

#alnwick, #castle, #england, #besttour, #bestone, #uk, #northumberland, #downtonabby, #harrypotter
In addition to architectural beauty, Alnwick Castle offers multiple fascinating tours, which bring the castle to life.

Upon arrival on the castle grounds, I quickly joined the film tour where I heard fascinating details of the filming of Downton Abbey (Christmas scenes) and Harry Potter. Those are the recent ones, but other films include Mary Queen of Scots with Vanessa Redgrave, Elizabeth I, Robin Hood with Kevin Costner, and Hollowed Crown.

Soon after, I joined the History Tour where the guide explained which parts of the castle were built at what time, and the purpose of each. After the Norman Invasion of 1066, the English built huge stone castles. A substantial stone castle was built here in 1133. This castle was never taken by force.

#castle, #alnwick, #tour, #travel, #fascinating, #history, #films, #england. #northumbria
A restored section of the outer castle wall at Alnwick Castle. The grassy area is called the Bailey, and it would have had buildings on it in medieval times.

Next, I joined the tour of the castle interior where the Percy family has lived for the past 700 years. The interior was updated in 1750 and again in 1850.  Current residents are the 12th Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, who life here five months of the year, starting in October.  The public may only tour Alnwick when the Duke and Duchess are not in residence, in the summer months. (No photos allowed of the inside). I took copious notes throughout each tour, just so I could remember the information.

About 5 pm, I was still feeling curious and walked down to the gardens, just in time to join the last tour of the day, the Poison Garden.  The fenced in section contains numerous poison plants, and the guide shared even more fascinating stories.

With no break for lunch, I was hungry, and luckily was able to buy fish and chips near the garden around 6pm. What a full day!

A Room With A View*

Before you have ever been to Edinburgh, Scotland, people will tell you, “Edinburgh is a beautiful city.”  You think to yourself, “why does everyone say that?” I wondered if I would come away from my trip saying the exact same words to others. I do.

My simple explanation is that the architecture is beautiful. As you walk the city, you may find yourself pausing to admire architecture right and left. Before we even left our hotel, I was enchanted with this view out our window.

#cathedral, #saintmarys, #stmarys, #architecture, #edinburgh, #scotland
View of Saint Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland from our room in the Hilton Grosvenor.

The curve of the street leading to the Cathedral in the West End makes lovely leading lines. This photograph was taken in late evening dusk, around 10pm.

*With apology to E. M. Forster for using the name of his book title.

Christmas in Newport

The historic Vanderbilt mansion in Newport, Rhode Island celebrate Christmas with old world charm. At Marble House, Christmas trees adorn every room. Yesterday, even Santa Claus arrived to meet the children.

#Marblehouse, #Newport, #rhodeisland, #mansions, #Christmas, #gildedage, #stairs, #Vanderbilt
In the foyer, poinsettias line the grand staircase.

#marablehouse, #mansions, #newport, #newportmansions, #rhodeisland, #vanderbiilt, #diningroom, #christmas
At Marble House, the dining room table is set.

#christmas, #vanderbilt, #marblehouse, #mansions, #newport, #rhodeisland, #gildedage
Mrs. Vanderbilt will receive you in the parlor at Marble House.

#marablehouse, #newport, #newportmansions, #vanderbilt, #gildedage, #rhodeisland, #christmas, #christmastree, #stainedglass, #ceiling, #chapel
The chapel at Marble House provides a quiet atmosphere for reading and reflection.

You may also tour the upstairs bedrooms, the living room and the kitchen at Marble House. If you have time, be sure to visit the Breakers and Rosecliff, or six others! You will need a week to see them all and to walk the Cliff Walk while you learn about the Gilded Age of American history.

Harpa in Reykjavik

Like Sydney, Reykjavik Iceland has an architectural gem along its harbor, and it is a music hall. While I photographed Harpa from our ship as we departed the city harbor in the evening, I did not have a chance to visit the inside.

#harpa, #reykjavik, #iceland, #architecture, #harbor, #music, #july, #windstar
Harpa, the music hall, is Reykjavik’s architectural gem. Its surface is reflective except when the interior is lit. I’m sure the building looks different during the long dark winter months.

I have started to make my list of things to do in Iceland for my next trip. Iceland is a photographer’s dream.