“Haunted Happenings” Grand Parade (Salem, MA)

Date Of Event: October 3, 2019 (held annually the first week of October)

Location: Downtown Salem (Congress St, Derby St, Front St, Washington St, Essex St, Salem Common)

Summary: Salem’s Chamber Of Commerce kicked off the month long “Haunted Happenings” celebration for the month of October. Scores of heroes, monsters and kids came together to celebrate and march!

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Clowns, super heroes and super villians were only a few of the characters who marched the 24th annual “Haunted Happenings” parade last Thursday night to kick off Salem’s month-long “Haunted Happenings” celebration.

The theme of this year’s parade was “The Future Is Ours” and some of the participants used futuristic props to fit into the theme of the parade.  These park rangers, for instance, had a futuristic robot ranger in the parade!

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What would a Halloween parade be without candy?

Well, since candy tossing is not permitted, some of the participants ran over to the onlookers with fistfuls of goodies.

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What always entertains me about the Haunted Happenings parade is the unexpected and spontaneous things some of the marchers will do (more on this later).

For instance, who needs feet to walk?  These kids used an unorthodox method of marching.

 

Some of the marchers chose to drive in the parade.  The parade participants arrived in a variety of vehicles, or, er, caskets,

 

Some of the more popular people in the parade weren’t the participants.  These motorcycle cops slowed down to share some high fives with their fans.

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Holy Bat caves!  Where was Robin?

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Shiver me timbers, pirates and other characters were also there.

 

The usual suspects, Jason, Michael, Pennywise and Frankenstein’s monster were all their.  It’s a wonder we all made it out unscathed!

 

But, these guys and ladies were there to protect everyone!

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Not all of the marchers were dangerous or scary, though.  Mermaids, poets and this nice gentleman who had “lotion in his basket” were also there.  Ok, maybe the last guy wasn’t so nice.

 

Of course, there also were bands, baton twirlers and flag wavers.

 

The best part of the parade is seeing how much fun the kids are having.  In fact, it had some of them jumping for joy.

 

Just to preface this photograph, I will often bend down, kneel or squat down low when I photograph subjects or events, especially little subjects, so I can be at eye level when I photograph them.  So, I was photographing the parade, minding my own business when someone tapped me on the shoulder and got down to my eye level!  It was both unexpected and hilarious!

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Not all of the great costumes were worn by the people in the parade, though.  All of these people got into the spirit of the parade!  Or, they may just regularly dress this way.  I don’t judge!

 

Funny story.  I saw this cute unidog or dogicorn while I was walking to the parade.  Well, it turns out I had actually photographed her at the parade last year as well.  Ginger the Goldendoodle is 2 years old.  I look forward to photographing you next year and for many more years to come, Ginger!

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This was her costume last year!

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This is the first time I used a dedicated flash (a flash that is not a pop up flash and not built into the camera) during night time photography.  Hard to believe since I have been doing this photography thing for a while now.  But most of my photography is done during the early morning, daytime or sunset hours.  This is something of a common misconception though.  I would later learn in my research that you can and in some instances should use a flash during daytime hours and on sunny days.  But, in the past, I was so unsure and unfamiliar with night time photography settings, I would often switch to video when I thought it got too dark to photograph images (this is what I did at last year’s Halloween parade).

I think you can see the difference a speed lite can make (I didn’t use the flash for all of my night time photographs because some subjects weer near light sources when I shot them and I did want to save as much of my battery life for my flash as they can often use a lot of power). Plus, the dark, night time feel can be a good look for photos, especially for a Halloween parade shoot.  I think you may be able to tell which photos I took with the flash and without based on the lighting in the photos.

I have learned a great deal about flash photography and the best teaching tool is experience.  Although I am still learning, one tip for a shoot like this is to never point the flash directly at your subject.  Try tilting the flash upward or at an angle, particularly when shooting outdoors.  I am using the Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI and I use the ETTL (Evaluative Through-The-Lens) mode which is similar to using the Automatic setting on your camera.  The autoflash, is the mode where the camera uses information obtained through the lens (“TTL”) to calculate how much light the flash needs to emit for the appropriate brightness. The camera then automatically sets the flash output accordingly.  My next goal is to learn how to use the manual features to maximize the effect of my speed lite.

Don’t forget to check out my Facebook page to see additional photos I have taken  from all over New England here: Facebook page.


Paul Revere House (Boston, MA)

Date Of Visit: September 7, 2019

Location: 19 North Square, Boston, MA

Hours:

Open year round.

Summer:
Open Daily
April 15 – October 31: 9:30 am to 5:15 pm
Winter:
November 1 – April 14: 9:30 am to 4:15 pm

Closed on Mondays during January, February and March.
Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Cost:

Admission
Adults $5.00
Seniors and College Students $4.50
Children (ages 5-17) $1.00

Admission is Cash Only

Universally Accessible: No.  The historic home is not universally accessible.

Website: Paul Revere House

Highlights, historic home, character actors, guided tours

Summary: The Paul Revere House offers guided tours of the historic home.  A special visitor stopped by during my visit.

Photography is not allowed inside the Paul Revere House (which makes it particularly hard to post about my visit there).  However, there was a special guest during my visit.

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One of Paul’s besties, John Adams, happened to be visiting while I was there.  John regaled the crowd (don’t they look enthralled?) with his stories of his colorful past and his disdain for the British and French.

John also read a letter from his friend Benjamin Franklin.

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But, before too long, John checked his watch and he told us it was time to leave.

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Although I could not photograph inside the building, I did get some photos of the exterior of the building.

Paul Revere bought the he two story building, which was built in 1680, in 1770 .  It has four rooms and ninety percent of the structure, two doors, three window frames, and portions of the flooring, foundation, inner wall material and raftering are original.  The rooms have furniture and furnishings that look similar to those from that era.  There are staff members in the houses who give a historical background of the house.

People come from all over to visit the house.  These two visitors came all the way from Illinois!

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Rumor has it there may be another special guest there next Saturday (Sep[. 28)!


2019 Vintage Lawn Party (Salem, MA)

Date Of Event: September 8, 2019

Location: Salem Commons, Washington Square, Salem, MA

Highlights: vintage party, swing dancing,swing music,lawn games

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Party goers of all ages and backgrounds gathered together earlier this month at the annual Vintage Law Party which celebrated the early 1900’s.

Although not required, vintage outfits were encouraged and many people came out in the vintage best.

 

Dance classes were offered by North Shore Swing.

 

The lessons must have worked because the dance floor was ablaze with swing dancers.  Eat your heart out, Gene Kelly.

 

Music was provided by Dan Gabel’s High Society Orchestra

 

And, of course, Patty supplied the vocals.

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There were also lawn games such as badminton, croquet and bocce.  There was also a referee for the croquet tournament

 

Bocce can be a difficult game with lots of lots of twists and turns.  These reaction shots how how a game can go in many different directions very quickly!

 

Ted and Jenna were the winners of the  Witch’s Wicket Croquet Tournament.

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The one photography tip I would give for this post is not about technique nor is it about equipment or anything photography related.  My tip is to be bold (which is good advice for just about any aspect of our lives) and not be shy.  Despite my photos of people and all of the wonderful people I have met, I’m not generally an overly social person.  So, it’s not my nature to go up to complete strangers and ask for their photograph. In fact, I think I missed a few good photo opportunities in the past because of my shyness.  Some people may find that hard to believe now.

I also think photography can be a solitary activity.  All you need is your camera.  But, my camera has helped me meet so many nice people I would never have met if I didn’t have a camera with me.  So, don’t be too shy or worry what somewhat might say if you ask to take their photo.  In my experience, they’ll most likely say “yes” or at least be flattered.  You may make their day!  The upside far outweighs the downside.  The worst they will say is “no” and they have every right to say that. It’s not personal.  Besides, it’s a good way to connect with someone.  You may not just get a good photo.  You may make a friend.


Boston Public Garden 9/11 Memorial (Boston Public Garden, Boston, MA)

Date Of Visit: September 11, 2019

Location: Boston Public Garden, Arlington St, Boston, MA

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It’s been 18 years since the attacks on the World Trade Center, yet the pain is still real and the scars are still raw for many.  Built in 2002, the 911 Memorial at the Boston Garden gives people a place to reflect, leave flowers and other mementos and let us all remember.

 

The memorial includes names of the victims with ties to Massachusetts or the New England area.   As I scanned the scanned the 250 names , one name stood out.

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Madeline Amy Stewart (more commonly known as Amy Stewart) is considered the first person to give a description of the hijackers to the air traffic controllers.  Amy, who was originally from Long Island and settled in Acton, MA, after her marriage, was a flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11.  Before her plane crashed into the North Tower, Amy relayed important information about the hijackers and the path of the plane she was on.  Like many other people who died that day she was not supposed to work on that flight.  She had picked up an extra shift for a colleague who had fallen ill.  There are a lot of stories like that in the list of names etched in the memorial.

Each year, the Madeline Amy Sweeney Award For Civilian Bravery  is awarded to one person from a  who has displayed exceptional bravery, without regard for personal safety, in an effort to save the lives of another or others in actual imminent danger.

Annually, on the anniversary of the attacks, a wreath is placed at the memorial.  Many people also leave mementos and reminders such as a photo of the Twin Towers and photos of some of the victims of the attack.

 

Another thing I noticed on the memorial is a few of the names had FDNY after their names (indicating they worked for the Fire Department of New York) and, as I researched the memorial and names on the memorials, just how many people had ties to the New England area.  It’s not unusual to meet someone in one of the New England states who has a relative who resides in New York, or who may have been born there or lived there at some point.  We’re very much connected to New York and other parts of the areas affected by the attacks and the connection is very much evident when you visit the memorial.


Toytopia (Springfield Museums, Springfield, MA)

Date Of Visit: July 3, 2019

Location: Lyman And Merrire Wood Museum Of Springfield History

Highlights: classic toys on display(sometimes for use)

Website: Toytopia

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Rubik’s Cube.  Monopoly.  NES.  Do these games bring you a warm, fuzzy feeling of nostalgia?  Then you would have loved the Toytopia exhibit this summer at Springfield Museum.

The exhibit featured a variety of old style arcade games such as Ms Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Defender and Dig Dig.  The games were able to be used and the museum conveniently provided change making machines for visitors to make change so they could partake in the games.

One of the most popular exhibits was the Etch-A-Sketch exhibit, largely because of the works of a famous Etch-A-Sketch artist.  The Etch-A-Sketch display showcased the work of George Viosich.

The display showed off George’s Etch-A-Sketch’s portraits of  Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson.  His portraits can take up to 150 hours and they can sell for $5,000 to $10,000.

 

Zoltar, the fortune telling machine from the movie “Big” and his parrot were also at the exhibit.

 

A toy that replicated the musical stairs from the movie were also part of the exhibit which patrons could use to make their own music.

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There was also a display of Lego figures that ranged from Star War figures to Marvel and DC characters.

 

The exhibit also showed off popular toys from every decade and era going back to the early 1900’s

 

AS if that wasn’t enough fun, there was also a Thomas The Train exhibit in the Springfield Museum of History.

The exhibit featured a replica of Thomas The Train and props from the show.

 

The train also allowed visitors to use toy pieces of coal to start the train.  Reminds me of fueling up my car!

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The Toytopia exhibit showed how everyone, regardless of age, size, gender


Revere Beach International Sand Sculpting Festival (Revere Beach, Revere, MA)

Dates Of Event: July 26-28, 2019 (the event is usually held annually during the last weekend of July)

Location: Revere Beach, Revere Beach Blvd, Revere, MA (about 20 minutes northeast of Boston, MA, or 1 hour and 15 minutes southeast of Concord, NH)

Cost: Free

Parking: Since they close the streets for the event parking is limited. Parking is available at the Wonderland train stop. You may also find street parking on a side street.

Universally Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: sand sculptures

Website: Revere Beach Sand Sculpture Festival

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The early bird gets the unobstructed sand sculpture photos. Or, at least so I thought.

The last Sunday of July, I decided to wake up early and photograph the sand sculptures from the annual Sand Sculpting Festival at Revere Beach. There was one slight problem. Everyone else north of Boston had the same idea. The streets and sidewalks at the beach were already slightly clogged with revelers, sun seekers and photogs by the time I arrived “early” at 6 a.m. But, with some effort, I was still able to get a few shots without people, workers or other objects in the background of most of my shots.

The annual sand sculpting event included 15 sand sculptors from all over the world. Awards were given to the top five sculptures that were judged by a panel of experts. There were also a “People’s Choice” award the visitors were able to vote for and a “Sculptor’s Choice” award the sculptors all voted for.

Then, there were 8 additional sand sculptures which did not win a prize but are no less impressive.

So, instead of a big, dramatic countdown, let’s start from the top of the list!

First place went to Canadian artist Melineige Beauregard for her sculpture, “The Nest.” Melineige also works with snow and ice to make sculptures during the colder seasons.

The first runner up in the contest was “Shell(ter)” by Jonathan (JOBI) Bouchard from Canada.

Third place went to Ilya Filimontsev from Russia for his sculpture “Guardian Angels.”

Fourth place went to Abe Waterman of Canada for his sculpture “I Just Can’t Bring Myself To Care, Doctor: An Ode To Apathy.”

Dan Belcher from Missouri came in fifth place with his sculpture “Trance.” Dan has been creating sand sculptures around the world since 1990.

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The Sculptor’s Choice Award which was voted on by all of the sand sculptors was awarded to David Mac from Belgium for his work “La Renaissance De Notre Dame.”

The People’s Choice Award was awarded to Sudarsan Pattnaik from India for his sculpture “Save Our Ocean Stop Plastic Pollution.

Although only five of the sculptures won a prize, they were worthy of our praise. One of my favorites from the festival was “Eye Of The Tiger” by Sue McGrew of Washington state. She has been sculpting sand for over a decade.

“Attempting Union” by Morgan Rudluff from Santa Cruz, California was another popular sculpture at the event.

Fergus Mulvany of Dublin, Ireland, created another fan favorite called “Deep Sleep Diving.”

“Dream About Flight” by Aleksei Rybak from Russia is another sculpture that failed to qualify for one of the top spots in the competition.

“Mama Look !! I Found My Teddy!” by Deb Barrett Cutulle was popular sculpture despite not placing in the top of the competition.

“Horsepower” by Maxim Gazendam was another sculpture that failed to place in the top five.

“The Birth Of A New Universe” by Pavel Mylnikov from Russia was another sculpture that failed to make the cut.

Last, but certainly not least, is “Lady Moon” by Benoit Dutherage From France.

The theme of this year’s sand sculpture festival was a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. And many of the sculptures from the To commemorate this monumental achievement, the main sand sculpture included sculptures of the astronauts involved in the voyage. Each of the sculptors contributed to these sculptures.

You have to be careful photographing the sunset, especially when you’re photographing it with other objects. For instance, I chose to use a lower aperture (5.6 for most of the photos) which left the sculptures often a bit dark. I also noticed that when I did edit the photos, I had to be careful to not use too much brightness or contrast or other buttons to control the darkness of the sculptures, especially the faces of the sculptures, because it can blow out the colors of the sunset. So, I chose to keep the sculptures a little dark and close up on the key features like faces to capture them without worrying about the background.

You can also try photographing from different angles where the shadows won’t be as bad. I was trying to avoid taking photos with people or other objects in the background. So it was hard to get photos of the sculptures from certain angles without getting people in the background and it also limited the angles I could shoot from. There were a lot of people there despite the early time of the shoot!

Since it’s unlikely the sand sculptures are going to move (and if the do leave immediately!), you can use AV (or Aperture Priority) mode so you can concentrate solely on the aperture settings. I have been using manual mode exclusively with my photos. But it took me a long time to get there. So, I do suggest using aperture priority mode if you’re not comfortable using full manual mode unless you’re photographing things that have action or some other element that requires a fast or variable shutter speed.


5th Annual Foxborough Street Painting Festival (Patriot Place, Foxborough, MA)

Date Of Event: May 18, 2019 (usually held annually on the 3rd weekend of May)

Location: 2 Patriot Place, North Marketplace, Foxborough, MA

Universally Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Yes

Website: 2019 Foxborough Street Painting Festival

Summary: Dozens of people stopped by Patriot Place to show off their chalk drawing skills for a good cause.

Each year since 2014, Patriot Place has hosted an art festival to raise money for scholarships.  This year, they raised $1,000 for the Gerald Roy Memorial Fund.  Gerald Roy was a public school teacher in the Foxborough public school system.  He retired in 2012 after teaching for 35 years.

The theme of this years festival was “Travel Destinations” and much of the art from the festival had to do with where the artists were from or where they like to or want to visit.

Some people were very creative about their favorite places!  Outer space!  Why, yes, I’d love to go there, especially these days!

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Other artists used other creative ways to describe their favorite places or places they would like to visit.  Derry looks pretty scary!

There were a total of 53 chalk colored works of art (I photographed 39 of them) by people from 21 cities and towns.

Patriot Pat was also there to greet the artists and guests.

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Patriot Place is a dog friendly venue.  Aspen is a service dog in training for America’s Vet Dogs.

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For this photo shoot, I relied mostly on Aperture Priority, or as my camera calls it Aperture Value.  Since the things I was photographing weren’t moving, I didn’t worry much about shutter speed.  However, I have noticed how shutter speed is important to control.  For instance, since it was a bright day, I didn’t need a slow shutter speed and while my camera adjusted accordingly mostly it didn’t always.  I think the places where there was shade confused my camera when I was using AV.  It’s actually easier to use manual mode sometimes.  Lately, I have been using manual mode exclusively, largely for this reason, and, of course, for objects or animals or people that are moving.  An example of this was the little guy high fiving Pat.  Since there was movement I had to use manual mode to slow the shutter speed down accordingly.  Now, I almost think I am cheating if I use AV (Aperture Value) because I’m not choosing the shutter speed and it doesn’t always choose the correct shutter speed.

While my shutter speed did vary (as I was using the AV setting mostly), I mostly used a 5.6 aperture with a 18 mm focal length and the shutter speed was in the 1/125 range.  I also kept the ISO at 100 as the lighting was not an issue for this shoot.