Category Archives: Massachusetts

“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


Taking Care Of Business: Women At Work (Springfield Museums, Springfield, MA)

Date Of Visit:

Location: Lyman & Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History

Hours:

Monday–Saturday: 10 am–5 pm
Sunday:
 11 am–5 pm

Holidays

Closed: New Year’s Day, Easter, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Open: Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Presidents’ Day, Patriots’ Day, Columbus Day and Veterans Day.

Cost:

1 Ticket = 5 Museums

Adults: $25
Seniors (60+): $16.50
College Students: $16.50
Youth 3–17:
 $13
Children Under 3: Free

Springfield Residents (with valid ID): Free – youth included

Special exhibit fees may apply to all visitors.

 

Parking: Free parking is available in the main parking lot and an overflow lot is located across the street

Universally Acceptable:

  • All buildings are accessible and equipped with accessible restrooms.
  • Accessible parking is available.
  • Mobility devices are allowed.
  • A limited number of wheelchairs are available in the Welcome Center and the lobbies of the D’Amour Art Museum, Wood Museum of Springfield History and GWV Smith Art Museum.
  • Due to ongoing construction, please ask our Welcome Center staff in advance for assistance in accessing the GWV Smith Art Museum.
  • For other questions regarding accessibility, please contact our security office at security@springfieldmuseums.org or 413-779-2156.

Dog Friendly: No

Website: Taking Care Of Business

Summary: A collection of memorabilia which showcase the women’s labor movement.

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The Taking Care Of Business exhibit at the Springfield Museums in Springfield, MA, pays tribute to some of our unsung heroes.  The exhibit shows how women have played an integral role in the work we do and how their roles have changed over time.

One of the first exhibits at the museum has a collection of Girl Scout ribbons, patches and literature.

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The Girl Scouts patches, ribbons and other memorabilia are from a Connecticut Girl Scout the 1930s. One interesting thing about the Girl Scouts and their badges is how much they have changed over time.  Badges were once earned for sewing and domestic skills.  Now, Girl Scouts can earn badges in such areas as computer skills, robotics, entrepreneurship and outdoor activities.  The magazine is from 1967.

Since the museum is located in Springfield, MA, many of the items have a tie to the area.  These medical instruments and memorabilia from the school pictured below are from the Springfield Hospital School of Nursing.

 

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The items included in the display are a 1920s microscope, Springfield School of Nursing class rings from 1931, 1946, 1949 and 1959.  There are also bottled medicinal pills and alcohol, a cased thermometer, a nurse’s watch, cap and cap clips, a cased hypodermic needle, miniature balance scale for weighing medicines, ear irrigator, nursing school graduation pins dated 1895 and 1946, clamps, birthing scissors to cut umbilical cords, a Springfield Hospital School of Nursing handbook and a first aid guide.

The exhibit didn’t exclusively focus on the advancement of women in the workplace. The exhibit below displays the efforts of women during war time.  From helping to recruit people for the war effort, rationing supplies and working at the USO, women contributed greatly to support the war effort and the troops who served and came back.  In the display below there are rationing books, fundraising and recruitment literature and rationing stamps.

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Styles have also changed over the years.  The display below contains a variety of the headwear that women wore during the earlier part and middle part of the 1900s.

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Speaking of style, the styles of the women who served their country have also changed over time.  This uniform, a Pioneer Valley WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service) uniform (circa 1944), was worn and gifted to the museum by Jean Fillion (Bates), Mailman Second Class U.S. Navy Reserve.  The purse was a nice touch.  At times, as I put this post together I had to keep reminding myself, “this was the 40s.”

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This uniform is the Springfield School of Nursing Cadet Corps uniform (circa 1945-48).

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Even before they were eligible to serve during wars, women have played a pivotal role in the military.  One of the groups of women who were mentioned in the placard at the museum were “The Sisters Of The Holy Cross” who were aboard the Confederate steam ship the “USS Red Rover.” Women also served as Navy Yeomen during World War I.

As you exit the exhibit, there is a blackboard for visitors to write the name of a woman who they are inspired by.  What name would you write on the board?

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The “Taking Care Of Business” exhibit is scheduled to be on display until August 25 of this year.


Bradley Palmer State Park (Topsfield, MA)

Date Of Visit: June 1, 2019

Location: 40 Asbury St, Topsfield, MA

Hours: Open daily from sunrise to sunset

Cost: Daily parking fee charged Memorial Day weekend through October 31

MA resident  $5

Non-MA resident  $10

There is a pay station located at the parking lot.

Parking: There is a parking area for about 50 or so cars.

Trails Size and Difficulty: 721 acres, easy to moderate

Universally Accessible: Yes, the main trail is universally accessible

Dog Friendly: Yes

Website: Bradley Palmer State Park Website

Bradley Palmer State Park Trail Map

Highlights: equestrian trails, meadows, plants, flowers, scenic views, wildlife, historic site, wading pool (June 26 – September 7 Open daily, 9:30am to 7:00pm)

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Named after noted attorney and businessman Bradley Palmer, Bradley Palmer State Park has numerous trails for cycling, horse riding or just hiking as well as beauty unmatched by most parks in the area.

There is a variety of wildlife at Bradley Palmer.  Snakes (garters mostly), frogs and toads and birds are abundant at the park.  I was careful to not get too close to the Fowler’s toad as it has poison glands that meet at the back of their eyes.  Actually, I had no idea about this while I took the photo.  It was only after I had somewhat foolishly gotten close to the frog, taken the photo and researched what type of frog it was that I found about this.  I am always careful to not disturb the wildlife though.  The only reason it looks like I was very close was because of my telephoto lens.  But it is something to keep in mind next time.

 

There are also numerous equestrian trails for horse riders to take their horses on.

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There are also open fields with obstacles for horses to make jumps.

 

In fact, it is the open areas with long trails that make Bradley Palmer so special.  There are so many pretty trees and flowers along the trails which are located along the Ipswich River. I could walk along the seemingly endless trails just taking in the scenic views along the way.

 

There are also historic buildings at the park.  Palmer had constructed a mansion called Willow Dale where he resided.  The building was restored in 2007 and is used for wedding receptions and other celebratory events under the name Willowdale Estate.  I didn’t take photos of the remodeled building as there was a wedding reception taking place there during my visit.

There is also an old abandoned building at one of the entrances to the park. I’m not sure what it was originally used for (perhaps a horse barn as Bradley Palmer enjoyed horses).  But, it is fun to think of it as being the home of a gnome or some other fantastical creature.

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 Bradley Palmer is a dog friendly park.  There is more than 720 acres for you and your pooch to explore.  Luke, a 7 year old, Tree Walker Coon hound, had fun on the trail.

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The one thing that made this shoot somewhat challenging (despite the birds who kept flying away before I could shoot them) was the lighting at the park.  Sunlight can be very difficult to work with.  Frankly, it is often easier to get a darker image and fix it in post production.  An over exposed photo can be very hard to “fix” later.  This is why it’s important to get the photo right in the camera whenever possible,

There are two easier ways to avoid getting too much light in your photo: come back later and (time permitting) shoot the photo at a later time when the lighting may be better or try to position yourself in a different angle where the light may be less harsh.  Those suggestions may seem obvious but sometimes the most obvious ideas do not always come to mind, especially if we may not have time to shoot the image later in the day.

When I took a beginner photography class, the teacher told us to shoot at 5.6 “because he said so.”  While it is obvious that this is not always the best setting to use, I did notice I shot most of my photos at 5.6 or 4.0.  Of course, it will vary upon where and when and the environment you’re shooting in, 5.6 is a good place to set your camera at and you can always adjust from there if you’re unsure what setting to use, particularly for beginners.

In a future post I will share some thoughts on photographing birds.  You know, the least frustrating part of photography ( :