Category Archives: photos

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.


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.

 

 

 


Brews And Dogs (Towne Taproom, Agawam, MA)

Date Of Event: May 4, 2019

Location: Towne Taproom, 378 Walnut St Extension, Agawam, MA

Hours: the event usually starts at 12:00 pm

Cost: Free

Parking: There is parking behind the taproom and there are parking lots in the area.

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Of course!

Website: Towne Taproom (Facebook)

Summary: Towne Tap hosted their monthly “Dogs And Brew” event.  

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Towne Taproom has gone to the dogs.

Locally crafted beer wasn’t the only thing on tap at Towne Taproom earlier this month.

In addition to their musical entertainment, karaoke and trivia nights, Towne Taproom has been holding “Brews and Dogs” events which allow dog mom and dads to bring their furry friends to socialize.  Just make sure they are socialized and leashed.

A food truck from 4 B’s Mac & Cheese was also there and outdoor seating was available.

There were a variety of dogs at the event.  And, as you can tell by what some of the dogs are wearing, the first 50 dogs received a Towne and Taproom bandana.  The event raised funds for Baystate’s Pediatric Palliative Dog Therapy Unit.

Below are some of the visitors to the big event!

Penny is a 2 year old toy poodle.

 

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Rhodes and May (from left to right) are 5 year old labs.

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Elliott is a 5 month old Australian Cattle dog mix.

 

 

 

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Missy is a 5 year old Cavalier and Pekingese mix.

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Freya is a 2 year old Newfie.

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Mia is a 12 year old Boxer.

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My mom’s dog Holly is a year and a half ptibull mix

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Mia is a 13 year old Boxer.

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Rhino is a 4 year old Great Dane.

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From left to right is Bruno, a 4 year old Cocapoo rescue from Texas and Olive an 11 year old Golden Doodle mix from Boston.

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Towne Taproom plans on having these Brews and Dogs event on a monthly basis.  But they encourage people to visit their Facebook page to find out when they will be held.  See you this summer for a few brews and dogs!

 

 


Baby Animals On The Shaker Village (Hancock Shaker Village,Pittsfield, MA)

Date Of Visit: April 13, 2019

Location: Hancock Shaker Village, 1843 West Housatonic St, Pittsfield MA

Cost: Adults    $20 ($18 for Seniors, AAA members, MTA cardholders, and active and retired U.S. Military)
Youth     $8 (ages 13-17)
Children (12 and under) are free

Hours:

Hours mid-April through late-June 10am-4pm

Summer and fall hours July through October 10am-5pm

Parking: There is one average sized parking lot with additional lots for overflow parking

Handicapped Accessible: The Visitor Center, restrooms, galleries, store, cafe, and all meeting spaces are wheelchair accessible. Compact-dirt pathways and boardwalks throughout the Village provide access to the gardens and grounds, as well as the mile-long Farm & Forest Trail, which also features interpretive signage. Some buildings in the historic Village are wheelchair accessible via ramp, including the Round Stone Barn and the Trustees’ Office & Store. Keep in mind, however, that most buildings in the historic Village are NOT wheelchair accessible. Wheelchairs are available free of charge with advance reservation

Pet Friendly: No, but service animals are allowed.

Website: Hancock Shaker Village

Highlights: historic homes, animals, educational tours, demonstrations

Summary: The baby animals have arrived at Hancock Shaker Village.  In addition to the baby animals, there are tours of the historic homes and educational opportunities for visitors at the village.

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Spring in New England can only mean one thing: baby animals at Shaker Village!

Each year, dozens of animals arrive at the museum for the new season. The animals are housed in the appropriately named Round Stone Barn.  The barn, which was built around 1839, was burned to the ground December 1, 1864.  One hundred tons of hay, ten bushels (roughly 93 gallons) of provender and two adjoining sheds went ablaze during this fire.  It was rebuilt during the mid 1870s.

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Sheep, goats, pigs, chicken and other animals were present during my visit.  People were encouraged to go into the pens with the animals and pet them or take photos.

But, there weren’t just babies at the village.  Older animals, in some cases the mom and dad of the babies, were also at the museum.

Being located so close to the mountains and countryside of New York (we actually drove through New York for a brief period of time), the views from the farm were beautiful.

The farm also includes historic homes.  The self guided tour has signs with information about each house with background about each place.

One of my favorite buildings is the Blacksmith’s shop.  The Shakers made all of the metalwork used for their buildings.  In the Blacksmith’s shop, which was built in 1874, a blacksmith conducts demonstrations of how they make the hardware they use.  He was the third generation blacksmith in his family and the last.  No one else in his family wanted to continue the blacksmith trade.

There is also a room with tanning vats, a cider press and a turbine.

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But my favorite buildings from that era were the homes, offices and stores.  The Trustees Office and store and family living quarters housed the souvenirs people would buy during their visits.  It was also the place where people on business trips could place orders for goods.

The buildings and sheds on the farm give the premises a very old time feel.

There was also a play area for children where they could play with toys from that era and play with other toys.  There was also face painting, horse rides and a balloon shaping artist.

The only really difficult part of the photography session, besides the animals moving when I took their photos, was photographing the blacksmith.  It had all of the elements of a challenging photo shoot: low light, motion when he used the tools to make the hardware and the fire which was in stark contrast to the low light in the room.  I wanted to show the flame on the stove and the light on the tool he was using.  So, I didn’t want to boost the ISO or aperture too much.  So, what did I do?

The hard part for me is when there is motion and low light.  You want to use a fast shutter speed to photograph motion (500 or higher).  But, when there’s not a lot of light you need to use a slower shutter speed.  I didn’t have my tripod with me (and the museum doesn’t allow tripods on their property).  So, I used a fast shutter speed (500) and lowered my aperture to the lowest setting (3.5).  To make up for the lack of light I boosted my ISO to 2000 which is pretty high.  I knew that I could add noise reduction to address the noise or grainy photo from the high ISO in the editing process (which isn’t without its drawback that I will address in a future post).

It was important to capture the motion without seeing any blur and I wanted to make sure the fire looked as realistic and was an accurate display of what I saw, so I went with a high ISO.  Even if I did have my tripod with me it wouldn’t have been very useful as I needed a fast shutter speed rather than a slow shutter speed to capture the motion of the blacksmith.  You can always adjust the image by using noise reduction and using a higher or lower contrast and exposure setting when you edit in LightRoom or PhotoShop, although you do want to get the best photo as possible in the camera to avoid having to edit it too much.  I did end up using a low exposure in LightRoom to show how dark the room was when I took the photographs and to highlight the light from the fire.

Below are some of the photos of the blacksmith which show how I had to adjust the settings to capture his motion and the light from the fire.  As you can see from the photo, the high ISO (2000) allowed me to capture both the motion of the blacksmith as he used the pulley to add oxygen to the fire to keep it going and you can see the sparks clearly from the fire.  The noise reduction tool unfortunately can take away some of the details.  But it was a give and take.  I used the noise reduction to get rid some of the grain from the high ISO knowing that some of the features (like the background) may be a little dull.

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2000 ISO, 18 mm, 3.5 aperture, 1/500 shutter speed.

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2000 ISO 18 mm 3.5 aperture 1/500 shutter speed

I had to use a fast shutter speed (500) to capture the motion of the tool he was using without getting any blur and I sacrificed my ISO (technically I probably could have used a lower ISO, and I do have some photos of the blacksmith with an ISO of 1250).  I think I was playing it a little too safe with the high ISO

I ran into the same situation photographing the animals.  The barn was not well lit and the animals move around a lot.  I just had to use a high shutter speed (500 or 1000) and a low aperture (3.5 for most shots) and I was able to keep the ISO relatively low (around 400 for most shots) .  Again, I was able to use the settings in LightRoom to add color and bring out some contrast in the photos.

Shooting outside was not too hard, especially since I had some cloud cover which prevented sun glare and other issues you can run into when the sun is bright.  However, I have to fess up that I did have a 640 ISO (I should have bumped it down to 100 or so) because I forgot to adjust it after photographing the animals i the barn.  So, always check your settings when you’re changing locations at a photo shoot!