Monday, August 31, 2015

Last weekend, I got to walk into the woods of Pennsylvania on the hunt for a collection of old, rusting streetcars.  For a long time, this location was kept private, but the recent popularity of group tours aimed at amateur photographers has made the site much easier to suss out with some minor internet searching on abandoned places photography.  Officially, the streetcars are on private property, and you will be trespassing if you go on your own.  The owner of the property has made arrangements with Abandoned America to minimize his liability while allowing interested photographers the chance to see his collection of streetcars he has accumulated over the last 25 years.

Getting to the main grouping of cars can be a bit challenging with the uneven ground and overgrown plant life.  You have to keep focused on where you are stepping, even when the growth clears out a bit.  Not only do you need to mind where you walk, but you also have to watch for rusted metal that could cut you.  Actually entering the cars is not an option, as the flooring (if it is still there) is too rusted or damaged to hold the weight of the average adult.  I may be making this out to be more treacherous than it is, but what I think is common sense may not be perceived the same way by someone else -- be solid on your feet and smart while shooting.

After walking back in time in the woods, you will also have the option of exploring the owner's warehouse of cars that are in better shape.  In fact, this is where he is storing a dining car of the Pennsylvania Railway that is over 100 years old.  It reminded me of one of the cars from my childhood model railroad set. The interior is still in good shape, and you can see the old window shades, light fixtures, and icebox - complete with a slot for actual blocks of ice to be stored for refrigeration purposes.  The car is very dark inside, so I used my headlamp to maneuver around and long exposures for the photos.  If you're interested in seeing these streetcars in person, watch the Abandoned America workshop page for upcoming dates.

Posted on Monday, August 31, 2015 by Julie

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Friday, August 28, 2015

And we've made it through another year together!  If you're reading this, thank you for your support and interest.  It really pushes me to get out there and try new things so I can report back to you all.

This past year continued the trend, that seems to have started in 2013, of more travel adventures.  And I don't mean this to imply more time on airplanes traveling to far off destinations, though I still try to do that as much as I can within the normal constraints of job and responsibilities at home.  What I mean is pushing myself to get out of the house for day trips, weekend trips, road trips, etc. Or when that's not possible, just getting out in my own town to find opportunities to engage in my new favorite word: mircroadventures.  I've been making exploration a priority, basically.  I've also noticed a shift in my pattern of doing less classes and activities (what I used to do for my "Learn" category) in favor of learning through doing, especially when it's something where I can bring my camera to continue improving on my photography skills.  Coincidentally, one of those photo opps is happening early tomorrow morning, so I need to write faster so I can get this posted and get to sleep.....

I'm looking forward to keeping up this pace into next year and have some big things planned.  Hopefully, I won't encounter another physical injury that could derail my plans, like I did this past spring with my ACL surgery - though I was and continue to not be a cooperative physical therapy patient because I am always pushing my knee before it's ready.  For instance, right now I know it's still recovering from the ridiculous amounts of walking and climbing I did in Scotland. Did I mention how I never felt like I went downhill, only uphill, while staying in Edinburgh?

OK, and now on to my favorite posts from my 4th year as a travel and lifestyle blogger:
  • First, I will start with an easy one:  The Northern Lights!  I froze my butt off in Sweden for those photos, but observing this natural phenomenon is indescribably humbling and the resulting photos were worth any frostbite risk.
  • One of my favorite bands, Mumford & Sons is back!  And I somehow scored tickets to one of their secret gigs played to only 500 or so fans.  I made new friends of fellow fanatics in the process, and one was with me at the Gentleman of the Road New Jersey stopover where we randomly got to party with some of the members of the band!  As my dad always says, it's better to be lucky than smart.
  • I've joined up with local photographers to shoot abandoned buildings this past year that have resulted in interesting snapshots of a time long ago, now covered in dust.  My favorite may be the abandoned silk mill in Maryland.
  • I went to Portugal for the first time, and it may be one of my most favorite places I've ever visited.  I can't choose which city I loved best: Lisbon, Sintra, and Porto.  I want to go back for more!
  • They may have tasted like normal buttercream frosted chocolate cupcakes, but the Scotland Hairy Coo cupcakes I made were, I my opinion, so adorable they broke the cuteness scale.
  • My last favorite was just a super fun and memorable experience at the annual Del Close improv comedy marathon in NYC.  I can't remember laughing that much!  Of course, it helps to have non-stop, back-to-back shows with the best of the best improvisers in the country up there on stage.

Thanks again for reading!  Don't forget, I'm also on Facebook and Instagram.  I'm also going to try to reboot up my Twitter feed.  I've been ignoring that one for the past year as I leaned more toward Instagram.

Posted on Friday, August 28, 2015 by Julie

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Here is the final installment of three photography articles from the Scottish Highlands.  While the other posts covered the Isle of Skye and Scotland's lochs, light, and land, this last post highlights the coastal landscape of Morayshire (or the speyside region for you whisky fans) as well as some images of Scotland that are more than just landscapes, they are character captures - like the contrasty photo above of the very popular Eilean Donan Castle or the long exposure of Bow Fiddle Rock below.

What would a trip to Scotland be without seeing some of its wildlife, including these stags.

How about these twisted scots pine trees with their papery orange-red bark.  They look like they belong in another country!

Here I was having a little fun with a 10-stop neutral density filter at the Little Garve bridge.

This photo is a new desktop option for Microsoft Windows wallpaper...Scotland style! (Duffus Castle ruins)

Speaking of castles, what do you think of this moody photo of Ardvreck Castle on Loch Assynt?

And here are Ardvrek's ruins in a softer setting at sunset (taken with midges flying around my head!).

A random abandoned smoke house on the side of the road with its bright orange roof.

Scenes from the fishing town of Cromarty, where massive North Sea oil rigs are towed for repairs in the deep water of the Cromarty Firth.

One of many waterfalls - the Fairy Glen and the nearby wishing tree.

And, finally, a very fitting Scottish highlands ending...a couple of hairy coos (highland cattle) and a wee bunch of thistle.

Bonus Photos:  Sometimes a mistaken push of a shutter release can present surprising beauty in what should be viewed as an error.

Posted on Friday, August 28, 2015 by Julie


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Yesterday, I posted the first of three articles from my recent photography journey into Scotland's beautiful highland country, specifically from the Isle of Skye.  This post and the next one will focus on capturing through the lens the essence of northern Scotland's mainland.  My adventures, based out of the small town of Beauly near Inverness, covered the famous Loch Ness (above), Ullapool, Assynt, Inverpolly, and the Ben Eighe region in Wester Ross.  This countryside tour was led by the talented Glen Campbell from Lightstalkers Scotland.  Here are some of my favorite images from the trip! Tomorrow, I'm going to post the rest of the images, all taken along the coast of Morayshire and of other natural treasures from the Scottish highlands.

Posted on Thursday, August 27, 2015 by Julie

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