Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Spend a Day in St. Augustine

Arrival at The St. Francis Inn
Arriving the night before, I choose to stay at The St. Francis Inn, a rustic and historical Inn dating back to 1791.  The owners, Joe and Margaret Finnegan, are celebrating an anniversary of running the Inn for 30 years.  They make my stay as comfortable as if I was at home. They insist their staff follow suit, and I am never at loss for a glass of cool tea or comfortable seating. I can do that outdoors in the meticulously maintained quaint garden, or in the parlor, where I can always find someone to chat up.
The stay comes with breakfast, and afternoon tea. At night I listen to the ghost stories perfectly embellished by the long-time employees.  The ghosts include Lily, a beautiful black slave girl who had an affair with a young military man.  She reportedly haunts the third floor bedroom known as Lily’s room.  Some guest come in hopes of having a spiritual encounter, others have been known to leave suddenly after hearing things go bump in the night.
Plug in your Tesla
The Inn even boasts a Tesla charging station for those progressive and wealthy enough to indulge in high-tech automotive technology.
Last night’s arrival was planned with getting an early start. As a photographer, ‘blue hour is an important time of day…about a half-hour before sunrise, which is then followed by golden hour.  Interrupting my REM sleep did not disappoint as I took some gorgeous photos flooded by intense color overlooking the St. Augustine Marina and the Lions Bridge.  This is a good time to walk around before the heat and humidity dampens my brow.
Eco Boat Tour
About 9am, I board St. Augustine Eco Tours' dolphin, birding and nature tour for a personalized interpretive tours for small groups of 2 to 14 guests. Capt Zack Mckenna, starting at age 15 has been at this vocation for 30 years.  These are not just pretty scenic romps around the bay, his operation with its mission to be an educational resource for the local and extended community. The goal of their programs is on-water interpretive experiences that focus on environmental education, conservation, and wildlife and habitat protection.  The conservation efforts are entirely self-funded by the profits from the tours.
Trolley tour
One of the best ways to get a lay of the land is to use the trolley.  Taking the full tour allows me to see all of the key features of the city, where they are, and to which ones I would like to return.  It’s easy on the feet with the added benefit of having an historical narrative presented by the driver.
Breakfast at Hot Shots – Wall of Flame
With the morning waxing on, I feel it is time for breakfast. The place for one of the best breakfasts in town is Hotshots Bakery. I wind my way the few short blocks to Granada Street, I arrive early enough to miss the line that forms outside.  Sherry Stoppelbein serves up the best waffles, but it is hard to resist some of the other offerings, some overflowing with fresh, seasonal, local fruit.  After coffee, I dare to be added to the Wall of Flame.  In order to achieve such notability, I gingerly take the chocolate covered Datil pepper (Grown only in St. Augustine) and take a bite.  The first wave of heat hits my tongue, and then lights up my face a bright red, and finally makes the top of my head sweat. I finish off the pepper in two more bites before the pain has a chance to diminish.  My reward for my bravery (or stupidity) is a quick point-and-shoot photo which will find a place of distinction on [] Facebook page.
Colonial Quarter
A picturesque part of the city is known as the Colonial Quarter.  It is peppered with historical recreations such as a blacksmith and shipbuilding exhibits. I take the tour and I am entranced by the character ‘Grimm’, who re-counts the tales of the 17th and 18th centuries in vivid detail and settler’s accent. My favorite part, as well as the kids watching, is the live musket firing.  Have your camera ready!
Lunch at Taberna Del Caballo
My growling stomach, tired feet, and heat of the day remind me…it is time for lunch. No need to leave the cozy confines of the timber battlement.  I elect to stay in the Colonial Quarter and eat at Taberna Del Caballo, serving “Innovative Cuisine with a Spanish Flair”.  Read: Tapas, cocktails and wine.  The Sangria is so refreshing!  The cheese, meats, and flat-breads selected for the tapas hit the spot.
I was treated to meeting Christopher Froehlich, General Manager / Food & Beverage Director, who served my table with bold attention, never a water glass or tapas plate empty. I received a surprise visit from Jeff Sorg, CEO of Pat Croce and Company, who spent time relating his vision for this restaurant and his other properties.

Dinner at Johnny’s Oyster Bar
To end the day I amble up Menendez Blvd to Meehan's Irish Pub, where upstairs is the newly opened Johnny’s Oyster Bar, I am greeted by Chef Paul Bonanno who had a dream last night. A new creation of tuna tartare with a strawberry and crème fraiche sauce. That was just the appetizer as he plied our plates with bouillabaisse, oysters, and blackened drum. He topped off the night with a freshly made Irish Cream (with real cream…sorry Bailey’s).
Parlor stories back at St. Francis Inn
Back at the Inn I mingle with the other guests.  Everyone had a full and fulfilling day. We all agreed that one day in St. Augustine is not enough. I guess I’ll stay another day or two or three or…

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Professional Photo Tips for Travelers

Shared by my friends from International Expeditions

Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of the World's Greatest TripsBooks on Travel Reference)


We’re sharing veteran wildlife and nature photographer George Ritchey’s tips for getting the most out of your equipment and experience. With over 35 years of wildlife photography experience and credits including Robb Report, Atlanta Journal Constitution andBirmingham Magazine, Ritchey offers travelers tips on how to capture, preserve and enhance their memories while traveling.

·          Equipment
I don’t recommend that you bring a tripod unless it is a very light and mobile. Many of us will have cameras as well as binoculars. More equipment will become cumbersome and difficult to use. I am bringing a combination of walking stick and monopod. Often if your subject is an animal you will not have a lot of time to capture the image before the animal flees thus a tripod is of little use in these situations.

·          Wildlife
When approaching animals in the wild begin taking images during the approach process since you never know at what distance the animal will flee. Take lots of images. It is easy to delete unwanted ones. It is always better to capture a shot approaching the animal rather than the animal fleeing. Zoom in as close as possible. Have your camera ready and accessible at all times. Most animals will not wait for you –Sloth excluded.

·          Composition
Include reflections in your composition. Often the reflection itself will make a good photo. If your composition is in the sun or bright light a neutral density filter or circular polarizing filter should be considered but in darker situations such as the rain forest you will not need to use a filter.

·          How to pack
If your equipment includes many individual parts bring a small day bag or small backpack to house all the pieces that are not in use. Remember travel as light as possible. You will have a much more enjoyable trip. I would rather have the basic equipment than too much equipment.

·          Before leaving home review and study your camera manual. You should know how to operate it and that all functions are working. This is very important if you have a new camera or it’s been awhile since you used your camera. Remember we will have very limited access to any stores after we arrive in Lima. Once a participant in my seminar brought a five year old camera that she did not check, and after driving four hours she was disappointed to find that the camera did not work.

·          Make sure that you pack your camera manual. Many of the new cameras do not come with the manual and if you want one you need to download the manual from the manufacturer. Many strange and unusual malfunctions have occurred in the field and the manual often will supply instruction that can correct the problem. It may mean the difference of lots of images or going home with a disappointing number. Remember most of us will not travel the Amazon again!

·          Bring some type of rain protection for your camera equipment. There are specialty waterproof systems such as Aqua Tech or Kata, Inc. camera covers or you can use something as inexpensive as Ziplock bags. These bags come in sizes from 1 to 3 gallons. I once failed to use an adequate water protector in Alaska, and I spent many hours trying to dry my equipment and praying that it would work. I was successful but many photographers have not been so lucky.

·          Bring some type of security to attach your camera to you. I know that we all want to go home with all the equipment that we started out with. A neck strap or chest harness is acceptable. Gear Keeper offers a retractable device for smaller cameras. Cotton Carrier offer several chest strap carrying systems. I do not think a wrist strap is adequate. One inexpensive solution is to tie a string or small cord to your camera and to the button hole of your shirt. Don’t think it can’t happen to you! My last trip to the Galapagos claimed one unsecured camera.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Surely You Joust...

I timed my arrival in Tuscany with the joustng festival, The Saracen Joust of Arrezo.  Held the first Sunday in September every year.  This is a colorful display of rivaly. Participants representing four quadrants of the town  dress in respective colors of green/red, yellow/crimson, white/green, yellow/blue. Each team parades throught he town with much regalia and fanfare culminating in the Knight's Tournament in the Piazza Grande.

I rambled through the city tasting the local food, including Boar's Head.  Other vendors selling arts, crafts and tourist merchandise gathered in the park.

The beautiful walled city contained  churches and quaint restaurants . The streets swirled with crowds of people.  We got prime seats for the joust after waiting in an interminable line.  Just like "Medieval Times' we got to cheer for our home team- Porta del Foro known as Porta S.Lorentino (yellow and crimson colors).

As much as I enjoyed the festival atmosphere, I would return to Arrezo at another time to take a more leisurely stroll through its alleyways.  If I do I would stay at

Friday, September 2, 2011

Enter A Real Time Machine - The Newseum in Washington D.C.

I stepped out of my hotel and into a time machine.

Transported back, not in the typical resurrected town like Williamsburg, Va. or quaint seaport village like Mystic, Ct., but truly back where I remembered with emotions raw enough to bring tears to my eyes. I cried tears of grief, and tears of joy. The images I saw were contemporary and vivid. I lived them, and here I relived them. I was standing in the Newseum, Washington DC's newest museum of the news media, hence it portmanteau of a name.

Now before you doubt my opening, let me assure you that I am sincere in what I felt. Boyhood wonder came flooding back in watching the broadcasts of the space race, fear trickled through my fingertips in reading news about Hiroshima, and being a photographer I stood in sheer awe, mouth agape at the Pulitzer Prize winning photos.

Here I didn't just see the images, but each one was captioned with the full story behind its creation and the man or woman that captured that moment. They became so real for me. It was as if I was looking through the viewfinder in complete empathy with the imager, drawn into the intimacy of the scene.

My most poignant moment came when I reached the display for 9-11. I sat through the heart-wrenching movie and relived that day. Just outside the theatre was a display dedicated to Photographer William Biggart who lost his life when the second tower of the World Trade Center collapsed.

The Newseum’s collection includes radio, print, and television. Over 500 years of journalism is chronicled here. The history of history, if you will. Among its six floors you’ll find actual full size pieces of the Berlin Wall, and a forty-foot guard tower from near Checkpoint Charlie (not replicas), sports, comics, and the current day’s front pages from all fifty states.

The Newseum is a must-see stop when visiting Washington DC

The Newseum is located at:
Pennsylvania Avenue and Sixth Street, N.W., Washington, DC.

Hours of Operation
The Newseum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
General Admission
Good for admission on two consecutive days. Tickets may also be purchased at the Newseum's ticketing kiosks and admissions desk.
Adults (19 to 64)
$19.95 plus tax
Seniors (65+), military and students with valid ID
$17.95 plus tax
Youth (7 to 18)
$12.95 plus tax
Children (6 and younger)

Written and contributed by Jim DeLillo

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Popular Vermont Tourist Spot Devastated By Hurricane Irene

Before Irene (click on story text to see 'After')

Quechee Vermont, is an idlyllic tourist destination punctuated with an historic covered bridge, a glass blowing shop, and a sky dotted with hot air ballons.

Hurricane Irene left the sleepy town in shambles after flooding overflowed the Ottauquechee River and washed out the underpinnings of their quaint covered bridge.

The Quechee Gorge funneled the immense quantities of water (7 inches of rain) down its sluice and washed out Main Street taking the bridge with it.


Color Print Available

Old Mill Stream - A History of Quechee, Vermont, By the

The Quechee Inn Dessert Cookbook

A River Runs Through It...

Oakland, NJ - 28-AUG-2011, Houses on River Road along the Ramapo River in Oakland, New Jersey are flooded in the aftermath of of Hurricane Irene. The river roils along its banks past houses located on River Road.
After the storm passed and amidst hours of sirens and air horns sounding in the distance. I deemed it safe enough to venture forth and explore the aftermath of Hurricane Irene in my home town of Okkalnd, New Jersey. The focus fo my trek was the bridge that crossed the Ramapo River which runs through the center of town. A site of previous floodings, I captured the residents and curious onlookers as the water rose inudating homes and threatening the Sgt. Peter Cressman Bridge.

OEM, Police and fire departments were watching and assessing the rising water and its impact on the bridge.

Photos may be purchased at:

Friday, August 19, 2011

National Park app that is Truly Inspirational | Fotopedia

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