Monday, January 28, 2013

Travel Photography

One of the things my wife and I love to do is travel.  Through her frugal and inventive usage of airline miles and credit card points, we have been able to see Italy, France, Spain, Morocco, Gibraltar, and England. Additionally, we don't buy each other gifts. Now, I know what you're thinking, "No Presents at Christmas, No flowers on your Birthday?".  Honestly, it works out great for us as we love to travel!  Any money that we would spend on gifts we put towards travelling, and it has worked fantastic over the past 5 years. 

La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona Spain.  One of my favorite places in the world!

London Taxi at night in the Theatre District.

One of the 13 Ravens in the Tower of London.

Westminster Abbey at night, London.

We just booked an Easter get-away to one of our favorite places, London, and I thought I'd post some of my travel photos.  All were taken by me using a Nikon D60 with a primary lens of 55mm.  I'm upgrading to a full frame camera as the focus motor on the D60 was damaged this past summer in Spain.  I've never taken a photography class, but I'd love to take a digital photography class sometime.  I've fiddled around enough to get a basic understanding of how my camera works, but it's hard to go wrong with some of the most beautiful places sitting in front of you.  I'm hoping to expand my knowledge with the new camera.  Enjoy the pics, I have THOUSANDS, lol.

Backstreets just off Las Ramblas Barcelona Spain.

The Princess loves to eat lemons!  Barcelona

The view of Tower Bridge from inside the Tower of London

Taking a break from the hot sun while listening to some great buskers at Parc Guell in Barcelona.

Mosaic Medallion detail Parc Guell Barcelona.

Columns and awesome structure in Parc Guell Barcelona

The Princess and Stef at the entrance of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Close up of the bronze door detail at la Sagrada Familia.

Tower Bridge, London.

Interior of la Sagrada Familia.  Reminds me of the end of the first Star Wars when Luke and Han are getting their Valor medals, lol.

Another interior, la Sagrada Familia.  The columns are supposed to be reminiscent of trees, supporting the roof.

Seriously, I love this place!

Clothing store near Portobello Road, London UK.

LOVE vintage and antique cameras!  This was at the Portobello Road market, in London.

Some great graffiti in Barcelona.

At the top of Montserrat in Spain. We took a funicular from the bottom.  

The Princess looking between the rails at the top of Montserrat.

The Basilica at Montserrat.

Statue detail outside of the Basilica at Montserrat.

Crashing waves in Nerja Spain.  Look at that water!!!  Great relaxing place to take the family.

Making Paella at Ayo's on the Beach in Nerja Spain.

Spanish Arc de Triumph.

More statue detail at Montserrat.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Rural New York/Pennsylvania Weekend

This past weekend Stef and I decided to take a small trip to Northern PA to attend a cataloged auction in Rural NY.  I've been to my share of Estate sales and Antiques Auctions, but I have never been to a cataloged sale. This particular sale had some amazing items from wooden octagonal bolt bins, to pretty much an entire 1800's General Store.  It really was an amazing group of items that I felt my customers would love to have.

Towing Little Red!

So, we packed up the kid and the dogs, hooked up Little Red (our trailer) and started to NY from Baltimore at 6pm. Google Maps gave us a 5.5 hour travel time (not including stops). Our plan was to stop for dinner after we made it through Harrisburg, grab something quick and get back on the road.  Unfortunately, as we were crossing some railroad tracks in the center of Harrisburg, the trailer coupling popped off the hitch and the trailer crashed into the back of my Jeep (thankfully I always use the safety chains!).  After some initial panic (I left my spare tire at home, and I was afraid I popped a tire or worse, broke the axle) I realized that the coupler lock didn't engage.  So for the past hour and a half, the trailer was simply resting on the hitch and not secured in place.  I'm glad it didn't pop off while doing 75mph on the highway.  Talk about potential disaster!! 

I hooked the trailer back up (no damage to my Jeep or Little Red!!), and as luck would have it, we stopped in front of the Dodge City Steakhouse! You could smell the steaks searing from the road, so we decided to have a sit down meal instead.  We thought the restaurant sounded familiar, and we were right.  It appeared on an episode of Restaurant Impossible (we both saw the episode as well).  The food was decent (my steak was overcooked, but the owner came out and apologized and replaced it quickly with one that was perfect!) the atmosphere was pleasant, our waitress was a bit inexperienced, but it was overall a good experience.  We recommend it!

It's FREEZING outside, but she still wants to ride the mechanical horse!

Finishing up our dinner!

The family hopped into the Jeep (gave some steak scraps to the pups) and made our way to our hotel in Bradford, PA. (I was driving and it was dark, so there are no pictures of the drive up). We made it there around 1am, after stopping a few times for the dogs to stretch and get some air. Stef did a great job finding a hotel that was pet friendly and also included breakfast for $100 a night!

The next morning we made our way to the auction (which also happened to be Stef's FIRST auction). It was a beautiful, short drive through an Indian Reservation and Bear Country!!

We LOVED seeing these signs!
We made it to the auction and I figured prices would be high because the items were truly unique and the photos were fantastic!  But, when we had to park on the other side of a large corn field, I had a feeling it would be ridiculous.  To say the place was packed would be an understatement.  There was no room to check out the merchandise and more importantly, there was no place to sit!  I found the items I was interested in and inspected them, while Stef kept The Princess occupied.  The pieces were in perfect condition and I was really excited about the possibility of picking them up.

 It was about 35ยบ outside so we brought the dogs and let them camp out in the back of the Jeep so we could walk them throughout the day (they would've freaked out in the hotel room anyway).  Unfortunately, the auction was pretty much a bust.  I picked up a cool oak cabinet and a pretty stained glass window for our kitchen.  The items were awesome, but the prices were out of my range to make a profit.  We left semi-empty handed but it was a learning experience.  I'm not sure if people were buying for themselves or maybe I just don't charge enough for the stuff I find, lol.

Standing in the back, trying to get some treasures at a good price!

Poor Old Sunni, 6 hours in the back of the Jeep.  

Scout getting some fresh air!

Downtown Bradford PA, the snow just starting to come down, from our Hotel Parking Lot.

Since it was dark when we dove up, we didn't get to see the amazing views of Northern PA.  Loved the mountains, forests, and rivers!  I had to stop and snap some pics.

A feeder into the Susquehanna, the road follows it from NY to Harrisburg.

Loved all the moss!

I'd love to have a small cabin right here.

And since we were in N. PA, I had to stop and snap some Oil Rig pics.  Oil was first discovered in PA in the mid 1800's and at one time, was the largest oil producing area in the world.  Unfortunately, we've used up much of the PA reserves (hence the hydraulic fracking debates) but there are pockets of oil production. The town we stayed in, Bradford PA, is the home of Zippo Lighters, Case Pocket Knives and Brad Penn Motor Oil.  Brad Penn Refinery is the oldest continuously operating lube oil refinery in the US and refines ONLY 100% PA crude oil.

Far away!

Close up.

All in all, the trip was a fun, short excursion with the family. We love to travel and are planning on more small trips in the States this summer.  Sure I didn't come home with the treasures I wanted, but sometimes, the journey is the reward, not the destination.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Hidden Mothers Victorian Photography

Anyone with kids knows how incredibly difficult it is to get a good picture of your sweet smiling child.  Now, imagine you're a mom of the Victorian age.  Photographs are expensive.  If you want to get your money's worth and get a nice picture of your sweet darling, you're going to have to be creative.  And that's where "hidden mothers" come into play in Victorian photography.  A "hidden mother" is either a child's mother or photographer's assistant draped in some sort of curtain or cloth while holding the child still during the photograph.

Tintype with hidden mother in black 1880s-1900s

Most of the time, these small Victorian photographs (tintypes) would have a mat around them that would essentially hide the hidden mother.  But it's fascinating (and kind of creepy) to see a hidden mother or blob of black sheet holding up a baby in these pictures.
Tintype with a not so hidden mother 1890s?

Tintype with a suspected hidden mother 1880s-1900s

The problem with taking a picture of a baby in Victorian times, even with a hidden mother, was that the child would almost always move at some point during the two to three minute time for exposure.  That's why in some of the pictures, children's (or adult's) eyes look a little strange.  It's kind of hard to not blink for three minutes.  Or other pictures have kids with blurry arms or legs - kids who were moving.  It almost makes me wonder about the kids who were perfectly still during the entire time.  I've heard that some parents would give their children a sedative right before the picture so they would stay still.
Hidden mother playing the part of a chair 1880s-1900s

There are other pictures from this time period that have an even more twisted and macabre look to them.  Post mortem Victorian photography.  When a loved one died, family members often decided to remember them by taking a photograph.  Sometimes the deceased would be lying on a bed or a couch as if they were sleeping.  Other times they would be laid out in a coffin.  The creepiest of these types of pictures are the ones where the departed looks to be alive.  Sitting up and posed artificially as if to appear lifelike.

Daguerreotype of a baby - Post Mortem?  1850s-1860s?

Often times the deceased person's eyes would be painted onto the picture after it had been developed.  Arms and legs at times were tied in place to furniture, and hidden mothers or other family members would pose with the dead family member.
Some more framed daguerreotypes we have 1840s-1860s

No hidden mother in this tintype - cute kid though

Tintype of baby - hidden mother in the corner 1880s-1900s

Tintype of a child kneeling

We have tons of these old photographs in various boxes that Terry's found in some of the estate sales he's gone to in Pennsylvania.  Last year, during a family camping trip to Gettysburg, we thought about getting our own old fashioned tintype picture taken in civil war costume.  But I don't think I could play the part of the hidden mother to keep my three year old still, so we decided to pass.  Maybe when she's older.