The patterns of Valencia…

train station ceiling-sq

North Railway Station ceiling

One of the most satisfying ways to explore a new place is by noticing and appreciating the patterns in the built environment around you.

I don’t discriminate in my affection for patterns — I enjoy patterns from all decades and eras. Bold or subtle, symmetrical or not, I seek out patterns for how they make me feel and what they teach me about a place.

One thing that always attracts me whoever I go is ceramics. And Valencia is just full of gorgeous examples. The history of ceramics in Spain is a long and fascinating one and includes Moorish and Chinese influences. I particularly loved the tiled ceiling of the North Railway Station, which was decorated in an Art Nouveau style.

This is just a small taste of the luscious patterns of Valencia.


Detail of tiled wall in Malvarrosa

market dome cropped even closer

One of the domes of the Central Market

spiral starircase

The spiral staircase of Santa Catalina

lights valencia

The lights in Ruzafa during Las Fallas


Outside the Science Museum in the City of Arts a Sciences by Santiago Calatrava

blue green grid

Detail from inside the Museum of Sciences — my two favourite colours together

subway shapes

A colourful modern subway stop

On the move in New York City…

 When I’m in New York, I just want to walk down the street and feel this thing, like I’m in a movie.
Ryan Adams
peopleon the move

Under Bethesda Terrace

One of the things I love most about New York is the energy and movement. Walking, cycling (if you’re insane), driving (if you’re insane), riding buses, subways, taxis and carriages — even sailing — people around you are always going somewhere. And if you only have a few days, you want to be going somewhere — everywhere — too!

Laid out on a grid system, New York is one of the easiest large cities in the world to get around in. We generally walk, and walk and then walk some more. But I’ve also figured out how to get to places like Brooklyn and the Cloisters way north near Harlem by subway and bus without too much trouble.

And here’s what happens when you stop for a moment to figure out where you are and where you’re going next — a New Yorker stops to ask if they can help you find something.

It happened twice this trip and it’s happened every single time I’ve travelled to New York previously —  all 11 or 12 trips!

I agree with Bill Murray:

My favorite thing about New York is the people, because I think they’re misunderstood. I don’t think people realize how kind New York people are.

This time a kind woman approached us in Central Park as we were finishing up our photography for the day. And a sweet male cyclist came up to us as we were stopped in Times Square looking at the Jumbotron.

Yes, New Yorkers are always moving, but some do take time to stop to help travellers.


Prince Edward County in Black and White

Today’s post features some recent explorations in black and white photography.

I recently went on a delightful sojourn with my family in Prince Edward County, Ontario — a wonderful rural region around Picton which has become very popular for its amazing food and wine and hospitality.

Hundreds of images later, I have only managed to process a few. I’ve joined a wonderful Facebook group that focuses on black and white photography, and this has encouraged me to work on one of my very favorite forms of photography.

So here is a just small taste for now…

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One of the many things I’ve been enjoying doing lately is making photo books. I’m up to three now — two are for gifts and one is for us. I’ve received the first one and am very pleased with the way it turned out.

But photo books can take a while to put together.

For the times when you want a quick and easy project, I like to make magnets. A few pics, a few seconds and they’re done.

I just made one for each of the grandkids, using some images taken this year. I also have one from last year on the fridge that I will add these to.

I love having reminders of those sweet little faces and great times together every time I go get a glass of water or something to munch on…

View the entire collection of cards.

Preserving and reliving memories through photo books…

Screenshot 2014-05-22 12.16.56Screenshot 2014-05-22 12.17.03

For me, there are few better ways to preserve and relive memories from a great trip than to make a photo book. (One of my most popular posts last year was about making a photo book so I know others are also interested in the process.)

I’ve been holding on to a discount for a photo book from Photobook Canada that expires in a few weeks (they’re always having sales), so I decided I better get going on making a photo book of the Bahamas sailing trip we just returned from.

(I’ve used Photobook Canada before to make a large hard cover book of memories for my mother’s 85th birthday and was very pleased with the result and the awesome price. There’s also a Photobook America and they sell to many other countries as well.)

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I adore the process of printing my images in books for so many reasons. It allows me to go through all my photographs and pick out the ones I like the best and will enjoy returning to over and over.

These are usually the ones that give me a little quiver of excitement when I look at them and bring me right back to the place and time when I captured them. They let me enjoy the adventure again and again.

Of course, I love posting images on this blog, but I find the books to be more present and tactile and you experience and see the images in them in a completely different way. There is a longevity and a permanency to the photo book that I really appreciate.

I’ve made many numerous books in the past and there are many great companies out there. I’ve been very pleased with Artisan State and Milk Books/Moleskine. For more casual softcover books, Shutterfly works well.

Generally, you have many page layouts to choose from and it’s great fun to find the ones that best enhance your images and allow you to tell a story. I have included some screenshots here to show the user interface I’ve been using and some shots of my project in process.

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The strip down the left hand side contains images I want to include somewhere in the book. The horizontal strip at the top contains finished and unfinished page layouts in order. The horizontal strip at the bottom contains possible page layouts. You can’t see all the potential choices here but there are zillions.

Then it’s just a matter of sliding your image into your selected layout and applying a background. It’s all placed and automatically resized for you. Then it is easy to tweak to perfection using the right hand panels. You can make each page different if you want, you can add borders and scrapbooky type things, but I prefer to keep this one simple with consistent black backgrounds.

If you change your mind about the placement of an image or a layout — which I do all the time — and want to remove a photo or try another layout or background, it’s easy peasy. It’s simple and fast to reorder the pages too. I haven’t added much text yet, but you can add a lot or a little and the font choice is enormous.

Screenshot 2014-05-22 12.14.59

I’m approaching this book chronologically, but I’m also trying to keep the images on the same two-page spread in the same tonal range and on the same theme, for coherence. I generally make a rough list of all the places/people/subjects I hope to include, but I basically approach the initial selection of images according to my gut and intuition. Once I upload a bunch of photos I love, I check against the list to see what I might be missing and then go in search of those.

I generally prefer to have fewer bigger images on a page spread for greater impact, but this time I have so many images that are vying for a spot that I’m creating some spreads for a larger number of smaller images. Naturally, Charles gets a two-page spread to himself!

Making a photo book is really a continuation of the creativity that was at play when you were making the images originally.

Well, I guess I better get back to it and finish playing!

I know many of you reading this also make photo books. What do you enjoy most about the product and the experience?


The New York Series…Part 1

forpost 2000

I’ve been to New York City a few times before — 12  to be exact — but this was the first trip I had a good camera — and it was autumn in the city. That made for a great combination!

You probably won’t be surprised to hear that I took hundreds of photographs. I plan to spread some of them out over a series of  blog posts.

I’m starting with this image since Central Park is one of my favorite places in the world.

I wanted to see what it looked like from a great height in the fall with the trees leafed out in their beautiful colour, so I took the elevator up the 67 floors to the observation deck on the Top of the Rockefeller Plaza on a sunny perfect fall day.

What a vista!

In this photo, you’re looking north and you see the west side of the park and the buildings of the Upper West Side.

A few years ago, my mother and sister and I took a guided walking tour of Central Park, which we thoroughly enjoyed. Up until then, I simply had no idea what a massive accomplishment this park is and how unique it is.

Central Park was the first public landscaped park in all of the United States.  In 1853, the state legislature first set aside land for a major public park. City commissioners spent $14 million for the land and the construction of the park, which extended from 59th Street to 106th Street, between Fifth and Eighth Avenues.

The designers, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux were chosen in public competition in 1858. The park was developed over a span of 16 years.

(Olmsted is considered the father of landscape architecture and he went on to design Prospect Park in Brooklyn and many other North American parks, such as Boston’s Emerald Necklace, Biltmore Estate in North Carolina, Mount Royal in Montreal, and the grounds of the U.S. Capitol and the White House. Here are ten lessons for landscape design you can pick up from him.)

Central Park occupies 843 acres in Manhattan, 6% of its total acreage. You could fit 16 billion New York apartments in the park.

The park includes seven water bodies totaling 150 acres (some of which you can see above), 136 acres of woodlands and 250 acres of lawns. There are 58 miles of walking paths and 4.25 miles of bridle paths.

It also boasts more than 26,000 trees, 36 bridges and arches and nearly 9,000 benches.

It surprised me to learn that there are 215 species of birds in a 6.1-acre sanctuary, many rare to the area including the peregrine falcon.

The 25 million people that visit every year can also enjoy 26 ballfields; 30 tennis courts; 21 playgrounds; one carousel and two ice-skating rinks, one of which is converted into a swimming pool in the summer.

Stay tuned for more images inside the park…

Photostory: A taste of Prince Edward County

–Thanks to the Ontario Culinary Tourism Daily for mentioning this article in their August 23, 2012 edition. 

As sailors, we’ve spent many a happy day sailing out of Waupoos Marina on beautiful Lake Ontario.

Waupoos, near Picton, is in Prince Edward County, which has long been known for its history, scenic shorelines, unique island character, and fresh local produce.

Today, the county is an up-and-coming Ontario wine region boasting scads of wineries and Canada’s newest viticultural designation.

The area still attracts families with its friendly rural character — where else can you buy veggies on the honour system? — and 800 kilometres of beaches, but now it’s also a premier food and wine destination.

In fact, the Globe and Mail has called it “the Gastronomic Capital of Ontario.” World class chefs and award-winning wineries as well as gorgeous views make for a sensory treat second to none.

We try to go at least once a year to check out the new wineries and sample the county’s delights. It is also a seriously photogenic region! I was charmed and delighted by so many things….

We indulged ourselves, tasting wines and spirits at Karlo Estates, 66 Gilead DIstillery,  LaceyLighthall Vineyards, Exultet, By Chadsey’s Cairns and eating at Portabella,  Milford Bistro and Blumen. We had to drop by Vicki’s Veggies as well for organic produce. There’s nothing like it!

In the past we have enjoyed the Merrill Inn, the Carriage House, Huff Estates, Long Dog, Sandbanks, Closson Chase, Rosehallrun and the County Cider Company.

Truly, it’s all good.

Karlo Estates grapes on the vine. These are a new varietal you probably haven’t seen called Frontenac Gris. Karlo uses these for their rosé. They can withstand temperatures down to -40 C.

The barn is old; the winery is new and Exultet is already winning awards in Canada!

Karlo Estates tasting room and sales are located in an old barn.

Liquid sunshine, bottled.

Heirloom tomatoes at Vicki’s Veggies.

Vicki’s heirloom tomatoes in a salad at the Milford Bistro matched with wine from Exultet.

Lavender adds to the ambience at Closson Chase.

A huge old tree stands guard By Chadsey’s Cairns.

Richard Johnston, the owner of By Chadsey’s Cairns, was there to introduce his wines and share his passion for wine-making.

My mother had a grand old time time swinging on an old-fashioned swing at 66 Gilead Distillery. She hadn’t been on one in a long time. She’s a young 84, isn’t she?