Posts Tagged With: photography

Praha in Pictures

So Prague is amazing. I’ve been suspecting that for years based on rave reviews from friends and pictures in books, but I have finally confirmed it with my own eyes.  In my childhood (and admittedly more recently) I had romantic, fairy tale ideals of what European cities would be like.  Paris, London, Vienna. They were all perfect in their own not-quite-what-I-expected-but-still-exceeding-all-expectations way. But Prague, Prague was the closest thing I will ever find to my European fantasy city. Somehow the castle looking down upon the city and the regal, yet not pompous, buildings, combined with the glow of the lamps lighting cobblestone streets that wind through so much history. I can’t really explain it, but you can feel it.  So as I am at a loss of appropriate words to explain my Prague experience, I’ll share my pictures and perhaps tempt you to experience it for yourself.

Coming upon the Old Town for the first time as dusk was falling. A very pleasant coincidence.

The Astrological Clock. One of those things you have to see to say you’ve seen it. However, once you keep in mind the time it was created, it’s pretty technically amazing.

Our Lady of Tyn Church in the Old Town

Of course, there are street musicians galore, but this guy had the most heart, and the most style.

View of Prague’s famous bridges from above

Gargoyle on St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague’s castle

Newlyweds trying to create a perfect moment in front of St. Vitus. Not the only pair we saw running around the city taking pictures in front of magnificent backdrops either.

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Načeradec’s Legends and Mushrooms

My first impressions of Czech Republic, not including a quick underground ride from the train station to bus station in Prague, came from the village of Načeradec.  Arriving at after dark only provided me with the knowledge that the winding roads were narrow and our host teacher’s husband was not afraid to take them on at a high speed.  But the morning illuminated a tiny village settled on a base of rolling, recently harvested fields.

The village of Načeradec from a distance

The historic cobblestone town square contained a church dating back to the 12th Century and is lined with shops that look much the same as they must have two hundred years ago or more. A few residential roads branched off with a scattering of houses on each, none of them further than a half mile or so from the village center.

As I said, Načeradec is tiny.  Therefore, the selection of conveniences one has to choose from is also tiny. The place where about 600 people call home has no restaurants, no ATM, no wifi and most unfortunately no ice cream shop.  While there were three painfully small grocery stores, I am not sure any two were ever open at the same time, and though there was a gas station, I only saw that open once as well.  The highlights of our student-provided town tour were the football field and the big farm.

The interesting thing about the lack of conveniences, like wifi and ice cream, is that while they did prove to be trying, I don’t think it at all diminished the quality of life in Načeradec at all. If anything, the pace of life here felt more natural and satisfying. Some of the people seemed embarrassed to admit to us they lacked some conveniences we’ve come to take as a given, but in reality, it was a refreshing experience in many ways.

Marker for the hiking path that goes through the village and to Blanik

While small, Naceradec does have it’s claim to fame. It is one of a few villages, and believe it or not, probably the biggest, that lie in the shadow of Blanik. Blanik is a mountain full of Czech legends, literally.  The story is that the revered Saint Wenceslas and his knights lie sleeping within the mountain, ready to rise in defense of Czech Republic if it is ever invaded from all directions. Continue reading

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Out From Behind the Lens in Vienna

Karlskirche – a.k.a. St. Charles’s Church

As a photographer (and by that I mean someone who always has her camera, not necessarily a great visual artist), I sometimes get caught up in how the world looks through a frame.  There’s a lot of self-imposed pressure when presented with the task of documenting new places.  I feel a need  to capture every single sight and moment in order to share it, and also to look back on it in the future.

The truth is, there is no pressure.  My friends and family probably will get the gist after five or six pictures from the same location, and I will need a despicable amount of time in my future to ever skim the surface of all of the shots I have taken for self-preservation.  But never-the-less, I continue to feel a sense of paranoia that the one shot I miss will be the one shot I wish I had.

Vienna is a city where anyone, paranoid paparazzi or not, could get caught up in snapping away until they develop carpal tunnel syndrome via the shutter release.  It’s not just that the architecture is breathtaking. There are so many cities that boast dramatic buildings and monuments. It is that there are literally stunning structures around every single corner.  Apartment buildings, schools, restaurants, anything.  Everywhere you look there are intricately decorated buildings that would demand a gate and entrance fee, or at least a really big plaque, if they were to exist in an American city. But in Vienna, it’s just part of your normal street scene.

So anyways, long story short, when Chris offered to take the camera for our main day of sightseeing, I was excited, although a little skeptical, to get to see the city without worrying about what shutter speed would be best for a certain lighting.  To be honest, it was liberating walking around and just looking to appreciate, rather than to scope out the next shot. And if there’s any city  that deserves full appreciation, it’s Vienna.  An added bonus is, that now that Chris has taken on a role as part-time photographer, and done very well I might add, I will start to appear in some pictures.

So here they are: Chris’ ingenious photographic interpretations of Vienna, while I just watched, enjoyed and took it all in. Except of course, when everything was just perfect and I just couldn’t help myself 🙂

Dramatic sculptures in the Belvedere Palace gardens

Dramatic interpretations of statues in the Belvedere Palace Gardens

Cheesy couple picture in front of tourist attractions. Sometimes you just have to.

The cameraman gets artsy.

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“Maddie On Things” Shows America In a New Perspective

John Steinbeck's poodle and travel companion, Charley

In 1960, writer John Steinbeck set out on a cross-country trip with his dog in hopes of experiencing America on a more personal level.  In 2012, photographer Theron Humphrey did the same thing.

John Steinbeck took his findings and wrote his book Travels With Charley: In Search of America. Theron Humphrey took his and created a blog.

Just as Travels With Charley, my favorite book, has been a go to pick-me-up ever since I first raced through its pages years ago, Humphrey’s Maddie On Things is my new favorite place to find a smile when I need it most.

Humphrey’s blog, subtitled a super serious project about dogs and physics, consists of photographs of his coonhound (Maddie, of course) perched on various, for lack of a more specific category, things.  While that may sound straightforward, Humphrey’s creativity combined with Maddie’s agility, balance and patience, result in pictures that are not only entertaining and telling, but just plain impressive.

Maddie on a cow in Belmont, WI

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Lose Yourself in Allegheny National Forest

According to the university website, St. Bonaventure is 70 miles from Buffalo, 195 miles from Cleveland, 220 miles from Pittsburgh and 360 miles from New York City.

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As far as many are concerned, that places St. Bonaventure right smack dab in the middle of nowhere.  And in many respects, they may be right.  However, that doesn’t mean that the area surrounding St. Bonaventure is without things to do or places of interest.  So for the next few weeks I will be exploring different things to do in Cattaraugus County and the surrounding areas.

This winter has been a disappointment to skiers and snowboarders in Western New York, including myself.  However, the uncharacteristically warm weather does allow for other outdoor ventures that are much less expensive.

St. Bonaventure is situated near plenty of places to hike, but Allegheny National Forest, with over 200 miles of hiking trails, is just a short drive away. This Saturday, after having hearty pre-hike Burton burgers, my friends and I set out to take on a small portion of these trails for a chance at some fresh air and a change of scenery.

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