Category Archives: Travel

Monday Musings – Master Your Location

Its that time of year again when I start thinking about where I would like to photograph next year. Having a location list is essential to making sure you don’t get stale. It also gives you something to look forward to and work toward. As I was kicking around some ideas with friends, one of them made a comment that I thought was worth writing about.

Great Black Backed Gull Wing Flap

The comment was along the lines of “I could never make images as good as you because I have nothing to photograph”. That comment made me wonder. How many others out there don’t get out and make images because they think they need to go to Yellowstone to find beauty?

Great Black Backed Gull Preening

I think one of the best parts of photography for me is mastering the landscape (buildings, wildlife, people, landscape, everything for that matter!) in and around where I live. Mastering your location is a tremendous learning experience. It helps hone your skills so that when you do spend the money to go some place you deem special as a photographic location, that you bring the skills necessary to capture more than just images that say “I was here”.

Herring Gull Yawn

These images were all taken this weekend at Greenwich Point Park. Most of you know that I am an emerging birder. One of the great things about photographing ones own community is that it improves skills other than my photography. How could that be you ask? Well, look at it this way. I spent a few hours at Greenwich Point searching for light and subjects. When I found subjects in good light, I started looking for gesture and biology to photograph in order to tell the story I was looking to communicate.

Herring Gull Preening

After making the images, I returned home and researched the birds I captured in order to learn more about their biology. If I hadn’t made the images, I wouldn’t have learned about the birds. There are hundreds of images in my files where the story is similar to this one. So the best advice I can give you is find things in your community to photograph that make you happy. Please don’t think you need to go to a special or exotic location in order to have a reason to make great images!

Images captured with Nikon D700, 600mm f/4 on Lexar Digital Film

The New World Trade Center

World Trade Center at Night

The other night I had the good fortune to photograph the Manhattan skyline on a glorious October night. Once darkness fell, I was captivated by this image of the New World Trade Center. From the minute I saw this image, I knew it was destined to be a B&W. The reason was simple. The majority of the midtown skyline is full of color. Standing across the river from 42nd St. one cant help but see color! But the view down river toward lower Manhattan takes a different view. This in part is due to the construction lights in the New World Trade Center. Lower Manhattan is void of color :-). I also like how the blurred reflection in the water leads you to the tower and the lights of the construction crane on top leads you out of the picture.
Have a great weekend.

Image captured with Nikon D700, 200-400 f/4 VR-I on Lexar Digital Film.

Monday Musings – Always Be Willing To Try Something New

Manhattan Skyline Twilight Pano

I have wanted to make panoramas for a long time, I just never seemed to have the right opportunity. Then I read about a workshop being hosted by Denise Ippolito. She is someone I always wanted to meet as I have admired her work for some time. The workshop was co-hosted by Scott Vincent. Once I signed up for the workshop, I needed to do some more work on making panos. I knew it would require picking up some new gear ;-). In particular, I knew I needed a nodal plate. I have used Really Right Stuff plates and ball heads for years so I went to their site and read through their literature (you can also call or email them, they are very helpful). To save you some time, here is the link to the exact rig I purchased to make some of the images I created on Saturday night (link here).

Manhattan Skyline

I’m really happy with most of the images I came away with especially since this was my first night time shoot and attempt to do panos. I will share with you shortly a 15 image HDR + Pano I created that came out remarkably well!

Scott and Denise were very helpful and the group of people that attended the workshop were very friendly. It was a nice size group of 5 shooters with 2 instructors. I had a great time and came away with what I think are some really good images. I also came away with a few things I did wrong that I need to correct. Alas, that just gives me a reason to try more evening and pano shots of Manhattan, maybe next time form downtown!

Empire State Building at Night

If you would like to see larger versions of the top 2 images, simply click on the galleries section of the website. They are located under Places.

Images captured with (top) Nikon D3x w/70-200 VR-II, (middle) D3x w/24-70 VR-II, (bottom) D700 w/200-400 VR-I on Lexar digital film.

Scenes From Dubrovnik Part Deux

Fort Bokar Entrance, Dubrovnik, Croatia
As I mentioned the other day, we thoroughly enjoyed visiting Dubrovnik.

Fort Bokar, Dubrovnik, Croatia

Fort Bokar is the major strucutre of walls and towers that protected the city. This complex structure, considered the largest and most complete in Europe, protected the freedom and safety of its inhabitants for five centuries.

Portions of the walls and Forts that make up the city date back to 1319 and were mostly built by the citizens of that time. In 1979, the old city of Dubrovnik, which includes a substantial portion of the old walls of Dubrovnik, joined the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. I stronly encourage anyone traveling to the area to visit Dubrovnik and some of the surrounding towns. You will be glad you did!

Windows of Dubrovnik, Croatia

Hopefully I will find some time to sort through the images from the local cities and do a blog post on them!

Images captured by Nikon D700 w/ 24-120 VR I on Lexar Digital Film

Scenes from Dubrovnik

We recently spent some time in Europe, a combination family vacation and 50th Wedding Anniversary celebration for my parents. One of the countries we all loved visiting was Croatia.

Dubrovnik Scenic

Our favorite city was by far Dubrovnik. So much so, that I have multiple days worth of images to share with you!

Dubrovnik through a Cannon Hole

One of the aspects I loved of Dubrovnik was the geometric patterns created by the terra cotta roofs.

Roof Tops in Dubrovnik

This picture was created from the fort walls which surrounded and protected Dubrovnik. I hope you enjoy these images and I hope to share more about Dubrovnik soon.

Images captured on Nikon D700, 24-120 VR I on Lexar Digital Film

Nanos Mountain, Slovenia

Nanos Mountain, Slovenia

I know, I know. My blogging has been poor recently. As you read this I am off bringing my middle son to college. Between our 2 week trip to Europe, getting 2 boys ready for college, a job and oh yeah, Irene, it has been a mess around here.

One of our stops while traveling to Europe was Koper, Slovenia. On a drive from Koper to Ljubljana, Slovenia’s Capital, we passed by the Nanos Mountains just after sunrise. What struck me about this image was the back lighting of the mountain with the dark forest in the foreground. It made me think of the mountain rising with the sun.

My only regret is that I was not there an hour earlier to get better light. It would have been killer on those clouds. Alas, the difficulty of traveling around Europe with 16 people!

Image captured with Nikon D700, 24-120 VR I on Lexar digital film.

Have You Heard About New Hampshires New Wildlife Guides?

Tufted Titmouse

Well Google+ has already paid some dividends. I started using “Sparks” and selected “birding” and “wildlife” as topics I was interested in. Sure enough the first story that came up was that the State of New Hampshire had just created a new wildlife website (

Available on this new website is New Hampshire’s Wildlife Viewing and Birding Trails Guide.

If you would like to try Google+ and need an invitation, I have a few left. Just click on this link: Google+ Invites

Monday Musings – Venetian Patterns

One of the stops on our European trip was Venice.

St. Marks Clock Tower

I’m going to give everyone a tip here, fairly common knowledge photographically but said in a different way than you have been used to hearing it. Photography is an art that sees 360°, make sure you do as well. Don’t always look in front of you, look up, look down and look behind you, you never know what you might see. Had I not looked up, I would have missed the cloud pattern behind St, Marks Clock Tower. To finish this image I used Nik Filters “Monday Morning”.

Green Window, Yellow Wall

I used Nik Filters “Glamour Glow” to finish this image. The morning light hits the walls in Venice with a special touch. One of the things I don’t like about vacation photography is that you are never in the right spot at the right time of the day. Put differently, I wish I could have parked my butt in one or two spots at sunrise and sunset and just took advantage of the light…no such luck!

Solids and Stripes

I dont think I executed the above image the way I wanted to. I saw the image differently when I pressed the shutter but the result was not what I wanted. One problem with this image is that I am shooting up from the street. Causes the proportions of the window to look funny.

Palm Tree Shade

This image was finished with Nik Filters “Tonal Contrast”

Overall, the colors in Venice are incredible. It is definitely on my list of places to revisit. One day was not enough time.

Images captured with Nikon D700 and 24-120 VR I on Lexar Digital film.

Never Ending Love

You may have noticed that I have been a poor blogger the last few weeks. The reason is I have been in Europe celebrating my parents 50th Wedding Anniversary.

Nat & Phyllis Mistretta, 50 Years Ago!

I have been incredibly blessed during my life. I have had the love and support of both of my parents and have watched them mature (ahem, get old) with grace and dignity…..together. They have reaped the rewards of the seeds they have sown. I also have a great wife and 3 beautiful, albeit mostly grown children (you can tell I don’t like the mostly grown part) ;-). Our family, my folks, wife, children and my 2 sisters clans equate to 16 people. As most of you know, organizing 16 people to go to Europe is a Herculean task but with 1 1/2 years planning, we were able to make it happen.

Vincent, Margaret and Paula One Christmas Many Years Ago

My father paid Paula and I $50 to kiss Margaret to make this picture :-). (Actually I am making that up to distract people from realizing I am holding a Barry Manilow album)!

One of the gifts we presented my parents while on our trip were 2 DVD’s with all of their 8mm and Super 8mm films set to music. They truly enjoyed being able to watch their wedding day festivities with their children and grand children.

Guest Houses, Roman Forum

As I prepared for our trip, I decided to tie a photographic challenge into the mix for me. My challenge was to take only one body (Nikon D700) and one lens (the old, 24-120) and try to photograph images of famous places differently than others have done. I will share some of the results with you over the coming weeks. As you can imagine, I have about 75 GB of new images to process and review. My goal is to present my parents with a book of the images from this great trip as a remembrance of the 12 days we all spent together celebrating their never ending love.

Images captured with Nikon D700 and 24-120 VR I, on Lexar Digital Film