St. Augustine – Castillo de San Marcos (HDR)

If you ever want to go back in time, visit the lovely St. Augustine, Florida.  Here you can take a tour of the old Castillo de San Marcos.  It is Spanish Fortification at its best. It was the most northern outpost for Spain during their New World Empire.   Great to see old canon’s and the living quarters from years ago!  Time has taken its toll on this fort, but it a great place to stop by and relive history.

Info from the web:  he Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort in the United States located in the city of St. Augustine, Florida. Construction was begun on the fort in 1672 by the Spanish when Florida was a Spanish possession. During the twenty year period of British occupation from 1763 until 1784, the fort was renamed Fort St. Mark , and after Florida became a U.S. territory in 1821 the fort was again renamed to Fort Marion, in honor of revolutionary war hero Francis Marion. In 1942 the original name of Castillo de San Marcos was restored by Congress.

The European city of St. Augustine was founded by admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés for the Spanish Crown in 1565 on a site of a former Native American village. Over the next one hundred years, the Spanish built nine wooden forts for the defense of the town in various locations. Following the 1668 attack of the English pirate Robert Searle, Mariana Queen Regent of Spain, approved the construction of a masonry fortification to protect the city. The Castillo is a masonry star fort made of a stone called coquina, Spanish for “little shells”, made of ancient shells that have bonded together to form a type of stone similar to limestone. Workers were brought in from Havana, Cuba, to construct the fort in addition to Native American laborers. The coquina was quarried from Anastasia Island in what is today Anastasia State Park across Matanzas Bay from the Castillo, and ferried across to the construction site. Construction began on October 2, 1672 and lasted twenty-three years, being completed in 1695.

Talke Photography Settings:

  • Camera:  Nikon D300
  • Lens: Nikon 12-24 f/4
  • Setting: Aperture  Mode
  • Focal Length: 18.0mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Exposure:  HDR 5 exposures (+2 to -2)
  • Aperture:  f/22
  • Gear:  Tripod
  • Post Process: Adobe CS4, Photomatix, Viveza
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    Pittsburgh, PA – PNC Park (Infrared)

    October is almost here…that means the regular baseball season is coming to a close.  I think it has been 18 consecutive losing season for my Pirates.  I will route for them even if it gets to 40 straight season!  Good luck to all the teams heading to the playoffs…maybe another Yankees vs Phillies rematch?  Not often do you see baseball in infrared…here is the stunning PNC Park (home of the Pirates) in all of its IR Glory!    Hope the shot is a home run!

    Talke Photography Settings:

    • Camera:  Nikon D70S (Converted to Infrared)
    • Infrared Conversion:  D70S modified by LifePixel
    • Lens: Nikon 12-24 f/4
    • Setting: Aperture  Mode
    • Focal Length: 14.0mm
    • ISO: 200
    • Exposure:  1/20 sec
    • Aperture:  f/22
    • Gear:  Tripod
    • Post Process: Adobe CS4, Viveza, Silver Efex Pro

    Estes Park, Colorado – The Stanley Hotel (HDR) – Part 3

    Don’t let the ghost stories be the only great thing about the hotel….it is beautiful!!  The photo above is form the reception area.  With that fire burning…what a great spot to sit, relax and read!!  After my visit I wanted to learn more.  I had heard about a TV Show called “Ghost Hunters”.  I checked the iTunes store and saw they have a few episodes from the  Stanley!  There is a “Best of” …so I downloaded and watched it.  These ghost shows always seem to see a dark figure in the corner or a cold spot in a room…hmmm…acting to me!  But after watching this show, I was intrigued by a few things.  Not sure if it real or great advertising?

    Whatever your thoughts are for such X-File type  phenomenon, the truth is out there!  LOL  I’d prefer to see Bill Murray from GhostBusters stay here one night!   Have a ghostly good time and visit here one day if you can!!


    Estes Park, Colorado – The Stanley Hotel (HDR) – Part 2

    The alarm went off at 4 AM and I grabbed my gear and was out the door.  I really didn’t get a chance to see the hotel the day before, so it was all new to me!  The most famous location in the hotel is Room 217.  This is where Stephen King stayed and many ghostly happenings may have occurred.  It was quite spooky at 4 AM walking around the hotel.  As it is an old building…the hallway wood creaks with every step.   At least someone cannot sneak up at you!  But if they are floating, maybe they can!!   I set up the above shot and gave it a little photoshop touch to create a eerie feel….Room 217!!

    I continued on and wanted to grab a shot of the famous stairway near the reception.  I walked down and bumped into a family walking around taking photos just like me.  The daughter mentioned that she awoke this morning with someone stroking her hair!!???  The mind can do amazing things…I guess??  I went into this visit without much knowledge of the happenings here, so if I experienced anything, it would be real.  I was at the stairway for a while, as occasionally a worker or person would walk by my long exposure HDR.  Take 2, Take 3, Take 4…finally I got it!!

    I then talked to two ladies that were walking around and they knew all the history.  They told me about the little ghost kids that run around on the fourth floor all through the nite.  I immediately went up to the 4th floor and someone was actually watching a movie in their room and the TV was blasting..I did not see or hear anything.  Oh well.  I wanted to get a hallway shot perpendicular to this area by another set of stairs.  As I set up for my shot, I heard someone walking up the stairway.  Worried about traffic with my long exposures, I looked over the rails downward a second or two later and there was no one around????  Spooky!!!!

    I kept on taking pics until around 6 AM.  The shot from yesterday was just before sunrise outside the front of the hotel.   The Ballroom and Music Room are supposed haunted areas.  I went to photograph both…no luck!  After I returned from my trip, I checked all my pics…no shadowy figures or apparitions found.  I loved my stay at the Stanley.   I would gladly stay there again!  I will finish off Part 3 tomorrow…until then!

    Estes Park, Colorado – The Haunted Stanley Hotel (HDR) – Part 1

    I was recently in Boulder, Colorado and arrived in on a Sunday.  I decided to stay in Estes Park as I had always heard that the Stanley Hotel was a wonderful place to visit!  All I knew about the Stanley is that is  was the inspiration for the fictional “Overlook Hotel” in the movie “The Shinning”.  I had always thought that it may have been filmed here, but it was not.  Unfortunately, there is no maze out front as well.  But what makes this more of a famous spot is the possibility of hauntings by numerous ghosts!  Now I do not believe in ghosts, but if anyone can prove otherwise, you never know!

    I arrived late in the afternoon on this Sunday and it was a beautiful day.  Rooms are not available until 4 PM, so I hit the Rocky Mountain National Park until my room was ready.  I arrived back late…around 7 PM, ate dinner and went to sleep.  I wanted to take some photos, but there were a few weddings going here this day and many people walking around taking tours.  So I set my alarm for 4 AM and wanted to walk the hotel at its quietest and hope to see some ghosts!  (to be continued…)

    Info from the web:  In 1903, F. O. Stanley, co-inventor of the Stanley Steamer automobile, came to Estes Park for his health. Stanley suffered from tuberculosis and came West at his doctor’s suggestion. The doctor arranged for the couple to stay in a cabin in Estes Park for the summer. Immediately, they fell in love with the area and Stanley’s health began to dramatically improve. Impressed by the beauty of the valley and grateful for the improvement in his health, he decided to invest his money and his future there. In 1909, he opened the elegant Stanley Hotel, a classic hostelry exemplifying the golden age of touring.

    Stanley built the hotel on land that he had purchased from the Irish Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl. Dunraven came to the area in 1872 while on a hunting trip. He built a hunting lodge, cabin, and hotel for his guests and illegally homesteaded up to 15,000 acres (61 km2) in an unsuccessful attempt to create a private hunting preserve. Dunraven was finally run out of the area after trying to swindle folks out of their land and money. In 1907, construction started on the Stanley Hotel. Wood and rock were obtained from the nearby mountains and the hotel was built in the Georgian architectural style, which experienced a revival in the early Twentieth century. Equipped with running water, electricity, and telephones, the only amenity the hotel lacked was heat, as the hotel was designed as a summer resort.

    Talke Photography Settings:

  • Camera:  Nikon D300
  • Lens: Nikon 12-24 f/4
  • Setting: Aperture  Mode
  • Focal Length: 12.0mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Exposure:  HDR 5 exposures (+2 to -2)
  • Aperture:  f/16
  • Gear:  Tripod
  • Post Process: Adobe CS4, Photomatix, Viveza
  • Georgetown, Texas – Inner Space Caverns (HDR)

    If you have any caverns near you…they are always a cool place to take photos.  This shot above is from the Inner Space Caverns in Georgetown, TX about 20 minutes from Austin.  This day I took a tour first thing in the AM…and it was just me and the guide!  He allowed me to take photos with my tripod (usually they do not).  These caverns are slippery, so be careful!  There are few more around here in Texas…one day I will get to them all!

    Info from the web: Explore this limestone cavern and discover beautiful examples of nature’s perfect artwork such as “The Flowing Stone of Time”, the mysterious “Lake of the Moon” and the intricate “Soda Straw Balcony”. Among the amazing variety of formations found within the cavern you will see beautiful helictites, ancient flowstones, and giant columns. Our tour guides will take you back in time so you can experience the fascinating story of the cave’s history and discovery.

    Talke Photography Settings:

  • Camera:  Nikon D300
  • Lens: Nikon 12-24 f/4
  • Setting: Aperture  Mode
  • Focal Length: 19.0mm
  • ISO: 800
  • Exposure:  HDR 5 exposures (+2 to -2)
  • Aperture:  f/4
  • Gear:  Tripod
  • Post Process: Adobe CS4, Photomatix
  • Las Vegas, Nevada – Bellagio Hotel (HDR)

    The Bellagio is my favorite hotel in Vegas.  A great place to stay and kinda in the middle of it all.  This shot was from an early AM visit out by the reception/drop off area.  I added a little extra selective color touch to it for fun.  Hope thats my limo to the right!  LOL    The pavers look wet, but the HDR created a nice shine.  Hard to believe that when I walked through the hotel at 6:30 AM people were gambling and drinking.  Some may be continuations from the nite before and some actually looked like they just got up to start a fun day!  Whew!  That is why most of the time what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!!

    Did you know Vegas is Spanish for the Meadows?  Here is info on Las Vegas from the web:   Development of the Las Vegas valley began in 1907 with the installation of the first flowing groundwater well. Prior to that time, the aquifer system’s natural discharge and recharge was in equilibrium, with an estimated flow of 7,500 acre-feet per year. As development progressed, nature’s balance was disturbed as water flowed freely onto the desert floor from uncapped artesian wells, resulting in a drop in the groundwater table and the drying of the springs.

    In 1912, groundwater discharge from these free flowing artesian wells was almost 15,000 acre-feet per year. Due to this excessive drain on the aquifer system, the groundwater levels decreased by an average rate of one foot per year from 1912 to 1944. The groundwater table dropped more than 90 feet in some areas between 1944 and 1963. By 1955, groundwater pumped from the Las Vegas aquifer approached 40,000 acre-feet per year. The springs stopped flowing by 1962, resulting in the lush grassy meadows to fade away. The name “Las Vegas” is the only remaining evidence of the desert oasis that once existed in the now parched landscape. Groundwater pumpage continued to increase, peaking at 90,000 acre-feet per year in the 1970s. By 1990, the groundwater table had dropped more than 300 feet in some areas of the valley.

    The stress on the aquifer system forced a change on the sole reliance on groundwater. To meet consumption demands, Las Vegas began importing water from the Colorado River. Currently, Las Vegas imports 90 percent of its water from the Colorado River via Lake Mead. Groundwater pumped from the local aquifer provides the valley with only 10 percent of the demand.

    Talke Photography Settings:

  • Camera:  Nikon D300
  • Lens: Nikon 12-24 f/4
  • Setting: Aperture  Mode
  • Focal Length: 12.0mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Exposure:  HDR 5 exposures (+2 to -2)
  • Aperture:  f/22
  • Gear:  Tripod
  • Post Process: Adobe CS4, Photomatix, Viveza, Silver Efex Pro