Fall Trip 2015 – New Brunswick to New York (via Connecticut).

A few months ago, I had heard that one of my favourite UK actresses, Nicola Walker, was coming to Broadway (along with her fellow theatre cast & crew) to reprise her role in Arthur Miller’s “A View From The Bridge”. I had seen it done via the National Theatre Live performances that our local cinema ran and I was duly impressed, so when the opportunity presented itself, I contacted some friends to see if they were interested in joining me. (More about that post about meeting Nicola Walker over here). Thus began the planning for my fall road trip. I’d bought a new car back in the summer (a red 2015 Hyundai Tucson) and I was itching to really give it a good road trip so this was the start. I kept record of the distances travelled, more for curiosity sake than anything else.

TravelDay_01_05November_ToCT

TravelDay_02-03_06November-07November_NYC

My first part of the journey took me down to Newington, CT to visit my friend, Anna – as she and I were heading to New York together. Across an international border and through four States. A mostly uneventful drive, though was held up in traffic in a couple of spots but got there safe and sound. A lovely meal followed by relaxing evening (and a bit of a late night) getting caught up on two of Nicola’s shows that were currently airing in the UK – “River” and “Unforgotten”. Early morning came and we were getting everything ready to head into New York City by train.

New York was a lot of fun – as it usually is when I visit. We got into Penn Station then went about getting an MTA card for Anna for the subways (the one I had from my February trip was still valid), then we headed down to our hostel, which thankfully was all ready for us, albeit on the top floor of a 3 story walk-up. And NYC was strangely very warm for early November. We met up with another friend (Bettie) and grabbed some lunch at an English fish & chip shop called A Salt and Battery – very yummy! Followed by a nip into the Tea & Sympathy shop next door.

Bettie treated us to a NYC walk through Chelsea through the Meatpacking District where we stopped at the Gansevoort Market for a walkthrough. The photo on the left is of an English deli in the back right of the market, called ‘Myers of Keswick’. Along side the wall as we were leaving I found the corrugated metal wall very interesting so I took a shot.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015

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Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015.

Following that stop, we headed up to The Highline. If you haven’t yet heard of this, The Highline is a 1.45 mile park that was built upon an abandoned elevated train line that runs from Gansevoort Street and Washington Street up around the rail yards finishing at 34th Street and 11th Avenue. This was my second time on The Highline, the first time was a few summers ago with some friends. The park is a great use of the old train line, with shops, artisans, musicians blending in with the trees and plants. There’s lots to see and check out. When we finished on the Highline, we took the subway (from the new Hudson Yards station, at the start of the 7-line) to get to the next stage of our evening.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015.

We’d gone to Junior’s for supper then off to the theatre to see Nicola Walker in “A View from the Bridge”. If you have a chance to go see it, do so! It runs until 21st February 2016. After the show, I had the chance to meet some of the cast, including Nicola Walker, which was utterly fantastic!

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 6th November 2015

After another stop at Junior’s for cheesecake, we concluded our night back at our hostel, still on a high from the show and the meeting. On Saturday, the 7th November, we had a bit more of a relaxing day, meeting up with friends for a fabulous lunch up at Spring Natural Kitchen (474 Columbus Ave & 83rd Street), then a meander through the American Museum of Natural History. I wanted to see their Butterfly Conservatory, the dinosaur skeleton, and the Hayden Planetarium.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 7th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 7th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 7th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 7th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 7th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 7th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 7th November 2015.

Photo © J. Lynn Stapleton, 7th November 2015.

After a rigamarole of trying to get to our hostel via subway via a roundabout run – weekend underground construction work meant some of the trains were only going uptown first then down on another line express. Which meant we had a very quick pitstop down to the hostel to pick up our bags from the lockers, then quickly get Penn Station for our train back to Connecticut.

More on my travel journey in my next posts.

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Evolution in my photography

For pretty much as long as I can remember, I’ve loved taking photographs; not always been successful with it but I’ve always tried. I’ve had various point-and-shoot film cameras over the years, and then my first point-and-shoot digital camera was an old HP. About eight or nine years ago, I bought my first (and thus far only one) Canon Rebel XS DSLR camera with the kit 18-55mm lens and an additional 75-300mm telephoto lens. I’ve had fun playing with it, and learning more as I go through magazines and books.

Tall Ships 2000, Halifax, NS. Point-and-shoot digital camera. © J. Lynn Stapleton

Glencoe, Scotland, UK. May 2006. Shot with a Pentax point-and-shoot digital 35mm camera. © J. Lynn Stapleton

As technology changes over the years, improvements get better to adapt to needs and wants, cameras get larger and more expensive the further up you want to take your photography, with a myriad of additional lenses. In addition, the advances in mobile phone photography has grown in leaps and bounds over the past few years alone, and keeps improving.

Cape Spear Lighthouse, May 2007 with Canon Rebel XS 1000D. © J. Lynn Stapleton

Cape Spear Lighthouse, May 2007 with Canon Rebel XS 1000D. © J. Lynn Stapleton

Out for a drive in southwest New Brunswick in the fall. Canon Rebel XS 1000D. © J. Lynn Stapleton

Out for a drive in southwest New Brunswick in the fall. Canon Rebel XS 1000D. © J. Lynn Stapleton

Brooklyn Bridge, New York, NY., 10th March 2011. © J. Lynn Stapleton

Brooklyn Bridge, New York, NY., 10th March 2011. Canon Rebel XS 1000D. © J. Lynn Stapleton

When I went to the United Kingdom in 2013, I brought both my Canon DSLR and my iPhone 4S (the latter, using only wifi), and took photos with both, though primarily the DSLR. Both served their purpose well. My most recent vacation down to New York City and Largo, FL in February/March 2015, I decided for minimalistic purposes just to take my iPhone 5s, as I was trying to limit what I had to carry.

Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 22nd July 2013

Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford. Taken with Canon Rebel XS 1000D. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 22nd July 2013

Canal waterfront, Skipton. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 23rd July 2013

Canal waterfront, Skipton. Taken with Canon Rebel XS 1000D. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 23rd July 2013

Brighton Wheel, Brighton, UK. 19 July 2013.  Taken with iPhone 4S. Edited in Snapseed. © J. Lynn Stapleton

Brighton Wheel, Brighton, UK. 19 July 2013. Taken with iPhone 4S. Edited in Snapseed. © J. Lynn Stapleton

Union Square, New York, NY. taken at night with iPhone 5s. Edited with Snapseed app. © J. Lynn Stapleton

Union Square, New York, NY. taken at night with iPhone 5s. Edited with Snapseed app. © J. Lynn Stapleton

Lake Seminole, Largo, FL. Taken 18th February 2015 with iPhone 5s. Edited with Snapseed and SKRWT.

Lake Seminole, Largo, FL. Taken 18th February 2015 with iPhone 5s. Edited with Snapseed and SKRWT.

For the past year or so, I’ve been subscribed to the iPad Newsstand magazine called Photography Week, though it’s primarily aimed at those who work pretty much exclusively with DSLR cameras. However, it has been a wonderful source of information in terms of learning of new styles of photography and improving the photography with my DSLR. There are videos and tips for new techniques and ideas to shoot different scenarios. Other print photography magazines I’ve checked out include Outdoor Photography, Black and White Photography Made Easy, and various others along the way.

Back in November 2014, I discovered iPhone Photography School online which is full of interviews and video techniques on improving one’s skills with the iPhone. I have found this very successful, partlcularly as I’m very much a visual learner; if I can see it being done, I can more easily replicate the process for myself, given the time and place to practice what I’ve learned. In February 2015. I signed up for their iPhone Photo Academy (a paid online course) – video lessons with step-by-step instructions on elements of photography and the capabilities of the iPhone native camera as well as some additional photography apps, and how to improve my photos. It’s been very helpful and I’ve been enjoying it a lot. So much to learn, practice and try new things with photography.

In addition to the camera apps themselves, there are quite a number of editing apps for the iPhone/iPad, without needing to transfer the pictures to one’s computer to edit with Photoshop.

Some of the photography editing apps that I use on a regular basis are: Snapseed (also available on Android devices, Filterstorm, Noiseware (have to be careful with this one as it sometimes finds some photo files too large and asks to reduce the file size), Touch-Retouch (avail on iOS and Android), and SKRWT. Most of them are Apple iOS specific – can be used on iPhone and iPad – and a couple are also available on Android, where indicated. I have a few others like VCSO Cam (avail on iOS and Android) but I haven’t done a lot of work with them yet. A number of the camera apps and editing apps are free or under $10, many under $5.

Tall Ships 2000 (point and shoot), unedited. July 2000. © J. Lynn Stapleton

Tall Ships 2000 (point and shoot), unedited. July 2000. © J. Lynn Stapleton

Tall Ships 2000 (point and shoot), edited with Snapseed and a EyeEm filter.

Tall Ships 2000 (point and shoot), edited with Snapseed and a EyeEm filter.

This is the same base photograph. The one on the right had no post-processing editing done, while the one on the left was edited with Snapseed, then a further filter was applied within the EyeEm iOS app to show up the high contrast and bring out the detail in the lines and cables on the tall ship mast.

With photosharing, I use Instagram and/or EyeEm apps – avail on iOS and Android; both of which can share to various social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, Foursquare, etc, and both have additional editing tools and filters within the apps themselves if you choose to add on additional filters, or take a photo from within the apps.

Photography is a never-ending learning experience and improves with time and lots of practice. It’s been said many times, that the best camera you have is the one you have with you. With mobile photography, you almost always have your mobile phone with you, whatever the device. Seek new ideas – or old ones – and put your own twist on it, from a different angle.

NYC 2012 Birthday Trip – Day 4

On Monday, 30th July, I went to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, as I’d heard about it a few months before I left that the Enterprise Space Shuttle was going to be part of an exhibit at the museum. After a moderate wait in line, I got into the museum and got a tour packet that included the Shuttle Exhibit. After the tour – which we got a lot of interesting information on this history of aeronautics and the beginnings and current forays into space, the moon, and the technologies used.

Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, New York, NY, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 30 July 2012

My only complaint with the whole tour was the complete lack of any coverage of the Canadian contribution to aeronautics and the Space Program – the focus was primarily US (but that’s a given, since I was IN the US), but also British, German and Russian. That said, what I did see was pretty awesome. We were toured through the Hangar Deck first, then the Enterprise Exhibit was up on the Flight Deck.I have to admit, I’m not great at remembering all the names of the planes I saw on the Flight Deck, nor their specifications, but I had taken a bunch of photos of the planes for my Dad and my nephews. We also got to go to the Navigation Bridge and the Command Bridge, as well as take a look at some of the crew and officer quarters, the anchor room, and a few other areas that were in the public area of the former active aircraft carrier. However, rather than overwhelming you, these are some of my choices to include:

Mercury Capsule Replica, Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, New York, NY, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 30 July 2012

Types of Rockets Used, Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, New York, NY, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 30 July 2012

Going into the Enterprise Exhibit was impressive. It’s in a domed enclosure on the Flight Deck. The area has a number of informational posters about the Enterprise, pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope, the International Space Station, past & future space ships.

Enterprise Shuttle Exhibit, Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, New York, NY, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 30 July 2012

Enterprise Shuttle Exhibit, Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, New York, NY, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 30 July 2012

These are but three of the several planes that were on display at the Intrepid Museum:

Lockheed A-12 (Blackbird), Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, New York, NY, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 30 July 2012

USS Intrepid VA-95 Navy Green Lizards, Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, New York, NY, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 30 July 2012

British Airways Concorde, Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, New York, NY, © J. Lynn Stapleton, 30 July 2012

I knew it would be a while before I ate again, so I grabbed a soup & sandwich and drink from the cafeteria on the carrier before heading uptown to Jill’s to get a key for Tuesday, as I would be checking out of the hostel in the morning and my train didn’t wouldn’t leave til after midnight. So, we hung out for a while in the evening, chatting before I headed downtown to go see the independent film, Farewell, My Queen. I’d been wanting to see this since I first saw the trailer in the spring. I knew the opening date was mid-July and the likelihood of it ever appearing on the big screen where I live was next to nil. So, I found out where it was playing in Manhattan and made a plan to go. Well, with about 3 minutes to spare, I made it to the Angelika Film Center for the 10pm showing. I am SO glad I did. I loved the story and the filmography and costuming were gorgeous.

If it’s playing anywhere near you, I recommend going to see it! I got out of the film at midnight and walked over to nearest 5/6 train to go up to connect to the E train. It should have stopped at 51st but because of work being done on the line, they were bypassing the station after 10pm on the northbound run. Which meant the next stop was 86th St. So, I get off there, go topside, cross the street, and take the southbound train back to where I should have gotten off, and then transferred to the E train. I finally got to the West 23 St/8th Ave Station about 2am-ish. By which time I was hungry. Fortunately for me, the New Venus Cafe & Restuarant was just to the left as I came out of the station, so I went in and had a lovely soup and quiche, and for dessert bread pudding. All very yummy. Well fed and more than a little tired, I walked the rest of the distance back to the hostel – at about 3ish am.

My hostel mates were still up at the time so I was glad I wasn’t disturbing them when I came in. Got ready for bed and flaked out after another great day in the city. Sad to realise that there was only one day left.

An Adventure Among Rocks…

A few days ago, I had wanted to go down to the Hopewell Rocks here in New Brunswick, but the timing didn’t work out, but I did get a chance to go today. It’s about an two and a half hour drive from Fredericton. Home of some of the highest tides in the world, the Hopewell Rocks Park has some really interesting geographic landscapes. The unusual rock formations, also known as the Flower Pot rocks, are created by the erosion due to the tidal forces. Made up of sedimentary conglomerate and sandstone rock, these flower pot rocks are free-standing (as opposed to connected to the ‘mainland’), and have vegetation growing at the top.

The Bay of Fundy is an area between the south end of New Brunswick and the northwest part of Nova Scotia, and in the map below, you will see where I’ve marked where the Hopewell Rocks are located. The Bay of Fundy park is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. (Park Map).

Hopewell Rocks on map [Google Maps]

Hopewell Rocks on map [Google Maps]

The timing between high and low tides is about six hours and 13 minutes and in that time the tide can rise from 0.3 metres (1 ft) to 13.9 metres (45.6 ft), depending on the lunar cycle. You can check out the tide tables to see the different levels of tides over the year. The highest tides average 10 – 14 metres (32 – 46 ft) as 100 billion tonnes of water flow into the bay twice a day. (info from the Hopewell Rocks website). Today’s first high tide was at 8:44am at 11.7 metres (38.4 ft), and low tide was from 12:12-18:12. When it’s at low tide, you can walk on the ocean floor. At high tide, you can take a go out on a sea kayaking tour run by Baymount Outdoor Adventures, (which I did) this morning. That meant I left Fredericton a little after 5am and arrived at the park at 7:30. Of course since the park doesn’t open til 8am, I had to wait a bit, but I wanted to make sure I got there in plenty of time, since I hadn’t booked with the kayaking in advance.

I had a heavy duty dry sack that I could put my camera in, and strap it to the top of the kayak in the cross-straps for [relatively] easy access. As I was on my own for the day, I had one of the kayak guides in the two person kayak with me. We paddled in and around several of the flower pot rocks and looked in on some of the caved areas.

Sea Kayaking on the Bay of Fundy, 9th August 2011, © J. Lynn Stapleton

Sea Kayaking on the Bay of Fundy, 9th August 2011, © J. Lynn Stapleton

Sea Kayaking on the Bay of Fundy, 9th August 2011, © J. Lynn Stapleton

Sea Kayaking on the Bay of Fundy, 9th August 2011, © J. Lynn Stapleton

Sea Kayaking on the Bay of Fundy, 9th August 2011, © J. Lynn Stapleton

Sea Kayaking on the Bay of Fundy, 9th August 2011, © J. Lynn Stapleton

Sea Kayaking on the Bay of Fundy, 9th August 2011, © J. Lynn Stapleton

Sea Kayaking on the Bay of Fundy, 9th August 2011, © J. Lynn Stapleton

The paddling back was more challenging because we were going against the waves and wind, but it was fun and we got some more of the history of the area, the formations, and some local stories. Once on dry land, on the path back there were stations to wash off shoes/sandals/feet, so as to not track the mud from the beach into buildings. After a bit of a break by the Low Tides Cafe, I headed down the steps to the beach as the tide had gone out some. As you look through of the photos below, see some of the same rock formations with a lot less water.

walking on the sea floor

Walking on the Ocean Floor, Hopewell Rocks, 9th August 2011, © J. Lynn Stapleton

Walking on ocean floor

Walking on the Ocean Floor, Hopewell Rocks, 9th August 2011, © J. Lynn Stapleton

Hopewell Rocks, 9th August 2011, © J. Lynn Stapleton

Hopewell Rocks, 9th August 2011, © J. Lynn Stapleton

Hopewell Rocks, 9th August 2011, © J. Lynn Stapleton

Hopewell Rocks, 9th August 2011, © J. Lynn Stapleton

Hopewell Rocks, 9th August 2011, © J. Lynn Stapleton

Hopewell Rocks, 9th August 2011, © J. Lynn Stapleton

Hopewell Rocks, 9th August 2011, © J. Lynn Stapleton

Hopewell Rocks, 9th August 2011, © J. Lynn Stapleton

Hopewell Rocks, 9th August 2011, © J. Lynn Stapleton

Hopewell Rocks, 9th August 2011, © J. Lynn Stapleton

Hopewell Rocks, 9th August 2011, © J. Lynn Stapleton

Hopewell Rocks, 9th August 2011, © J. Lynn Stapleton

The main part of this photo is of the Estrans Daniels Flats, and you can see to the far left how far out the tide had gone.

Estrans Daniels Flats, Hopewell Rocks Park, 9th August 2011, © J. Lynn Stapleton

Estrans Daniels Flats, Hopewell Rocks Park, 9th August 2011, © J. Lynn Stapleton

I had a lot of fun exploring for the day, getting a chance to see both high and low tides. I finished off with a lunch at the main building and then left a little after 2pm, and I was home by 4:45. A long day, but I had a fantastic time. Stay tuned for new adventures.

St. John’s Walkabout

On Tuesday, 10th August, I arrived in St. John’s, Newfoundland to spend time with family and friends and to go out exploring my home city as a visitor might; walking the downtown core, taking a whale-watching boat tour, and exploring the colour and style and architecture that the city has to offer.

In much of the downtown core, the houses and buildings  that stem up from the harbour, are bright and colourful, and it has long been part of the St. John’s charm.


© J. Lynn Stapleton, 14th August 2010


© J. Lynn Stapleton, 14th August 2010


© J. Lynn Stapleton, 14th August 2010

The LSPU Hall, formerly the Longshoreman’s Protective Union building, has been one of the centres of St. John’s, NL’s artistic and theatric communities. A thirty-year old artist-run community serves, protecting and promoting the artists, musicians and others in the diverse arts community.


© J. Lynn Stapleton, 14th August 2010

These brightly coloured houses are also featured in the old battery, which lines the east end of the St. John’s Harbour of Signal Hill.


© J. Lynn Stapleton, 14th August 2010


© J. Lynn Stapleton, 14th August 2010.

The architecture of the city is a combination of old-world charm meets modern developments. Many houses of the city bear Victorian design,from residential housing and government and provincial buildings and churches. The Spirit of Newfoundland building below is probably most easily remembered by locals as the old Masonic Temple.


The Basilica of St. John the Baptist. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 14th August 2010.


Anglican Cathedral. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 14th August 2010.

Newfoundland Supreme Court. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 14th August 2010.

Newfoundland Supreme Court. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 14th August 2010.


Spirit of Newfoundland. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 14th August 2010.

St. John’s has one of the world’s naturally protected harbours, made up of Signal Hill to the east, and Southside Hills, leading out to Fort Amherst on the west entrance. It’s a narrow harbour and ships must line up with two lights on Pilot’s Hill to navigate through.


Buoy in St. John’s Harbour. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 13th August 2010.


Iceberg Quest tour boat. © J. Lynn Stapleton, 13th August 2010.

On the way out of the harbour, ships will pass Fort Amherst. Built in the 1770s, it was used as a defense of the harbour.


© J. Lynn Stapleton, 13th August 2010


© J. Lynn Stapleton, 13th August 2010

Though I lived in the city for twenty-one years, I never thought of going out on a whale-watching ship tour of the North Atlantic. We went out as far as Cape Spear, the most easterly point of North America. Cape Spear National Historic Park features the oldest surviving lighthouse in Canada.


© J. Lynn Stapleton, 13th August 2010

Whale-Watching


© J. Lynn Stapleton, 13th August 2010


© J. Lynn Stapleton, 13th August 2010


© J. Lynn Stapleton, 13th August 2010

This has only been the first week in and I’m certain more photography days will come.