Tuesday, April 22, 2014

History Abounds in Hyde Park

Sit Down for a Fireside Chat

If you're ever in the New York City or Poughkeepsie area, it's worth a trip to Hyde Park, about 90 miles north of the Big Apple.  Hyde Park is the birthplace of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, where today you can tour his family's home, his presidential library, and his and Eleanor's personal cottages.  Also in Hyde Park is the gorgeous Vanderbilt Mansion, home of Frederick Vanderbilt and his wife during the end of the Gilded Age.  Still not enough history for you?  Hyde Park is also home to the Culinary Institute of America (which sadly, I didn't have a chance to tour while I was there), and the Hudson River State Hospital, an abandoned psychiatric hospital (which I would definitely not recommend exploring because it is on private property, but it's still interesting to look at from a distance).  Just 15 miles east of Hyde Park in Millbrook is an abandoned college called Bennett School for Girls.  This is another property that I would not recommend exploring on the inside, but you are able to get quite close to the buildings before it becomes private property.

It's hard to believe in just a half day, I managed to see the FDR Presidential Library, tour FDR's home and the Vanderbilt mansion, visit FDR's and Eleanor's cottages, and get a glimpse of the Hudson River State Hospital and Bennett College.  Keep in mind that there are a limited number of tours for these places (obviously excluding the hospital and college), so plan accordingly so you don't miss out on anything.

First up was the FDR Library.  The main building is where you purchase tickets and begin your tour.

Before touring FDR's house, we went to the Presidential Library.  There were some neat artifacts to look at including a hat that he wore, his childhood camera, and his inaugural address.

The room above was FDR's personal study which he used while he was President.  He even gave some of his fireside chats from here.  Below is his oval office desk.

Below is a closer look at the items on FDR's desk.

FDR's Home

Next on the list was FDR's house.  Above is the exterior, and below is FDR's childhood bedroom.

Above is the library/parlor and below is the dining room.

FDR also had a number of horses.  On his property you can walk through his stables.

Next we went to the Vanderbilt Mansion.  If you think the exterior is impressive, wait until you see the inside!

Above is the entrance hall.  I took this from the second floor looking down, because I couldn't get a shot I was happy with from the first floor.  Below is the ladies retiring room, where Mrs. Vanderbilt and her female guests would converse after dinner.

Above is Frederick Vanderbilt's bedroom and below is the beautiful staircase up to the second floor.

Sitting Room - Vanderbilt Mansion
Above is the gorgeous sitting room, with a beautiful wood detailing on the ceiling.  Mr. Vanderbilt and his male guests would retire here after dinner.  Below is the dining room, in which the ceiling is being restored, hence the scaffolding.  You may be beginning to see a fisheye trend here.  Given that we weren't actually allowed inside any of these rooms, the fisheye allowed me the widest perspective from where I was standing.

Above is Mrs. Vanderbilt's bedroom and below is a panorama of the parlor.

Above is the gold room with an intricately painted ceilingand below is a shot I took in the basement, where the hired help stayed.  Mr. Vanderbilt left much of his estate to his servants.

The Grounds of Val-Kill Cottage

Before leaving Hyde Park, we visited Val-Kill, Eleanor Roosevelt's cottage.  This house is on the grounds of Val-Kill, but it's not actually the cottage Eleanor lived in, but a house for guests to stay in.

I really wanted to take a few photos of the outside of the Hudson River State Hospital, an abandoned psychiatric facility. Unfortunately, the entire campus is on private property, and most of the buildings were impossible to see without trespassing. Luckily, I still managed to grab a few shots of the perimeter. As fun as it sounds to photograph abandoned buildings like these, I wouldn't recommend it. They are physically in pretty bad shape and in doing so you'd also be trespassing on someone's property.

Below is a church right next to the hospital.

The final stop on my trip was at Bennett School for Girls, or Bennett College, about 15 miles east of Hyde Park.  Bennett was a college for girls from the late 1800s through the 1960s.  Since closing down, it has remained abandoned and has become a popular place to photograph.  This is another campus I would recommend viewing from the outside, because it too is on private property and in pretty bad shape.  Above is Halcyon Hall and below is what I believe was a science wing built shortly before the school closed down.

The Moon and Halcyon Hall

Above is another view of Halcyon Hall. Below is an old house near the campus. I'm not sure if it's actually part of the campus or not.

House on the Hill

Visiting Hyde Park and the surrounding areas is a great way to learn some history and hone your photography skills.  Have you ever been to any of these places?  What did you think?

Tools I used to create the photos this post:  Canon EOS 6DCanon EF 17-40mm f/4L USMCanon EF 50mm f/1.4 USMZenitar MC 16mm f/2.8 Fisheye , Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM LensAdobe Photoshop CS6

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Walt Disney World Trip Part V: Resorts

Rooms at Disney's Port Orleans French Quarter (1)

This is my final of five installments of photos I took on my most recent Walt Disney World trip.  Earlier I posted about a day in Disney's Animal Kingdom, a day at EPCOT, a day at Magic Kingdom, and a day at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Normally when I travel to Disney World I go around to some of the resorts to take photos, but this time I didn't make it to very many.  My resort visits were limited to Port Orleans Riverside (where I was staying), Port Orleans French Quarter, and Saratoga Springs Resort.

Port Orleans Riverside has nice rooms with touches from The Princess and the Frog, which fits in with the Louisiana Bayou theme.  The last time I stayed at Riverside was back in 2000, when it was known as Dixie Landings.  The grounds are gorgeous, and great for photos.  I took a lot with my fisheye.

A Peaceful Morning at Alligator Bayou - Disney's Port Orleans Riverside

The dining hall has a great pasta station, and it's great to have somewhere around the corner to grab a bite to eat that's not as pricy as the regular restaurants.  For the photo above of the outside of the dining hall, I went for an infrared-esque look with my processing.

The last two photos were taken at Boatwright's, which is designed to look like a boat construction warehouse.

The lobby of Port Orleans Riverside is not as grandiose as those of some of the other resorts, but it is still quite nice.

Port Orleans Riverside - Alligator Bayou at Night

As with most places, the grounds of Riverside are even more vibrant when photographed at night.  Most of these night shots are handheld.

Disney's Port Orleans Riverside Dock

Onto the French Quarter (via ferry from Riverside), this resort has a different feel than Riverside, with more of New Orleans-Mardi Gras theme to it.

I think I prefer the ambiance of the Riverside lobby, but the French Quarter lobby gets points for being more fun to photograph.

Disney's Port Orleans French Quarter:  The Fountain

The alligators add some Disney flair to the grounds (not sure if they are from a movie or created specifically for the resort).

Alligators Playing a Tune at Disney's Port Orleans French Quarter

Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort - The Mayor of Saratoga

Next it's quite a ways east of Louisiana to upstate New York.  The Saratoga Springs resort is interesting to me, being a Saratoga native. The resort doesn't really resemble Saratoga Springs, NY, but there are some nice Saratoga touches, such as paintings of some of our landmarks and well-known buildings, a carousel horse in the lobby, and the mayor (pictured above) who greets guests as they arrive.

Well, that's it for my Disney World posts for awhile.  I hope you've enjoyed this series.  Which set of photos was your favorite?