Story Behind This Photo – Man in the Fur Hat

Man in a Fur Hat - SwitzerlandThe story behind this photograph…

Just up from Lugano, Switzerland there is a small lake, Lake Muzzano, between the little towns of Sorengo and Muzzano. Around most of the lake there is a walkway and a field where horses graze and then the path reaches a set of stairs that are flanked by a small vineyard. These stairs are very steep and once you make it to the top you can sit on a bright red bench, on a narrow ledge, and with your feet up on the railing and you can admire the view and observe as others climb the stairs.

One cold winter day I was sitting on one of those benches trying to warm up in the sun and I saw this man in a long winter coat and a fur hat, descend down the stairs. I lost sight of him at times (that is how steep these stairs are) but then he appeared and I took this photo.

One of my professors at my college said this image reminded him of a photo like Henri Cartier-Bresson would take – a high compliment that I do not feel worthy of but I do strive for a similar style as that great photographer!

That is the story behind this photograph.

Details: Black and white photo taken with an Olympus camera (one that they do not make anymore, sadly enough).

*This photo is available for sale on my store site. Click here and buy a poster of the “Man in A Fur Hat” today!

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Bergdorf Goodman Holiday Windows 2009

The holidays are fast approaching (pardon the cliché) and that means there are even more tourists in New York City ; it’s the place to be for the holidays because this city has some of the best decorations! Now some might say that the must see things are the Macy’s windows, the windows at Saks Fifth Avenue, or the tree at Rockefeller Center. These are all very festive, but for me the holiday decorations that I have to see every year are the windows at Bergdorf Goodman on Fifth Avenue.

Bergdorf Goodman always has elaborate windows that literally take your breath away with the amount of detail, hard work, and imagination that go into them. And the holiday windows seem to be the most outstanding of the whole year (but honestly if you go any time they are spectacular!).

This year the windows on the south side of the building are a black and white tribute to winter weather. An impossibly long piano is being played by a wolf in a tux; penguins and polar bears grace the walls, and the mannequins are gracefully dressed.

On the east side of the building the magical land of “ Alice and Wonderland” comes to life. There is one window where everything is made of paper – from the dodo bird to the tree to the larger then life book with a dining table jutting out of it. Another window is a tribute to not only Alice ’s upside down journey but also to M.C. Escher – little rooms cover the wall and staircases twist and turn in every direction. Another window creates a world of crystal and glass.

Ostriches with elaborate bird cages on their backs; horses made of moss, pebbles, and dried plants and long tails of sweeping grass flank a mannequin with an amazing dress. The north side of the building features animals with intricate perfection and again, incredible imagination with the use of materials.

And across the street there is more! The Bergdorf Goodman men’s store windows have some of the original scenes and figures from the movie “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” The amount of detail is amazing – just look at the street scene – you can see into the stores, the windows have curtains… These windows have affirmed the fact that this is a movie to see.

And honestly… the Bergdorf Goodman are the best windows to see in New York City! Don’t miss it! These windows should be mentioned in guidebooks for New York City, that is how amazing they are!

Photography of Time Square and The Highline

TIMES SQUARE

Time Square NYC

When visiting New York City going to Times Square is a must. When living in New York City avoiding Times Square is essential, unless you have family and friends visiting and you go to see a show.

If you go to Times Square during the day you find a cattle stream of tourists clogging the sidewalks, overloaded with shopping bags, eyes agog and faces awash with bedazzled expressions. Families collect at street corners and vendors line the sidewalks with tables of accoutrements. If you go to Times Square at night you should wear sunglasses for there is no inch of space without a flashing light.

Now Times Square is more pedestrian friendly. Broadway cuts diagonally through Times Square and used to be for traffic; now the swatches of streets intersecting with Broadway are islands of pedestrian safe havens. Sidewalks are less congested although traffic is more congested. Small red iron tables and chairs are collected in clusters along the pedestrian islands and you can sit at your leisure right in the middle of Times Square with traffic on either side  – very relaxing. Or you can climb to the top of the bleacher-like steps on top of the TKTS booth and sit for hours while watching the chaos all around you.

Times Square, is the hectic and clogged artery of theater in New York City that will always prove to be a fascination to tourists and locals alike.

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THE HIGHLINE

One of the great things about New York City is the determination to not let any space go unused. Apartments are small, I still have relatives that think I am joking when I tell them the size of my apartment; and finding room to put everything I own is quiet a feat. The rest of the city is no different.

There used to be a train track on the west side of the city that ran above ground. This train track was used in the 1930’s for freight trains for all of the warehouses on the West Side. And while that line no longer runs the tracks are still in place. After much anticipation and of course the occasional debate, the old train tracks are now an elevated park and walkway called the Highline.

From West 20th Street down to Gansevoort Street (between 10th and 11th Avenues) you can walk about two stories above street level. There are patches of greenery along the walkway with benches peppered here and there. At one point the walkway widens and there is a small arena of seats facing windows that provide a view of the street traffic below, like a little local theatre. And due to an ingeniously subtle design you can lounge on benches that sit on the old tracks, just push with a Hulk force to adjust your seat for a view for a spectacular people watching show.

The Highline might just become the next “must see” in New York City.  This is just the beginning since currently only one section of the Highline is open; when the entire Highline is complete the park will run for a mile-and-a-half! Wow!

**For a walking tour of The Highline and the surrounding area click here for more details!

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** For New York City stock photography click here to see my photos and for your own New York City poster visit The Monica Store.

Photos of the Hispanic Day Parade in New York City

New York City has many parades, one of which includes the Hispanic Day Parade. Although this parade was the 12th of October I have just posted the photographs I took on my stock photography site (pardon the delay, still getting the hang of blogging).

The parade was amazing to watch and beautiful to take photographs of. Waves of people walked up Fifth Avenue, proudly representing their respective countries, waving flags, wearing traditional costumes, and dancing. My favorite group was Bolivia (yes, I am a little partial due to the fact that I was born there but… still). The Bolivians wore the most colorful and bright clothes, they performed dances with great enthusiasm and they were simply dazzling.

Take a look at my Hispanic Parade stock photography by clicking here and let me know which costumes are your favorite or which photograph you like the most.

Travel tips and Photographs of Chicago, IL

Highlights from my first visit to Chicago, IL in October 2009.

– For photographs of Chicago visit my websites, listed at the end of this post.

As odd as it might be, after visiting Chicago, these were the two highlights of my trip:

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THE METRA

The train is referred to as the Metra (note the “a” at the end). The train schedule is set at bizarre times that would make sense if the train showed up at the allotted time of 12:50 but often came late. The actual train ride was most enjoyable (I am a fan of trains as they do not make one as motion sick as cars or planes). The Chicago commuter train has an air of 1950’s time warp – the seats are covered in a aqua leather-vinyl with sets of two on the bottom floor and of course the occasional four seats with about one foot of leg room in-between which only makes for an incredibly squishy and uncomfortable ride if all four seats are occupied.

But the most interesting part is the upper level of the train; yes these are double-decker trains, which make them even more interesting. At one end of the train car is a very narrow spiral stair case on both sides leading to a platform of single chairs, some of which can be changed with a strong hand on the small handle of the chair and a yank that brings the seat back to the desired position (a boon of an invention that is entertaining and a wonderful way to again avoid motion sickness, by facing forward in either direction). There is also a row of seats facing the aisle and the gap between the two upper decks, you see the upper decks are not connected but rather simply balconies with a view of the lower floor, an ingenious design to provide endless entertainment as one can observe the activities of the entire car from a seat on the upper tier. As the conductor passes through to check tickets, rather then climbing up the stairs he simply raps the metal bar at the foot of the second level, you then lean down and give him your ticket.

If every passenger was dressed in suits, fedoras, and dresses it would be an ideal spot for a movie scene. The middle section has luggage space; one side has a flat rack that holds suitcases. The other side has access to a rack closer to the ceiling for smaller bags or skateboards (I saw a group of teenage boys put their skateboards flat on the rack for safe keeping). Overall, the commuter train is an experience that shouldn’t be missed.

Practical information: the cost from Winnetka into the city is $3.80 for a one-way ticket (you can only buy one way tickets on the train). And a weekend pass is only five dollars!

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THE SILVER BEAN

Chicago, IL

In Millennium Park we gathered around the British artist Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate sculpture, which I have dubbed “The Silver Bean” as I believe other people have as well. Half of the amusement of the sculpture, other then seeing the warped city landscape reflected on the silver surface, is watching what people do in front of it. Some people walk slowing up to the Silver Bean and stare, others circle the bean with their mouths open in utter wonder, others make faces while standing a foot away from the bean and bringing their face closer then further away from the silver surface. The most amusing of all is under the bean where people get trapped in a never-ending photo fest in order to capture the shiny contorted reflection of a warped reality.

Overall the trip was success. Chicago was not entirely what I expected but it was interesting nonetheless.

** For Chicago stock photography click here.

** And for posters of Chicago visit my store site: The Monica Store.

Inspiring Websites

Without fail I look at these two sites ALL the time!

Anthropologie

– The design of this website is superb because it is so carefully laid out and the craft-look of the website gives it a personal touch. Not to mention their products are so well made and all the little details that go into the clothes are amazing. Personally I love the latte bowls! they come in many colors and they make great gifts!

 

National Geographic

– The photography section is truly inspiring! Not to mention all the information you learn just by looking at a few pages – amazing!

 

* More favorite sites to come soon! Start looking at these first and let me know what you find inspiring – always looking for inspiration and creative sites!

Travel tips for Lake Como, Italy

View of Bellagio, Italy.

I have had the opportunity to visit Lake Como, Italy many times. Lake Como is a truly breathtaking area with mountains plunging right into the lake, grand villas right on the water, fishing towns, hiking trails, and small mountain valley towns.

>For canvas prints and framed photos of Lake Como, Italy click here to visit The Monica Store and select a travel photo print today!

Below is a general overview of the area – for more in-depth info see links to more detailed posts below. For information and tips on driving around Lake Como, Italy click here (driving tips at bottom of post).

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Bellagio, one of the best known towns on the lake where ladies can buy straw handbags and men can buy silk scarves. Bellagio is also home to the Rockefeller Foundation and you have a tour of the grounds and perhaps a glimpse of the villa which is off limits unless you are one of the lucky few researchers that is given the opportunity to stay there. The gardens of the Villa Melzi are close to Bellagio and provide amazing views of the lake and leave one feeling guilty for not spending more time in one’s own garden and making it look just as spectacular.

>To read more travel tips including where to shop in Bellagio, Italy click here.

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Varenna is a town that also has an amazing villa and gardens, the Villa Monastero; these are gardens that I visit over and over again and I keep taking the same photographs over and over again because the novelty of the view, the statues, the gardens… never wears off. Climb to the top of the hill, just above Varenna, and you will find castle ruins that now have towers you can climb up, a falconer, statues, and sculptures, and of course panoramic views of Lake Como.

>Read more travel tips about Varenna on Lake Como, Italy including tips on how to get to the castle and ticket price info for Villa Monastero.

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Como is also a main city on the Lake. Como is another ritzy shopping location and a city full of bicycles. The Duomo (Cathedral) in Como is impressive, but remember, during the summer months if you want to visit the Cathedral, ladies must have their shoulders covered or else you will join the other women waiting outside for their friends or families to finish their visit to the Cathedral – not something you want to miss.

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There are other towns on Lake Como that are just as noteworthy, such as Menaggio which has a pleasant walkway along the lake and some of the best gelato! Tremezzo also has a nice walkway along the water. Sala Comacina is a town with its own island! Out in the lake, just in front of Sala Comacina, is a small island which can be reached by boat to see ruins and a small white church.

Rezzonico is an adorably picturesque town with a castle that is actually privately owned and lived in but you can still stand outside the castle walls, look up at the stone tower, and stare in awe while thinking “someone lives there!” Going down steep steps between houses and arriving at the waterfront in Rezzonico is a must see, as the pastel colored houses with shuddered windows, laundry on the balconies, and stone benches is a postcard image.

**To see more photos and buy prints of Italian towns on Lake Como, Italy visit Monica Goslin Photography now.

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Gravedona is a town with a 13th century church, Santa Maria that must be visited. One of the most amazing finds for me this summer was the Santa Maria degli Angeli church, just above Gravedona. This church has extraordinary paintings and frescos on every inch, and they are so detailed. The church is actually being restored. The cloister right next to the church is another treasure of worn frescos, a small courtyard, brick columns, and wooden beams.

>Read more about the Italian town of Gravedona on Lake Como, Italy click here for part one on Gravedona.

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Aside from the lake side towns there a small mountain towns as well, such as Barna which has a charming plaza and hidden courtyards. Breglia is a town that is not far from Menaggio and it is a starting point for many hiking trails. Monte Grona, which over looks Menaggio, is one such hike from Breglia and the views from the rocky mountain top are breath taking.

Bellano is a town that juts out in to the lake on a flat marshy piece of land and is also the location of a gorge and waterfall. From Bellano one can drive up into the mountains and into a valley with towns that are popular in the winter for skiing. Cremeno is one of these valley towns and it actually has a Swiss-like feel since the houses have steep wide roofs. Just before leaving the valley and descending into Lecco, there is the town of Ballabio which is at the foot of a mountain that you can drive up on a steep road with hairpin curves, 18 of them in fact, until you reach what you think is the top of the mountain only to find more villages and another starting point for hiking.

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And then there is the Italian portion of Lake Lugano . This past summer I visited a few towns on the Italian side of Lake Lugano that were picture perfect, Castello and Oria. Castello is a town built from the ruins of a castle, which makes for an interesting exploration of a narrow cobblestone paths, numerous small courtyards, and towering houses with thick walls. Oria, a town next to Castello, is built on a steep portion of the mountain and one finds steps leading from house to house.

> Read more about towns to see on Lake Lugano by clicking here.

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So the new Italy photographs added to The Monica Store this month (October 2009) encompass glimpses into of the above mentioned places. Enjoy browsing the photos and choose one as a poster or canvas print today!

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For information about Lake Como and all of Northern Italy’s major lakes click here for italylakes.net