Photo Walk

Finding Beauty in a Cemetery and in Death by Leslie Fandrich

Last year when I was posting my Photo Walk series, I did a photo walk by myself in our local cemetery.

I felt uncomfortable posting the pictures. At the time, I was worried people would find them morbid or disturbing and not see the beauty in them that I did. Now, I don't care as much, but I'm also more preoccupied with death than I was before and I'm finding it difficult to contemplate anything else. It's time to post these pictures for one reason:

Death doesn't have to be faced with fear. It can beautiful and tell us valuable things about life.

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Photo Walk Fridays: Meatpacking District, NYC by Leslie

This week's Photo Walk Friday is super special! Months ago, I asked if anyone wanted to join me for a photo walk in the city. Sandra from Raincoast Cottage, in Vancouver, emailed to tell me she was planning a trip to New York and would love to meet up. Over the next few weeks we emailed back and forth trying to figure out when and where we would go. We finally settled on the Meatpacking District of NYC, just south of Chelsea.

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Photo Walk Fridays: Sugar Loaf, NY by Leslie

Sugar Loaf is a sweet little art and craft village just 10 minutes from where we live. It's been around for 250 years and became a thriving craft center in the 1970s. It's filled with adorable shops that are always open on the weekend, and sometimes during the week. It really makes me happy to come here, there are so many things to discover and I love to see people living thier passions. Many of the business owners not only live and work in the shops, but often make most of what they are selling. When I visit here I dream of a life of simply making and selling my art. If you are in the area, it is a wonderful place to spend an afternoon.

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Photo Walk Fridays: Pennings Farm Market by Leslie

Pennings Farm Market is one of my favorite places to go in Warwick. It's just 15 minutes from our house and has everything you could ever want. Fantastic locally grown and produced food, a menu of sandwiches and salads, a place for the kids to play, animals to feed, a garden center, apple picking and seasonal delights. It's where we go to get our Xmas Tree and after we have hiked the Appalachian Trail. See the bottom of the post for some of my favorite things to buy at Pennings.

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Photo Walk Fridays: Cleveland, Ohio by Leslie

I loved everything about our short trip to Cleveland for an event celebrating an exhibit of photographs from Chris's book at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Our hotel was in the incredible Arcade building and I felt like I had gone back in time. These first eight pictures are from there. It was gorgeous. Right outside the building was East 4th Street which is filled with outdoor patios and Xmas lights strung up everywhere. It was lunchtime and full of people and energy.

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Photo Walk Fridays: Walkway Over the Hudson by Leslie

Walkway Over the Hudson, Highland ⇒ Poughkeepsie, New York

A few weeks ago we drove up to Highland, New York with some friends to check out the Walkway Over the Hudson. It's an incredible old train bridge that has been converted to a trail for hikers, walkers, bikers and pets. It's 212 feet high above the Hudson River, with expansive views and it is 1.24 miles one way. We had a great time going across, but coming back my kids ran out of steam and it became a struggle. I'd recommend bringing a wagon or stroller so when the kids get tired they can take a break and you can still keep moving. There are parking lots, picnic tables and food stands on both sides, but make sure to bring cash, they don't take credit cards.

The directions are listed on the Walkway website and are easy to follow, we entered on the Highland Side, parked a little way down from the main parking lot, ate lunch (we bought sandwiches at the gas station/deli at the corner where you turn onto Haviland Road), walked all the way across, had an ice cream and water break at the picnic table on the other side and then walked all the way back. I think we were there for 3 or 4 hours, we also spent time just hanging out on the bridge, watching trains and boats go by down below. It was great watching all kinds of interesting people walk by. You can't tell from these photos but it was a very busy day with lots of people walking the bridge. Dogs and bikes are allowed, so you do need to have some caution if you have little kids like mine who like to run all over the place. We brought snacks and you'll need sunglasses and sunscreen. There is no shade. It's also cooler and windier in the middle of the bridge, so a light sweater came in handy.

What are your plans for this weekend? Doing anything fun?

Photo Walk Fridays: Chinatown, NYC by Leslie

Chinatown, New York City

I haven't been to Chinatown in New York in a long time. I used to go frequently when I lived in the city, and have taken visitors there even after I moved out of Manhattan, but hadn't been there for at least six years. I was craving some traditional Vietnamese Phở soup, which I can't get anywhere upstate. Chris and I wandered around and I found myself in all my favorite spots. If you visit Chinatown, be sure to venture off of the touristy Canal Street and search for the smaller side streets (like Doyers Street) to the south where you can find some authentic and original shops. I've listed all the places we visited at the end of the post.

Places We Visited:

Columbus Park: This park is a haven in a busy and densely populated area, with lots of older Asian men and women playing Mah Jong and cards. There was a band playing traditional music and it was all very charming. 

Pell and Doyers Street: These are my favorite streets in Chinatown and many of the pictures above were shot there. Doyers is a pedestrian only street and the easiest place in Chinatown to pretend to go back in time. 

Tings: On the corner of Pell and Doyers, this teeny tiny gift shop has it all packed in. I bought the paper animal mobile that hung above Milo and Quinn's cribs in this shop.

CoCo Fashion: I loved this adorable shop on Doyers street and bought 2 cute tops in great colors.

Phở Bang: Delicious and affordable food at this Mott Street Vietnamese restaurant. Phở, spring rolls, Vietnamese coffee and pork chops. Yum. Decor is standard and plain, but the service is fast and friendly.

Thanks for joining me on my photo walk of Chinatown! It's such a vibrant part of the city, filled with amazing sights and experiences that you won't soon forget. Have you been there? What are your favorite places to visit? Can you recommend a good restaurant?

I highly recommend getting out and seeing what kind of sights you can capture on your own photo walk. It works anywhere! Country road, big city or anything in between. If you are in the area and you would like to join me for a local walk, or if you have a visted a good spot that I should check out, please let me know. Until next time!

Photo Walk Fridays: Nolita, NYC by Leslie

Nolita, New York City

To the east of Soho, where it's less crowded, is one of my favorite spots in New York City. Nolita (North of Little Italy) is contained within Houston Street on the north, Broome Street on the south, Lafayette Street on the west and the Bowery on the east. Compared to Soho there are smaller, independent shops and a quainter, neighborhood vibe.

My husband and I met my friend Amber on Sunday after our Camp Mighty Reunion, for brunch at Café Gitane and then we walked around Nolita taking pictures. I took pictures of the urban landscape and Amber took pictures of me. I LOVE her shots of me and I put the three pictures that I was taking below in the same order as her shots.

First though, shots from Café Gitane. Baked eggs are one of my favorite things lately, you might remember I also had them during my Valentine's Day photo walk (that was pre-photo walk Fridays.) We also had yummy avocado on toast and the mint tea was amazing and came in a little glass instead of a tea cup.  Check out all the places that we visited in Nolita at the bottom of the post.

The next three images are the shots that I captured while Amber took pictures of me, in the same order as her shots:

I love shooting the street! I find so many great juxtapositions and contrasts, between colors, textures and the things that people leave behind. I love graffiti, street art and when paper and posters are peeled, ripped and overlapping. The layers upon layers are just so beautiful. It's similar to the beauty I see in an abandoned building. Also, have a look at the two bicycle pictures above and below. It's the SAME bike. I saw it in two different places within 30 minutes of each other. I'd love to know the story behind that bike. (Check out the third picture on this page, is that the same bike?)

Places We Visited:

Café Gitane: A trendy, small, French cafe on Mott Street at Prince. There have been a number of movies filmed there and there is a new location on the west side in the Jane Hotel. I loved the baked eggs, avacado toast and mint tea.

Germania Bank Building: Most of the graffiti that I photographed was on the old Germania Bank building. I was sure that this building was abandoned, but it is in fact owned and lived in by the photographer Jay Maisel. The whole building is his house. Talk about epic! I was not all that familiar with his work, though his name did sound familiar. He hosts workshops at his home/building and for $5000 you can live with him there for 5 days and immerse yourself in his world. Incredible.

Armor Lux: This tiny, beautiful shop on Mulberry is where that adorable dog hangs out. His name is Chainsaw. Chainsaw! Isn't that an awesome name? The shop owner, Rachael, was the sweetest person ever. Her shop is the first one in the US outside of France. We bought a Wool and the Gang Foxy Roxy scarf knitting kit as a gift for Chris's Mom's birthday. She loved it. I will be sure to go back and visit the next time I am in Nolita.

McNally Jackson Bookstore: We love book stores and McNally Jackson is one of the best. I spent a good amount of time browsing the magazines and listening to two hipsters discuss art. It was funny and painful at the same time. They have a cafe, a great kids section and they specialize in everything good.

Have you been to Nolita? What are your favorite places to visit? Thanks for joining me again for a Photo Walk! See you next Friday.

Photo Walk Fridays: Woodstock, NY by Leslie

I'm so excited to announce a new regular feature! Photo Walk Fridays will be published every Friday and will feature 10-20 photographs from a photo walk I have been on. I will also be sharing relevant links to the area that I photographed and featuring some cool spots to check out in New York City and the Hudson Valley.

The photo walk in the rain with Tracey Clark that I did at ALT Summit really taught me something important about myself. One of my favorite ways to take pictures is to just walk around and see what I can find. It's the process of discovery and slowing down to really look at things with my camera that I love and while it's something I have done many times before, it never occurred to me to frame it as a photo walk. I always thought of photo walks as something you did as a group, but I realised that this was something I could do alone as well. It's kind of a revelation for me and I'm excited to see what this project will bring to my photography and my life. Eventually, I would love to develop this into a group event in my local area as well. If you are interested, please let me know. With all of that introductory stuff out of the way, let's get to our first location.

Woodstock, New York

You have probably heard of the 1969 music festival that was named after this town, but did you know that the festival was not actually held in Woodstock, NY? The concert was held 60 miles away in White Lake, NY, however this town has embraced the still burning ember of hippie love that peaked that summer and it's not hard to find tie dye and bearded hippies still wandering around. I've always wanted to visit Woodstock and finally one Saturday my family drove up in search of a good book store. What we found was a charming art town, with a great energy and the original 60's hippie spirit alive and well. We also found two excellent book stores, which sadly, I did not photograph. We spent our time on Tinker Street and just wandered around into shops and galleries. You can find links to the all the places that we visited and photographed at the end of the post.

Places We Visited:

Reader's Quarry Bookshop: A wonderfully curated selection of used and rare books. Do not miss this place!

The Golden Notebook: An independent book store with a fantastic selection of new books, with lots of great art and design books, comic books and a section for the kids.

Woodstock Artists Association & Museum: There was an excellent show here, called "Shakespeare & Other Subjects" featuring prints and drawings by Milton Glazer. The show is probably down now, but I'm sure there are always amazing things to see there.

Oriole 9: Continental-themed cafe serving local and organic foods from the Hudson Valley. So delicious and the kids loved it too.

Tinker Toys: We loved this toy store! You must go visit, it was amazing. There are so many wonderful things for both the young and the old to discover.

Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild: When we visited they had their 5x7 fundraiser up, or what was left of it, in which local artists donate a piece of artwork on a 5x7 canvas. There were some incredibly imaginative solutions to that challenge and the unicorn piece pictured above was one of my favorite items.

Legends: For everything tie dye and hippie, with the Blue Brothers lounging on the deck.

Next Time:

The Center for Photography at Woodstock

More Information:

Town of Woodstock Tourism

Valentine's Day Photo Walk by Leslie

I took myself on a little photo walk yesterday, bought some chocolates for my family and had brunch alone at a French cafe. It was a lovely morning and when I returned home with the kids, there were white lilies from Chris. These are my best shots from Valentine's Day.

I got a new lens and all of these pictures were taken with it. I had to send in my 28-70mm f/2.8L for a calibration and a minor cosmetic repair and since it's my only lens, I had to buy a new one. I looked at the 50mm f/1.2L, the 100mm f/2.8L Macro and the 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro. I want them all, but I got the most affordable and the smallest, the 50mm Compact Macro. Tracey Clark was raving about it at ALT and I figured for less than $300 I could test it out while my big lens is gone and if I didn't like it I could return it. 

I like it.

The tones are great and it's a sharp enough lens with great depth of field, but the best part? It's small. I was able to carry it around all day yesterday without it being too heavy or bulky. It *is* a bit noisy when I focus, it's like a little robot talking to me or something, and I will purchase that 50mm 1.2 one day, but for now the 50mm Compact Macro is lovely. (Thanks Tracey!)

What lenses are your favorites? What do you shoot with your different lenses? Is there a dream lense you have been lusting after?

Photo Walk with Tracey Clark by Leslie

Another highlight of ALT Summit for me was the photo walk on Saturday with Tracey Clark, pictured above. Tracey is the founder of the Shutter Sisters, a popular blog and also a book for photographers about shooting from their heart. I am a huge fan of both the website and the book and I was so excited to meet Tracey and spend time shooting with her. It was such a pleasure. Tracey is approachable and down to earth and I felt almost instantly comfortable with her and the group that had gathered for the walk. Just check these people out below. Every one of them was awesome and beautiful. (I did not get a picture of Kamille. Sorry Kamille!)

Gabriel, the curator at The Artful Desparado, was so charming and easy to talk to. He's an awesome guy who I met while he was admiring the fabulous colorful glass chandelier at the Grand America hotel. The next day his blog was featured in the "Up and Coming" panel, so I like to think that I befriended him before he was famous.

Patina had a quiet but bold presence, if you can possibly imagine what that might be like. She's from Australia and wore a fantastic necklace that said "I Like You", pictured below. I like you too Patina.

Ania writes a blog called The New Diplomat's Wife and the greatest thing is that her husband is actually a diplomat. She also dresses just like you would expect a diplomat's wife to dress. That's a real fur. She's based in Vienna. Hello!

Lindsey, who blogs at The Mod Chick, is always smiling. Her umbrella blew inside out and she was STILL smiling. Scroll down and see for yourself, she has the BIGGEST smile while trying to wrangle her umbrella in the rain and the wind while the rest of us were taking her picture instead of trying to help.

I did not talk to Dariela enough, but look how adorable she is in that knit hat and scarf. We had a great photo geek moment where we both tried to take a picture of each other at the same time. Awkward! And hilarious!

Jill is so calm and stoic. I met her at Camp Mighty and it was there that she decided she wanted to go to Africa. When she got home, she was given an opportunity to do just that. She's proof that you can live your dreams.

Tracey asked us to choose a random card before we left for the walk to guide us in our pictures for the day. My card was DETAILS, so while walking around I tried to find some interesting details. I'm so pleased with how they are all the photos I captured share a similar color palette. When looking for details to shoot, it's helpful to get close to things, underneath things and to isolate objects. Texture also becomes very important when shooting details. There was a thick cloud cover, but it actual worked to my advantage, like a giant soft box, smoothing out all the shadows and giving everything a beautiful even tone.

I had such a great time walking around shooting pictures with these people! It was cold and rainy and kind of miserable outside, but there are gorgeous pictures to capture anywhere you go and in any weather. Tracey also shared with us ten tips for taking better pictures:

  1. Use the whole frame
  2. Be deliberate
  3. Look for the light
  4. Learn as you go
  5. Tell a unique story
  6. Capture the unexpected
  7. Shoot from the heart
  8. If YOU like it, that's enough
  9. Celebrate your successes
  10. Connect and share.

Her philosophy is focused on composition and she believes that any tools that you have available to make photographs are legitimate, including your iPhone. Tracey and Lindsey are huge Instragram users and if you are on Instagram you can find them at @traceyclark and @modchik. Check out the #umbrellaclub hashtag to see the Instagram pictures from our walk. 

For more information about Photowalks check out Wikipedia: Photowalking and the following links:

Walking the High Line in New York City by Leslie

Ever since I heard about the IDEA of the High Line over 12 years ago, I thought it was the coolest thing ever. It took a few years for the city to support the effort and a few more years to design and build it but section one of the High Line was officially open in June 2009 and section two opened in June of this year. I've been waiting for the day when I got to check it out for myself and check this item off my Life List. Read about the history of the High Line.

Jill at Terra Savvy made a trip there with her family in the early summer and it reminded me that I really needed to go there too. I was finally able to go a few weeks ago when one of our best friends was in town with her daughter. It was awesome. I do wish I had been able to relax a little more though, with the kids and the strollers it was a bit busy, but we did get to sit and just enjoy watching the people walk by the end of the afternoon.

If I lived in the city I would make regular excuses to head over to that part of town so I could walk north or south on the high line. It's really more than a walkway though, it's a destination in itself, a place to go and stay if you like. We spent most of our time in section one because Quinn fell asleep in Chris's arms and refused to go in the stroller, so we had to sit down and missed section two. There is a third section, around the West Side Rail Yards, and it's still up in the air whether or not it will be developed as a park and be continuous with sections one and two.

The design of the High Line is incredible, they have done an amazing job blending nature with the city. Nature is beautiful all by itself, but somehow the contrast of the cement and nature together just heightens the experience of both. I love the cement pieces that fit together loosely around the edges to blend with nature, the remnants of train tracks, the vendors, the water feature, the deck chairs and benches and the private spaces. The amphitheater with the street below as a stage is amazing and the artwork hanging on the walls of buildings for ideal viewing from the path are genius.

If you are in New York, you MUST check it out. I hope to return one or two more times before the cold weather comes. I'm so thankful to our friends L and H for suggesting that we go there and it was wonderful to spend the day with them. We love them so much, aren't they pretty? And I absolutely LOVE how adorable Milo is with H.

Geocaching: A Real World GPS Treasure Hunt by Leslie

Do you know what geocaching is? If I told you that it's a "secret" treasure hunting game with items hidden everywhere around you, would you believe me? I didn't believe it at first and I couldn't wait to learn more. It sounded so fun and intriguing. My uncles in Canada told me about it, but I quickly learned that it is a world wide thing. 

The basic idea is that you use a GPS device or your smartphone to locate a hidden "cache". Once you find it, you write your name in the log book contained in the cache and if there are items you can take one or two as long as you leave items of equal value in it's place. The most basic cache is just a log book, the biggest that I have seen are army canisters containing dozens of plastic toys and other tokens. 

To find the coordinates of the cache's you must join a website called You will create a profile and search for cache's near you using your zipcode or address. The results come up in a list or a map view. If you have a GPS device you will download the information to use while you are out in the field searching. I prefer to use my iPhone, which I can use out in the field to search for nearby caches on the fly. When you find a cache, you can also log it on the site to keep track of the ones you have found.

 When you head out you will want to bring a pen and items to leave in place of items you take. Challenges include locating caches in busy areas without people who are unaware about geocaching noticing what you are doing. These unaware people are called Muggles, like in the Harry Potter books. Other challenges are inherent in being out in the woods, we had to turn away from a cache when we heard there was a bear nearby, and you should make all the same kind of preparations that you would for a hike; sunscreen, bug spray, water, hats, good shoes, etc. 

It's a great reason to get out on the trails, providing a purpose and a goal and giving directions. Hunting for a cache in Wawayanda lead us to a trail we had never seen before. The kids love it, there is nothing more fun than finding a treasure box! GPS coordinates will get you to a general area and then you must search with your eyes and brains to find it. Often there are clues you can view if you get stuck. Caches are usually well hidden so that people just wandering by will not spot them, inside trees, under rocks or tree bark or even in a magnetic case stuck underneath a railing!

These are the basics, there are more challenging caches located up mountains or across lakes. Each cache is rated for difficulty and terrain. So far we have stuck to the easy ones, but I hope to scale up once the kids get older. There are multiple caches that string you along until you find the final one. And then there are the trackables. These are often plastic animals or coins that have a serial number on them. When you find one you can enter the code into the website and see where the trackable has been and then move it to another cache. We found one from Japan and I was thrilled when the owner sent me an email from Japan to say Hi! It was kind of thrilling. 

Once you get used to the tenants of the game, you can hide your own cache for people to find. Hardcore enthusiasts love to be the first to find (FTF) a cache, which often comes with a bonus coin or trackable. To be the first to find you must sign up for the paid version of the site to get notifications when a new cache is posted and then run out immediately, or early the next morning to beat everyone there.

Geocaching is a wonderful way to get the whole family out into nature and enjoying the thrill of the hunt. There is more to it than what I have described here, these are just the basics to get you started. There is a rich history in orienteering and letterboxing to discover along with all the different kinds of caches that you can find. From Wikipedia, "Geocaches are currently placed in over 100 countries around the world and on all seven continents, including Antarctica. After 10 years of activity there are over 1.3 million active geocaches published on various websites. There are over 5 million geocachers worldwide."

Do you geocache? Please tell me about your best find and maybe any tips or tricks you have learned since starting. Look for me on the Geocaching site: NY Mama.

(Full Disclosure: This is NOT a paid post. These are my own words and recommendations.)


More Resources Guide to the Game Books, Devices and Tokens

Wikipedia: Geocaching


Typography at the B&O Railroad Museum by Leslie

There is nothing better than industrial lettering. At the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore I found so many spectacular examples I could not put my camera down. The colors and styles of lettering were bold and eye catching, meant to be seen and read while a train is zipping by.

From Wikipedia:

The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (reporting marks B&O, BO) was one of the oldest railroads in the United States and the first common carrier railroad. It came into being mostly because the city of Baltimore wanted to compete with the newly constructed Erie Canal (which served New York City) and another canal being proposed by Pennsylvania, which would have connected Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In 1827, twenty-five merchants and bankers studied the best means of restoring "that portion of the Western trade which has recently been diverted from it by the introduction of steam navigation." Their answer was to build a railroad—one of the first commercial lines in the world.

Pochuck Boardwalk on The Appalachian Trail by Leslie

We love this part of the Appalachian Trail. It's an easy walk for the kids and because of the boardwalk you can bring a stroller for the little ones. The boardwalk and bridge was built mostly by volunteers and it's a very unique part of the Appalachian Trail. 

Pochuck Boardwalk on the Appalachian Trail from Leslie on Vimeo.

It covers a 3000 foot wide flood plain, and is about a 1.5 mile walk from County Road 517 (Sussex, NJ), where you can park, to the woods on the other side of the flood plain. Most people do a round trip turning around at the suspension bridge or the woods. You can also continue walking into the woods and onto Wawayanda State Park (another fantastic local nature spot) if you bring two vehicles and park at both ends.

If you are lucky, you may also spot the "thru-hiker", someone spending five to seven months walking the entire length of the Appalachian Trail. Check out this video: 2200 miles of the Appalachian Trail condensed into five minutes of stop motion.

These thru-hikers fascinate me. I think it's strange and beautiful that they would disconnect from society for six months to walk outside all day. Sometimes I wish I had that much freedom. Here are some FAQs about doing a thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail.

The flood plain was completely flooded this time and it was incredible. We've walked it before when it was just a marsh and it was beautiful then too, but this was like walking on a lake. It was very different from our previous trips. 

We were diverted from the path because of some flood water and came upon a really cool big rock. We asked a hiker to take our picture on it and we've dubbed it Diamond Rock, because if you look closely you can see all kinds of sparkly bits in the rock. My Mom suggested returning annually or seasonally for a family picture. I love that idea, but now I am going to have to bring a tripod every time we go there!

And since it is almost spring, we were on the hunt for SIGNS OF SPRING. Milo was very excited about this and he spotted a few himself. He loved listing them afterward.

  1. Grass growing out of dead leaves
  2. Flood waters from the snow melt off
  3. Buds on a few trees
  4. Mouse on the boardwalk
  5. Caterpillar
  6. A swarm of bugs (I discovered this one by walking right into it, yuck)

Spring is almost here! I can't wait.

I've marked where you can park on this Google map. Click on the green pin labelled "B" to link to directions.

View Larger Map

(NOTE FOR NEW YORK CITY PEOPLE: This trail is a fantastic destination for a day trip out of the city. It's about an hour and a half drive from Manhattan to Warwick Valley. After you hike the trail, you can head over to Pennings Farm Market for a bite to eat. On Saturdays they have live music starting at 8pm, there is a bar and you can also shop in their garden center and grocery. It's a great place for kids, with farm animals and a play area outside. If you wanted to make it a weekend trip, there are also places to stay in overnight in Warwick.)