The summer is such a great time of year for portraits. I like to schedule them in the morning or early evening. The morning offers cooler temperatures and an August date means the gardens are lush and green, and flowers are in full bloom. Beth and Craig hadn’t done a portrait in years and wanted to capture their family a few weeks before their oldest daughter left for her freshman year of college in upstate New York.
Looking for ideas, I put them in a tree! Well, they stood on the ground actually, but it looks like they might have had to climb up. The tree offered ‘edges’ for my frame that focused the viewer to look at their faces. Next, I carried a living room chair outside and placed it in a corner of the backyard, where I could use the overhanging branches to darken the edges, so that the lightest part was again on their faces.
Just before leaving, I asked Beth and Craig to come together for one last photograph.
The photographs are AMAZING, Phil captured our spirits! The portraits are EXCELLENT! Phil has a wonderful sense of photography and, just as important, he has a real sense of who we are. I feel like he knew my family after the first 5 minutes!
Beth Wilensky, Montclair
Hiking in The Black Mountains in Wales was different than hiking in New Jersey. Yep.
I spent nearly a week there in July. The landscape is beautiful. Bowl-like valleys carved by glaciers. Very lush and intensely green, thanks to all the rain!
Lines of mountain ridges. We hiked the far ridge the day before on an ancient path called the Offa Dyke Long Distance Path
. In a cold rain. I was soaked, even my camera, which was wrapped up, was wet afterwards. It was glorious, though, and the experience was worth it. Brilliant, as the Brits say.
There is no trail system with trail markers, like we have in NJ. In the UK there are 120,000 miles of Footpaths and Rights of Way. They are marked by little wooden or yellow arrows and, in England and Wales, public rights of way are paths on which the public have a legally protected right to pass and re-pass. Footpaths are hundreds of years old and they were used by farmers to walk from their farm to church or town. Even today the landowners are required to maintain the public footpaths and there is a hoopla if they don’t.
The footpaths are marked on the maps and the trail descriptions read like this: “take footpath through gate and proceed to the third field, use the stile to the next field and walk between the farmhouse and the barn.” A stile is a step-like contraption used to climb over fences. This way, hikers can’t forget to close the gate…and the sheep won’t escape! By the way, we get our word ‘turnstile” from “stile”.
Since we were traversing through fields and public lands, there were sheep everywhere. They were quite sheepish and ran away, but I had to watch out for the bulls that hung out in some of the fields and give them wide berth.
I am used to hiking the rocky trails around home, that often suffer from erosion. In England and Wales, I was amazed at how SOFT the trails were. There were hardly any rocks, but were covered with heath and heather and it was like walking on a long distance carpet.
And, the best thing was ending the hikes in a pub.
Photo by Philip Wolmuth, UK
The Central Market (called “Nagycsarnok” which means Great Hall) is the largest and oldest indoor market in Budapest, Hungary.
It is located on the Pest side of the Liberty bridge (Budapest is actually two cities: Buda and Pest). The building itself is magnificent, built around 1900, it was destroyed during WWII and rebuilt in the 1990s. The market is huge! The market offers a variety of stalls on three floors.
Hungarian cuisine is spicy, and the main spice is paprika, which you can buy everywhere. At Nagyscsamarnok, the paprika is targeted towards tourists like me, and they come in little white jars with miniature wooden scoops. Hungarians also treasure their spicy sausages, made with paprika. The string of sausages I bought was very similar to a Spanish chorizo. By the way, I fell in love with Hungarian Goulash. It’s a soup with chunks of beef in a spicy red broth, made with…paprika. I must have eaten it every other night.
The signs were all equally mysterious. Hungarian is a fascinating language. In the middle of Europe, there’s a language with letters that look like ours, but totally ununderstandable. There are no cognates with English. Not only was I not able to read this sign, I could not figure out what animal this hunk of meat came from (it’s a pork knuckle for 1,100 florints, or about $5).
There were stalls that sold pickled everything, even things with happy faces and stalls that sold gorgeous carrots and other vegetables.
I bought some sweet peaches and a bag of nuts to nosh on. Oh, and a tourist jar of paprika.
This weekend, I got away with my two 20-something sons for a Midsummer camping and hiking trip in the high peaks area of New York’s Catskill Mountains. We spent the weekend at the Devil’s Tombstone State Campground where older son (right) was in charge of the food and fire. His menu: Ribs, with fresh corn, grilled veggies. Bacon and Eggs for breakfast. All on a wood fire.
The hiking was wonderful. The trails in the Catskills, well marked on the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference maps, take you on incredibly varied terrain. Pine forests soft with fallen needles, steep-sided ridges, glacial erratics, and incredible views overlooking the Hudson Valley. Here is Newman’s Ledge, where the Catskill Mountain ends and falls sharply away to the Hudson River visible about 10 miles away.
The rock here was mined for over a hundred years for use as bluestone pavers. In this old, abandoned quarry, folks had set up a throne for visitors.
The boys graciously allowed the designated photographer to take a selfie-portrait in a beautiful stream bed on the Long Path trail near Platte’s Clove, New York.
Oh, and we even surprised a nearby bear on the trail, who scampered off into the woods.
It’s Time to Schedule Your
Are you heading to the shore this summer? Do you feel that “relaxing on the beach” is the best therapy? Is ‘sun-kissed’ your perfect look? Are you shocked by how grown up your kids are getting?
Sounds like it’s time to get that family portrait at the beach. To schedule your family portrait:
AUGUST 14, 15 and 16
Long Beach Island*
Before the summer’s over, school’s back in session, and the days get shorter… capture your family at their best , and make those moments last through the summer and beyond.
Visit our website to view more family portraits CLICK HERE
My European adventure took me to Budapest. I had read about the thermal baths in the guide books, but I didn’t know what to expect. I imagined a dank, dark, sweaty place with hefty, hairy attendants ready to swat your naked body with tree branches.
What I found was a Baroque palace
. The Széchenyi Baths
(Széchenyi fürdő) is one of the largest public baths in Europe. It turns out to be a grand place, built in 1927
, with 3 large outdoor swimming pools and 15 indoor pools of different sizes. All the pools are fed by thermal springs and the temperatures range from 70-110 degrees F. It’s co-ed (bathing suits required) and it’s a lively scene with tourists and natives, old folks and hipsters, everyone relaxing, swimming, hanging out, even the surreal spectacle of men playing chess while immersed up to their chests in steaming water.
It was a wonderful location to make photographs. The ornate palace backdrop and the blue waters made for great compositions. It was such a friendly place and no one seemed to mind the camera.