Archive for the ‘Architecture’ Tag

The Big Easy   1 comment

St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans, LA

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

I recently returned from a trip to New Orleans with my youngest son during his senior year high school spring break. New Orleans offered a varied mix of culture, history, food and local flavor deserving of  any southern city of its size.

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

My son and I avoided the decadence often associated with the city and instead, walked along the alley ways of the French Quarter meeting a few of the eclectic people and places along the way. Street musicians dotted the streets and entertained passerby’s as the sun warmed the day. I have always been intrigued by street performers. These are individuals who do what they love and despite the obvious financial hazards of street performing, are willing to entertain with a smile in the hopes of a small contribution to their well being.

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

Eager to venture off the beaten path, we took a day to travel outside the city. At the top of our list of places to visit was the Oak Alley Plantation.  Cameras in hand, and tripod at the ready we waited until each room emptied or the view was unencumbered so that we could quickly set up the shot and take a few photographs. Strolling the grounds after our tour, we walked the length of the walkway lined by the live oaks, stopping as we went to photograph the plantation and take in the beauty of the magnificent trees.

Oak Alley Plantation

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

The trip to New Orleans was a short one, but my son and I squeezed in a drive through St. Bernard’s Parish, a trip to a the marshes on Lake Pontchartrain, Oak Alley Plantation and plenty of walking through the city. We ate well and enjoyed each others company. It will be a lasting memory we will share.

As always, thanks for stopping by.

Abandoned and Forgotten   1 comment

The Nolan Plantation, Bostwick, GA

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

Time it seems, takes its toll on all things living and not. No doubt, life lived here, in this place, now seemingly lost and forgotten. The history of this place like many other abandoned structures in the south, is rich with storied wealth and comfort amid the impoverished and lowly. It remains a stark contrast to its surroundings as much today as I am sure it did in 1910.  Built in the early 1900’s, the Nolan Plantation was surrounded by a 2000 acre farm and country store across the road. Today it barely holds its own and the decaying facade is met equally with softened floor boards and broken windows. It is now a home to scores of pigeons.

Two Doors Down

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

I’ve been known to venture into an abandoned building from time to time for the “sake of the art” and as is often the case, it scares the heck out of me. The eerily quiet home was lit only by the mid morning light piercing the cracked windows and warmed the otherwise cold interior. Colors, only partially faded, textured with cracks and graffiti remained vibrant and willing. It was the only way the walls could talk.

Home Alone

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

I have a rule when I enter a building, and that is not to disturb anything. I don’t move objects to enhance the composition and I leave little evidence of my presence. It’s my way of paying respect to the place and its history. And so it was with this chair, in the corner of the room, the only piece of furniture I found, that sat waiting, as if its owner would one day reappear, kept company by the sunlight casting long shafts of contrast along the weathered floor marked only by the wood framing.

Inside Looking Out

PAC_4072_HDR

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

Room after empty room the natural light shone through. Scratched messages from previous visitors littered the walls. It is regrettable that such a magnificent structure has fallen into such disrepair. Strangely, its beauty remains despite the peeling paint, cracked walls and sunken floor boards. It is isn’t lifeless yet and appears unwilling to “go down without a fight.”

Thanks for stopping by.

The Boutique Art Deco Hotels of South Beach, FL   Leave a comment

Rarely am I satisfied with my architectural photography. Buildings, cityscapes, right angles, and flat colors, offer little enthusiasm for photographic exploration for me. When compared to landscape, people, animals, even the studio, the subject of architecture is not high on my list of themes to explore. So it was indeed a rare opportunity and surprising pleasure for me to explore the Art Deco boutique hotels that neighbor one another along Ocean Dr. in South Beach, Fl.

Royal Palm Shorecrest

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

Elongated parallel lines stretching into the sky with elements of color to accentuate the style suited my wide angle lens and a subtle use of high dynamic processing pulled out the detail that might otherwise have been lost to a “normally” exposed image. Partly cloudy skies, my favorite when photographing landscapes and now cityscapes, helped add just the right amount of contrast to the architecture to bring it to life.

Park Central Hotel

PAC_4218

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

The nostalgia of South Beach was enhanced by the occasional hotelier who parked an antique car outside their front entrance. No doubt if this were a B&W photo, it could easily appear to have been taken in the 1930’s.  Below is an extract from Wikipedia regarding this particular style of Art Deco architecture called Streamline Moderne.

In the 1930s, an architectural revolution came to South Beach, bringing Art Deco, Streamline Moderne, and Nautical Moderne architecture  to the Beach. South Beach claims to be the world’s largest collection of Streamline Moderne Art Deco architecture

Streamline Moderne, sometimes referred to by either name alone or as Art Moderne, was a late type of the Art Deco design style which emerged during the 1930s. Its architectural style emphasized curving forms, long horizontal lines, and sometimes nautical elements.

Breakwater Hotel

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

14th Street Restrooms

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

Not to be overlooked, even the public restrooms that appear along the public beaches are styled in the Streamline Moderne motif.

Still Waters – The National Hotel

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

Miami in February can still have a chill in the air and this empty pool was evidence of that. The early morning sun cast just enough of a shadow through the palm branches to make for a wonderful reflection in the still waters.

Miami Nightlife

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

The night in Miami offers a completely different experience as the true life of the city emerges. I have long outgrown the desire for late nights and dancing; to be honest I never really had them, however if you are prone to shake a leg or move a hip at the hint of heart pounding dance music, this is your town.

Miami isn’t for everyone, but it is for many and for me it is a city I hope one day to return to.

Thanks for stopping by.

Napa Valley in the Fall   2 comments

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

Napa Valley, like most wine producing regions has a mystique all its own. There is of course the wealth effect of fine wine and certainly Napa, like many famous wine regions, suffers the ills of the highbrow, that for me can sometimes be off-putting. Be that as it may, there are many welcome and hospitable vintners who, once past the pretense, proudly share the history, flavors and nuance of their wines. Fall in Napa is a sight and smell to behold. Driving along  Redwood Rd. towards Hess Collection winery, in the rolling hills north-west of Napa, the air is filled with the aromas of grapes crushed and fermenting as well as those still hanging from the vines.

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

Honestly, I can’t say for sure what I was smelling but it was sweet and delightful. Late October generally marks the end of the harvest, so I was a bit surprised to see grapes still hanging from the vines.

Hess Collection is a winery owned by the Swiss art collector, Donald Hess, on land leased from the Christian Brothers, who occupy a nearby retreat and conference center. Nestled in the hills 7 miles from Napa, this quiet location offered a nice respite for a quick afternoon visit to the area.

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

I quietly approached the chapel and found someone who kindly gave me permission to photograph the interior of the church. This image is composed of 9 frames so that I could capture all the highlight and shadow detail. Despite the lack of ornate architecture, the rich colors of the wooden pews and tile floor provided a pleasant contrast to the white walls  balanced with the wooden trusses of the ceiling.

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

I was pleasantly surprised to see grapes still hanging on the vines, expecting to see empty vines with fading fall colors. Instead, I was greeted with plump bunches of  bright blue grapes, suspended against green, rust and orange leaves and twisted brown vines. After a light wine tasting I headed back along the quiet roads to make one more stop in Napa for a late lunch.

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

The Uptown Theater, in downtown Napa,  made for one last series of photos before I left the area for the day. I could not help but add a duotone effect to add to the nostalgia of the art deco theater. For a brief moment, I was taken back in time and imagined the theater in its days of antique cars, wealthy local socialites draped in fur and black tie affairs that surrounded the Golden era Hollywood premiere. Those really were the days.

As always, thanks for stopping by.

Pucallpa Peru   1 comment

Catedral de Pucallpa 

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography
 

The beginning of my second week in Peru, I flew to the river port city of Pucallpa, Peru, where I boarded the boat that would take us to the very remote village of Santa Rosa on the Ucayali river.

This image of the interior of the catholic cathedral was taken hand-held and of course is a HDR photograph.

Mass was spoken in Spanish and we were clearly the only foreigners in the pews.  The week I was there, it was the week prior to the feast of Corpus Christi and the people were preparing to celebrate the event. We were greeted with smiles and felt very welcome. One gentlemen even invited us to stay the day to take in the fireworks and celebrations taking place later that evening; regrettably, we could not stay.

I have been very fortunate to travel with work, but I must say, Pucallpa was among the most remote and certainly most foreign of any city I’ve visited. It was not a clean city and was very much a fishing community surrounded by a more industrial environment. Densely populated and feeling very third world, it was none the less a place that the people seemed happy living in. It was difficult for me to unravel my North American sensibility from the experience and not to judge it by that bias. Despite all that, there were places of beauty, as there always are, in surprising settings.

Machu Picchu   Leave a comment

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography
 

I recently returned from a two week trip from Peru, where I had two vacations in one. The first week I visited Machu Picchu and the second week, I traveled six hours up river from the city of  Pucallpa into the Amazon rain forest to help build a church in a Shipibo village along the banks of the Ucayali river. I’ll post more pictures from that part of the trip in the coming days.

After a plane to Lima and then the next day to Cuzco, we took the train to Aquas Calientes to spend the night before getting up early for the sunrise at Mach Picchu. Unfortunately, and I suppose as is typical, it was clouds, heavy fog and rain. The sunrise would have to wait for another time. After five hours of miserable wet and rainy weather, during which time my camera barely made it out from underneath my rain poncho, the sun finally broke through and my second trek through the ruins began.

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

As many of my frequent blog visitors know, I am a big fan of HDR photography, and I knew the only way I was going to capture some new and unique images of a location that must be photographed thousands of times a day was to capture the place using this technique in liberal, albeit not over the top fashion.

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

The most challenging aspect of my photography that day, was avoiding the many hundreds of visitors in the ancient ruins. In one instance, I waited for close to 40 minutes in the hopes of capturing the sun-dial without the distraction of the throngs leaning into it in the hopes of extracting some cosmic energy. I pulled two shots off.

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

Machu Picchu is truly a magnificent wonder. The Inca’s were clearly master masons and their work remains today as a testament to that dedication. The Princess’ Palace is one such area that illustrates their mastery.

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

At every turn the vista’s that greeted us were amazing and it is not hard to understand the many reasons the Inca chose this location to build the Palace. It was a sight to behold.

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

It was one of the most amazing places I have visited and will forever be an adventure to remember.

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

Clotheslines   Leave a comment

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography
 

Another theme I have been wanting to explore visually  is that of the clothesline. I recently celebrated a birthday, and have been writing about cultural and generational trends and activities that existed in the 70’s and 80’s that are becoming lost to time and technological “progress”. The clothesline is one such fading tradition that, outside country living, has all but disappeared due to community covenants and advances in technology. Growing up, nothing beat the fresh smell of bed sheets that hung on the clothesline all day, and the feel of the crisp and cool fabric as I slipped into nighttime dreams. It seemed the sun’s bleaching made whites truly whiter and brighter, unlike the claims of today’s fabric softeners and detergents.

The clothesline in all its simplicity, offers colors, texture, nostalgia and a glimpse into the lives of those whose cloths and linens gently sway in the wind absorbing the fresh air and smells of the countryside. One of these days, I’m going to have a clothesline, just to relive those moments. In the mean time I’ll be on the look out for more on my countryside drives, camera in tow.