Agnes Caruso Photography

Photography


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Arches National Park

A long drive from Denver Colorado across the Rockies brought us to Moab, a gateway to Arches National Park. This area is very popular with tourists so make sure you book your accommodation well in advance. There is a lot to see in Arches, including a visitor centre with exhibition on geology of the area. It explains how the arches were and are being formed. You can drive yourself around the park or use a shuttle. In peak season you may find that parking will be a problem. However, driving does allow you to stop whenever you want in many of the pull over spots, overlooks and parking areas.

While the national park is great to visit at any time of the day, sunrise and sunset are the most amazing times provided there are not too many clouds. You will be able to see some areas best at sunrise: e.g. Great Wall, Delicate arch, or at sunset: e.g. Park Avenue or windows.

Hike to Delicate arch is quite long so you have to allow enough time and in some places there is a need to pay attention, so you stay on the path. This hike is worth the effort, especially when it is not cloudy. The morning I was there it was cloudy but we had a moment of light and this is what it looked like.

However, not all mornings were great, the next day sunrise did not really bring the light we were all hoping for, despite that there was still time to take some interesting pictures.

During the day there is plenty to see in the national park, I spend quite some time wandering around the dunes and broken arches.

Colors you will see in Arches are amazing, they will vary depending on the weather and time of the day. The area is quite dry so you will see lots of desert plants, including cacti. In May they were just starting to flower. There are also beautiful textures and occasionally you can see animals hiding in between the rocks or among the plants.

You need to bring food and water with you as there is nowhere to get food, but water can be topped up in some places. Remember that the area is the desert and going out for a hike with no water is not a good idea. While lots of hikes are short, there are quite a few medium and long ones, so pretty much a little bit for everyone.


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Visit to St Augustine in Florida – like being in Spain without flying to Spain

Monument of Juan Ponce de Leon in St. Augustine.

A completely random conversation on a flight to Cleveland with a very nice girl from Florida, led me to visit St Augustine a week later while in Florida.St.

Augustine is the oldest European settlement in the USA. Founded and settled by Spanish in 16th century. It has a number of historical buildings – the Cathedral of St. Augustine, Castillo de San Marcos, Fort Matanzas or St. Augustine Lighthouse.

The city is beautiful and has a unique character. At every turn you can find a piece of history. In some places it nearly seems like the time has stopped long time ago. So park your car in the central parking garage and walk around, there is no need for a car in town.

 

 

 

I had a very limited time to see St Augustine, however, even that little time was great. If you are driving into the city on the weekend, I would recommend starting early to arrive there early morning, this will give you a chance to enjoy your morning coffee in a few coffee shops around. I picked an Australian one – The Kookaburra . Very friendly, great coffee and scones that actually do resemble those from back home. Overall nice breakfast.

Close by is the Cathedral of St. Augustine. I missed on seeing the interior as there was mass in progress, since it was Sunday.

If you prefer a more American coffee, there is also a coffee shack and you can smell that coffee from far away.

Once I got some food and coffee, I strolled over to Castillo de San Marcos.

Old fortress build in St Augustine is a part of the National Park network, so bring your cards or buy a ticket on-site. There are ranger-led tours as well as you can do a self-guided tour. You should set aside about 2 hours for visiting the site, it allows you to see all at leisurely pace. The best part of the visit is to be able to soak in the atmosphere and imagine yourself a few centuries back. You get nice views of the marina and the city. One of the highlights is firing of the canon just like in the old days done by guys dressed in period costumes. It is loud so be prepared but definitely worth seeing.

There are a number of interiors of the fortress to see, like sleeping quarters, gun powder room, storage rooms.

As most of the San Marco castle is exposed, make sure to bring sunscreen and a hat in summer, raincoat or some warm clothes and a hat in fall and winter.

Once you have seen the fortress, head back into town and the main walking street is closed to traffic, it has quite touristy feel to it but there is a bit of historical feel there too. There are many small little shops, there is a historical tour you can take as well.

That was pretty much all I managed to see in just over 2 hours in St Augustine. If you have a bit more time, take a trip to the Anastasia Island and the lighthouse as well as to the Rattlesnake Island to see Fort Matanzas. Overall, it is a great little town to see with interesting history and well worth visiting if you are nearby, Daytona Beach, or Jacksonville. Thanks to the stranger from the plane I had a great morning.


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Night images of the cities

Night photography is particularly exciting, it produces unforgettable images. However, it is also very challenging type of photography. It requires patience and some additional equipment. At a minimum you will need a tripod, while heave sturdy one is always the best, you can use even a small gorillapod.  One plus of a small tripod is that it allows you to take pictures from a low angle, giving you a very different point of view. One additional feature on a camera, that is very useful is a swivel back screen. Together with live view shooting it is a great tool to properly frame the shot.

Both of those shots are low angles shots. The first one – Koeln Cathedral, with wide angle lens Canon 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM lens. The second, St.Louis, with the Canon EF15-85mm f/3.5-5.6IS USM. I use this lens not just during the night shooting, but also during the day. This is the lens used in all the pictures shown below.

Having a regular tripod made shooting of the following three images really easy. Keep it steady and expose for as long as you need or want, in order to produce effects you would like to create. Not having a tripod when I was shooting the moving carousel was a big challenge but still produced just the image I wanted.

Another way to shoot is to take picture from above. Here are two examples of those. While neither was taken from a great height, they both look down onto the city. Car lights leave light trails in the picture of Koeln Opera House below. A movement of a carousel also produces light trails in the image above.

Night images are always an adventure, you never quite know how it will look in the final picture. If you come a cross the evening or night fog the light dispersal can also be quite unique producing interesting results. Car lights or reflections are always interesting as well. So feel adventurous and explore night photography.


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Design collections – coffee and pastry collection

I have been working on compiling images which can be used for interior decorations of different rooms in a house. My motivation was ability to help my friends with finding something interesting for the walls of their homes. The collections I created at the moment will be changing over time, they are not set. They are also only a small sample of images that are available and can be customized for your needs.

You can use individual images if you wish to create your own wall decor or many different mosaics can be created from images of your choice, they can be framed in many different ways as well or we can even create a billboard. There is also a possibility of custom photography for a collection you wish to have for your house or business.

Below are the examples of coffee and pastries collection. I picked the most mouth watering images and various coffee drinks. Frames are only examples, but many different options are available.

coffee mat  coffee matte

   matte pastries        mate desert

   coffee pastry mosaic framed   coffee pastry mosaic matte

billboard

A new coffee shop, coming soon.

 

 


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Day at Miami Beach

When I was visiting Miami, I managed to get some time on the weekend to see what is around Miami and after a lot of thinking and looking at pictures decided to see Miami Beach.

It has been an interesting day starting with a breakfast at an Argentinian bakery, which I noticed when I was driving towards Surfside. Buenos Aires Bakery and Cafe had amazing pastries and really nice strong coffee. Delightful treat in the morning, giving you the boost you need to walk around.

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Sugar overload makes you want to go for a walk to use up some of the calories you just consumed. If you park on a close by parking, you can walk on the beach or the boardwalk and enjoy nice weather and sun.

Palms, lifeguard towers, beach umbrellas, bicycle riders and lots of other things can be seen when walking on the boardwalk. Make sure to take some light shoes and a backpack so you can take them off and walk on the sand, relax, wet your toes in water. Bring a beach umbrella if you have one. You can also rent some on the beach but they are not necessarily as pretty as the one you see below. Last time I have seen a nice umbrella like this was in Nice, France. On a nice hot day, a guy was sitting on the beach fully dressed in warm clothes under a small colorful umbrella.
Nice beach

If you want to enjoy some time relaxing in water, you do not have to just swim, there are boats, boards for rent so you can enjoy your day.

One of the nice areas of Miami Beach is South Pointe Park on the southern tip of Miami Beach. Great place to stop by and have a long walk to the marina and view Miami to the west. Rest in the park, do some yoga, skateboard and enjoy your time.

When you walk to the east, you end up on the pier and can admire view along the beach towards Surfside and beyond. If you love boats, marina is not the only place to admire them. Pier is a good place to look at them going in and out of the marina. You can also fish from the pier, or just sit down and rest. If you have time take a relaxing walk along the Beachwalk. The area around offers plenty of restaurants and shopping. There are also markets worth visiting to see some local arts, produce and some special events like car shows.

Enjoy your day be adventurous and relax.


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Super Bowl Party 2015 – congratulations Pats!

Last Sunday I went to a great Super Bowl party organized by the Triangle Patriots Fans in Raleigh.
The party was at the Backyard Bistro. It was an afternoon and evening of fun and excitement. There were games before the big game. Seems like Tom Brady’s number 12 was the most popular shirt all around, but not the only one obviously. Fans gathered slowly inside, many took part in a raffle and were later joined by a former Patriot’s player Lin Dawson.


Lin talked to the fans and signed photos as well as posed with fans for some. He was a great addition to the party! He also shared a little bit of insight about his organization during half time.

The game was a close one and there were ups and downs, but every touchdown excited the fans and final one caused an amazing explosion of enthusiasm. For some fans it was nearly hard to believe after what we have seen during the game.

The event was a great success thanks to all of the volunteers and Christina, the organizer.


And the New England Patriots made the night memorable. Congratulations!


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A short stop at the Everglades

The Everglades National Park is an interesting place to visit when you are in Florida. When driving by one of the park entrances, I decided to stop and have a little bit of a rest in the park. Shark Valley entrance is directly off Highway 41. Maybe because of it being Sunday or a very warm day, the parking lot in the park was full and most visitors have to park on the shoulder of the highway.

It definitely was worth stopping by to see some of the interesting wildlife. As I did not intend to visit the park, I took only my standard lens Canon EF15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM. It delivers beautiful images but I did miss some of the extra zoom I could have had.
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Birds were plentiful and most of them quite indifferent to visitors, walking or standing close to a walking path. One animal you do not want to get close to is an alligator. There were quite a few of them basking in the sun, most were large, but there was also a baby one. An interesting capture was when a turtle was resting right next to an alligator.

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And for all those not so interested in animals there are also plants, however, very few were in bloom in January.

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When you visit bring your higher zoom camera as well as a tripod, it could become handy.


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Portrait 2014

This last year, 2014, I worked on portraits with models and non-models. I love working with people, trying to get their individuality and personality captured in a picture. Beautiful image might not be the most perfect picture of a person or the person the client likes.

While taking all the images in color I often explore B&W presentation as it is a much more interesting presentation. I used to work a lot with B&W film years ago and still like the way it allows you to focus on light and shapes, rather than be distracted with colors.

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I worked both outdoors and indoors. I love natural light and prefer working outdoors. Light can be the most challenging aspect to get the perfect image. Through using a diffuser and reflector you can successfully take a picture and get a perfect illumination.

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However, business portraits and headshots are primarily taken indoors. They are extremely important for the clients as they are intended to reflect not just their personality but also their position in a company.

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Ireland – Day 6 Day in the north and evening in Dublin

As all good things the adventure in Ireland is nearing its finish line. We had about half a day to enjoy the most beautiful weather in Northern Ireland.Some of that time was spend on walking around Belfast University area and the city.
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After a bit of relaxation in the city, I was catching up with a Flickr friend in Donaghadee, east of Belfast. A drive took us through Bangor on some of the busy roads to the coast. I visited Bangor some years before and while it is a nice place, it gets really busy, so heading to close by Donaghadee was a great idea. It is easier to find parking there and it has some great locations for photoshoots, like the lighthouse in the harbor, south pier or the castle.

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A hike to the castle towering over the town is short and easy, and most of all worth the effort. However, if the weather is poor, it will get windy at the top, so bring warm clothes and a tripod. View towards the harbor is great and you will be tempted to try a lot of different shots to capture it all.

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Area around Donaghadee is worth exploring as there are many interesting sites for an inquisitive photographer. One of the stunning sights is a windmill located close by. Exploring the area with a friend was really great. I wished only that I had more time to enjoy the day. A beautiful sunny day in Northern Ireland is very valuable and rare.

However, we had to slowly head back to Dublin, so after a short stop for some lunch we hit the road and went back south. There are multiple places on the way that you can stop at and explore. Our goal that evening, however, was a visit to the pub area of Dublin and listening to some live music over  a pint.

As it was Friday afternoon, there were many choices for good music. We went to Temple Bar, one of the best known sites in Dublin. The bar is very busy, you will pretty much get some standing room, if you come over with friends, you should head there a bit earlier to score a table. There is a great selection of beers on tap, some snacks as well. However, if you are hungry it is better to stop at one of the local Irish restaurants before heading to the bar.

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As the evening was getting to a close, we were heading back for the last relaxing night before getting on the plane back. It was a great trip, a bit short but worth every minute and views were just amazing. The last picture from Dublin is the view of the city by night. Goodnight Dublin! Goodbye Ireland!

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Dublin by night

 

 

 


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Ireland – Day 5 Crossing into Northern Ireland

Three types of columns of Giant's Causeway

Three types of columns of Giant’s Causeway

With every day we were getting closer to the end of the journey. The next day took us into Northern Ireland. When you rent a car in Ireland make sure that you let the company know that you will be traveling north. Depending on the company they will or will not charge you for it, however, not having the permission can invalidate your car insurance. Also make sure to remember that speed changes from km/h to miles/h, the distances also change from kilometers to miles. So take care!

One of the iconic sites in Northern Ireland, located close to Bushmills, is Giant’s Causeway. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The tops of naturally hexagonal columns form stepping stones leading down from the cliff to the water. Size of the columns varies amazingly, from just a few centimeters to up 12 meters. There are many column formations that resemble objects, for example Giant’s shoe or Organs.

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View towards the west

It is wise to set aside some time for a nice relaxing walk by the sea and if you are fit to return on the top of the cliff to the Visitor’s Center. On a nice day you will be able to admire views to the east towards Scotland and west onto the fields. If you get really tired you might be able to pick some great blackberries growing by the trail.

Our rented Travel WiFi decided to stop working after we crossed the border, so our driving plans have changed and we headed directly towards the Antrim Coast skipping a few small towns we planned to visit.

Despite that there were some clouds in the sky, the views were very nice as we drove across the hills, and then along the sea to Glenarm. You can see nice cliffs, green fields and beautiful little seaside towns and villages on the way. Glenarm is one of those small villages on the coast. There is a beautiful castle in a park, a few streets of beautiful colored houses and a small marina. It has rich history going back to 13th century, when the first local castle is recorded.

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Once we rested in Glenarm, we headed towards Belfast. Arriving in Belfast at 5pm is not the best time, traffic around the city is pretty heavy and it can take some time to arrive at the hotel. It felt pretty good to be back in Belfast after over 10 years.

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