Dennis Wright's Blog

Sunset over Boston

Posted in Travel, USA by Dennis Wright on December 31, 2008

That evening we dined at the highly rated Dante restaurant at our hotel, the Royal Sonesta, on Cambridge Parkway. We took an outside table with views across the Charles River to Boston.

As the sun set I took this picture of the buildings on the Boston side of the river. Well, I had already captured the sunrise.

I’ve used this picture for the banner of my new photography blog, exposures.

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More from the Prudential

Posted in Travel, USA by Dennis Wright on December 23, 2008

Looking West along the Charles River towards Harvard. The “broken Toblerone” building on the far bank is the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

Looking back towards the East, the Hatch Shell open air music venue is central in this picture, about two thirds down from the top.

My eye was drawn to a very bright glint. It turned out to be the sun catching the cars in the car park towards the top right of this “urban abstract”. Sadly the limited dynamic range of a digital photo can’t capture the effect.

Straight across the Charles River to Cambridge.

From the Prudential Tower there is a good view of Logan Airport, with a Delta Airlines flight coming in to land.

Up the Prudential

Posted in Travel, USA by Dennis Wright on December 13, 2008

Lunch at Abe & Louie’s on Boylston Street, with all the businessmen doing their deals. Then shopping at the Prudential Center, mainly after some Uggs for Esther. While there we took the opportunity to go to the top of the Prudential Tower. Not quite as tall as Hancock Place but at least you can go to the observatory at the top.

This is the dome atop 111 Huntington Avenue, looming disturbingly close.

The Boston Red Sox stadium, Fenway Park.

Looking up the Charles River towards our hotel, the Royal Sonesta (name on blue sign atop the hotel). Longfellow Bridge is in the foreground.

Copley Square, with Hancock Place towering over 500 Boylston Street, with Trinity Church nestled at the foot of the latter. The angular building partially obscuring the Hancock Tower is the Westin hotel.

Focusing in on Trinity Church with 500 Boylston Street behind.

Trinity Church

Posted in Travel, USA by Dennis Wright on December 8, 2008

While at Copley Square we had a look inside the venerable Trinity Church. Having established that photography was allowed inside the church I proceeded to take some photos, as best I could in the very limited light.

The first one was taken looking straight up at the ceiling. Not sure if the resemblance to a draughts board is intentional.

Copley Square

Posted in Travel, USA by Dennis Wright on December 2, 2008

Having woken to the extraordinary sight of the John Hancock Tower (officially Hancock Place) at dawn, we decided to go get a closer look. Back on the T, then, this time as far as Copley Square. This is Trinity Church and its reflection in the John Hancock Tower alongside.

There was some building work going on just off the square. This view takes in part of the Public Library, the Prudential Tower and 111 Huntington Avenue.

The tortoise, the hare and the Naomi.

Boston cityscape at dawn

Posted in Travel, USA by Dennis Wright on November 22, 2008

As promised, the hotel found us a room with a view for the second night. It was just as well. Naomi was having trouble adjusting to the change in time zone and woke up at a quarter to 5 in the morning. She looked out the window and saw the dawn cityscape, with the first light of day caught only by the John Hancock building and reflected in the Charles River. I was dragged out of bed, befuddled and half asleep, and instructed to capture the scene photographically.

My camera, bless it, doesn’t do too well in low light. Images get very “noisy”, particularly if you turn up the sensor sensitivity (ISO setting). And I didn’t have a tripod or anything sensible to secure the camera onto, so I ended up taking these shots hand held and hoping for the best.

We managed a bit more sleep and I took this at around 8:30am.

The USS Constitution

Posted in Travel, USA by Dennis Wright on November 22, 2008

We visited the Old North Church and the Copp’s Hill Burying Ground before heading towards the Charlestown bridge to cross the river. The guide book suggested the Freedom Trail was 2.5 miles. It was now early afternoon and we felt like we had walked 25 miles. It was very hot now and we were into a relatively deserted part of town, near the river. A restaurant had a load of water bottles to help yourself to, on trust you would leave the right money. We grabbed a couple and I went in to leave the cash on the counter then we set off across the bridge.

Still religiously following the red line on the ground we made it to the USS Constitution, after a brief stop for Naomi to phone Pauline.

There was a strange flag related ceremony on deck.

The Boston citiscape across the river from the quayside. The Custom House Tower is on the left and the white spire of the Old North Church further towards the centre.

Had we had the stamina we would have gone on to the Bunker Hill Monument to complete the freedom trail. We could see it in the distance but were tired out and it was nearly time to meet up with Adrian so took a cab back to the hotel.

The Paul Revere House

Posted in Travel, USA by Dennis Wright on November 16, 2008

When we arrived at the Paul Revere house the naval cadets were encamped in the courtyard across the street with their guide, a young woman, who was explaining the history of the house. It seems that once a year they do a guided tour along the Freedom Trail en masse, and at every historic site they sing their special song, “Anchors Aweigh” or something like that.

We rushed to pay the admission and get in, making it just before the cadets finished their lecture and followed us into the house.

Further along the trail, up Hanover Street to the Paul Revere Mall with its statue of Paul Revere on horseback and the Old North Church behind.

The State House #5 – The House of Representatives

Posted in Travel, USA by Dennis Wright on November 7, 2008

This is our final port of call in the Massachusetts State House tour, the House of Representatives. It is  home to the Sacred Cod, the aquatic beast which prompted the Senate to enlist the services of a brass mackerel just to even things up. Note that the cod has, since 1974, been the “offishal” state fish.

The House reminds me of a very posh schoolroom. Don’t the desks look rather like old style schooldesks? I wonder if there are any lady representatives who get their tresses dipped in inkwells by gentlemen representatives behind them.

And here is the aforementioned scale-adorned aquatic creature itself:

Another grainy picture, after my camera had a further metering mindstorm.

I included it all the same because of the plaque on the rostrum. I hadn’t read it while I was physically there, and neither can you without reference to the full resolution image, but the title reads:

“JOHN F. KENNEDY SPOKE FROM THIS ROSTRUM TO THE MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL COURT ON JANUARY 9 1961”

The rest of the plaque contains key extracts from the speech JFK gave on that day. I found a transcript of the whole address (and audio recording) here.

Kennedy was then President-elect, just as the US now has President-elect Obama, as of earlier this week.  Maybe he’ll find time to visit Boston and try to improve on JFK’s address.  He stands a far better chance than his predecessor.

The State House #4 – Holy Mackerel!

Posted in Travel, USA by Dennis Wright on November 6, 2008

Some of the executive offices were open for public viewing. And very nice offices they are too. I can’t remember who’s office this is, except that it was across the corridor from the Senate chamber.

This statue is in honour of former Governor Wolcott.

The Senate Reception Room.

And into the Senate chamber itself.

And finally the Senate chamber chandelier surmounted by the legendary Holy Mackerel.

Naomi noticed the fish above the chandelier just as we were about to leave the room. I asked the guard stationed outside the room about it. He told me it was the “Holy Mackerel”. And Batman nowhere in sight. I thought he was joking with me but he was totally serious, and there is a story to this unlikely brass fish. It seems the Senate had it put there (light heartedly) to compete with the Sacred Cod in the House of Representatives. We’ll catch up with the latter piscine specimen later in our tour.

The picture of the chandelier is rather grainy because the original was underexposed by at least 4 F-stops, and I had to use the full power of Adobe’s “Lightroom” software to extract a usable picture from the RAW image. My camera has many virtues but the metering system sometimes gets confused by bright light sources near the centre of the frame. I only took one shot of the fish, almost as an afterthought on the way out, in response to Naomi’s observation, and failed to check it was properly exposed. A case of badly undercooked RAW fish. Maybe they should rename it the Holy Sashimi.

The State House #3 – The George Fingold Library

Posted in Travel, USA by Dennis Wright on November 5, 2008

Room 341 on the third floor is the Reading Room of the State Library, also known as the George Fingold Library.

The State House #1

Posted in Travel, USA by Dennis Wright on October 29, 2008

We crossed Beacon Street to the Massachusetts State House and found it was open to visitors, so decided to take a look around.  We spent more time there than we’d expected, but there was a lot to see.  There is tight security on the way in, but from then on visitors can pretty much wander round as they please.

This is the Memorial Hall:

The Hall has a remarkable huge stained glass skylight window.

This is the hall outside the office of Timothy P Cahill, Treasurer and Receiver General. Tim didn’t appear to be in.

Green T to Boston Common

Posted in Travel, USA by Dennis Wright on October 23, 2008

Having told the pictorial story of Adrian & Peg’s wedding on 24 August, we are going back in time a few days.

Before travelling north for the wedding we spent a few days sightseeing in Boston, staying at the Royal Sonesta hotel in Cambridge, with views of Boston across the Charles River.  The first room they gave us, in the East tower, was too low and the view was restricted.  Fine if you like admiring other people’s yachts. The hotel was full on the first night so couldn’t move us, but promised to try for the next day.

On the morning of Wednesday 20th August, Naomi and I set off to explore Boston. Having no better ideas, we decided to follow the Freedom Trail on the grounds that it took in the key historical sights and would cover a variety of districts in central Boston. To get across the river we took the green line of the “T”, Boston’s underground rail system. We called it the Green T. It was a few minutes’ walk from the hotel to Lechmere station. We bought our “Charlie Tickets” and rode the T to Park Street station which is just on Boston Common.

This import from London, used now for sightseeing tours, was just across the street from the hotel as we set off for Lechmere.

The Freedom Trail starts at the Boston Common visitor centre, with guides in historical garb. We eschewed the services of the guides, preferring to follow our own schedule. There are many sights in the park and we could have spent hours there, but instead headed off towards Beacon Street and the Massachusetts State House.

The Robert Gould Shaw Memorial

The Robert Gould Shaw Memorial

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