What’s Shutter Speed Got to Do With It? How to Take Better Photos.

Want to take better photos? The key is practice, practice, practice. And, if you get the chance to practice in the company of a pro, do it! Taking a photo tour with a legit photographer gives you the chance to ask all kinds of dumb questions and to correct one or two things that will immediately improve your shots.

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Wandering around the Donaldson Farm, I kept waiting for the big tractors to talk to me as if I was in a Disney cartoon. Photo: The Open Suitcase LLC

Getting the chance to bum around with a professional photographer with an all access pass is a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. And you don’t have to have tons of equipment or years of experience to have a great time and to learn to take better photos. I self-identify as a beginner-intermediate when it comes to using my DSLR camera, meaning I still have to think really, really hard about whether the aperture needs to be big or small to get a crisply focused background. Continue reading

The Mackenzie-Childs Farmhouse: Design Inspiration in the Finger Lakes

“Where’s Tim Burton?”

That was my first question for tour guide Patricia, as she opened the front door to the Mackenzie-Childs farmhouse and asked us to slip on paper booties.

From the exterior, the late 1800’s farmhouse looks like any other that you’d find on a field in Smalltown, USA. But inside? The design inspiration comes from a zany riot of color, shape, pattern, and texture. If asked to assign a name to the style, I’d go with “Tasteful Psychedelic.”mackenzie-childs-farmhouse-aurora-finger-lakes Continue reading

The Aurora Inn: A Genteel Boutique Hotel in the Finger Lakes

adirondack-chairs-aurora-innLooking for the perfect place to stay to explore New York’s Finger Lakes? Consider the Aurora Inn, an historic 10-room property located on the eastern shore of Cayuga Lake. It’s an elegant boutique destination resort owned by Pleasant Rowland, founder of the American Girl doll company who once said her goal was to “…allow little girls to be little girls for a little longer.” At the Aurora Inn, I felt like I could be a princess…forever. Continue reading

When Bad Things Happen to Good Travelers

Savannah-dawnI need to make a confession.

It’s a bit embarrassing, since I’m a travel writer, consider myself an organized and experienced adventurer, and routinely dole out advice to others. But, here goes…

During my last vacation, I lost my rental car.
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A Sunrise and a Sail: Escape to Montauk

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I was expecting “Wolf of Wall Street” and I got “On Golden Pond“.

Montauk’s got a bad reputation. It’s widely reported that NYC hipsters and throngs of kids with fake IDs descend on the easternmost village in the Hamptons and trash the place during summer weekends. It’s gotten so bad the locals are fighting back.

But, during the week and off-season, Montauk remains a sleepy coastal village, where people fish. Surf. Veg. Repeat. Continue reading