East Pyne Hall at Princeton University

Moses Taylor Pyne (December 21, 1855 – April 22, 1921), was a financier and philanthropist, and one of Princeton University's greatest benefactors and most influential trustees.

My mom is visiting from Florida. I wanted to take her to Princeton. She's visited several times over the years, but I've never taken her on a tour of Princeton University. The weather wasn't great (damp and 20ºC), but the weekend weather forecast wasn't much better. I took my camera -- just in case I found something interesting. I didn't have high hopes since. I have often walked across the Princeton University campus, but this time felt special.

We parked in the Spring Street deck, walked up Tulane to Nassau, and entered the campus near the Firestone Library. I took several shots of the trees along Nassau, but the green of the climbing vine on East Pyne Hall caught my eye. I took several shots, some wide and some zoomed in. This one felt right to me.

The final image is an HDR from three image brackets at ±1 and tone-mapped in Photomatix Pro. It wasn't until after I had processed the photos that I shot my whole set in JPG with my D5100 set to FINE. That was the setting I had used last weekend while running a photo booth at a martial arts tournament. I think the results might have been better if I had RAW images.

East Pyne Hall, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey — Nikon D5100 + Nikon 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ (18 mm, f/3.5, ISO100)
Nassau Street outside the Firestone Library. — Nikon D5100 + Nikon 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ (30 mm, f/4.5, ISO1600)
Nassau Street outside the Firestone Library. — Nikon D5100 + Nikon 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ (18 mm, f/3.5, ISO100)
East Pyne Hall, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey — Nikon D5100 + Nikon 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 @ (18 mm, f/3.5, ISO100)

Stone Structure

I joined a friendly group of Somerset County photographers for an early morning walk around Duke Farms in Hillsboro.

The early morning weather was cool, and the skies were clear. I met up in the parking lot with a large group of photographers from all over Somerset Country. I already knew a few people - like Terry Lyons - but the rest were strangers.

Duke Farms is the former estate of Doris Duke, an American heiress, horticulturist, art collector, and philanthropy, past. The estate was opened to the public last year. It is a fantastic place with ponds, barns, wildlife, wildflower fields and incredible scenery. There were plenty of photo opportunities.

We walked over instead of taking the tram. As with any large group of photographers, each of us was interested in different things, and each of us saw the park differently. We strolled, stopping at park features we found interesting. For me, that was the landscape and the flora. I got into fascinating conversations with fellow photographers about camera equipment, photography tips and kids.

Following a fire in January 1915, the building remained abandoned. Doris Duke used the ruins as an outdoor sculpture gallery, placing individual marble statues of human figures in linear arrangements along the walls, which can still be seen today.

Duke Farms has a small greenhouse filled with Orchids. One could spend an hour inside. I couldn't. The orchids are misted every five minutes, and the humidity becomes unbearable. However, by far, this was my favourite part of the walk. I saw a few picnic tables, but I'm not sure visitors can bring food in.

There is so much I didn't get to see in the two hours I was there. I will certainly return with my camera and my family and do another walk myself, perhaps more slowly and deliberately.

The image in this post is of the abandoned hay barn near the southern gate to the park. At the time of its construction, the Hay Barn was near the centre of farming activity, but as more land was purchased and the farming moved elsewhere, the structure was no longer needed as a hay press.

Image is HDR from three exposures (+2,0,-2) combined in Photomatix Pro. You can see more of the photos on 500px.

Buy the Cup Ethiopia Yirgacheffe in Princeton

I like having "Live View" on my D5100. It's allowed me to get different perspectives with my camera. It was mostly rainy this week and without Live View, I would have avoided taking certain shots. Instead of lying down in the mud or wet grass I can place the camera low and use Live View to compose my image.

The coffee is freshly brewed Ethiopian Yirgacheffe from beans I bought on Monday in Rocky Hill at Buy the Cup.

Roaster: Rockaffe