Sep 032012
 

I seem to be having a hard time finding sunshine here in Krakow.  However, for a trip to Auschwitz and Birkenau, a bright sunny day might be a bit too incongruous.

Auschwitz

The main gate at Auschwitz — from the inside.

Below is one of the early attempts to deal with the remains of murdered persons.  One pair of a total of four ovens at Auschwitz.  The turntable on the floor allows operators to pull ashes out of an oven, turn the cart 180 degrees, and the push the cart over an ash pit to be dumped.  This particular setup was abandoned as more efficient equipment was developed to handle the mass of murdered people.

Early ovens at Auschwitz.

 Birkenau (Auschwitz II)

The other iconic gateway.

The rail gate to Birkenau.

A railway wagon of the type used to transport to Birkenau for work or to be killed.  This is the place seen in many photos showing people being taken off the trains and, in many cases, immediately sorted and taken to the gas chambers.

Railway goods wagon of the type used to transport people to Birkenau.

Electrified fence line.

On the Birkenau site, opposite from the railway gate, are the remains of gas chambers and crematoria — destroyed by the SS at the Soviets advanced westward.  A picture of the structure is on the sign to the left.

Gas chamber and crematorium destroyed as Soviet forces drew closer.

The memorial, opposite the camp from the railway gate.  The group in the center are Israeli students.  The government of Israel sends thousands of students every year to tour the death camps.  This practice is considered controversial by some.  The students are accompanied throughout their visit to Poland by Israeli security guards (I counted at least 4 with this group).

Israeli students at the memorial.

Inside one of the wooden barracks.  These were designed as stables for the German Army — to house 52 horses.  They held up to 400 prisoners.

Inside a wooden barrack.

Israeli students light candles in one of the brick barracks.

Visiting Auschwitz and Birkenau

Many people take an organized tour, but I’d recommend avoiding them.  You can do all the research you need online, and I don’t think Auschwitz and Birkenau are best absorbed when you are part of a herd.  Also, during the peak tourist months, you can only enter Auschwitz I between the hours of 10:00 am and 3:00 pm as part of an organized tour– due to the crush of visitors.  There are no such restrictions at Birkenau.

My recommendation is to take a bus from the Krakow bus terminal (right next door to the main Krakow train station).  Get a bus that will get you to the museum no later than 11:00 – 11:30.  Then take the free shuttle to Birkenau (Auschwitz II).  You likely find it very quiet.  Take your time and then take any of the shuttles back to Auschwitz that leave Birkenau after 2:45 pm.  You will have managed is to avoid the surge of tours that starts at Auschwitz, then goes to Birkenau, and then home.

Panoramic Photo of Birkenau

A 360-degree view taken midway between the railway gate and the memorial.  (Right click on photo and then select “View Image”.)

Sep 032012
 
Birkenau Panoramics

These are panoramics — each roughly 180- degrees — from Birkenau (Auschwitz II) and provide some sense of the expanse of this Death Camp.  They were taken from the midpoint of the path between the famous main gate and the memorial — at the spot where the first life-or-death sorting of news arrivals occurred.

After you select a photo, enlarge it on your screen so that it is fairly high (about 100%) and then pan right and left.

Jan 282012
 

Taking a break on the drive from Charleston, WV.

There are several routes between home and the Charleston area.  The shortest, 329 miles and (according to Google) 6 hours non-stop, passes by Seneca Rocks.  It’s roughly half way so it makes a nice break in the drive.

The rocks are a quartzite formation that almost looks like a blade slicing up through the surrounding countryside.  The current satellite view on Google Maps shows this well.

Seneca Rocks

Seneca Rocks and the North Branch of the South Fork of the Potomac River

On the way home last Friday I stopped and spent about 1 1/2 hours just walking around.  It was a pretty dreary day so I was shooting with the hope of coming up with a decent black & white shot, as well as some close-up shots of whatever else caught my attention.

For Distant Viewing

In 1943 and 1944 Seneca Rocks was a training area for the 10th Mountain Division.

Base of the Telescope

The Sites Homestead was established in the early 19th Century.  The log cabin that forms the basis for this house was built around 1839.  It was expanded in the 1870s and remained in the Sites family until the Forest Service acquired it in 1968.  Quite a view when you step out the front door in the morning.

The Sites Homestead

Chimney and Window, Sites Homestead

Barrel, Sites Homestead

If your GPS can’t find Seneca Rocks, the coordinates of the road intersection (US 22, WV 55, & WV 28) are 38.834576, -79.376246.  The entrance to the Discovery Center is a few hundred yards to the south.  The Seneca Rocks Discovery Center is closed until Spring, but you can park on the lower parking area.

Nov 272011
 

27 November 2011 — Last Day

Cité Metro Station

This is an interesting piece of engineering.  These photos were taken inside what is essentially a big underground steel tank that the tracks pass through.  The station serves Île de la Cité — the island where Notre Dame Cathedral is located.

Cité Metro Station

Another view of the Cité Metro Station, with a train arriving

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral

Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral

Looking towards the organ

Around Île de la Cité

"Love Locks" on the Port Archeveche Bridge

An American group performs on the St. Louis Bridge

Looking into the chamber at the Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation -- in memory of over 200,000 people deported from France by the Nazis.

A last view of Notre Dame Cathedral and Île de la Cité

[All photos in this posting taken with a Fujifilm X10 camera.]

Nov 262011
 

26 November 2011 — Musee Rodin

A return to this gem of a museum and grounds.

The Hotel Biron is the centerpiece, housing almost 300 pieces of art from Rodin’s collection — including a trio of Van Goghs.

Hotel Biron and the grounds (Fujifilm X100)

On the grounds (Fujifilm X100)

Detail of "Pierre de Wissant Naked Figure" (Fujifilm X10)

Outside looking in... (Fujifilm X100)

...And inside looking out. "Paolo and Francesca in the Clouds" (Fujifilm X10)

Two busts of "The Man with the Broken Nose" (Fujifilm X10)

Statue merges with visitors (Fujifilm X100)

Self portrait -- lower right corner of the mirror. (Fujifilm X100)

Outside, a tradition of leaving the admission stickers on posts and poles.

The Louvre

Almost too big.

Ascent to the "Winged Victory of Samothrace" (Fujifilm X100)

The mob in front of the Mona Lisa (Fujifilm X10)

Nov 122011
 

A Favorite Spot for Shooting

I go out to the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum near Dulles Airport to test new cameras and lenses.  It is a challenging venue, and if things go wrong, they go wrong in a very noticeable way.   From the overhead walkway, this particular location always draws me.

Vantage Point

I like the open space, gray concrete, shadows, the pieces of “museum stuff”, and seeing what people are doing.

The camera being tested is the Fujifilm X10 — which hit the dealer shelves on Tuesday.  This shot was made as an EXR JPEG (EXR’s SN mode, for you Fuji geeks) with only a little bit of Noise Ninja in post-processing.  Everything else was done in the camera: 1/35 sec., f/2.5, ISO 640.  EXR makes all the selections once you decide which of three modes you will use.

The intelligence in cameras is getting a bit scary…The X10 produced a very nice image with almost no input from me.

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