Category Archives: Historic Sites

Christmas at Fonthill – Columbus Room – Merry Christmas!

151225_FonthillChristmas_Columbus Room by Karl Graf. Fonthill Castle Christmas Decorations – Columbus Room

Merry Christmas to all!

Photographing the Fonthill Christmas Decoration Exhibit was very special to me this year.  Due to multiple reasons, I did not put up a tree this year (first time ever).  I substituted enjoying my usual tree with the beautiful exhibit at Fonthill.  I spent 6-7 hours exploring the Castle with my camera.  It was a very, very special day for me.

The Columbus Room is the most tile-decorated room in the Castle.  Christmas decorations are done in a similar fashion.  This tree was my favorite as I explored through the rooms.  Below is a close up of some of the details:

151225_FonthillChristmas_Columbus Room3 by Karl Graf. 151225_FonthillChristmas_Columbus Room2 by Karl Graf.

And a couple more decorations around the room:

151225_FonthillChristmas_Columbus Room4 by Karl Graf. 151225_FonthillChristmas_Columbus Room5 by Karl Graf. 151225_FonthillChristmas_Columbus Room6 by Karl Graf.

Christmas at Fonthill – Dormer

151224_FonthillChristmas_Dormer by Karl Graf. Fonthill Castle Christmas Decorations – Dormer

This image is from the Fonthill Dormer.  The Dormer was Henry Mercer’s first bedroom at Fonthill.  The Study was in an adjoining adjacent room.  In his later years, Mercer moved to the darker Terrace Room to avoid the bright light of the Dormer.

This image is a single exposure.  Exposure was balanced using NIK’s Viveza plug in.  The corners were darkened using Color Efex Pro.

Christmas at Fonthill – Study

151223_FonthillChristmas_Study by Karl Graf. Fonthill Castle Christmas Decorations – Study

This image was taken in the Fonthill Study, one of my favorite rooms.  Henry Mercer spent much of his time here.  There are four desks in different locations in the room.  Each one was placed to make the best use of light at a specific time of the day.

This image was taken using natural light.  Multiple exposures were blended together to balance the overall exposure and maintain shadows and the light patterns on the floor.  I used Color Efex Pro’s tonal contrast to pop the tree out from the background.

Christmas at Fonthill – Morning Room

151222_FonthillChristmas_Morning Room by Karl Graf. Fonthill Castle Christmas Decorations – Morning Room

This image is from the Fonthill Morning Room adjacent to the Saloon.  Most of the standard day tours do not cover this room.  I could not get an acceptable HDR or blended image so I used flash for this image.  I set my camera exposure for exterior through the window.  The flash provide the light for the tree.

Christmas at Fonthill – Saloon

151221_FonthillChristmas_Saloon by Karl Graf. Fonthill Castle Christmas Display – Saloon

This image is taken in the Fonthill Saloon.  Getting a good image is always a difficult task in this room with the huge windows and deep shadows.  This image is a combination of a 4 image HDR blended with several single images to balance out the exterior light and maintain some of the interior shadows.  Lights on the tree created the golden color cast.

Christmas at Fonthill Castle – Library

151220_FonthillChristmas_Library by Karl Graf. Fonthill Castle Christmas Display – Library

The next several posts will be of the Fonthill Castle Christmas displays.  During the Christmas Season, the Fonthill staff decorates several rooms in Holiday splendor.  Tours are conducted on a daily basis in addition to special evening tours.  If you are in the Doylestown, PA area, it is a must see.

This image is of the Library.  The huge two story room dwarfs the tree.

St. Augustine Color

150309_St. Augustine Window by . Fuji X-T1, XF18-135mm @ 47mm, f/11, 1/40 sec, ISO 800

I need a change from the “winter white” landscape here in Bucks Co.  So here is a bright sunny day image from St. Augustine.  The color of this old building with the wood shutters caught my eye.  The tree on the left helps frame the window and lessen the distraction of the corner.

Ponce de Leon Hall, Flagler College

150204_FolgerCollegeInterior2_StAugustine by Karl G. Graf. Ponce de Leon Hall, Flagler College, St. Augustine, FL

Canon 7D, EF10-22mm @ 10mm, f/4, 1/40 sec, ISO 1600

I could not help posting another image of this wonderful architectural work.  This image is a wide angle view of the photo posted yesterday.  Being brought up in the home-building trade and having a love of fine woodworking, places like this intrigue me.  At times I feel like I was born a couple of generations too late.

I remember taking this image a year ago.  I was pushing my hand holding capacity to the limit.  I also remember counting the lights and balancing the tile work in the corners to get a balanced, symmetric composition.  It turned out pretty good for a hand held image.

Flagler College: Reception Foyer

150203_FolgerCollegeInterior_StAugustine by Karl G. Graf. Flagler College Reception Foyer, St. Augustine, FL

Canon 7D, EFS10-22mm @ 22mm, f/4.5, 1/100 sec, ISO 1600

Pretty fancy for a college reception foyer … impressive for a resort hotel.  This image was taken inside Flagler College’s Ponce de Leon Hall (ex. Hotel Ponce de Leon).  Late 19th century architecture and craftsmanship is hard to match.  Some day I hope to return with my tripod and a low noise camera to get a better portrayal of such a piece of history.

Time for a Little Warmth

150202_FolgerCollege_StAugustine by Karl G. Graf. Ponce de Leon Hall, Flagler College, St. Augustine, FL

Canon 7D, EFS10-22mm @ 10mm, f/6.3, 1/8000 sec, ISO 1600

Enough for the snow and winter cold.  My memory goes back to last year when we were in St. Augustine, FL on this beautiful clear winter day with temperatures in the high 60’s.  This image of Ponce de Leon Hall at Flagler College warms by bones.

A little history:

In 1885 multi-millionaire industrialist Henry Morrison Flagler (1830-1913) initiated a grand scheme to turn Florida’s east coast into the “American Riviera” and the city of St. Augustine into the “Winter Newport.” The Hotel Ponce de Leon, which was constructed in 1885-1887, was intended as the flagship of Flagler’s resort empire. This palatial Spanish Renaissance Revival hotel, with Italian, French and Moorish influences, was the first major commission for the Carrère & Hastings architecture firm.

The Hotel Ponce de Leon opened in 1888 and was operated by Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Hotel Company. Nationally significant for both its architecture and engineering, the building is the first large cast-in-place concrete building in the U.S. The hotel was constructed using poured concrete mixed with local coquina. The design reflected the wealth and extravagance of the upper-class during the Gilded Age. Members of the design team included Louis Comfort Tiffany, Thomas Edison, Bernard Maybeck, George Willoughby Maynard, and Pottier & Stymus. The firm of McGuire & McDonald was hired to supervise construction of the Hotel.

The Hotel was operation for almost 80 years. During World War II the building was used as a Coast Guard Training Center. Hotel operations ceased in 1967, and in 1968 the hotel became part of the campus for the newly established Flagler College as Ponce de Leon Hall. The building was added to the National Register in 1975 and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2006.

Lessons Learned:  Notice the camera settings of this image.  They are not even close to being optimized for a good image.  I had just walked outside from taking interior images in dark rooms.  I did not adjust the camera for the outdoor light.  I just composed and took a snapshot. I really need and take my time to focus on making the best out of each image I capture.