Smetana Hotel

We were visiting Prague in the off-season—that’s what we heard from every cab driver and waiter. Though gentle spring breezes had been replaced with nascent winter gusts, there were numerous benefits; the relative sparsity of fellow tourists in Old Town made for easy access to the city’s sights. Two of the subtler benefits are captured in this image: (1) the bare branches opened new views of the skyline, and (2) the Smetana hotel (just across the river) where we stayed had a spectacular room overlooking the Vltava open for us.

Smetana Hotel

Hotel Services

Even the grandest of hotels have infrastructure that supports the guest experience. For a grand old hotel like Mohonk Mountain House, that infrastructure is charming enough to be interesting in its own right.

Hotel Services I

Those early-twentieth-century structures—boilers and exhaust stacks and hand-painted signs noting the protocols for refilling the massive fuel oil tanks.

Hotel Services II

Mohonk Reflections (I, II, and III)

Mid-March shift from my most photographically productive time on the West Coast (amazing sunsets, end of the rainy season, etc.) to my least in the East (dirty snow, still-bare trees, sandy roads). I’ve been trying to find more beauty in the pre- and post-winter “stick seasons,” examining the shapes revealed when leaves and snow can’t hide branches. Though I’m not yet convinced to do anything more than grudgingly accept its necessity, but it led to some pretty dramatic reflections at Mohonk Mountain House.

Mohonk Reflections I

Mohonk Reflections II

Mohonk Reflections III

Two Views of Mohonk

Mohonk Mountain House has grown like lichen across its mountaintop, but its oldest core shapes much of the structure’s identity. Tea time happens at 4:00 PM each day, and guests sit in the array of front porch rocking chairs with their tea during the warmer months.

Original Mountain House

Just around the corner, gazebos crusted with snow dot the cliffs.

Cliff Gazebo

Mohonk Flying Castle

Literally on a lake near the top of a mountain, Mohonk Mountain House gave my childhood self the illusion of a flying castle. This particular image is an iconic one for me, but it’s also part of a family of “ubiquitous images” that come from photographing a landmark from one of the only available views: shots like the Yosemite tunnel view, or the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco, or the view of Manhattan over the Brooklyn Heights pilings. Any new image is just adding to the canon.

Mohonk Flying Castle

American Hogwarts

Mohonk Mountain House is a unique hotel in the hills above New Paltz, New York. Though I visited there during the summer as a youth (while reading Harry Potter, naturally), this was my first visit as an adult and during the winter. None of the magic has been lost during the seasons in between.

American Hogwarts

Salisbury After the Storm

Winter arrived in the Northeast with maximum attitude: from 66ºF on Saturday morning to a full-on blizzard by Sunday. In Salisbury, CT, home of ski jumps and wood-lined hotel bars, we got to experience the odd dynamic of watching Porsche and Mercedes SUVs claw through the snow. The classic White Hart hotel was looking its best.

I tested my DJI Phantom 3 Advanced in the post-storm conditions. Almost-freezing, windy conditions didn’t have an impact on its flight performance, but the gimbal didn’t seem too thrilled. Some of its smooth elegance was lost… Or maybe it was just the wind.

Salisbury After the Storm

OMNI, Again

Traveling back to California for the first time since I left in 2013, I realized I had forgotten the little but important differences: the streets are crowded with cars instead of trucks and the air is saturated with a different set of volatile organic compounds.

From another perspective and at another time, this photograph captures the same Omni hotel and Petco Park from one of my earliest Decaseconds posts, almost four years ago. How odd to be back again.

OMNI, Again