Old Westbury Gardens

One of the perks of being a patron of your local library is finding out that they have more than just books, movies, cds, and computers all for your enjoyment. Many libraries have family passes to local museums, zoos, or historical locations. At the Westbury Memorial Public Library, you can obtain passes to two of my favorite places: the American Museum of Natural History and Old Westbury Gardens. With the Friday before Memorial Day all to myself and nothing but blue skies to keep me company, I opted to bike over to the library and pick up the pass for the Gardens.

The original owner of the Westbury House was John Shaffer Phipps (Jay). Jay’s father, Henry Phipps, Jr., was the childhood friend of Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie and Phipps had gone into business together (the Carnegie Steel Company). Henry gave his son Jay run of the family finances in 1904, a few years after the sale of the Carnegie Steel Company and Jay’s marriage to Margarita Grace (Dita). While Jay and Dita began to build their family of four children, Jay commissioned George Abraham Crawley, a designer from London, to begin construction of the sprawling 175-acre property and three-story house that was to be the Westbury House. The house was completed by 1907, the same year that Peggie, their daughter and second child, was born. After fifty happy years with their family at the Westbury House, Jay and Dita passed away leaving the house to Peggie and her three brothers. Seeing this as the end of the time at the House, the family established the grounds as Old Westbury Gardens. It has been open to the public since 1959 and the house itself has been kept in the same manner as it was over fifty years ago.

Although you can’t photograph inside of the House itself, you can photograph all over the grounds. The flower arrangements and edifices make for great photographing, both “big picture” and close-ups as well! I was very excited about this, as I’ve been a bit picky over “big picture” shots. A particular webpage was brought to my attention this month concerning how to take great panoramic shots. I definitely found myself incorporating points one and two (Go 3-D, Go Wide) in my photos at Old Westbury Gardens. As the summer progresses, I’d like to bring my tripod with me to more places so I can work on the other 5 tips.



2 thoughts on “Old Westbury Gardens

  1. Beautiful composition! I really like your eye for setting up a shot. Most of the shots are really vibrant, like the close-ups of the flowers and the birds in flight, but some, like the panoramic shots are a little muted. Is that because of the light… too much, too little? Or the type of lens you were using? Could you have played with the contrast or other editing tools to bring out the color more? Curious. Still, they are really good! Looking forward to the next post!

    1. It may have been the settings on my camera. I noticed that I went with whatever it was the camera told me was best, which ended up looking a bit overexposed in a lot of the panoramic shots and also the first set of white egret shots. Later on, I made myself underexpose my shots, particularly for the white egret as he kept on coming up washed out while the background was normal. This does give them the illusion of my editing the photographs in some way (increasing the contrast or making the colors more vibrant). In reality, I didn’t edit any of the pictures that way. I currently don’t own photo editing software that I feel comfortable enough with to clown around with the settings. When I do, I’m going back and playing around. I’ll blog about it 😉

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