Friday, November 29, 2013

Pagani Huayra

Pagani Huayra by Savage Land Pictures
Pagani Huayra, a photo by Savage Land Pictures on Flickr.

The Pagani Huayra took the spotlight Friday night in Orlando Florida during the kickoff Jetport Party at the Festivals of Speed.

©2013 Savage Land Pictures

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Fortress by the sea

Fort Charlotte Gaurd House Gift Shop

When traveling to the Bahamas it's easy to focus all your attention on the massive Atlantis hotel that dominates the landscape. To me however, Atlantis while nice architecturally is just another resort and if you go there bring your wallet because it's a playground for those with deep pockets. Most of the main hotel at Atlantis was once more-or-less free to explore but not so much anymore.  Fret not, there is more to Nassau than a modern luxury resort.

Nassau Bahamas - Sunrise over Atlantis

So what does one do Nassau? Well I highly recommend going downtown and grabbing a bag of Conch Fritters, a wonderful treat that normally sells for under $5 with a soda and then hop a cab to a great place called Fort Charlotte.

Fort Charlotte Front

Once you arrive and sneak past the hustling vendors in the parking lot, you will walk up a small hill with a beautiful view overlooking much of Nassau; There to your left will be the massive fort.

Fort Charlotte Nassau

Like the impressive Fort Barrancas in northern Florida, Charlotte was built in sections, quite honestly it is three Forts being Charoltte, D'Arcy and Stanley created between 1787-1819.

Fort Charlotte Right Side

The massive campus is really interesting to check out though some parts of the west end (D'Arcy) are not publicly accessible. No worries though because the parts that you can check out are wonderful.

Fort Charlotte Wall-o-Cannons

No fort would be a fort without the firepower and Charlotte has many cannons on display facing the water.

Fort Charlotte Sky Cannon

One might ask what great battles did Fort Charlotte face? Well it didn't, Fort Charlotte was pretty much a huge threat most notably to France that the island would not be taken easily. From all that I have read nothing states any conflict occurred but this place was ready for anything.

Fort Charlotte Cannon

Fort Charlotte Flag

Fort Charlotte Back Deck

One of the more intriguing aspects of the fort is that much of it is below the surface. There is a small labyrinth below a flight of steps in the east courtyard that opens up a fantastical side to this gem of the Bahamas.

Fort Charlotte Back Stairs 2

The stairs go to a larger room that is close to both the dungeon and a deep water well.

Fort Charlotte Lower Room 1

The well is a massive black pit that goes down likely 50-70ft. A modern pipe along the side indicates that some of that water is still being used in the fort.

Fort Charlotte Well

Fort Charlotte stairs and air vent

Across from the dungeon the decent continues into rooms the soldiers once worked and slept.

Fort Charlotte Main Room

There was also an area that the troupes of the day created artillery and "Hot Shot" by heating up cannon balls to torch any ship in the bay that would be foolish enough to start trouble.

Fort Charlotte Ironworks

Once you have found your way through the depths of the belly of the Fortress you come up near a large courtyard. If you climb the steps at the west end you will get a stunning view of Nassau.

Fort Charlotte Top Deck

Exploring the far east side of the fort for more beautiful views and a nice gift shop.

Fort Charlotte Back Courtyard

Fort Charlotte Gaurd House

Considering a trip through this fortress will only set you back maybe $2-$5 you will leave with a smile. Fort Charlotte is more than history it is a fascinating building with wonderful complexity and it's very photogenic as well.

Fort Charlotte Barracks

On your way out don't forget to see the Armory on the far east side of the parking lot, you can even climb to the roof for another wonderful view.

So there you have it, a great alternative to the uber-pricey Atlantis with all the charm of "Pirates of the Caribbean", with the money you will have left over you can go shop for trinkets in the parking lot or better yet more Conch those things are good!

Thanks for reading,
- Jesse

Saturday, November 16, 2013

St. Bernard de Clairvaux

St. Bernard de Clairvaux Cloisters 2

The one thing I love about Florida more than anything is that it's always full of surprises; the kind that usually involve someplace that will leave you in awe.  I felt that way visiting here as a kid and it's likely the reason I long for so many years to live here...I have been here over a decade and Florida keeps offering up gems to feed my wonder-lust.

St. Bernard de Clairvaux

There is a great book called "Weird Florida"  that is full of folklore and unique places in the Sunshine State; one such place caught my eye...the one that said "800 year old Spanish Monastery" near Miami. Wait, what? Do the math on that one, that pre-dates the Spanish even crossing the ocean by a couple hundred years, so how did a place built between 1133-1141 AD end up in Florida? All you need to hear is the name William Randolph Hearst and things start to make sense.

Hearst was a multi-millionaire newspaper publishing tycoon in the late 1880's whose father had struck it rich with a Silver mine. William's mother used some of that money to take him to Europe and teach him all about art. A long story short, when William Hurst was able to inherit his parents money he started collecting art on an epic scale. I'm not talking about just a rare painting here and there I'm talking statues, vases, rugs and historic buildings in part or in whole.

Hearst built a fairly tale like castle in the hills of San Simeon California. I went there years ago and was in awe the entire tour.

Hearst Castle  Hearst Board Room Indoor Castle Pool

Neptune The Neptune Pool Roman Pool

So back to that Spanish Monastery, it's called St. Bernard de Clairvaux and it was purchased in 1925 by Hearst before he lost most of his money in the Great Depression. It had been taken apart and sent over to New York. It sat in a warehouse for over two decades until Colonel Robert Pentland, Jr bought it and brought it to Florida. However the building blocks has lost their ordering and it took many people and several million dollars to bring this Monastery back to life but here it stands and it is stunning.

  Walking thought the garden gates and the Monastery seems a bit small and unassuming:

St. Bernard de Clairvaux Gardens

However things change dramatically once you enter the Cloisters in the main part.

St. Bernard de Clairvaux Cloisters back hall

St. Bernard de Clairvaux Cloisters

St. Bernard de Clairvaux Mary

There is a serenity here that is hard to explain, there is also this feeling that you have left the present time.

St. Bernard de Clairvaux Prayer Room Window Right

St. Bernard de Clairvaux Prayer Room Front

One thing that I found particularly unique about this place was the old Europe look with the tropical landscape outside, it was so fantastical.

St. Bernard de Clairvaux - Prayer Well

The inner chapel was smaller than a common modern day chapel but very elegant and certainly had a more spiritual presence than modern day drywall style rooms. This room has seen history and tens of thousands of souls over the century's.

St. Bernard de Clairvaux Chapel 

St. Bernard de Clairvaux Altar

As I took photographs, many being long exposures I couldn't help but be taken by the St. Bernard de Clairvaux, it is truly a treasure and a time-capsule. I spent the better half of two hours wondering the halls and really enjoying this masterpiece.  If you are ever near Miami you must come see this wondrous place for yourself .

St. Bernard de Clairvaux Prayer Room Window Left

St. Bernard de Clairvaux Prayer Room

Regardless what your faith you will leave this place spiritually connected.

As always thanks for reading,
- Jesse James Allen

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Nassau Awakes

Nassau Awakes by Savage Land Pictures
Nassau Awakes, a photo by Savage Land Pictures on Flickr.
I rarely see the sun rise much less the "Blue Hour" favored by many landscape photographers. I arrived in the Bahamas early in the morning on a ship and only had a few hours there, so I went up on the 17th deck and saw this beautiful sight. The water was so dreamy aquamarine and the visibility was clear all the way to the famous water tower in the center of Nassau.

A few hours after this shot I was standing next to that yellow watch tower enjoying a bag of Conch fritters with my girl; we had a great morning exploring historic forts in the area.

It's the kind of photo one takes to always remember the good times :)

To get the shot I clamped my 7D on the deck railing with a super-clamp and shot two long exposures. It's a stitched image from an ultra-wide lens.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Red Bull Racing Exige GT3

Red Bull GT3 - 2

Let me introduce you to quite possibly the most stunning version of the Lotus Exige you will ever see. This very special Lotus was built, tuned and driven by the legendary Adrian Newey the chief technical officer of Red Bull Racing; that statement in itself is enough to cue the pictures and roll the credits if you know anything of what Adrian has brought to the table in F1 Designs.

Red Bull GT3 - 1

I first discovered this car at the Festival of Speed in Orlando last December and I remember then even among a sea of Supercars finding myself absolutely taken by the design of this Lotus. Perhaps its form was the inspiration for the Hennessey Venom GT but I tell you this - the Red Bull GT3 is one of the most beautiful cars I have ever seen.

Red Bull GT3 - 5

I tracked it down to a shop in Vero Beach Florida named, while waiting for the GT3 to be unloaded from a recent car show I also shot my previous entry the K24 S1 Elise, also an amazing car but when the crew unloaded and rolled out the Red Bull GT3 I instantly remembered why I had driven 3 hours to shoot this...I mean wow!

Red Bull GT3 - 4

The GT3 was a collective project from Lanzante Motorsport combining the talents of Adrian Newy, Dean Lanzante, and Alistair MacKinnon. It was prepped for the "Britcar" endurance racing series in the United Kingdom.

Red Bull GT3 - 10

On March 28th 2009 this beast hit the track at Silverstone.  It took 1st place in GT3 and 4th overall in the race (class 1/2/3... edging out a Mosler MT900 I might add) with a blistering lap time of 1.28.287, the same overall results happened two months later at Rockingham as seen in a clip from this video... 1st in GT3. basically the Red Bull GT3 was built to race and it did so very well.

Red Bull GT3 - 7

Being an audio engineer I must mention at speed the Red Bull GT3 sounds orgasmic (a clip from the Spa Euro Race in July of 09):

The interior is as expected - sparse, just essentials and nothing more than a pull cord to open the door.
This machine was all about power to weight and at 345HP in a car weighing less 1500 pounds ..well yeah this is a track attack monster.

Red Bull GT3 - 3

Talking with the mechanic at Wirewheel this Red Bull project cost over $300,000 and once the back deck is popped on the engine bay you start to see how radical this GT car really is.

Red Bull GT3 - 8

The massive intake feeds the Toyota 2ZZ engine that is powered up by a supercharger.Gold insulation keeps things nice and heat efficient.

Red Bull GT3 - 9

The gearbox is a Hewland PCT 6 Speed sequential, that does auto bliping as to waste no power getting into lower gears.

So was I right or what? An amazing Lotus with a very cool legacy to boot.

Red Bull GT3 - 6

Thanks to Wirewheel for all the help on this shoot, it was the best way to spend a Monday afternoon.

Thanks for reading!

UPDATE 11/10/13

Automotive fans and judges at the 2013 Concours d'elegance in Winter Park Florida brought this amazing Lotus in for yet another win; The Red Bull GT3 won best in competition class!

To Victory Lane Once Again

Make way for a champ

Heading for the win

The Red Bull GT3 wins best in competition class

Presenting the award was THOMAS L. duPONT Chairman and Publisher of duPont Publishing, Inc.

Welcome to center stage

Well deserved praise for a historic automobile.

Adoring Fans

Thanks for reading.

Jesse James Allen

Photos and story by
Jesse James Allen
© 2013 Savage Land Pictures