Travel Photography Bucket List – Animals

by Robyn Porteen
( August 24th, 2014 )

Travel Bucket List for Photographers

We probably all have a bucket list somewhere that we want to fill.  There are several places on my personal bucket list, some are close by and some are around the world. I thought I’d share the places on my list that involve animals.

Giraffe Manor in Africa.

Giraffe Manor - Nairobi, Kenya

Giraffes abound on this sanctuary property and join you for breakfast by sticking their heads into open windows in the dining room. Great photo ops are available as the resident giraffes are always around the hotel.

Dining Room at Giraffe Manor

In 1983 the Manor opened as a small, privately hosted hotel where guests could feed the giraffes from their breakfast table, through the front door, and out of their bedroom window. The Manor has six bedrooms, one of which is furnished with the belongings of Karen Blixen, and all profits from the hotel go to furthering the charitable objectives of AFEW.
Over the years the Manor has welcomed guests such as Mick Jagger, Walter Cronkite (after whom one of the Manor’s resident warthogs was named), Johnny Carson, Brooke Shields and Richard Chamberlain, as well as hosting Richard Branson, Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman on the launch of Virgin Atlantic’s London–Nairobi service in 2007.

The Giraffe Manor Website


Two Donkeys at The Donkey Sanctuary

The Donkey Sanctuary - Devon, England

Take an adventure trip from London to visit this cool sanctuary near Devon, England. It is about a 4 hour train ride or a 3 hour and 45 minute car ride. Well worth the scenic drive for a unique day trip! Admission is free and donations are accepted.

The Donkey Sanctuary is a British charitable organisation devoted to the welfare of donkeys. The charity, which is based near Sidmouth in Devon, England, was founded in 1969. It is one of the largest equine charities in the world with an annual income and expenditure of £22 million.

The Donkey Sanctuary was founded in 1969 by Dr Elisabeth Svendsen, MBE. She dedicated her life to champion donkeys, and it is through her devotion that the Sanctuary grew to be the international charity it is today.

It is currently home to over 4000 donkeys.

The Donkey Sanctuary WebsiteThe Donkey Sanctuary website

Now all I need are the days off and the itineraries to get to these places!  The Donkey Sanctuary has been on my list for a few years now.

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Gargoyles, Grotesques and Sculptures

by Robyn Porteen
( August 10th, 2014 )

Moss Covered sculpture in Cozumel

Statue in Cozumel

Gargoyles, Grotesques and Sculptures

I have always had a great fascination of carved figures on buildings and in parks around the world. Including them in my city wanderings is usually a plan and I am always anxious to see what creatures I can discover. Gargoyles, grotesques and creature carvings have been around for many centuries and serve many purposes. In architecture, a gargoyle is a carved or formed grotesque with a spout designed to convey water from a roof and away from the side of a building, thereby preventing rainwater from running down masonry walls and eroding the mortar between. A Grotesque is a very ugly or comically distorted figure, creature, or image.


Carved creature on a building in Lansing, Michigan

Archway in Lansing, Michigan

I wonder what kind of wild imaginations were involved with the renderings of them and what their original purpose served. Some of them must be derived from dark, scary dreamscapes!  Here are a few that have crossed my path:

Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota

Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota Florida

Detroit Masonic Temple

Detroit Masonic Temple, Michigan

Fountain in St. Louis

Water Fountain in St. Louis, MO

Grand Rapids, MI

Lion Head in Grand Rapids, MI

Weathered Face on an ancient Irish Church

Ancient Face on an old Irish Church

An alien in Mexico

An ancient Alien in Mexico!

All photography by Robyn Porteen

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Detroit – A Lost Era in the Brush Park District

by Robyn Porteen
( August 3rd, 2014 )

One of the Mansard houses in the Brush Park district of Detroit.

I had a chance to take a short break and go to Detroit this past week for a concert. I took the opportunity to photograph the Brush Park District in downtown Detroit. Also known as The Little Paris of the Midwest, Brush Park was a neighborhood for the elite citizens of Detroit starting in the 1850s and flourishing though the early 1900s. Only 80 of the 300 original homes are still standing. Brush Park is a quiet and eerie part of the city,  there were only a couple of people in sight during mid-day walking down the streets. Some of the homes have been rehabilitated and are lived in. But there are many standing tall and silent, waiting for someone to come and breath life back into them.

Home in the Brush Park District of Detroit

It’s really a sad thing to see these beautiful pieces of art in such ruin and decay. As I drove through this area, I tried to imagine what it must have looked like over 150 years ago. I researched the area online and found only a few photos of that era. I may take some more time to try and find original photos of the area and revisit Detroit with a plan to do comparison photography.

Brush Park homes in 1881

Unknown photographer – Alfred Street 1881

Many of the homes have been taken down and the city has offered entire blocks for bidding. To read more about Brush Park’s past residents, history and which homes have been rehabilitated, visit the Wiki page  or the Detroit Historical Society website.

Abandoned Brush Park Homes in Detroit

Detroit Wildflowers and Decay

Wildflowers and vines have taken over many of the buildings. It’s a strange type of beauty to see nature in the city, mixing the colorful summer landscape of wildflowers with the red bricks and the neon graffiti.

Brush Park District, Detroit


 All Photography by Robyn Porteen – Porteen Photography

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