Every Spring I try to head down to Wooster Square and surrounding streets in New Haven, CT. It has long been home to much of New Haven’s Italian American culture and cuisine, including the legendary Pepe’s & Sally’s pizza spots. Three years ago I captured an image of nearby Court Street in full bloom that has since been my most popular selling print. I always enjoy wandering around to see what new vantage points I can find and document.
Author Archives: RZBlog
Yesterday morning we headed into the city to play a headlining show at The Gramercy Theatre in the Gramercy section of Manhattan. It was our first time performing at this venue and had heard great things about the room. We had an awesome crowd come out to make it a great night for us. Decided to adventure around Greenwich Village after the show until we ended the night with some 4:30am snacks at the famous Joe’s Pizza. You can’t spend a Sunday morning in NYC without partaking in the brunch scene, so we headed to the Tartine Cafe in the West Village. Amazing food and BYOB so we took full advantage.
For the 3rd Winter in a row I headed out to Colorado with my Dad last week to photograph a variety of hawks, eagles, and owls for a 5 day stretch. We landed in Denver and then began our drive to the Southeast part of the state towards the Kansas border, where many different raptors spend the Winter months. They’re drawn to this habitat with vast open farmlands stocked with plenty of prairie dogs & field mice to feed on. Always love to photograph some of the scenery as well, even snapping some shots of my favorite cottonwood tree that I captured on each of our trips. We ended the trip up in Colorado Springs, shooting sunrise at The Garden of the Gods Park before we headed to the airport in the afternoon. Until next Winter!
We spent our Valentine’s Day in NYC doing some radio promo for Nick’s newest single “Love Is Blind”. Started off the day at The Elvis Duran Morning Show at Z100 for our 3rd visit there. Elvis & the rest of the crew there are some of the nicest people we’ve come across in the industry. The next stop was at WPLJ and a Valentine’s Day serenade on the streets outside of Madison Square Garden. And we finished off the day at Spotify headquarters checking out their impressive operations.
For the past 3 Winters I’ve made the drive from Southern CT to the Orange County area in New York state to photograph raptors and try to especially capture one in particular that has always eluded me, Short-eared Owls. Over the past few weeks I’ve been lucky to finally get the shots I’ve been looking for and more! Not only was I able to photograph these owls in flight as they hunted in open farm fields, but also witness amazing interactions among their own and with Northern Harriers in mid air fights over freshly caught voles. On one trip there was a rain shower that was quickly followed by an amazing double rainbow that stretched across the sky that a pair of adult Northern Harriers (Male & Female) flew directly in front of. I was able to grab my camera and capture this amazing moment that you can see below, along with some of my favorite images from my trips up there recently.
Yesterday we adventured to a few parks in the Eastern part of Connecticut to check out more of the Fall foliage before it disappears for the year again. First stop was Gillette Castle State Park in East Haddam and has a legit castle on the grounds haha. Built almost 100 years ago, the estate sits high above the Connecticut River and has some amazing views. A number of trails through the park offered some great scenery and we found this huge badass tree that was hard to fit in the frame! The next stop was Devil’s Hopyard State Park to photograph the waterfall there, with the colorful Autumn backdrop, before we ran out of sunlight.
Living in Connecticut we get to experience some amazing scenery every Fall when the leaves turn to a variety of bright reds, oranges & yellows. The Northern part of the state starts to see the change first and Litchfield County is always a beautiful area to go enjoy the early colors. Yesterday I headed up that way to a favorite spot of mine, Kent Falls State Park, but with the recent lack of rain the falls itself was unfortunately not much more than a trickle. Luckily the back roads along the way provided a colorful adventure and some photo opps you can check out below.
Every Fall my Father & I head up to several ridges here in Connecticut to photograph local & migrant hawks coming through the area. Didn’t have too many opportunities this year due to a busy schedule but we got out a few times this past week. Got a few keepers and just enjoyed being out there looking down on the colorful scenery below us. Until next year!
We headed back into the amazing Firehouse 12 studio in downtown New Haven, CT to track and video full band unplugged versions of “Love Is Blind” & “All On You”, from Nick’s debut CD “Hurricane”. It’s great having a world class studio right in our home area to head to whenever we need to record. This is the same studio that we recorded our debut Beach Avenue EP “Something To Believe In” at in 2012.
Nick Fradiani - \"Love Is Blind\" (Firehouse 12 Acoustic Session)
Nick Fradiani - \"All On You\" (Firehouse 12 Acoustic Session)
Nick Fradiani - \"Love Is Blind\" (Firehouse 12 Acoustic Session)
Nick Fradiani - \"All On You\" (Firehouse 12 Acoustic Session)
This past Saturday we got to perform a headlining hometown set at The Guilford Fair. We expected a good turnout but the crowd was even bigger than had imagined. Officials said that it was the largest concert they’ve ever had in the history of the fair’s existence. Besides getting to play a 90 minute set in front of a great audience, the best part of the gig was that it was only 0.6 miles from my apartment ha. So after soundcheck I went home and laid on the couch for a few. Hometown shows are great because they bring out all the old fans and give us a chance to play for all our close family & friends. We played a bunch of songs off of Nick’s new CD, some fun covers and even a few old Beach Avenue songs.
Here in Connecticut we typically get just one species of Hummingbird and they’re around from beginning of May until mid September. The adult male Ruby-throated Hummingbird shows it’s namesake with a bright red throat patch of feathers when they light hits it, while the females and young males do not. These little guys are just over 3 inches long and beat their wings an incredible 60-80 times per minute on average while in the air, making them a bit of a challenge to photograph. I’ve always wanted to try to shoot them with a multiple flash setup and got to the other day with my Dad in his backyard. Four different flashes were used to light up every angle of the bird and freeze the wings. These are some of my favorite shots from this batch!
Another musical first for me happened yesterday when we performed inside the middle of the Connecticut Post Mall for the release of Nick Fradiani’s debut album “Hurricane”. Growing up in the 80’s I remember pop stars like Debbie Gibson doing these mall tours all over the country. Now in 2016 we got our own moment in front of Macy’s haha. Make sure to go pick up a copy of “Hurricane” on iTunes or any other format today!
Having only been one time 6 years, I’ve wanted to head back to Block Island every Summer since but plans have never worked out. Finally was able to change that this year and headed over on the ferry with my girlfriend Julie for 3 days in New England Summer paradise. The vibe on the island is amazing with everyone just looking to have a good time. Absolutely love how they’ve prioritized land conservation and maintained so much open space on the island, and also kept any new ugly modern buildings/hotels from being built. Never had a mudslide in my life but I lost count on this trip haha. Attempted to have lobster in every meal and came pretty close to being successful. The Mohegan Bluffs are one of my favorite spots anywhere in the country so made sure to stop there twice on this little adventure and make the trek down the 200+ steps to the rocky shore. We stayed at the Rose Farm Inn just over a half mile up the hill from the downtown area, so was close enough but away from the ferry action. Already planning our next trip back!
We headed down to Texas this weekend to play a radio show for 102.3’s 9th annual Lake Palestine Palooza, a few hours outside of Dallas. Whole different vibe in the areas around these huge lakes in the middle of the state that I had never experienced in my previous trips to Texas. Of course while down there we had to have some good old fashioned BBQ and all signs pointed us to Stanley’s Famous Pit BBQ, located in the city of Tyler. You know you went to the right place when the line to order snaked long outside the door. I decided to go with “The Mother Clucker”, a spiked & smoked chicken thigh with spicy BBQ mayo, cheddar cheese, guacamole & an over easy egg all served on toasted jalapeno cheese sourdough. Have to say that this sandwich may have made my top 5 all time foods consumed and even bought a bottle of their homemade BBQ sauce to take home on the plane.
My girlfriend & I took just got back from a 4 day trip up in Portland, ME. I had never been, but heard great things about the vibe of the city and the many awesome restaurants. Growing up in Connecticut I am partial to these New England shoreline cities and Portland lived up to all of our expectations. Only wished that we had more time to sample more of the amazing food it had to offer, but I’m sure this won’t be our last time visiting.
Recently I shot and edited a music video for Swamps, a hardcore band with ties to both MA & CT. The local members of the band have been friends of mine for a long time so was excited to work on a project with them. They had most of the concepts and we also shot alot of great clips on the fly. To check out the finished product click on the play button down below.
Flew down to Nashville for a long weekend to hang out and do some work for my bud Nick Fradiani. We filmed some interview clips at The Big Machine store about every song that he wrote for his upcoming album “Hurricane”. It’s def a cool downtown area and I’ve always had a great time anytime that I visited. There’s a crazy energy no matter what night of the week, with people of all ages out partying. Always try to sample as much of the local food possible when I travel so had some of the standard Chicken & Waffles for dinner and the overboard Peanut Butter & Jelly Stuffed French Toast Pancakes that was amazing. Check out one of the clips I shot with Nick for his new song “Love Is Blind”, my personal favorite off the album.
Was just out in Colorado for 5 days on a photo adventure with my Dad for the second year in a row. It’s an easy direct flight from Hartford into Denver and the variety of habitats that you can experience keep us occupied. We ventured into the farmlands of the Lamar area, where you can see for miles down a road. Close to the Kansas border, these areas can be hotspots for a number of different raptors including a variety of hawks, owls and the massive Golden Eagles. We even had success with a pair of Great Horned Owls for the 2nd year in a row! Then we headed up to Rocky Mountain National Park for the second half of the trip. I could stare at those mountains all day and never get tired of that view. Somehow we were able to find the tiny Pygmy Owl again in the dense forest, which is the equivalent of finding a needle in a haystack. Hopefully next Winter we can make it 3 years in a row!
I’ve always enjoyed checking out thrift stores and flea markets to see what kind of random old treasures you can find. This past week I stopped into my local Goodwill and came across this old cedar chest that caught my eye as a possible project for me to work on. For only $15 you couldn’t go wrong. Decided to go with an antique yellow with a black base coat to show through in spots. Honestly had never done a project like this so was just kinda working on the fly. But I’m happy with how it ended up and think it fits well in my bedroom!
For the 2nd year in a row on New Year’s Day I’ve headed up to the Shawangunk Grasslands NWR in Orange County NY to attempt to photograph a variety of hawks and owls. You never know what kind of success you’re going to have when you head out for a day of shooting, so whenever you cross state lines it becomes more of an adventure. The habitat in this area is mainly farmlands and open grass space. The main target here for us are Short Eared Owls. Usually only coming out from roosting to hunt at dusk they aren’t an easy species to photograph. So you just head there and hope that they will come out a bit earlier the day you’re there. After no luck with them on Friday we took the trip again on Saturday and got a few end of the day distant opportunities. So they still remain high on my most wanted list. Here’s some shots from the weekend, including Short Eared Owl, Northern Harrier, American Kestrel and even some Deer that were in the fields there.
Last night we played at The Oakdale Theater in Wallingford, CT for 96.5 WTIC’s All-Star Christmas show along with Rob Thomas, The Band Perry, Charlie Puth, Rachel Platten, & Nate Ruess. Always awesome to get to rock out in our home state of Connecticut, especially at such a legit venue. My whole family came out to watch and support so that made it even better. Until next time CT!
Back in Southern California again after our shows up in Napa. A little downtime in LA to relax in Santa Monica and Venice Beach. Another round of In-N-Out burgers and catching up with my buddy Eric again. Then we headed down the coast a bit to San Clemente for a show with my buds American Authors. Always awesome to catch up with those guys and the crowd was great. Kinda weird playing a “Christmas” themed show in warm sunny weather being from CT, but definitely not complaining. We stayed in Dana Point right up the hill from the ocean with some amazing views. Las Vegas is up next!
I’ve never been that big of a big wine guy but over the past few days I had a unique experience of tasting my way through Napa but also performing a handful of different events around town. We were there to perform at the Live In The Vineyard concert series along with Rob Thomas, American Authors, Andrew McMahon, Barenaked Ladies, Michael Franti and more great artists. Friday night was downtown at the Uptown Theatre and then two private parties at different wineries, with one performance actually happening underground. The Robert Mondavi Winery had some beautiful scenery as well as getting to watch our meal being prepared in front of us. Getting to stay at the Sutter Home Victorian Inn was another bonus with amazing views and delicious breakfast. And big thanks to Rick from Anheuser-Busch for hooking it up with Stella’s all weekend too! Can’t wait to come back!
Got out yesterday with my Dad to photograph some different Red-tailed Hawks at the tail end of the migration season this year. Had a few full adults but got some cool shots of this possible first year bird with only one single red tail feather. Always fun to shoot these guys in flight and to have the Fall foliage background never gets old. Edited a handful of shots and posted them below.
Got to do something I never even thought about doing in the music world a few days ago. We performed a live acoustic performance on a Southwest Airlines flight from Scottsdale, AZ to Dallas, TX. It was part of a warmup to Live In The Vineyard taking place in Napa, CA in a few weeks, with Southwest being one of the main sponsors. It was a surprise to the passengers and the whole experience was filmed by a crew. We played at the front of the plane with a tiny PA speaker and then moved to the back to play in the aisle with me slapping away on an overhead luggage compartment, another first for me ha. Definitely a crazy experience playing my cajon while I looked out the plane window to see clouds the ground way far below. Before we took off we played another warm up show for LITV at The Saguaro Resort in Scottsdale, AZ and got a little relaxing time by the pool. Had a short but fun stay in Dallas, complete with trying out some of the local vibe & cuisine at The Rustic. I went with the Cactus Fritters with spicy ketchup!
Make sure to check out the video below of our experience up at 35,000 ft!