The Weeping Beech of Chateau-sur-Mer

I’m planning to put together a full gallery, including some HDRs, but wanted to go ahead and post this 360 VR that I made during our trip to Newport, Rhode Island.

I’ll save a more extensive write-up on Newport for the full gallery entry, but I will take a moment here to say that I highly recommend making the trek there if you haven’t been before. I was unfamiliar with Newport and its history until just recently when we received an invitation to visit some friends in their final weeks before they relocate to Maryland. Suffice it to say, I’m glad we took the opportunity while we had it… both to visit our friends and to see this rather unique piece of American history.

Newport, in a nutshell, was the oceanside summer playground of the American aristocracy in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Names like Vanderbilt, Berwind, Oelrichs and Wetmore are synonymous with the area. These insanely wealthy, status-driven families built monstrous mansions here that they often used for only seven weeks out of the year. The most elite of the New York social scene migrated, en masse, to Newport for several weeks of nightly entertaining and continuous attempts to outdo one another throwing the most lavish parties and balls. Naturally, they took their staffs (often numbering 30 or more) of maids and liveried footmen with them to tend to their every need.

The rest of the year, the houses generally sat empty and were maintained by a caretaker with a small staff that looked after the place and readied it for the next summer season of over-the-top entertaining.

For a sense of the sheer number of estates, have a look at this Google Maps satellite view centered on Chateau-sur-Mer and the bulk of the mansions on Bellevue Avenue.

Anyway, as I said, I’ll write more about the trip in a separate post with a wider array of photos. This entry is all about the Weeping Beech tree that sits outside of one of the more unique mansions on the island: Chateau-sur-Mer. After touring the home and on our way back to our car, I happened to step through the curtain of branches to see what the tree looked like “inside”. Needless to say, it was pretty amazing and also pleasantly cool since we hit Newport in a bizarre, 90+ degree heat and humidity wave.

I’ve prepared an HDR version of this pano as well, but it needs a little more tweaking. In the meantime, this mid-tone (0 EV, 7 fisheye shots) set from the five exposure HDR spread (-4EV to +4 EV in 2 EV increments: 35 shots) does a decent job of representing the scene. This file is about 12 MB in size and retains a good deal of its resolution, so give it a moment to load if you’re on a slow connection.

If you have QuickTime installed, click in the window below and you will see the VR. Simply place your mouse in the window, hold down the button and drag around:

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