I know a lot of people have been pretending 2016 didn’t happen and that includes me. I just skipped that year. Forget about it. That means no blog posts were necessary.
But it’s a new year, so I’ll try to be at least somewhat more active here and to get that started, I’d like to present you with a batch of photos from Copenhagen. These images have languished unseen for too long on my hard drive, so have a look and enjoy. Click the photo below to see more.
Photo of the Day
It’s been almost a year since I visited Nepal. That’s far too long for me to have a cache of unshared photos from that wonderful country, so I’ll try to rectify that over the next little while.
The highlight of the trip was standing with the Himalayas towering overhead. For this photo, I woke before dawn and hiked up from Namche Bazaar to a lookout point where I could watch the clouds roll up from the valley below. About a minute after taking this photo, I was enveloped in grey and couldn’t see a thing.
Click to see a larger image:
Photo of the Day
I’ve finally had a chance to go through some of my photos from my trip to Greece and I wanted to share one from incredible Meteora. This is the Holy Monastery of Varlaam. In the background, right in the middle of the shot, you can also see the Holy Monastery of Rousanou peeping through the clouds (make sure to click the image for a larger version).
Meteora is one of the most spectacular landscapes I’ve ever visited and I took this trip for the express purpose of getting shots like this. I had five days there and the weather really didn’t cooperate with me most of the time. This fleeting break in the clouds lasted for a half hour at the most, but it certainly was a perfect 30 minutes and I tried to make the most of it. After these clouds were swept away, the sun took over and made a nice change from the cloud and fog that had been hounding me for the previous few days.
This weekend, I’m lucky enough to be heading to Cuba for two weeks to escape the dreary Manchester winter for a little while. I expect my access to internet to be a little bit sporadic there, so please be understanding if I don’t reply to any questions or comments immediately. In the meantime, if I do get any access there, I might be able to post an update or two on my Instagram feed or on my Facebook page.
Click to see a larger image:
Photo of the Day
Manchester’s city centre is surrounded by the Mancunian Way, a sometimes-raised motorway that consistently hums with a steady flow of traffic. It’s rare to find an hour of the day when there isn’t at least an automotive trickle passing along the road.
The photo below might then make you wonder what I was thinking by wandering out into the middle of one of the city’s busiest streets. Well, it wasn’t busy that morning – once or twice a year, road crews block off all traffic and perform maintenance. On just such a morning, I was able to wander along the now-clear street to do a bit of cityscape photography.
Despite knowing that I was essentially alone on the strip of road, my body remained tensed at being in a place it normally shouldn’t be. I feel like this shot was worth a bit of unease…
Click for a larger image:
In the last couple days since I’ve been back from my fantastic trip through Croatia, I’ve been busy enough that I haven’t even had the chance for a quick blog post. Sure, sometimes I’ve been busy winding down from the trip, but it still counts!
That said, I also haven’t had a chance to go through the images from the trip, but those are coming. I promise. I’m looking forward to pulling the pictures up and seeing what I was able to capture of that wonderful region.
The trip started in Dubrovnik and progressed north through Bosnia with a stay in Sarajevo along the way. From there, it was more northward travel before turning south again and working a path down the coast back to Dubrovnik. Along the way, the magnificent Plitvice Lakes beckoned. They were one of my favourite spots on the trip. I’m convinced that, if there’s a heaven, a corner of it looks just like Plitvice. So beautiful.
So, stay tuned to relive some of the finer memories from the trip as I aim to start having some Photo of the Day posts devoted to the trip in the coming days.
The largest item looming on today’s to do list is packing for a two-week trip to Croatia (and a side trip into Bosnia). Batteries are being charged and memory cards collected to fill up my camera bag and I might just take some clothes too.
I’ve been looking forward to this trip for a while as I haven’t done as much travelling this year as I would have liked. It will be good to get away, see some sights and and plant my tripod on the ground in front of something foreign and beautiful. I’m eagerly anticipating that feeling you get when you have arrived at your hotel, dropped of your bags and a whole new country awaits.
I’m not quite as keenly anticipating the journey there. A six a.m. flight from Liverpool means leaving Manchester at stupid o’clock, so I expect to be a little bit sluggish on my first day, but the excitement of a trip usually perks me me right up when I arrive.
I aim to bring back a bag full of lovely images, so stay tuned for some shots of Croatia in a couple weeks!
Three weeks and a whole lot of memory cards later, I’m back from my trip to Morocco, and I’ve enjoyed the laziest of Sundays.
Being a photographer in Morocco is sometimes like being a kid in a candy store except that you have no spare change. You’re surrounded by people with incredible faces full of character and interest, but the majority of them are so resistant to having their picture taken, you miss a lot of opportunities for wonderful portraits.
But of course, Morocco has more to offer than just portraits. Landscapes and cityscapes, deserts and mountains, wildlife and life in general.
Really, it has more to offer than just opportunities for photography. It’s a place known for its bombardment of the senses and it surely does assault your eyes, ears, nose, tongue and for those visitors interested in a visit to a hammam, the sense of touch. They all get a workout
Hopefully I was able to capture some of it and I’ll be able to start sharing photos sooner than later. It may, however, be a busy week with getting back into the swing of things here in Manchester, so for right now, there’s a couple more Photo of the Day posts from Prague yet to come. After that (possibly next week) I’d like to be able to start cranking out some fully-processed shots from Morocco.
This coming Saturday, I’ll be dodging the English Autumn and heading for the warmer weather of Morocco for three weeks. From November 7th to the 28th, my camera gear and I will be darting around the map of the North African nation.
By all accounts, I should expect a diverse range of environments: deserts, mountains, oases, coastlines, and of course labyrinthine cities. I look forward to them all and to having some new adventures to share.
Until I arrive back with gigs of photos in tow, I have scheduled a photo of the day post to occur for every weekday. Starting this Tuesday, every weekday will see a new image from my last trip to Prague will pop up in the morning. Constant photoblog freshness and I don’t even have to be here!
Once back, I’m sure I’ll be spoilt for choice for what photos to share from Morocco. Until then, enjoy the daily photos of Prague!
Last year, I was in Cape Town, South Africa for a couple weeks on a product shoot with work. It was a hectic schedule though – it left almost no time for seeing the city. That was a bit of a shame, of course since Cape Town is a captivating place with a lot to explore.
The top of the list of things to see is Table Mountain. Ok, you can’t help but see Table Mountain if you’re in Cape Town; what I mean is to see Cape Town from Table Mountain. It took until the last night of my two weeks there to get the chance to ride up the cable car with a camera in hand and gaze out at the magnificent views of the scenery below.
It’s a rather astounding place and I imagine the person in this photo has found nirvana. Perched on a rock high above the city, the sun gleaming in the sky and an endless ocean stretching into the distance – that’s contentment.
Click to see it larger on flickr:
One chilly March morning, a couple nights after a rare English blizzard, we drove along back roads near nameless sections of Hadrian’s Wall. The sun dashed in and out of the thin, high clouds. The cold didn’t deter us from stopping the car and walking along a random ruined stretch of the former Roman wall.
The visit was all too brief and Hadrian’s Wall deserves far more than the couple clicks it got from me on that abbreviated morning stroll. I would happily take on a project of landscape photography in that area. That would mean early mornings in isolated countryside watching and waiting for the light to change over rolling hills intersected by a centuries-old stone echo of history. Sounds like a good way to spend some time to me.
Click the thumbnail for a larger version or see it in the landscape section of my portfolio.
At the Gates of Dawn in Vilnius, Lithuania, views generally look upwards to the painting of Mary or the archway, above which she hangs. But this shot takes a bit more of an earthly approach and gazes downward. It’s the humanist in me, I guess.
Click for a larger version on flickr:
The yorkshire Dales are a magical place and Brimham Rocks is a good example of the little treasures you can find the parks expansive hills. Formed by eons of erosion, these enormous stones stand in strange formations that are perfect for both timid and brave adventurers – kids and rocks climbers can both expect a good day.
I visited last weekend and I’ve put up a small gallery of shots from a day spent wandering between giant stones. Check out my Brimham Rocks photos here.
I woke up on Christmas morning to flashes of light. It was probably about 3:00 or 3:30 in the morning and it took me a few moments to realize what was happening. There was no sound of thunder and only a slight breeze, but off the northern coast of Bali, a lightning storm was raging.
I really did have a tough time getting up. I was convinced that as soon as I got myself out of bed, got my camera and tripod, set them up, and hit the shutter, the storm would finish. I was very close to being right. This shot is the last big strike the storm made before dissipating into the dawn.
This was in 2004, the day before the Indian Ocean Tsunami. Bali’s shores were safe from those waves, and as I had been staying in a fairly remote village called Amed (see more photos from that village here) with no real media outlet to inform me of the disaster, I didn’t even know what had happened until a couple days later. I got to check my email and found a number of concerned messages in my inbox. I was fine, but had the earthquake happened a week later, I was slated to be in an area hit by the waves in Malaysia.
The Christmas storm I witnessed was, of course, unrelated, but when I see this image, I always make the association with the tsunami. The ocean that looks so peaceful here was soon to be so murderously turbulent. And the sky that was unaffected by the waves is here, in this image, in chaos. A reversal of the next day’s sea and sky.
Adding on to yesterday’s post about my “best of” gallery of Vietnam photos, here is a little bonus. For a while now, I have had my photos of Sapa, Vietnam sitting on my hard drive, ready for uploading and just waiting for the opportune moment. Well, today seems as opportune a moment as any. So, let me present you with my photos of Sapa, Vietnam.
Sapa is the mountainous region in the Northwest of Vietnam easily reached by an overnight train from Hanoi. Sapa town is the jumping off point for an area populated by colourful hill tribes in minute villages. The landscapes are lovely and the people are beautiful, especially if you have the chance to get to know them a little bit. I wish I could have stayed longer to develop better relationships with the people and see more of their lives.
Also, a longer stay would have allowed more opportunity to visit more remote villages where tourism had not yet had such an impact. Most place s I went, the initial reaction of everyone there to a foreign presence was to drag out all their crafts and hawk them relentlessly. I don’t begrudge them but it did get annoying at times. But when I got the chance to spend a couple hours with a few local Black Hmong girls at the Sapa market, we connected a lot more than if they had just been trying to sell me souvenirs.
The trip was full of other adventures including:
- that overnight train ride where I got to practice my French with a family that shared my cabin
- visiting the locals schools and playing with the kids
- landing face first on a muddy road after a motorbike accident
- desperately scrambling up muddy slopes to try to get out of a valley and make my train back to Hanoi
- being force-fed rice whiskey at a local wedding and the resultant drunken bargaining with the locals and inevitable stumbling around muddy paths
- playing pool with kids on the world’s most crooked billiard table
- hitching a ride with german tourists in decommissioned Vietnamese military vehicles
- market trips, weird lunches inside the houses of the locals, an ostrich, watching mists roll in and out in seconds, etc.
Have a look at the photos here.
Hanoi was one of my favourite places for street photography, largely because everyone is always in the street. Many businesses that would normally carry out their day-to-day operations inside are frequently found occupying the sidewalks of the motorcycle-choked, labyrinthine streets of the old city. Shoemakers, carpenters, metal workers and other trades and craftspeople are on full display and with a little rudimentary Vietnamese and a friendly smile, you can find some great subjects for your shots.
One of my personal favourite shots from the time I spent there is the one below. Again, this is another one from my brand new portfolio site, this time from the people section. Click on the thumbnail to see the full size:
As tough and mean as he looked, I couldn’t bear passing by him without at least trying to get his consent for a photo. I could have walked across the street, slapped a long lens on my camera and covertly snapped a candid, but I had a feeling I wouldn’t be altogether pleased with the result. His appearance was so engaging, I felt I would lose some of that by putting a huge distance between us. Not to mention, I generally think it’s polite to ask when the opportunity’s available.
Armed with one of the few Vietnamese phrases I was capable of speaking, I approached him and the local words for “Can I take your photo?” managed to stumble out of my foreign mouth. The worst he could do was say no and I would have lost nothing except an opportunity for what would have been a somewhat unsatisfying candid shot.
But instead of saying no, he looked at me silently, nodded and then proceeded to take this pose while I got my shot. My Vietnamese was, by no means, good enough to tell him to “act natural” or “cross your arms and look tough.” I got a bit lucky with that, but, to a degree, you make your own luck and this shot wouldn’t have happened without performing the simple act of asking to take the photo.
I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not always easy to overcome the intimidation factor, but you just have to keep telling yourself, “the worst they can do is say no.”
I’m hoping I can follow up this brief visit of my time in Vietnam with a slightly more lengthy stay there – I would like to gather up some of my favoured shots from there into a “best of” gallery on this site. It’s a fantastic, beautiful country that deserves a longer look than this little blog post here. Stay tuned.
For those of you in need of a winter holiday, maybe these sets of images will coax you from hibernation:
- Bjorn Holland’s motorcycle trip across Europe and Asia has yielded some lovely lovely panoramas that make me want to visit some beautiful, barren landscapes in the “Stans.”
- The Sacramento Bee has a nice gallery of frosty winter scenics here.
- The Big Picture comes through with a couple more winners. First, there is this series of winter images that features photos from the Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival in Harbin, China. The Harbin festival seems to be the bigger, more gaudy brother to Japan’s Sapporo Snow Festival. I’m sure both of these would be great fun.
- And again from the Big Picture: More of London from Above. Great aerial photography by Jason Hawkes.
Of course, every trip is going to be different, but it’s always fun to have some insight into someone else’s preparations.
He also discusses a couple of books by Bob Krist on travel photography in this post. If you haven’t checked out his work, have a gander and get jealous about how much he has travelled.
And thus ends a month of jet setting. I’m now home in the UK from Cape Town after participating in some great work out there. We had a fantastic team whose personalities gelled perfectly and whose knowledge and ability got the job done efficiently and effectively. Thanks to everyone out there for a great time. I genuinely enjoyed the experience.
And that was just the work! The rest of the trip that wasn’t spent behind a computer was highly enjoyable as well. Though there wasn’t a lot of time for sightseeing and slacking off, I did manage to take in a few sights including Table Mountain, Cape Point, the waterfront, the Christmas marching bands and the tourist market. Then there was the numerous drives and stops around the city and beyond that afforded great views of the picturesque mountains and bays, or the calm respite of the beaches and wineries.
Really, my impression of Cape Town is pretty different from what I would have if I had travelled there simply as a tourist. For one, I wouldn’t have been staying in a hotel that nice. I’ve been spoiled and I will now miss that little chocolate that appeared on my pillow every night!
I suspect that most travellers are also not touring the mansions and swanky homes of the area. For each of the locations on our shoot, we ended up at some palace of a home that usually had a incredible view of a mountain or overlooked the sea via an infinity pool. They were the kind of place you couldn’t afford to buy and maintain even if you won the lottery. I don’t know how these people do it.
Contrast that with the glimpses we had of the townships from the road, or the wilderness that exists beyond (and in some places within) the city’s borders and I suspect there a few different experiences to be had in Cape Town. My experience of the place was that of some rich European, not of a traveller visiting Africa. Of course, that means I’d love to go back in a different capacity sometime to explore those other paths.
With Christmas rapidly approaching, I now have to squeeze in a trip to the shops to get some presents. Rather than buy carved, wooden giraffes from South Africa that wouldn’t fit in with everyone’s decor in the UK, I’ve decided to try to find gifts that suit their recipients a bit more than stereotypical tourist trinkets. Not sure when I’m going to get to do it though!
There’s also plenty of photographic work to be done. I do have a few photos from South Africa that need processing, but more dauntingly, a massive pile of them from my recent trip to Spain. Plus, my outdated portfolio site is in dire need of an upgrade. And those are just a few of the top priority items on my long to do list, so I might find myself wandering away from Christmas festivities from time to time to do some of the work I love. But for my family’s sake, I’ll keep that to a minimum!
The reason I haven’t posted much lately is that I was just on holiday in Spain. Preparations were hectic enough that I didn’t even get a chance to mention it here. Oops. But the trip was great and all the cities I visited (Barcelona, Valencia, Madrid, Zaragoza) were lovely. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to process some shots sooner than later.
Part of the reason preparations were rushed is because, tomorrow, I’m off to South Africa, Cape Town specifically. I’m heading down there as part of a team doing a catalogue shoot, so I likely won’t get a chance to see much of the city other than the locations we’re using for the shoots.
I’m told, however, that I absolutely must visit Table Mountain at night. From the little bits that I’ve seen of Cape Town’s geography, I can imagine it would be quite a view. Fingers crossed that I get a few hours spare while I’m out there.
This stop home was all too short and I will barely have time to settle back in here before Christmas, but happily I will be able to be back here in Manchester before the holiday season has passed. I may even have the chance to buy a present or two!
A short trip from Riga lies the small hills and valleys of Sigulda. A nice spot to get away from the big city, this countryside locale hosts a the ruins of Sigulda castle and also the much more impressive (and much more intact) Turaida castle.
The valley is also home to a charming but tragic legend of a young maiden who refused to submit to the whims of a Polish soldier. Though she was in love with a local commoner, she was lured to a cave by the soldier. When she realized what was happening, she presented him with her “magic” scarf which she said protected the wearer from all injury. To demonstrate its effectiveness, she donned the scarf and coaxed the soldier to swing his sword at her. The end result was an ignorant soldier chopping her head off and an enduring legend of everlasting love.
The caves where the maiden met her end and where she also spent happier times with her love are both popular spots near the Gauja river. Neither of them, however, is going to be too exciting for anyone that doesn’t appreciate the legend – without the tales, the caves are relatively small holes in the side of a low cliff. So, just remember to pack the fable along with you and you should enjoy yourself.
Have a look at my photos of Sigulda here.
Continuing on with my photography of the Baltics, I have just uploaded a gallery of photos of Kaunas, Lithuania.
It’s small old town is scenic and on the other side of the city, the St Michael the Archangel church is impressive. It was in Kaunas, that I had one of my more memorable adventures in the Baltics which involved me poorly planning a route up a hill, hopping a couple of barbed wire fences, narrowly escaping potentially-nasty falls then crossing paths with a drunken member of the Russian mafia (I’m pretty sure!) and having to politely refuse a trip to a strip club with him where who knows what would have happened! The whole thing got my adrenaline going just a wee bit…
If my photos are at least half as exciting, I will have done my job. Check them out!
After a couple of marathon processing sessions, last night, I put up my photos of Tallinn, Estonia. This gorgeous medieval city was almost too wonderful to be real. At times, it felt like I might have stumbled into Disneyland, but it was always much more fantastic than any theme park.
Thanks to a busy schedule, it has taken me a while to put up my photos of Riga, Latvia, but here they are! As with my photos of Vilnius, Lithuania, I have not yet included descriptions or keywords for the galleries – they will be added later. For now, you shouldn’t have trouble finding anything.
Of the three Baltic capitals I visited, Riga felt most like a modern city. It’s medieval old town was not quite as compartmentalized from the rest of the modern developments like Tallinn, for example. Vilnius felt considerably smaller and didn’t seem to come with as many of the trappings of a larger city.
That said, Riga was still a wonder to explore. The art nouveau architecture was ubiquitous and it was impossible to get bored wandering the cobbled streets and visiting the plentiful landmarks.
Have a look at the photos here.
After last night’s glitches were ironed out by a moment of clarity, I can now happily report that my gallery of photos of Vilnius, Lithuania is now up and ready for your viewing pleasure.
I got off to a rocky start in Vilnius with a cab driver and B&B manager both ripping me off. That’s not so great when they’re really the first two people you meet in the country!
It was, however, smooth sailing after that and I gleefully wandered the fantastic medieval streets of the capital of Lithuania. The medieval old town held enough treasures for me to walk until very ugly things started happening to my feet. And then I walked some more. When I have a camera in hand and I’m surrounded by a beautiful city, I don’t notice so much.
In the interest of getting the photos online quickly, I have not yet provided descriptions and keywords for all the images. This will follow once more photos are online, but if you need any further information about any of the photos, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Enjoy the Vilnius gallery!