Shooting LA Harbor

Now that we live in San Pedro, I’ve been wandering down to LA Harbor for the occasional photo shoot. It’s one of the busiest ports for container ships in the world and just over the Vincent Thomas Bridge.

The scale of the place is amazing. And since they seem to work 24×7, the place is always lit up. So it’s great fun to work on night photography — once you figure out how to get around the warren of roads and detours.

A small section of the harbor facility:

Port of LA from Gaffey Street

And from Harbor Blvd. in San Pedro:

Vincent Thomas Bridge from Harbor Blvd.

Harbor Facility and Vincent Thomas Bridge

It’s impossible to get close to any of the harbor areas. But that offers creative opportunities.

Crane, Seaside Road

Crane, Seaside Road

The fact of night and a lit up environment gives the most everyday machinery a kind of mythic quality.

Train Engine, Nimitz Road

Crane, Nimitz Road

These loading facilities are all securely guarded and fenced off. They don’t let anyone use the bathroom  if you have a camera. But the main roads are public property. A few images from a pull-off on Navy Way.

Shot from Navy Way, 23 sec exposure

Loading a Ship, Sunset

Shot from Navy Way, 40 sec exposure

Cranes and Container Ship, shot from Navy Way




Living off of the low hanging fruit? It’s not any sweeter.

Some good insights on photo gear from Dan Jurak. There’s way too much pressure to buy the latest — as if a $3000 gear purchase somehow improves a person’a artistry. That fence post shot he did with that old camera is proof that it’s the photographer and not the camera. (On the other hand, look at the EXIF data on the file, the resolution level for the fence post file is tiny.) Regardless, someone’s who’s learning is better off using a camera body that’s several generations back and upgrading when enhanced features make the upgrade a step forward.

Dan Jurak's Alberta Landscape Photo Blog

landscape, prairie, winter, dan jurak, alberta, snow, cold, fencepost, farm, rural, fence post,

The days have become shorter up here. Today a cloudy grey sky and a predicted high of -7 Celsius is forecast. It’s gloomy outside and some people find weather like this depressing. Call me weird but I find peace and tranquility when the skies are heavy. The landscape is easier on the eye. Shadows are soft or non-existent today.

Lately I have been going back over some very old photos from when I picked up landscapes again. Today is from 2007 and was taken with a now ancient Canon Rebel XTi.

I have attached a screen of the IPTC data just to show that although it is nice to have a high end camera and lens it really isn’t necessary. A Facebook group that I belong to has almost every day a post asking about what is the best camera, lens, tripod, etc. to buy and almost always someone pipes…

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Shadow of the Mountain

Karen has a heartfelt blog post on hiking, life events and the lure (or lack) of climbing the Munros, those 200+ Scottish mountains over 3,000 feet. … and check out her Scotland landscape shots.

Karen Thorburn Photography

I recently attended a concert by my favourite singer songwriter, Dougie MacLean, at the Strathpeffer Pavilion. A third of the way into the set, Dougie kicked off with a new song, ‘Shadow of the Mountain’. One of the many things I love about live performances is the anecdotes between songs; stories that bring the music to life. I follow the same approach in my photography talks, recounting anecdotes to help the viewer engage with the images on a deeper level.

The best stories link together more than one idea and the audience erupted with laughter as Dougie relayed the tale of a tense performance in Anchorage in the shadow of a volcano threatening to detonate. My face creased into a knowing smile when Dougie went on to reflect on how life has a tendency to go ‘pear-shaped’ just at the moment when you think your problems are lying…

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The Manhattan Skyline

Lovely shot of the Manhattan skyline at night from Bear Woods. The long exposure work done beautifully, the old pier posts leading the eye into the image. I’m jealous. 😉

Bear Woods Happenings

The Manhattan Skyline.
So this is my third trip to NYC in the past 5 years or so, and it marked many first for me. Yesterday I had my first bagel and coffee from a street vendor. Good stuff, I know there is better in the city though at some of the deli’s, but I was in a rush. I also took my first ride on a subway train. During the ride back, I got to listen to a traveling piano man on the train who supported his piano around his neck with RG59 cable and duct tape. Actually he was very entertaining. I saw the Statue of Liberty for the first time. Awesome, even from the distance I saw her. I saw the Brooklyn Bridge for the first time. And I photographed the Manhattan skyline from Brooklyn! I had been scouting images for a while in hopes to…

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Kauai Photo Overview

Like all Hawaii, Kauai has plenty to offer: beachy stuff, the arts, music, hiking, shopping. But this is a photo blog. My focus is all about making photography and the creative experience an essential part of your travels. So here are some key possibilities for those of you with a camera (or phone cam) who are thinking of a trip:

Waimea Canyon. This area, above the western side of Kauai, has an abundance of overlooks, pull-offs and trails along Route 550. Waimea is often called “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” but the description doesn’t do justice to either place. The Grand Canyon is hundreds of millions of years older, a vastly different geological history. But Waimea is equally beautiful, with luscious tropical colors — and way less photographed. If you go to Kauai, put Waimea Canyon at the top of the list.

1st signed Wiamea Canyon lookout

1st signed Wiamea Canyon lookout

Waimea, in western Kauai, is removed from the main tourist sights, almost at the end of Route 50 (1 1/2 hours from Princeville). Then from Waimea town, head up 550 for 20 or 30 minutes. You’ll notice two signed overlooks, each is a must see for the photographer. The second of these has some trails that are worth it for those who can handle a bit of exercise. Plus there are plenty of pull-offs on the road. (Remember other folks are on the road too, so take in the sights after you’ve pulled off not while driving.)

Kalalau & Pu’u O Kila Overlooks. At the top of Route 550 are two overlooks of the Na Pali Coast that are also classic photo locations. And the fact that they’re a few miles past Waimea Canyon means you’ll end up doing them on the same day.


Kalalau Overlook

That area toward the top of the road has lots of trails through Koke’e State Park. The park is mostly swamp, a swamp almost a mile above sea level. But there are also trails that take you Na Pali overlooks. Once you’re in that top area you’ll notice signs for Kokee Natural History Museum and Koke’e Lodge. The museum has plenty of info on the hikes.

The two overlooks are at the end of the road. Both are of Kalalau Valley section of Na Pali. The one caution is that by noon these overlooks can get shrouded in clouds. Getting to Waimea and then up to the overlooks can take an hour from Poipu, 1 1/2 hours from Lihue — if you don’t stop.  So go early or the overlooks at the top could be wrapped in fog.

Na Pali Coast. The Na Pali Coast is the most recognizable location on Kauai — because of the movies. It seems like any film that symbolizes unspoiled tropical wilderness does some shooting at Na Pali: Jurassic Park, King Kong, South Pacific, etc. This section of the coast is all about hidden valleys and 3,000 foot vertical drops. It can’t be gotten to by road. So if you want to shoot Na Pali, you hike in, view it from a boat or take one of the helicopter tours.

These boat tours can include snorkeling or dinner. For a more serious photographer, the “sunset” tour will usually deliver the better image. But an adventure rafting tour of sea caves and the coast will be an experience in its own right and a great challenge for your outdoor/sports photography skills. I’ll cover a helicopter tour in a whole blog post.

Kauia doors off tour, Jack Harter Helecopters

NaPali Coast from helicopter


Kauai tours are one of the core entertainments. In fact, if you browse through one of the tourist handouts of the 101 Things to Do on Kauai, 99% will be some form of tour. Some choices (just off the top of the head): Snorkel tours, sunset sailing, kayak, general island, photo oriented, helicopter, tours to the nearby islands, horseback, botanical gardens….

I’ve done a bunch of Hawaiian tours. Whether the tour is physically oriented, cultural, botanical, or artistic, they tend to have high level guides, folks who know the islands. So you come away with an experience of some sort. But the tours can be a significant expense especially for a family, so choose based on your interests. And remember, a little research in a guidebook or here means you can do lots of these sights on your own.

I’ll list a few of these here, with thoughts on how a photo enthusiast might approach the experience:

Snorkeling. Whether with spouse or kids or solo (if you’re a regular swimmer), snorkeling at a good beach is an essential experience. Being suspended in the flowing ocean, hanging with the fish, being in the now. Rent some gear, do it.

As photo locations, snorkel beaches are a mixed bag. There are a few snorkel beach spots that can give you that classic beach shot and there are lots of people shots to be had. So bring your camera and at least a walk-around lens. (And keep it hidden in the car when not in use.) But my suggestion is, plan your snorkel trip to include photography before hand. Set aside some time for each experience.

Scuba Tour. I’m certified and did a scuba thing on Kauai on my second trip — I haven’t done a dive that includes photography, maybe the next time? Scuba can be amazing to do with a properly housed camera. This is Pacific Island diving in a small boat, sea turtles, fish everywhere, how cool is that. But.

But scuba is a huge skill unto itself. And if your diving skills aren’t current I wouldn’t throw the photo thing on top of it. If you’re new to diving, just dive on Kauai — do that experience to the full.

Kayaking up to the Fern Grotto. I’ve never been attracted to one of these tours. A little tour bus, a short kayak paddle, a boat with a Hawaiian music performance, a fern encrusted cave. It’s probably an entertaining family tour but I’m not the target audience.

This kind of excursion can be fun, but don’t expect great landscape images. That jungle flood plane below Fern Grotto doesn’t make landscape work easy. And any tightly manage tour adds other creative challenges — 1. you have to move with the group and 2. getting all those tourists out of the shot is more trouble than it’s worth.

Doing a straight kayak trip though, one you take at your own speed, is fun in its own right. Again, low lying river areas aren’t easy as landscape locations. But you might well get some nice adventure photos and botanical studies.

Seeing, shooting in a tropical garden. Kauai has a several botanical gardens, each full of rare or endemic flowers and trees. These spots are a treasure trove of subject matter and the enthusiast who understands macro work will have a field day.

Macro work isn’t a slam dunk, you’re applying the rules of composition at a different scale. So don’t just put the flower in the middle of the frame and push the button. Treat the flower and it’s setting as landscape in miniature. Think about relationships within the frame, foreground/background, leading lines, etc., all the good stuff.

And for a photo portfolio of the Garden Isle, an orchid is as appropriate a subject as a canyon or a stretch of coast. [No, you don’t need a macro lens.]

Doing a photo tour. We did a great tour with Nathan Sebastian at Kauai Photo Tours (more in a later post). The tour covered about 10 locations on the east and north side of the island and the experience seemed to work for enthusiasts at every levels.

If you don’t know a place as intimately as the locals, you won’t discover the less touristy photo spots on your own, not in a week. You can also cover a lot of ground doing the regular (non-photo) island tour. But with those, you get rushed onto the bus before you get your best shot. After all, a general tour company isn’t planning their locations like a photographer does. Talk about frustrating. To me, photo-oriented tours are a no-brainer.

Helicopter Tour

I understood early on that fully half the island, the mountain core of Kauai, is inaccessible for the visitor except through a helicopter tour. The density of the jungle and the sheer cliffs mean the higher Kauai locations are never seen. These nosebleed-vertical landscapes are like abstract sculptures — as complex as Antelope Canyon but on a mythic scale. I’ll do a whole blog post on the Jack Harter Helicopter tour I did.

Kauia doors off tour, Jack Harter Helecopters

Kauia doors off tour

Beach Images. To the “high art” folks, pictures of beaches are about as classy as black velvet paintings of flamingos. And that’s too bad. Nature colors, like pure harmonies, resonate with the psyche. And the lush jungle, black sand and endless blue ocean have a certain magic.

That said, the average beach photo slips all to easily into postcard cliches. But the problem lies with the photographer, not the landscape itself. It’s easy to get lost in the Fantasy Island prettiness and forget to capture the experience from within the frame. So, treat these building blocks as formal compositional elements and you’re less likely to fall into cliche.

Kealia Beach

Kealia Beach, Early Evening

One-off Kauai shot locations 

There are a bunch of smaller shot locations that are worth seeing. Your photo of this place may not be unique. Everyone who shoots Kalalau Overlook stands in about the same spot. But you’ll want to go anyway  — hey, the rules of craft apply regardless of how many others have visited that location. So take the time to breath in this moment, to see the clouds and the play of light… find your own personal response. Here’s a few of the marquee Kauai locations:

Kilauea Lighthouse, North Shore

Kilauea Lighthouse, Follow signs to lighthouse

Kilauea Lighthouse

Tree Tunnel, Road to Poipu


Tree Tunnel, Early Morning

Capturing the human experience

People go to these islands to have experiences, to engage with nature and each other. Life happens and in Hawaii, the moments of life feel more intimate somehow. That’s something every photographer should see, and care about. For instance, watching a gang of kids riding their bikes to the Hanalei Pier after school for a swim.

Hanalei Beach and Pier

The Back Flip

You Are Here … at Hanalei Bay Pier (Nathan on camera phone)

Ft. Elizabeth (Russian) Fort, look accross river to where Capt. Cook landed

Dark Clouds, Black Sand, Ft. Elizabeth

A lot to work with.


The lure of Kauai

Growing up an Army brat (and with parents who were brats), the Hawaiian islands were part of our family history, our travel DNA. My mother came here just before the war. And my Mom’s rendition of the old Honolulu show tune, “When Hilo Hattie Does the Hilo Hop,” seemed to capture the spirit of Old School Hawaii. I’ve often wished I had a recording of her version; the last line, “Hattie’s sure to die from too much gin,” is etched in my brain forever.

I liked our trips the the islands, in a family vaca kind of way. But as a writer of a travel/photography blog and the occasional book, I’ve begun to see Kauai, Maui, Hawaii and even Oahu with a new respect. The islands are as intriguing to me as a landscape photographer as Iceland or the Southwestern national parks. Plus, I appreciate the range of nature-related experiences that are available.

Hawaii’s an easy trip from the West Coast, not too pricey if you go the condo route. More important, the islands work on lots of levels: cultural, personal, creative/artistic. But 2 or 3 months ago, when I was trying to imagine the shape of our next little trip, Kauai in particular kept coming to mind.

We’d been to the other 3 islands in the last five years. But M had never done Kauai, so she wondered how it stacked up against The Big Island and Maui (her fav). I hadn’t been on Kauai in over 15 years, when I did an outdoorsy solo trip.

I’ve come so many times and know the basics, beach, luau, snorkel tour, restaurants, a smidgeon of Hawaiian culture and ecology — all that good stuff. And all those choices become more personal if I add in photography and a helping of creative exploration. That was my idea.

Anini Beach, Afternoon Swim

Anini Beach, Afternoon

An Old Photo in an Album

My first Kauai experience had been a family trip there in the mid-90s, a few years after Hurricane Iniki had leveled much of the island. That trip didn’t do much for me, no time on my own to explore.

The second trip to Kauai did stay in my head, partly because of a photograph. That trip had included a scuba trip, the NaPali Coast hike, the Waimea Canyon and Overlook drive and general forays around in my rental car. I started to see that deeper side of the island that time, but I never went all that deep.

But the thing from that trip that stayed in imagination was when I took that photo of the Waimea Canyon overlook and a little helicopter.

Waimea Canyon, @2002

Scan of old photo

I only had a P&S, not 35mm; film, so no Lightroom or Photoshop. But I loved that shot. I so clearly remember that overlook. Seeing those cliffs and valleys glowing in late morning light. Zooming in on those massive barrel shaped canyon walls, all that iron-red lava. The “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” indeed. I was just starting to around with composition back then and when the copter entered the frame, well…

I blew it up to 8×10 and plopped it into an album. The quality looked fine to me then. Now, with the photo technology, post prod tools — and more important, with my training and experience, something is missing. The image isn’t flashy, I’d delete it these days. But it has a core of experience. Obviously, on a technical level the image is flat and crude. The moment of creative discovery held so much more than was captured with a mid-90s point and shoot.

That was another motivation for wanting to visit Kauai again, to shoot that location now — now that my equipment is landscape photography grade and I’m a bit better at seeing composition. I wanted to go back, to do justice to Kauai as photo location. So I returned and M came with me.

1st signed Wiamea Canyon lookout

Wiamea Canyon 2017

Going Deeper into a Place

Ultimately, the idea of returning to Kauai for a third time (first for my wife) kept pulling my attention. Most of the earlier trips to Oahu, Maui and Hawaii happened as family vacations. Three generations of family. Everyone did beachy stuff and sightseeing, the occasional museum, snorkeling, a little hiking.

And don’t get me wrong, these were great as family vacations. But all the photography-oriented trips I do now, my  blog posts on Iceland from this last March (or my Zion/Bryce and Arches/Canyonlands books) have taught me to see these classic locations as places of self discovery.

I think the best shot locations have a balance or geology, light, compositional elements, culture, experience. So another motivation for Kauai was to see the island at that level.

And as I sit here in Poipu, I’m starting to figure out what pulls me in. On some level, I’m becoming more enticed by the simple. I’m not letting myself get as sucked into the media-driven angst and the political. Yeats’ line, “… the center cannot hold” is a true statement of our out-of-sorts time. But I won’t let that be my reality.

I’m learning to not let the endless media hand-wringing define me. Instead I’ve been staying more centered, doing stuff that’s as close to fully positive as I can muster. And part of that process is maintaining a creative focus that mirrors the sense of balance I choose to move towards. Kauai seemed a good choice for that internal work.

Hanalei by Farmers Market

Taro Field, Hanalei

Garden Isle

Kauai, the “Garden Isle,” is spoken of as the most fully Hawaiian of the four main islands — because it’s the least touristy, most laid back — closest to the Hawaii of old. Not surprisingly, it’s the least populous of the big 4 with about 70,000 residents. Oahu, location of Honolulu, has about a million folks and gets the lions share of visitors. And the lack of population density allows nature to become primary, to take center stage.

Kauai has also practiced been a Hawaiian Island longer. The island was formed about 6 million years ago as the Pacific Plate shifted and volcanos created new land. Oahu formed a couple million years later, Maui a couple million years after that. The baby, The Big Island, was formed half a million years ago and continues to have lava flows.

As the older sibling, Kauai has a more lived in attitude. Six million years of tropical rain have hidden the lava base under thick jungle and create weathered valleys — the most obvious being Waimea Canyon. So the density of nature and natural colors creeps into your spirit when you’re here. And when a photographic artist puts the attention on these elements, it can have a healing effect on photographer and audience.

And after all, that’s a core value of landscape photography, using nature to remind us that harmony and order exist. Going to Kauai allows me to immerse myself in this aspect of life.

Kauia doors off tour, Jack Harter Helecopters

The weathered core of time

Photo Road Trip to Iceland’s South Coast

I’d hoped the South Coast would be the highlight of my Iceland trip — and it was. This part of Iceland was extraordinary and not just because of the warm sun. There are several marquee photo locations along the coastal plain, Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls, Black Sand Beach, Dyrholaey Peninsula, Glacier Lagoon, Diamond Beach.

But there’s also simple beauty along Route 1. The little pull-offs you discover won’t be flashy — but can be a delight because you’re noticing composition and balance in the small things others overlook. Improvising. For an enthusiast, a few days of shooting along the South Coast is pure heaven.
some notes

Ring Road pulloff… You don’t need a fancy waterfall to get your juices going, just a sense of land and light

A little warm sun does wonders after 5 days of wind, cold rain, snow. Watching the vast landscape unwrap as the miles unfold, that is a tangible pleasure. You notice the scale of the coast, the high plateau (there on the left), then the white of the glacier behind, the stream beds of black obsidian, and stately clouds. You start to imagine Norse gods striding the floodplain, trolls turned into stone.

Driving the 4-wheel rental southeast from Reykjavik that afternoon was the perfect antidote for a cold LA boy. Yes, I was starting my drive three hours later than planned. But that was necessary, that’s me getting my act together.

When I had walked out of the Reykjavik airport that first morning and ran into real Iceland weather, I realized how bad my clothing choices had been. Iceland can be brutal in March, that’s why I spent time that morning on the main shopping drag, Laugavegur Street, getting warmer gear (esp. for head and face), a map and trip food. Being aware of the necessities of solo traveling — that’s why I had opted for the 4-wheel drive in the first place.

Once I was fully packed, I called Lagoon Car Rental for pick up. The attentive Lagoon service person picked me up, did the paperwork, then took time to walk me around the Duster. I rarely rent a 4-wheel and wanted to check on the shifting, the GPS, the various idiosyncrasies. She also gave me a heads up to hold on tight when opening the car door. It’s not uncommon for a car door to get ripped off by a strong gust. I mentioned to her I appreciated her thoughtful tips. (An hour later, that tip saved me some dough.)

Trusty Duster

My trusty 4-wheel. … notice the width of the shoulder.

I was already familiar with the other challenge of driving in Iceland. Tourists (like me) love to pull over on those narrow roads and take a photo. That can be annoying when someone else does it and with these roads, risky behavior. Driving conditions are challenging enough in March without having the guy in front slow to a crawl for no apparent reason. There’s also an issue with losing control of the car on the shoulder. The shot above shows the width of the average road shoulders on Route 1, about 2-3 feet. The rest is unsupported gravel with little or no traction.

This pull-off marks where the Ring Road drops down to the low lands of the coastal plain. It’s also the spot where I almost lost the car door — the wind was blasting that hard.

By noon I was on my way, letting the GPS guide me out of the city center over the plateau and down into the lowlands of South Coast. On the road again.

…to be continued

Do a photo tour or choose your own path

Visiting Iceland, a photographer has three choices, to do general day tours to the marquee locations, take dedicated photo enthusiast tours or rent a vehicle and shoot Iceland on your own terms.

I did a couple of standard day tours and they’re worth the money. For $50-$200, you get carted around to the famous spots with someone else handing the logistics and giving you insights on the place and people. The tour quality around Iceland is fairly high.

But as a photographer a one-size-fits-all tour has issues. You’ll be moved when the group is bored, you won’t have control over when you’ll visit that photo spot (kinda important, that one), and some spots won’t be of particular photographic interest. So I treat these tours as location scouting. I’ll get some good images on a general tour but often to get a definitive image, I’ll probably have to return when the time is right.

Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Dritvik

Taken on a general tour of Snaefellsnes Peninsula — I was complaining about the fierce cold the entire tour but I couldn’t have gotten this shot on a warm, sunny day.

Doing the photo enthusiast tours solves all those issues. The guides are pros, other folks from in country or a pro from the US who comes regularly. They’ll take you to a great set of photo locations when the light is good and they’ll give as much assistance is you need. Plus you’ll be with a small group of photographers. They may not all be pros but they are there because they appreciate the craft. Down side of these tours, they can be nosebleed pricey.

The third choice is to do your own pre-trip research, rent a car, get lodging, find places to eat. More hassle but a fairly cheap way to do things … and total freedom. The unique nature of the landscape seems to feed your creativity. So if someone suggests you visit a location you never heard of, it’s nice to have the freedom to go for it.

And really, it’s not that hard doing your own photo tour. If you made it to Iceland in the first place, you’re savvy enough to find a B&B and rent a car. The Ring Road is good (depending on the season), the local accommodations are fine and the people you meet make all the difference. Icelanders you meet know their country, they’re helpful and may speak better English than you. So if you do decide to travel on your own, you’ll get plenty of support.

The B&B host I stayed with in Vik gave me the full map tour after breakfast. I peppered him with lots of questions and picked up ideas none of the guidebooks mentioned.

Doing the tour research

Of course if you go your own way, you can’t just wander down to the front desk and have them take care of it all. You’re doing your own research both logistical and in terms of your shoot locations.

For me, the first step in my South Coast walkabout was looking at Iceland photos and seeing where those places are. I set up a Pinterest page just for Iceland here. I looked at where the tours were going. I looked for out of the way spots as well as the marquee photo locations. After all, there’s a reason the famous waterfalls attract photographers — even i you have to use Photoshop for crowd removal. (Why doesn’t Lightroom have a slider for that?)

So I study potential shoot locations, look at the images, do the planning, all based on my artistic interests. It didn’t take long to realize the more interesting spots and plot each on a map of the South Coast.


A few lodging tips. First, the country has become a hot location and there are less lodging choices than there are potential visitors. So book early.

Don’t rush. Expect that the drive will take longer, that you’ll need to eat and get gas and hang out at the BnB. Don’t treat your personal photo tour like a forced march. Enjoy the place.

I suggest that for a 3 day to 3 week road trip, you’ll want to plant yourself at one or two central locations within that corner of the country. For my South Coast trip I knew I had to take one day for spots along the road south (Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss waterfalls), another day or two at Vik, then another day for the locations further west like Glacier Lagoon. At each spot I found lodging relatively close to those photo locations.

Renting the car in Iceland

So I put together a roughed out itinerary, booked the guest houses through AirBNB, and got on line to price car rentals. I wasn’t sure if I needed to spend the extra $ to rent a 4-wheel, so I contacted the rental places.

They all recommended that I get a 4-wheel since I would be there at the end of March. Yes, their job is to suggest the pricy option; but it made sense. In March, you can definitely get hit by a snow storm, even on the South Coast. A 4-wheel was another $20 a day but for a 3 day rental, it was worth it for the piece of mind.

[In fact, for one of my group tours, they had to drive a second bus in from Reykjavik because the first couldn’t handle the snow and wind we ran into. Iceland in March.]




Paris, France : Rue Crémieux

It’s always a pleasure wandering around the Paris neighborhoods, camera in hand. A morning wakeup shoot (and croissant), a walkabout of the Latin Quarter, Luxembourg Gardens, that mythic cemetery … evening photos (with dessert) in a dozen places.
Paris fans start to look for locations that have that uniquely Parisian feel to them. And I hadn’t heard of this one. Have to add it to the Paris list …. thanks Pierrre

Pierre P. Photography

Paris, France - Rue Crémieux Paris, France – Rue Crémieux

For those who take the time to wander in every nook and cranny of the city they visit, Paris is a place full of hidden wonders that will never cease to surprise them.

Take Rue Crémieux for instance. This tiny street is well hidden near one of the most important train station of the capital city of France, Gare de Lyon. The district is rather modern, full of austere Haussmannian buildings. And yet, in the middle of it, you find one of the most colourful streets of Paris. A tiny bit of heaven where the quietness contrasts with the usual hustle and bustle of the city.

Though one might believe that the street is an old keepsake of the past, Rue Crémieux actually is pretty young. Indeed, it was only built in the late 19th century. It was named after a French lawyer and politician…

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Wedding Moment, Florence

I’ve been adding more stuff to my Viewbug home page these days. I like the eyeballs and the feedback I get so posting there’s become part of my blogging/travel writing approach. The average Viewbug visitor is an enthusiast. And as a photographer, I’m intrigued by which of my images evokes engagement and why. As a writer I’ve figured out that when I talk directly to another photographer, my writing hits the level of style that I like.

The point being, to feed Viewbug I’ve been returning to some of my older work. Two years is a long time for me and I’ve done a lot of exploration since both in style and my post-production work. That means I can’t just export all these old Italy shots en mass to Viewbug, I have to touch them again in Lightroom or Photoshop.

Because that’s part of the deal I have with myself. If I can’t see my initial composition idea in the frame, if it isn’t at least in the ballpark, I can’t post it.


So for these older images, I’m standing back and seeing the images as experiences that engaged me. I mean, that’s why we travel right, to be engaged on an artistic and a personal level. And coming back to this little moment, these bride and groom images from Florence, was fun. So to set the stage:

It’s Florence in mid-July; it’s as hot as Florence gets. I was there for most of a week, staying at an AirBnB doing various (non-photo enthusiast) tours, taking reams of images, walking the streets — showering as often as possible to keep it together.

Because it’s Italy, stuff happens, especially when I’m on walkabout.  And on this particular afternoon I was roaming the piazza just outside the Uffizi Gallery. I had a 5D Mark III at that point and the old 24-105mm was my walkaround lens. That allowed me to keep some distance and not intrude on a bride and groom who had come all this way to capture their dream.

And to put it as Petrarch might have, “… and the wandering enthusiast came upon a wedding party who had set up in the piazza on that sun-drenched afternoon. … The lusty wench in her wedding dress, the groom, bemused but uncertain …” K, maybe not Petrarch.

Anyway there was a bride and groom doing wedding shots in the afternoon light.  I knew that doing shots of brides being photographed is an obvious trope. But in street photography you want to find people that are invested, in the moment. And who cares if other photogs have done stuff that’s similar,  I don’t have to sell the shot.  I’m doing a photo walkabout and Italy has presented me with a bride working her magic with a photographer.


Two artists at work

The thing I like about these kinds of street scene opportunities is that the human relationships are so well expressed in visual terms. The photographer, working with the bride. She strutting her stuff while the the groom, a fifth wheel for now, watches stiffly.

Going for the closeup

At the time, I framed this shot as the previous. But with hindsight, it was obvious that the real shot was this closeup. So no groom; I cropped tight enough so the viewer could get the energy between model and photographer.

That played out for a bit and then they seemed to wrap things for the day. I’m sure their costumes were painfully hot by then.

But there was one final moment. And this was the shot I liked best.

Wedding Selfie

The whole thing moved along fast, it’s street photography. You need to see moments and respond. So my focus was to shoot from where there was good light, to quickly frame that moment and not worry about a chair in the background.

This final frame was also a wrap for my walkabout . I wandered back to my AirBnB apartment, took another shower and kicked back till the evening light kicked in.


I doubt that I’ll do anything with this sequence beyond the blog and Viewbug post. So I didn’t eliminate the chair or poster behind the bride in Photoshop. I did touch this one in Lightroom yesterday — darkening the photographer’s  back, adding some (negative) Clarity and (positive) Saturation to the bride’s face to give her a dewy glow.


Under a Night Sky

Nice post of northern lights shoot. Dan captures the feel you get shooting at night. The image is more intriguing than the usual aurora shot, the foreground structures seem centuries old in that weird light. The aurora itself is less defined than the usual, maybe a bit misty.

Dan Jurak's Alberta Landscape Photo Blog

aurora borealis, northern lights, prairie, harvest, crops, granary, farm buildings, green glow, night photography, Dan Jurak, long exposure,

For whatever reason my interest in the night sky has returned. I have dabbled off and on with it for a little while but it was more out of trying something new and seeing what I could make of it.

The past couple of weeks has had me watching aurora forecasts on the internet. When the forecast looked good the night sky around here seemed to get clouded over obscuring the northern lights.

Tuesday night, last night things didn’t look promising early on but I kept checking to see if things would change if only because the skies were supposed to be cloudless through most of the evening. Around 10:00 p.m. an hour after the sun had gone down there was still a bit of light on the western horizon and I figured that I would at the very least go for a short drive in the country. If nothing…

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