30 minutes in Ramsau, Germany

30 minutes in Ramsau, Germany

The benefits of taking a detour can be substantial at times. In this case, a side trip that led to another side trip left me standing here, firing away.

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The greatest church in the world

The greatest church in the world

The Vatican in Rome is simply breath-taking!

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Just another amazing Italian church

Just another amazing Italian church

An amazing but little-known church in Venice, Italy...

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The painted church of Serbin

The painted church of Serbin

About an hour away from Austin, in a tiny little Texas town, there's this beauty.  It's a painted church dating from the mid 1800's, and it's a real gem.  Step inside and have a look.

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St. Michael's Church, Vienna

St. Michael's Church, Vienna

I just don't get tired of shooting all the beautiful churches that I come across in Europe.  I found this one in Vienna, Austria by accident - sometimes I get lucky!  I'll take it!

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A visit to Drymen, Scotland

Hanging out in a little Scottish village

I am mostly a city person, both by choice of where I live, and by virtue of where I normally travel.  I just end up in cities, most of the time.  So when I have the opportunity to get out of a city and stay in a little village, I take advantage of it - especially in Europe.

The village of Drymen is not far from Glasgow, Scotland (and close to the Glasgow Airport) and honestly, there is not much to do there.   It's a cute little town, but it's sparse.  I believe the population is under 1,000.  How did I end up there, you ask?

Well, I was due to be at a customer event at Mar Hall the following day. Mar Hall is a luxury resort which is reasonably nearby.  Since I had arrived a day early - and couldn't get into Mar Hall - I opted to explore the local area, which includes Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.

I just got on Google and looked until I found a little hotel out that way, and when one came up and was in Drymen, well, my decision was made.  I just booked it, and I'm glad I stayed there.  It was quaint.

Mostly I used it as a base for exploring the nearby Loch Lomond and Loch Ard, but late one afternoon I grabbed a few shots within walking distance of the hotel.  My personal favorite was the old church, and all the weather-beaten tombstones in the graveyard.  I find that stuff interesting, though a little spooky at times.

Well, that's a quick tour of a quaint little Scottish village.  Not much to it, really - but I found it very interesting, beautiful in its own way, and quite photogenic!

5 Things I Love About London

Some thoughts on why London is such a great city for photography.

London is, in my opinion, the first European city that most American travelers end up visiting.  Whether that is due to our shared history or a common language, or something else - I will never know.  But nonetheless, it's either #1 or pretty high on the list of places to go see...and it's a great town.  I can understand why.

While I tend to be of the opinion that you should go see a lot of other places too, I can understand the attraction of visiting London.  It really is a lovely city, and it's easy to get around in.  Plus, there is a LOT to go see and do there.

I go there a couple of times per year on business, and whenever I have free time I make sure to get out and explore all the city has to offer.  Ok, that's not entirely true.  I don't explore all the city has to offer.  I tend to go find interesting and beautiful places to take photographs, and I explore that stuff.  That's really what I'm about.

In fact, I created a list here on the blog of the best places to take photos in London, and you can find that here: http://nomadicpursuits.com/top-photo-spots-in-london/

Anyways, I started thinking about what I like to shoot in London and have simplified it into 5 categories: train stations, museums, churches, bridges, and pubs.  Keep in mind that these are things that I like to shoot.  And while I find all this stuff beautiful and interesting, I realize you may not.  However, I think that at least a couple of these categories will appeal to everyone, so take a look and let me know what you think!

1) Train Stations

Have you ever heard me mention my love of train stations here?  LOL  I feel like I mention that about twice a week.  Every time I go to a city in Europe, I head for the train station and fire away.  I love those things.  I just can't help it, but at least I am aware of my addiction, right?

London has some beautiful ones too - my favorite is probably Kings Cross, but Waterloo is great and Paddington is pretty sweet as well.  But don't forget about St. Pancras, which conveniently is across the street from Kings Cross, so you can shoot both in a short while.  That will save you some time so you can get to your next destination.

This is Kings' Cross - pretty cool right?  This is where Harry Potter caught the Hogwarts Express.

Paddington Station - here you can catch the Heathrow Express and quickly get to Heathrow Airport.

St. Pancras Station - amazing!  Here you can catch the Eurostar to Paris.  Ooh la la!  :-)

2) Museums

Wow, there are some AMAZING museums in London!  The museums in London are pretty well known, and folks head there to see all the wonderful art and sculptures...but did you ever think of them as a destination for photography?  Being a fan of architecture, I love going to museums.  While I do enjoy seeing the art on display, I tend to run out of steam for that stuff pretty quick, and resort to looking for cool interior architectural scenes to shoot.

My favorite by far is the Natural History Museum, which is a freakin' masterpiece!  I just absolutely love that thing.  The British Museum is pretty awesome as well, especially the interior courtyard that you see in my photo below.  The Victoria and Albert is pretty decent, and the Tate Modern is fair - these are strictly my opinions in terms of the architecture, for photography purposes.  If you go to the Tate Modern, there is a cafe up a few floors with a balcony that gives a nice view of the Thames and St. Paul's Cathedral in the distance.

The cavernous interior of the Natural History Museum - don't you want to go see this?

This is just the ceiling of the Natural History Museum - I just love this place!

The grand interior courtyard of the British Museum - just amazing architecture!

3) Churches

No place does churches quite like Europe does, in my opinion.  That is another thing I search out when I travel in Europe, because (again) I love architecture and history, and these things have usually been around a long while!

Westminster Abbey is a monstrous beauty, though you are not allowed to shoot inside.  St. Paul's Cathedral is beautiful, with that fabulous dome on top.  It's well worth a stop, though I admit I have never made it there before closing, so I haven't been inside yet.  There is also a lesser known cathedral, sort of near Tower Bridge, known as Southwark Cathedral, and it's quite beautiful.  They do allow photography there, though if I recall you have to buy a pass if you are using a tripod.

Looking up at the facade of Westminster Abbey - really just a beautiful building.

The dome of St. Pauls' Cathedral under a wonderful sunset.

The main aisle of Southwark Cathedral - pretty sweet huh?

4) Bridges

There are quite a few bridges in central London, owing to the fact that the River Thames flows essentially right through the middle of town.  Everyone knows about the Tower Bridge, and probably the Westminster Bridge too (with Big Ben there at one end of it).  But don't forget about the Millennium Bridge, which is right outside of the Tate Modern (in case you end up there).

Bridges make great subjects, whether you are shooting on them, under them, or from a side.  They're one of my favorite things to shoot, partly because I like the symbolism they represent and partly because they are over water, which I also love to shoot (reflections are high on my list).  

Morning light on Westminster Bridge, with Big Ben standing tall at the end.

This was shot from under the Millennium Bridge during an obviously stellar sunset.

The Tower Bridge, an iconic symbol of London.

5) Pubs

You can't properly go to London without a visit to a pub.  It seems there are a few on every corner, and let's face it, it's just cool to check them out.  Plus, ok I admit it, I like beer.  While they are not all photogenic, at least usually they have cool names.

The Museum Tavern, which is directly across the street from the British Museum from #2 above.  Easy!

The Anchor, which sits along the edge of the River Thames.

The Plough, one of many such pubs that you find all over London.

As you can tell from all the photos, there is just a whole lot to see in London.  Coming at it from the standpoint of a photography addict, there's a lot to shoot there.  And admittedly, this article does not cover everything.  It's a large town and while the core area is not spread out too far, it's certainly easiest to take the Tube from spot to spot, because some of it is just not walkable in a reasonable amount of time.  

When I plan my photowalks there, I do pick an area and plan out a walking route though, within reason, based on sights I want to see and shoot.  There are countless street scenes in between the famous sights, and many iconic landmarks as well (London Eye, anyone)?  In other words, don't take the Tube everywhere - walking gets you out into the city and let's you really get a feel for it.  Plus, you can always stop in a pub to rehydrate!  :-)

Well, that's my list of 5 great ideas of what to spend your time shooting while in London.  London is a city that is culturally rich and great for photography. Enjoy your visit there, and I hope you enjoyed the photos!

Inside Glasgow Cathedral

I love shooting in European churches.  Have I said that before?  ;-)

I feel like a broken record here on the blog sometimes.  I feel like I am always saying something about sunrise, or churches, or street scenes - primarily in Europe.  But the truth is I find that stuff interesting, and you shoot what you like, right?  (Unless you are on assignment of course, but that's not what I do.  I guess I would do it, but it doesn't ever come up.  Speaking of which, if someone needs a photographer to shoot some cool churches in Europe, let me know!)

Anyways, I do love wandering into, around, underneath and sometimes on top of churches in Europe.  They are just such compelling subjects.  It's the architecture-lover in me coming through, I assume.  I do love architecture, that's for sure.

So on one of my visits to sunny Glasgow last year (ok, it's not usually too sunny there, but it sounded good), I made sure to visit Glasgow Cathedral, which is quite fantastic.  Incidentally, it also goes by the name St. Mungo's Cathedral - a name that I love - which always makes me think of a Harry Potter book. I think there was something by that name in one of those books, wasn't there?

The exterior is also pretty sweet, being a big cathedral and looking all cathedral-like, but when I was there I found a bunch of scaffolding around the outside, which is another way of saying that I didn't shoot the exterior.  I guess it needed a good cleaning, or something.  It is several hundred years old.

There also happens to be a local beer there in Glasgow called St. Mungo's and I must say it is rather delicious.  I'm not sure if the church endorsed it, but it's pretty heavenly!

The Marble Church

Another trip to Europe...and more photos of churches!  ;-)

It seems that every time I hop across the pond, I go and shoot a church or two somewhere.  Or maybe three.  Sometimes four.  But in my defense, at least I'm going to church!  Ok, really though, I just find them beautiful, especially in Europe where they oftentimes predate the birth of my own country.  That just makes them more interesting and beautiful to me.  They're monuments, and architectural masterpieces.

This one is no exception.  This is The Marble Church and it sits just next to Amalienborg Palace in central Copenhagen, Denmark.  I just returned from a trip over to Copenhagen about a week ago, and this is the first (and thus far, only!) photo that I have had time to process.  You see, as soon as I returned from Copenhagen, I left with the family on a vacation to Oregon for a week.  

So, it's been basically two weeks since I have been home.  Yes, I'm tired.  But I'm also thrilled to share so many photos that I took in both spots (and don't forget, I was just in Dublin and Glasgow about a month ago, and have barely started on those too).  In other words, expect a lot of European photos in the coming weeks, along with some awesome stuff I shot in Oregon.  I'm getting excited just thinking about it all!

The altar of Iglesia Catedral

You never know what you might find when you wander!

I'm a fan of wandering.  Although I like to plan where I want to shoot in any particular city, I still leave wandering time for myself.  It's a key part of getting things done, in my opinion.  You never really know what you might find when you are milling about somewhat aimlessly.  I have captured many a fine photo doing just that.

This is a great example.  I was in Panama City, Panama and wandering in their Casco Viejo area, which is their historic old city center.  It's a beautiful area full of buildings adorned in the old Spanish Colonial style.  I really like it there.

I had this church on my list, because I had seen photos of the exterior, but was not at all familiar with what the inside would have to offer.  There was some construction around the entrance that day, and a cleaning crew was taking care of business inside, but I stepped in anyways and just started making my way to the altar.  I could see if was pretty interesting, and it was definitely worth the stop!

Here's a "behind the keyboard" view of the shot while I was processing it:

That's part of the awesomeness of Color Efex Pro.  You can easily brighten areas that need it, increase the detail of specific areas, and make color saturation adjustments too.  Powerful stuff!