The little things in Bratislava

The little things in Bratislava

I'm back at it - sharing a HUGE collection of photos from a trip I took to Bratislava, Slovakia.  But this isn't your normal post, featuring some landmark or well-known sight.  This is 16 photos of the little things I found there while wandering with my camera.  Take a look!

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First look at The Sydney Opera House

First look at The Sydney Opera House

Today's post is all about the Sydney Opera House - it's pretty awesome!  I went over to Australia last week, and was able to capture quite a few shots of this iconic structure.  It was #1 on my list of what to shoot, and I shot it - LOTs. So take a look at these 5 photos and enjoy the visual tour! 

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iPhone fun in Sydney Australia

iPhone fun in Sydney Australia

Well hi there!  I made a reasonably quick trip over to Sydney, Australia last week, and came home with a LOT of photos.  But, today's post is a bit of a teaser - just iPhone shots for ya.  I haven't had time to get my Olympus shots processed.  So come back, ok?  There's a lot more coming!  But for now, enjoy these photos and this quick tour of my little adventures Down Under!  G'day mate!

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Walking the canals of Copenhagen

Walking the canals of Copenhagen

A trio of shots from Copenhagen - which has a few canals, as well as awesome architecture!  Also, I am using new software to edit my photos - read more in this post!

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iPhone fun in Amboise, France

Well, hot on the heels on my last iPhone post from France...here's another one: this time, lovely Amboise!

As I mentioned last week in my iPhone post, I am way behind but I am sure trying to catch up.  I'm sure that happens to all of us photographers.  We shoot, process and share...then realize we have skipped over a bunch of stuff!

It happens to me all the time.  Since I process my photos out of order, I am always in my Aperture library looking at shots that I have taken on all sorts of trips to all sorts of places...and I frequently find some real gems and wonder why I didn't get to them sooner.

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It's really the same with my iPhone.  While I don't have nearly as many iPhone shots as I do Nikon shots, there are still quite a few.  As of this moment, I have north of 2,000 photos in my iPhone camera roll.  That may not sound like a lot, but in the last 2 years I have removed at least that many 3-4 times, so the total iPhone library is something like 8,000-10,000.  That number is a guess since I am too lazy to look it up, but it's at least directionally accurate.

The cool thing is that I always find stuff to process on the iPhone, and I always find things I love when I do that.  There's just a lot of content that I am carrying around, and it's awesome to be able to take a few minutes and crank out some artistic stuff.  That's one of my favorite things about iPhoneography - processing photos is not a big production requiring dedicated amounts of time.  I can get a few shots done in 5 minutes.  That's awesome.

Anyways, these shots are also from the family trip last summer to France, but from the little town of Amboise, which sits alongside the River Loire as it winds its way through the Loire Valley.  It's a picturesque area and the town is rather charming.  I loved it there, and would love to go back. 

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In addition to shooting various street scenes, of course I was happy to find a little mural showing good old Leonardo da Vinci, who famously spent time here in his later years.  In fact, his tomb is here, up at the castle/chateau which sits on the hill above town.  I'll save that spot for another iPhone post at some point.  It's pretty wicked.

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And of course, I went out a couple of times in search of a great sunset...and WOW was I ever rewarded for that idea!

Well that's it today folks, thanks for stopping by, and here's one last look at the arch and tower which sits squarely in the historic town center.  So much charm here, you really must visit.  Have a great day!

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Shooting the canals

I really love Amsterdam, but not for those reasons.  :-)

It's a great town in my opinion, and great for photography.  I suppose if you were into street photography, that you would find Amsterdam to be rather colorful and fun for that sort of thing. But as you know from coming here before (if this is your first visit, WELCOME!), street photography ain't my thing.

I don't shoot portraits, weddings, or what is typically known as street photography.  I do shoot a lot of street scenes though.  I love that stuff.  And no, I am not trying to confuse the matter.  

Anyways, in Amsterdam as you know there are a LOT of canals.  The city's identity rests primarily with the canals.  It's defined by water.  So being a guy who loves HDR and reflections, well...that's what draws me in.  I could shoot that stuff all day.

So on my last visit there, I spent one evening out shooting with my friend Michiel Buijse, who is relatively local and a great photographer.  You should go see his work.  He's good.  So we spent a great deal of time shooting things like this, partly because it's awesome and partly because you see this stuff at every turn.  Not a bad way to spend an evening, actually!

Evening in Temple Bar

The Temple Bar in Dublin - beautiful at night!

I love Dublin, and I say that a lot here.  There's a lot to love about that town.  One particular spot that I love there, probably more than all the rest, is the Temple Bar District, and the Temple Bar pub itself.  The area is basically their nightlife and entertainment district, and it centers on The Temple Bar pub itself, which you see in the photo.

The district has retained it's historic, sort of medieval feel and the streets are all cobblestone, which adds to the cultural feeling of the place.  Of course that makes walking a little harder, especially when I am carrying a large camera on a tripod and looking around, not down at what I am stepping on.  I haven't fallen over yet, but have come close a few times!  And yes this area is a magnet for tourists, but I don't care - I just love it.  It has so much character. 

My hotel preference is just a few hundred feet from the Temple Bar, so that makes it really easy for me to photograph it, especially at sunrise.  Whenever I am in Dublin, I always try and get up to shoot sunrise.  It's just amazing to walk these little cobblestone streets in the early morning hours, and not even see another person out.  I just love that.  Conveniently, it makes the photography a little easier too.  :-)

And in case you are wondering, yes this is an HDR photo.  I actually don't shoot too much after dark, but I was headed back to my hotel on the evening I took this one, and just couldn't resist a few more shots.  Of course, I do that a lot!

Sunrise at the Ferry terminal

Catching the first ferry of the day in San Francisco!

San Francisco is a wonderfully beautiful town, whether you bring a camera along to document it or not (though I obviously recommend you do).  When I am there I try to shoot as much as possible, which is hard because I am always there on business.  But somehow, I find a way.  :-)

Actually, "the way" is that I normally get up early and wander the streets before I get busy with work.  That's ok with me.  Though I like my sleep as much as the next person, I like photography better, so I make sacrifices.  Isn't that why caffeine was invented anyways??

On the morning of this photo, I was wandering around the Ferry Building area (which in addition to being close to my normal hotel, is also my favorite building in SFO) and shooting away.  It's a great area because in addition to the Ferry Building, just a few steps away is a great spot to shoot the Bay Bridge from.  It's all good.  In fact, that's the Bay Bridge off to the right there.

So I fired away inside the Ferry Building way before anyone else showed up, and then as sunrise was coming together I popped out back for some of that nice morning light that I alway seem to find out West.  I saw this Ferry terminal and decided it would look cool to snap it with the great color and light...and then a guy walked up to buy a ticket.  I decided to take the shot anyways, and am glad that I did.  I feel like having him there gives it a little different feel.  What do you think?

Exploring Chinatown with my iPhone

Do you ever take a trip and use ONLY your iPhone?

I have done that at times, but not because I don't want to lug my full-frame NIkon around.  I've done it when I think there is absolutely no time for me to shoot on a trip, so I leave my big ole boy at home.  It sucks, but it happens.

Last week is a perfect example of this.  I work for a company based in San Francisco, and we had our annual kickoff last week, which is another way of saying that my days and night were all full.  But being who I am (and needing a little break one day!!) I slipped out for a little walk late one afternoon, and since we were in Union Square, I decided to head over to Chinatown for a little while.

If you haven't been, Chinatown is very interesting and a great place to walk around.  I have shot there once before, early one morning a year or so ago, and found it to be quite beautiful and interesting.  I hope to get back with my Nikon on a future trip.  So I wandered around the back streets and alleys, which I highly recommend doing, and also along the main drag, and took quite a few iPhone shots.

These are all single exposure iPhone pics (as opposed to shooting with ProHDR, which takes two exposures and combines them), and all are adjusted with Snapseed.  Snapseed is by far my favorite iPhoneography app, and you can see my quick review of it here.  I plan to write more about that later.  :-)

So, enjoy the pics and let me know if you have any questions!

Looking into 2014

Looking ahead into 2014

(wherein I discuss future plans and ponder whether I really am a "photographer")

I enjoy the whole “new year” thing.  I find it enjoyable to look back at things that have happened, and to look forward in anticipation of what may come.  There’s something interesting about it.  I guess it’s fun to see how the journey has unfolded.  It never seems to go the way you think it will, and yet it always seems to work out just fine.

I feel the same way about my photography in general, and this blog in particular.  I love this journey that I am on, and it is fun that there is nothing linear about it.  It’s not a straight line from “starting the blog” to “well-known blog”, or whatever you want to put in that last set of quotes.  I’m not really sure what I would put in it, actually.  There’s a lot I want for this blog, apart from it being my creative outlet.

And that is what I am talking about today...  

I have been thinking a lot about this blog lately, and what I would like to do with it, what direction I want to head in, and those sorts of things.  So as I think about all that, I thought it would be fun to just put my thoughts out here and get your feedback, dear reader.  I’ve never done anything like this, so I hope someone shows up and reads it!

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section, if you don’t mind.  I would sure appreciate that!

Ok, so what is all this about?

Here’s the deal.  I have had this blog for 4+ years now, and I love it.  I loving taking photos, and processing photos, and sharing photos.  I love writing up blog posts and adding new things to the blog.  All that is going to continue so don’t worry about that.  I will keep doing that.  But I have been thinking about the bigger picture of what I enjoy, and have realized that I am a little torn about the types of content that I want to continue to add here.

For most of the past 4 years, I have shared a photo here on the blog about 5 times per week, each with a little description of where I was, or something to that effect.  That’s been fun, but it’s starting to feel hollow to me.  It’s a one-trick pony.  It’s basically me saying “I went here and I aimed my camera at this”, 5 times a week.  While I have enjoyed it, it’s not substantive.  

In fact it’s boring, to be very frank about it.  Getting there, being there, taking the photo, processing the photo and sharing the photo is all great - it’s just the short post with a little description gets kinda boring.  Make sense?

I want to add a little more depth to it for my sake, and hopefully for yours as well.

Writing is fun! (but it takes a while)

If you haven’t noticed, more of my recent posts have a bit more writing behind them.  While the writing is generally tied to the shot or the trip I was on when I took the shot, that’s not always the case.  Also, I have done a couple of longer form articles here and they have been well received...and I appreciate that.

They’re also a lot more fun for me.  So in other words, I am starting to write more, and I am enjoying it…and it seems many of you are as well.  I intend to do more of the long form posts….it just won’t be every week, since it takes time to come up with ideas, write them out, and then edit, edit, edit, and rewrite, rewrite, rewrite…..then finally share it (and hope it doesn’t sound dumb, trivial, foolish, or uninformed).

Additionally I have significantly expanded my section on Top Photo Spots in various cities where I have traveled and shot.  I love creating things like that, and expect to do more in the future as I have enough familiarity with a place to create something of value.

Am I a photographer.....really?

When I try and define myself as it relates to this blog, obviously photographer comes to mind first.  That’s the core of the site, that’s what it’s all (mostly) related to, and that will continue.  But there’s a lot more that I want to discuss here and things I enjoy sharing, so I wanted to get your thoughts on it all.

In addition to photography, there’s travel, there’s writing/blogging, there’s my iPhone addiction, and more...the list goes on.  And while I think of myself as a photographer, I also think of myself as more than that.  When I mention to people that I am a photographer, they usually ask me something like “Oh, do you shoot weddings or portraits”?  The short answer is no.  I have no interest in either one of those.

Lots of people do that, and do it well, and love it.  That’s awesome, someone needs to do it, and it’s hard work I am sure.  It’s just not my thing.

As you probably know from visiting here before, I love to shoot HDR photos of places that I visit.  So that usually involves architecture, cityscapes and skylines, train stations, churches and cathedrals, landscapes if I can get to them, and things like that.  In other words, I shoot location-specific things.  That’s what I love to shoot, and that’s what I will keep shooting.  It’s travel photography, basically.  I love to show everyone here what a place looks like.  We have a big beautiful world out there, and my little contribution to the awareness of it is what I enjoy doing.

I am a blogger.

But you know what else I am?  I am a blogger.  There I said it.  I am a blogger.  It almost feels weird to write that down.  I always thought of myself as a photographer with a blog, but in many ways I feel I am a blogger with a camera.  You can get hints of that in some of the other articles I have posted here.

I spend a lot of time on this blog, doing this and that, changing this and that, and writing and posting content.  I spend a lot of time just thinking about the blog, and working on ideas, thoughts swirling in my head.  I have a laundry list of things I want to do with the blog, things I want to add, articles I want to write or am in the process of writing, etc.  So there’s a lot of stuff I am trying to get published here, in addition to the 5x per week photos.

And guess what?  I love all that too, nearly as much as I love my photography...and that’s saying something, because I really love to shoot and process photos.

So as you can tell, I am trying to work through what it is that I am, and where I want to go with this blog, and then figure out how to get there.  It’s a lot to think about. :-)

What I currently do

Here’s a quick list of things that I consider core to this blog (and pretty much in order, I think):

  • HDR/travel photography
  • Travel lists (such as where to shoot in London, or travel photography tips)
  • Blogging/writing related to the above (longer form articles – what I would call an “opinion piece” and what you might deem “rambling”)
  • iPhoneography (I have so many ideas here)
  • HDR Software tutorials / reviews
  • iPhone Software tutorials / reviews
  • Miscellaneous other reviews (my Nikon lenses, for example)
  • Positive quotes and travel quotes (which I really love, and haven’t spent much time on - it should be significantly expanded)

I think that pretty much sums up the current state.  So what’s next?

Here are things I will definitely continue to do here on the blog:

  • Continue the 5x/week posts, but continue to kick up the writing a notch in each post, assuming time permits it each week 
  • Continue to add more lists of where to shoot in certain cities (this is of course travel-dependent, and I have to feel like I can make it comprehensive enough to be worthwhile for my readers)
  • Continue to add other travel and/or photography lists as I think of them (any ideas for me??)
  • Continue to sprinkle in longer form articles every 2-3 weeks (I would love to do this weekly, but that feels like a stretch since I still have so many photos to share here, and the writing just takes me a while to get it to a state of readiness for publishing)

Why do you come to this site, and what are you looking for?

Here are some things I am thinking about…..your thoughts?

  • Do you want workflow/processing tips? (How-To, Before & After, etc)
  • Do you want tutorials? If so, on what topic?
  • Do you want info on why I chose to process a photo a particular way?
  • Do you want general travel info on these places I visit?
  • Would you like a little travel essay now and then?
  • Do you want training on how I use various software products?
  • Do you want ebooks?  If so, what topics are of interest?
  • In other words, what do you find useful?  Why do you come to this site, and what would make you want to keep coming back?

As you can tell, I have a lot of thoughts swirling around in my brain.  I love doing all this stuff, and have a great time at it.  The fact that anyone actually shows up and takes a look is just gravy to me.  If I can help someone, that’s even better.

And you can probably read between the lines and see that I want to write more, and add more substantial content than just a short blurb about a photo that I took.  I also really love travel, and while this isn’t a travel blog in the traditional sense, it is in some respects and I want to explore adding more travel-specific content.

While I cannot promise anything about what I plan to do and what direction this blog will head in, I am certainly open to expanding what is available on my site and sharing it with you all.  I am having a lot of fun with all of this, and I hope you are too.  Even more so, I hope the info that I share is useful, and that you enjoy the photos, the articles and the other content.  Thank you.

Thanks in advance for leaving me your thoughts – I sincerely appreciate it!