Jan 232017
 

If you google Riomaggiore you’ll find photos taken from this spot numerous times. It’s one of the viewpoints that first got me to notice the Cinque Terre and eventually decide to give the area a visit.  While I try not to take the same photos taken by everyone else, I don’t think anyone can disembark from the ferry to Riomaggiore and not stop to take this picture.

riomaggiorie harbour with boats and dramatic sky cinque terre italy

 

Jan 162017
 

Typically, the idea of eating seafood at a street food stall would not even be up for consideration for me. However, Cat Ba island is known for its super fresh seafood. So, we stood looking at the array of street kitchens that line the harbour you can see below. Eventually, a German family of four gestured us over and told us that the clams they had just eaten were incredible. With that unsolicited review, we decided that would be the spot. Sure enough, the clams were incredible.

I took this photo the next morning, as we prepared to ship out back to Hanoi.

vietnamese-boats-in-cat-ba-island-harbour-with-karst-islands-in-misty-background

Jan 052017
 

During the UEFA Euros, I was stationed with family and friends just outside Aix-en-Provence. I arrived later than most so when I drove up to the house in my very sharp looking, rented Audi A4, after nervously snaking my way up the steep, tight, windy driveway, I was greeted by people waving from up on the roof. Taking a moment to compose myself and hide the terror I had just gone through, I stepped out of the car and waved back. At this point a couple of friends greeted me from the front door, and immediately began gesturing wildly at the car. I turned back to realize it was rolling backwards down the driveway. As it turned out, the automatic handbrake was not switched on. Luckily I hadn’t closed the door and was able to dive back in and get it under control.

The next day, feeling confident in my ability to drive this car I decided to spend my afternoon in the seaside town of Cassis. With the car full to the brim with people we set off. I successfully made it down the terrifying driveway only to drive straight into a hidden rock at the bottom that I had been warned about but promptly forgot. With the car suffering a significant gouge I pushed on, and it was worth it.

Cassis is a beautiful little town that, at the time, was not as overrun by tourists as we had expected. In the photo below, beyond the traditional fishing boats, you can see the waterfront, loaded with restaurants, across the harbor.

fishing boats in cassis provence france

 

Jan 032017
 

As we kick off the 2017 working year, it seems fitting to post a photo of the lady that got my Vietnam trip going for me. As I was sat, tired from the long journey, and queasy from the small boat I was in on my first day in the Mekong Delta, my mood was lifted by my first Vietnamese coffee. It was delicious and gave me a jolt of caffeine that set me up for the day. It also resulted in me talking non-stop for the next hour, as my travel buddy can attest.

The coffee is being served by the lady in the small boat in the middle of this picture, who stopped to deliver her wares to each boat at the market. She had everything she needed to make hot or iced coffee on board,  and blend it with super sweet, condensed milk. I’m pretty sure my face looked a lot like the kid on the left before I had a cup too.

boats heading to market in the mekong delta vietnam

Jan 012015
 

Happy New Year everyone. So, last year’s attempt to post a photo every day fell flat about half way through. I didn’t do a lot of traveling in early 2014, and when I did it was because I got to go to the World Cup in Brazil. There was too much distraction at that time for me to take a lot of pictures!

In November I finally got to set foot in Asia with a three week holiday in Vietnam. I now have a fairly sizable stock of photos to show you!

This first one is of Hoi An, an ancient trading port on Vietnam’s coast, known for the abundance of tailors and original French colonial architecture.

Night time photo of Hoi An, Vietnam with lights reflecting in the water and women on boats.

 

Jan 092014
 

On my first day in Guatemala I was woken up by the intense heat. I’d spent the night sleeping surrounded by 3 fans but still woke up drenched with sweat. I took a shower, and set out to explore my new surroundings. After a quick lap of the island town of Flores, I flagged down a kid passing by in a launch and arranged to be taken on a tour. I took this shot as we returned to the boats after our first stop, a breathtaking hike to a viewpoint looking out over the Lago Peten Itza.

Two traditional launches or boats on the shores of lake petin itza, Guatemala

Nov 062012
 

I uploaded a photo very similar to this one here. I don’t know why, but I wasn’t quite satisfied with it. I’m a lot happier with this version.

Three red boats in a harbor with water reflections of the boats and blue sky with clouds in Stykkisholmur Iceland

Sep 252012
 

In the Snæfellsnes peninsula, where we took a detour  on our way to the Westfjords, is a beautiful old fishing village called Stykkishólmur. We stopped off for lunch where I had the biggest mussels I’ve ever seen. They were delicious. Then, I wandered down to the harbor for a few photos before continuing on our way.

Red boats with others with a blue sky and calm water docked in a old fishing village in Stykkishólmur, Iceland

 

Sep 192012
 

Today’s Photo: Lake Como

A visit to Lake Como was recommended to me by my uncle. I really knew nothing about the place but had faith that the two hour drive would be worth it. The plan was to hop on the ferry for a low cost “cruise” up the lake followed by lunch and a trip back. I thought it could provide a good opportunity to ratchet up a few photos.

As it turns out, Lake Como is beautiful. Mountains plunged from the blue sky into the deep water. Boats of all shapes and size plied the waters around us as the ferry chugged its way up the lake, from village port to village port. I definitely took a lot of pictures. I’m not sure how usable a lot of them are as a moving ferry doesn’t make for an ideal base. It was really a sort of spray and pray situation. I just kept taking photos in the hope I’d get a few I could keep. I think I’m happy with today’s photo. But, I do have to question whether it would make the cut if I’d gotten to go down to Portofino and the Cinque Terre where I had two days of shooting pretty well planned out!

The Technical Bits

Elia Locardi, over at Blame the Monkey, does this for each of his photos so I’ve decided to give it a try.

Camera: Canon 5d Mk II
Lens: EF70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM
ISO: 200
Exposure: 1/320, 1/1250, and 1/80 at f/7.1

Taking the Photo: This is one of the few photos I took on Lake Como that I remember putting a bit of thought into. I wanted to use as big a zoom as possible to compress the image and make the mountains loom over the village and the boats in the foreground. I made a quick switch from the 24-70mm lens I was using to the 70-300mm. I couldn’t zoom my focal length up as much as I wanted to, but the effect is still pretty satisfying. If you’ve read my HDR tutorial you’ll know that I usually keep my ISO down at 100 to minimize noise as the HDR processing emphasizes noise dramatically. But, as I was shooting handheld (no point in using a tripod on a moving ferry) and had a moving subject I wanted to freeze so I bumped the ISO up a touch.

Processing: It was a hazy day, and the camera emphasized this fact, so I wound up with a very dull, flat set of images. I processed them in Photomatix as usual and then did a lot of work adjusting the contrast in Photoshop to try to breathe a bit of life back into it. I used layers to selectively adjust the contrast, and saturation of different parts of the image. Then I realised that the mountains had come out very blue. I probably should have used a polarizer on such a hazy day. So, I made myself a digital, graduated warming filter with Photoshop to warm up the mountains a bit. Then, I used Topaz Adjust to boost the detail a bit. The higher than usual ISO and processing work resulted in quite a lot of noise in the sky, ocean and side of the sailboat. I created a duplicate layer of the image and selectively de-noised the problem areas before sharpening the foreground.

Software: Photomatix, Photoshop, Topaz Adjust, Noiseware Pro

Sailboats on Lake Como in Italy with mountains rising from the deep water to the blue sky.