Location Scouting on the Via Dinarica
Jun18

Location Scouting on the Via Dinarica

I know, I know, I’m so slow at getting updates on the blog lately.  I’ve been so focused on building my newly minted Vlog, that the blog has been a bit of a time crunch victim.  But, alas, here I am with an update. I spent a couple days in Bosnia & Herzegovina, which is a country I’ve only spent a very small amount of time in. The goal of this trip was to join a buddy who founded an NGO building, and promoting a trail called the Via Dinarica.  We set out for 2 days to do some location scouting along the Via Dinarica to try to find some of the most epic photo spots, and maybe toss around ideas for ways to promote it. About the Via Dinarica I’m not going to get into too much detail, because I talked about it on my last trip to Bosnia.  But, essentially, it is a mega-trail that spans all the way across the former Yugoslavia.  The trails start in Slovenia, and stretch all the way to Albania and Kosovo. In reality, there are 3 trails.  The blue trail follows the coast, the green trail cuts through the forests, and the incredible white trail follows the highest peaks of the Dinaric Alps.  My buddy Tim’s organization has been working to build sign posts on the trail, get communities engaged in tourism opportunities like accommodation and restaurants, and mapping things out in various apps.  It’s a pretty incredible project, and seeing the progress from this year to my last visit has been amazing. The Most Remote Village in Bosnia One of the locations we came to on the trail was a village called Lukomir.  This is the most remote village in Bosnia.  In fact, during the snowy months of winter, the village is completely inaccessible. Lukomir’s location – along the white trail – is absolutely epic. The old village sits right on the edge of one of the most dramatic canyons in all of Europe.  Everybody in Lukomir knows Tim, and we spent some time with an older couple who are like his Bosnian grandparents. They were incredible sweet, and it was fantastic to have a bit of a cultural interaction like that – something that’s so hard to find in modern day Europe. Boracko Lake and Kravice Falls A couple other amazing spots on the Via Dinarica we went to were Boracko Lake and Kravice Falls.  Though the weather was terrible when we got to Boracko, the spot is beautiful. There were lingering clouds, and stunning reflections on the lake.  With the weather cold, we started our day off with...

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The Famous Bridge in Mostar (Photos and Video)
May30

The Famous Bridge in Mostar (Photos and Video)

I left Montenegro after a couple amazing weeks in both Kotor and Budva, and headed into Bosnia & Herzegovina.  I wanted to check out the city of Mostar and it’s famous bridge – Stari Most.  I missed out on the city on my first trip into Bosnia, and have had it on my list of things to do and photograph since then.  Thus, since I really only had a couple days to photograph Mostar, and explore town, I put all my focus into the famous bridge.  I spent an entire day location scouting, flying my drone, and photographing the bridge from a couple different angles. Where to Photograph the Mostar Bridge? I found that there really aren’t as many options as you might think.  Also, when I was there, the water levels were extremely high which actually cut down on the number of options.  That said, there really are three locations that are going to give you the best angle of the bridge. South of the Bridge – Viewing Platform Just south of the bridge, you’ll see a bit of a terraced platform.  This is the place that people who jump off the Mostar Bridge swim to when they’re done.  It’s also likely the best place to photograph Stari Most from.  In fact, I think it’s the only way to get a clean shot of the bridge with no other obstructions.  I photographed the bridge and worked to frame one of the mosques under it.  I didn’t get great light, but it worked. Kujundžiluk Pedestrian Street There’s a restaurant north of the bridge on Kujundžiluk street which has pretty good views.  The restaurant seems to close really early, and they don’t seem to mind people going in to take pictures.  That said, don’t linger here. If you go here to take pictures at least buy a drink. Koski Mehmed-Pašina Džamija Mosque If you’re willing to climb the minaret of this mosque, the views are fantastic.  I didn’t, however, climb because the light was extremely harsh the afternoon that I would have been able to go up.  Instead, I flew my drone even higher than the tower to get a similar angle. Note that you have to pay to go in and climb the minaret. Where to Stay in Mostar I stayed at a place called Villa Park. The place was beautiful, but it was a bit of a walk from the old town. However, if you don’t mind the 10 minute walk into the old town, the place is an absolute bargain. I paid about 20 Euros a night and had a balcony over the river. Getting to Sarajevo from Mostar There’s...

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A Travel Photography Guide to Kotor, Montenegro
May18

A Travel Photography Guide to Kotor, Montenegro

When I mentioned Montenegro as a potential location to spend a couple weeks, my social medias exploded with people shouting a resounding “yes!”. In particular, they pushed me to go to Kotor, a small historic town settled into the southernmost fjord in Europe.  Within a minute of arriving, I understood why so many people were taken by this destination.  It’s absolutely spectacular. Though my travel schedule is generally pretty quick, I spent a full two weeks in Kotor to give myself enough time to shoot photography, relax a bit, and get some “office work” done on my computer.  Over those two weeks, I shot a half dozen or so locations, so I thought I’d put together a bit of a travel photography guide to Kotor.  Whether you’re hear for a week, or you’re just stopping off for a couple hours off the cruise ship, there should be ample options below for you to choose from. Saint John Cathedral A climb up towards the fortress is the most obvious place to look for the best views of Kotor. However, before you get to the fortress you’ll pass Saint John Cathedral which is about halfway to the top.  The cathedral makes for a great photo location.  It adds some scale to the city below it, and is great both on its own and as an element in a cityscape image of Kotor.  If found this to be a great spot for sunrise, but it also works at sunset. The Fortress After climbing past Saint John Cathedral, the walk up to the fortress will leave you with dozens of great locations for massive overviews of Kotor and the bay.  There’s no one particular place on the trail that’s significantly better than another, but just before you reach the fortress itself, there’s a bit of a platform/open area that is a great spot to set up a tripod. I think the views are better from just below the fortress rather than right on top of it.  It depends on the time of year and the angle of the light, but this is again a better sunrise location than sunset, although either work. Grass-roofed Church This was my favourite photography location in Kotor, and though I didn’t get good light when I was here, I got some decent photos.  I also go some pretty cool drone footage from here. Check out my vlog from the church for that footage. This is a great location for sunset in the summer because on a clear day the light will hit the peaks behind the church and you should get beautiful alpine glow.  I wasn’t so lucky, and...

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A Quick Trip to Florida
May12

A Quick Trip to Florida

I’m the type of traveller who just cannot resist a couple days of exploring, no matter how burnt out I may be from being on the road.  So, instead of flying back directly to Europe from my trip in the Dominican Republic with Fathom Travel, I rented a car and headed south of Miami. I had full intentions of exploring both the Everglades and the Florida Keys.  The only problem was: I was burnt out.  It didn’t help that the internet didn’t work at my hotel meaning I had to spend my days at Starbucks in Homestead using it as an office rather than working at night as I should have been.  Seriously Days Inn Homestead, get your stuff together, yo.  Those 2 nights at that hotel were a waste of money. I’d have been better off sleeping in my car. Burnt Out! Recently, I’ve been testing out a new method of travel in my lifestyle.  Before, I was travelling hard. Like, really hard. I was spending 3-5 days in a location and then moving on to the next one.  The problem was, I wasn’t really productive in my days. I wasn’t focusing enough on the destination as I had computer work to do. But, I also wasn’t properly focused on my computer work, because I wanted to be exploring. So, I decided to change things up.  Nowadays I’m travelling for a month at a time even harder than before, and really focusing on shooting and exploring as much as I can over that time.  But then, at the end of that month I’m meant to be taking a month to really slow travel and focus on office work.  By the time I hit Miami, at the end of the cruise, I’d been travelling hard for 5 weeks.  So, I was done. Like, done done. And my body let me know. An Afternoon in The Everglades Despite being completely burnt out, how could I go to Florida without returning to the Everglades?  This place is truly impressive, and although it feels like nothing more than a swamp at time, it really is a natural wonder.  I had intentions of spending a full day photographing the wildlife here in the park.  However, I was thwarted a bit by the fact that there was a lot of construction going on in places where there’s usually a concentration of wildlife, and most of the wildlife was in hiding. I did get a pretty amazing sunset to work with though.  From a landscape perspective, The Everglades are one of the most difficult places in the world to photograph.  They are just so flat.  But, having...

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We’re Going to Cuba! Join Us!!
May10

We’re Going to Cuba! Join Us!!

This is a long overdue announcement. I get emails on a near daily basis asking about when my next travel photography workshop and tour will be announced. And the truth is, my photography partner in crime Jeff Bartlett and I have gone back and forth on about a dozen different destinations, and dates before coming to a decision. We’ve decided to run our next big photography tour in Cuba December 2016! I can’t tell you how excited I am for this. I was in Cuba in October doing some scouting and working with local agencies to see if a trip like this is possible. And, in the end, not only is it possible, but it’s going to be an amazing experience. As you know, Cuba is like a step back in time. I’d say that since leaving Africa 3 years ago it is the most visually interesting country I’ve set my lens on. Every corner of the country is just so photogenic. The landscapes and nature are impressive, the people are some of the most friendly in the world, and the architecture and classic cars are from another era. This photo tour of Cuba will start in Havana on December 4th, 2016. We’ll visit highlights in the country such as Viñales, El Nicho, the Bay of Pigs, Trinidad, and much more. Check out the full 13-day itinerary here. The goal of this particular travel photography workshop, is not to just give you a change to take some excellent photographs with the instruction of professional photographers, but to give you an insight into life in Cuba. We will take some amazing photographs of beautiful things, but we will take away memories far more powerful than any photo. To get the full information on the workshop, head over to this page. There you’ll get information on how to sign up, the costs, and every other bit of information you’ll need. Photos From Cuba Here’s a slideshow of some images from locations this photography workshop will visit.  All of these images were shot in a 3 week period of time. Information for Americans The US government has re-opened its Embassy in Havana, so local support is available in Cuba. There are now direct flights to Cuba from Miami, or there are dozens of daily flights connecting in Central America. The American government has lessened the restrictions on visiting Cuba. However, the rules for travel to Cuba are still very strict. If you have any questions regarding your ability to visit Cuba, please refer to the information provided by your government. Please note that government policies can change, so please keep yourselves informed...

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Rounding Up My Fathom Experience
May08

Rounding Up My Fathom Experience

I started writing about my experience with Fathom Travel immediately when I got back to Miami from the trip to the Dominican Republic.  I got about 200 words into my thoughts when I realized that I needed to let things soak in a little bit.  I needed to take a step back and try to understand what my Fathom experience meant, and what it could mean to those looking to join a trip with the cruise line.  I think that’s important to do. In today’s world of blogging so many of our words are knee jerk, so many of our thoughts are spilled out on paper; written high on emotion.  I wanted to let my emotions come back down to earth before writing this article. What is Fathom Travel Of course, before I can get into this piece, I need to talk about the brand.  Fathom Travel is a cruise line – under the umbrella of Carnival Cruises – that has started running trips down to the Caribbean for cultural and humanitarian purposes.  In fact, Fathom became the first American cruise line to visit Cuba in nearly 40 years recently.  The idea of the trips are to use mass tourism to make a difference.  Instead of lounging on the beach, or swimming with dolphins, guest have the opportunity to take part in “impact activities” such as tree planting, pouring cement, teaching English, or making water filters. Of course, whenever there’s a really quick hit style of volunteering like this, there are critics. And some of them are justified.  I have some thoughts. Criticisms of the Voluntourism Model I’m going to start off diving into a couple criticisms not to be cynical, but because I love the idea of tourism for change and positive impact, and I want to see it succeed. Positive vs. Negative Impact: We have to try to look at the balance. Is this trip having more of a positive impact, than a negative one?  The positive impact is clear and obvious. During the time we were there, we gave 3 new houses cement floors that didn’t have them before. We planted a couple thousand trees. We gave dozens of students, and people in the community a chance to learn a bit of English. But what were the negative impacts? Did we take jobs away from other people? Did our being there have a negative environmental impact? Which way did the positive vs. negative impact see-saw sway?  I think it was to the positive side. Fish vs. Teaching to Fish: A lot of what we were doing sort of fell in the category of handing out fish rather than teaching people...

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