Round Up: Albert, My Jersey Girl, and The Cutest Human Beings in the World
Jul19

Round Up: Albert, My Jersey Girl, and The Cutest Human Beings in the World

This is the first installment of the new format on my blog.  Last week, when I announced that there would be a change in the format, the response on social media was very positive  I think people really like having a space where I share, as personally as possible, what’s going on in my life.  And well, yeah, you can always go to my vlog to watch the videos, it’s nice to have a space where things can be rounded up on a weekly basis. I think it gives people who might not have time to check out the vlog every single day a place to come and pick and choose through my previous week’s adventures.  Thus, this is essentially the first week of the round-up style travel blog.  And, of course, if you want, you can always follow me on social media like instagram and snapchat (both brendanvanson) to really stay in touch. That New York City Skyline and Albert I got a new tripod sent to me a couple days ago from my friends at 3 Legged Thing.  Albert, which is their new premier tripod is my latest set of sticks.  To test Albert a bit, I decided to take him out to Jersey City and photograph the skyline of New York City. The quick review on Albert is that it is the best tripod I’ve ever used.  I have used two other 3 Legged Thing tripods in the past, and both were good. But, both were also only nearly perfect for me – Albert is perfect.  It’s so incredibly versatile, as well as being sturdy and lightweight. That’s a combination hard to achieve in a tripod. Oh, and that Manhattan Skyline?  It did look alright, didn’t it? The Best Spot on The Jersey Shore Back on my birthday, Erin took me up The Jersey Shore.  I wanted to see the cheesy/strange parts of The Shore.  We went to places like Seaside Heights, but also got to Long Branch and Point Pleasant, I learned that The Jersey Shore isn’t all bad. So, when Erin told me that she had some friends in another part of The Jersey Shore – a place called Long Beach Island – I jumped at the chance to go and explore it a bit. Long Beach Island, it turns out, is fantastic.  It feels nothing like the other places on The Shore that we visited. In fact, I think it feels more like what I’ve heard The Hamptons to be – without the mega-mansions, though.  We spent some time visiting Erin’s friends, did some beach lounging, and went out for cotton candy ice...

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Life/Blog/Travel Changes
Jul09

Life/Blog/Travel Changes

My vlog is consuming my life! A couple months ago, I decided that I wanted to put a heavy amount of effort into building a vlog.  I didn’t want to dip my toes into the video-making world, I wanted to dive in head first. And, that’s what I’ve done.  I’ve been vlogging 6-7 times a week for 3 months now. The good news is that it has been extremely popular.  My channel has grown by about 50% in subscribers and has doubled the monthly views since I started. The bad news is, however, that I haven’t had any time to devote to this blog, as a result. The truth of the matter is, in this industry, we need to focus on where the money is. And, sure, for a while this blog was generating decent income. However, over the past 2 years my income has come from sources outside the blog – such as the videos on YouTube.  Moreover, I love being on camera, and with this blog I kind of find that I’m hiding behind my computer screen describing the world and my work, whereas with the videos, I am out there in the world taking you through the world and showing it to you through my eyes. Thus, it’s time for some changes to take place on this blog. No, the blog is not ending. I’ve had this website for almost 7 years now, and there’s no way that I would ever consider shutting it down. However, I do want to keep the focus on the video production, as that’s what I’m really loving.  For that reason, rather than publishing articles on every destination, I am going to be using the blog sort of as a round-up for my recent travels. The goal, for now, is that there will be vlogs every day of the week aside from Tuesday. On those Tuesdays when there’s no vlog, there will be a blog post rounding up the videos from the past week.  That way, if you missed anything, you can just come here and see the round-up.  That round-up will be a combination of videos and photos from the week. Cool? Everyone ok with that? Doesn’t matter, it’s happening anyways. Let’s face it, my blog is still in Croatia. In the meantime, I’ve been in Italy, France, Portugal, and the US as well.  It’s time for a change that keeps things more current and exciting. So, let’s start by summing up – as quickly as I can – the past month. A Week in Rovinj, Croatia I loved my week in Rovinj. The town reminded me a bit more of...

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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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