Selling Anne Murray
Aug15

Selling Anne Murray

In so many ways, Cape Town was the end.  It was meant to be my last country in Africa for a while.  It was the last real travel goal I had set myself.  But most of all, it was the end of 17,000kms driving a scooter from Mali to South Africa.  It was the end of flat tires, bumpy roads, and feeling completely lost in the world.  But it felt too like it was the end of an adventure, and perhaps the end of the most epic travels of my life. Sure, it felt good to be done.  It felt good to have reached my goal of Cape Town.  It felt good to not have to worry about running out of fuel, having a breakdown in the middle of nowhere, or corrupt military officials anymore.  I won’t have to spend weeks on end alone anymore, and hopefully there will be no more dirty hotel rooms that are used more commonly as brothels.  But, it’s still the end.  It’s still the finish.  I don’t have much to worry about anymore, but what is there to look forward to? Arriving in Cape Town also meant that it was time to say goodbye to Anne Murray, the most loyal companion I’ve ever had.  Anne Murray had gotten me through the road situations worse than any man would wish on his scooter.  We drove through mud up to my ankles, and crossed through puddles deep as my knees.  She got me through the wild winding roads of Gabon and the ever-straight roads across the flats of Namibia.  Anne Murray and I shared as much as I’ve shared with any human being, and I’d be lying if I never had conversations with her on the road.  She was my crutch.  She was my “Wilson”. When I arrived in Cape Town last week, the first person I met was a man fittingly named Wilson. He was the bellman of the Mount Nelson Hotel, and welcomed me to Cape Town with the widest smile and warmest handshake.  After welcoming, he set his gaze upon Anne Murray, and it was love at first sight. “Wow, I love your motocycle! It’s beautiful!” I told him I was selling it in a week, and I could see a look of anticipation on his face.  When I told him I only wanted $200 for it, I could see him doing math in his head. “I can afford that if I get an advance on my paycheck.  Can I buy it?” He was perfect for her, and I told him that I’d be back in a week and we can make...

Read More
How to Create an HDR Photo in Photoshop Elements 11
Aug14

How to Create an HDR Photo in Photoshop Elements 11

Overwhelmingly, the one tutorial people have asked me to do with Photoshop Elements 11 is an HDR image.  Now, well I do shoot some HDR, it’s not something I like to do too much of.  For me, I’d much rather get a nice pure image in camera than an HDR.  However, there are certain situations where HDR photography is much more effective at creating a powerful image than is a normal shot.  Thus, today I’m going to guide you through the fairly simple process of creating a nice HDR Photo in Photoshop Elements 11. What is HDR? HDR stands for High Dynamic Range.  As you know, photography isn’t about capturing a scene, but rather capturing light in a scene.  Now, digital cameras can only capture a certain range of light, which is why sometimes you’ll look at a scene and then photograph it only to have certain areas blown out and completely white, or parts dark and completely black.  Your eye sees a wider range of light than a digital camera.  Now, by creating an HDR photo, you’re actually capturing a wider range of light than even the human eye can see naturally.  Thus, you’re not creating a “fake” image, you’re creating an image showing a wider range of light that you can see naturally. Below are a couple HDR images I’ve taken over the years. In the Camera As I mentioned in the tilt-shift photography tutorial, it’s incredibly important to remember that photo editing software is meant to be a tool, not a crutch.  With HDR photography, as is the case with all types of photography, you need to get the photo right in the camera for the editing software to be effective. With HDR, what you need to do is capture different exposures of the same scene in order to catch all the available light.   3-5 different exposures is normal, I’ve shot as many as 11 exposures.  Now, it’s also important, I think, to change the exposures by changing the shutter speed and not the aperture.  One good way to do it, is to set your camera to aperture priority mode and then use the exposure override to shoot 3-5 different exposures say: -5, -3, 0, +3, and +5. Moreover, when you’re out shooting these images, you need to have the camera stable and on a good travel tripod.  You’ll want to shoot in RAW so you have a wider range of control in post-processing.  Also, the light is especially important with HDR.  You’ll want good colourful clouds and a nice range of light. The Processing With Photoshop Elements 11, processing HDR images is incredibly simple. ...

Read More
Is Cape Town the Perfect City?
Aug10

Is Cape Town the Perfect City?

A little while ago I ran a bit of a series on the travel blog about me searching for my base.  I was looking for good place to settle down a little bit and work in blocks of time between trips.  Honestly, Cape Town wasn’t even an option when I was writing them.  But after a week here I’m starting to wonder if Cape Town is the perfect city. I have pretty specific desires in a city, and I’m completely picky.  I’ve found so many cities that have been close to exactly what I want, but not exactly.  Vancouver is beautiful, is energetic and has a nice natural element, but is a bit cold and rainy for me.  Medellin, Colombia is warm, has a great location, incredible people, but it lacks an ocean.  But Cape Town what does Cape Town lack, according to my criteria for a perfect city.  Well, not a lot. Nature Not only does Cape Town find itself in one of the most spectacular physical locations on the planet, but it also has a wealth to do and see nearby.  A drive out to Cape Coast, a cruise along the Western Cape, or a dive into the Stellenbosch regional all provide that escape from the city I desire.  In many ways, Cape Town is similar to Vancouver.  Though a full on global city, it is just a short drive from a peaceful escape. Food (Bacon) As you know, I’m a big fan of bacon.  I need bacon in a destination, and Cape Town does pretty decent bacon.  They also do amazing steaks, sausage, and of course the braai (barbeque) is always running.  Coupled with brilliant wines, the foodie scene in Cape Town is among the best in the world, and continues to earn acclaim to that title. Cost Though locals are starting to complain about price hikes, to me Cape Town is incredibly well-priced.  It’s easy to have a meal for under 100 Rand (10USD), and housing prices are entirely realistic.  From what I saw, Cape Town is one of the world’s greatest bargains in terms of city quality to cost of living. Global Location Well, this is where Cape Town struggles for me.  I need to be somewhere I can jump around the world from, and Cape Town is a hop, skip AND a jump from everywhere.  Moreover, most of the well-priced flights in South Africa leave from Johannesburg and not Cape Town.  To get to North America it’ll take a minimum of about 30 travel hours, and even Europe will likely take you 12-18. That being said, if you are looking for a bit...

Read More
Cruising to Cape Point
Aug06

Cruising to Cape Point

When people see Cape Town from beyond, I don’t think they see is the vast and unique natural setting it sits within.  Cape Town is in the heartof one of the most unique bits of geography in the entire world, and for an outdoors lover, it’s absolutely paradise to explore. I set out in the direction of the town of Hermanus, but like anything I’ve ever done in my life, I take the long way via Cape Point to get there. Through a mountain pass, the road winds up then downward towards the cozy suburb of Camp’s Bay.  Houses dot the steep landscape and look down on the stunning sea front below.  The beach curves gently into sturdy boulders that frame the coastal scene.  It’s the dead of winter, but children still race through the water’s edge in swimsuits.  Pasty tourists still lay on the beach hoping to harness a shade or two darker. The road pushes along the ocean front before meandering along a steep cliff face akin to the scenery of the French Rivera.  Red rock presses through bright green foliage and is perfectly contrasted by the gentle blue shade of the sea.  The scene from lookout points looks to be a creation from a photoshop project rather than a view witnessed by men and women. I cut inland, and push through a scene of green shrubbery.  The road appears like the trail of ants through the landscape, and as I slice through it I see an antelope hop alongside. Cape Point stretches out into the desperate Pacific Ocean. A funicular pulls trigger happy tourists to the top of a hill looking out towards the “bottom of Africa”.  It’s South Africa like you’ve always imagined, wild and inspiring. Yet there are no lions or leopards here, it’s just you and the power of the end of the world that draws the breath from your lungs. The road from Cape Point continues along a coast where subtle beaches spring from sea and penguins waddle to a bath in the calm waters.  They stop occasionally to look at the gallery of tourists snapping photos, to pick at their feathers, or just to contemplate life in general. Again, the road rises well above the coast and looks out towards the endlessness of the sea.  Along the horizon, I search for Southern Right Whales which migrate here from Antarctica.  Dolphins too play in these waters. The heavy sun begins to pull down on the world and a soft glow of orange graces the sky.  Though I don’t see whales, the beauty of the sea nearly draws me into it as I...

Read More
Hotel Review: Southern Sun Cape Sun
Aug05

Hotel Review: Southern Sun Cape Sun

If you believe that first impressions are important, than you’ll be a massive fan of the Cape Sun Hotel by Tsango, in downtown Cape Town.  The hotel’s mammoth lobby is featured by a classy modern look dripping with character.  A dark bar carries a provocative glow while being backed by the trickle of a waterfalls behind the bottles of champagne and scotch.  Around tables in the lobby sit men in suits and women in evening dresses prepped for a dinner party.  And the staff is always on standby to wish you a good morning, afternoon or evening. The rooms are definitely set for the executive crowd.  Unlike the Mount Nelson, you won’t find massive rooms you can find yourself lost in.  Rather, the Cape Sun offers more standard rooms with all the amenities you’d expect from a great hotel.  It’s the view, though, that sets the Cape Sun apart from all other hotels in Cape Town.  With a view like this, I’d gladly sleep on a slab of cardboard box. Being one of the highest buildings in Cape Town, there is no obstruction to the view, and there is nothing quite like waking up to the red colour of Table Mountain baking in the morning sun. It’s not a slight to tell you that you’re favourite part of the hotel, though, may be the elevator.  The glass lift hangs out of the building and faces out to either the seafront or Table Mountain.  The views are outstanding either way.  Downwards, you’ll look upon the miniature world of pedestrian Cape Town.  One can’t help but feel like a child with each ride in the Cape Sun elevator. The location too, is perfect.  Right in the heart of downtown, the Cape Sun is a quick jaunt to just about any of Cape Town’s many attractions.  Be it the V&A Waterfront, Table Mountain, Long Street, the Bo-Kaap neighbourhood, or the museums, they are all with a hop and a skip. I’d be lying, however, if I were to tell you that all was perfect.  During my stay I had some cash go missing from my room.  With that being said, the staff of the hotel was completely professional in how it was handled and it was taken care of from within and I was reimbursed my lost money.  Things like that can happen at any hotel, it’s how the property responds to it that is important, and the Cape Sun handled it perfectly. Of the 3 properties I stayed at in Cape Town, should I be offered the opportunity to stay again I would chose this hotel.  For me, I couldn’t turn...

Read More
Real Time Analytics
Want to improve your photography? Subscribe to my Travel Photography YouTube Channel! You will not regret it!