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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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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Hit the Heartland: 5 Springtime Adventures in Iowa
Feb12

Hit the Heartland: 5 Springtime Adventures in Iowa

The U.S. state of Iowa doesn’t generally hit the top of most travelers’ radars. In fact, most people who live in the United States wouldn’t be terribly likely to choose Iowa as a top vacation spot, but that’s all about to change. Aside from its reputation for corn and football, Iowa is a state that’s simply bursting with beautiful landscapes, trendy city scenes, and a fascinating heritage. The Hawkeye State is much more than flat, agricultural land; Iowa boasts elevated areas surrounding rivers and stunning parks. The historic and the modern come together in Iowa to offer visitors a lot more than they might expect. If you’re considering a visit to Iowa spring is the perfect time to go. As the cold weather dissipates and the countryside begins to bloom, there are many choices of Iowa activities that will suit any traveler. 1. The Iowa Great Lakes Not part of the true Great Lakes of North America, but stunning nonetheless, the 15,000 acres of glacial lakes northwest of Des Moines are one of Iowa’s main attractions for locals and visitors alike. Arnold’s Park and Okoboji are the two main population centers in the area, but that does not mean that they’re large city. These are small towns that still exude the lakeside charm of years past. Fishing, camping, and boating are the main activities here, and families have been coming here for generations. Rent a cabin or stay in one of the area hotels, and be sure to pay a visit to the Arnold’s Park Amusement park for a spin on the 125-year-old Ferris wheel. 2. The Des Moines Food Scene Dining out at a great steak restaurant has always been a must when paying a visit to Iowa, but much of the state has caught up with the rest of the world’s foodie scene, and Des Moines is no exception. Home to almost 1,000 restaurants, Des Moines is now a city that rivals many other in the United States on the food quality alone.  The East Village area of downtown Des Moines is home to hip and trendy eateries, and the rest of city offers up cuisines ranging from Thai to Italian and everything in between. Food trucks are even prowling the streets of Des Moines but are restricted to certain areas of the city. Check the Des Moines Register to find where your favorite truck is. 3. The Calkins Nature Area Located on the banks of the Iowa River in Iowa Falls, the Calkins Nature Area is a great way to learn more about the Iowa that existed in the days of yore. This 70-acre preserve is...

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Photography in Cienfuegos, Cuba
Nov05

Photography in Cienfuegos, Cuba

One of the things about my trip to Cuba, in comparison to other destinations I’ve been to recently, is that I was going in a bit blind.  I didn’t have a whole lot of information to go on for the country in general, so my 2 weeks were a bit of a crap shoot.  Cienfuegos was the first town I went to after leaving my Intrepid Travel group and headed off on my own.  I didn’t know anything about Cienfuegos except for what I read in the Lonely Planet on the bus ride in from Havana.  On the whole, I thought the city was beautiful.  It seemed a bit wealthier than other places I’ve seen in Cuba, and there were a couple interesting things to shoot.  I spent 2 full days in Cienfuegos, but the truth is, from a photography perspective, I probably could have done everything I needed to in just 1 day. This is what I got up to. The Malecón of Cienfuegos The afternoon I arrived, I headed out to the malecón of Cienfuegos to shoot the sunset.  I was hoping to get some shots across the water of the colonial center, but the views weren’t great and there was a plant puffing smoke into it all.  It just didn’t work.  To add salt to the wound, there was the craziest light and sky I’ve seen in a really long time, and I really didn’t have anything to shoot in the foreground of it.  Had I gone downtown, the light would have been amazing over the cathedrals and old architecture.  That said, I did get one or two images from the malecón that I liked. The Plaza I really liked the look of the plaza in Cienfuegos. In fact, I actually sat there and shot time lapse almost all day.  It was a cool little place to hang out.  Once the light started coming down, I shot some photos.  I didn’t get the greatest sky – like the night before – and the lack of clouds made the photos it a bit dull, but I did do some play with the sun coming down and got a couple decent blue hour photos of it all. Some Thoughts from Cienfuegos As I mentioned in the intro, I really enjoyed Cienfuegos. But, it was another example of how planning a destination you’ve never been can be so hard.  I really didn’t need 2 full days in town.  Sure, if you’re a regular tourist you might want all that time to visit the various museums and such, but I really only needed a sunrise and sunset to capture what...

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