Best Spot for Sunset Photography in Edinburgh
Aug20

Best Spot for Sunset Photography in Edinburgh

Today’s blog is quick.  There is still content coming from Kyrgyzstan, but I really wanted to share with you this sunset location in Edinburgh because it was killer.  I spent 4 or 5 days in Edinburgh a couple years ago, but somehow never made it up here.  I shot a lot of photography in the city, and it is one of the most photogenic cities in all of Europe, but somehow managed to miss the absolute best place to photograph the skyline at sunset. This is Carlton Hill: Honestly, when Jodie and I got to Edinburgh we were absoluately crushed.  It was a long night before as we didn’t have mats and had to sleep right on the cold floor in the Lake District.  And, after a long drive and a couple meetings with a client in the city, we were both just ready for an early night.  However, needing some content for my travel vlog, we forced ourselves out of our hotel and shot up Carlton Hill to photograph sunset.  Instantly leaving the hotel I felt better.  The city is just so stunning. And everywhere you look there’s a new photograph to be made.  And, it actually took a lot of self-control to just force ourselves up the hill to shoot only one location in Edinburgh. The light wasn’t brilliant, but it did work extremely well for the type of photo I wanted to shoot.  So, I thought I’d walk you through a set of my photos from this location in Edinburgh in today’s blog. Golden Light at Carlton Hill This photo wasn’t easy to make.  But, it wasn’t a challenge technically, or because the light was bad, but because there are so many people wandering around here at sunset that it’s hard to get a clean shot.  But, with a little patience it was totally worth it.  I took this image on my 70-200mm lens at f/6.3, 1/80sec., ISO500 @115mm.  The aperture was 6.3 because I wanted to blur the background enough to put the focus on Jodie, but keep it recognizable.  I love how it came out. Lucky Light I was waiting for the light to come down a little bit more, and it was getting a bit overcast in the sky, so I was kind of losing hope for nice light.  But, we were sitting up at this view and I noticed a bit of golden light hitting the rock you see Jodie sitting on in this photo.  So, I had her go out and pose there. Amazingly, the light moved up and hit her face. It was incredible, the only light in the entire...

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Drone Photography from Kyrgyzstan
Aug19

Drone Photography from Kyrgyzstan

It has been a while since I’ve been to a country with as much freedom to roam, explore, and fly drones as Kyrgyzstan.  The country is just so wide open that it’s really easy to fly.  It’s also very safe to fly.  And, of course, it’s really beautiful which is a bonus. Unfortunately, my drone is having issues. It needs to have the sensor, and maybe the whole camera repaired.  So, I wasn’t able to be as effective with the drone as I wanted to.  But, I still managed to capture some cool footage of the country. Oh, and if you’re curious, this is the drone I use. But, even though my equipment wasn’t perfect, I still wanted to share a couple aerial photos with you from my trip to Kyrgyzstan. There’s just something special to drone photography. It offers a different perspective. So, even though you’ve probably seen a lot of my images and my vlogs from the country, I wanted to share this different perspective, and the stories behind them all. Issyk-Kul Lake I had no idea that Kyrgyzstan had a lake that looked almost like a tropical sea at points. On the south side of Issyk-Kul lake, the shores are a bit rocky, but the water is so blue in points it looks like the waters of Croatia or Turkey.  It’s a very popular place for locals to vacation. This image is shot downward of a glacier-fed river entering the blue waters to give a sense of the contrast of colour in the blue waters. Bel-Tam Yurt Camp On one of my first days in Kyrgyzstan, we went to see a mini “Nomad Games” which was sponsored by USAID BGI and set up in part by the yurt camp I was staying at: Bel-Tam.  The games were awesome. They showcased eagle hunting, archery, and even dead goat polo (Kok-Boru).  I shot this image at the end of the games to show how diverse the landscape is in that location around Bel-Tam. You have the lake, almost a desert-like shoreline, and then the mountains in the background.  Only a drone photo can show the scale of it all like this.  This image doesn’t show the yurt camp itself (which is just down the hill in the front of the image), but the grounds for the nomad games. The Kyrgyz Wilderness After 2 days in Kyrgyzstan, I was already dying to see some of this Kyrgyz wilderness that everyone was talking about.  So, we headed off on an excursion into this beautiful gorge.  The only problem was that I forgot my camera’s SD card.  Luckily, I had the...

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So. Damn. Beautiful! Photos of Northerrn Norway
Aug17

So. Damn. Beautiful! Photos of Northerrn Norway

Norway was so beautiful that it needed two posts.  If you didn’t see my first article with photos of Norway, check it out.  Normally, the goal here is to kind of summarize my travel adventures on a country-by-country basis.  But, Norway was just so unreal that I needed to post two articles. I made sense to split them up into North and South. My trip through Northern Norway was done as a part of a project with TopDeck Travel.  I was there shooting an epic video, and completing a couple tasks on their “#Ultimate49 Bucket List“.  I had an amazing time on the trip, and while I loved adventures in the south like Trolltunga, I think the North of Norway is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. I had such a great time that I’m already planning a return to shoot more locations. This is the breakdown of my time in Northern Norway. Svartisen Glacier Leaving Steinkjer, I kind of worried that the most beautiful landscapes in Norway were behind me. I mean, how could it possibly get better, right? We pushed north and did a day trip in to see Svartisen Glacier.  And, as a Canadian, and having grown up near the Icefields Parkway, I kind of thought that there’s no way I’d be really impressed with a glacier.  I was wrong. We arrived at the park, and hopped on a boat which cruised us across to the start of a hike. Immediately upon arrival I started seeing amazing potential locations to shoot images.  There was this crazy series of waterfalls tumbling down through the landscape into the lake and so I kind of ditched my group to get a couple shots there. Then, I pushed on towards the glacier. The glacier too, was amazing. I was also amazed at how accessible it was. Sure, there are places in Canada like this, but they are fairly hard to get to or totally controlled.  I got some shots at the glacier, and then we pushed on. Crossing the Arctic Circle & The Polar Plunge That same day, we pushed across the Arctic Circle. It was my first time across the Arctic Circle, and I’ve now been across both the Arctic and Antarctic Circles.  The drive north was just stunning.  I have no idea how some of the passengers could sleep through some of these beautiful Northern Norway landscapes.  My biggest problem was trying not to over-film as we drove north. That afternoon we arrived in Skibotn at our campsite. There, we had the task of ticking off one of the TopDeck #Ultimate49 bucket list items: a...

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Hiking in Karakol, Kyrgyzstan
Aug16

Hiking in Karakol, Kyrgyzstan

Over my 8 years or so of travel, I’ve gone hiking on 6 different continents.  Generally, my biggest struggle in trekking is finding places where I can still find solitude among epic mountain peaks and perfect nature.  It seems these days that the best places in the world for hiking are all saturated with hiking pole handling trekkers in gear far more expensive than they need.  The bests trails Alps, the Rockies, even the Andes are lined with hikers.  But, in Kyrgyzstan, I still found that freedom to roam. That freedom to explore. That peace. This is my experience on a 3-day trek in the Karakol region of Kyrgyzstan. Jerghez My trek started just outside of Karakol and took me into a valley called Jerghez.  Leaving the village, along with my guide, porter, and a cook (obviously a little bit overkill for what I’m used to), we headed towards a series of snow-capped peaks. Within a couple kilometers there were no signs of human settlement.  By afternoon, we were off trails completely and sort of just stomping our own way through the valley. I asked my guide, on the first day, how many times he’s done this particular trek.  He hadn’t. It was his first time too.  In fact, this particular trek is extremely undeveloped.  The Kyrgyzstan tourism board, in association with USAID BGI is looking to develop it for tourism. And, the trail is actually a part of a longer trek that people could hike 7 days.  Of course, with the trail still unbeaten, guides are almost essential. And, we followed along with a topographic map to make sure we were headed the right way. Eventually, before reaching our first pass, we made camp at what might be the coolest place I’ve ever camped. Even by the end of day 1, the trek into the Kyrgyz mountains was so worth it. Ak-Suu The following morning, we pushed up our first mountain pass.  The pass itself was fairly easy; steep, but not overly intense. We hit an altitude of 3700m well before lunch and enjoyed the views from the top of the pass.  They were just unreal. From the pass, we made an 800m decent into Ak-Suu Valley.  Ak-Suu, in Kyrgyz, means “White Water”.  And, one look at the river carving through it is ample evidence why.  It almost looks like a rolling stream of milk from a distance.  The water is so thickly saturated with glacial rock flour coming off the nearby glaciers that it’s almost pure white.  Up the valley too are some of the most impressive peaks in Kyrgyzstan.  And, honestly, if I had been there...

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Dead Goat Polo in Kyrgyzstan? Yeah, It’s a Real Thing.
Aug02

Dead Goat Polo in Kyrgyzstan? Yeah, It’s a Real Thing.

I used to be such a stickler to keeping the blog in chronological order, but I think that’s part of the reason why I always fell so far behind.  I think, too, that it doesn’t matter if I keep this thing in order. If you want to see what I’m up to day-to-day, you have my social media, and you have my travel vlog.  I think (final thought, I promise), that I want to use this space to just write about the things I want to write about, regardless of when they happened.  Today, I want to write about dead goat polo, a sport known as Kok-Boru in Kyrgyzstan.  It’s a bit barbaric, it’s definitely a bit of a controversy, but the thoughts the sport evoked in me were interesting, so I wanted to share them with you. What is Kok-Boru: Dead Goat Polo I’ve heard to people refer to Kok-Boru as both dead goat polo and dead goat football.  But, to me, it’s more like dead goat rugby.  The sport is actually played in many of the ‘stans and is named different things in different countries.  In fact, the sport was featured in one of the Rambo movies, though I think in that film it was being played in Afghanistan. The history and folklore behind the sport is interesting.  In Kyrgyzstan, after seeing my second match of Kok-Boru, one of the local players gave me a bit of a rundown on the sport.  Apparently, dead goat polo was invented in the mountains after locals saw a pack of grey wolves kill a goat and then toss it around for fun.  And while that first part might be folklore, the sport was actually used as a means to get horses ready for war.  And, if you ever watch the game, that idea makes full sense.  The horses, along with their riders are constantly smashing into each other, blocking, and battling. It does look like real war at times. In reality, the game looks a little bit like rugby with a tire-tube basketball-style goal.  Teams scrum for the dead goat, and try to scoop it from the ground of the pitch and then deliver it to the goal.  Most of the game is spent in a face-off-like battle to pick up the goat in which teams push and shove until someone picks up the goat. Then, they battle their way around the pitch until the goat gets tossed into one of the goals.  Quite often, the game can be a little bit slow. But, then, occasionally the scrums break and there is some excitement as they race towards a goal....

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OK Norway, I Get it You’re Beautiful – Photos of Norway
Jul22

OK Norway, I Get it You’re Beautiful – Photos of Norway

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’re going to laugh at what I’m about to say. “I’m going to get better at updating the blog” Sure, I’ve said it a million times before, but this time I kind of mean it.  I’ve just been so busy smashing out daily vlogs on my travel channel and on assignments that I’ve kind of neglected the blog. But, that stops now. And it stops in the best way possible, with some photos of Norway.  And, though I haven’t updated my list yet, I think Norway is going to the top of my list of favourite countries. That’s how much I loved it. This is going to be a two-part blog with the other post coming next week.  This blog starts with an extremely quick solo road trip through the south of Norway before I joined up on an assignment with TopDeck Travel. Trolltunga I started my Norway adventure in the most epic of ways; with a hike to Trolltunga.  Troll’s tongue, as it’s known in English is one of the most beautiful hikes anywhere in the world.  Every corner of the trail just begs to be photographed.  Since it’s the summer in Norway, I was able to do the hike as a bit of a midnight adventure leaving the parking lot at 8pm and arriving at camp at midnight.  The hike up looked a little like this: Then, after finding a couple hours of sleep just above Trolltunga, I got up for “sunrise” at just after 3am to shoot some pictures.  Though the light wasn’t really behaving. When a place is as beautiful as this, it doesn’t matter. These are a couple of my favourite few photos from Trolltunga: The Waterfalls of Norway After Trolltunga, I headed to Bergen to chill out for a night and get my gear charged and dried after the hike to Trolltunga.  I was planning on doing some photography in Bergen, but was just too wiped out to go out and shoot. The next day, though, I went on the search of a couple of the bigger waterfalls in Norway, and came across these 3 (well, and a number of others I didn’t photograph. Tvindefossen This was a photogenic waterfall surrounded by farms and a bit of a tourist trap set of gift shops. Maybe the least impressive of the waterfalls in the area, but also very easy to photograph. Skjervsfossen This was such a cool waterfall, but it was incredibly difficult to capture.  And, there’s no shops around and I had it all to myself. Really a cool spot worth visiting even if...

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