Petronas

Petronas

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of jaunting around Asia where I travelled from Singapore up to Thailand via Malaysia and Cambodia. A fantastic solo trip, even if it was a whirlwind tour.

What trip to Kuala Lumpur would be complete without a look at the iconic Petronas Towers?

An internet search showed me that one of the better views of these towers would be from the top of the Traders Hotel, which has the added benefit of being air conditioned and, even better, the viewpoint was located in a bar. I settled down prior to sunset, set up the camera against the window and attached my shutter release cable, and then proceeded to drink copious amounts of beer while occasionally firing off a shot or seven. I could tell that the nice couple opposite me who I got chatting to were impressed by both my camera set-up and my laziness.

Speaking of laziness, I have been very lazy at taking photos recently. It’s lovely to have a break though :)

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Falkirk Wheel

Falkirk Wheel

This weekend I took a short trip up to Scotland, setting off on a 6am train to Glasgow on the Saturday and returning home the following evening. During that time, I managed to get quite a lot done though, which included 8 or so hours walking around Glasgow, and 6 hours zipping around Falkirk.

It was in the latter location with Jim and Steve that I managed to get this shot of the wonderful mechanical beast that is the Falkirk Wheel, an awesome rotating boat lift contraption. You don’t get the real view of the lift itself in this shot, but I liked the angle of this futuristic looking canal from here.

I enjoyed visiting the Kelpies even more, but will save those images for another day.

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Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

A few weeks ago I went to Siem Reap in Cambodia. After working in Singapore for a week it was one of the locations I wanted to visit as I moved up through Asia towards Bangkok where I was due to fly home from.

The Angkor Wat complex has fascinated me for some time (probably since my days of playing Tomb Raider as a kid), and I was excited to finally be able to go there and see this main temple – the largest religious monument in the world – for myself.

Unfortunately I was left somewhat disappointed.

Don’t get me wrong, it was an awe inspiring place. I am always interested to see ancient architecture, and give me any temple, church or cathedral and I’m pretty happy to walk around and admire them even without a religious bone in my body. However, no matter how impressive this complex was, I was overwhelmed and very much taken about by just how touristy it is.

There were times when I was wandering around that I felt like this was a Cambodian version of Disneyland, with an uncomfortable commercial side of things overriding the beauty and grandeur that should be prevalent.

My excitement and anticipation prior to this trip seemed to fade away the more time I spent there, and it was only by finding a driver who could take me to some of the smaller, lesser visited temples that I could really start to enjoy the location for what I felt it should be, and wander around in relative solitude.

Perhaps it was my naivety prior to visiting here that made me disappointed. I hadn’t really expected to be visiting a mystical place that was shrouded in secrecy and guarded by monks, but I hadn’t really been prepared for the level of tourism that I faced, with Tuk Tuk drivers all touting for rides, the perfect English of the majority, the US dollar as the main currency, and the Hard Rock cafe just around the corner from my hotel.

Either way, it was within the first few hours that I started to feel that something wouldn’t be quite as I had hoped, and then this was solidified the following morning.

Getting a Tuk Tuk from the airport, I felt awesome finally being in Cambodia. Riding around the streets and watching kids playing on the side of the road, motorbikes moving past us carrying 3 generations of a family (or 40 dead chickens), and the run down shop fronts that are a world away from what I’m used to I was looking forward to my adventure. I dropped my bags off at the hotel and grabbed another Tuk Tuk to head to the complex and buy my pass for the days ahead. The place selling the passes was pretty busy, but before my trip I had read that this was the case and didn’t worry about it. 10 minutes later I was on my way and setting off to watch the sunset at Phnom Bakheng. After hiking up the hill for 10 minutes I found myself…um…nowhere near the temple but at the back of a pretty long queue. Eventually the queue became shorter and shorter, and I found myself climbing the stairs to the viewpoint, where two or three hundred other people seemed to be waiting.

I put this down to it being a lovely day…and thought that the rest of the trip couldn’t possibly be like this, so resigned myself to simply sitting and watching the sunset, doing a little bit of people watching, and shortly after sunset I headed back down the hill to get back in to Siem Reap.

The following morning I rose early, found myself a Tuk Tuk driver and headed on up to Angkor Wat for sunrise. The sun was due to come up sometime shortly after 6.30, so I got there in good time at 5.50 in order to get my spot. I assumed there would be myself and 5 other photographers there for sunrise, but something felt amiss when I arrived at the location and found myself walking alongside a mass of other people. Odd, I thought, that there are so many people here – when generally a sunrise is left to the hardcore photographers and typical tourists don’t stray out until later in the day. I did not get a spot beside the reflecting pool that day, and luckily the sunrise was uneventful. I resolved to getting there earlier tomorrow.

Te next day I left earlier and arrived on location around 5.15 in the morning. Again, I couldn’t believe how many people were there already, and though I was able to get a spot beside the lake/pond/whatever it was at the left hand side and not the spot I wanted. I set the camera up, but there were a heck of a lot of people that were in the shot. I opted to simply put my tripod in the water, roughly compose the image, and then sit on the bank using a shutter release to trigger the camera. I also opted to arrive earlier the next day.

Angkor Wat - sunrise crowd

The next day I arrived at 4:45am. I was the only person there, apart from those checking tickets, and they waved me past so that I could wait by the doors of the temple for opening time. Being dark, I mustn’t have seen the sign that stood near the doorway stating entry was not until 5am, and I walked onwards through this and quietly, and alone, to the reflecting pond. I found the spot I wanted, without anyone else in sight, and set up my camera – I was very pleased to be the first, and so far only, person on site. At 5.05 I was joined by about 30 people, by 5.15 I couldn’t see much behind me other than bodies.

I witnessed a lovely pink sunrise….about a mile to the right of the temple and very much out of camera.

The shot above is therefore from my second morning, with lots of people cropped out of it. Here’s the original two images I used for this shot.

Angkor Wat One
Angkor Wat Two

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Cambodia. I did, in many ways, enjoy the temples at the Angkor Complex. I feel very fortunate to have visited such a location. However, I do feel like I’m missing something when so many people say so many nice things about it. Each to their own, but for me there was something missing here.

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Burnout

Burnout

Today is a special day.

First up, it’s the 4 year birthday of this photoblog. 4 years ago today I started posting images here, and after a month of daily posting I cut back to Monday thru Friday of posting a new image, so just 5 per week instead of 7. That has continued throughout. Through busy schedules, illness, travel and various other distractions, I have somehow managed to post an image without fail during the whole of that period.

I think that’s pretty awesome.

I’ve learnt a lot in the past 4 years, and improved greatly. I’ve met some amazing people, and made some great friends. I’ve also changed as a person. From someone who never used to like to travel, I’ve started to do a lot more of that. 4 years ago when I started this blog I had visited 5 foreign countries; by the time I finish the trip I’m currently on that total will be 34 countries…and that’s due to photography.

However, it’s now at an end. As the title of this post suggests, I will not…indeed I can not…continue to do the same. I’m not sure I’m learning anything through posting daily. I’m no longer finding that I am enjoying it in the same way as I used to either. Sure, I love being out there and taking photos, I love processing them, and I love to share them – however I can do all of that without having to post daily. There were too many times last year when I felt I had to post just for the sake of posting, and my heart wasn’t in those particular images. There’s one thing for creating something and sharing it because you want to, but it’s another thing when you are just going through the motions and creating something because you feel you have to. Quality suffers as a result.

I also want to free up more time to do other things. Work takes up a large portion of my life, and much of my ‘spare’ time in the past year has been travelling. In between those and trying to maintain some sort of social life I had tried to fit in photography and daily posting of images. That doesn’t leave time for much else, and there are lots of projects I wish to work on. If I can free up the hours I spend on processing and apply these elsewhere, I think that would be a great thing.

It’s not the end completely. I will still be posting images, they just won’t be daily anymore. Chances are, if you follow me on the social network sites instead of the blog itself, then you may not notice any difference as I don’t post all of my images on sites other than my blog. However, I can’t guarantee when I’m posting. It won’t be daily, it may not even be weekly or monthly. I guess it just depends on how I feel, what I’m up to, where I go, and those kinds of things.

In one way it will be sad to stop. Part of me thinks ‘give it another year’ as 5 years seems like a better number to end on. However, as I’m typing this I’m feeling pretty pleased by it.

For the next 10 days I’m going to be spending time in Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia and Thailand – so the chances are these will be the next images you see from me once I’ve returned.

See you soon.

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Cerulean

Cerulean

A final trip to Venice, for now. This spot is right next to where yesterday’s image was taken, by Constitution Bridge. I had some amazing light and the tail end of a sunset while I set up here – but two shots in I also had a family to contend with. After dawdling in and out of the scene several times, they all decided to stop in the middle of the frame taking photos of each other. That’s all fair and well…it’s their space as much as mine, but when they took 15 minutes to do so and blatantly kept looking over at me and the camera set up before they proceeded to change position and take more snaps it felt like they were starting to stick around on purpose to simply stand in my way.

On the plus side, I really quite like just standing around looking at beautiful sunsets and blue hours, so I may not have the shots of the best light, but I do have the memories.

You win some, you lose some. I think I’m winning.

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Walking Constitution

Walking Constitution

Another week, and another few images coming up from Venice.

Today we take a trip back to Constitution Bridge, the newest (and my favourite) to cross the Grand Canal. Immediately behind me is the train station, and on the opposite side of this bridge is the bus terminal – so two of the main entry points to Venice. From here, it’s a case of walking or boating your way around.

I’m working in Singapore for the duration of this week before doing a little sightseeing around Asia. Hope you had a great weekend.

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Brighton in blue

Brighton in blue

Last weekend I popped down to Brighton on the south coast of England. It’s a nice little place, and seems to have more of an edge than many of the other seaside towns I’ve visted. I hadn’t been the for about 8 years, and certainly never with my camera gear so was happy to check out the popular spots, clich├ęd as they may be.

After wandering around a bit during the day, and visiting a nearby village, John and I headed back to the beach and met up for the sunset with Slawek who, as a Brighton based photographer running workshops in landscape photography, was probably not best pleased we wanted this particular location when there are so many beautiful areas nearby, but didn’t show it if that was the case.

I enjoyed watching the sun go down, and spent most of the sunset taking a few iPhone images and just enjoying the view, but then did a couple of long exposures as the blue hour set in.

Tonight I’m heading off to Singapore for work; have a great weekend.

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