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July 2018

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Temple Station on the District/Circle Line is one of my favourite Underground Stations.  I feel as if it’s 1899 all over again when the train stops. The station exterior hasn’t changed save for today’s dress and advertisements.  It is also quite possible the news stall outside the entrance has passed generationally since the late 1800’s.  I wouldn’t doubt this ponder of an idea and I’d love it even more if the idea were true.

What’s more, I can hop off a train, sit on a bench on the platform and take in the station if I’m so inclined.  I’ve done this and I always see unique elements in the design of the station I wouldn’t see by simply passing through.  The ornate iron posts stand along the shiny concrete platform and are painted with soft creme paint and accented with a deep maroon hue.

The station is not often used during off-peak travel times making public transportation almost delightful.  In fact, I’m often the only soul on the platform when I alight from the train.  Rarely is there a piece of rubbish anywhere to be seen as if no one at all had been in the station before me.  Could it be a ghost station? 

No, during working hours, and especially during rush hour, Temple station bustles with people like any other Central London Underground Station.

Everyone says I should think and act with disdain toward the District/Circle Line because chronic signal failures make the train schedule unreliable.  Since I don’t seem to experience the issues I hear about, the Circle/District Line remains the route I choose when using the London Underground.  The line is easy and especially convenient with Victoria Station being my home base.  In the video, you’ll see how I entertain myself when I pop off a Tube train and sit on a bench before the next train arrives to take me away.

Love it, or loathe it, the London Underground is an engineering marvel.  For the most part, the system works efficiently.  Given that the London Underground is the oldest in the world it really is brilliant.  How will it cope with the continued population growth, who knows?

What are your experiences on the Underground?

Destination:  London

Picture this.  Sri Lanka.  The hotel you’ve booked suddenly needs an extra room and the hotel manager looks to you to give up your room. You agree, albeit reluctantly.  You get in the car with a driver who knows no English so you can’t ask where you’re going.  After driving at least four hours, you are then dropped in the middle of the Sri Lankan jungle.  

Yes, the jungle.  Tall lush foliage, bugs galore and humidity so high and thick you’re dripping wet just by being outside.  And, being outside is the only place to be.  There is no inside.  The only noise is nature reminding you-you’re not alone.

The place looks to be a resort except the only pathway there is a swaying suspension bridge stretching across a river.  The only other person where you’re dropped is a man who smiles but knows zero English.  The man does speak tho’ you’ve no idea what is being said so frustrated gestures take over as the only form of communication.  You nod while smiling back.

You sit, twist open a stale lukewarm Coca-Cola that barely whooshes when the cap comes off, and you think – “ok, now what?”  Naturally, you hop on the swing thinking of your next move and then wonder, “will I get to eat, or was breakfast my last meal until I see civilisation again?”

This is a definite go-with-the-flow moment.  If there is one thing I’ve learned while travelling, especially in less developed countries, it is – don’t get nervous nor agitated when confronted with the unexpected.  In fact, I find it best to take a deep breath, gather my thoughts and then decide to make the most of the experience.

The area is beautiful.  Tall leafy trees tower overhead.   Vines stretch from the ground then tangle in the branches like an ominous web waiting for its master’s prey.  The trickle of water in the river below faintly emotes movement.  The thick moist air remains still.  Any movement causes a river of sweat dripping on the brow and clothing becomes sticky and wet.  

It’s quiet, yet unfamiliar sounds from unknown creatures and critters bellow like the crescendo of Carmina Burana in the symphony hall.  

The day stretches into night, the symphony grows louder, steps shallower.  The unknown becomes so intense, the mind wanders more.  And then, the electricity goes out.  Complete darkness compounds the “wild” thoughts until every shred of inner strength clears the mind and calms the nerves.  

Was I ever in danger?  No.  The truth is an urban gentleman alone in a jungle is like a nomad in London.  Our eyes are wide, our thoughts go into overdrive and we both feel nervous.  In the end, we learn we’re stronger than we know even though our worries are unnecessary. 

A True Story and I still don’t know where I was.  I hope to return one day soon.

Destination:  Sri Lanka

Horizontal vs Vertical

Every scene and situation is different.  The previous is an obvious statement, isn’t it?

It’s best to always – ALWAYS – look through your camera’s viewfinder.  Forget your camera has a fabulous LCD screen on its back even if it’s the best LCD screen in the world.  When you use your camera’s viewfinder, you become connected not only to your camera but the scene you’re capturing as well.

Over the last couple of weeks, I shared numerous images.  You were shown both horizontal and vertical orientations of the same scene.  You can do the very same when you are taking your photographs.   Yes, capture images with both orientations and see firsthand what works best for your photos.

With every topic, there is a challenge.

This is what I want you to do.   Find a subject, maybe a person or a pet.   Then make a portrait – first, landscape/horizontal and second, portrait/vertical.  So, you will take two photos of the very same scene and subject.

After you create your images, compare the two and ask yourself which photograph has the strongest photo composition.

I’d love to see the photos you create.  Please share them with me via Twitter.  My Twitter home is : @ACuriousGent

Ah, London Bridge. Is it just me, or is this the one place where the wind whips through with vengeance? The “Friends of the River Thames” group is not too pleased with me because I have lost hats, umbrellas, a scarf, and almost a camera due to the wind here. Is there a “Friends of the River Thames” organisation? It would not surprise me if there is. Hmm… When the temperatures are cold in London, it is colder here for sure. Bundle up and hold your belongings tight if you plan to spend time on the bridge.

But, don’t let Mother Nature’s punch of a breeze deter you from choosing London Bridge as a place to stop to enjoy the views or take some great photographs. The bridge is a great spot, especially with Tower Bridge, London City Hall, the More London Estate, the Shard, and Southwark Cathedral in perfect view. This bridge, too, has a fantastic ledge to steady your camera. Do, however, put the camera strap around your neck for safe keeping. One bump from a passerby, a wrong whip of the wind, or one slight act of carelessness will send your camera diving into the River Thames. The edge of London Bridge is slick.

I make this sound like a daunting location, though it really is superb. Walking across London Bridge should be on your list of things to do in London. I will often venture across the bridge, then walk to The Monument to the Great Fire of London, then continue up into the City of London for night photography. Don’t forget to step down in front of Old Billingsgate as this offers brilliant views of the Shard and Tower Bridge and you’ll be directly on the River Thames as well.

The current London Bridge opened in 1973. The original bridge in this location dates back to 1176 tho’ a few bridges replaced this throughout hundreds of years. The last bridge, completed in 1831, began sinking at the rate of an inch every eight years. By 1924, the east side of the bridge was three to four inches lower than the west side. The bridge had not been designed to withstand 20th-century automotive traffic.

In 1967, the Common Council of the City of London began to look for potential buyers for the London Bridge. Enter, Robert P McCulloch of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, who placed the winning bid of $2,460,000. And, the rest is history.

Today, there are two London Bridges. One in London connecting Southwark to the City of London and the second London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.

Map Showing The Location of London Bridge

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Regent’s Canal is one of London’s best-kept secrets – a peaceful haven often hidden by the surrounding buildings. Today it is well-loved by boaters, walkers and cyclists all looking to escape the capital’s busy streets, but this gem of a canal was all too nearly converted into a railway. Thank goodness it wasn’t and Regent’s Canal remains.

The canal links a diverse cross-section of London’s attractions. From the colourful collection of narrowboats at Little Venice basin in Maida Vale, it runs on through Regent’s Park. Here it is overlooked by a vast aviary – part of London Zoo. In Camden, it passes the craft stalls and quirky clothing shops of the famous market, a centre for London’s alternative culture.

Walking along the Regent’s Canal is always a pleasant experience with your camera and you’ll find plenty of opportunities to click your shutter. The canal is indeed an area that should be regarded as one of the best places to photograph London.

Map Showing the Location of Regent’s Canal

There are few dishes that can truly be considered timeless. Filet Mignon with a Green Peppercorn Sauce is one of them. You can find this dish, or a variation of it, on menus of fine restaurants all over the world. And deservedly so.

Here is a short video on how to create this all-time favourite. It is really quite simple, quite quick, and absolutely delicious. Start with the finest cut of beef, the filet mignon, then using the juices you will learn to create a delicious sauce with green peppercorns as the focus. This is as quick and easy as you can get, a meal for special occasions, or just because. The green peppercorn sauce adds a completely different dimension to this timeless classic.

One important thing to take away from this video is the process of making the sauce from the juices, adding wine, reducing, seasoning and finishing. This process is used over and over again in making sauces for almost any dish. The variations being the flavouring; choice of wine or other liquid, choice of seasoning, choice of thickening agent, and so on. If you learn and follow this technique, you can always make a quick delicious sauce for almost any dish.

A Quick Green Peppercorn Sauce

After cooking the filet mignon, deglaze the pan with wine. You can substitute cognac if you like for a slightly stronger, different flavour. Also, add a half cup or so of beef stock, and reduce. Be mindful to whisk quite often. After the mixture is reduced by half, add butter and heavy cream. Both of these will act as thickening agents adding richness and flavour. Continue to reduce while whisking. Add the green peppercorns with the juice to taste. When you have achieved the desired consistency, serve with the filet mignon.

Travel Destination :: Aruba. One Happy Island.
My project to photograph landscapes under the full moon began right here.  I love long exposure photography at any time, anywhere in the world.  The natural glow of the full moon graces a landscape like no other time.   The lone beach umbrella on the magical white sand in Aruba with the ocean blue in the background epitomizes what a beach holiday should be – pure serenity.
 
Aruba is known as “One Happy Island.”  I found nothing but full bliss during my first visit to this island.  As a relaxing travel destination where the locals will greet you with smiles and laughter each day, I highly recommend visiting.  You might think a short break will be sufficient, but don’t be surprised if you will want to extend your stay.  Aruba is THAT nice.
And, one might not expect to find a desert landscape in the Caribbean, though do expect one in Aruba.  When you get away from the beach finding a rugged terrain with tall cactus plants is a pleasant surprise.
ARUBA – CARIBBEAN SEA 
As you decide if the happy island is right for you, consider these interesting Aruba facts ::
  1. Situated on the American continent, Aruba is an island in the Southern Caribbean Sea, 18 miles (29 kilometres) north of the coast of Venezuela.
  2. Its coordinates are 5000° N, 69.9667° W.
  3. Aruba’s population reached 103,000 in 2013.
  4. It has a total area of 74.5 square miles (193 square kilometres).
  5. You might be surprised to find out that Aruba’s official languages are Dutch and Papiamento.
  6. Aruba’s capital is Oranjestad (translated to ‘Orange Town’ in Dutch), a bustling and metropolitan seaport with a population of 28,295 (2010).
  7. The average lifespan here is 75 years (2012).
  8. The currency is called the Aruban Florin.
  9. Unlike much of the Caribbean region, Aruba has a dry climate and an arid landscape heavily speckled with cacti, meaning the humidity is low and rainfall is minimal.  I’m ready to return
  10. To elaborate, it has an average annual temperature of 28°C (82°F), but the trade winds mean it doesn’t get too hot.
  11. Aruba is surrounded by clear blue seas and pure white sand… take us, take us now.
  12. Whilst exploring, keep your eyes out for iguanas, goats, donkeys, strange boulder formations and the remains of a Spanish gold mine…
  13. … It has been said that Aruba’s name has been linked with the Spanish phrase ‘oro huba’, which means ‘there was gold’, though more likely, it probably comes from two Carib Indian words ‘ora’ meaning ‘shell’ and ‘oubao’ meaning ‘island’
  14. It’s thought that the Caquetio Indians of the Arawak tribe fled to Aruba perhaps as long as 4000 years ago.
  15. Alonso de Ojeda, a Spanish explorer, was the first European to land on the Island in 1499.
  16. Aruba’s oldest building is called Fort Zoutman and was built in 1798 to protect Oranjestad from pirates.
  17. Tourism is the biggest provider of the country’s income; due to the boom in tourism over the past 80 years, construction has become a successful industry too.
  18. One happy Island is Aruba’s slogan and it adorns the licence plates of Aruban cars.
ARUBA – CARIBBEAN SEA

 

London is great to Photograph Light Trails not because the city is overrun with traffic, but because the iconic double-decker bus lends itself beautifully for this little trick.  Two of the images below were taken with the Hasselblad 500cm, a medium format film camera.  Digital is easy as the results are shown immediately.  Using film is a guessing game, and a fun one at that.  When I use the film camera, I literally count the seconds and the minutes because I don’t wear a watch.  One-one hundred, two-one hundred, three one-hundred and so on…

In an earlier blog post, I listed:  Oxford Street, Oxford Circus, Cambridge Circus, Piccadilly Circus (that’s a lot of circuses’!), Parliament Square, and Westminster Bridge.  Today I will add to this list, and perhaps later add on even more.

Where are your favourite places to photograph light streams in London?

Old Brompton Road and Harrods.  There is plenty of traffic on Old Brompton Road to be able to capture great light streams. The lighted Harrod’s building is a fantastic backdrop and makes your images all the more interesting.  There is an area in the middle of the road with a railing around it so you can be safe from traffic.

Trafalgar Square and Admiralty Arch.  Stand in the middle of the roundabout, which is a rather large area.  It is also in this roundabout where you’ll be in the very centre of London, so says the plaque behind the statue of King Charles I.  The beauty of the roundabout is you can freely move about and change your perspective.  There’s Admiralty Arch in the Southwest corner, The Strand to your east, Trafalgar Square and Lord Admiral Nelson’s column to the north and Whitehall.  You can literally spend hours here taking photos or letting your mind go wild by creatively taking yourself back a few hundred years.

View of Battersea Power Station and Rail lines from Victoria Station.  Where?  Ebury Bridge Road.  This road is for those who know it and not many people do.  When you leave Victoria Station to walk west along Buckingham Palace Road.  At the third traffic light, you’ll arrive at Ebury Bridge Road.  Turn left and you’ll easily find this spot.  When you arrive, you’ll be perched high above the rail lines and see numerous trains passing by, which I adore.  Battersea Power Station is in clear view in the background.  What a glorious view it is.

 Waterloo Road.  Across the street from Waterloo Station is a small park area with a curved black marble bench.  You’ll also see a church facing the station.  I simply placed my camera on the black marble and let the magic happen.  Double-decker buses regularly turn from Waterloo Bridge onto Waterloo Road.  The BFI Imax Theatre is in the background (behind the tree).  The buses, tree and theatre all reflect beautifully on the bench resulting in a brilliant image.

 Tower Bridge.  Need I say more.  London’s double-decker buses regularly pass along the bridge in both directions.  Merely walk one side of the bridge, then the other side for some remarkable light stream photos.  Your only limit is your imagination.

The Strand offers plenty of opportunities to take great photos.  You’ll find a few red phone boxes somewhat near Charing Cross Station.  These call boxes are great to incorporate into your photograph.  If you walk along The Strand toward Waterloo Bridge and even to St Mary Le Strand Church, you’ll find ideal spots to take great images.

London can be a photographer’s playground.  I’ve put together the Gentleman’s Guide to the Twenty Best Places to Photograph London to help you on your journey through the city.

I hope you’ll share your own images with me.  I’d love to see them.

A travel journey is more than going from destination A to B. 

Join a gentleman traveller and photographer, Mark Paulda, as he shares once in a lifetime travel experiences, thoughts on the meaning of travel, and challenging the familiar.  

The Gentleman Wayfarer blog and vlog is an original travel series aimed to inspire you to travel and challenge your familiar.  Join me for colourful travel photography, compelling video and stories.  I won’t tell you where to stay or how to get “there,” but I will share experiences you can take; ones you’ll never forget.

In years past, travel was easy.  Today, travel can be stressful.  Planning a journey, deciding what to pack in your suitcase, time delays, airport security and even more travellers than we’ve ever seen can put a damper on what is supposed to be our escape.  We want to escape our stress of everyday life, but the obstacles can sometimes get the best of us.

Think of Point A to Point B as a necessary evil.  I typically have enough distractions in my carry-on so I’m able to tune out everything around me.  

The journey really begins once you pass through passport control and customs of any given airport.  Once you step outside the customs door, everything from home begins to drift away.  Discovery of new cultures, awe-inspiring landscapes, sights you never thought you’d see, new spices and tastes await you.  You’ll find laughter is the best medicine and your the people in your host country will have a sense of humour you weren’t expecting.  You’ll be surprised by new perspectives after you’ve opened your mind to new ways of life and different ways of thinking.  You’ll see colours that delight your senses and hear music you can’t resist.

This new self-discovery awaits you.  It has been waiting for you to arrive.  What you see and learn learn, and what you learn about yourself is the in between.  The best part about travel is you can leave yourself and your home country behind.  You can be anyone you want to be.  You can be your new self or change into a person you never thought you could be.

Be open to anything and everything.  Don’t allow an experience to pass you by.  You’re braver than you know; your mind is ready for new discoveries.  Your heart will thank you after you’ve finished.  You’ll have your own experience of a lifetime.  When you do, come back and tell me about it.

Landscape vs Portrait or Horizontal vs Vertical

Every scene and situation is different so it is always best to look through your camera’s viewfinder to know which orientation looks best.  You can also capture both – horizontally and vertically.  Yes, take both and see firsthand what works best for you. It is always best to practice composition techniques so you can learn firsthand what elements work and which don’t. You can also view other photographer’s images and learn.

Below are four photo examples. There are two images, each of the same scene. One image has been taken in the landscape (horizontal) format and the second image has been taken in the portrait (vertical) format. Take time to study each scene. Which photo has a stronger composition?  Why?

Landscape (Horizontal)?

Portrait (Vertical)?

Landscape (Horizontal)?

Portrait (Vertical)?

Landscape (Horizontal)?

Portrait (Vertical)?

Landscape (Horizontal)?

Portrait (Vertical)?

Landscape (Horizontal)?

Portrait (Vertical)?

For some images, both Horizontal and Vertical work beautifully for a strong composition.  In other images, one aspect will make your composition stronger than another.  The perspective of the scene does change dramatically when the camera is held vertically.  Do you notice this?

There is nothing wrong with taking a photo both horizontally and vertically.  Sometimes seeing will help you decide which is best for the strongest composition.

A free PDF Download is Available showing examples of horizontal vs vertical in photo composition.

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