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Travel Destination – Dubrovnik Croatia

A walk anywhere in, and around, Dubrovnik will provide you with views unmatched in other areas of the world.  In your imaginative mind, take a step back in time, then wonder what it was like so many years ago when these stunning structures were built.  I love travelling this way. What was it like to be back in time?  What were the sights?  Smells?  Sounds?  

  The luscious blues of the Adriatic Sea surrounding the Old City of Dubrovnik is one of the more beautiful sights one can see in this part of the world.

 

And the scenes during a full moon magnify the beauty of not only Dubrovnik but the Adriatic as well.

Dubrovnik is an easy going city in which to be.  It’s small and sadly overrun with tourists during the Summer.  I visited during early Spring and there were few people around.  Consider these interesting facts about Dubrovnik ::

::  The city is a seaport on the Mediterranean Sea and ancient enough to have other activities apart from soaking in the Mediterranean beaches. The city is as old as the 7th century.

::  The city was the capital of the adventurous Republic of Ragusa, a maritime republic.

::  In 1979, UNESCO added the city of Dubrovnik in the list of World Heritage Centers.

::  The city is surrounded by 2 kilometres of ancient walls and fortifications. Most of its buildings are built using the Baroque style architectural designs.

::  The city receives approximately 7.2 hours of sun per day. This is about 2630 hours of sun annually. 

::  You can engage in almost every holiday activity in Dubrovnik. From jeep safari, horseback riding, canoe safari, kayaking, sailing to the Elafite Islands and a visit to the national park on the Island of Mljet; tourists will never be short of fun things to do.

::  Dubrovnik, being an independent state, was the first country to recognize the United States as a sovereign state when it declared independence from the British.

::  As if to welcome you to its beautiful beaches, Dubrovnik’s altitude is just 3 meters above the sea level.

::  The city occupies a land mass of about 21.35 square kilometres (8.24 sq. mi). In that small space, you will find some of the oldest European museums and buildings.

::  The State of Dubrovnik was among the first countries to abolish the slave trade in the 15th century. It seems the country valued freedom even that far back.

At night one can appreciate the splendour and beauty of Regent Street.  When the lights come on, the complexion of this grand street changes.  The contrast of the grand white architecture contrasted with the dark night sky is simply magnificent.  What is even better is there is little pedestrian traffic so you can appreciate the curved buildings more than when you’re dodging the daily pedestrian commuters, tourists and shoppers.

Many years ago I confused Piccadilly Street with Regent Street for some odd reason.  I’d race up Piccadilly thinking I’d arrive at Liberty in less than five minutes only to find myself at Green Park and far from where I wanted to be.  There is a lesson to be learned when navigating the streets of London on foot – use a map or know where you’re going.  I did neither in my early years.  I can now get from Point A to Point B with my eyes closed.

Since my London book project began, I’ve learned when to zag instead of zig to end up where I need to be.  Thank the street gods for that.  Learning to navigate is not at all difficult.  I often say I am not a fan of public transportation.  The reason for this is because I miss out on London by being on a bus or underground.   The sounds, sights and even the smells of London make it remarkable.  So, stay on foot, walk a bit more and discover London the way it should be discovered.

That said, Regent Street is a good example of starting at one point of London thinking you’ll end up where you want to go, but really end up at Point C.  Always look on the bright side – there are great shops along Regent Street to keep you entertained.  You might also think about these interesting facts about Regent Street :

:: Regent Street was one of the first planned developments in London.  It was intentionally constructed by the government as a commercial business area.

:: Regent Street was given its name in honour of Prince George (later King George IV), who funded most of the construction.

:: In 1850, Regent Street shops stayed open until a whopping 7 pm making it one of the first late-night shopping events in the city.

:: Over 7.5 million people visit Regent Street every year.  The street is over a mile long and the shops along it employ about 20,000 people.  Regent Street also contains room for over 400 small offices and 750,000 square feet of large office space.

::  Due to its status as a fashion Mecca, and its length, Regent Street is also referred to as the “Mile of Style.”

::  Open since 1881, Hamleys toy store is the oldest operating business on Regent Street, having opened originally in High Holborn in 1760. The oldest continually operating store perhaps goes to Liberty, which opened six years before in 1875.

The video above includes a night scene of Regent Street.  The lighted pavement in the foreground is brilliant.  Below are a few images of Regent Street.

LONDON AT NIGHT
REGENT STREET – LONDON UK
REGENT STREET – LONDON UK

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Destination:  London

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During this course, we have covered various elements that will strengthen your photo composition.

These elements include:   filling your frame, avoiding the middle and putting your subject off-centre, leading lines, horizontal versus vertical, sense of movement, the dutch tilt – slightly tilting your camera, the use of depth of field and backgrounds, and colour.

Staying within the “RULES” use six elements of composition to create one amazing photograph.

You can combine any of the six, it does not matter which, but you must use six.

You can choose any scene or subject.

Take your time to visualise the composition of your photo before you ever pick up your camera.

Then take your photo.
After you have your ideal photograph with strong photo composition, share it with me on Twitter.  My Twitter home is @MarkPaulda

London has a lot of secrets.  Did you know?  Often when I am out and about with my camera in the city, I wonder what the scenes, sights, smells, and sounds would have been.  I can thank Charles Dickens for this as his works provide such vivid descriptions for us to devour today.  Then, I am thankful for modern sanitation, and sewers.  True that.

As I have trundled (and sometimes stumbled) the streets of London at night, I come across certain bits that may not entirely be secrets but overlooked.  For this post, I am taking time to highlight these areas as they are worth finding, especially if you love London.

One thing I have noticed via Instagram is that many of the “superstars,” in this microcosm of the internet, focus mostly on the obvious.  Many photograph London as well.  Almost all miss these “secret” areas as they probably do not live in the city to have time to find them.  This is all perfectly fine.

What are my Secret London spots?    Pickering Place off St. James’s Street with a fantastic sundial in the middle.  This is thought to be the smallest open square in London.   Passing through to the square you will also find a plaque commemorating the site of the Texas Embassy as England was the only country to recognise Texas as a Republic.

ST DUNSTAN’S IN THE EAST

St Dunstan’s in the East (Between Tower of London and Monument) is my favourite place to escape the noise of London.  Step in the remnants of this bombed church (now a garden) and London goes away.  If there is a magical idyllic space in London, this is it.Any guess where this is?  I admit this is not a secret place at all – Threadneedle Street, and part of the majestic Bank of England building.  Did you know the first London buses connected this area to Piccadilly Circus?

St Olave’s Church Yard.  Officially the church is in Hart Street, but the entrance to the churchyard can be found while in Seething Lane.  I love the skulls above the arched entrance.  The church survived the Great Fire of London, and “Mother Goose” is buried here. The Smallest Police Box in London.  Any idea where this is?  Today this answer to a trivia question is used by the sanitation crews of Trafalgar Square.  You can find this at the Southwest corner of Trafalgar.

​​Holborn Viaduct.  Take some time to explore this area, above and below, as you will see fantastic examples of Victorian architecture.  This is a bit off the beaten path, so easily missed.

Cardinal Place London

Cardinal Place in Victoria.  What is interesting about this somewhat new addition to the Victoria area is not the building but some of the night photography that can be captured here.  Westminster Cathedral is in view while inside Cardinal Place.  The area is again undergoing a transformation with the extensive work being done at Victoria Station and new construction. Broadgate.  Many people are aware of the Broadgate area, but this square at night is easily unseen by most.  The square floor lights up at night and changes colours.  All that is missing is dance music.  Do be aware security guards might run you out if you spend too much time here with a camera.

What did we just do?

Throughout the various blog posts, we have discussed various elements of photo composition that will help you create stunning images.

We began with an explanation of the definition of photo composition, then we looked at a lot of examples of images with strong photo composition, and we put the elements of photo composition into practice via various exercises.  You completed the exercises, right?

By the way, the images we’ve looked at throughout the process were other people’s photographs.  I always love viewing other people’s photographs for great ideas and inspiration.  Looking at other photographer’s work is a super way to learn.

Remember, the elements of photo composition we discussed include: simplifying your scene, textures, shadows, silhouettes, patterns, filling your frame, avoiding the middle, sense of movement and how dutch tilt can add drama to your photo.  We also discussed how to use backgrounds and colour to your advantage.

So, now it’s time to test your knowledge.  We will look at a series of photographs.  Look at each photograph, then identify the elements of photo composition the photographers used to create their images.

At the beginning of the quiz – the first few photos, you may need to take time to study each photo in order to determine which elements of photo composition were used.  By the end of the quiz, you’ll be able to identify the elements straight away.

Good Luck With The Quiz and let me know how you fared.  Leave a comment below or send me a message on Twitter.  My Twitter home is @MarkPaulda

Download the free PDF for an additional Photo Composition Challenge.

Are you considering a trip to Hong Kong?  Here are 12 Awesome Reasons to Visit Hong Kong.  This is a vibrant modern city still connected to its historic past.  

Hong Kong is a good example of giving a travel destination a second chance.  In years past, I had barely a stopover or a mere two days in Hong Kong.  This is not nearly enough time to scratch the surface as the city has so much to offer.

Hong Kong is not for the faint of heart if you are on a budget.  The city lives large and a stay here can set your wallet back.  Be prepared to spend and have little except a good time to show for it.  The peninsula is beautiful and the surrounding mountains create a natural boundary for the ego-driven skyscrapers that touch the shores.

Much like New York City, you’ll feel ant size while walking beneath the towering buildings.  The stretches between destinations are further than you think so using public transportation is highly recommended.  The transport system, whether via subway/metro or Tram is very simple to navigate.

I went from “meh” to I like Hong Kong during this last journey.  Let’s see if next time I fall in love.

For now, here are my 12 Reasons To Visit Hong Kong ::

::  Sail around the harbour on the Star Ferry.  Seeing Hong Kong’s massive skyscrapers from the water will give you a new appreciation for what a metropolis should be.

::  Public transportation in Hong Kong is efficient, clean and safe.  Navigating the city is easy even for a first-time visitor to Hong Kong.

::  The Mongkok neighbourhood with its infinity pool of neon signs is mesmerising.

::  Be adventurous and eat at any number of small restaurants or food stalls.  You’ll be happy you did, and your tummy will be happy too.

::  Temple Street Night Market should be on your Hong Kong to do list.  Yes, you’ll find some junk but you’ll also find some artistic treasures.

::  Walk amongst Hong Kong’s epic skyscrapers.  Challenge yourself by navigating the elevated walkways and arriving at the place you want to go.

::  Hong Kong is an uber-modern city, but there are elements of Old China that are fascinating.  Keep your eyes open.

::  Tai O Fishing Village is worth a stop and will give you a sense of what Hong Kong used to be.

::  The double-decker tram ride through Hong Kong is a brilliant way to see the city.

::  360 Nyong Ping is the most dramatic cable car ride you could possibly have especially when you ride through the mountains and the clouds.

::  Big Buddha is … BIG.  They claim it is the largest Buddha statue in the world.  If you avoid the shops and the touristy area, you’ll enjoy the experience.

Destination:  Hong Kong

The heart of London is the Thames River, so it is only natural for London’s bridges to be a highlight for any visitor (and Londoners)  Each Central London bridge has its own character and design.  Some are opulent, some simple and some stately.  Which is your favourite bridge crossing the Thames?

When thinking of London bridges, immediately Chelsea Bridge, Westminster Bridge, the Golden Jubilee Bridges, Waterloo Bridge, London Bridge, the Millennium Bridge and Tower Bridge come to mind.  These are my favourites.  A new pedestrian bridge is in the works to connect Nine Elms to Pimlico and I’m delighted to learn the “Garden Bridge” is an expensive idea that will not happen.  London is just fine without a garden on the Thames.

Only since 2012 and the Summer Olympic Games some of the bridges have been lit with colour.  At first, the illuminated hues were appalling to my eyes; now the coloured bridges tend to be Disney-fied versions of their former selves.  London, you’re trying to be something you’re not!  I say let the bridges “speak for themselves.”

Anyone of the bridges is a super place to explore with your camera as there are so many images that can be captured.  If I could give one bit of advice for someone who asks, “where is the ideal place to photograph London,” my answer would be – choose a bridge or a few.  Spend a lot of time on each one.  Click away.  I especially love the glow of the city at night.  As a photographer myself, I can think of no better bridge than Waterloo Bridge, which connects the West End to the Southbank.  

From Waterloo Bridge, you’ll have incredible views of the London Eye, Southbank Centre, Royal Festival Hall, Big Ben, Palace of Westminster, Golden Jubilee Bridges, the Royal National Theatre, St Paul’s Cathedral, and of course, the City of London.  Quite honestly, you could spend a couple hours on the bridge if you’re a photographer.  If you are only wanting to soak in London’s spectacular sights, Waterloo Bridge should be on your list of things to do.

I’ve spent many an hour on and under so many bridges in London, from west to east.  I know them and know them well, though one bridge is blatantly missing.  Do you know which bridge?

Have a look at the video above which includes London’s bridges from Albert Bridge to Tower Bridge and almost everything in between.  Find your favourite and then go explore London via the Thames.

Included below are a few of my favourite images of the bridges in London:

 

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This may be the best lesson to learn with regard to photography.  Breaking the rules of photo composition.  

Photo composition is basically visual language – you can use it to pass along a particular message.  You can use strong photo composition to convince people of an emotion or idea.

Just as we sometimes use the written word to create a deliberately jarring effect, we can do the same with photos by breaking standard composition rules.

Most of us recognise, understand and appreciate the “rules” of photography, BUT each one of us is different and we all view the world in our own unique way.  Sometimes you might want to deliberately centre your subject, ignore leading lines, or intentionally forget to leave space to move and you might not want to fill your frame.  That’s ok.  All that means is you’re a rebel like me.

Welcome to the world of breaking the rules of photo composition.  When you understand the rules of composition and break them on purpose, things start to get interesting.  Your creativity can flourish.  It is often best to start off by breaking one rule at a time, however.

Just remember for every rule there is a great picture that proves you can disregard it and still produce a fantastic image. 

Despite all the rules, if you take a photo that looks great but doesn’t meet the criteria set out by the photography gods, it’s ok.  You still have a fabulous photograph.

That said, in the next post let’s put your knowledge of the rules to the test.

The last of my favourite London bridges, though this is not to say there are no other beautiful bridges in London.  There are, and I will explore these later down the river, as it were. 

Tower Bridge is iconic, and I would venture to say the most photographed bridge in London, day or night.  No visit to London is complete without Tower Bridge on your list of things to do.   If you are into London Night Photography, be sure to add this bridge to your must photograph list.    The views looking westward are indeed brilliant with City Hall, More London Estate, HMS Belfast, London Bridge, the City of London, and last but certainly not least – The Tower of London, in full view.

More than this, there are fantastic spots to photograph Tower Bridge itself.  Walk around City Hall, and the More London Estates.  There are numerous opportunities for various perspectives.  Also, try Butler’s Wharf area by the old Design Museum location and St Katherine’s Docks on the opposite side of the River Thames.  Also, the far north end of the Tower of London (down the steps) is a nice area as well.  The north side of Tower Bridge is in full view and you can also include the Tower of London in your photo.

Do plan to spend some time here, and take your time.  The distances from one area to the other are not terribly far, but a hike. Additionally, plan to step up, and step down, as there are a few staircases you will need to negotiate.  Needless to say, walking from one place to another to capture every possible perspective of the bridge is a good workout.  If you’re carrying heavy camera equipment like I do, the workout is even better.

If you would like to see the drawbridge in action during the day, it is entirely possible.  Try your luck, or to be sure, have a look at the Tower Bridge Exhibition website for the timetable.    

Visiting London’s bridges is a splendid way to explore the city and to be rewarded with unique views.  Throughout this London travel blog, I include Chelsea Bridge, Westminster Bridge, Golden Jubilee Bridges, Waterloo Bridge, Blackfriars Bridge, London Bridge, and the Millennium Bridge.  Not including Cannon Street rail bridge, can you name the two bridges in Central London I’ve omitted?  Albert Bridge is indeed missing, but coming soon, so don’t include this as one of the two I’ve missed.

Below are a few photos of Tower Bridge and the views around the area.

Let your cares go away in Happy Bay, where you can have a beach entirely to yourself OR shed your clothes at Orient Bay Beach, where you can literally let all hang out.  Explore the Dutch side – St Maarten and have the best of two Europe’s in the Caribbean.  And, don’t forget the French side’s rolling hills – my favourite.  All in all the island offers a perfect retreat no matter what you are looking for in a beach holiday.  

In the video, 10 Reasons To Visit St Martin, I list a variety of reasons this Caribbean island should be on your travel list.  Some include:  the clear waters of the Caribbean Sea, sail to St Baths, or visit the Dutch side.  My top reason St Martin deserves your visit is the carefree, no judging, let it all hang out (and I do mean all)  Orient Bay.  You’ll often find me at Club Orient, one of the very few nudist resorts in the Caribbean.

While one might think a nudist holiday is far from gentlemanly, nothing could be further from the truth.  Clothes do not make a gentleman.  In a future post, I will share “Naked at Lunch,” an account of my experiences in the buff.

All that said, you might be scratching your head and asking yourself – what is this fool talking about?  St Martin (especially the French side) was devastated by Hurricane Irma in September 2017.  Yes, I’m well aware.  This original blog post was written well before Hurricane Irma began its furious march from Cape Verde in Africa and across the Atlantic Ocean. 

I decided to keep the contents of the original post to remind people what St Martin was.  St Martin was devastated and fiercely ripped apart by the hurricane.  My main point of reference on the island is Club Orient, where I stayed.  Knowing full well Club Orient’s location and the direction of the storm, I guessed it would suffer damage.  I did not expect complete destruction, which you can see in the photos included below.

There is an effort to rebuild Club Orient.  If you would like to help, any sort of contribution will be appreciated.  Contact relief efforts for St Martin or have a look at Club Orient’s Facebook page where there are regular updates.

This is a first-hand account just days after Hurricane Irma made landfall in St Martin and at Club Orient ::

::  All wood units are gone. Presumably, the slabs are left, but the buildings are gone.
::  Gatehouse is gone. In its place is a huge pile of debris that landed there from the winds. 
::  Pedro concrete wall … gone
::  Concrete buildings survived. Roofs were gone or damaged. 
::  Except for the waterfront chalets 46-52 … They are gone. No sign of where they went. 
::  The new beach goes from the water’s edge back to where the studios used to be. It’s about 200 feet. 

::  Hurricane shutters on units left are gone as well as the contents of all the houses … presumably sucked out by the wind … no sign of where the furniture, cabinets, appliances, etc., went. 
::  The units’ contents have been stripped by the hurricane. 
::  The villa is standing … no further detail.
::  Papagayo is standing but may not be sound structurally. All the contents are gone. 
::  The utility plant is covered with debris so Bert and Steve could not get a close look at the generators, switch panel, etc. It looks like there was about 5′ of water in that area, which means salvaging the electric plant is in doubt. 

::  The reception building is still standing. The front desk and other furnishings are gone. 
::  The tennis courts are gone. 
::  Steve and Bert drove through Orient Village where most of the buildings are standing but the contents of the first floors that they could see into are gone. 

::  Looters beat Steve and Bert to the resort. They were clearing out the Boutique. We let them take the contents because presumably, they need the stuff worse than we do!

Photos of Destruction and Damage From Hurricane Irma ::

If you love Caribbean Islands, you might also like Barbados

Destination:  Saint-Martin