Author

The Gentleman Wayfarer

Browsing

Being a gentleman in our modern world is more than being polite; more than holding a door; and more than knowing which fork to use.   A gentleman also means more than a dashing wardrobe.  The character of a man and his actions every day, all day throughout the year.  

What’s true is the traits are common sense, though I’ve been fortunate to have wise men in my life.  Some of the men were fathers, teachers, random people I’ve met while travelling and one man in particular.  Mostly, this one man  influenced me in so many ways, and during particular situations I find myself asking “what would Bert do?”  Then, I act accordingly.

Please have a look at my Ultimate List of A Gentleman’s Rules To Live By – a Guide To Being a Modern Gentleman, if you will.  As you read through, keep in mind each of our lives and life experiences is different.  What works for me, and what I think a gentleman may be, could very well be different to you.  Feel free to add to the list or even create your own list that suits your life.  The following 50 Rules for Being a Modern Gentleman are what works for me.

  
1.    Be yourself and yourself only.  Don’t try to be something you think someone else wants you to be.

2.    Don’t do or say anything that makes others feel uncomfortable.   

3.    When someone tells you something in confidence, let that secret stop with you.  Never share anything someone tells you.

4.    Learn the art of conversation.  Be able to talk about almost everything.  If you’re unsure, “I don’t know” is a respectable answer.

5.    I might not like what the truth is, but it is the truth I want to hear.  Truth can be understood and dealt with in a civil manner.

6.    If you are going to impress, be sure to impress in the way you intend.  In other words, be natural and you’re sure to impress.

7.    Never cancel at the last minute unless something drastic happens and you genuinely are unable.  And very importantly, don’t accept an invite then say no with a lame excuse at the last minute.  

8.    Don’t be late unless your tardiness comes with an honest and genuine excuse.

9.    Not every moment is golden (and successful).  Try to get ‘it’ right the first time, and if you don’t, make the second time count.

10.  Remember your good manners at all times even at the most inopportune times.

11.  Be interested and interesting – be the man people want to associate with.

12.  Be a genuinely good listener.

13.  Know your alcohol limits, and respect them.  And sometimes, know when not to drink alcohol at all.

14.  Avoid anger without reason.  Don’t ever ‘fly off’ the proverbial handle in public.  Just don’t do it.

15.  Know when and how much to tip.  A dollar isn’t enough.

16.  There will be times you’re wrong.  Don’t be afraid to admit it.

17.  Don’t give advice unless you’re asked for it.  You’re not an expert in someone else’s life.

18.  Never turn up to a party, friend’s house, or dinner empty-handed.  Always have a host/hostess gift even if it’s simple.

19.  Be loved and liked by those who know you.  It’s ok if everyone doesn’t like you.  Not everyone will.

20.  Practice chivalry and understand that courteous behaviour is not at all dead.  It IS ok to open the door for someone.

21.  No one likes arrogance especially when it is not warranted.  It’s not at all attractive.

22.  Don’t ever be too proud to apologize.

23.  Saying thank you goes a long way.  Say it.  And always send a written thank you note.

24.  Don’t judge based on other people’s judgments.  Give everyone a chance – your chance.

25.  Don’t strive to be the centre of attention.  If it happens, let it be.

26.  Don’t regret the things you’ve done, only the things you haven’t.

27.  Television and the internet are the biggest black holes of our time.  Live and experience life firsthand in real time.

28.  Take risks.   Break out of your comfort zone. 

29.  Learn to go with the flow.  Let ‘it’ be.

30.  Be confident and realistically believe in yourself.

31.  Watch what you eat, take care of what you wear and have pride in how you conduct yourself.

32.  Confront boredom by making a change.

33.  Travel whenever possible.  Follow passions and indulge in guilty pleasures even if you want to run naked on a beach.

34.  Be spontaneous.

35.  Take a compliment as well as you can give one.  

36.  If you invite someone  for dinner or drinks, do not ask, suggest or expect to split the bill.

37.  Allow yourself to be challenged.

38.  Life’s too short to only work, eat and sleep.

39.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help or ask for directions.

40.  Remember that most people do what is inspected and not what is expected.  So true.

41.  Say what you mean and mean what you say.

42.  There are a time and a place to use English slang; otherwise, use the English language properly.
S’up is not acceptable.

43.  Have your own thoughts and beliefs based on your own personal experiences.  There are too many sheep in the world.  Don’t be one.

44.  Be original even if you’re quirky.  And if you are quirky, embrace it.

45.  Wherever you are in the world, be inclusive.  Division by any means gets us nowhere good.

46.  If you think you have the skills, creativity or means to help someone, do it without wanting anything back.

47.  Learn when and how to say no.

48.  Know when to keep your mouth closed and when to be quiet.

49.  When you first meet someone, look them in the eye when you shake their hand.

50.  If you say you’re going to do something, be sure to do it.  Don’t let your words be hollow.

Venice Italy is pure magic.  This is Venice and magic is what I tell everyone who asks me for travel advice.

Consider nearly 400 ancient bridges to cross, tall campaniles defining the city’s skyline, stone walkways,  150 canals, 139 churches, a myriad of fascinating museums, St Mark’s Square and Italian gelato that will satisfy your tastebuds as you meander your way through the timeless islands.  

There are no cars in Venice.  The roads are indeed the city’s canals and if you want to be transported, your only choices are the iconic gondolas, private water taxis and public waterbus which is the vaporetto.  If you’re lucky, Venice will experience a mild Acqua Alta while you’re in St. Mark’s Square as there’s nothing quite like it.

You might feel as if you’re on a movie set as Venice doesn’t seem real at first tho’ the city is indeed a living breathing real place where people live and work.  Be respectful as tensions toward tourists run a bit high these days.

Be prepared to think you’re lost but also be prepared to throw away your map as a map will only frustrate you.  Meander your way through the narrow alleys and simply be pleasantly surprised when you reach one of the public squares where you’re sure to find shops and cafes.

Venice is splendid to discover.  Take your time and take it all in.  The city is pure sensory overload.  Enjoy the video presentation with images captured purely with an iPhone.

If you’re keen to learn more about how to capture great travel photos with your own mobile telephone, consider the following photo composition tips :

Rule One 

Simplify the scene.

When you look at a scene with your naked eye, your brain quickly picks out subjects of interest. But the camera doesn’t discriminate – it captures everything in front of it, which can lead to a cluttered, messy picture with no clear focal point.

Remember, don’t let your camera rule you.  You rule the camera!

What you need to do is choose your subject, then select a focal length or camera viewpoint that makes it the centre of attention in the frame. You can’t always keep other objects out of the picture, so try to keep them in the background or make them part of the story.

Silhouettestextures and patterns are all devices that work quite well in simple compositions.

The simpler the shot the bigger the impact

Move in close to cut out other parts of the scene
Silhouettes and shapes make strong subjects
The balloons radial lines draw you into the frame

Rule Two

Fill The Frame

When you’re shooting a large-scale scene it can be hard to know how big your subject should be in the frame, and how much you should zoom in. 

In fact, leaving too much empty space in a scene is the most widespread compositional mistake. It makes your subject smaller than it needs to be and can also leave viewers confused about what they’re supposed to be looking at.

To avoid these problems you should zoom in to fill the frame, or get closer to the subject in question. The first approach flattens the perspective of the shot and makes it easier to control or exclude what’s shown in the background, but physically moving closer can give you a more interesting take on things.

Rule Three

Horizontal vs Vertical

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and take every picture with the camera held horizontally.  In fact, I was taught to shoot this way and only this way.  It took time for me think of turning my camera vertically.

Try turning it to get a vertical shot instead, adjusting your position or the zoom setting as you experiment with the new style.

Rule Four

Avoid The Middle

When you are a newbie, or just starting out, it’s tempting to put whatever you’re shooting right in the centre of the frame. However, this produces rather static, boring pictures. One of the ways to counteract this is to use the Rule of Thirds, where you split the image up into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, and try to place your subject on one of these imaginary lines or intersections. 

Let me say, however, this is an overrated approach.

Instead, move your subject away from the centre and get a feel for how it can be balanced with everything else in the scene, including any areas of contrasting colour or light. 

There are no hard and fast rules about achieving this kind of visual balance, but you’ll quickly learn to rely on your instincts – trust that you’ll know when something just looks right.

Rule Five

Leading Lines

A poorly composed photograph will leave your viewers unsure about where to look, and their attention might drift aimlessly around the scene without finding a clear focal point. 

However, you can use lines to control the way people’s eyes move around the picture.

Converging lines give a strong sense of perspective and three-dimensional depth, drawing you into an image. Curved lines can lead you on a journey around the frame, leading you towards the main subject.

Lines exist everywhere, in the form of walls, fences, roads, buildings and telephone wires. They can also be implied, perhaps by the direction in which an off-centre subject is looking.

Rule Six

Dutch Tilt

Horizontal lines lend a static, calm feel to a picture, while vertical ones often suggest permanence and stability. To introduce a feeling of drama, movement or uncertainty, try the dutch tilt technique.

You can need nothing more than a shift in position or focal length to get them –wider angles of view tend to introduce diagonal lines because of the increased perspective; with wide-angle lenses, you’re more likely to tilt the camera up or down to get more of a scene in.

You can also introduce diagonal lines artificially, using the ‘Dutch Tilt’ technique. You simply tilt the camera as you take the shot. This can be very effective, though it doesn’t suit every shot and is best used sparingly

The Dutch Tilt can be used for dramatic effect and helps portray unease, disorientation, frantic or desperate action, intoxication, madness, etc….  

Rule Seven

Space to Move

Even though photographs themselves are static, they can still convey a strong sense of movement. When we look at pictures, we see what’s happening and tend to look ahead – this creates a feeling of imbalance or unease if your subject has nowhere to move except out of the frame.

You don’t just get this effect with moving subjects, either. For example, when you look at a portrait you tend to follow someone’s gaze, and they need an area to look into

For both types of shot, then, there should always be a little more space ahead of the subject than behind it.

Rule Eight

Backgrounds

Don’t just concentrate on your subject – look at what’s happening in the background, too. This ties in with simplifying the scene and filling the frame. You can’t usually exclude the background completely, of course, but you can control it.

You’ll often find that changing your position is enough to replace a cluttered background with one that complements your subject nicely. Or you can use a wide lens aperture and a longer focal length to throw the background out of focus.

It all depends on whether the background is part of the story you’re trying to tell with the photo. In the shot above, the background is something that needs to be suppressed.

Rule Nine

Be Creative With Colours

Bright primary colours really attract the eye, especially when they’re contrasted with a complementary hue. But there are other ways of creating colour contrasts – by including a bright splash of colour against a monochromatic background, for example. 

You don’t need strong colour contrasts to create striking pictures, though.

Scenes consisting almost entirely of a single hue can be very effective. And those with a limited palette of harmonious shades, such as softly lit landscapes, often make great pictures.

The key is to be really selective about how you isolate and frame your subjects to exclude unwanted colours.

Rule Ten

Breaking The Rules

Photo composition is basically a visual language – you can use it to make your pictures pass on a particular message

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

When you understand the rules of composition and then break them on purpose things start to get interesting

It’s often best to break one rule at a time, as John Powell does in the image above.

Just remember: for every rule we suggest, somewhere out there is a great picture that proves you can disregard it and still produce a fantastic image.

“The images of El Paso and 120 miles around conjure so vividly something of the character of the wonderful Southwest. Under a sky that seems limitless, the roads invite one to travel, to explore, to become a pioneer. When I see these great unending routes, piercing the vastness of the territory, they trigger in me the beginnings of an understanding of the importance to the American people of the concepts of freedom and opportunity.”

Daragh McDonald
London, England UK

All too often the El Paso area is an afterthought in any publication chronicaling West Texas or the Southwest. When I view photography books illustrating this vast area or read magazine articles, the message I receive is always the same: “Oh, by the way, there is a dusty place in far West Texas called El Paso; it is stuck in the middle of nowhere.” This corner of Texas is a footnote, if you will.

No doubt this area is overlooked due to El Paso’s distances from other civilisation. I say this lightly, though there is some truth to the thought. After all, El Paso seems to be a never-ending drive from other cities: twelve hours from Dallas, nine hours from San Antonio, four hours from Albuquerque, five hours from MIdland-Odessa, and seven hours from Phoenix. So yes, I do undertand why this area is considered the “edge” and off the radar for most.

It seems perfectly natural, if one mainly travels along Insterstate 10 through West Texas and southern New Mexico, for a traveler not to give El Paso much thought. As one looks out the window of a moving car, the easy conclusion would be that there is not much more to see than a plethora of tumbleweeds, desert brush, a few mountains, and a sea of wide-open space. Quite frankly, the roads one usually navigates move directly through the least interesting parts of the landscape.

Admittedly, the shape of this book didn’t immediately occur to me. I, too, based my judement of the area on Insterstate 10, not really piecing all the bits together, despite the fact that I am based in El Paso. The adventurer in me would visit the areas covered in this book independently; each a day trip and roughly a two-hour drive, or 120 miles, from El Paso. White Sands National Park in Southern New Mexico and the Guadalupe Mountains – Salt Flat area are two of my favourite destinations, though the landscape found in Lincoln National Forest at Cloudcroft has always offered an interesting contrast to the desert plains – and the cooler climate from the heat of the Chihuahua Desert.

My visits to Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site directly east of El Paso have been sporadic, although I enjoy my amatuerish attemps at rock climbing, and City of Rocks, between Deming and Silver City, New Mexico, allows my imagination to run wild thinking I am visiting the Flinstones’ Bedrock. Van Horn? Indeed, the Van Horn area – the “Gateway to Big Ben Country” – offers some of the most rugged and inspiring landscape in far West Texas. Seeing the sunrise over the Sierra Vieja mountains at the Coal Mine Ranch will be forever etched in my memory, and the largest collection of Precambrian rock formations in the wold at the Red Rock Ranch is a delight.

Most notable for me, however, is El Paso, as this is home. The Franklin Mountain range runs directly through the city and is the largest urban state park in the United States. For me, the Franklins are old friends that I miss when I travel around the world. In fact, this range is literally just outside my back door, and my friend Eric and I hike its slopes almost weekly.

Each of the aforementioned destinations is “just around the corner” in local terms, since driving times to other areas are four hours or more. While each of the areas photographed for this book have captivated me, I find the roads to and from equally fascinating. I believe the wide-open spaces that unfurl along these long, unobstructed roads epitomize the spirit of freedom many of us in the West feel.

Whilte I travel quite often throughout the world, each time behind the lens of my camera, I can safely say the landscapes of West Texas and Southern New Mexico touch my soul more deeply than any other place.

A spirit of freedom that is second to none wells up in me when I stand upon a high desert ridge; the sky above me opens up its cobalt tent, and the land below it stretches toward a horizon that seems to recede into infinity. Not only do deep fresh breaths fill me, but I can actually hear my breathing because the sounds of the cosmopolitan world are nowhere nearby.

The weight of the world swiftly lifts off my shoulders – I begin to connect with that which is around me, begin to move back toward my own centre. In a way, this great landscape offers me the freedom to feel whole again. No competeing demands tug at me from different directions. This is silence. Time is once again my friend.

The roads pictured in this book were avenues I traveled for the most part, but it was in the air where El Paso 120 came together. As I flew around the area in a twin-engine plane with Suzie Azar, my pilot the the former mayor of El Paso, I realised El Paso is not at the edge but right in the middle of an amazing landscape. And it is a landscape that is quite significant to the rest of the world, as you will discover as you flip through the book.

One might think I deliberately used a mathematical compass on a map to draw out what would be included in this book, but this is not the case. Flying above it, as a bird would, allowed me the opportunity to pull together what I had already explored on the ground. Surveying the land from atop El Paso’s Franklin Mountains, I can glimpse each of the areas portrayed in El Paso 120. A number of these destinations, all within striking distance of the city, are significant icons in the natural world.

Guadalupe Peak is the highest point in Texas, at 8749 feet. El Capitan, a massive limestone formation is the Guadalupe Mountains most recognisable feature.

The remarkable City of Rocks is a fantasyland of wind- and water-sculptued volcanic rock. Only six other places in the world have anything like them.

Near Kilbourne Hole, New Mexico, a lava tube (cave) at Aden Crater yielded up the skeleton of one of the last giant ground sloths in North America. The nine-foot-long skeleton, with much of its skin and hair still preserved, is now at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History.

At White Sands there is the world’s largest gypsum dune field, where great waves of gypsum lap nearly three hundred square miles of desert. White Sands National Park preserves a major portion of it.

Then there were Hueco Tanks, known in the nineteenth century as the last source of water between the Pecos River and El Paso. The site is now one of the most popular destinations in the world for rock climbers.

Not only have I had the luxury of discovering the El Paso area, but each trek has helped me find my balance. I can think clear thoughts. Any and all stress goes away.

I have traveled these roads from El Paso countless times to escape the pressure of cosmopolitan life. I get lost behind my camera. My mind wanders with each trek, wondering what the area was like underwater millions of years ago, or what the Spanish explorers thought when they came upon this terrain, making their way northward. Can you imagine what they must have though when out of the brown desert arose the larges white gypsum sand dunes in the world? The idea of this fascinates me and in turn inspires me to venture further.

As you view my photographic exporation, I hope you, too, discover that El Paso is not at the edge but instead at the very centre of some remarkably amazing landscapes. One may think 120 miles is a long way to get anywhere. But within these wide-open spaces, it’s only just down the road and around the corner.

With good fortune during my next journey, I shall find you discovering firsthand El Paso and the wonders radiating 120 miles in all directions from the city.

Make sure you say “Hello,” when we cross paths.

QUIRKY FACTS ABOUT THE LONDON UNDERGROUND

The first escalator on the Underground was installed at Earl’s Court in 1911. A one-legged man, “Bumper” Harris, was employed to ride on it and demonstrate its safety. Unlike modern “comb” escalators, the original “shunt” mechanism ended with a diagonal so that the stairway finished sooner for the right foot than for the left.

Anyone not wishing to walk on the escalator was therefore asked to stand to the right to allow others to pass, leading to Britain’s unique flouting of escalator etiquette which dictates in most countries that escalators tend to match the rules of the road.

The first crash on the Tube occurred on the line in 1938 when two trains collided between Waterloo and Charing Cross, injuring 12 passengers.

The inaugural journey of the first Central line train in 1900 had the Prince of Wales and Mark Twain on board. The tunnels beneath the City curve dramatically because they follow its medieval street plan. The Central line also introduced the first flat fare: tuppence.

The tiles at Leicester Square depict film sprockets; Baker Street has Sherlock Holmes, Oval cricketers, while Eduardo Paolozzi’s abstract mosaics at Tottenham Court Road celebrate musical Denmark Street.

The recording of the phrase “Mind the gap” dates from 1968, and is voiced by Peter Lodge, who owned a recording company in Bayswater.

He stepped in apparently when the actor hired to record the lines insisted on royalties. There have been several books, a gameshow, two theatre companies, several films and lots of songs called Mind the Gap.

While Lodge’s recording is still in use, some lines use recordings by Manchester voice artist Emma Clarke, while commuters on the Piccadilly line hear the voice of Tim Bentinck, who plays David Archer in The Archers.

On 7 July 2005 a series of co-ordinated suicide attacks during the morning rush hour killed 56 people and injured 700. Three bombs exploded within 50 seconds of each other at Edgware Road, Aldgate and King’s Cross and a fourth exploded an hour later on a bus in Tavistock Square.

Filming takes place in many places in the Underground system, but the most common locations are Aldwych, a disused tube station which was formerly on the Piccadilly Line, as well as at the non-operational Jubilee Line complex in Charing Cross.

One of the levels in “Tomb Raider 3” is set in the disused Aldwych tube station and sees Lara Croft killing rats!

In “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”, the Headmaster at Hogwarts has a scar shaped just like the London Underground map on his knee.

Covent Garden station on the Piccadilly Line is said to be haunted by a man dressed in evening wear who disappears very suddenly. Some staff members have refused to work at the station because of him.

The best places to spot the legendary underground mice running around the tracks are Waterloo Station and any platform at Oxford Circus. An estimated half a million mice live in the Underground system.

People who commit suicide by throwing themselves under tubes are nicknamed “one- unders” by London Underground staff.

It is estimated that around 100 tube suicides occur each year, the majority of these at Victoria and King’s Cross.

The most popular tube suicide time is 11 am.

Christopher Lee and Donald Pleasance starred in a 1970′s horror called “Death Line,” which tells the story of a cave-in while a station is being built at Russell Square in the 1890s. Several laborers are presumed dead and the bodies are left there when the construction company goes bankrupt. Of course these people are not really dead – instead they survive and reproduce… Years later, they start to find their food supply from the platform at Russell Square.

A fragrance call Madeleine was introduced at St. James Park, Euston, and Piccadilly stations in 2001 as an idea to make the tube more pleasant. It was supposedly a fresh, floral scent, but it was discontinued within two days after numerous complaints from people saying they felt ill.

In January 2005, the London Underground announced that it would play classical music at stations that had problems with loitering youths. A trial showed a 33% drop in abuse against tube staff.

In 2004 it was found that rubber mountings on carriages were collapsing on Piccadilly Line carriages due to excessive passenger weight! The estimated cost of replacing these defective mountings is in excess of twenty million pounds.

Is it because the Cadbury’s Whole Nut chocolate bar is by far the biggest seller in the dispensing machines at tube stations.

The nickname “tube” originally applied to the Central London Railway which was nicknamed the Twopenny Tube – because of the twopenny fare as well as its cylindrical tunnels. The “tube” part of the nickname eventually transferred to the entire London Underground system.

In terms of asphyxiation, traveling on the tube for 40 minutes is the equivalent to smoking two cigarettes.

The Underground is a good place to stumble on musicians busting out tuneful tunes to the delight of passers by. Following in this spirit, Julian Lloyd Webber is rumoured to have been the London Underground’s first official busker.

Bubonic plague swept through England in 1665, and was especially rife in urban areas. Aldgate Station, on the Circle and Metropolitan Lines, is built on a massive plague pit, where more than 1,000 bodies are buried.

Many tube stations were used as air-raid shelters during WWII, but the Central Line went one better and was actually converted into a massive aircraft factory that stretched for over two miles, with its own railway system. Its existence remained an official secret until the 1980s.

There are several unused stations down there. For instance, Down Street Station was used by Winston Churchill and his cabinet during the Second World War. The British Museum also has an abandoned tube station, lying on the Central Line between Tottenham Court Road and Holborn.

Next time you walk into a tube station, keep your eyes peeled for roguish fruit. Green grapes are particularly notorious offenders, causing more accidents on the London Underground than banana skins.

The mosquitoes inhabiting the tunnels of the London Tube have evolved into a completely different species to any that lives above the ground. Unlike their upstairs brethren, which bite only birds, the London Underground mosquitoes bite rats, mice and show a distinct affinity for human blood. Biologists named these voracious biters Culex pipiens molestus

Morning Flight

It was morning, and the new sun glimmers across the sand of the desert floor.  “Clear!” beams Suzie, as she pokes her head out the twin engine’s open window.  Flashing a mischievous smile at me she asks, “Are you ready?”  “Of course,” I respond, thinking nothing of her facial expression.

Like several times before, the plane’s engines rev causing a slight vibration on the floor board as we slowly roll toward runway one at Santa Teresa’s Municipal Airport.  The buzz I feel in my feet and legs always has a calming pre-flight effect on me, though little did I know this take-off would be different.  After negotiating the slight curve onto the main runway, I vaguely hear Suzie’s voice through the headset,  “Mark, it’s your turn to take off and fly.”  As the words quickly register in my brain, no doubt my eyes widely pop open and my heart thumps as if it will burst from my chest.  No thoughts race through my head except, “Good Lord, please let my fly today!”  There is no time to second guess her decision or my ability; or lack of ability, as I’ve only ever been a passenger during these flights.  Keeping outwardly calm, yet tightening every muscle in my body, I intently listen to Suzie’s instructions.

I reach for, and pull the throttle with a slight tremble, causing the plane to move faster.  Reaching a speed of 60 mph, I steadily draw the steering column towards me as far as it will extend, and with this movement, the plane gradually sails upward into the morning’s blue sky.  “Tower, this is Lima Papa. We’ll be flying around Kilbourne Hole this morning for aerial photography,” are the next words I remember as my breathing and heartbeat regain their normal rhythms.  There is an instant feeling of relief and peace inside me as the sky opens up its cobalt tent; the space beneath stretching as far as an ocean.  The weight of the world swiftly lifts off my shoulders allowing me to connect with the desert below as I navigate towards Kilbourne Hole, an 80,000 year old inverted volcano crater stretching nearly two miles long and well over a mile across.

A remnant of an ancient volcanic explosion, Kilbourne Hole is a crater in southern Dona Ana County’s desert basin between the New Mexico’s Potrillo Mountain Range and the Rio Grande River, approximately 40 miles northwest of El Paso.  The “hole,” or crater, is roughly elliptical in shape, and is known as a Maar; a pit or depression caused by a volcanic explosion with little material emitted except volcanic gas.

Circling around Kilbourne for a bird’s eye view, Suzie takes over the plane’s controls descending and looping until we swoop hundreds of feet deep into Kilbourne.  The curve causes the plane to slow until the wind seems to whisper around us, until the walls of the crater encompass the plane.  The exposed rock, in a near plastic state, is dull black or brown though erosion reveals a brilliant, sparkling yellow and green interior of olivine glass granules like treasured jewels in a sunken ship.

Looking forward, I see the crater’s end wall racing towards the plane’s front with great speed before Suzie noses the plane swiftly upward till the flat undisturbed desert plain lay calmly below.  Her playful smile returns as she glances toward me and there were no words needed to show my appreciation for this episode.  Exploring the desert southwest can always be an experience, though one just might find the adventurer sleeping inside one’s soul along the way.

Bali is known as the “Island of Gods” for good reason.  Take yourself away from your lush resort for a few hours and visit a Temple Ceremony.  Ceremonies in Bali Temples include offerings to the gods, colorful processions, prayer, dances, music and abundant feasts.   All members of a community – men, women and children play roles during a multi-day ceremony.  

Stay more than a few hours and you’ll be part of the family – the village family that is.  The Balinese are genuinely friendly.  They are just as curious about you as you are about them.  Strike up a conversation and you might be invited to a cremation ceremony, tooth filing ceremonies or a birth celebration.

The video in this blog post shows a group of children playing music you’ll hear at almost any Bali Temple Ceremony.  Mothers watch with pride and encourage their sons to make beautiful music. This particular ceremony was a full moon ceremony, or Purnama.  There are actually seven important ceremonies or religious festivals throughout the year in Bali and they are described below.

Full Moon

A Full Moon is believed to be the day when God answers prayers and it is considered to be a favorable day to plant things in the garden, especially fruit plants. Purnama helps to obtain an abundant harvest the following year.

The Balinese prayers includes honouring the shadow and light to find balance in life. This play of opposing forces and the acceptance of light and dark, joy and sorrow, benevolence as well as maliciousness is called Rwa Binneda in Balinese culture.

Nyepi Day

The day of silence across Bali.   The month of March brings Nyepi – the day of silence throughout the whole of Bali.  In the Balinese lunar calendar (Saka), Nyepi is New Year’s Day.  It is a day wholly dedicated to rest, staying in, turning off the lights and keeping quiet for 24 hours.  It is one of the biggest and most unique ceremonies of the year, where staying in and resting is enforced by law.  It is practiced island-wide where the Balinese dedicate an entire day to introspection and spiritual cleansing.  No businesses are open, no transport is allowed on the roads (except for emergency services) the airport even shuts down for 24 hours.  Nyepi is a sacred day to give the island a break from 364 days of human activity, so Bali can replenish and recharge for the new year.  Nyepi is a 6-day long festival, the ‘silent’ day falls on day 3 and is the most important and sacred Hindu holiday in Bali.  It is also a public holiday for the rest of Indonesia.

Galungan and Kuningan

Galungan is a Balinese holiday which celebrates the victory of dharma over adharma (the triumph of good over evil).  It marks the time when ancestral spirits of deceased relatives visit the Earth. The last day of the celebration is Kuningan, when they leave earth.  The spirits of deceased relatives return to visit their former homes and the Balinese have a responsibility to be hospitable and welcoming to their past ancestors through prayers and offerings throughout their home.  The most obvious sign of the celebrations are the penjor – bamboo poles with offerings suspended at the end which line the roads.

Tumpek Kandang

Tumpek Kandang is the day to worship Sang Hyang Rare-Angon, the God of animals.  The name of Tumpek Kandang is derived from two words, “Tumpek” meaning Saturday and “Kandang”, the Balinese word for the household animals such as cows, pigs, chickens, ducks, dogs, and birds – all of which are highly valued by the Balinese.  On this day, pigs are usually decorated with a white cloth wrapping their bellies.  The animals are then fed with special foods, sprinkled with rice and holy water and prayers are offered.

Tumpek Landep

Nowadays Tumpek Landep is a ceremonial day at which offerings are made for objects that are made of metal.  The ceremonies start in the morning hours at the village temple when people gather for special prayers and blessings.  Afterwards, at the home compounds, additional ceremonies and blessings follow at which offerings are made for the holy family keris that most families own, but also for cars and motorbikes.  In these modern times, also other objects that contain metal, such as computers, may be subject to these ceremonies.  Most Balinese people truly believe that these ceremonies and blessings will bring them luck and keep them safe in traffic.  Tragically, at the day of Tumpek Landep the hospitals in Bali show a peak in the treatments of especially motorbike accidents.

Pagarwesi

Pagerwesi is the day when the Balinese strengthen their minds and souls against evil forces. Pagerwesi is also called “rerainan gumi” by the Balinese and means the holiday for everyone from every background – from the families of priests to the common families.

The Balinese celebrate the Pagerwesi ceremony every six months according to the Balinese pawukon calendar, the celebration is usually three days after Saraswati.  Pagerwesi derives from the two Balinese words pager and wesi, which means fence and iron.  The iron fence is a symbol of strong self-protection and on pagerwesi the Balinese focus on building a strong personal fortification to ensure that evil doesn’t enter their minds, speech and deeds, to avoid harm to their surroundings.

Odalan

In Bali there are over 4,500 temples where ceremonies take place almost every day of the year and Odalan is the celebration of each temple’s anniversary.   Temple festivals are held on the anniversary of when the temple was consecrated and usually on a new or full moon.

An Odalan or temple ceremony usually lasts for three days, but larger ones, which occur every 5, 10, 30 or 100 years, can last for 11 days or longer.  The gist of what is happening here is that the Balinese are honoring the deities that rule over the temple by giving them a myriad of offerings, performances of vocal music, dance and gamelan music.

 

Destination:  Bali

Our world is under a lot of pressure these days.  This is true on either side of the Pacific or Atlantic Oceans.  I’m unsure what’s happening to be honest except everyone is beyond stressed and no one can say anything right.  If you want an escape from the madness, there is a tiny little Buddhist Kingdom at the base of the mighty Himalaya Mountains called Bhutan.  Some refer to Bhutan the Last Shangri-La.

You know you’re in a special place even before landing at the airport in Paro.  Pilots skillfully navigate between massive mountain ranges as if they are meandering on a mountain road.  It’s incredible.  If you’re lucky enough to sit next to a window, you’ll have a delightful landscape show that you’ll never expect.

You’ll also know you’re in a one of a kind destination when you pick up your luggage from the one and only carousel in the airport terminal.

Your Bhutanese experience will only continue to get better day by day.  What I’m really saying is you won’t have a bad experience in Bhutan.  The Bhutanese are beautiful, peaceful and well beyond friendly.  Their smiles will make you melt.  Do keep in mind the Bhutanese enjoy their quiet so keep your Western voices down to a minimum.  

Schedule your journey to Bhutan to coincide with one of the many festivals that take place throughout the year.   You’ll be treated to traditional Bhutanese music and dancing.  The most intriguing part of any festival is the display of devotion to Buddha and the Buddhist ceremonies that take place.  

Typically, festivals take place at a town’s dzong, which in olden times were large fortresses.  Today the dzongs are home to local government councils and offices.  Besides the glorious Himalaya Mountains that surround you in almost any place you find yourself in Bhutan, the Bhutanese architecture is just as grand and incredible to see.  Be sure to pay attention to the minute details as most buildings feature brilliant woodcarvings and intricate painting designs.

Allow yourself enough time to travel beyond Paro and Thimphu, the capital city.  Once your driver takes you past Thimphu, you’re basically on Himalayan mountain roads.  Believe me when I say – you’re in for a ride of a lifetime.  There is no straight smooth road through the mountains but the scenery is well beyond anything you’ve ever seen.  And if you’re lucky, you’ll find your head in the clouds as low clouds move in at dusk.  For me, having my head in the clouds was surreal and one of the most memorable travel experiences I’ve ever had in my life.

It was in Bhutan on the long uphill trail to Tiger’s Nest when I first realised selfies had grossly infected society.  I was only a few hundred yards from the pinnacle when a youngish American tourist whipped out his phone and declared – “It’s time for a selfie.”  Needless to say I was taken back and in disbelief that someone would think to take a photo of himself before considering he was at one of Bhutan’s most sacred sights.  Since then, of course, selfies have become more than common and might I add more than annoying.  Tiger’s Nest, however, remains a majestic sight and well worth the three hour trek it takes to reach it.  You can’t be disappointed, nor will you be.

Consider these iPhone travel photography tips so you can capture the best possible travel photos during your next adventurous journey.

LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS

Few styles of photography grant solace to the wandering soul like landscape photography. It invites us to seek out the wild, lonely places of the world. It can also be challenging to do well.

SHOOT DURING THE GOLDEN AND BLUE HOURS

Any professional photographer will tell you that lighting is one of the most important elements to landing a great shot, and with landscapes the most superb lighting occurs during the golden and blue hours of the day. The golden hour is the hour just after the sun has risen or just before setting, when the light is warm, soft, and creating pleasant shadows. The blue hour is the hour just before dawn or just after sunset, when the light is fading but not yet fully dark. This is when some of the most glorious sunrise/sunset effects happen. It’s also the best time to photograph cities, as there is still light in the sky yet the lights in the city are also on. Both of these hours will make for stellar shots. Conversely, the worst time to shoot is at noon (unless it’s a cloudy day), as you’ll get some harsh, unwelcoming light.

INVEST IN A TRAVELER’S TRIPOD

Some of the most dramatic landscapes can only be captured with longer exposures.  Blue hour, night time, and HDR photography will all need some form of camera stabilization, yet traditional tripods are both heavy and bulky.  That’s where a traveler tripod comes in.  Traveler tripods range from the small, flexible like the Gorilla Pod(which will fit in a small daypack), to the larger, near full-size tripods that are built light and collapse into a small bundle meant for traveling.  Which tripod you choose to add to your travel photography gear will depend on your budget, photography style, and the types of places you like to travel to, but having one will open up huge vistas of photographic opportunity for you.

DON’T FORGET TO USE THE FOREGROUND

It’s often challenging to capture that beauty in a 2-dimensional photo without something in the foreground to help put things in perspective. Incorporating a strong foreground into your photo will not only give context to the larger scene, it will also lend a sense of depth to your image that can be the difference between a flat, boring snapshot and an exceptional photo. Look for leading lines, interesting rocks, hill formations, or even just flowers. Just make sure that the elements you want to be sharp are in focus (which might mean using a higher f-stop).

ARCHITECTURAL PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS

If you love traveling, you’re probably not immune to the immense beauty that lies in some of the world’s human-made structures.  Whether you like the technical aspects, the culture it represents, or just admire a fine building, it’s hard to avoid wanting to land some great architecture shots.

WATCH YOUR LINES

One of the most challenging aspects to photographing buildings is making sure the lines go where they’re supposed to.  Often we’re looking up at architectural elements, and that can cause the vertical lines to start to converge, making the building look like it’s falling backwards.  If you find this happening, try stepping back from the building or moving to a higher point of view.  Also make sure you edit your photos in a program that fixes lens distortions.  This will often clear up lines that you thought were straight but came out crooked once you’ve clicked the shutter.

DON’T FORGET THE HUMAN ELEMENT

Most travel photographers try to avoid having people in their architectural images, yet including them can really add a whole other dimension to your image.  After all, buildings were designed for and by people, and if we really want to capture the spirit of a place, then it makes sense to see it from the perspective of those living and working in it.  On a practical level, including people will lend a sense of scale and depth to the image.

EXPLORE THE DETAILS

If you’re looking for a more unique shot, trying capturing the individual elements of a building.  There are often plenty of details and geometric patterns in even the simplest of structures, whether built in or a product of light and shadow.  Notice how the lines interact with each other, how the light illuminates textures, where the shadows fall.  A little bit of exploration might not only grant you some fantastic shots, but may also lead you to discover something new or interesting about the building’s construction or history.

STREET PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS

Street photography and traveling are pretty much a match made in heaven. Wandering the streets of a strange town or city is one of the primary pleasures of traveling, and capturing the real-life stories of the streets can be some of the most meaningful photos you bring back.

Contrary to popular thought, one of the most tried and true methods of street photography is to find an interesting spot, compose your shot, and spend time waiting for something interesting to happen. One of the early masters of street photography, Henri Cartier-Bresson,  often waited hours for what he called “the decisive moment.” But whether you wait for half an hour while you sip a coffee or lie in wait for hours, you’ll probably find this style of street photography less invasive than other forms, as the subject will be entering your space, not the other way around. You’ll also be more prepared, which means more opportunity to land the shot successfully.

BE RESPECTFUL

While capturing truly candid moments is at the heart of most street photography, it’s important to remember that not everyone wants their photo taken or to have their image bouncing around on social media.  So while everyone in a public space may seem like fair game (which is legally true in the US), both individuals and cultures as a whole may not appreciate the “shoot from the hip” method or other forms of surreptitious photography.  From focusing on the whole scene to creating a connection with your subjects, there are many unobtrusive ways to capture real life on the streets, and if you are in doubt about a shot, try and talk to people that are identifiable and ask their permission if you plan to publish it.  It may not always be practical, but it something to consider.

HAVE YOUR CAMERA EASILY ACCESSIBLE

There’s nothing like seeing something amazing (or even merely interesting) happen directly in front of you and not being able to get your camera out in time to capture it.  The solution?  Always have your camera handy.  If you’re not wanting to lug around a bulky DSLR, consider investing in a lighter camera—the best street images aren’t amazing because of their megapixels, but because of their content and composition.  Conversely, if you love your DSLR, try investing in a camera bag that gives you super-quick access.  

BE SURE TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT GEAR

Believe it or not, drones actually do come in a size that you can take with you on a trip, but you’ll need to do your research to find the one that’s right for you.  The larger, more expensive ones will be able to take better photos, but tend to be, well, large.  (And therefore hard to pack.)  If you want one that fits in your bag, consider models like the DJI Spark or the GoPro Karma.  Both are reasonably priced and can fit into just about any travel bag.

STAY CHARGED UP

Like with any electronic device, having enough battery power and some to spare can prevent a lot of mishaps.  While a single battery can cover a lot of territory, it’s always a good idea to have at least one backup.  This give you peace of mind.  You’ll also want to remember any travel adapters or converters you’ll need for juicing up in other countries.

PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY
LOOK YOUR SUBJECT IN THE EYE

The eyes are a great place to focus your photos – whether you can see them or not!  By focusing on the subjects eyes and capturing the light you help bring life to the image and if taking portraits of children get down to their eye level to produce a more natural shot (rather than them looking up).  You can experiment with having your subject looking directly into the camera or looking at something beyond the camera to create a sense of intrigue, or removing the traditional ‘eye’ element completely whilst still focusing at eye level (below).

BACKGROUNDS AND FRAMING

The background can make a huge difference in a portrait shot.  Bright colours, stark whites, muted blacks etc but the background doesn’t have to be everything.  If you can’t find what you are looking to use try and incorporate branches or other natural elements in the foreground of the frame for a different effect.  If you can’t find either, be sure to use a wide angle lens and a longer focal length to blur your frame so all focus still falls on your subject. 

GET CLOSE TO YOUR SUBJECT

You’re allowed the break the rules of composition (shoot with reference to the rule of thirds) when it comes to shooting portraits.  Placing your subject away from the middle of the frame can create a dramatic effect.

 

Long exposure photography can create dynamic, and sometimes, surreal images full of motion. Whether there is a sense of tranquility, apprehension with regard to the unexpected, or an element of surprise, night images can also evoke a true sense of emotion. 

Photographers who specialize in night photography are indeed a special breed. This should not be so surprising when one realizes how much in-depth understanding of light is necessary to capture that perfect photograph. Additionally, there are some rather basic tips any newbie night photographer should know. This, and more, will be covered in this edition of “After Hours Photography,” with a few night photography exercises tossed in to allow you to practice that which is covered. After all, practice – and I do mean a lot of it – will enable you to create magical night imagery! 

First thing first, and that is – Know Your Camera! Whether shooting landscapes, or urban settings, trundle through the darkness not only looking for the perfect scene, but experimenting along the way. A thorough understanding of your camera, and what all of the buttons do, is essential for night photography. The last thing you will want, with little light with which to work, is to fumble with your camera and its controls. Not knowing can only make for stressful, difficult photography. 

** Take a moment, and have a look at your camera controls. Pay close attention to the Mode Dial. This is where you will set how you will photograph. M = Manual, and this is where I assume you have your camera set. Most DSLR’s today only allow you to keep the shutter open for 30 seconds. For longer exposures than 30 seconds, you will need to know B, or Bulb. 

The Exposure, or Shutter Speed dial will be essential to locate, as well as Aperture. If you choose to experiment with ISO (ASA), you will need to be familiar with this button. A more in depth explanation will follow a bit later. 

NIGHT PHOTO OF DOWNTOWN EL PASO

 

After this, the Playback function may be important to you, and the LCD Screen can be your illuminated guide to all you need to know to make proper image taking decisions.

RING ROAD IN ICELAND AT NIGHT

Invest in a Camera with Low Light Capabilities

Must you buy a top of the line DSLR? If you can, great. If not, what is essential is a camera with Manual Mode, film or a memory card, and a tripod. 

LOW ANGLE VIEW OF PALM TREE AT NIGHT

Additionally, you will find a wider-aperture prime lens will allow more light in while capturing an image, and bring down noise levels. For instance, a 24mm f/1.4 is fantastic for night photography, but can be a bit pricey. If you are just starting out, consider a 50mm f/1.8 lens, which is typically reasonably priced. The difference between f/2.8, and f/1.8, is quite remarkable as the wider aperture allows an abundant amount of light in for ideal night images. 

ST PAUL'S CATHEDRAL AND MILLENNIUM BRIDGE

Cable Release. Remote Control. Self-Timer!

With long exposure photography, even the press of the shutter button can cause slight camera movement. The result will be image blur. If you want a clear, crisp image then do not take the chance by pressing the shutter release button with your finger. 

BUCKINGHAM PALACE REFLECTION PHOTO

The use of a cable release, remote control, or self-timer (10 seconds is good) will fix this. 

Tripod! Tripod! Tripod! or any Steady Surface.

Night photography requires a slow shutter speed, which means the camera must experience no movement to avoid camera blur. None. Nada. Zilch! 

LONDON MILLENNIUM BRIDGE AT NIGHT

There is no human being around who can hold any camera firmly steady below 1/60th of a second. Once the exposure time is below 1/60, a tripod or firm surface is most definitely required. Go ahead, try it, and see what happens. 

ILLUMINATED VENICE ALLEY AT NIGHT

The truth of the matter is, I rarely carry a tripod while exploring a busy city at night. I find them cumbersome, and a nuisance when amongst the crowds. I am no super-human to hold my camera steady, so I use what is around me – walls, railings, poles, benches, and even the pavement. Typically, more interesting composition is possible using these things. Sometimes, a little breath control is necessary as well. Yes, I hold my breath! Just be creative. 

RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL AT NIGHT

Lens Hood, or some means of shielding a lens from let’s say, the light light from a light post. Night scenes with bright lights, like cities, require a lens hood to prevent lens flares, or streaks, from the light. 

 

Flash Light, or even Light from a Mobile Phone.
While you want to be able to find your camera controls with your eyes closed, some sort of light will be a great help to see the camera buttons, and equipment in the dark. 

ADRIATIC SEA DURING FULL MOON

Turn Off Auto Focus

As much as you may love auto-focus, when you are in a low light situation this may not work as nicely as you hope. Manual focus is the way to go. 

Turn out the lights in the room where you are so that you are in complete darkness, then gracefully make your way to the door. Do you reach, and touch, in various places to find your way? Your camera’s auto-focus is doing something very similar, and often can not “grab onto” anything to achieve true focus. 

WHITE SANDS NATIONAL PARK AT NIGHT

Is it difficult? Sure it can be, though with enough practice, focusing will become easier over time. One trick is to put the focusing ring at infinity ( ∞ ), then adjust from there, if necessary. 

Turn OFF the Image Stabilizer!

When shooting from a tripod, leaving your image stabilizer turned on can often work against you, especially if there is motion in your chosen scene. Perhaps this motion are moving vehicles, moving water, or leaves rustling in the wind. The image stabilizer attempts to stabilize these movements, which results in blurring the entire image. 

THAMES BARRIER AT NIGHT

Do not confuse image stabilization with holding your camera steady. Seriously, can your camera make you not move? 

Exposure Tools

The metering systems in all cameras are designed for use in daylight conditions. Therefore a meter reading can only be used as a “starting point”. There are a few factors in night photography that make camera meters unreliable. 

SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS DURING FULL MOON

There are features on all DSLR cameras that make photography at night possible. Due to the lack of lighting exposing the image generally takes much longer. This is where the slower shutter speed settings become a valuable asset. Most cameras have shutter speeds up to 30 seconds. Often indicated as 30″ on the camera. 

B or Bulb setting – Once the shutter dial is adjusted to “B” or BULB, the shutter will stay open as long as the shutter button is pressed and will not close until the shutter button is released. 

BATTERSEA POWER STATION AND THAMES RIVER AT NIGHT

On film cameras, one way to see this effect in practice is to open the back of the camera when there is no film in it. Then, set the shutter dial to “B” and press the shutter button. The shutter will stay open until you decide to release it. This operation cannot be seen in the same way with a digital camera but the effect can be viewed on the LCD screen after an image is taken. Using this setting may take a small bit of practice because we automatically tend to release the shutter button as soon as we press it. As your confidence with long exposure techniques increases you will want to move beyond that and take photos with shutter speeds of several minutes of more. 

GRAND TETONS MOUNTAINS AT NIGHT

T or Timed setting This setting is used in a very similar way to the “B” setting and the same effects can be achieved. The difference between the two though is that using “T” the shutter is pressed once and released to open the shutter. The button is then pressed again to close it. The advantage of this over the “B” setting is that your hands are free, and the risk of camera shake is reduced. Unfortunately, very few cameras have this setting. 

AURORA BOREALIS IN ICELAND AT NIGHT

When using either setting the timing is done manually by the you. Rather than depending on a cameras shutter timer, you must count off the desired seconds (or minutes) the shutter is to remain open. Often, I use the “stopwatch” on my iPhone. The risk of camera shake, especially with the “B” setting is extremely high.

COLORADO LANDSCAPE PHOTO AT NIGHT

In order to avoid blur from camera shake using either the B or T setting, some sort of remote release is almost essential. 

THUNDERSTORM AND LIGHTNING AT WHITE SANDS NATIONAL PARK

ISO Setting: It is a common belief that the lower the available light, the faster the ISO rating needs to be to record enough light. Usually this is true, however, fast ISO settings are not always necessary for night photography. 

Normal ISO settings (100 to 400 ISO) can be used successfully. The exposures needed would just be longer, sometimes for several seconds. Hence, the need for a sturdy support such as a tripod! 

CROSS AT A CEMETERY NIGHT PHOTO

Play with the Aperture

In addition to shutter speed (which determines exposure time), you can play around with the aperture size of your digital camera. There are two scenarios here. If you set a long exposure, try to use a small aperture, such as f/16 to avoid overexposing any stationary lights. in the picture. On the other hand, if you set a short exposure, try using a larger aperture such as f/3.5 to avoid limited motion in your shot. 

TRAFFIC ON OXFORD STREET IN LONDON AT NIGHT

The more you practice, the more you will know how to develop your own nighttime photographic style. 

LONDON TRAFFIC AT NIGHT

Artificial Lighting (White Balance)

With night photography, the lighting you are using is all artificial except for any residual daylight at dusk or dawn. To complicate matters different man-made lighting sources give off different color casts. A typical night image may have numerous different types of light sources lighting the scene. These would be of different strengths and colors. This fact often adds to the impact of the night photograph. 

The color casts given off by artificial lighting can be changed through the use of the White Balance setting on a digital camera. 

CARRIBEAN SEA AT NIGHT

Have you ever taken a photo at night, and there is a yellow/orange hue dominating the color? This is because your white balance setting is set to daylight, or cloudy. Change your white balance to the “light bulb,” and see the difference. If you are a bit more advanced, you can manually adjust the color temperature right in the camera. 

WRONG WHITE BALANCE DURING NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY

Composition

Now that you have all the necessary tools to confidently head out into the night, let’s touch upon composition. Part of the appeal of long exposure photography is that it helps you practice your composition skills. Keep in mind that composition is key, and when using a tripod, it is best to adjust the height either above, or below, eye-level. Stand on higher ground to get a broad perspective of your scene, or use a smaller tripod to look slightly upward for a majestic feel.

Find Interesting Elements to Create an Artistic Interpretation

As you observe a scene, you will find that the elements of your composition comes in all shapes and sizes. Perhaps there is a rugged, or funky-looking, tree, a group of jagged rocks alongside calm waters, or an architectural feature in the city. These elements do not take away from your main subject, but instead adds a focal point that draws the viewer into the entire image. 

NIGHT PHOTO JENNY LAKE AT GRAND TETONS

No matter where you find yourself, play around with your surroundings, and don’t give up if you do not see the ideal composition right away. Move around! Avoid eye level, get high, get low, turn sideways: whatever it takes to create a stunning image. Do not expect to create fabulous night images without experimenting, and learning by trial and error. 

Follow the Lines
It would be better for you to apply the same rules that are applied to landscape pictures. Lead with lines into the main part of the scene so that the viewers are lured by your impression through the darkness. You can consider the streetlights, the light from moving traffic, or even brightly lit fences as lines. 

REFLECTION OF MONT SAINT MICHEL AT NIGHT

After all, lines and curves and shapes are prominent aspects of photography – from architectural to fashion. Follow them to compose your image. Frame it so that a line literally starts at one corner of the frame and extends diagonally. Instantly, you are following the rule-of-thirds, which is essential to any good photograph. 

REFLECTION PHOTO OF ST MARK'S SQUARE AT NIGHT

Know your Light

Light is the main ingredient of any photograph. Without it, we all would have a lot of empty frames to show off to everyone. 

Continuous Circles Selfridges Buliding

Choose any one particular area, and have a walk around during various times of the day, or night. Notice, at these different times, how the light is different, and how it effects a potential scene. Make a note of this, and again walk around, but this time with your camera. Take some photographs during these different times, and compare the difference in light, and how the light affects your scene. 

Here are the four lighting situations you will most often see used in long exposure photography:

Sunset or sunrise. It’s fairly obvious why. These are beautiful times to take photos. A good time to take long exposure photos is when the sun is below the horizon (before sunrise or after sunset) as there is less contrast and the light levels are lower, allowing longer shutter speeds. 

MOUNTAIN AND SUNSET PHOTO

Twilight. Also known as the blue hour because of the color of light at this time. This is the period between sunset and night (or night and sunrise) when light levels are low and the fading light illuminates everything in a brilliant glow. 

ROAD PHOTO AT TWILIGHT

Overcast days (for landscape photography). This is popular with photographers who use nine or ten stop neutral density filters to obtain long shutter speeds during the day. If the sun was out, especially during the spring and summer months, the light would be too harsh for good landscape photography. But on a cloudy day, moving clouds add interest to the sky. 

OVERCAST SKIES ADRIATIC SEA

Sunny weather (for architectural photography). Some photographers take long exposure photos of buildings during the day. A requirement is that there are clouds in the sky. Moving clouds create the contrast between the buildings and the changing sky that you need for a successful long exposure photo. 

MOTION PHOTO WHILE DRIVING

Look for Interesting Lighting Sources

Look for bridges, piers, city buildings, boats, the stars and moon. All of these emit light that’s excellent for reflecting off the surface of the water. Experiment with different locations to get different colors and shapes. 

THAMES BARRIER AT NIGHT


For instance, light from the sky will reflect and brighten up the water smoothly and uniformly. But look at the reflections of buildings and you see something more abstract. Geometric shapes appear because of the angularity of the buildings. Whether you want the simplicity of a clear night sky to light up the ocean or lake or the complexity that man-made structures brings, find interesting lights to enhance the look of the water. 

VENICE NIGHT LIGHTS REFLECTING ON WATER

Capture Motion

With a long exposure, you have many creative options when it comes to photography. This includes capturing motion. For example, have you ever wondered how professional photographers shoot pictures of trails of car lights as they zoom down the highway at night? It is all due to long exposures. Try to keep this in mind the next time you’re taking a night photo – you don’t have to restrict yourself to still images. 

Traffic in Motion Waterloo London UK

With extremely low light levels, moving subjects such as people walking will not register in the image so long as there is very little light shining upon them. Cars are a good example of using this technique. 

DOUBLE DECKER BUSES IN MOTION LONDON

With long shutter speeds and moving cars, the headlights and taillights will register as streaks. The cars themselves will not register on the image. This effect can also be used at fairgrounds where amusements lighting can be recorded while moving. 

CARNIVAL RIDES IN MOTION

Fast Shutter Speed – If you want the movement in your night photos to be clear an in focus, use fast shutter speeds. Because of the low light, a larger aperture/higher ISO will be needed 

Slow Shutter Speed – If you want to blur the motion, use slow shutter speeds, smaller apertures, and a lower ISO. 

TRAIN IN MOTION WITH BATTERSEA POWER STATION IN BACKGROUND

Remember that when you lower the ISO, you should be setting a longer exposure to maximize the available light you’re working with. Nighttime images also tend to look very grainy because photographers bump up the ISO to compensate for the lack of light. But in doing so, you limit yourself to the amount of time you can expose a scene. The longer you leave the shutter open, the more the motion of your subject will appear. 

MONT SAINT MICHEL REFLECTION AT NIGHT

So, there you have it – the basic tools to get you started with night photography. It may seem a bit intimidating at first, but I guarantee, with practice, you can produce absolutely fabulous night images. Of course, daytime is fantastic for photography, but it is after hours when the magic begins.

Shadows become wildly different, and the twinkling lights of any urban setting, large or small, create an ambience like no other. I often photograph London at night. This bustling cosmopolitan city becomes almost vulnerable after the sun goes down, and there is a tranquility about her during this time like no other. The architecture shows off beautifully as it is illuminated in the night sky, not to mention the mystery of what might be around the corner.

Landscapes, too, offer brilliant opportunities during the night hours. There is a bit more difficulty as there may be very little light, unless the full moon shines brightly above. The solitude of nighttime landscape images can evoke emotions that can create beautiful stories. Mountain ranges, or rolling rivers, and the calmness of lakes offer a sense of serenity that I completely adore.  

PALM TREES ON A BEACH AT NIGHT

This article about “Sí El Paso” first appeared in The City Magazine El Paso.  The article is written by Austin North.

“El Paso is a feeling,” said photographer Mark Paulda.  His new photo book “Sí El Paso”, the third in a series showcasing El Paso, exemplifies that feeling – it features a plethora of gorgeous photos of the city and its surrounding landscape, supplemented with excerpts of many individual El Pasoans’ experiences of the culture.  Mark initially released his book titled “Celebrating El Paso” ten years ago – it was a huge success, quickly becoming a best seller and selling out with three months.  Mark said, “with the first book, “Celebrating El Paso,” I was actually still learning – quite honestly I had no business doing a book at that time.  Lo and behold, it became the fastest selling book for my publisher, TCU Press.”

Mark is humble about his beginnings, stressing that he was still learning throughout these past ten years.  He went to exceptional lengths to study photography – Mark said of the inception of the first book, “I had just returned from London where I had learned from some of the best photographers in Europe.  I had to come back to El Paso, but I was still learning and finding my way.”  He reached out to acclaimed European photographers and studied under three of them – “one is a very accomplished Israeli photographer, one was a photographer for Vogue magazine and one has shot some of the most iconic, classic album covers …It was through them that I recognized that I could turn this into a viable business,” he said.

He has used this training to further his skills and career in photography, and his newest book, “Sí El Paso” is a prime example.  Featuring stunning photographs of our city, Mark said of the book, “The way that I view the city though a camera, and then recognize the really important parts that make up our city – I think you that in the new book.  Not only have I matured as a photographer, but the city has matured as well.”  He’s right emphasizing the revitalization of downtown especially.  He believed ten years ago that El Paso deserved a photography book, after not having found one throughout his travels.  The landscape and architecture photography especially are such a unique talking point within the city and Mark felt that El Pasoans would be proud to be able to show off their hometown through these books.

“Photos are nice, but I think the stories  make the new book,” Mark said of “Sí El Paso”.  Within the pages, you’ll find countless passages and stories from El Pasoans – both native and those who have moved here – describing their experience of the city.  It’s a well-known concept that El Paso, despite being a large city, has a small-town mentality and feel.  This can be observed throughout the book – look through it and you’re sure to find names you recognize in the stories.  “What I wanted to do with the stories is give people a good sense of what El Paso really is and who we are.”  The people who contributed the stories give their personal accounts of their experiences growing up in or moving to El Paso and the stories they share are genuinely insightful and often moving.  Mark explained that the bilingual culture is something that he focuses on and appreciates, and as such, many of the stories in the book are in Spanish as well.  He said, “It being bilingual is important because the city is that way.  Some of the writing is even in Spanglish, like we hear regularly here.”

In terms of success, Mark has found plenty both in and out of El Paso.  His previous two books were sent to household names who, “bought a whole bunch of books to send to their friends outside El Paso.  They wanted people to know who and what we were.”  Another demographic that he has found success  in is people who had moved away but still want a piece of El Paso.  “They want to be able to look at something and say that we’re just as worthy of a book as anywhere else.”  Ultimately, Mark wants to answer the question of “Why El Paso?”  Whether it’s out of town football teams at the Sun Bowl or uninformed politicians and celebrities, people always ask why.  “This is sort of an answer to that question.  To show that we really are a special place.”

World Book Day is tomorrow as it is every 23 April.  Commit yourself to reach back to the classics, then begin reading.  Some book titles included in this list are expected, though there are a handful of surprises.  And, if you’re thinking what to read during a general free time on the sofa, or by a pool or an ocean, I’ve got you covered.  

A well-read gentleman is also a good conversationalist.  It’s the perfect excuse to get lost in a good book.  

Self-Control: Its Kingship and Majesty by William George Jordan

The turn of the 20th century was the golden age of personal development books. In contrast to the self-help books of today, which are filled with flattering, empty, cliche platitudes, they’re direct, masterfully written, and full of profound and challenging insights that centre on the development of good character. Even in this golden age, one author stands supreme: William George Jordan. His Self-Control is full of beautifully written wisdom on self-reliance, calmness, gratitude, and more.

Self Control It's Kinship and Majesty William Gordge Jordan

 
How to Be A Gentleman: A Timely Guide to Timeless Manners by John Bridges

Being a gentleman isn’t just being a nice guy, or a considerate guy or the type of guy someone might take home to meet their mother.  A gentleman realizes that he has the unique opportunity to distinguish himself from the rest of the crowd. He knows when an email is appropriate, and when nothing less than a handwritten note will do. He knows how to dress on the golf course, in church, and at a party. He knows how to breeze through an airport without the slightest fumble of his carry-on or boarding pass.  And those conversational icebreakers―“Where do I know you from?” A gentleman knows better.  Gentlemanliness is all in the details, and John Bridges is reclaiming the idea that men―gentlemen―can be extraordinary in every facet of their lives.

How To Be A Gentleman A Timely Guide to Timeless Manners John Bridges

 

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

A Confederacy of Dunces is one of my favourite books of all time.  This New Orleans-based novel won author John Kennedy Toole the Pulitzer Prize. Its perfect comedy of errors is centred around the character of Ignatius J. Reilly, a lazy and socially ignorant, but very intelligent man, who still lives with his mother at the age of 30. A Confederacy of Dunces serves as a guide for what a man ought not to be while providing sound entertainment all the while.

A Confederacy of Dunces John Kennedy Toole

 

Lord of the Barnyard: Killing the Fatted Calf and Arming the Aware in the Cornbelt by Tristan Egolf

A literary sensation published to outstanding accolades in America and around the world, Lord of the Barnyard was one of the most auspicious fiction debuts of recent years. Now available in paperback, Tristan Egolf’s manic, inventive, and painfully funny debut novel is the story of a town’s dirty laundry — and a garbagemen’s strike that lets it all hang out. Lord of the Barnyard begins with the death of a woolly mammoth in the last Ice Age and concludes with a greased-pig chase at a funeral in the modern-day Midwest. In the interim there are two hydroelectric dam disasters, fourteen tavern brawls, one shoot-out in the hills, three cases of probable arson, a riot in the town hall, and a lone tornado, as well as appearances by a coven of Methodist crones, an encampment of Appalachian crop thieves, six renegade coal-truck operators, an outraged mob of factory rats, a dysfunctional poultry plant, and one autodidact goat-roping farm boy by the name of John Kaltenbrunner. Lord of the Barnyard is a brilliantly comic tapestry of a Middle America still populated by river rats and assembly-line poultry killers, measuring into shot glasses the fruits of years of quiet desperation on the factory floor. Unforgettable and linguistically dizzying, it goes much farther than postal.

Lord of the Barnyard Tristan Egolf

 
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

I saw the theatre production of Treasure Island at the National Theatre not once, not twice, but three times.  Then, I read the book again with much delight.  Pretty much everything we think of when we think of pirates comes not from the pages of history but from this book: treasure maps with “X” marking the spot, deserted islands, peg legs, parrots, and more. Published as a children’s tale (and a rather adult one at that), American novelist Henry James praised it as “perfect as a well-played boy’s game.”

Treasure Island Robert Louis Stevenson

 
The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton

Read Hamilton’s Federalist Papers, then read the Constitution.  Composed of 85 articles, The Federalist Papers served to explain and encourage the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. The majority of the essays were penned by Alexander Hamilton and originally published in The Independent Journal and The New York Packet. While the Constitution lays out the laws of the land, these essays provide the 18th-century version of the ballot/blue books we get the mail around election time, explaining the laws that are being proposed. It is essential reading for any civically minded American.  Forget the theatre production.

The Federalist Papers Alexander Hamilton

 
Your Car’s Owner’s Manual

Yep, that dusty book in your glove compartment. Come on, bring it out and get to know your car better. So, it’s not exactly “literature” but it’ll teach you something that will come in handy.  Guaranteed.  By the way, I was shocked to learn the battery in my Mercedes is located under the driver’s seat.

The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

The fundamental work on free-market policies: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity but to their self-love, and never talk to them of our own necessities but of their advantages.” Want an education in economics?  This book is a great start.

The Wealth of Nations Adam Smith

 
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

The granddad of books about people skills, the advice found in How to Win Friends and Influence People is still sound and applicable 80 years later. Carnegie writes about skills like making people feel valued and appreciated, ensuring you don’t come across as manipulative (which happens unintentionally more than we think!), and essentially, “winning” people to your viewpoints and ideas. While it can sound a little disingenuous in its description, these are true skills that people use every day, and this book is a great resource for boning up your social game.

How To Win Friends and Influence People Dale Carnegie

 
The Republic by Plato

The Republic is a Socratic dialogue, written by Plato around 380 BC, concerning the definition of justice and how a just city-state should be ordered and characterized. It is the great philosopher’s best-known work and has proven to be one of history’s most influential works of philosophy and political theory. In it, Socrates and other various interlocutors discuss the meaning of justice and examine whether or not the just man is happier than the unjust man, as well as the theory of Forms, the immortality of the soul, and the role of the philosopher in society.

The Republic Plato

 
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

Robert Jordan is a young dynamiter in the Spanish Civil War. He’s an American who’s volunteered to fight against Franco’s fascists and is sent behind enemy lines to take out an important bridge to impede enemy forces from advancing. He lives in a rudimentary camp with anti-fascist Spanish guerillas and comes to embrace their hearty way of life and love. And of course, there are some incredible battle scenes, which were informed by Hemingway’s own time as a correspondent in the Spanish Civil War.

For Whom the Bell Tolls Ernest Hemingway

 
On the Road by Jack Kerouac

A defining novel of the Beat generation, On the Road, is fictional, but a semi-autobiographical account of two friends’ road trips across America, against the backdrop of a counter-culture of jazz, poetry, drug use, and the drunken revelry of back-alley bars. Along with their travels, they’re searching for what many young men are: freedom, ambition, hope, and authenticity.  

On the Road Jack Kerouac

 
Travels With Charley In Search of America by John Steinbeck

To hear the speech of the real America, to smell the grass and the trees, to see the colours and the light—these were John Steinbeck’s goals as he set out, at the age of fifty-eight, to rediscover the country he had been writing about for so many years.  With Charley, his French poodle, Steinbeck drives the interstates and the country roads, dines with truckers, encounters bears at Yellowstone and old friends in San Francisco. Along the way, he reflects on the American character, racial hostility, the particular form of American loneliness he finds almost everywhere, and the unexpected kindness of strangers. 

Travels With Charley In Search of America John Steinbeck

 
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway’s classic memoir of Paris in the 1920s.  A Moveable Feast brilliantly evokes the exuberant mood of Paris after World War I and the unbridled creativity and unquenchable enthusiasm that Hemingway himself epitomized.

A Moveable Feast Ernest Hemingway

 
Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss

After a terrible storm, the Swiss family Robinson becomes shipwrecked on a deserted island. With teamwork, ingenuity, and a bit of luck, the group strives to overcome nature’s obstacles and create some semblance of community and civility within their new environs. A truly classic survival and adventure tale.

The Swiss Family Robinson Johann David Wyss

 
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

While there’s plenty of political, moral, and economic philosophy in this book, it’s coated in an action thriller of a story. Set in the near future, our protagonists are Dagny Taggart, heir to a transcontinental railroad empire, and Hank Rearden, the head of a steel company who’s invented a revolutionary new alloy. Together, they battle against evil government bureaucrats and socialists to hold civilization together, while all the while powerful industrialists are mysteriously disappearing, leaving behind only the cryptic phrase “Who is John Galt?” Though this book is associated with passionate libertarianism, the story is an interesting one to ponder no matter one’s political persuasions.

Atlas Shrugged Ayn Rand

 
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas

The ultimate tale of betrayal and revenge. Edmund Dantes, days before marrying his beloved Mercedes, is brutally betrayed, arrested for treason, and consequently taken to a prison on an island off the French coast. The story goes on to tell of his escape from prison (don’t worry, it’s early in the novel and doesn’t ruin anything) and his becoming wealthy and re-entering society as an educated and sophisticated Count. He plots his revenge, eyes reclaiming his love, and ultimately…well, you’ll just have to read it.

The Count of Monte Cristo Alexandre Dumas

 
Self-Reliance & Other Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Self-Reliance” contains the most prominent of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s philosophies: the need for each individual to avoid conformity and personal inconsistencies, and to follow their own instincts and ideas. You’re to rely on your own self versus going with the ebbs and flows of culture at large. Other essays in the collection focus on friendship, history, experience, and more.  Is it just me, or is this Self Reliance a necessity in today’s world?  I’m anything except a conformist.Self Reliance Ralph Waldo Emerson

 
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

There is nothing more manly than a bout with the Devil. Mikhail Bulgakov wrote this entertaining commentary on the social bureaucracy in Moscow during the height of Stalin’s reign. Lucifer himself pays the atheistic city a visit to make light of the people’s scepticism regarding the spiritual realm. The novel also visits ancient Jerusalem under Pontius Pilate’s rule. Even for the non-religious, this book will provide plenty of food for thought.

The Master and Margarita Mikhail Bulgakov

 
Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand

This 1897 play follows French cadet Cyrano de Bergerac. He’s a poet, musician, and expert swordsman — a true Renaissance Man. Unfortunately, Cyrano has a tragically large nose, which hinders his confidence to the point that he’s unable to profess his feelings to Roxane and feels he isn’t worthy of anyone’s love. What is a man to do in such a situation? Read and find out.

Cyrano De Bergerac Edmond Rostand 
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

It’s all well and good to be a dreamer, but a man must also be grounded in reality. It’s a lesson that Don Quixote comes to learn in the 17th-century eponymous book, which is widely considered to be the world’s first novel. Quixote, along with his squire Sancho Panza, travels the world in search of grand adventures and heroic deeds which would earn him the title of Knight. He continues against all odds, and in some cases, against all common sense. It’s funny, surprisingly easy to read given the fact that it’s over 400 years old, and can provide a man many lessons on the aspirations of heroism.

Don Quixote Cervantes

 
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

This short, but ever-popular tale is a young woman’s take on humanity and horror. Mary Shelley was just 21 when Frankenstein was first published in 1818, and the book is widely regarded as the first popular science fiction/horror novel. While you surely know the monster and the story of mad scientist Victor Frankenstein bringing him to life, it’s a much darker and more philosophical book than what pop culture has made it out to be. You learn about science, ego, pride, and ultimately, what it means to be human.Frankenstein Mary Shelley

 
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Dickens should be a part of every man’s reading life, and A Tale of Two Cities is a good starter. It’s set in London and Paris during the French Revolution and depicts the plight of the French peasantry, their turn to violence towards the aristocrats who marginalized them, and the parallels to London society during the same period.A Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens

 
The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux

In this travelogue, Paul Theroux recounts his 4-month journey through Europe, the Middle East, India, and Southeast Asia on the continent’s fabled trains: the Orient Express, the Golden Arrow to Kuala Lumpur, the Mandalay Express and the Trans-Siberian Express. His well-documented and entertaining adventures have come to be considered a classic in the travel literature genre. This journal satisfies the vicarious traveller and inspires the adventurous man.The Great Railway Bazaar Paul Theroux

 
The Iliad & The Odyssey by Homer

These epic poems are some of the world’s oldest pieces of literature. They’ve been read, enjoyed, and studied for thousands of years, and for good reason. They are not only beautiful to the ear, but contain lessons that every man can learn about heroism, courage, and manliness. The Iliad takes place during a few weeks of the final year of the Trojan War and details the heroic deeds of both Achilles and Hector, as well as a variety of other legends and stories. The Odyssey, a sequel of sorts, is about the great warrior Odysseus’ voyage home after the Trojan War. He faces various obstacles in his return to Greece, and we also see how his family back home dealt with his assumed death.The Iliad and The Odyssey Homer

 
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

The novel that catapulted Hemingway to worldwide fame and success. The Sun Also Rises follows Jake Barnes and a group of ex-patriot friends through Spain and France, with plenty of wine-drinking and bull-fighting. The novel is a bit semi-autobiographical in that the main character is trying to deal with his war wounds — both physical and emotional — and escape to the supposed romanticism of travelling and eating and drinking to your heart’s content. Does Jake find happiness? You’ll have to read to find out.The Sun Also Rises Ernest Hemingway

 
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

While the book’s plot centres on an ageing, disinterested father and his three adult children, the substance found within goes much beyond that. Dostoevsky’s final and greatest novel, this book also involves spiritual and moral dramas and debates regarding God, free will, ethics, morality, judgment, doubt, reason, and more. It’s a philosophical work clothed as a novel — which of course makes Dostoevsky’s weighty ideas easier to digest. The McDuff translation gets rave reviews.The Brothers Karamazov Fyodor Dostoyevsky

 
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

Written in the early 1500s, this is the classic guide on how to acquire and maintain political power (even if those methods are sometimes unsavoury) — a so-called “primer for princes.” Its precepts are direct, if not disturbingly cold in their formulaic pragmatism. It asks the classic question: “Do the ends justify the means?” A worthy read for any man wishing to better understand the motivations and actions that tend to rule modern politics.The Prince Niccolo Machiavelli

 
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Set among New York City elites in the roaring ‘20s, this book is considered one of America’s great literary products for a reason. Narrator Nick Carraway is befriended by his mysterious millionaire neighbour, Jay Gatsby, and proves to be a crucial link in Jay’s quixotic obsession with Nick’s cousin, Daisy. The metaphors, the beautiful writing, and the lessons one can garner about reliving the past all make The Great Gatsby worth reading, again and again. Our interview with NPR’s Maureen Corrigan is worth a listen. She is the author of So We Read On: How To Great Gatsby Came To Be and Why It Endures. We discussed her research into why a novel was written about Jazz Age New York that resonates with Americans nearly a century later.The Great Gatsby F Scott Fitzgerald

 
1984 – George Orwell

Read 1984, then go delete your Facebook account.  Perhaps the most essential to re-read today, 1984 sets stage in an oppressive futuristic society monitored by the ever-watching Big Brother. Protagonist Winston Smith goes to work every day at the Ministry of Truth, where he rewrites and distorts history. However, Smith decided to begin a diary — an action punishable by death. Amid modern-day data mining, the fall of Net Neutrality, and lunatic leaders, we cannot forget the toll of tyranny and totalitarianism.1984 George Orwell

 
Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

Another assigned high school read you probably didn’t appreciate when you were sixteen, it’s time to revisit the ambling of George Milton and Lennie Small, migrant workers who search for jobs throughout California amid The Great Depression. And with all great novels, it’s been banned time and again for its mention of violence, swearing, racism, sexism, the works, but it’s an essential commentary on the nature of The American Dream, the dichotomy of strength and weakness, and the loneliness of isolation.Of Mice and Men John Steinbeck

 
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – Mark Twain

Often called “the greatest American novel,” The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn proceeds Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and is renowned for its use of written vernacular in imitation of southern antebellum society. The story follows teenager Huck Finn and his friend Tom Sawyer as they navigate themes of race and identity. So, yeah, you should re-read that one today, especially given that the original novel has been the subject of censorship in schools for years.The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Mark Twain

 
The Poetry of Pablo Neruda

If you need an “excuse” to read some of the best love poems ever written about oceans and women and the earth, say you’re brushing up on your dating one-liners. But the words by Chilean poet, diplomat, and politician Pablo Neruda are so much more than kindling. They are pure fire and combustion. This book will wake up your soul. It also mends broken hearts.The Poetry of Pablo Neruda

 
The Stranger – Albert Camus

An ordinary man finds himself on trial after committing a murder in one of the greatest novellas of the 20th century. A dissection of morality and the philosophy of the absurd, The Stranger is particularly relevant today as we face a world of heightened sensitivity and, perhaps, a society that makes no sense to us.The Stranger Albert Camus

 
The Call of the Wild – Jack London

Try this: Take the novel on a long, boring, or otherwise dreaded journey. Close the last page a changed man (it’s that phenomenal) with a new outlook on struggle and bonds. Set in Yukon, Canada, during the 1890s Klondike Gold Rush, London writes of Buck, a dog that is abducted and forced into the chaos and brutality of frontier life. In a word: rugged.  Secretly: a tear-jerker.The Call of the Wild Jack London

 
Lord of the Flies – William Golding

A band of British boys are shipwrecked on an island and try to maintain order and normalcy the way governments do. As you might guess, it all goes terribly, terribly wrong. Lord of the Flies, the first novel from Golding, is a perfect glimpse at the nature of savage inclination. It’s a short read but it’s a damn good one.Lord of the Flies William Golding

 
Catcher In The Rye – J.D. Salinger

We’ll bet you first glimpsed the vibrant red cover of Catcher in the Rye some time in high school. But don’t let your memory fool you into thinking it’s a kids book. Possibly the best coming-of-age tale in all of literature, Salinger writes of the young and relatable protagonist Holden Caulfield and his first-person commentary on the world as he struggles between embracing adulthood and hiding in his childhood memories.The Catcher in the Rye J D Salinger

 

How To Be A Gentleman