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The Gentleman Wayfarer

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Digital Photo Magazine interviewed me about photographing Istanbul.  What a treat to visit Istanbul, but to photograph this great city, too?  Wow.  Istanbul offers photo opportunities wherever you turn.

Hagia Sofia Reflection Photo

What was it about Istanbul that made you want to capture it on camera?

The Ottoman architecture of Istanbul, it’s minarets reaching to the heavens, the colourful spice market, Grand Bazaar presented a vivid image in my mind.  Hypothetically, I had been photographing Istanbul even before I arrived.   I had seen a myriad of photos while researching my trip and visualized how I would capture the various scenes differently.   Once my feet hit the pavement, it seemed as if I had already visited the city, making my task of capturing the city on camera all the more easy.  Additionally, having grown up in Tripoli, Libya, re-discovering the Islamic world has been high on my list.  Istanbul has been only one stop with regard to this journey.

Istanbul is famous for its beautiful Ottoman architecture, such as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque and so on; artistically, do you think you did it justice?

Ottoman architecture is brilliant, isn’t it?  The style completely captures my imagination, and there is a fairytale magical element I’ve not seen elsewhere.  My eye is drawn towards curves, and lines, so Istanbul was ideal for me as a photographer.  Hour upon hour I studied Hagia Sophia, Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque), Süleymaniye Mosque, Basilica Cistern following each curve and line.  I have thousands of images I captured in Istanbul.  My aim was to take the viewer on a journey with a different perspective.  I’m confident I achieved this.

Moving on to the Hagia Sophia; with it being such an imposing building, did you find it a challenge to photograph?

Absolutely.  With Hagia Sophia being so large, and the buildings around it, I found the square to have the best perspective.  At night, Hagia Sophia glowed beautifully with its lights, and a fantastic reflection can be found in the fountain.  While up close, I could capture particular architectural elements, but even with my 18mm super wide lens the entire structure could not be captured until I found myself in the square.  I did walk the perimeter of Hagia Sophia numerous times to assure myself the best perspective had been found.  At night Hagia Sofia is pure magic. 

The Hagia Sophia has been home to both Eastern Christianity and Islam; do you think you managed to capture those historically spiritual elements?

Hagia Sophia is a feast for one’s eyes, with or without a camera.   I vividly remember being awestruck upon entering the first time.   The blend of Eastern Christianity and Islam is beautifully evident in this structure, and my camera worked overtime more than once.  While I was well aware of the symbols before me, capturing each through my journey through this marvel, it was not until I viewed my images later that I knew each element had been covered.  That said, I focused on the overall beauty rather than single out one element over another.

What were the significant differences in photographing Istanbul during the day and at night?

My preference is capturing any city during the night hours as their beauty shines far brighter to my eye during this time.  Details in architecture are more pronounced against the night sky, the lights and motion of Istanbul make the city seem more vibrant and vivacious, yet the character stays the same.  With fewer people walking the pavement, I can more easily “touch the soul” of a city during the night time hours, and my creative eye wakes up.  Additionally, there is more of a challenge for me to capture urban areas with long exposures as rarely do I use a tripod, and I must discover ways to keep the camera steady as well as test various exposure times.  

Review of “Sí El Paso” first appeared in the January 2020 issue of El Paso Scene.  The gracious review is written by Randy Limbird.

No photographer has chronicled El Paso and the surrounding region more extensively than Mark Paulda.  His first photographic compilation of the borderland, “Celebrate El Paso,” came out over 10 years ago.  “No one guessed but the book went on to be a best seller and the fastest selling book for my publisher, TCU Press,” Paulda said.

But after a decade of changes — in which landmarks like City Hall and the ASARCO smokestacks were razed, others like San Jacinto Plaza were restored and new ones were created, like the red “X” rising above Juárez — it was time for a new edition.

The result is “Sí El Paso,” a larger version of the older book, with over 250 color photographs of El Paso, Juárez and Southern New Mexico.  And while his first book was nothing but photographs, “Sí El Paso” includes memories and stories written by a range of El Pasoans.  To make the book even more accessible to our community, the text is provided in both English and Spanish.

Mark, whose photographs have appeared in El Paso Scene several times over the past dozen years, approached me about doing something with the new book, so I offered to put it on the January cover.  It was a joy leafing through the book, but hard to pick out just a few images out of so many.

The main picture featured on this month’s cover jumped out at me.  It’s a winter scene familiar to my mind’s eye but one that I had never seen portrayed as well as Mark had done in his photograph of winter storm clouds draped over the Franklins.  The vibrant colors of the Juárez mercado and the subtle gold shades on the Cortez Building also caught my attention.  The long-exposure shot of freeway traffic amid a the foreground of desert plants and the background of Union Depot is Mark Paulda’s signature image, similar to the one that graces the book’s cover.

Hopefully Mark — and El Paso Scene — will be around long enough for his next decade’s installment of photography.

Cover of El Paso Scene January 2020

 

This is Iceland.  An island with the wild North Atlantic Ocean to the south and the Norwegian Sea to the north.  A place where you might sometimes think  you’re on a different planet.  A country whose population is often dwarfed by the number of tourists who visit.   Home to the friendliest people you’ll ever meet.  A small island with landscapes larger than life.   

If you’ve never visited Iceland, drop everything and go now.  Of all the countries I’ve visited around the world, Iceland is not only cool (and I’m not referring to the temperatures), but it ranks near the top of my most favourite places in the world.  I’ve visited Iceland numerous times dating back well before it became a wildly popular destination.  There were few hotel choices when I first visited.  Today there are an abundance of hotels in the city centre of Rejkjavik.

Reyjavik alone is charming enough for you to know you’ve chosen the right travel destination.  The city centre is relatively small and most definitely walkable.  You’ll find numerous bars, restaurants and shops and outdoor public spaces to sit back and watch Icelanders go by.  

But it’s the majestic landscape that will capture your heart and imagination.  The mountains are glorious.  The glaciers are enormous.  There are plenty of tours that will take you to the top sights.  Private guides will take you to places few others see.  If you prefer to go on your own, rent a car.  Navigating Iceland is easier than finding your way in your home town.   Traffic and direction signs are in Icelandic but it doesn’t matter because you can’t get lost.  Drive the southern route and you’ll see everything mentioned in this blog post.  Drive northward and you’ll feel as if you have Iceland to yourself and the landscapes are even more impressive.

Geysirs burst steam in the air constantly while some erupt like clockwork.  The landscape is fascinating if you’re a nature lover.  They are literally everywhere so you can’t miss them.  If you fancy waterfalls, Iceland has those, too, and they are mightily impressive. 

If you’re adventurous like me, head to the local airport and ask a pilot to fly you over Iceland in a small plane.  It is from the air that you will truly appreciate the grand size of the glaciers.  I’d like to say they are the size of Texas except Texas is vastly larger than the entire country.  But, you get the idea.  The lakes, the rivers, the evident flow of lava when a volcano erupts, the mountains and desolate landscape are even more stunning from up above.

Iceland is also a photographer’s paradise and playground.  It’s safe to say you can’t take a bad photograph in Iceland.  Plan to travel with your DSLR.  You’ll probably want to print some of the photographs you capture.  At the same time, have your iPhone or any mobile phone handy.  Smartphones are brilliant when you want to capture a quick photo or video.

I’ve included some tips to consider when using your iPhone for travel photography.

12 iPhone X Camera Tips You Won’t Want to Forget should help you to improve the images you take with that omnipresent camera system.  It should be noted that most of these tips can be applied if you own any of the other iPhone models or even other camera phones.

1. Turn on all the lights in the room

This is a great place to start immediately improving the quality of the photos you capture with your iPhone. The pitfall you are immediately battling when you grab for your iPhone over your DSLR or Mirrorless camera is in the fact that you are working with a MUCH smaller lens in front of a MUCH smaller sensor. What this means is that your iPhone is not all that good at collecting light. Yes, that statement applies to the iPhone X as well.

When light collection is inefficient, noise can become a problem quickly. But don’t fret, I have a solution. Add light. It really is that simple. Turning on every available light will immediately enhance the quality of your image. The lights in your house are most likely placed up high (probably near or in the ceiling) and they will be familiar and flattering. This will immediately improve your photos making them sharper and reducing overall noise.

2. Turn on the flash

This is clearly related to the first tip. More light = better iPhone photos! iPhones have the tendency to not use the built-in flash as much as they should. Now, while it is a point light source and thus a harsh light source, it is also probably not strong enough to overpower your ambient light. Rather, it will add to it as a fill and reduce overall noise in the image.

Since the ambient light is still present, you shouldn’t end up with harsh, ugly shadows. That is, unless you ignored the first tip. Just make sure you’re not expecting the flash to cover any great distance. It has an effective range of about 7 feet before the inverse square law renders it less than useless.

Do be aware of the possibility of your flash not matching the ambient light in terms of color temperature. This is supposed to be less of a problem with “True Tone” flash. However, the lighting in a house tends to be very warm and can really give your flash away. Play around with it and see what works best in your given situation.

3. Utilize “Portrait Mode”

One place where the limitations of a mobile device for photography start to become more apparent is when trying to take advantage of the physics of optics to do things like create a shallow depth of field. Enter computational photography.

This is going to be a buzz phrase as we move into the future of photography. A huge strength of the iPhone X camera (like the 7 plus and 8 plus) is the ability to recognize the subject, separate them from the background and create a fantastic and convincing bokeh. While it’s not perfect, it is pretty darn good and getting better with each iteration.

While in the main camera, simply swipe into “portrait” mode and the camera will do the rest. You will notice that it doesn’t work horribly well up close but you must be close enough for it to separate the subject from the background. 7 to 8 feet works pretty well. The phone will actually tell you things like “Move Farther Away” or “Place subject within 8 feet” to help guide you to the optimum subject distance to make the feature work. Also, be sure that your background is a decent distance behind your subject. This will help the system work better.

The software takes over and creates a great bokeh that will separate your subject from the background and improve your portraits.

If you’re living in the world of the iPhone X, you also have access to the lighting adjustments in portrait mode. 

4. Tap on screen to adjust focus and exposure

An often-underutilized functionality built into the iPhone experience, dating way back to the early versions of the iPhone Camera app, is the ability to control the exposure. Many people simply stumble onto the feature.

The way this works is by simply touching the screen where your subject is. This sets the focus point on the image. Now, with your finger still touching the screen, drag it up and down to adjust the overall exposure. Now you’re in a perfect position to nail your iPhone photo exposure every time!

This works especially well with subjects like sunsets where the camera wants to automatically select an exposure that is far too bright, blowing out the details in the sky. Drag down to “under-expose” and boom… perfect sunset shot.

Another level of functionality in this feature is the ability to lock exposure and auto focus. Once it’s set how you like it, just hold on the screen for two seconds and you will see the AE/AF lock indication pop up. You can then recompose your image without the camera changing focus or exposure settings.

5. Don’t pinch to zoom when taking pictures

“Zooming” by using the pinch gestures on screen. Technically, you can’t zoom on an iPhone. Zoom would be changing the optical focal length of your lens. Pinch “zoom” is digital “zoom” and amounts to a simple cropping of the image. Of course, with the X and with the Plus versions of the iPhone, there is the option to use the second “2X” camera. But this is really more of a lens swap, or technically it’s a complete camera swap to a different system, different sensor, everything.

Note: There is a HUGE caveat with the “2x camera” that I discovered while writing this article. When lighting conditions are not optimal, the iPhone camera app always uses the main 1x camera and when you tap 2x, it uses a digital “zoom”. This is because the 1x camera has a slightly larger sensor and a slightly brighter aperture. In order to know if you’re actually utilizing the 2x optics, cover the telephoto lens (leave the main lens unobstructed and that is how you’ll know you’re covering the correct lens) and switch to “2x”. If you’ve actually switched over the image should go dark. If it does not, you are using “digital zoom” and you’re better off just using the 1x camera.

Pinch zooming is really just cropping the image live and then taking the photo committing the photographer to the exact composition they had when they hit the shutter. A far better approach would be to take the photo without zooming in and then crop later to get the desired effect. Then there is time to make it perfect and/or change it later on. A sort of non-destructive workflow applied to capture in-camera.

The other alternative, and one that is especially useful if you do not have one of the iPhones with the handy two camera setup on the back, is a set of clip on lenses that can be attached to your phone. There are tons of these on the market and many of them actually work quite well (see tip #8)!

6. Panoramas can be useful

This one might seem obvious, but I want to point out a couple of less obvious ways to use this feature. First, the obvious. Sometimes you just want a panorama. Shooting several photos with sufficient overlap and then hauling said files into Lightroom or Photoshop or your editor of choice to merge to a panorama is simply too much. So, engage panorama mode, start the exposure and slowly pan from left to right. Done.

One spot where it might not be so obvious to use a panorama is in a situation where you don’t necessarily need the sweeping 180-degree view. You can take short panoramas (is that a contradiction in terms? I don’t care) you have my permission. This is a way to achieve a slightly wider angle of view both vertically and horizontally while, at the same times, adding a fair bit of resolution.

Another useful tip with panoramas on the iPhone is to remember that they work in the vertical orientation as well. The process is the same, just hold your phone in landscape orientation at the start of the panorama and pan from low to high. Now you have a beautiful photo of a very tall subject in one shot.

The panorama mode comes with a couple of caveats and these are not unlike panoramas with larger photography equipment.

  • You’re likely to have some significant distortion, especially if you’re close to your subject. This can sometimes be OK and other times it can be fixed in post.
  • Moving subjects don’t play well with panoramas. Sometimes this can lead to some interesting stitching errors.
7. Rotate your phone rather than your body when taking a panorama

This is obviously part of tip #6, but I gave it its own heading because it will help you just that much. It has to do with parallax and other forms of distortion that are possible when the camera moves rather than rotates. If you have no clue what that means, don’t fret, just understand that you will end up with superior results when you rotate your phone rather than your body with your phone out in front of you.

The same principle is true when shooting panoramas with a larger camera system. The idea is to rotate around something known as the nodal point. With your phone, just think of the camera itself as the nodal point and you’ll probably be close enough. Throw a longer lens on and have objects near and far in the frame, and it becomes important quickly.

If you want to try an experiment that will help you understand the concept, do the following:

  • Hold your finger up in front of your face about a foot or so away.
  • With one eye closed, line your finger up with some object in the background (something about 10 feet or more away works best)
  • Now rotate your head and notice that your finger appears to shift position as your head rotates. This is the same thing that is happening when you hold your phone out in front of you as you rotate your body to create a panorama. It can mess things up pretty quickly.
  • Now try again, but as your head rotates, try to keep your finger and your target object lined up. If you are able to do this, you are rotating around the nodal point of your eye! Stitching a panorama that was taken with the camera rotating around this nodal point is much easier and much more accurate as the elements in the frame do not move relative to one another.

If you have a hard time with this, consider mounting your phone on a tripod as you would when taking a panorama with a larger camera system (more on tripod benefits in tip #9).

8. Invest in some external lenses for more iPhone photography fun

As with more traditional photography setups, good glass is critical. External lenses are a great addition to your iPhone. Be it the X, or the 8 or any of the previous iterations. Now, obviously the X and the 8 Plus (as well as the 7 Plus) have the extra camera with the longer focal length but why would you want to stop at two setups?

Right now, there are countless options for adding lenses to your iPhone setup, be it the X, 8, 8 Plus or any of the previous models. Oh, and the phones made by the other manufacturers too.  I’d start by looking at the products offered by Moment and Olloclip. 

There is also the option to look into the less expensive “clip on” lenses that are available. Be careful though as many do not sport stellar quality. Now seems like a good time to mention that many of those #ShotOniPhone ad spots you see were indeed done with the iPhone, but usually use high-end lenses adapted for use in front of the iPhone camera to create final product. So, if you’re really into mobile photography on the iPhone or any other device, a GOOD set of external lenses might be worth the hefty investment.

9. Use a tripod for excellent results

This kind of sounds like a general photography tip you’ve probably heard before, and it is. This is especially true when working in low lighting. Now, the iPhone X is not going to contend with its larger sensor equipped counterparts in low lighting (see tips #1 and #2), however it does hold its own when compared to cameras placed inside smartphones.

A tripod will help to reduce camera shake that can be a result of the longer exposures needed in these low light environments. This benefit is especially true when using a 3rd party camera app to manually control exposure keeping shutter speeds long and ISO down. Longer shutter speeds equal more light equals less apparent noise. They also equal the need for a tripod. A device like the Joby GripTight Mount will help you to easily attach your phone to any tripod via the ¼ -20 thread. A handy little piece that you’ll hardly notice in your camera bag.

10. The wired headphones your phone came with can be used as a cable release

Everyone knows about the iconic white ear buds that come standard with every iPhone. What not everyone knows is that the volume buttons that are built into those very headphones can be used as a cable release to avoid camera shake when taking a photo! Simply attach your headphones to your iPhone via the lightning port (using the supplied adapter with a normal 3.5mm headphone plug works as well) and when you’re ready to take the photo just click volume up or down.

This functionality is an extension of the ability to use the volume buttons on the phone itself as shutter buttons. A helpful tip if you like the tactile properties of an actual shutter button. Or if you need the ability to trigger your camera without touching it.

If you want to go a little more “high-tech” or you just plain love Bluetooth (and who doesn’t love Bluetooth?) you could try something like what I use, which is the Joby Impulse Remote Control.

11. Use HDR

HDR is a very popular and yet often criticized technique in photography. The basic premise behind it is to create an image where detail is remains in the very bright and very dark parts of an image where both exist. Part of the limitation of cameras in general, and especially that one that you sometimes use to make calls with, is the lack of an ability to catch these details in the highlights and shadows.

Your iPhone camera app has the built-in functionality to take multiple exposures and automatically blend them together into a seamless image showing all of this wonderful detail. It does it quite well I might add. The only real drawback is that if you have a moving element in your frame, the stitch can fail, just the same as with more traditional forms of image capture. HDR does not play well with moving subjects.

When you have a scene that has a significant difference between the bright and dark parts and you want to maintain that detail and your scene lacks moving subjects, use HDR.

12. Optimize Your Video

I love using my iPhone for video purposes. It does a fantastic job in a large variety of situations. Try not to forget that it’s there. Do pay attention to the settings as they must be accessed through the settings app in the iPhone (I really wish that I could change them on the fly from inside the camera app).

The iPhone X will shoot at various framerate settings from 720p/30 frames per second (fps) to 4K/60fps. I should note that the 4K/60 option is not available in my Canon 5D Mark IV. So, in my case, this is a great tool! Be aware of the space required for the 4K/60 video though. Apple has a handy guide built into the settings screen showing you the space required for each framerate/resolution setting.

In order to drastically increase the quality of your video, I recommend getting a gimbal for your phone. If I were to buy one today, I would gravitate toward the DJI OSMO Mobile. This device, or one like it is designed to stabilize your footage giving it a much more polished, professional look.

There are fifty shades of green, and none of them are jaded.  Welcome to Ireland!  It’s said that Ireland, once visited, is never forgotten, and for once the blarney delivered treasure to be kept for a lifetime.   The Western Irish landscape has a mythic resonance, the country’s history is almost tangible with ruins standing the test of time and its people seem put on earth expressly to restore faith in humanity as their warmth and humor will make all feel welcome.

My dear friend Daragh and I set out for an adventurous experience second to none along the Connemara Loop which is situated in breathtaking North West Connemara, County Galway, Ireland.   Following the Loop, we were taken on a journey through an ever changing landscape of craggy mountain peaks, spectacular expansive sandy beaches, the wild North Atlantic, mist covered lakes, pre-historic bogs and shady glens.   All exemplify the peaceful solitude and rugged beauty of the West of Ireland.   A landscape peppered with quaint but lively villages where all the convenience of the modern day is available alongside an opportunity to step back in time to a more relaxed and friendly era.  Though the roads are rather narrow for this West Texas driver there was no getting lost although the wandering sheep may be inclined to cause a traffic-jam here and there.   I must admit, too, to closing my eyes the first few times I drove past a tour bus leaving Daragh convinced he would not reach his 40th birthday, which we were there to celebrate.  

One can easily get lost forgetting the trials of the world while rejuvenating the soul and centering the mind in this small area of the universe.   Connemara is an area comprising of a broad peninsula between Killary Harbour and Kilkieran Bay in the west of County Galway or south west Connacht. From the rugged Twelve Bens mountain range in the north through lake-rich Roundstone Bog to the golden beaches reaching out into the Atlantic Ocean, you’ll know you’re in Connemara by the light that constantly changes the mood and tone of the landscape and the incredible reflections on the almost still lakes.  Connemara has long been regarded as the real emerald of Ireland and I must concur this was a feast for this photographer’s eyes.  The natural terrain and unspoiled environment offers a wonderland of sights and experiences.  The people are warm, friendly and extend a hospitality which is the essence of Ireland as were greeted with a smile, a gentle hello on the street or the single finger “Mayo Wave” while driving.  It is difficult to not feel as if you’re right at home in this land far from home.

As William Thackery quoted in 1842: “one of the most wild and beautiful districts these wild mountains over which the clouds as they pass or the sunshine as it comes and goes casts such a variety of tint, light and shadow.”  I would venture to say not much has changed since the time of Thackery’s quote but this traveler appreciates a slower pace where the days still pass quickly though the abundant green Irish landscape whispered in my ear to take a deep breath and let go of the pressures of the city.

Snow white and mysteriously beautiful, New Mexico’s White Sands National Park is the world’s largest gypsum dune field, with huge, wave-like dunes that constantly roll across some 275 square miles of desert in the Tularosa Basin.   These pristine waves affect me more than any other place in this world.   Here I am in awe of the dune’s ever-changing natural beauty.   I like the notion of the blowing wind shifting the sands into different for-mations, as this reflects my own life.   Not much ever remains the same for me over time, and I look forward to change.

White Sands touches deep within my soul, often serving as a healer—a place of solace, if you will.   When life becomes hectic, the pure silence of the dunes provides calm, allowing my mind and spirit to become centered once again.   There are no distractions, and what sometimes appears impossible in other surroundings reveals itself to be the opposite.

This is where I retreated to make some sort of sense of my father’s sudden passing at an all-too-young age, and where, saying goodbye one last time, I was able to let go.   Only me, the dunes, and unfiltered thoughts of a man who worked so hard to give me so much.   Too, after being diagnosed with a virus that will never leave my body, it was the white sands I kicked, pounded, yelled at, then cried over from fear and disappointment.   And it was among the graceful dunes that my partner of twenty-four years and I reconnected, strengthening our relationship well beyond words.

Yes, I’ve spent countless hours hiking White Sands as far as possible, seen more than a million stars overhead, watched the sand illuminate under the full moon, and have had the good fortune to view the area from overhead, hanging out of a small plane.   The dunes of White Sands have a personal hold on me.   I may go in with a heavy heart from time to time, but I always leave knowing I am not running from anything; instead I am running to- ward the day with eyes wide open.   For this, I will be forever grateful.

Gypsum sand is rare, because gypsum is usually dissolved by rain and carried out to sea.   But the deposits of gypsum washed down from the San Andres and Sacramento Mountains that ring the Tularosa Basin are trapped there, for the basin has no outlet to the sea.   When shallow pools left by the rain evaporate, they leave on the surface a layer of gypsum in a crystalline form called selenite, which forms in crystals that can be well over a foot long.   Whipped by constantly blowing winds and exposed to extreme temperature changes, the crystals are eventually pounded into a fine-grained sand that gathers in brilliant white drifts moving across the desert floor. Because the terrain is in constant motion, only a few plants and animals survive here, adapting to the changing conditions in unique ways.

 

Whether I’m hiking or mountain biking, Cloudcroft is my top spot to escape the West Texas Summer heat.  Nestled up in the Sacramento Mountains high above the desert, this is where I enjoy a glorious view of White Sands in the far distance before starting out on my favorite trek—Trestle Trail.  What a sublime scene it is.

The area’s elevation and closely woven pine trees offer immediate relief from the West Texas heat.  As I descend the winding trail, the air cools almost to a chill.  Vegetation becomes denser and more varied, with clusters of vines clinging to any support they can find.   The murmur and trickles of water can be heard as streams make their way to the high canyon floor.  The sights and sounds are calming.  This is beauty in nature at its best.

This trail is not to be rushed, as it is here that nature awakens the senses to its idyllic beauty, its euphonic natural sounds, its savory green and earthy scents.   The treat at the end of Trestle is to lie in the tall wispy grasses at the bot- tom, without a care for anything awaiting outside these mountain walls.   Its as if the world slows; the roller coaster of life comes to a halt, even if for a brief moment in time.

The village of Cloudcroft and its environs lie within Lincoln National Forest, a protected forest in New Mexico that encompasses more than a million acres.   The forest is birthplace of Smokey Bear—known to generations of children as the embodiment of forest fire prevention—the forest was named in honor of Abraham Lincoln.

The name Cloudcroft, which means a pasture for the clouds, suggests the area’s high elevation compared to that of the surrounding Chihuahua Desert.   The town of Cloudcroft was put on the map in 1898, when a railroad crew discovered that the area wasn’t just an accessible source of timber—it was a place that could attract visitors.  If you visit at the weekend, you’ll immediately be met with a throng of other visitors.

In the winter, Cloudcroft offers sports such as cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and ice skating.   Winter or sum- mer, the area confounds the expectations of those who believe the Southwest is invariably hot and dry.  

Pack your hiking shoes, pull out your walking stick, wheel out your mountain bike or rent a cabin to extend your stay.

When Photography is More Than Taking Photographs

I have two great passions in this world.
One is photography and the other is travel.
When I realised I could marry the two – travel and photography – it was a match made in heaven because that meant I could go around the world photographing all these great places in all of these great lands that I had always dreamed of visiting.

When I first thought about becoming a photographer, that was my vision. I could go to Mont Saint Michel and photograph this great architectural wonder in the middle of the water. I could also go to Venice and get lost in the alleys, and capture the colors of Morocco.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think that photography could affect me or put me in situations where I would meet people who would cause me to look at myself and learn more about myself.  These very same people changed my life.

Travel really has become a very personal thing for me.  Sometimes I think that there’s someone I don’t see who pushes me or has their hand on my back pushing me in a certain direction so I do come across some of these people that I do.

The first real true experience that opened my eyes would have been in Marrakech. I was in the Medina and really not enjoying the atmosphere because there seemed to be too much chaos and noise. What I had envisioned in my head wasn’t happening in front of me.

Then, out of nowhere this man stopped me and he asks, “are you ok?” And I replied, “Well, yeah. Why do you ask?” “You don’t look very happy.”
I said, “I’m not. There’s too much chaos here and it’s driving me crazy. I just want to leave.”

The stranger looked at me with a look of surprise.  He took a hold of my arm and asked, “what is your name?”

So, I told him.

With a huge smile he asks how long I planned to be in Marrakech. Again, I told him.

Then he asked, “where are you staying?”
And, I told him the name of the resort. I don’t know why I told this man, but I did.

He firmly replies, “I’m coming for you tomorrow at 8am.”
I said, “no you’re not!”

“Yes, yes, I will come at 8am.”
I replied, “No!”

“Why not?” the stranger asks with more surprise.
“It’s too early,” I replied with a sly smile.
“Ok, Ok, What time should I come?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Let’s say 10:30 or 11am.”
He smiled and said, “Ok, I’ll be there.”

The man jetted off into the Medina; I went the other way.  My only thought was what a peculiar encounter and I didn’t give it a second thought.  This was merely a moment in time and I’d never see the man again.

Well, low and behold the next morning at 10:30am the phone in my hotel room rang. The receptionist said, “Mr. Paulda, there’s someone here to see you. I thought, who is it?  Who in Marrakech knows me?  I had forgotten about the day before.  More to the point, my brain doesn’t function so great in the morning.  The receptions ended by saying, “his name is Hakim and he’s waiting for you.”

I think to myself, I don’t know anyone named Hakim.  Curiosity got the best of me and so I walked to reception.  There waiting for me is this man, the man I met in the Medina the day before.

Hakim told me, “I want you to come with me.  Go get what you need for one, two three days.”

And with no obvious expression, I thought – “holy crap!  This man wants to take me away.  I have no idea who he is. Then I thought to myself, “I’m going to do this. I’m going off with this stranger whom I don’t know.”

So I did. I went off with this man, Hakim.

We drove in a direction foreign to me.  I had no idea where we were going. We talked about life, the philosophy of life – just back and forth as if we were friends reunited after a long separation.

By the end of the day, we were headed into the dunes of the Sahara Desert.  That night I slept under the stars, a gabillion stars in the Sahara Desert.  And, there was a full moon. I remember the rising moon over the dunes; the sight was one I’ll not soon forget.

After being awed by the sandy desert, Hakim drove me back to the resort after this incredible time.  In my mind I kept asking myself, “did this really happen?”  Am I going to wake up only to realise the eye opening experience was merely a Moroccan dream?”

Instead, the encounter was real and it helped me understand the culture in Morocco just through Hakim.  I also learned I am a little bit braver than I ever imagined.

When we arrived back to the hotel, I thanked Hakim and asked how much money I could give him for the journey. We hadn’t discussed money before the trek began. Hakim’s startled expression was followed by, “nothing my friend, I only want you to love my country.”   I was speechless and in awe at the same time.

Before Hakim drove away, he simply said, “I’ll be in touch.”

I went back into the hotel. I started thinking, “ok, Hakim told me he’d be in touch with me, but how?”  He didn’t have my phone number; I didn’t give him my email.  He only had my name.

Months went by.   I was in Texas and I received a phone call from the gallery manager, the gallery that represents my work.  Kelly said, “Mark, there is this man on the phone, he has an accent and he’s asking for you.”

Immediately, I knew who was calling.  It was Hakim.

You never really know when you’re traveling who you will meet.  And, you never really know the long lasting friendships or relationships you’ll create along the way.

It was a year or two later, I’m sure two years after meeting Hakim, he called me. I was in Texas, he was in Marrakech and he said, “Mark!  I have this great idea for you.

I thought to myself, “oh my god, here we go.” “What is it,” I asked?

“I want you to come back to Morocco,” Hakim said, “I want you to go with me.  We’re going to walk on a trail that has been traveled for thousands of years with a nomadic tribe.”  Berber nomads.

It took me about ten seconds to say yes.  “I’ll be there. Tell me what day, I’ll be there.”

Walking with the nomads is an entirely different story of learning about myself and learning about the Moroccan culture, and the simplicity of life.

More importantly, I look at the Moroccan way of life, then looking back at us in the Western world.  I always think how much we in America and Europe really do complicate matters.

Know and understand that photography can be more than taking photographs.  Photography is more than owning a camera.

I’ve said this throughout the blog and I’ll repeat it again here – open your heart and open your mind.  Let whatever happens, happen.  Take it all in; the experience, take it all in.

Photography can really be an education for you.

I know it has been for me.

Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.                                                                                                                            

                                                                                                                                                         – Miriam Beard

We never want to believe that there is a magical reality, though there are a myriad of magical places in this world. We all too often choose to ignore the wide-open door leading elsewhere, and instead live vicariously through fictional characters beamed onto our televisions. Perhaps the outskirts of town is a foreign land as one gets tangled up in every day life, or maybe even the thought of hopping on a plane today seems like more hassle that it is worth.

Instead, we want to live uncomplicated, and simple, lives, staying put. We want to swim in reality, and remain in our “safety zones,” but while swimming through it, we can miss out on so many idyllic landscapes, vibrant cultures, and amazingly beautiful architecure waiting for us to discover. Yes, we do get a glimpse of another world without realizing at times, though there is no real substitute for travel. In fact, no matter how much you have learned in a classroom, there is no better education than experiencing a land beyond our borders first-hand.

During my adult life, I have grown tremendously, and have learned to “think internationally” simply by opening my mind while visiting countries foreign to my own. As a travel photographer, I have flown a million miles, trundled step after step, and have clicked the shutter on my camera more times than can be counted.

Throughout this article you will view some rather magical places, and this is my reality. One could say — everything I’ve learned, I’ve learned from traveling around this world, and yet, there are still so many lessons to be learned, and so many more corners of this world to discover. . . .

1. The world is huge. I mean, really, really huge.
It is larger than our minds can ever imagine.

2. The more we see, the more we want to see.
Yes, the list can be never-ending.

3. We are braver, and stronger, than we know.
Stepping out of comfort zone really
is not that scary.

4. Nothing stops traffic quite like a herd of cows
in the middle of a West Ireland road.

5. The cruelty of a few can ruin the lives of many.
But, the vast majority of people are good.

6. Happiness really is a way of travel,
and not a destination.

7. Just around the corner in West Texas could mean
at least a hundred miles.

8. Certain sights may disappear from the mind,
but experiences will stay with
you.

9. You can travel just fine without
a guidebook.

10. Wearing the same clothing week after week
is not so bad unless you don’t wash them.

11. It is entirely possible to take too many
photographs.

12. Even if you aren’t the traveler, or person,
you want to be in your head,
it’s never too late to change.

13. The more you say “tomorrow,”
the less likely tomorrow will arrive.

14. Life is amazing. There’s no reason to worry.
Everything really does work itself out.
Relax and just go with the flow.

15. You can’t change the future – it hasn’t happened yet.
Make the best decisions you can today,
and enjoy the moment.

16. Life is a curious thing. Curiosity never killed
anything except maybe a few hours.

17. If you are determined enough, there are ample
opportunities in life that are totally achievable,
regardless of who you are.

18. The world is much more fun with people
of varying interests and beliefs.

19. Wear sunscreen, even if there is cloud-
cover, when near the equator.

20. Our parents are more awesome, encouraging,
and open-minded than we have ever given
them credit for.

21. Sleep and a good meal can cure an otherwise
horrible day.

22. Our homeland is as unique as those places we
fawn over in travel magazines,
and television.

23. Almost everyone has problems and puts on a
brave face – don’t presume they
have it easy.

24. The fastest way to get from Point A to Point B
is not always as obvious as it seems, and not always the
most interesting.

25. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.”
It’s much smarter to be honest.

26. When you spend enough time with people who are
actually living on next to nothing, but having a full life,
then you will truly understand money is not always
the answer.

27. Television is the greatest black hole of time
available to mankind.

28. You really can depend on the kindness of strangers.

29. Gazing at the Milky Way can make you feel both small,
and insignificant.

30. Every person’s lifestyle is equally valid as
long as that person is happy.

31. No matter how geeky we think we are,
there are people so much
geekier than us.

32. There are some great benefits to not knowing
the local language – like miming out
“chicken” to let the waitress know you
want eggs for breakfast.

33. The world that is worth experiencing is not
in books, or on TV, or computer screens.
It’s with other human beings.

34. While doing as the locals do will help
enrich your travels, urinating on the side
of the street is not a necessary
requirement.

35. There is a song for everything.

36. Never ever leave your bag unattended.

37. One word may have three different meanings
in three different countries.

38. Never regret the things you’ve done, only
the things you haven’t.

39. If you want soft toilet paper, it’s best to pack it.

40. The Aurora Borealis is the most amazing light show
anywhere, and might make you believe in
aliens.

41. Journey is an adventure. No matter what happens
on the road, it’s never a mistake. As was once said,
“your choices are half chance, and so are
everybody else’s.”

42. Scare yourself once in a while. It makes life less dull.

43. You are never really alone being alone.

44. Don’t force yourself to say another good-bye
if you don’t have to.

45. Every country in the world is modernizing, but this
does not mean that they are westernizing,
or Americanizing.

46. You might appear “backwards” in a culture you view
as backwards.

60. You can’t please everyone.

47. Thinking too much can stop you from experiencing
an adventure of a lifetime.

48. Comfortable shoes can be a blessing.

49. Wash Your Hands.

50. Living vicariously through someone
else is not the way to live.

51. Deferring your happiness to the
future is a terrible idea.

52. You can relate to everyone in the
world if you look past the
superficial things that
separate you.

53. The world owes you nothing.

54. You owe it to yourself to be the master of
where your life ends up.

55. People are impressed by those who are not trying
to impress them.

56. Spending time exclusively with people who agree
with you about almost everything is not
a challenge, and you learn so much
less.

57. Embrace your individuality. What is “cool” now
will be out of style in a few years.

58. You can be “interesting” by being a good listener.

59. The most important lessons in life
can never be expressed in black and white,
but must be experienced.

60. International calling with mobile phones is great,
until the bill arrives.

Marina Monsivias of State of The Arts radio program on KTEP interviews Mark Paulda about his new photography book, “Sí El Paso.”  KTEP is an NPR station.

Marina :: “Sí El Paso is a 10th anniversary edition of Mark’s first book, “Celebrating El Paso.”   This new book shows how El Paso has changed over the last 10 years and runs a little over 200 pages.  It contains El Paso in stories and accounts of the city from a personal viewpoint and shows over 200 photographs of the city and is completely bilingual the book also includes our sister city Ciudad Juárez.

Here to tell us about his latest book is photographer Mark Paulda.   Welcome to State of the Arts.

Mark ::  Thanks for having me.

Marina ::  I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since your other book.

Mark ::  It seems like a few months ago.  Time just flies by.

Marina :: Right?  It’s scary and chronicling everything I mean you’ve definitely seen how things have changed.

Mark :: Yes, exactly.   Especially in the downtown area with revitalization and the renovation of some of our treasured buildings.  Trost buildings – all very exciting to see that and see them come back to life so it’s been fun looking back at the images that I captured 10 years ago versus what some of the buildings look like today like the Mill’s Building, what’s happening with the Plaza.  I could go on and on.

Marina ::  I can’t even remember what the Mill’s looked like.

Mark ::  It was brown and drab it.

Marina :: It was just like non-existent.  It was just there.

Mark ::  It was.  It was.   It really got restored back to its original state and brought it back to life.

Marina :: So did you know when you did the first book that you would do the second book.

Mark ::  I didn’t know that there would be another book at all and you know I thought there’s no book on El Paso and so that’s why I did that first book.   And it surprised all of us.   It surprised me, surprised my publisher it went on to be the fastest selling book for the publishers and of course became a bestseller so that opened the door to the second book and now we’re here at number three and that’s very exciting.   I’m very honored to be able to do that.   And this book really is a gift back to El Paso.   El Paso really has given so much to me and supported me and a lot of the things that I do not only in the city but around the world.   I wouldn’t be the person I am without El Paso in my life.

Marina ::  It’s cool like that right?

Mark :: It is.  We’re different here you know.  This book really is the answer, you know, when I travel around people ask me where are you from?   I always get that question and when I say El Paso they have this dumbfounded look on their face and and it’s why why El Paso and this is the answer.  Here’s our city out here really at the edge of a lot of things.   People sort of forget us,  even our Great State of Texas forgets us.  But the stories that are in the book – I went all across the city and got a variety of people to share their experiences with El Paso and what El Paso means to them and as you read through them it’s very clear why El Paso and they’re very endearing.  Some of the stories and the accounts that I was given by the various people, they’re very genuine and sincere and people really do love the city whether they live in the city still or they have moved away.   We have stories from both.

Marina :: So how did you find those folks?   Did you said okay you know I’d like tocapture the story I’d like to share the story?

Mark :: Some were deliberate people that I knew had a long-term relationship with El Paso and and would have experienced both cities, Juarez and El Paso.  When we were younger we would cross the border and go to nightclubs or whatever and you went even if you weren’t of age.

Marina :: There’s something about drink and drown…

Mark ::  Exactly and there are some people who it goes back into the 50s and 60s and theyhave stories or stories or some people who had lived in Juarez and they would take the bus and he dropped off downtown near the Newberry building but as I was going out getting photographs like Ballet Folklórico – they’re wonderful people of once I was there and I was photographing them they had stories and they wanted to share them and so I found people that way as well just by chance.  So what I wanted was a good representation and I’m a West Sider now and you know I just didn’t want it at a West Side perspective I wanted East the Northeast and we got Juarez stories as well.  We got their accounts

Marina ::  It’s super important because I think folks that aren’t from here say like oh it’s a small city whatever and if you live here you know Westsiders don’t necessary go to the East side and Eastsiders don’t necessarily go to the Westside.   They are these very different parts.

Mark :: They’re unique.  So it really was important to get all perspectives.  And the stories to me the photographs are nice you know I’m biased I took them but it’s the stories that really touch the heart in this book.

Marina :: Why did you decide to go bilingual?

Mark ::  Well our city’s bilingual and it took a bit to convince the publishers to do that.  They kept telling me works like that don’t sell.  And I said well, this is El Paso,  this is how we communicate every day.  Our signs are that way we speak that way sometimes we speak Spanglish and actually some of the stories and the quotes in the book are Spanglish and it represents who we are as a city. Really this is  what we live with every day.

Marina :: I’m glad you convinced them to do that.

Mark :: Me too and now they’re thrilled and it’s been actually the first photography book that is bilingual so that’s sort of fun as well.

Marina ::  I find that hard to believe.  Wow!

Mark ::  Yeah, so in a way El Paso is leading the way here I guess.

Marina :: Well you you have something to do with that.  Aside from the book what other adventures have you been on?  Because I know you’re always up to something.

Mark ::  Oh my goodness well I do travel around the world.  We could spend a lot of time talking about the experiences I’ve had.  I went and lived with the nomadic Berber tribe in North Africa and traveled with them from the High Atlas Mountains into the Sahara Desert sand dunes.  

Marina :: Did you say excuse me, may I?

Mark ::  Well it’s a long story how it all happened.  The first time I went to Morocco I met – actually a man found me, he grabbed my arm in the medina and just started talking to me and and ten years later who were still friends as name is Hakim and it’s his tribe and he’s the one who made that happen.

Marina :: So cool

Mark ::  And it was just a random meeting and I went with the you know sort of fearless at the time and I’m working with a young man also in Bali.  Gede is his name and he’s hugely talented and I met Gede when I wanted authentic Balinese culture not what the tour guides would take us on and so I went to this small village of about 150 people, showed up at the Temple and there was this young man looking at me saying can I help you,  you know wondering why are you here and when I  when I explained, he welcomed me in it turns out he’s the son of the village leader, he explained everything that was happening with their ceremony.  It was a full moon ceremony and so I gave him my camera that day because he told me that his main goal in life was to help preserve Balinese culture and to tell the story of Bali.   He was 22 at the time. 

Marina :: And he already knew this was important?

Mark ::  And I thought, right, and I thought to myself what 22 year old do I know could have such a lofty goal?   I didn’t and so I gave him my camera and I said to capture everything you can.  I’m leaving to go back to Texas send me photos, video, whatever so I really understand what you want. And months went by and I didn’t hear from him so I said okay I lost a camera.  Then one day email after email showed up and there were hundreds of photos, videos and he had written over a hundred pages and I thought okay this young man serious I can i can’t bail now can I so I got him his own camera, a laptop, everything he would need to do this project and I went back to Bali and I taught him everything I knew about photography and it just turns out he is naturally talented.   I’m really probably learning from him Gede now and we’re still working on the project.   This is five years that we’ve been doing this.  His images have been on covers of magazines, he’s had his own exhibitions …

Marina ::  That’s incredible

Mark ::  One time a year ago January I was at the New York Times Travel Show so I was in New York City and I thought I’m going to the Indonesian consulate because they need to know about Gede and so I showed up and they let me in and I was talking to the number two person at the Indonesian consulate her name is Willa and I told her the story of how we met, what we’ve been doing how talented he is.  And she brought in the Consul General so I got to meet him, Abdul, and now the Indonesian consulate uses Gede’s photos and videos throughout the world.

Marina :: That’s so cool just because you said I’m going to go to the Consulate.

Mark ::  Right.  I am a bit bold that way.  What’s the worst anyone can say?

Marina ::  The answer is no until you ask

Mark ::  That’s right and so it really is remarkable that chance meeting in this small village has turned into this wonderful thing for Gede.   He’s very deserving, a very humble young man,  very very talented

Marina :: Okay, well we’re almost out of time but you have a book called Si El Paso.  So if we want it, how do we get our hands on it.  

Mark ::  At the moment of course Barnes and Noble, Dorsey’s on the west side.  Dorsey’s Cards and Gifts.  She’s selling them left and right there.  And Amazon has it and we’re working on getting it placed in other retail outlets.   The book was late coming out so we’ve had a little challenge getting it placed in others stores.  But Dorsey’s, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.

Marina ::  It’s here in time for the holidays

Mark ::  It is.  It is and it would make a great gift.  We’re hearing that.

Marina :: I think I think you’re right.  You’re absolutely right.  Today my guest has been photographer, Mark Paulda and he’s got his third book out called “Sí El Paso” and it’s a tenth anniversary edition of this first book called “Celebrating El Paso”   You can find the book at Barnes and Noble, Dorsey’s and on Amazon.  and I’m sure here shortly you will probably get it all sorts of other places.  Today my guest has been Mark Paulda.   Thank you for coming to be there.

Mark ::  Thank you.

Though we take it for granted, and frequently curse it to high heaven, the London Underground is a real wonder. Yes, signal failures cause delays at the most inopportune times, we are sometimes packed in like sardines, stuck in tunnels – but, the Underground is indeed a working man-made miracle. The Tube network is the oldest and longest underground railway system serving a major city. Its history goes back to 1863, its conception even earlier. The Tube has driven engineering developments and creative design, and has featured in countless books, songs, films and poems. The Underground has been the site of births and deaths, and bombs planted by everyone from pre-war anarchists to suffragettes, the IRA to the Islamist suicide bombers of 2005. Yet this venerable railway system keeps going, keeps growing and keeps enabling more than one billion Londoners a year to make their daily commute.
While I am unashamedly obsessed with motion photography, what strikes me most at almost every station is the design deep in the bowels of London. From Canary Wharf to Southwark to Green Park, and well beyond, the creative design of London’s Underground stations inspires me, and sparks my imagination. It really is a must for an architectural detective, and there are nineteenth- and twentieth-century survivals everywhere, with arcaded embankments, cast iron columns, wooden platform canopies throughout the system.

At Baker Street, the Edwardian panelling is as good as in an ocean liner.; at Coven Garden glazed brick arches the color of toffee and canary yellow bands. They are della Robbia blue at Knightsbridge. Piccadilly Circus has a complete art deco feel, and circular. Tottenham Court Road is busily graced with mosaic murals by Eduardo Paolozzi, and at Canary Wharf one can find the remarkable Norman Foster’s beautiful station. And everywhere there is Edward Johnston’s sans serif lettering, the red, white, and blue symbol, and the colored map which is both a work of art and very clear.

Nearly everything needs cleaning, and no doubt a bit of mending, though more times than not we can overlook this on our way through the meandering tunnels. We hear live music, can be pushed or shoved, we mind the gap, and even our step, while making our way through the labyrinth well below the London streets. Volumes of photographs could be included from the twelve lines within the London Underground, but in this edition only the Jubilee, Northern, Bakerloo, Piccadilly, District/Circle, Victoria, and Piccadilly are included. Enjoy the ride, and feel free to share your favorite Underground stations at any time.

BASIC UNDERGROUND FACTS

Number of miles/km traveled by each Tube train each year:  114,500 miles/184,269km

Total number of passengers carried each year:  1,107,000,000

The London Underground has 402km (249 miles) of track, making it the second largest metro system in the world in terms of route length, after the Shanghai Metro.

Average train speed:  33km per hour / 20.5 miles per hour

Proportion of the network that is in tunnels : 45 per cent

Longest continuous tunnel:  East Finchley to Morden (via Bank)  27.8km / 17.25 miles

Total number of escalators throughout the network:  426

Station with the most escalators:  Waterloo 23

Longest escalator:  Angel – 60m/197 feet, with a vertical rise of 27.5m / 90 ft

Shortest escalator : Stratford, with a vertical rise of 4.1 m

Total number of lifts (elevators), including for stair lifts:  164

Four passenger moving conveyors: two at Waterloo, and two at Bank

Shortest lift shank:  King’s Cross – 2.3m / 7.5 ft

Carriages in London Underground’s fleet:  4,134

Total number of stations served:  270

Total number of stations managed:  260

Total number of staff:  approximately 19,000

Station with the most platforms:  Baker Street – 10

Busiest stations:  Morning peak – Waterloo with 57,000 people entering

Per year – Waterloo with 82 million passengers

The Underground name first appeared on stations in 1908

London Underground has been known as the Tube since 1890, when the first deep-level electric railway line was opened

The Tube’s world-famous logo, “the roundel” (a red circle crossed by a horizontal blue bar), first appeared in 1908

An Average of 2.7 million tube journeys are made on the tube daily.

The deepest lift (elevator) shaft is at Hampstead on the Northern Line, and is 55.2m deep.

There are two tube station names that contain all 5 vowels – “Mansion House,” and South Ealing.

The oldest tube line in the world is the Metropolitan line, which opened on 10 January 1863.

The first escalator was introduced at Earls Court in 1911.

The shortest escalator on the tube system, with only 50 steps, is at Chancery Lane.

Almost 60% of the London Underground is actually above the ground, and not underground.

Only 29 stations are south of the river Thames, out of 287.

Edward Johnston designed the font for the London Underground in 1916, and it is still in use today.

Harry Beck designed the tube map in 1933, and was paid only five guineas for the job.  His design still forms the basis of today’s tube map.

Each of the 400+ escalators do the equivalent of two round-trips around the world in kilometres every week.

Angel station has the third longest escalator in Western Europe, with a vertical rise of 27.5 meters (90 ft), and a length of 60 meters ( 197 ft ), which takes 80 seconds to carry passengers up, or down.  It has a massive 318 steps.

Bank Station has the most escalators of any Tube station, with fifteen escalators, and two moving walkways.

Few stations do not have buildings above ground – these include Regent’s Park, Piccadilly Circus, Hyde Park Corner, and Bank.

The air in the underground is, on average, 10C degrees hotter than the air at street level.

The Jubilee Line was named in honor of Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee in 1977, but did not open until two years later, but serves stations which originally opened over 100 years ago.

The District Line serves sixty different stations; Piccadilly Line serves fifty-two; and the Northern and Central Lines serve fifty-one and forty-nine stations respectively.

The Piccadilly Line was the first of the deep-level tube lines to be converted to a one-person operation, where the operator drives the train, and controls the operation of the doors.  (August 1987)

The Circle Line, which opened in 1884, was described in The Times as “a form of mild torture which no person would undergo if he could conveniently help it.”

The London Underground runs 24 hours a day only at New Years, and major events, such as the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic Games.

The shortest distance between two adjacent stations is 260 meters ( 0.161 miles ) between Leicester Square, and Covent Garden on the Piccadilly Line.  The journey takes approximately 20 seconds, but costs £4.30.

The phrase “Mind the Gap” originated on the Northern Line in 1968.