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How does a gentleman travel?   The answer is simple.  A gentleman travels the easiest and most convenient way possible.  In the literal sense, a gentleman travels by commercial plane, private plane, his own plane, a friend’s plane, big boat, small boat, privately chartered boat, SUV, chauffeured driven car, Business Class and First Class, over mountains, over oceans, up and down escalators, on foot, subway, train, metro, cable car, and even a camel or a mule.

In a deeper sense, a gentleman travels to discover the world.  The sights, sounds, aromas, tastes and touch of an unfamiliar place expand the knowledge of anyone who travels.  You can travel across your neighbourhood, your city and even around the world.  No matter where you go, you’re sure to receive an education you’ll never find in a classroom or a book.  You can learn a wee bit from television tho’ television really is a black hole that steals your time away from more meaningful things in life.

The cultures and the people we meet along the way teach us that we are all just trying to make it.  We simply try to make it in different ways.  But everyone you meet along the way will teach you something you didn’t know before.  If you’re lucky, you will learn a lot about yourself as well.

Travelling around the world with my camera I am afforded stunningly beautiful opportunities to capture what is before me.  I am often awestruck at man-made structures.  I’m often in complete wonderment being amongst Mother Nature’s magical creations.  But, what moves me most are the genuine souls of varying cultures who unconditionally help to uncover special parts inside of me.

Whether a divining wind sways me, or a guiding hand shifts me, I always find myself in the path of strangers who sequentially become my brothers or sisters.  Perhaps this is sheer luck.  Perhaps I have a sign on my back that says – “Hey!  I’m a nice guy.  Come talk to me.”  Perhaps not knowing why is of no great importance and I accept my good fortune without question.  

There is a peacefulness with this which I hold very close to my heart.  Quite honestly, these are moments never obtained with the click of the shutter.  These moments of building new bonds stay etched in my mind.

Travel is one of the most rewarding and powerful gifts we can give ourselves.  You can obviously give the gift of travel to others.   I’ve said this many times throughout this blog tho’ I’ll say it again.  Travel is one of the best educations you can ever receive.  There is no substitute for travel.

So, how does a gentleman travel?  A gentleman travels with an open heart and an open mind.    He travels with eyes wide open.  He rarely travels with a set agenda.  A gentleman travels with few expectations.  And, he takes each day as it comes.

 

 

When you get into a taxi in Macau, be sure to have your destination written on a card to show the driver.  Saying “take me to the Conrad Hotel” means nothing in Chinese.   Take my advice.  This is Macau.

I travelled to Macau purely out of curiosity.  I must say I was completely blown away.   In fact, I loved Macau even though I know nothing about gambling.

  The casino lights in Macau flash outside like you’d expect to see in Las Vegas tho’ Macau is not flashy.  

The queues of people waiting to play casino games is unbelievable.  People literally wait in lines for hours to play a slot machine.  Speaking of slot machines, they made no sense to me.  If I ever do gamble my money away, it’s on a slot machine.  I took one look and told myself no way.  I’d have lost everything with the first pull.

Needless to say I find Macau more than fascinating.  But, there is also a genuine side to Macau that is well worth exploring.  Only blocks away from the bright flashing casino lights you’ll find where the locals live and work.  Macau is entirely safe so don’t allow any sort of apprehension keep you away.

Some of the best photos I captured of Macau were amongst the real and genuine city.  I also felt more at ease.

For your trip to Macau, consider the following travel photography tips.

The good news is you don’t need to have a great camera to take great photos.  In fact, your iPhone is sometimes all you need.

Here are 6 simple tricks to help you take beautiful photos (smartphone or not)

1   Declutter:  don’t try and capture too many things in your photo.  Simple is best.

2   Close up:  kind of the same as above, but zoom in to crop out the excess clutter.

3   Focus:  tap the specific item in the frame that you want the image to focus on (see below for more focus and exposure tips). 

4   Take your time. You might get lucky just pointing and shooting, but if you’re taking a scenery photo, for example, take your time to move the camera slowly and studying what you are capturing in the photo.

5   Try different angles.  Sure you can stand right in front of the flower and click, but try tilting the camera above or below it and see what results you get.  Or put the subject to one side.  Avoid the middle.

6   Make eye contact.  Take the time for your subject, whether it be human or animal, to look at you. Do whatever it takes to get their eyes looking down the lens. 

5 iPhone camera tricks you might not know

1 Turn on your camera three ways:  unlock your phone and hit the icon, swipe up and hit the icon OR THIS TRICK: when your phone is locked, just swipe from right to left and the camera is open.  A great tip for averting the panic of needing to take a quick snap but not having the time to click through the other steps.

2 Use your headphones to take the photo.  Open the camera app and let’s say you want to take a discrete photo or you are taking a low light photo at night time, you can put your iPhone down on the table or on a tripod (so you don’t shake it) and line up your shot, then using your volume + or – buttons, with the iPhone headphones plugged in, you take the pic.

3 Burst mode feature. This is great for action shots.  Just hold your finger on the shutter button and it will rip off several in a few seconds and you can just delete the ones you don’t like that. Note: it bursts quickly!  I held my finger down about 3 seconds and it took 24 frames.  Whoa Junior!  Stop.  That’s what I was thinking.

4 Manual focus.   Yes you can manually focus in your iPhone. Just tap the part of the screen you want to be in full focus and voila. This is great for a food shot or a close up object when there is a busy background and you want that to be blurred out a little.  If you don’t do this the iPhone will choose what to focus on itself and you may end up with a fuzzy flower and a sharp leaf.

5 Increase or decrease the exposure.  You can play with exposure on your trusty iPhone and I do this all the time.  Just tilting your phone will cause it to change exposure so you might be able to find the brightness you want that way. Otherwise the same technique you use for focus also alters exposure.  Just tap the area you want to be bright (or darker) and as well as the focus square you’ll see a little vertical yellow line with a sunshine.  Just move your finger up or down and what the image get brighter or darker.

If you want the focus AND exposure to jump back to the default setting after you’ve take one photo (cos you spent a bit of time getting it just so!), just hold your finger on the screen for a couple of seconds and AE/AF Lock will appear in a yellow block meaning you are good to take a whole lot of images with that setting.

 

 

The year that was in travel is the year that is.  And, it’s the year ahead in 2020.

Every 31 December we ask ourselves – “Where did the year go?  It feels like January was just yesterday”.  Why does time feel like it slips by so fast?  

Is it because technology steals so much time from us?  Our work days find us in front of computer screens and in our spare time we are always tip-tapping on our mobile phones or tablets?  Our meals are delivered to us quickly in restaurants.  And, we better hurry because “this deal” won’t last.  It seems as if we are continuously in a race against time. 

Is time the friend of anyone amongst us?  Time is certainly no friend of mine.  There is never enough time in my days, weeks or months to check off my to-do list.  I’m fairly certain my to-do list grows faster than the things I get done.  Is there anyway to slow time?  Is there any way to make 2020 move slower so we can savour the days?

2019 was a remarkable year in more ways than one.  I use the term remarkable as it can refer to both good and bad.  Everyone’s year is filled with both good and bad so I can’t very well say my circumstances are special.  They are unique to me, however.

People come and go from our lives.  Life becomes fresh as new and interesting people come into our lives.  There is a lesson to learn from every person who crosses our paths.  It is up to us to decide what to do not only with the lessons but the people we meet.  

Richard Bach said it best in his book, “Illusions” – one of my favourites.  Bach said, “Every person, every event in our lives is there because we have drawn them there.  What we choose to do with them is up to us.”  

I read the book and the quote more than twenty years ago.  The words made such an impact on me, I remember and use them today.  The quote refers to the good people in our lives, tho’ unfortunately, the bad people as well.  I won’t go into details but I can say I’ve been betrayed, told I was loved when I wasn’t, used, taken advantage of and  lied to as well.  At one point it got so bad I had to question what is happening in our world.  Where did all the good people go?

I still wonder and sadly I’ve had to become weary and cautious.  I’m a genuine sort of guy who prefers to see the good in people.  I’m kind and I’ll do almost anything to help you, if I can.  I won’t change they way I live and see life.  I’ll simply be smarter in 2020 and beyond.

When you travel like I do, my travel experiences are also my life experiences.  I talk a lot about opening your mind and heart while travelling.  Throughout the blog I talk about the good people I’ve met.  I stay away from talking about the not so good people I meet along the way.  Today I’ve chosen to only refer to the bad seeds.

Instead of harbouring feelings of anger and hurt, I turn to myself.  I’m always comfortable with who and what I am.  I’m also aware I can always be better.  What can I do to improve?  I take stock of myself and take steps to become a better person.  I want to be better not only for myself but for the people in my life as well.

All that said, how can I put a year of travel into one video?  Over 4,000 travel photos – all with an iPhone – in one fast paced video.  Four minutes and thirty seconds.  That’s a lot of time in our fast-paced world.  Thanks for taking the journey with me.  I hope you enjoy.

Best of Luck to Everyone in 2020.

For me to say This is Sri Lanka, I’d only be telling you half the story of this unique island off the coast of India.  I made a mistake in Sri Lanka that I rarely make when I travel.  I made a reservation at a hotel in Colombo and that’s the only plan I made.

Colombo is the capital city of Sri Lanka and it’s not the most desirable city in the world.  The hotel where I stayed was also being renovated so I was jolted awake every morning by the sound of a jackhammer.  I’m an easy going kind of guy and I go with the flow wherever I am in this world.  But the bang bang bang wake up call was a bit much even for me.  And, there was no way out of the reservation.  I tried.

So, I found a small beach resort near Galle in the southeast corner of Sri Lanka and I parked myself there until it was near time to leave.  This sounds like a bad attitude to have, but the truth is I just wanted peace and quiet.  I wanted to vegetate on a beach.  And, so I did.

By taking the action I did, I missed out on what Sri Lanka truly has to offer.  I have good reason to return one day to properly explore.

All that said, I was dropped in the middle of a Sri Lanka jungle as the beach resort was overbooked a couple of nights.  Going with the flow as I normally do, I went along and had an experience I’ll never forget.  The jungle was great and I still got the peace and quiet I was seeking save for the unknown creature sounds in the middle of the night.

As with any travel destination you’ll want to take great photos.  Consider the following travel photo tips:

Use the camera grid

The “rule of thirds” is a theory that images are more aesthetically appealing when the main subject lies one third of the way across, and down, your image – it makes an image more interesting than if you put the subject square in the middle. To help you with this there is an option to place a grid of thirds over your viewfinder screen. The button to turn this on isn’t found in the camera app itself but rather the “Photos & Camera” tab in the settings app.

It also has a bonus effect – the straight line helps put an end to images with distracting wonky horizons.

Boost the contrast

High Dynamic Range (HDR) is a feature that quickly takes three photos with different settings and combines them in order to get better contrast. This prevents parts of your image being over and under exposed. For instance, you could take a picture from inside a car on a sunny day and the interior of the car and the bright sky would both be visible. With a normal picture you would either find the sky washed out or the car a black smudge.

It gets an unfair reputation for producing overly dramatic shots that look digitally manipulated, but the iPhone does a relatively subtle job. Turn it on by tapping the “HDR on” option in the camera app. After you press the shutter you’ll have to wait a second or two for the processor to combine the images into one.

Don’t zoom

Often you’ll find yourself some distance from what you want to photograph, and it’s tempting to use the zoom. Don’t. The iPhone comes with a digital zoom only, meaning that all you do when you zoom in is crop your image – no extra information is recorded. So while the subject that was filling only a tiny fraction of your image is now filling the whole photo, it’ll be grainy and washed-out.

With a larger, dedicated camera you may have an optical zoom that could get you closer to the action. But on a phone camera the only way to do this is literally get closer to the action – get nearer to your subject.

Unusual angles

While phone cameras are limiting in some ways, they’re liberating in others. Their small size allows you to easily get creative shots. Most images are taken at shoulder height simply because that’s where it feels most natural to hold a camera. Get inventive with your angles: shoot from low down or high up. The results can be much more interesting.

Take a few shots

A lot of phone photography comes down to luck, and you’re three or four times more likely to get lucky if you take three or four photographs. Once you’ve got your phone out and composed a picture, you may as well press the shutter button a few times. Maybe in one of them all your subjects will even have their eyes open at the same time.

WIPE THE LENS

Unlike an expensive camera, which gets treated with kid gloves and placed in its own padded bag with a proper lens cover, your phone just gets shoved in a pocket or handbag. Consequently, the lens is likely to get a bit mucky. Get in the habit of giving it a wipe with a tie, soft corner of clothing or napkin before you take a shot and you’ll find your photographs much clearer.

 

Bangkok is a world of wonder whether you are visiting for the first time or return for multiple visits.  This is Bangkok – a city with so much activity and is overcrowded beyond comprehension that you can’t help but fall in love.  Rich and dramatic historical sights such as The Grand Palace will send you into cultural overload while the tall modern architecture reminds you that you’re in a cosmopolitan city.  

It is safe to say the city is one that you could visit ten times and still not see everything you want to see.    Take it slow and take in small portions so you can take it in and absorb it.  It’s guaranteed you’ll find travel photo opportunities almost everywhere you turn.

Bangkok is a city to add at the top of your dream travel destinations.  It is also a city where mobile phone cameras might be better suited for trekking around rather than carrying a large bulky DSLR.  The video in this particular blog post shows only a small morsel of what Bangkok has to offer.   What’s more is each image included in the travel video was captured 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 tips :

iPhone Travel Photography Tips

1. Use a Tripod

Carry a compact and lightweight tripod that can be placed almost anywhere.  Small tripods are great for self-portraits or when you are shooting in low light like at dusk or at night.  You can also use a stabilizer or selfie stick to steady your iPhone to take sharper photos.  The recent iPhones provide great low-light shooting features, but having the camera stabilized will certainly help with image sharpness.  Blurry photos aren’t cool unless you intend them to be that way.

Useful tip: When taking a self-portrait or a group shot that you want to be in, use the iPhone camera’s self-timer.  The self-timer is also good if you want to avoid camera shake.

2. Grid Lines

Nothing says amateur like a crooked horizon line.  You will want to align the landscape so that it is perfectly straight. Also, turning on the grid lines will allow you to work better with the rule-of-thirds, providing guides to compose your shot.  Having the grid toggled on will definitely help you with your composition skills.  On the iPhone, the grid lines are quite discreet and will not distract your view.

How-to: Go to your settings and click on camera then toggle the grid to on.

3. To Flash or Not to Flash

The iPhone flash is to be used sparingly and only when necessary.  The iPhone camera has many great features, but the flash is not one of them.  In fact, I rarely use the flash on my iPhone.

You can use the flash outdoors when the sun is high and is creating harsh shadows.  This can be unappealing, especially when photographing people. The flash will fill in the light a little and smooth out any dark shadows that are created.

Using the iPhone flash is hit-or-miss.  I prefer to use as much natural light as possible, or, when needed use another source of light like a flashlight to position extra light on my subject.

4. Focus and Exposure

To get a well-focused shot, tap your screen where you want the camera to focus.  You can also lock your focus point by tapping and holding it.  An AE/AF Lock sign will appear; you can then recompose your shot while the iPhone camera remains exposed for the focal point you specified.

You can change the exposure of your shot directly in the iPhone camera app.  Slide the exposure button that appears once you’ve activated the focus point (the little sun icon) up or down.  Sliding up is especially helpful in low light situations or at night.

5. Photo Editing Apps

Once you have a photo that you really like and want to take it up a notch, you can use photo editing apps, software, and filters to make it the best that it can be.  You don’t have to learn complex software in order to edit your photos.  A user-friendly photo editor like Photolemur will make your photos look professional with a few simple clicks.

Try transforming some of your images into black & white photographs with the filters provided in the iPhone camera app, or Photolemur Mono Style.

Useful tip: Be careful not to over-edit or apply too many filters.  This can make your photographs look unreal and over-worked.  The filters provided in the iPhone camera app are fun to use and were very trendy for a while, but sometimes less is best.

6. HDR

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and the iPhone uses this to create well exposed images.  It snaps several shots at different exposures and merges them together to create a well exposed final photo.  Sometimes it can create an image that looks unreal, but it usually produces a good photo.  You can turn the HDR feature on or off on your iPhone in the settings.

7. Attachable Lenses

Many companies are producing lenses that you can attach to your iPhone providing more versatility to your camera phone.  Some will give you the option to zoom or do macro shots, and others will provide a wide-angle or fisheye.

Useful tip: Zooming in with your iPhone will considerably lower the quality and sharpness of the photo and can even create camera shake.  This is where an attachable zoom lens comes in handy.  Also, if you like to do food photography, then an attachable macro lens would be a great gadget to have.

8. Observe Colors

When traveling, always be on the lookout for pops of color or contrasts between colors.  A bright blue sky against a colorful building can offer up a great image opportunity.  The iPhone HDR feature comes in very handy when shooting contrasts of colors that are in different light.

9. Use the Shooting Modes

Your iPhone offers various shooting modes; from square to pano.  The latest iPhone models come with a portrait mode that lets you shoot with a shallower depth of field, making the background blurry and the focus on the object.

Useful tip: Remember that Instagram photos are displayed square.  If this is your eventual destination for your photos, shooting in square mode will help you keep total control of your composition.

10. Tell a Story

Don’t just shoot photos.  When you are traveling, there are countless opportunities for taking great photographs. Take the time to observe your surroundings.  Look at people going about their daily lives. I find that markets and places where local people mingle tend to be interesting places to get photos that transform into authentic stories.

With iPhones continually improving and offering better camera feature functions, it’s normal that even professional photographers now shoot travel photos with iPhone cameras.

 

As I write this Hong Kong is experiencing a bit of turmoil.  The photos of protestors I see are quite striking and a reminder that when one’s freedom is taken away, trouble is not far behind.  But for me, this is Hong Kong.  The city is filled with spirited people who are not afraid to stand up and be heard.  While Communist China will ultimately win, perhaps positive changes can be made tho’ I’m cynical to believe freedom will win.

That said, Hong Kong is a vibrant and vigorous city that rivals New York City with it tall and massive skyscrapers.  It is easy to feel dwarfed walking along the streets.  You might even feel as if you’re in a deep hole as natural light seems so far in the distance.  If you reach your hand toward the sky, perhaps you’ll touch the light tho’ you never seem to touch the light.

I’ve spent a relatively short amount of time in Hong Kong as the city is always a stopover as I travel to/from Bali.  Sometime I’d like to spend an extended period of time in Hong Kong to touch the soul of the city.  I want to know all of its curves, quirks, tastes and sounds.   Up to now I’ve experienced the top tourist things to do and this isn’t quite so satisfying for me.  It’s almost as if I’ve only seen the superficial while I know there is a heart and soul to the city.

As you can view in the video presentation in this blog post, I can only recommend the Star Ferry Harbour Tour, the Tram and Tramoramic Golden Ticket Tour and Temple Street Night Market.  Let’s not forget the cable car ride to Big Buddha on Lantau Island, which is officially named NGONG Ping 360.

The tram ride through the heart of Hong Kong will allow you to conveniently explore various parts of the city with a hop on – hop off feature.  You will be treated to running commentary throughout the ride so you know where you are and what you are seeing.  I highly recommend the purchase of the golden ticket as there really is no easier way to navigate a city you don’t know.

The same is true for the Star Ferry Harbour Tour except you will be on the water instead of the streets of Hong Kong.  The ferry leaves at designated times and takes you along the edges of Hong Kong.  The views are splendid as you’ll see the city’s impressive skyline and understand just how compact Hong Kong really is.  The ferry ride lasts about an hour.  I went just near sunset so it was a real treat to see the golden sky reflect on the choppy harbour water.

sunset over hong kong harbour

Hong Kong has many markets tho’ the Temple Street Night Market probably gets the most attention.   There are plenty of local eateries to enjoy.  If you like fresh seafood, be sure to arrive at the market a wee bit hungry.  I found a cool local artist and bought small embroidered artwork as my souvenir.  Expect to find numerous stalls selling typical tourist wares.  If this is your thing, you’ll love every minute of your visit.  I especially loved the photo opportunities that are in abundance at the night market.

A journey to Big Buddha on Lantau Island is worth the effort solely for the long cable car ride that takes visitors through lush green mountains.  The views during the ride are phenomenal.  Don’t be surprised to find your head in the clouds as they rapidly move through the area.  Oh.  And Big Buddha?  The statue of the Sitting Buddha is indeed big.  Your guide will tell you the statue is the largest in the world, though the one in Bhutan is definitely larger.  

Otherwise, I had always wanted to try acupuncture.  I thought – ok, I’m in China.  What better place is there to try acupuncture.  My hotel made the arrangements for me so all I had to do is show up at the office, which I did.  I met grace, the doctor, who pinched my hand and immediately told me what ailed me.  After that came the needles and one of the most relaxing self-indulgent treatments I’ve had in quite some time.  What’s more is I slept better that night than anytime before in my adult life.  I’ll be sure to stop back again during my next visit.

If you’re into photography, be sure to read my tips below for capturing the best possible photos of Hong Kong.

Neighborhood: Victoria Peak, Hong Kong
One of the most famous spots in Hong Kong to capture the beautiful Skyline is Victoria Peak.  Victoria Peak is a mountain in the western half of Hong Kong Island.  Weather will always be on one of the variables you face.  Thick fog can cover nearly the entire city, creating challenges for Hong Kong photographer.   Try to pick a perfect time right before a storms move in.  The Peak can close down due to heavy rainfall so be aware of this.  Be patient and any weather conditions will reward you as you capture one of the most exciting city skylines in the world.

Neighborhood: Shek-O
Hiking throughout the vast nature Hong Kong has to offer can be well worth your while as you search for photo opportunities.  The Shek-O hike can be memorable.  Shek-O has quite a few trails, some harder than others.  Shek-O is quite easy to get to, multiple buses run throughout the day that take you straight to the trail.

Neighborhood: Kowloon
Kowloon encompasses the northern part of Hong Kong, on the mainland across Victoria Harbour.  Compared to Central, Kowloon offers more of the raw part of Hong Kong, where all the locals reside.  

Neighborhood: Central
Photographing Hong Kong at night time is one of my favourite experiences.  Throughout Central, there are numerous overpass bridges for pedestrians to travel to one side of the road to the other.  The roads are always super busy, which makes for a great long exposure to capture the light trails.

Neighborhood: Fortress Hill
Hong Kong is filled with Food Markets offering fresh meat, produce and anything you can think of.  Throughout the Neighborhood of Fortress Hill (Located in West Hong Kong Island)  markets are tucked away in streets. With it being tucked away between larger buildings, you can find great light here at any time of the day.  Through the markets people are constantly pushing around product on carts, creating for some cool photo opportunities.

Neighborhood: Lantau Island
Another must see in Hong Kong is a trip out to Lantau Island.  It is home to NGONG Ping 360, which is a cable car rides (with the option of glass floor) that takes you up and around the mountains.  The long cable car ride might possibly be one of the best experiences you could have in Hong Kong.  The scenery that you glide over is absolutely stunning and more impressive than Big Buddha itself.

HONG KONG PHOTO TRAVEL TIPS

1.  Wear your most comfortable runners as you will be walking A LOT.
2.  Purchase and use an Octopus card. Click here for more info on Octopus cards.
3.  Dress lightly as Hong Kong is very humid.
4.  Be prepared for rain at any time.
5.  Most people under 35 speak English.  I met a man on a trolley who struck up a conversation about being a    photographer for many years.  You never know who you’ll meet so be open to almost anything.

When I first thought about visiting Nepal, I thought of fresh air, Hinduism and an incredible view of the Himalayas.  I did not expect utter chaos on the streets and pollution so thick that the highest mountain range in the world was near impossible to see.  This is Kathmandu I’m referring to and not the entire country of Nepal.

There were grand plans to tour around Nepal to see the incredible landscape,  but a near fatal airplane ride that lasted all of ten minutes changed my mind.  The airplane I was on was put together with Band-Aids.  I’m sure of this.  Once the plane landed again in Kathmandu, I swore I would never fly again.  It was that scary. 

So, all of my time was spent exploring the capital city of Kathmandu.  Visiting and seeing the Pashupatinath Temple and Kathmandu Durbar Square were incredible experiences.  The intricacy of the architecture alone is mind blowing.  The crowds at each historical site make them feel a little less holy as it were.  

The traffic from Point A to Point B, however, made the experience less than enjoyable.

I don’t mean to entirely knock Kathmandu.  The people are charming and everyone I encountered was more than friendly.   If you love people watching and have no trouble talking to strangers, you’ll love Kathmandu.  If you want to feel the unique vibe of the city  make your way to Thamel.

Thamel is interesting with its overcrowded streets and hundreds of electrical wire twisted and tangled on electric poles.  If you want to experience real Kathmandu life, venture a street or two away from Thamel.  Explore.  Discover.  That’s what travel is about.  Have a look a the video in this blog post and you’ll see what you’ll find.

All of the images in the video slideshow were taken with an iPhone.  If you’re interested in capturing better travel photos with your own mobile device, have a read below.

Tips For Capturing the Best Travel Photos With Your iPhone

1.  Keep Your iPhone Steady

The best way to eliminate camera shake is to steady your iPhone.  You can do this with a mini-tripod setup, but you can also just lean the camera on a flat surface like a table or chair using a sweater or similar to prop it up. Using the self-timer will make sure you don’t end up moving the phone as you take the shot.

2.  Click The Shutter Using the Volume Buttons

iPhones offer two ways to fire the shutter: pressing the on-screen button, and using either of the volume keys.  The volume keys will almost always be the better option because they allow a firmer grip. By holding the phone firmly with both hands, you’ll get a steadier shot than you would using the on-screen button. It also makes it easier to keep the camera level with the horizon, so you don’t get a tilted shot.

3.  Use ‘motor drive’ for low-light shots

Low-light shots are always tricky.  The iPhone amplifies the signal to the sensor to make the most of the available light, but it also needs to keep the sensor switched on for longer.  This makes it much more likely that camera shake will create motion blur.  You can maximize your chances of getting a steady shot by holding down the volume key to take a burst of half a dozen shots.  Usually one of the later ones will be better as you eliminate the small movement you tend to get when pressing the shutter release.  It sort of sounds like cheating, but it works.

4.  Keep HDR On

Camera sensors have limited dynamic range.  What these means is that if you expose a shot to capture detail in the shadows, the brightest parts of the image – the highlights – will be blown out, appearing pure white.  Conversely, if you expose for the highlights, shadow areas will appear solid black.

High Dynamic Range takes multiple exposures and automatically blends them together into a single image that captures details in both the shadows and the highlights, so keep HDR switched on.  While you may occasionally want to switch it off for creative reasons, you’ll want it on most of the time.

5.  Keep The Flash Off

A flash throws a lot of light a very short distance. A typical photo of a person with the flash on will light their face properly but everything else will be under-exposed.  The result is a photo that could have been taken anywhere.  If you want to show the surroundings, try the shot without flash first – using the above tips to help.  If you’re in any doubt about the result, you can take a flash shot as insurance.

When you’re taking a photo of anything more than a few feet away, flash is not only pointless, it’s actually counterproductive.  It won’t light what you’re trying to photograph, but will light up anything in the foreground, which may ruin the shot by making the rest of the shot dark.

So my advice is to keep flash off by default, switching it on only when you specifically want it.

6.  Pay Attention to the Natural Light Around You

When taking a shot, look at where the light is coming from. For most photos, you’ll want the light coming from behind you. If you shoot directly into the light, the shot is likely to be underexposed, and even if not, detail will be washed out.

When photographing people, you’ll show the shape of their face when the light is at a roughly 45 degree angle. This tends to produce the most interesting portraits.

As with all photography ‘rules,’ there will be times you want to break them. Shooting directly into the light – known as contre-jour – can produce great effects when done deliberately. You will, though, typically need to use photo editing software to recover detail from the shadows, and you’ll probably see lens flare in the shot.

7.  Know All About Where You’re Going

For travel photography, some web research can pay real dividends in the sights you’ll see and the photos you’ll get. On a visit to Shanghai, it was web research that alerted me to the fact that one of the most spectacular views in the city was actually seen from inside a building: the amazing atrium inside the Jin Mao Tower.

8.  Remember to Explore All Perspectives

Sometimes you’ll get a more interesting shot by getting down low, getting up high and shooting directly down or shooting straight up. (And consider tip 8a as ‘monochrome can be your friend when the weather is overcast’ …)

9.  Think of the Distance Between You and Your Subject

Sometimes with a portrait shot, you’ll want to show the person in their surroundings. This is particularly effective when you want to show what someone does, like showing an artist with their canvas. But often times, portraits have the greatest impact when you get really close, filling the frame with the person. Getting in close will also blur the background, something usually not possible with the small sensors used in cameraphones.

10.  Foregrounds and Backgrounds Are Important

A photo is a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional scene. A sense of depth can be lost when looking at a photo, so including something in the foreground can be a good way to restore that 3D feel.

11.  Wake Up Early or Stay Up Late

Ok, I’ll admit that pretty much the only time I take this advice myself is accidentally due to jet-lag!  But if you want to take a photo of a popular tourist attraction, getting there before the crowds can definitely help.  Staying late is always my option as so many people disappear from the streets after the sun goes down.  If you choose late, remember the rules for low light photography.

 

This is Qatar.  Visiting Qatar can be an otherworldly experience solely because the culture is so vastly different than what we know and accept in the Western World.  I grew up in a Muslim country so I’m keenly aware of the way I should dress, behave and what is culturally acceptable.  To visit a country like Qatar and think we can be fully American or British without a problem is a problem.  My best advice to you is if you visit a country like Qatar or U.A.E. or Saudi Arabia, be aware.

That said, Qatar is an incredibly mysterious and fabulous country to visit.  I usually only have a brief stopover in Doha, but I once stayed ten days to get a good and genuine feel for Qatar.

The architecture in Qatar is modern, stylish and sexy.  I almost feel like I’m at Disneyland whenever I’m in the Doha’s business district.  The city is unreal.  The wealth on display is incredible to look at even though the wealth is unattainable for people like you and me.

Everything new is old again.  We always hear the opposite.  In Qatar historical places that were old were torn down and rebuilt to look old.   Souq Waqif is a great example of what I’ve just said.  Al Zubarah Fort in the middle of the desolate desert is another good example.  These are not bad elements about Qatar, but I do find them curious in an amusing sort of way.

One of the highlights for me in Qatar is Katara Cultural Village.  It houses an incredible amphiteatre made of limestone that is out of this world  beautiful.  There is a music learning centre, a centre for photography, painting,  and anything else artistic you could think of in one area.  Every major and minor city in the world should have something like Katara Cultural Village.  Imagine the burst of creativity throughout the world if this were true.

Additionally, the Museum of Islamic Art is one of the most incredible museums I’ve visited anywhere in the world.  The building itself is a work of art.  The art inside the beautiful structure is impeccable.

Dune bashing is one of the top activities in Qatar.  The dunes are near the Inland Sea.  What was most incredible for me was to see the light beige fine sand dunes meet the cobalt coloured water.  The landscape was truly stunning.  Bashing into the sand dunes with a 4×4 was great fun as well.  It’s a wonder my hand came loose from the car door’s arm rest.  It was a wee bit harrowing and the driver was intent on showing off as he tore into the dunes.  He showed off so much he cracked the radiator and we were left stranded in the desert until another 4×4 came along.  I chalked it up to another fun travel experience I’ll not soon forget.

Do I recommend an extended visit to Qatar?  Yes, absolutely.  The video in this blog shows you some of the highlights you can expect during your visit.

6 iPhone Photography Tips to Create Striking Photos with Minimal Gear

The phrase isn’t just an advertising gimmick — more people take photos with an iPhone or smartphone than a camera from any other brand. The iPhone is one of the most used cameras not because it can outperform a DSLR, but because with smartphones, anyone can take a photograph. But just because a three-year-old could take a photo with an iPhone doesn’t mean your photos should sit on the same level as a child’s crayon drawing. Use these six iPhone photography tips to create great photos with the camera you already have in your pocket.

::  Know your iPhone’s strengths and weaknesses  ::

Every camera has strengths and weaknesses — understanding what your gear can do and what it can’t is essential. The iPhone is a good camera because you can take it anywhere, easily. With iPhoneography, you’re more likely to have a camera ready when you’re in the right place at the right time for an amazing image. The lens captures a nice wide view. iPhone users love the simple interface and editing without a computer. Smartphone companies also work to make up for what the devices can’t do with software, like HDR, and, for dual lens smartphones, artificial background blur.

Like any smartphone though, the iPhone doesn’t offer the same level of control as a DSLR. The lens is fixed, which means there’s no optical zoom or aperture setting. The smaller sensor means the iPhone isn’t ideal for giant prints and you can’t get the same bokeh as in professional photos. Heavy use of the iPhone camera can also drain the battery quickly.

Understanding the camera you already have is the first step to taking better photos. Along with knowing those general pros and cons, make sure you’re familiar with what your particular camera model can do. Apple introduced dual lenses with the iPhone 7 Plus, which gives the plus models several photo-related advantages. The iPhone X, for example, has an excellent portrait mode and can even generate artificial lighting effects. Older models like the iPhone 5S may not have all the features as the newer Apple models.

::  Tap to focus, drag to brighten  ::

One of the perks of the iPhone is that big touchscreen. But the touchscreen also leaves some features hidden because there’s no actual label for them on the screen. You can adjust both the focus and the exposure (how light or dark the image is) by tapping on the screen.

First, tap the object or person that you want to focus on. Once the camera focuses, you’ll see a yellow box on that spot with a yellow sun next to it. To adjust the exposure, tap on that sun and drag your finger up to brighten the image or down to darken it.

::  HDR is your friend  ::

HDR is an effect built into your phone that does instantly what it would take a few minutes with a DSLR and editing software. HDR, or high dynamic range, essentially captures a wider range of light than a single photo. That means the lightest parts won’t be so white and the darkest parts won’t be so dark. Use HDR anytime you are photographing a high contrast scene, which is pretty much any shot where you include a sky or window. Turn it off for action shots, though — it’s a mode best for still life and landscape. The process actually merges multiple photos together, so the mode doesn’t work well for moving subjects. The HDR effect is easy to turn on and off by tapping the HDR icon at the top of the camera app.

::  Force a flash in crappy light  ::

The flash on a smartphone is often better left off because of the harsh shadows that tiny light creates. But there is a good reason to turn that flash on and it’s in a scenario where most don’t realize a flash is actually helpful: extreme bright light. If you’re outside in the sunshine and you’re taking a photo of someone and the sun is making dark shadows under their eyes, turn the flash on. (Auto will only fire if the scene looks dark). The flash will fill in the shadows, and since you’re already in a bright light anyway, it will hardly look like you used a flash at all.

::  Use advanced photography apps for striking results  ::

One of the biggest perks to smartphone photography is software. If you’re using only the native camera app, you’re not taking advantage of one of the iPhone’s biggest advantages. Download an app with advanced camera options to find more features than what’s in Apple’s basic app. Often, these apps are the same ones that you can use to edit your photos. Some of the best options include Adobe Lightroom CC, VSCO, Pro Cam and Moment Pro.

Inside an advanced camera app, turn on the option called RAW or DNG. (The feature is available with iOS 10 or later and models since the iPhone 6S). This is a file that carries more information than the usual JPEG. That means you have much more flexibility when you edit the photo than if you leave that option off. The downside is that you will have to do some post-processing to the images, and they’ll also take up more space on your iPhone. Be sure to look around the app for other specialty modes — for example, the Lightroom mobile app has an option to photograph long exposures. HDR modes are also often part of these apps.

Advanced camera apps will also allow you to have the most control over the settings. With some reading up and practice on exposure settings, you can adjust the shutter speed and ISO yourself to create intentional blur, eliminate blur, or create the mood you want by intentionally shooting a darker or lighter image.

::  Expand your iPhone photography with lenses and lights  ::

iPhone photography doesn’t mean you have to shoot with just an iPhone. The smartphone’s popularity means there’s no shortage of accessories to help you capture the shot. Lenses will create more flexibility than the camera can offer alone. A telephoto lens will get up close and also create more of that softer background that’s difficult for smartphones to capture. But you can also go even wider with an ultra-wide angle lens. A macro lens allows for great close-ups, often even closer than you can get with a DSLR because of that smaller sensor.

An iPhone photography light can also step up the quality of your images by allowing you to control the light in the scene. Mini tripods can also be helpful for taking a selfie without that telltale arm extended, or trying out that long exposure mode available on some apps.

The iPhone camera has been everything from the launching point of a full-blown photography career to a memory keeper for those everyday moments. By integrating a few photo tips, you can get the most from the camera you already own — and maybe enter the annual iPhone photography awards. Remember, the best iphone photography isn’t about gear, but about what you’re able to capture with it.

No matter how, when, why or where you travel around the world you are sure to receive one of the best educations of your life.  The lessons you learn may be small and unnoticeable or they may be huge and life changing.

A foreign culture may make you realise something you didn’t know about yourself and sometimes even move you to tears.  My visit to Bhutan took me to a state of peacefulness I’ve not found anywhere in the Western world.  I can’t begin to describe the effect the tiny kingdom had on me except to say when I viewed photos and video from the journey, tears rolled down my cheeks.  It’s a mystery to me why the tears came even today.  All I know is Bhutan touched me beyond measure.

The taste of new food, aromas, colors and even travel sounds can leave an impression on you well after you leave a destination.  The sensory elements of travel may inspire you to add them to your own creative adventures in cooking or music or handicrafts.

You may be in awe of Big Ben or Mont Saint Michel glowing against the night sky.  Istanbul’s Blue Mosque or the Old Medina in Marrakech send your senses into sensory overload.  A sunset on a beach in the Caribbean or Bali may change the way you look at the world.

But most of all, it is the people you meet along the way who will touch you in ways you never though imaginable.  Maybe you’ll understand that we are all just trying to make it in this world.  We just happen to speak differently or pray a little different.  Inherently, we’re all good people.

And so when I wanted to show the many places I’ve travelled throughout the world, I decided to do it in one go in one epic video presentation which I’ve titled “Travel Around The World With The Gentleman Wayfarer.”  There are approximately 3000 photos in the fast-paced presentation that span all the way around the world.  The places and people I’ve included have impacted my life in one way or another.  This is my tribute to every one and every place that has made a difference in my life.

Travel with an iPhone or any mobile phone is very common today.  If you are keen to improve your travel photography skills, a mobile device is a great way to do it.  Phones are easily accessible, they fit in your pocket and you really don’t have to think too much.

Consider these iPhone Travel Photography Tips during your next journey.

1) Strengthen your travel photos with different focal lengths.

The iPhone is equipped with two lenses, a wide-angle 28mm and a portrait lens, 56mm. Different focal lengths tell different stories. A wider angle generally gives a better sense of place, while a telephoto brings the viewer into the details of the subject.  Consider this while you’re shooting and experiment with both.  And remember – one key element to great photo composition is filling your frame.

2) Keep Using Your iPhone in Low Light

Some of my favorite images have been shot well after the sun has gone down.  I love the challenge of low light photography.  In the past, I would have put my iPhone away thinking the images wouldn’t be usable, but now with a new sensor and faster aperture (f/1.8), the iPhone autofocuses and captures substantially better in low light.

3) Be In The Moment But Also Think Ahead

Travel photography is about capturing the unknowns and unexpected.  Always be looking forward, and consider using the iPhone’s burst mode so you don’t miss a moment as it happens.   To use burst mode, press and hold the shutter button until rapid fire begins.

4) Buy An Unlocked iPhone So You Can Switch to Local SIM Cards.

Communication is super important while traveling.  If you’re roaming internationally, the cost can be astronomical.  Buy a local SIM card as it allows you to make new plans, call someone, google something, and more, while you’re on the go. In photography, this means your GPS data will be recorded with your photo.  The iPhone’s memories feature can organize your images together by location and create simple and fun video vignettes.

Later, you can also look on a map in Photos and see exactly where you captured different photographs.  I use this feature as I don’t always remember the names of the places where I’ve taken photos.

5) Bring a Small Tripod

A small, compact tripod can be helpful and is a great way to capture time-lapses, low-light images, and more. While the iPhones now all have a stabilizer built in, the extra support from a tripod can be especially helpful with the iPhone optical zoom.

Keep in mind that shooting with a longer focal length, like the iPhone optical zoom, amplifies camera shake.  You’ll find it will naturally be more difficult to get a sharp clear shot while shooting with 2x, especially in low-light environments or unstable foundations, like a moving vehicle.  To compensate, use a mini-tripod or experiment with burst mode. Sometimes I’ll shoot a 20-shot burst just to ensure that I have the sharpest shot possible.

6) Upload Your Photos to the Cloud Daily

Thanks to a the iPhone’s water-resistant feature, you won’t be losing our pictures during accidental swims, but it could be left at a hotel, or worse, picked from your pocket, which happened to me in Ecuador. At the end of the day, the iPhone can be replaced, but your pictures can’t. Don’t get two weeks into a trip only to lose them all in a moment.

If you don’t have your laptop because you’re traveling light, consider a SanDisk iXpand.  It’s essentially a USB flash drive with a Lightning connector, so you can quickly and easily off-load your images each day.  I love mind and take it everywhere I travel.

Be sure to keep your backup and your iPhone in separate bags for extra safety.

7) Play it safe.

Don’t put your iPhone—or any valuable—in the tray when going through security. Instead, put it in a pocket of your bag before sending it through the x-ray.  This way it’s protected from being accidentally—or intentionally—carried off before you get through the metal detector.

8) Play To The Strengths of the iPhone

One of the greatest strengths of the iPhone as a camera is its agility.  You can focus on getting to the best shoot spots instead of worrying about lugging gear. Don’t weigh it down with a bunch of unnecessary DSLR lens adapters.

Try leaving your DSLR at home and travel super light.  The iPhone  doesn’t replace your DSLR, but it’s plenty powerful and a really fun way to experience and capture the environment around you.  You’ll love leaving the extra chargers, batteries, lenses, and big tripod at home for a change.

The tradition of night markets in Hong Kong reaches back to the days when the region first became a major trading centre.  The days were hot, and with no air conditioning back then, the best time to go shopping was in the evening.  Night markets were located throughout Hong Kong though over time and re-development schemes the markets disappeared one by one.

Temple Street Night Market is the last remaining example of a traditional Hong Kong night market.  It has been a fixture of the Jordan/Yau Ma Tei District since the 1920’s and perhaps even before.  The market takes its name from the nearby Tin Hau Temple and you may have seen it as a backdrop in a number of movies.

People visit to buy inexpensive goods from bags, fashions and accessories, or jewellery, trinkets, electronics and gadgets.  Plentiful delicious street foods tease any passerby whether its a feast of snacks, noodles or congee that is all served well into the wee hours.

The market is a popular place for visitors and locals alike to congregate in the evenings.  Various forms of entertainment are common while you meander up and down the buzzing street.  Expect to find mystic fortunetellers or tarot card readers from whom you can receive glimpses into your future.  There is a long tradition of fortune telling in and around temples tho’ the fortunetellers are not located inside the market.

The fortunetellers and tarot card readers are closer to the Temple itself as they have always been.  Simply walk along Temple Street Night Market northwards, go past Yau Ma Tei Library until you reach the Temple gardens. 

A variety of methods are used including the examination of hands or ears and the use of Chinese astrology.  Be sure your fortuneteller knows sufficient English or you may leave a bit confused.  Personally, I find Eastern philosophies fascinating so I’d go just to satisfy my curiosity.

After you know your good fortune continue up the road and turn right into an area where the opera singer tents are located.  In the tents, you’ll find opera singers who perform Cantonese Opera.  If you’re unfamiliar, Cantonese Opera is a unique singing style with its own music genre which is different than what you and I know.

Amateur singers come together to practice and perform in order to encourage one another and develop their craft.  You’ll find amateurs from all skill levels, from professional quality to beginners.  It’s said that a few singers from Temple Street have gone on to professional careers in Opera Houses.  You can listen to the opera singers from 8:30 pm until 11 pm most nights except Wednesdays.

Hong Kong is the epitome of a modern metropolis.  Hidden away in Temple Street you’ll find a thriving cross-section of traditional and modern Hong Kong culture, cuisine, commerce and society that you’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.  Temple Street Night Market is an enduring example of theatre and festivity of a traditional Chinese market.  And, it’s on show nightly.

Gallery of Photos of Temple Street Night Market

 
Where Is Temple Street Night Market?
Temple Street Night Market GPS Coordinates ::  22°18’21.20″ N 114°10’11.53″ E 
MTR Yau Ma Tei Station, Exit C, turn onto Temple Street at Man Ming Lane; or, 
MTR Jordan Station, Exit A. Turn right onto Jordan Road and then take another right onto Temple Street.

Map Showing the Location of Temple Street Night Market

 
You might also be interested in 12 Awesome Reasons To Visit Hong Kong

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