Shaking off the cobwebs // Amsterdam

Sitting here, writing this…..being well aware that it has been months since I have posted anything. What’s worse…..it’s been months since I have used a camera in anger. An even greater sin is that I STILL have 5 rolls of Portra 400 sitting on my desk waiting to be developed. The ‘final’ shots I need to complete my 365 project. I’m overlooking the fact that at the moment, late August is as far as I have got with updating it. At least I have taken all the photos…….I will get off my ass and send them off soon.

During the last part of the year, photography has taken a back seat in my priorities, as I have been bitten by the triathlon bug. Some may know from following me on instagram that I’m a keen cyclist, but I’ve always wanted to complete in some way. So I’ve been training hard since late 2018, particularly in running and swimming, both of which I’m reasonably new to. This has taken up quite a bit of my travel time, where before I would get back to the room and head out with my camera, I’ve found myself often heading to the gym (or outside if suitable….or safe!)

This will continue in 2019, as I have entered quite a few events, including a few half iron man distances. But I WILL be picking up my cameras more too. Especially my Hasselblad. I can’t even remember the last time I used it!

This trip to Amsterdam was not my first trip of the year, but the first opportunity I had to spend any time with a camera, with enough free time. I’ve visited the city many many times, but I’ve never really seen enough to say I’ve been there properly. Despite only being able to make the most of a couple of hours daylight one very cold and wintery afternoon, I finally had the chance to explore the endless canals and narrow streets. It goes without saying that there are so many photographic opportunities, and I often found that the most beautiful streets were the least touristic.

All photos taken with a Fuji X-T2 and 35mm f/2 lens

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California

I'm not even sure where to begin writing up this trip but here goes!

This was definitely one of the most memorable trips we've ever been on, and certainly the most exhausting at times. It's also the first road trip (albeit a mini one) we've done as well, and the fact we could explore even more of the area by driving around really made the trip for me. Our main base was San Francisco, a city we have both wanted to visit for a long time. This was also my second proper visit to the USA, my first being our holiday to NYC over 5 years ago, so visiting the west coast has been on the cards for a while now. 

We spent five days in the city before heading out on our road trip, but this was enough time for it to leave quite an impression on us. I only have New York as another American city to compare to, but I have quite a bit of experience from the rest of world, and I can comfortably say that SF is unlike any other city I’ve been to before. It’s incredibly diverse. Each neighbourhood feels like a different city altogether, and they have their own charms and uniqueness about them. I’m very much of the opinion that you have put in the effort to truly discover a city, and be prepared to walk a lot. SF really does make you work for it though. You hear about how steep some of the streets are, but you really cannot appreciate it until you’re there (and have to walk them a lot!) The rewards are most certainly there to appreciate however. There are surprises and discoveries to make on every street. I don’t think I’ve been to a city that has so many different building styles in one street too, with some truly beautiful homes. It really makes most of our streets back home so dull in comparison.

After exploring SF for several days, we hired a car and headed south along the Pacific Coast Highway. Of course being in America, I was adamant about a classic American car, with a bit of spice. A Mustang, Charger, Challenger……any of these would have fit the bill. And what did we end up with? A jaguar! Yep…..we come all the way to America and end up with a classically British car. I couldn’t complain too much though, as it was a really fun car to drive, and it certainly didn’t hang about either! The coastal highway was spectacular, although I would probably would have enjoyed it a lot more if I wasn’t concentrating so hard on driving on the wrong side of the road. We stayed the night at Pismo Beach, and treated ourselves to a hotel with an amazing beach view.

Death Valley was the next stop. Unfortunately we arrived at our hotel much later than planned, but we, or should I say I, still had time to enjoy the amazing quiet roads. We didn’t have to wait much longer until the moon set and we could view the Milky Way from just a mile or so from our hotel. This was even clearer than when we were in the desert in Jordan, and it’s the first time I’ve seen it clearly with my own eyes. That’s one of my bucket list items checked off.

Yosemite was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. It is quite simply stunning. It was surreal to leave our camp and look up at Glacier Point ‘just’ above us, starting the trail that would eventually bring us there. I insisted we hit the trails early, just in case we had time to complete the whole 4-mile and Panorama trail back to the valley. We just made it! After 13 miles and over 3000ft of climbing we made it back to camp using our phones as a torch for the last mile or so. We only spent two full days there, but I could have happily stayed for another week.

We finished where we started, back in the city of San Francisco, this time staying at an amazing B&B right near Alamo Square. From here we discovered some of the more western and southern districts, again, each having their own unique touches.

There’s no doubt that San Francisco is definitely a city I would enjoy visiting again, and it couples perfectly with a trip to ‘nearby’ Yosemite National Park.  So many memories, these are some of my favourites….

All photos taken with a Fuji X-T1 and X-T2 with 23mm f/1.4 and 56mm f/1.2 lenses

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The Maldives......almost

When you hear the news that your next work trip is to the Maldives, you’d be forgiven for getting a little excited. Beautiful white sandy beaches, warm waters and picturesque views…..what could be better. But then you dig a little deeper and discover you’re actually working in Malé, the capital of the Maldives. Just google images of Malé (don’t just search ‘Male’ otherwise you’ll get images of something rather different!), and you’ll see how un-paradise-like it is. The island itself is just over 2 square miles, and over 130,000 people live there. Soon after arriving there, you can certainly see why it’s one of the most populated cities in the world.

As you can imagine, there’s a pretty hectic atmosphere on the island. There are literally mopeds everywhere. There are cars, but they struggle to make any progress in the narrow streets and melee of bikes and people.

The people there are incredibly nice and friendly, with a Caribbean-like relaxed way of life. I was even kindly offered to be picked up and dropped off at the hotel each day on the back of someone’s moped. I think that’s the first time I’ve sat on a motorbike since I was a child!

It certainly was a trip to remember, but next time I’ll have to make it out to some of the outer islands – the real Maldives.

Fuji X-T2  //  XF35mm f/2

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