Mykonos, Greece

Most of my time spent abroad is spent with camera in hand and frequently with many pounds of gear in tow. The final result might suggest that my life is filled with vacations in exotic destinations, but in reality, I don’t even get to see the places that I visit in the same way that a tourist does. My focus is on work and on what I need to do to get the best shot.

Little Venice in Chora at Sunset, Mykonos, Greece
Single shot, focal length 66mm, aperture f/11, shutter speed 0.4 seconds, ISO 31, tripod.


So when my family and I planned a vacation to Greece, it was intended to be precisely—and only—that: vacation. Almost any spot along the Mediterranean coast is a respite for me; I’ve traveled to many locations along the sea, and the warm breezes and deep blues of what Homer called the “wine-dark sea” never fail to have a calming, rejuvenating effect on me.

But I am constitutionally unable to travel — even for vacation — without my camera and gear. I didn’t expect to put them to much use, as we were staying in the kind of lush accommodations that encourage relaxation rather than exploration. My plan was to do much more of the former than the latter.

But this is what happens in Greece: no matter how many times you’ve seen it and no matter how many of its charms you think you know, there is always something more. You wander its narrow, maze-like streets, and around every corner is something new and you find yourself entranced all over again.

At the west end of Chora, where the winding streets of the town meet the sea, I found Little Venice. The neighborhood gets is nickname because of its buildings, which appear to be built right into the sea. Hundreds of years ago, wealthy ship captains and fishermen built their homes right upon the water, giving them the appearance of hovering just above the sea’s surface. Brightly painted, the homes — most of which are now restaurants and bars — make a striking image against the deep blues of sea and sky. Sunsets at Little Venice are especially breathtaking.

I went to Mykonos with the best of intentions to relax and enjoy some time away from work with my family. And I did. But like many before me, I was charmed by Little Venice. My vacation became something of a working holiday because I couldn’t resist returning there each day at sunset to see its unique architecture lit by golden hour sunlight. Like Henry Miller, I found — once again — that Greece is a muse.

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Fine Art Calendar 2020 from Anshar Photography

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Porthleven, Cornwall

At the end of my stay in Cornwall, I went to the town of Porthleven, the most southerly port in the United Kingdom. Like all of Cornwall, it’s remarkably picturesque, a sliver of a town perched on the last bit of England before the Atlantic crashes against the coast.

Porthleven Skyline at Sunrise, Cornwall, United Kingdom
Single shot, focal length 21mm, aperture f/11, shutter speed 121 seconds, ISO 64, tripod, ND 10-stop filter.


In fact, it’s the crashing of the sea that brings many people to Porthleven. Surfers — only the most experienced ones — are drawn to the town because of its outsized waves. In the winter, though, is when the Atlantic is its most dramatic at Porthleven. One of the most recognizable sites in the town is the Clock Tower, situated near the water’s edge. During a winter storm, the tower — easily the most well-known landmark along the town’s skyline — can become completely overwhelmed by the Atlantic’s waves. It’s a remarkable sight, and one that draws photographers from around the world.

But I arrived in Porthleven on a clear summer day without a storm in sight. The sea was calm and it was hard to even imagine the kind of dramatic waves that batter the town during winter. We arrived late in the afternoon, just as the sun was beginning to set. It wasn’t a dangerous, storm-battered view of the town, but the sunset presented me with its own kind of drama. Washed in vibrant pastel hues, I thought Porthleven was as lovely as any place I’d seen along the Cornwall coast.

In the evening my family and I headed into town for dinner. And it was in Porthleven that we had the best meal of the entire Cornwall trip — at an outdoor restaurant right on the shore, where we dined on mussels and squid straight from the sea. It was the perfect ending to my travels in one of the world’s truly beautiful places.

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Godrevy Lighthouse, Cornwall

I was charmed by Cornwall, but my favorite location of the entire trip was Godrevy Lighthouse, the sentinel atop Godrevy Island. The lighthouse was built in the 1850s to keep sailors from the treacherous Stones Reef, which claimed many ships over the centuries. The lighthouse was constructed after one particularly deadly shipwreck.

Godrevy Lighthouse in the Evening, Cornwall, United Kingdom
Panorama from 2 horizontal shots, focal length 28mm, aperture f/11, shutter speed 30 seconds, ISO 31, tripod, ND 5-stop filter.

You can buy this photo as Fine Art Print >>


Godrevy is a small, pretty island, but one that catches the full fury of the Atlantic. Just the same, a person can easily become enchanted by the picturesque slip of land. It’s the island that Virginia Woolf used as the setting for “To the Lighthouse”, and the titular lighthouse was inspired by the actual lighthouse on Godrevy. One can easily imagine Woolf, lost in her thoughts, putting pen to paper to recreate the craggy island and the Atlantic beyond.

There are no hotels near the lighthouse, so I stayed four miles away and enjoyed the long walk to the island through Upton Towans Nature Reserve. It was near the end of what had been a sunny, clear day, and I planned to photograph the lighthouse just as the sun began to set. I knew that the most interesting views of Godrevy were from the surrounding rocks, which are submerged at high tide, and that meant that I had a very limited period of time to make my photographs.

As it happens, I also became lost in my thoughts. Focused on getting just the right angle at just the right moment, I forgot about the tide. Before I realized it, the tide had come in and I was cut off from the mainland. I wasn’t terribly concerned about my own safety, but I was very concerned about my camera and equipment. And in case you’re wondering, it’s not easy navigating your way through the incoming tide back to shore with all of your camera gear in tow!

I survived, and looking at the photographs from that afternoon, I have to say that it was worth the extra effort and the adventure of getting back to dry land.

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St Michael’s Mount in the Evening, Cornwall

After leaving the mines, my next destination was St. Michael’s Mount. Of all of Cornwall’s beautiful sites, St. Michael’s is easily the most recognizable. For most of the day, St. Michael’s is a small island, crowned at its crest with a castle dating back centuries. At low tide, however, the island becomes a hill, and visitors can walk to the castle via a granite causeway. Whether you see it at high or low tide, St. Michael’s is breathtaking.

St Michael's Mount in the Evening, Cornwall, United Kingdom
Single shot, focal length 27mm, aperture f/8, shutter speed 118 seconds, ISO 100, tripod, ND 10-stop filter.

You can buy this photo as Fine Art Print >>


The island has a long history and is believed to be one of the earliest locations mentioned in text in all of Western Europe. It might be easy to confuse it with its French counterpart, Mont St. Michel. They are similar in appearance and are named for the same saint. It was because of these similarities that during the Middle Ages, the island was granted to Benedictine monks from Mont St. Michel. The first stone church was built on the island in 1135, and later years brought abbeys and monastic buildings. Given its association with the church and its remove from the mainland, St. Michael’s became a favored destination of pilgrims and the devout.

It’s the kind of place that quite naturally gives rise to stories of hauntings and strange phenomena. For many years, sailors have reported hearing whispered words from the water. A ghostly lady in grey is said to wander the hallways of the castle. And there are legends of giants who once inhabited the island and stories of the spirit of an unusually tall man. Remarkably, when a chapel on the island was being renovated in the 1800s, a small stone door was discovered which led to a tiny monastic cell, long forgotten. Inside were the bones of man who measured over seven feet tall, a religious recluse who died and was unwittingly entombed in his cell.

But on a summer day in the twenty-first century, St. Michael’s is hardly foreboding. The air is filled not with ominous whispers but the happy chatter of tourists on holiday. In early evening, when the tide is high, I stand my tripod on the last sliver of causeway still visible above the water. The sun is setting, and against the fading light of day, St. Michael’s arises from the water like a vision in a dream.

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Botallack Mines, Cornwall

Making my way through the crowds of tourists who flock to Cornwall in the summer, I had to remind myself that it wasn’t always a tourist spot. At least one part of it, the town of Botallack, was a center of the region’s mining industry. Only a few traces of the industry remain, crumbling, derelict reminders of bygone years.

Botallack Engine Houses in the Evening, Cornwall, United Kingdom
Single shot, focal length 31mm, aperture f/11, shutter speed 121 seconds, ISO 64, tripod, ND 10-stop filter.

You can buy this photo as Fine Art Print >>


The most picturesque of these ruins are the Crown Engine Houses, which are perched precariously on the cliffs above the Atlantic. They look as if a strong storm could send what’s left of them tumbling into the ocean at any moment. I’m not the first photographer to be drawn to the ruins; I saw other people making the roughly four-mile trek, camera and gear in tow. It’s even been used as a backdrop for the filming of the “Poldark” series.

As evocative and picturesque as the ruins are, the real story is underground. In 1858, when the mining industry was still thriving, a remarkable feat of engineering took place at the Crown Mine. That year, work began on the Boscawen Diagonal Shaft, a deep shaft that ran 500 meters under the Atlantic Ocean. By that point, the mine had struggled for years as the shallow deposits of copper and tin were depleted, and it was largely because of the determination of a new owner that the mine began to turn a profit again in the 1840s. The Boscawen shaft elicited so much attention that dignitaries from around the country toured the site, including the Prince and Princess of Wales.

But eventually the newer, deeper mine was also depleted, and Botallack declined. Time and nature gradually took back the site. Once a major industrial site, the elements have reclaimed it, and lush vegetation now crawls along the remaining walls. It’s a haunting image, and a reminder that we are all powerless against time and nature.

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Panorama of Land’s End, Cornwall

Roughly one mile off the coast of Land’s End are the rocky islets known as the Longships. From the shore, you see only their spiky crests, giving them the appearance of a large, sea-dwelling creature which has just slipped under the water, leaving only its spine above water. There is no monster, of course. But the area of the Longships treacherous, just the same.

Panorama of Land's End in the Evening, Cornwall, United Kingdom
Panorama from 2 horizontal images, focal length 17mm, aperture f/8, shutter speed 30 seconds, ISO 200, tripod, ND 5-stop filter.

You can buy this photo as Fine Art Print >>


More than a few ships have met their end in the dangerous waters of Land’s End. Even after the Longships Lighthouse was built in 1795, on the tallest of the islets, ships still came to misery on the jagged coastline. One of these, the SS Bluejacket, which wrecked in 1898, nearly destroyed the lighthouse itself as its battered hull careened into the islet.

More recently, a German ship, the RMS Mulheim, ran aground at Land’s End in 2003. A cargo ship, the Mulheim’s massive body smashed into the rocks and over time, was eventually broken in half. Parts of the wreck are still visible, and from time to time, flotsam from the ship washes up on the coast, reminders of the sea’s power.

Not much of the wreck remains now. This part of the ocean sees massive Atlantic storms, and they have gradually had their way with the Mulheim and other wrecks. It’s no wonder that the Romans called this part of the sea “Bolerium,” or seat of storms. I spent two days in Land’s End, and I saw the rapidly changing weather patterns and how quickly terrifying storms can materialise. Land’s End is hauntingly lovely, but it holds within it the threat of terrifying destruction.

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Land’s End, Cornwall

After spending a few days in Bath and at Stonehenge, I made my way to the famously rugged coastline of England’s most western county — Cornwall. My destination in Cornwall was the craggy, picturesque cliffs of Land’s End.

Land's End in the Evening, Cornwall, United Kingdom
Single shot, focal length 16mm, aperture f/8, shutter speed 30 seconds, ISO 31, tripod, ND 5-stop filter.

You can buy this photo as Fine Art Print >>


Could there be a more evocative place name than Land’s End? Even if you’ve never been there or seen photographs of the place, the name alone conjures images of a foreboding landscape, bereft of humans. In fact, it’s one of the country’s most visited tourist attractions, and a hotel on a vertiginous spot overlooking the waves is a popular location for weddings. But still. As I move southwest from Bath, it’s hard to shake the image of a forlorn place, a jagged sliver of earth far away from human habitation.

Looking out over the waves there — which have meant misery to more than a few seafarers over the centuries — it isn’t hard to see why so many people are drawn to Land’s End. Equal parts beautiful and dangerous, there’s something about the cliffs here that compels you to them, an irresistible pull to witness the fearsome beauty below.

Land’s End is a place that creates myths. One of the most enduring myths is that it is the site of Lyonesse, a lost, sunken land that features in the Arthurian legends, a kind of British Atlantis. According to some versions of the legend, it was at Lyonesse that King Arthur and Mordred fought their final battle.

While the Arthurian legends are just that — legends — there may be some truth to the belief in a sunken land. Some people believe that Lyonesse was attached to the Scilly Island, which is still very much above the water. Research done on the island revealed that the sea level was once much lower there than it is now, raising the possibility that there once was another place here. A place, perhaps, like what remains at Land’s End — a land that is at once forbidding but beautiful, dangerous but alluring.

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Pulteney Bridge in the Evening, Bath

To visit England is to continually commune with the past; there are few places in the world in which history is as diligently preserved or where it coexists to thoroughly with the present.

Pulteney Bridge in the Evening, Bath, Somerset, United Kingdom
Panorama from 5 vertical shots, focal length 16mm, aperture f/11, shutter speed 2 seconds, ISO 31, tripod.


There is arguably no other place in England where the past is as well preserved as Bath. Named for its famed Roman baths, the city has been a spa city since ancient times, and the restorative properties of its thermal springs were known even before the Romans arrived. Because of its Roman baths and its elegant Georgian architecture, the entire city of Bath was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

In a city justifiably famous for its architecture, finding one outstanding structure to photograph on a short trip is no small task. I could walk among the neoclassical Palladian buildings in the city for days and never grow tired of the view. It is unquestionably one of the loveliest cities in Europe.

But there was one structure in Bath that charmed and intrigued me beyond all others — the Pulteney Bridge – which crosses the River Avon. Built over the course of twenty years, the bridge is the kind only rarely seen today, with shops built along its full length on both sides. Though it has been altered somewhat over the centuries (it was completed in 1774) it still looks largely as it did when it was built. As I set up my tripod on an early summer evening, I thought the bridge must look just as it did decades ago, when Jane Austen walked the streets of the city.

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Stonehenge in the Morning

Traveling through England to Cornwall, I couldn’t resist making a brief stop at Stonehenge. It’s one of the most intriguing sites in the world, and even if I only had a short period of time there, it was better than not seeing it at all.

Stonehenge Monument in the Morning, Wiltshire, United Kingdom
Single shot, focal length 26mm, aperture f/11, shutter speed 242 seconds, ISO 64, tripod, ND 10-stop filter.

You can buy this photo as Fine Art Print >>


I made my way to Amesbury, the nearest town to Stonehenge. The countryside in that part of England is beautiful and impossibly green, and though one of the world’s most famous sites is located there, it’s an area that appears largely untouched by modernity. Tour buses rumble along its roads daily, but England has managed to keep the countryside around Stonehenge mercifully free from development and over-tourism.

My plan was to arise just before daylight and capture Stonehenge in the mist of early morning. I wanted to capture something of the mystical pull that the ancient stones seem to exert on people, and I thought that either early morning or twilight would be the best way to do that. Unfortunately, as Stonehenge is an archaeological site, visitors are only permitted during daylight hours, and when I booked tickets online, the only available time was at 11AM, well past daybreak and long before twilight.

But I found that even at midday, Stonehenge wields an ineffable power. I’d seen photographs of those massive stones hundreds of times, but photographs can’t prepare you for the actual site. I can understand why seekers and pilgrims from around the world make the trip to Stonehenge; it may not actually hold an otherworldly power, but it certainly feels as if it might.

Ultimately, I didn’t need mist or the blue hour. I simply photographed Stonehenge with the light that I had, using a long exposure to blur the gray clouds of an overcast sky. Stonehenge is enough. The mystical pull that the place has exerted for centuries is no less powerful under a midday sky.

With storm clouds moving in, I packed up my gear and headed for Cornwall.

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