Lake Garda and the Town of Malcesine

As a photographer, I’m fortunate to see some of the world’s most beautiful places. I’ve had the great fortune to photograph remarkable natural scenery as well as remarkable man-made structures, brilliant testimonies to the human urge to create.

Malcesine on Lake Garda
August 2018, additional exposures for highlights, focal length 24 mm, aperture f/11, shutter speed 88 seconds, ISO 31, ND 5-stop filter, tripod.

The downside to being a photographer, however, is that I don’t often get to explore these locations as ordinary travelers would. I don’t have the luxury of time and my focus on getting the photographs means that I can’t simply admire the beauty of a place; I have to look at it with a technical eye in order to make the photograph work.

But very occasionally, I take a break and travel the way that everyone else does — purely or relaxation and time to spend with my family. After spending several weeks traveling through the United Kingdom, I arranged for a holiday in Italy with my family. We began our holiday at Lake Garda, one of the most scenic of Italy’s lakes. Ringed by picturesque towns and villages and lush countryside, Lake Garda is one of the most popular destinations in Italy.

We chose Malcesine, a small town on the eastern shore of Lake Garda, for our holiday. Even though the purpose of the trip was primarily to rest and enjoy time away from work, I confess that part of my reason for choosing Malcesine was its beauty. I’d seen enough photos of the town to know it’s one of the most picturesque towns along the coast and I wanted to work in a few photographs on what was officially a family holiday.

Malcesine did not disappoint. Located at the narrow end of the lake with mountains making a dramatic backdrop, the town was made to be photographed. During the day, I enjoyed time with my family, but in the early evening, when the crowds of tourists began to diminish, I found a spot along the shore and set up my tripod. It’s one of my favorite times of day to make photographs, especially when the image includes water — I think the reflection of light on the water’s surface is enchanting and Malcesine was no exception. The town is beautiful in the daytime, but in early evening light it was stunning.

The work of a photographer never stops. Even on holiday, we are always looking for another beautiful image, and Lake Garda has them in abundance.

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Westgate Towers, Canterbury

As a travel photographer, one of the things you learn early in your career is to be adaptable and to be prepared for things not to work as you had planned. With travel photography, it’s virtually unavoidable that at some point, the plans you made to photograph a beloved landmark or incredible bit of nature will go awry. You arrive and with no forewarning, find a place closed for repairs or a landscape ravaged by a sudden change in the weather.

Westgate Tower Canterbury
July 2018, focus stack from 17 images, additional exposures for highlights, focal length 20mm, aperture f/11, shutter speed 30 seconds, ISO 64, tripod.

In the summer of 2018, I made a trip to the United Kingdom. One of the places I most wanted to see in England was Canterbury Cathedral. A site of great historical and literary significance, the cathedral is also a remarkable and beautiful structure, and I was excited for the opportunity to photograph it. On arriving in Canterbury, I was disappointed to find the beautiful old structure almost completely surrounded by scaffolding for repairs.

I was determined not to leave Canterbury without capturing at least part of the historic city. But I’m not a fan of scaffolding in photographs, so I found a spot near the Westgate Towers where roses lined the walkways. The towers are the oldest surviving medieval gates, a remnant from a distant time when Canterbury was guarded by seven gates. The Westgate is the largest of the seven and was the most important, as it guarded the road between London and Canterbury.

The city no longer needs to be protected by stone walls, but the Westgate Towers remain – a picturesque reminder of England’s history. And for this photographer, they also served as a reminder to be adaptable and to think on my feet.

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The Shard and London Bridge

London, I’ve found, is a city that has a curious ability to continually reinvent itself while maintaining its history. London has a strange talent to be at once a thoroughly modern city and also one that preserves and honors its past.

London Bridge Skyline and London Shard Skyline
July 2018, single shot, additional exposures for highlights, focal length 18 mm, aperture f/11, shutter speed 121 seconds, ISO 64, ND 5-stop filter, tripod.

Along the Thames, a river as storied as the city itself, you see this — the past interspersed with the present. The London Eye taking tourists up above the vaunted Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. The beloved dome of St. Paul’s framed by the concrete and steel of the Millennium Bridge.

But one of my favorite photographs from my short stay in London focuses on a more modern view of the city. I set up my tripod across the river from the Shard, one of the city’s newest landmarks, which was just completed in 2012. The Shard, with its angular lines and spectacular height, is unlike anything else in the city and is immediately recognizable.

I situated this shot with London Bridge leading to the Shard and the waters of the Thames taking up much of the frame. One of the best ways to see any city, I’ve found, is by water. Rivers tell stories and the Thames has a multitude of them. As I often do when photographing water, I used a very slow shutter speed and ND filters to give the water a smooth, glassy look against the backdrop of the city.

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St. Paul’s Cathedral and Millennium Bridge, London

London is a city that has captivated people for centuries. In whatever time one imagines, London has always seemed to be the center of the world. From Roman Londinium to Medieval London to the Victorian London of Charles Dickens to Mod London of the 1960s, the city has always seemed to be the thriving, humming center of things.

Millennium Bridge London and St Paul's Cathedral London
July 2018, single shot, additional exposures for highlights, focal length 45 mm, aperture f/11, shutter speed 41 seconds, ISO 31, tripod.

For a photographer, London is a wonderful city to explore. Every street, every bend in the road, reveals another landmark or iconic view. It’s hard not to be transfixed by history when you’re in London; there are pubs in the city that are older than many countries. What is London, if not a city for the ages?

This view of London is one of my favorites. In one image, the resilience and timelessness of London is captured through two iconic images: the Millennium Bridge and St. Paul’s Cathedral, built by Christopher Wren. One, a symbol of twenty-first century London, the other built in the years following England’s bloody civil war; the work of one century framing a view of another century’s masterwork.

Look at almost any photograph of London since the medium was developed and you’ll likely see St. Paul’s on the city’s skyline. The remarkable structure took decades to build, from 1675 to 1710. Like London itself, the cathedral embodies the steely resolve of the English people. Nazi bombs damaged it — one even landed in the nave itself — but the cathedral, guarded by brigades, withstood the war.

Sir Christopher Wren, who designed the cathedral, is entombed inside. For his grave, a simple marker with a Latin inscription that translates to: “Reader, if you seek his monument, look around you.” No other words are necessary for the man who designed one of the city’s most beloved landmarks.

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Summer 2018 Sale – 30% off

Dear subscribers and followers, I am happy to offer a special summer discount till the end of August 2018!

All my photographs can be purchased as Fine Art Prints to add to the decor of your home or office. I offer Metal Prints and traditional Paper Prints with various finishes. Metal Prints always come framed and ready to hang. For Paper Prints you can choose – to order already matted and framed prints or to frame it yourself. The details and colours of my photographs look fantastic on prints and cannot be adequately reproduced on computer screens.

These prints make great gifts for your friends and family, especially those who love to travel and appreciate the world’s beauty.

Praia das Catedrais in the Evening, Galicia, Spain

All my best works from the last years are organised in 5 collections:

• “Bay of Biscay” — magic seascapes from the Northern Spain:
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• “Isle of Eigg” — moody seascapes from Isle of Eigg in Scotland:
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• “Gems of Namibia” — vibrant and energising landscapes of Namibia:
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• “Inspiring Cities v2” — photos of the most beautiful European cities:
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• “Romantic Santorini” — views of the most romantic Greece island:
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I offer worldwide shipping, and any size is available.

As a special Summer 2018 offer, I will give a discount of 30% through the end of August 2018. Use code SUMMER18 at checkout to get the discount.

To make a purchase, simply choose the photo you want, click on its preview. When the preview is open to full screen, click the green “BUY” button on the bottom left corner and follow the instructions from there.

Other Fine Art Collections also eligible for summer 30% discount. Use code SUMMER18 at checkout to get the discount.

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Panorama of Cesky Krumlov in the Evening

After several days in Prague, I made the four-hour drive to the medieval town of Cesky Krumlov, tucked in a sharp bend in the Vltava River. Everything that I found lovely and atmospheric in Prague was replicated on a smaller scale here, even the stunning castle overlooking the river. It was as if the oldest and loveliest parts of Prague were recreated in miniature for the amusement of a child.

Cesky Krumlov pictures: Krumlov castle

Krumlov Castle and Panorama of Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
Panorama from 5 vertical shots, additional exposures for highlights, focal length 28 mm, aperture f/8, shutter speed 8 seconds, ISO 64, tripod.

More than many cities in Europe, the medieval character of Cesky Krumlov remains largely unchanged. Stepping into this city is a bit like moving backwards in time, crossing an invisible membrane between the present and the past.

As medieval towns often did, Cesky Krumlov developed around a castle. Built in the 13th century, the castle gradually expanded into a compound, housing royalty and aristocrats. The life of Cesky Krumlov radiated outward from the Gothic structure at its heart. To this day, the castle compound includes bear pits, whose inhabitants have been a part of life at the castle since the Rozmberks added bears to their coat of arms.

It’s difficult to imagine now, but the years of Communist rule in what was then Czechoslovakia were not kind to Cesky Krumlov. The city was not maintained and its once vibrant colors greyed with neglect. Since the fall of Communism, however, the city has been rediscovered. In 1992 it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and since that time, it has been revitalized and is one of the country’s most popular destinations.

Like many before me, I fell completely under Cesky Krumlov’s spell. I climbed to the highest point I could find in the city, and set up my camera to capture a panorama of the lovely town perched on a bend in the river.

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Aerial View of Vltava River, Prague

Like many of the world’s great cities, Prague was built on the water. From its earliest history, the city was shaped by the Vltava, a beautiful and sometimes violent river. Less well-known than the Thames in London and the Seine in Paris, the Vltava is no less lovely and no less storied.

Vltava River and Prague Bridges photos
April 2017, single shot, additional exposures for highlights, focal length 116 mm, aperture f/8, shutter speed 30 seconds, ISO 64, tripod.

There’s a reason that many photographs of Prague feature the river; it’s a singularly beautiful river, and the ancient spires and walls of Prague, when reflected in its waters, make a breathtaking sight. The river divides the city in two and offers the most splendid views of the city, views lovely enough that Smetana, one of the country’s most acclaimed composers, wrote a symphony in praise of the river.

I thought I was charmed by the city when walking its cobblestone streets and its ancient alleys, but the most romantic views of the city, I found, were high above it, overlooking the grand river. The pastel-colored buildings and church spires that line the river’s banks are even lovelier when seen from above, their reflections glittering in the water.

For most of its history, the Vltava has been languorous and reassuringly low. But its beauty can conceal a devastating power. At several points in its history, the Vltava has flooded its banks, inundating parts of the city and weakening its iconic bridges. The most destructive of those floods occurred in 2002, damaging large parts of the city as well as the beloved Charles Bridge.

But on an evening in early spring, it was difficult to imagine that element of the Vltava’s character. It was not menacing; I could sense nothing of its sometimes violent past. Instead, it was graceful and placid, its waters bathed in the lavender light of early evening, reflecting the lights of the city I’d come to love in a short time. I framed the shot, hoping to capture even a bit of the beauty of that ancient city.

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Prague Castle and Charles Bridge, Prague

Each day that I spent in Prague revealed more of the city’s fairy tale landscape and its centuries-long history. My first view of the city was from the Charles Bridge and I was convinced it was the loveliest, most evocative view of Prague, but every subsequent day revealed new and equally enchanting vistas.

Prague Castle, Charles Bridge and Saint Vitus Cathedral in the Evening, Prague, Czech Republic
April 2017, single shot, additional exposures for highlights, focal length 60 mm, aperture f/11, shutter speed 25 seconds, ISO 64, tripod.

Prague is a city divided by the Vltava River, and the sinewy river is the central artery of the city, around which it has developed for the past millennium. Whether from the Charles Bridge or another of the city’s bridges, I quickly learned that the best way to see Prague was from the water, from the river that is its heart.

From the right bank of the Vltava, I found that I could set up my tripod and capture sweeping views of many of the city’s most beautiful sites. From the right bank, I could capture Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral, soaring above the city. It’s believed to be the oldest castle in Europe, built in the ninth century. For many visitors, the spires of St. Vitus represent Prague Castle, but the castle in fact occupies a vast compound of government and religious buildings at the city’s zenith. The castle and its surrounding buildings are the most recognizable structures on the city’s skyline.

As I explored Prague, I found myself thinking about history and the passage of time. For more than a thousand years, a city has occupied the banks of the Vltava, a longer span of time than many countries have existed. In its long history, Prague has withstood invasions and oppressive regimes, and it remains one of the loveliest in Europe. Walking the streets of Prague is a lesson in the expanse of time, a reminder of the brief span of time we occupy.

Lost in my thoughts of time and history and completely enthralled by this beautiful city, I continued walking its ancient streets.

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Charles Bridge, Prague, Early Morning

How did I find myself with my camera near Charles Bridge in Prague? The trip to Prague came at a turning point in my life. It was the first trip I made after giving up a stable, dependable job for a career in fine art photography. It was a change that I’d dreamed of for years and though I was confident in my abilities, it was nonetheless a time of uncertainty. I arrived in Prague not merely as a first-time visitor, but as someone who was taking a great leap from one life to another.

Charles Bridge from Lesser Town Side
April 2017, single shot, additional exposures for highlights, focal length 70 mm, aperture f/8, shutter speed 30 seconds, ISO 250, tripod.

Because I made the trip to Prague at a time of both uncertainty and exhilaration in my life, my feelings about the city were stronger than they might otherwise be. The city quickly came to occupy a special place in my heart. As a travel photographer, I tend to form intense attachments to places, but Prague was different. I felt that I had leapt from the certainty of one life and landed in a place that felt strangely comforting and welcoming.

I took to walking the city’s streets at odd hours, appreciative of the relative silence. One of the most popular destinations in Europe, Prague is nearly always full of tourists, so I planned my excursions at dawn and late at night. Other than a few stragglers who’d made a full night of it, I had Prague’s streets largely to myself in the early morning hours. Beautiful at any hour, Prague is especially lovely in the blue light of early dawn.

In those first few days in Prague, I returned again and again to the Charles Bridge. So much of the city’s history and character seemed to be encapsulated in that one remarkable structure that I photographed it repeatedly, from multiple angles. It was impossible not be charmed by the bridge and its history.

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Charles Bridge in the Morning, Prague

There are places in the world in which the past is every bit as alive as the present. You walk among the streets of certain cities and feel the spirits of the place, the collective memory that hasn’t yet receded into the distant past. Prague is one of those places.

Charles Bridge in the Morning, Prague, Czech Republic
April 2017, single shot, additional exposures for highlights, focal length 70 mm, aperture f/8, shutter speed 1.3 seconds, ISO 64, tripod.

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For much of the twentieth century, Prague (as well as the rest of the Czech Republic) was off-limits to travelers from the West, sealed off behind the Iron Curtain. When the country’s Communist regime was peacefully overthrown in the 1990s, Westerners rediscovered the country, particularly Prague. They found a city as lovely as any in Europe, the Bohemian equal to Paris or London. And like me, they found a city steeped in its history, a city in which the past hums and vibrates just beneath the thin veneer of the present.

It’s a city that lends itself to this kind of imagining. For more than a millennium, Prague has occupied its spot on the lovely Vltava River. It’s a city of winding cobblestone alleys and soaring spires, a city that — for all its beauty — has born witness to some of the worst of humanity’s impulses.

So it’s easy to become consumed by Prague’s long, complicated history when walking its streets. And there is perhaps no other place in the city that encapsulates that history like the Charles Bridge, a striking work of architecture completed in 1390. The bridge itself is lovely, but it’s the monuments that adorn the bridge that get the most attention. The first was the crucifix at the eastern end, which was added in 1657. But the most famous of the bridge’s stone adornments is the statue of St. John of Nepomuk, who was thrown into the river on orders of King Wenceslas IV because he refused to divulge the queen’s confession. The statue was added by Jesuits in 1683, and over the years, other Catholic orders added their own saints, turning the bridge into a kind of museum of martyrdom.

Nowadays, the Charles Bridge is one of the city’s most popular attractions, and because it was pedestrianized after World War II, at any time of the day, tourists, street vendors, and pickpockets crowd its walls. If you want to see the bridge free of the crowds, you have to come at dawn.

And that’s what I did on a bitterly cold morning in April of 2017. I headed to the bridge just as the sun came up, when I knew it was likely to be empty. In the early hours of morning, with the tourists and hawkers still asleep, the bridge is a different place. It’s a place out of time, and as I walked the bridge, looking for the perfect shot, I could hear Prague’s saints and martyrs whispering from a not very distant place. In this ancient city where the past is always close at hand, they seem to want to tell their stories. You only have to stop and listen.

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