Piazza Righi, Madonna di Campiglio

Each year, my family and I take the first few days of the New Year and go skiing in the Alps — in either Switzerland, France, or Italy. This has been our winter holiday for ritual for several years now, and no matter where we choose to go, we are certain to have great skiing in a beautiful environment. The Alps never disappoint.

Piazza Righi, Madonna di Campiglio, Italy
Panorama from 5 vertical shots, focal length 24mm, aperture f/11, shutter speed 5 seconds, ISO 64, tripod.

You can license this photo at my stock photo website >>

This year, we chose Italy and decided to spend some time in the Dolomites. I’d photographed the Dolomites before and was eager to spend some more time amidst their craggy beauty. After spending some time in Florence, we took a train to Trento and then a bus to the resort area of Madonna. Avid skiers will likely recognize the name, as Madonna is a popular and fashionable ski destination among those who like to see and be seen; it seems to be as valued for its fashion sense as for the quality of its slopes. But my family and I weren’t looking to be photographed in the latest, most stylish apres ski wear. We chose Madonna because it is surpassingly lovely.

Madonna di Campiglio first attracted the attention of well-heeled Europeans in the nineteenth century, when it the Habsburgs began spending holidays there. Soon the small town was a favorite of Emperor Franz Josef, who spent his days walking in the forests and hiking up to the lakes that surround the town. It was already a holiday spot, but once the Austrian royals began using it as a sort of bucolic extension of Vienna, Madonna became a favored destination of the wealthy and fashionable.

It isn’t hard to see why. Madonna is nestled in between the Brenta Dolomites and the Adamello-Presanella Glaciers. You could hardly find a place of more striking natural beauty. During our time in Madonna, we had a perfect Alpine holiday — sunny slopes, decadent Italian food, and of course, wonderful snow and skiing. And because the city was decorated for the holidays and blanketed in snow, it was a charming and welcoming place for .us, a picturesque home away from home in the mountains.

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Piazza della Signoria, Florence

If there is one place that symbolizes the spirit of the Florentine people — perhaps even more than the Duomo or the city’s famed works of art — it must be the Piazza della Signoria, the old square that has long been the political heart of Florence. The throngs of tourists who gather there as they line up to enter the Uffizi Gallery are largely unaware of the history written in the stones beneath their feet.

Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, Italy
Panorama from 4 vertical shots, focal length 16mm, aperture f/8, shutter speed 5 seconds, ISO 64, tripod.

You can license this photo at my stock photo website >>

They see the copy of the David, Michelangelo’s massive sculpture, but most are unaware of its political history. When the original sculpture was placed in the Piazza in 1504, the powerful Medici family had been exiled from the city for years. When David — a time – honored symbol of resistance in the face of formidable odds — was given pride of place at the entrance of the town hall and facing south toward Rome, where the Medici lived in exile, many Florentines interpreted the statue as a political statement. Michelangelo likely did not intend his sculpture to have political overtones, but many in the city did, particularly those who opposed the power-hungry Medici.

But the Piazza is dominated by the immense Palazzo Vecchio, once the residence of the Medici and now the town hall and home of many of the city’s treasures. With its asymmetrical tower and somewhat severe stone profile, the Palazzo Vecchio casts an imposing presence over the Piazza.

On our final morning in Florence, I rose early to get to the Piazza just at sunrise and hopefully before the tourists arrived. I had not realized until I reached the square how misty it was that morning; a heavy fog hung over the Piazza and I considered going back to the hotel; I thought the mist was too thick for a good photograph. But the longer I lingered, I realized that the mist created a certain mood — one that fit the square’s long and often tumultuous history. The mist that morning brought to mind the passage of time and the city’s many stories that played out in that very square. It was my last photograph in Florence, and I think it is a good one.

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Ponte Vecchio, Florence

Florence is so full of remarkable creations that a person could spend weeks — years, even — in the city and never see them all. There is the Duomo, the magnificent and gravity-defying dome; the David, Michelangelo’s revered sculpture; the endless treasures of the Medici. I could go on and on.

Ponte Vecchio and Arno River, Florence, Italy
Single shot, focal length 58mm, aperture f/11, shutter speed 8 seconds, ISO 31, tripod.

You can license this photo at my stock photo website >>

But there are other, more serviceable works of art as well. Along the Arno, the great river that courses through the city, there are numerous bridges, some quite elaborate and others more pedestrian. The oldest and the most storied of these is the Ponte Vecchio, the stone bridge lined with shops and built in the Medieval period.

The exact date of its construction is uncertain, although there is a mention of the bridge in a document in 996. It isn’t known with any certainty who built the bridge, although it is likely that it was the work of Dominican friars. More interesting to me is the bridge’s remarkable history. Over the centuries, the Ponte Vecchio has endured everything from floods to warfare, although the bridge was the only one not destroyed by the Germans as they retreated from the city during World War II. Perhaps they, too, were awed by the bridge’s formidable history.

The Ponte Vecchio, I thought, was a bit like Florence itself. Ancient, grand, and able to withstand things that would break a lesser place. All of Florence’s bridges have their stories, but it is the Ponte Vecchio that, for me, encapsulates the spirit of the city and its people. So when I photographed the bridge, I had no interest in experimenting with unusual angles or special lighting. I wanted to look straight ahead and capture the most direct view of the bridge to create an image that conveys its strength and remarkable longevity.

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Panorama of Florence, Italy

On my family’s most recent skiing trip to the Alps, we made a stop along the way in Florence. We thought it would be a shame to pass an opportunity to explore one of the world’s truly great cities.

Panorama of Florence Skyline and Duomo Cathedral, Italy
Panorama from 2 horizontal shots, focal length 50mm, aperture f/8, shutter speed 2.5 seconds, ISO 64, tripod.

You can license this photo on my stock photo website >>

What is there to say about Florence? The city has captured hearts and imaginations for centuries. It is ineffably beautiful. Is it any wonder that the Renaissance began in this gilded city? I could easily imagine Michelangelo and Botticelli wandering the city’s ancient streets, being stirred to create their greatest works by the beauty they experienced every day. You can’t help but be inspired in Florence.

I spend a lot of time thinking about places and the effect that place has on a person’s life and work. Florence, it seems, is a city that inspires a person to think as if they were grander version of themselves, to create something magnificent for the ages. I found myself continually thinking of Brunelleschi, his brow furrowed in deep concentration as he worked out the curious arithmetic of the city’s great dome. A man with no formal architecture training, Brunelleschi nonetheless designed the Duomo, the largest dome in the world at the time, and designed the machinery necessary to build the incredible structure. The exact method he used for the dome’s construction isn’t fully understood, even today. It boggles the mind.

But when I walked high up onto the hill on the Piazzale Michelangelo to photograph the city at sunset, it was another artist who occupied my thoughts. Looking out over Florence just as the sun began to set, the last pale light of day glittering on the surface of the Arno, I thought of the American writer, Mark Twain. Looking out at a view like my own — maybe the same one — Twain remarked that “To see the sun sink down, drowned on his pink and purple and golden floods, and overwhelm Florence with tides of color that make all the sharp lines dim and faint and turn the solid city into a city of dreams, is a sight to stir the coldest nature, and make a sympathetic one drunk with ecstasy.”

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30% off – Black Friday Sale 2019!

Dear friends, I am happy to offer a special Black Friday discount till the end of next week!

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.

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

Fine Art Prints Black Friday sale - 30% off

All my best works from the last 2 years are organised in 7 collections:

• “Tales of Albion” — windy rugged seascapes from United Kingdom and Ireland:
Shop “Tales of Albion” Collection >>

• “Silver of Patagonia” — striking fairytale landscapes from Patagonia:
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• “Gold of Myanmar” — spiritual meditative images from Myanmar:
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• “South of Heaven” — unearthly arctic landscapes from Southern Greenland:
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• “Gems of Namibia” — vibrant and energising landscapes of Namibia:
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• “Bay of Biscay” — magic seascapes from the Northern Spain:
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• “Inspiring Cities” — photos of the most beautiful European cities:
Shop “Inspiring Cities” Collection >>

I offer worldwide shipping, any sizes are available.

As a special Black Friday 2019 offer, I will give a discount of 30% till the end of next week. Use code BF2019 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 at the bottom left corner and follow the instructions from there.

Other Fine Art Collections also eligible for Black Friday 30% discount. Use code BF2019 at checkout to get the discount.

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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

Dear friends, I am happy to offer my brand new Fine Art Calendar 2020!

This gorgeous wall photo calendar features 13 of my most inspiring and award winning images from different locations around the world. Printed on glossy coated paper, 42cm x 30cm (17″x11″) calendar is a great gift for your family or friends as well as a nice piece for your own home or office.

It’s good when a photograph fits with your interior, but it’s even better when it fits with your soul.

Learn More about Calendar 2020 >>

Wall photo art calendar 2020

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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.

Posted in Landscape Tagged , , |

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.

Posted in Landscape Tagged , , |