Sunrise on the Jurassic Coast, UK
2nd January 2019
For just five short weeks of the year, two-and-a-bit weeks either side of the winter equinox, nature lovers are presented with a beautiful spectacle: during this time the sun will rise at the perfect angle to burst its rays through Durdle Door, a prominent rock formation on the Jurassic Coast in the South of England.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this location, and in fact the entire stretch of the Dorset coastline is of course worth a visit any time of the year. It's a breath taking spot, excellent for hiking, and provides bags of photographic opportunities. I'm constantly drawn to the area for this exact reason, and I still can't get enough of it.
Because of the short time window during which this special sunrise can be witnessed, I'd initially blocked out every single weekend in December to head down to the coast. But alas, every time I could have gone, the weather was anything but cooperative. And seeing as it's a two hour drive for me, it's not worth the gamble when all your weather apps say it's going to be overcast, or raining.
As the year ran out, so did my opportunities. I'd been checking the weather apps several times a day since Christmas, hoping that maybe on New Year's Day I might be able to go. Since I never really do anything on New Year's Eve, it seemed a good use of a morning. In fact, I was hoping that I'd be the only one on the beach, assuming everyone had been out partying through the night. Oh how wrong I was...
The weather started to look pretty promising in the days leading up to January 1st and I even managed to rope in a photography friend to join me. It's not often that I can convince someone to come along for a sunRISE shoot!
The sky was still quite cloudy about an hour before sunrise, and as it was slowly getting light, it actually looked like it may have been a wasted journey. We kept busy working out the best camera settings and equipment to use, shooting the soft morning light, as well as the moon which was nicely positioned diagonally above the 'Door, as more and more people with big cameras and tripods made their way down the cliff path and along the beach. So much for a quiet morning.
And then, as if they had been convinced to fade away because of the large audience, the clouds suddenly disappeared rather swiftly, making way for the first rays peaking over the horizon and directly through the keyhole. What a sight! I had not imagined it to be quite so stunning, breath taking, and maybe also a little bit emotional. I'd say this was the best start of the year ever. No contest.
Of course, one good picture is never enough. So as the sun kept moving up and around, so did the group of photographers on the beach. While we were quite spread out to start with, as time was running out to capture the elusive sun beams, we clustered together more and more, everyone seemingly scrambling for the perfect spot, yet trying not to get into anyone else's way. It was hilarious, and probably quite a sight in itself ;)
I've decided that every New Year's Day from now should be spent photographing the rising sun. Who wouldn't want to see in the new year like this!?
To get your sun burst fix, check out the Dorset gallery in the United Kingdom travel folder.
7th November 2018
Oh Iceland, what has happened to you!?
For weeks I've been looking forward to this trip. I'd been busy planning which shots to take in various locations, some new, some old favourites, and I was getting excited at the prospect of enjoying the unspoilt nature.
It's only been three years since I last visited this country, and I'm shocked how much it's changed in the meantime. Mass tourism has well and truly arrived in Iceland, and trust me, it's not a good thing. Not for the beautiful landscapes and natural wonders, and not for the people. Places that used to be villages are now large towns, huge hotels are being built in places that were difficult to access in winter not long ago, and while you struggled to find some cute, traditional item to take home as a souvenir years ago, now there's a store selling cheap and nasty stuff everywhere!
"Leave no trace: take only photographs, leave only footsteps" used to be a good motto for outdoor enthusiasts to live by, but considering the amounts of footsteps left in certain places, especially in the South West and along the South Coast of Iceland, this doesn't work anymore. Paths that used to be narrow and wild are now wide beaten tracks littered with people and rubbish. Sometimes even worse, they have been paved over to make space to create parking for the countless tour busses and cars, cafes, toilet blocks, tourist information buildings - you name it.
With tourism comes littering, changes in landscapes, rules, regulations and restrictions (because some people apparently lack basic common sense), and charges/entrance fees. This certainly isn't the Iceland I remember!!
I could go on forever, but I guess you can already tell how frustrated I am after this trip.
Sure, we saw the Aurora Borealis. The Lights were dancing beautifully for us on three separate nights in three different locations, and it was breathtaking. We also came across some lesser known and reasonably quiet spots, which were stunning. But the majority was like an overrun theme park.
As usual though, I came away with several hundred photos, and you'll find them in the Iceland gallery. I did my very best to portray the country as I want to remember it.
English Countryside 2019 calendar
23rd October 2018
It's finally here! I can't tell you how excited I am about this little project!
First of all, a huge thank you goes to my friend and ex-colleague Angela Botha from Pinnacle Pilates, who approached me during the summer to ask if I also sold calendars. Sure, I'd been thinking about it before, but never really put much effort into the idea as the vendors I use to print my posters and other wall images, were way too highly priced for something like this. But Angela's enthusiasm was infectious, so I decided to do some research into alternative printing companies.
We ended up working together very closely on this project, and came away with two beautiful calendars - one for me to sell, and one for Angela to use as Christmas gifts for her clients.
Another big shout-out goes to Sarah and the team from Create Calendars, who were absolute superstars to deal with, and who produced a beautiful product, showcasing my pictures in all their glory. Thanks for putting up with my many questions and requests :)
So, all that remains now is for me to sell these things!! This is where you lovely people come in! If you're looking for a Christmas present or stocking filler, or just something for your own walls: do swing by the calendar ordering page, and secure yourself a copy while they're still hot. It's a highly limited print run, so do order early to avoid disappointment!
Ilinois (again), Indiana, Ohio, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin
10th October 2018
Technically this was a business trip, really.. Though somehow I ended up adding five States to my total count!? I'm still surprised this was even possible! I guess the phrase "work hard, play hard" was pretty appropriate for this trip. It involved a lot of driving, a fair amount of photography, not a lot of sleeping, and certainly very little eating (the latter not necessarily being a bad thing).
After a brief three-hour visit to Chicago, to confirm the fact that September is a much better time to visit this city than in the last week of December, I set off on the reasonably short drive to Detroit where I was attending a conference. Obviously I had routed the drive in such a way that I'd be passing through a few places in Indiana and Ohio that were sort of on route. Whenever I say "sort of on route", it's usually when people shake their heads in disbelief. Apparently what I call a short detour is a whole different holiday to some people! Anyway, as time was a rather limiting factor, I only really had two brief stops in Indiana, one at Indiana Dunes West Beach, and one in Michigan City, the latter of which I greatly enjoyed (obviously - it has a lighthouse!). And as much as I really wanted to visit Cleveland, Ohio, again time did not allow for the extra couple of hours this would have added to the journey, unfortunately. So instead, I had to make do with exploring the Lake Erie shore, before heading into Detroit.
I'm sure you noticed that I did not list Michigan in the headline of this entry. Of course I do know that Detroit is in this State, but I had such a busy few days working that I unfortunately had no time to explore this city. Maybe another time!
The highlight of this whirlwind trip, however, was Minnesota. Hands down a wonderful State, especially in the autumn (sorry: fall!).
Again, I was there for work first and foremost, but I was lucky enough for one of our vendors to show me around the twin cities (Minneapolis and Saint Paul's) after I arrived. A really fun place I thought, and I think my photos show it! After another day doing work-related things, I then had a couple of days to make my way back to Chicago for my flight home. Initially the drive was meant to be around 900 miles, with a little bit of a detour (see above for definition). However, somehow I ended up driving more than twice this distance..
Dodging the rain and snow (!) meant I was always heading in the general direction of something or somewhere I wanted to see, pulling over and jumping out of the car whenever I spotted something worth photographing. The drive along the Mississippi river was my favourite part on this little crazy tour. I always associate this river with the Southern States, but it just is such a a beautiful area up there, and I'm usually drawn to water anyway. So plodding along the Mississippi on the Minnesota side, I suddenly noticed that I had crossed into Iowa. Well, another State that wanted to be crossed off the list, so I decided, still trying to get away from the rubbish weather, to drive a bit further in. I need to work on my distances one of these days.. I'm still in denial just how BIG the United States are. Add to that, Iowa isn't exactly the most exciting State to drive through (sorry, Iowans), and unfortunately, once I got anywhere near Iowa City, it was getting pretty late and I still had to make it to my hotel in Madison, Wisconsin (see what I mean about the "little" detour)! So, Iowa is another State to re-visit, maybe.
Now, Wisconsin, to me was another surprise of a State. I had very low expectations, simply because no one I know seems to have anything nice to say about it. But quite honestly, Madison is a lovely capital city, with a beautiful Capitol Building that's actually open to the public as well. And I have to say, I did quite like Milwaukee as well! It has a certain charm, especially its Third Ward which has almost a Southern flair to it, and has been done up nicely. I can just imagine how fun and bustling this place must be in the summer. Of course I could not leave Milwaukee without posing with the Bronz Fonz, before heading back to Chicago O'Hare.
Watch out for more photos to be added to the North America galleries in the coming weeks!
Anglesey (Wales, UK)
28th August 2018
Note to self: when going away over a UK Bank Holiday weekend, start planning more than a few hours in advance. Hotels will book up, and sleeping in the car is highly uncomfortable. Also, get an app for tide times..
Similar to my Lake District escape earlier in the year, this short trip up to Anglesey, a beautiful peninsula in North Wales, happened without much prior planning. All I knew was that I wanted to photograph the lighthouse at Penmon Point at sunrise, and the Twr Mawr lighthouse at sunset. Both were very successful photo locations by the way, and I even had some time to find the lonely tree of Llanberis near the foot of Mount Snowdon, take a little drive around Snowdonia, and visit the village with the longest name (Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch). Next time I think I may do a little more planning, and maybe also go a little longer than just 24 hours.
Do have a look through the photos from this fun weekend trip in the United Kingdom galleries.
The Lake District (Cumbria, UK)
30th May 2018
If ever anyone needed proof that I don't quite have all screws in place, this weekend was probably it.
Almost all month I'd been trying to come up with ideas for what I could do over the long weekend at the end of May. I went through countless options, from visiting Northern Ireland, to driving down to Cornwall, or maybe Snowdonia in north Wales, to going to Scotland again. In the end, I settled on re-visiting the Lake District in the county of Cumbria in the North of England. I'd been there before years ago, but last time I went was the middle of winter (Christmas, actually), and obviously that wasn't exactly the time to go hiking, or driving around the more remote parts of the area.
So, with the weather looking quite promising, I booked myself into a little B&B for a couple of nights and went about doing a bit of planning and researching photo locations.
One thing I really wanted to do is catch a golden sunrise over the fells. Sunrise is at 4:45am in late May. Just saying. But hey, why not try and photograph my dream sunrise on the first day up there! The only problems were that, in order to even have a decent stab at this, I needed to know exactly where to go (I didn't), what kind of foreground interest I wanted in my shot (again, no clue), and where exactly the sun would be (*shrugs shoulders*). Oh, and of course, I would have to leave my home in the South of England no later than about 10:30pm to actually make it to the Lakes before daylight. Simple, no? Yeah.. It was hard going, I can tell you.
But, oh my goodness was it worth it!! Seriously, if you err just a little bit on the side of crazy, you must do this. I had to have a little power nap half way through my journey and painfully realised that even though sunrise wasn't until close to 5am, it was starting to get light MUCH earlier. This helped the drive, of course, but I had to quickly make up my mind where I wanted to try and shoot from.
Buttermere. This rather remote and lesser known lake had stuck in my head from my last visit. I remembered driving along its shore and desperately wanting to stop somewhere, but not being able to. Surely it would be easier to park up somewhere at silly o'clock in the morning. Apparently not - unless you know where you going. So after wasting a little more time, and eventually finding a parking lot, I set off on a hike along the lake. The light was beginning to tint the landscape in some beautiful colours, but I wasn't quite taken with the shots I could see. It wasn't until I reached the far end of the lake that the sun started to peak over the fell, with some of the hills still in shadow, but where the light was the colour was so intense and amazing that I decided this was it.
The shot I came away with my absolute favourite in a long, long time. If you're a regular visit to the site, or my social media channels, or have one of my recent batch of business cards, you'll know it well ;)
If you need a reminder, head over to the United Kingdom galleries and check out the Cumbria folder. You'll see what I mean.
Brownsea Island and the Jurassic Coast (Dorset, UK)
5th May 2018
It's a long weekend in the UK, and surprisingly, the weather is amazing!!
That's all the excuse I need for a day out at the cost. Brownsea Island is somewhere I've been wanting to visit for some time. But every time I'd been planning to go in the past, the weather was grey and drizzly. And you really want to go to Brownsea when it's bright and beautiful! Not only does the island have beautiful nature walks and beaches that are best enjoyed in glorious sunshine. Good light also helps when you're crawling around on the forest floor, trying to take pictures of red squirrels!
Brownsea Island is one of less than a handful of places in the United Kingdom where you can actually still see red squirrels in the wild. Everywhere else, these cute little things have unfortunately been pushed out by the larger North American grey squirrel. The reds are indigenous to the UK, and they're so much cuter than the greys, with their bushy ears and button eyes! They're fairly used to people on Brownsea Island too, and tend to come quite close (but not so close that they will sit on your hand). They also keen to get into rucksacks and bags that have been left on the ground, and may possibly contain snacks! Cheeky little things! They certainly gave me a good run around for a few hours.
After spending the first half of the day on Brownsea Island, my photography friend and I decided to head a little further West along the Dorset coast, for a bit of hiking near Lulworth Cove. The Jurassic Coast is probably one of my favourite coastal stretches in the UK. The rugged landscape is just stunning, and I've witnessed many beautiful sunsets around here.
We ended up hiking over to Mupe Bay, a almost completely deserted part of the coast, and watched the sun set over Lulworth Cove. Magical.
Bluebells at Greys Court (Oxfordshire, UK)
21st Apr 2018
I've become so used to being out and about exploring new places over the weekend, that I've been feeling a bit "locked up" since returning to the UK. The weather here does often dictate your outdoor activities - or, most often, the lack of the same.
So when we had the first few sunny days here, I was straight out there, trying to make the most of it in my free time. The first place I ended up going back to was beautiful Greys Court in Oxfordshire. This National Trust managed property and garden is close to my home, and also THE place to be in early spring as there's a lovely little woodland walk that is completely covered in bluebells. These beautiful plants are most common in the UK, but can apparently also be found in a few other European countries. Though the coverage is most impressive in the British Isles.
Unfortunately the weather turned a few short hours into my visit, but I'm determined to find another bluebell forest this season, to get another fix.
To see what a bluebell carpeted woodland looks like, check out the Nature Galleries.
Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and a tiny bit of Texas
8th Apr 2018
"Epic" is probably the best description of this 12 day / 6 State / 3k miles road trip. When I started planning this adventure, I was originally going to just visit three States. It seemed way too ambitious to try and do any more. After all, this isn't New England, these States are far bigger and distances much, much longer, and I was on the road alone with no one to share the driving with. Turns out though, this wasn't a problem at all, and in the end I actually ended up packing in more than I had planned.
After a quick stop over in Las Vegas (which I fully expected to hate, but actually it wasn't all that bad), I hit the obvious sights in Eastern Nevada, Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, before leaving the State behind and criss-crossing between Arizona and Utah for a few days. This was hands down the highlight of this trip. Utah's National Parks are incredible and beautiful, and the landscape in this State is nothing short of epic. Arizona also as its charm, as well as the most incredible slot canyons such as Antelope, though in comparison with Utah, the general landscape was less inspiring.
Week two then saw me pretty much following the trail of the Ancient Pueblo people, the native Indians, who, so the saga goes, emerged from the Navel of the Earth in the North, and made their homes steadily heading South from Mesa Verde (CO), via Aztech, and Chaco (NM). It was so interesting visiting the old village ruins, and spotting some Indian graffiti along the way (also known as Petroglyphs). I spent some time in Albuquerque, taking in the view from Sandia Peak, visited the beautiful chocolate box town of Santa Fe, and experienced the pearly white vastness and intense heat of White Sands National Monument.
With few major airports in the vicinity, I picked El Paso for my return flight to New York City, and also used this as an excuse to experience a tiny bit of Texas as well. Although, driving and walking around the city, I could have sworn I had left US soil and was actually in Mexico.
Follow in my footsteps of this fantastic journey and head over to the North America galleries.
24th February 2018
Ah, the Sunshine State. I think it might have been the countless adverts for the Florida Keys that have been running on American TV for the last few months, that made me decide to book a week-long trip to the South of Florida. Initially, I wasn't actually too sure if I made the right decision visiting just one State in the space of a whole week, considering I've been trying to hit two or three over a weekend recently.
But I don't regret the decision one bit: it's been fab! Not only does Florida have some of the best (and cleanest) beaches I've seen so far, the abundance and variety of wildlife got me very excited. After a couple of days exploring the Keys, Irma-evidence still very much present in the lesser known Keys, I made my way over to the West Coast for a few days in the Ten Thousand Islands and Everglades. This was hands down the highlight of the week! Whether on tourist trail, on a boat, or off the beaten track, this part of Florida has a lot to offer. I don't think I've ever seen so many different types of birds in a relatively small area! The landscape, too, is beautiful, and the sunsets are to die for. I have a suspicion that I will be back..
Head over to the North America galleries to escape to paradise.
New Jersey and Delaware (and Pennsylvania)
22nd January 2018
It's become a bit of a running joke in the office: I'm no longer asked "how" my weekend was, but rather "where" I was :)
To keep up the reputation, I hired a car from Newark airport on Saturday, and headed to the Jersey Shore. As usual, my plan was a little on the ambitious side. Why visit one State, when you can see two. And as it turns out, I accidentally managed three in one day.
After spending the morning in a very quiet Asbury Park, and even more deserted Allaire State Park, I decided to drive to Wilmington and Dover in Delaware. The drive was fairly underwhelming, and I wasn't too convinced by especially the outskirts of Wilmington. But Dover is absolutely worth a visit - unless you go during a Government Shutdown. Nothing was open!! I was hoping to spend a little time at the National Archive, but no such luck. Still, the legislative quarter of the city is very pretty and it's interesting just wandering around the area.
To avoid having to drive back the same route I came, and with daylight hours disappearing fast, I decided to carry on South to Lewes to take the ferry over to Cape May, NJ. My timing was impeccable - on the hour-long ferry ride, I witnessed one of the most beautiful sunsets I had seen in a while, and of course I had some time to relax and think about what to do with the remaining hours before I was meant to return the car.
Unfortunately it was already completely dark by the time I disembarked in Cap May. This is apparently a really pretty town, so maybe I need to go back there one day. As I was heading back onto the nearest Interstate, I decided to swing past Atlantic City on the way. I'd heard a lot about it, and even though it sounds very much like something I would not enjoy in the slightest, I thought there might be some photo opportunities at least. Unfortunately, the most impressive sight is the approach into Atlantic City, but of course there's nowhere to stop for taking pictures. That boardwalk did not appeal to me (maybe if I had not been on my own it would have been a different story), so I called it a night. That is, until my GPS decided to take my back to Newark via Philadelphia where I not only found a perfect spot to take photos of the skyline, but also witnessed a stunning moonset!
To see the pictures from this crazy one-day trip, visit the North America galleries.
North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia
18th January 2018
Ah, a long weekend. With Martin Luther King Jr day on Monday 15th, and the freezing cold that had the North East in its grip for a few weeks now, I thought how nice it would be to go somewhere even just a little bit warmer. I was told that the Carolinas and Georgia are usually quite mild this time of year, most likely "in the 60s" (around 15 degrees celsius), so I booked an additional day off work and bought a return flight to Charlotte, NC.
Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA had been on my list of places to see ever since I arrived in New York in October, so I was excited to finally go there. In hindsight, I should have been a little smarter about this trip as the recent "Bomb Cyclone", the icy winter storm that had made its way up the East coast a couple of weeks prior, had left the region in a state of temperature shock (for lack of a better description). It was still pretty damn cold down there, and I was cursing myself for not packing proper gloves and my thick winter scarf..
Despite this, of course I still made the most of the time I had in the area. Charleston is such a pretty and clean little town, it's absolutely worth a visit. The coastal part of South Carolina is equally beautiful with its marshy inlets and fabulous beaches. Moving into Georgia, the landscape does not change too much in the Southern region, though I felt almost a little disappointed with Savannah, in comparison to Charleston. The city seemed a little more run down and just not quite as quaint and pretty. But, having said that, a historical and architectural walking tour I joined while I was there, was very helpful in understanding the city and its gruesome history and layout better.
Similar to South Carolina, Georgia has some very pretty beaches. Of course when it's cold they're completely deserted (apart from some people walking around wrapped in blankets or sleeping bags to keep warm (no joke!). And as is typical for the Southern States, there are plenty of Plantations and Estates dotted about which can be visited most days of the year. I opted for Wormsloe Estate, which is mostly famous for it's oak tree lined alley, apparently the longest in the world.
To round off this trip, I headed back North to Asheville, NC, a cute little artist town near the Blue Ridge Mountains. There are plenty of parks and forests in the area too, which I would have loved to explore more. But with the limited time I had, I just managed a short trip to the Triple Falls waterfall, as well as Lake James, for a quick nature fix before heading back to the Big Apple.
Check out the North America galleries for a variety of photos from this exciting adventure.
Michigan and Illinois
31st Dec 2017
The holidays brought me to Northern Michigan this year for a very white Christmas. On the one hand it was really nice to see everything covered in a fluffy white blanket, but on the other hand, it made getting out and about a little difficult. On some occasions we had to change our route, or abandon plans because of bad weather. The landscape around Lake Michigan and Lake Charlevoix is pretty spectacular though, and I'd love to see what it's like there during a warmer time of year.
I will say the same thing about Illinois. After my trip to Michigan I took a short stop over in Chicago, to explore this amazing city. It really is a fantastic place, but I understand why it's called the Windy City now. The wind there really is something else.. Even though I was wrapped up nice and warm, the icy wind and snow made my face and hands feel numb within minutes of going outside. Still, I battled on and made sure to see as much of the city as possible! It's a great lake-side city, with an exciting history - and I'll have to re-visit some time in the summer.
Visit the North America galleries for the latest pictures .
Washington DC and Virginia
17th Dec 2017
I wasn't planning to take this trip until some time in the New Year, but somehow, on Friday evening as I was winding down at work, I had the grand idea of checking out if there's a reasonably priced way of spending the weekend in the Capital. A few hours later, I was on the 3am train, heading South West.
The good thing about the super early start was of course that I'd arrive around sunrise, which at this time of year is just after 7am. And I was hoping that at this time of the day, there'd be very limited numbers of people out and about. So as soon as I arrived, I jumped into a taxi headed for the Lincoln Memorial. An excellent move, if I may say so myself! There were maybe five people crawling around, and after a few minutes, I had the memorial to myself.
From there on I spent nearly all waking hours walking around the city, joining bus tours, and taking plenty of day and night pictures. It was very tiring 36 hours, but totally worth it.
To see what I came back with, check out the North America galleries.
Washington and Alaska
28th Nov 2017
So now that I'm based in NYC, where could I go to make the best possible use of my temporary US location? As far away from New York as possible, apparently. And ideally somewhere no sane person would consider a holiday location at the end of November.
Unsurprisingly, when my cousin suggested spending Thanksgiving with the family in Alaska, I loved the idea! Even more so when I found out that all flights from New York to Anchorage stop over in Seattle, giving me the perfect excuse to break up the journey and spend a few days in Washington as well.
Check out the North America galleries for the best snaps from this incredible adventure!
22nd Oct 2017
This State is so much more than the famous "Big Apple": the city that never sleeps, where tourists pose with the Naked Cowboy at Times Square, or crush each other in the crowds of people moving up Fifth Avenue, seemingly as one, hoping to see the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza. Where people work 24/7, and the hard core of them never seem to leave the city.
In stark contrast to this, New York also has what could almost be considered as countryside! None of it is as deserted and remote as I would like, but the air seems cleaner, so it's a start.
Visit the North America galleries for the best pictures of New York City, as well as some surrounding areas.
Framing Places: The Concept
The "Framing Places" project started out as a challenge, proposed to me by a friend and colleague, based on my temporary relocation to New York City. I should visit every single US state, she suggested, and then publish my pictures in a photo book!
This is just the kind of crazy idea that excites me, so before I knew it I had a project name and a website, and an online order for a couple of travel guides to inspire me.
Of course, six months is way too short for this grand plan (considering I'm mainly here for work), and winter is likely to be pretty bleak in most States. But I'm going to take the opportunity to make a start at least!
In order to bridge the gap until I have sufficient photographic material of all 50 States, this website will also be host to my best pictures from past and future trips and adventures. And maybe I will try out the photo book idea on a smaller scale first - we'll see.
Either way, I intend to have lots of fun travelling and taking photos for everyone to enjoy!