The Mittens of Monument Valley

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Unsure what to expect, I planned only one full day in Monument Valley. Little did I know, indeed!

The overwhelming beauty, grace and magic of this landscape blew my mind – this stretch of planet Earth is something hard to describe in words, and certainly no photograph will ever do it justice. It’s got to be experienced by oneself!

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Snow fell in the Valley the days before I arrived; covering parts of the red desert ground and the Mitten Buttes in deliciously fine white powder. Arctic temperatures… a result of the winter not making an exception for an area that only a few weeks ago was still piping hot as warning signs reminding hikers to take plenty of water on board during their travels.

Depending on what directions one looks, rock formations, size but also light and atmosphere changing dramatically. Snow covered peaks to one side; planet Mars-like landscapes the other way.

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Photography-wise Monument Valley, but particularly The Mittens, present a riches of subjects to explore; so many different scenes want be captured – but nothing compares to the sunrise, when those first precious rays find their way over the massive stone walls, illuminating the valley in warm, golden light.

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There’s this one world famous view everyone will have in some form or another; and if only in a Hollywood movie that gives the place its name: Forrest Gump Point. A particular delicious panoramic view with Route-63 leading right into it…. a place synonymous with selfie sticks these days.

I don’t own a selfie stick and wasn’t after the “money shot”. Rather, the setting sun, provided the perfect backdrop to create a powerful silhouette of the Mittens – the imagine I probably most love of all the ones I got during my time in Monument Valley.

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Equipment:
Nikon D7100
Sigma 8-16mm
Tamron 70-200mm G2

A Turf Paradise in Arizona

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As I am over in Phoenix, Arizona right now, I took the chance to pay the local horse race track – Turf Paradise – a visit.

A compact race track, on the outskirts of Phoenix, I was greeted by a super relaxed, serene and friendly atmosphere. Sure, splendid sunshine always helps; nonetheless, this place has loads of charme: you’re close to the action, entry is free and fair food & drink prices make it wonderful day out.

There were only a few hundred or so people attending this mid-week race day. But as this is such a compact place, it didn’t feel lonely as it can be at bigger tracks on these type of days.

Having the big lens with me on the day, briefly some security guy came up and ask “are you with the media?” – otherwise no bother, and I could take some great images.

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Equipment:

Nikon D7100
Tamron 70-200mm G2
Sigma 8-16mm

Devils Glen Waterfall

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The Devils Glen waterfall this afternoon – a truly breathtaking place in the Wicklow Mountains I didn’t know about until discovering it on Saturday in a magazine pullout of the Irish Times weekend edition.

So off I went today right away. An hours drive from Naas, Devils Glen is easily to reach, parking onsite and two excellent looped walks waiting to be explored. Easy enough terrain, nothing extreme.

Unfortunately it was an overcast day which means the light wasn’t quite as I would have liked it. Surely I’ll be back in autumn when it must be such a colourful place.

I got a 25 second long-exposure at the foot of the waterfall – a beautiful scene that may have been enhanced by some sun rays shining through the trees. It’s an image I quite like nonetheless.

Magical Lough Bray

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Magical panoramic view as far as the eye can see over Lower- and Upper Lough Bray in the Wicklow Mountains.

Nikon D7100,  Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6 DC HSM – ISO 100, f/9, 1/500 sec; 8mm

Lisbon at Night

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Does this bridge look familiar? It certainly did to me the first time I saw the Ponte 25 de Abril… it appears to be strikingly similar to the world famous Golden Gate Bridge!

Well, as it turns out these two bridges have things in common: they are red in colour and belong to the category of the suspension bridges.

However, even though a taxi driver told me a tale of the same architect who constructed both bridges, the truth is Lisbon’s Ponte 25 de Abril has been built by the American Bridge Company – the same company that built the other massive bridge connecting the Bay Area: the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge.

That doesn’t make the Ponte 25 de Abril less imposing. As  the longest suspension bridge in Europe this is quite an enormous construction, connecting Lisbon with Almada on the other side of the Tagus River.

Lisbon Sunset Fantástico!

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Balmy temperatures, stunning architecture and grand views – that all is Lisbon. What Lisbon is also: sore calf muscles!

The one who wants to enjoy the rich beauty of Portugal’s capital has to be prepared to go the extra mile… or two for that matter…. up some brutally steep hills. The reward is even greater, though, for those who make the effort.

My legs were hurting, that’s for sure. Yet, while not inspired photography wise during my few days, (Lisbon offers enough subjects to photograph – I was simply not in “the zone” and had other things on my mind) it still felt great to climb around the city and get surprised about what’s next to be explored beyond the next wall of steep stairs.

The richest of rewards to reap is – of course – a delightful sunset; the golden sunlight glowing above the rooftops of Lisbon’s historical city, illuminating the monumental Lisbon castle

This photo – one of the few I took during the week – was taken atop of the Miradouro da Graça – quite clearly the prime viewpoint of Lisbon. A grand view offering the full scale of the hilly Portuguese capital.

Using the Telezoom Tamron 70-200mm turned out a perfect option opposed to a wide angle. A handful of vertical frames shot at 70mm stitched together in post worked best for me.

Wicklow Mountains Vastness

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A sunset in the Wicklow Mountains shines the most delightful light on this magnificent landscape. Regardless how often I’ve been here, it never stops to take my breath away. Having this half an hour off my home is a privilege.

10 vertical frames – Nikon D7100 – Tamron 70-200mm G2 – stitched together in LR

The Strip

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Nikon D7100,  Sigma 8-16mm, f/4.5-5.6; ISO 250, 8mm, f/16, 3sec

Golden Gate Bridge’s Golden Sunset

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Nikon D7100, Tamron 70-200mm G2; 70mm, ISO 100, f/22, 30sec

Good Morning SFO

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Nikon D7100, Tamron 70-200mm G2; 70mm, ISO 100, f/16, 1/13s

The last time – also the first time – I found my way to San Francisco, pretty much three years ago exactly this day – it was hell on earth. Torrential rain. Non-stop.

Swore to myself to come back one day and shoot the city in better light. So, here I am, right now for roughly three days.

Jet-lagged, waking up early in the morning, I wanted to make best use of this. So I went out to a local park – Corona Hights – where, so I heard, the view of the city was supposed to be spectacular.

No disappointment upon arrival. Right in the time for sunrise, I got the shot envisaged for quite some time. The sun rising quickly over the mountain range in the back, a perfect orange hue illuminating the sky – simply perfect.