About W Brian Duncan

HDR Photographer, techie, vegetarian, fitness enthusiast, dreamer, creative and all around nice guy. Lover of wine.

Multnomah Falls in the Rain

Another Kind of Work

I visited Washington and Oregon on a work trip for my day job. When I realized that Malthomah Falls was close by I was so excited I couldn’t hardly contain myself. I kept dropping hints to my co-worker Drew that we HAD to stop at some point (we drove by several times). Luckily we had time on one of the return trips and despite a pretty steady rain, I somehow convinced everyone to stop. The wind was very strong that day and was causing a huge amount of spray from the falls. I ended up cleaning my lens every shot to try to get something without smears. In the end, especially given the weather, I think I found something interesting.

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Sunshine on the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy

Late Morning in Venice

I got up really early on a rainy morning in Venice to shoot St Mark’s Square when it was devoid of people. I was sick with my general post travel lung disease. I had returned home from Oahu, worked one day, then flew to Milan where I took the train to Venice. Once the sun came up, I found why many consider Venice one of the most beautiful cities in the world. This view is looking across the Grand Canal, the Doge’s Palace is to my back, I can’t think of a more wonderful way to start a sick day. If you go, just look out for the tourists!

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Odd Table Out in Bangkok, Thailand

Strange Mix

Bangkok seemed to me a hodgepodge. I was only in the city for a few hours, but I was struck by the heat (I cant take the heat) and by the mix and fury at which things happen. There are new structures next to old dilapidated ones. The train system was very clean and interestingly had signs directing passengers to give up your seat to monks. There was noise and commotion and people seemed to literally make a living from discarded junk like many of the water taxi boats had what appeared to be auto engines made into boat engines (radiator and all). I felt like rules were arbitrarily applied. I feel like I need to give the city another chance. It was alive and vibrant and an interesting mix of things I didn’t understand. These tables made me think of all of this.

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The Ossuary of San Bernardino in Milan, Italy

Stunned Meditation

My visit to the Ossuary of San Bernardino in Milan was one of the most profoundly impactful of my life. I often steer clear of places where large numbers of human remains have been laid (visibly) to rest. My presence somehow seems disrespectful as I and others gawk in our tourist’s stupor, so acutely aware of how quickly our vacation is slipping away. Truth be told, I have always been a bit freaked out by the idea as well. I have always been a bit…sensitive to things many others don’t seem to pick up on. I’m not talking about some sort of Shirley MacLaine, out-of-body experience, but I also don’t so much discount people and their other-worldly experiences.

When I entered the small chapel, I was overwhelmed. It’s hard to describe what went on there. Mostly it was quiet. I sat down. Many people came and went, some were solemn, some giggled, some prayed. I sat there for perhaps an hour and a half before I even realized what had happened. Thousands upon thousands of hollow, vacant eyes stare down at you, no matter where you are. The gaze of the dead is inescapable, it closes in on you and somehow they WERE ACTUALLY watching me. I could feel those eyes penetrate to my very soul, my walls were no use in this place. The interesting thing was, how un-judged I felt…and that feeling was very specific.

Two things permeate the space; that eternal gaze of the dead and the sacred heart. Both of these overwhelm. The message is clear to Catholics, but it had a different call for me. Life is so very, very short. Find your heart Brian, before it’s too late.

The people in the Ossuary didn’t die especially good deaths, nor were they in many cases good people, but I so desperately hope they have found peace.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 4 April, 2014
  • Focal length: 16mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Location: 45° 27.7483′ 0″ N 9° 11.7518′ 0″ E
  • Shutter speed: 3.2s
  • Title: The Ossuary of San Bernardino alle Ossa in Milan, Italy

Curb Your Dog’s Enthusiasm

Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs

I have to admit that I really love taking photos of odd things, and these oddities do occasionally make it onto the blog. From street art in Buenos Aires, to The Post Alley Gum Wall in Seattle, oddities that make me stop and go…hmmmm I wonder why someone did this…are some of my favorite travel finds. Technically, these street art masterpieces are graffiti or considered defacement by many. Enter this little sign…Curb Your Dog. I don’t know if this New York City sign is standard (it’s the only one I saw) around NYC, but someone had a clever idea to deface it.

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Footprints in the Sand of Honokalani Black Sand Beach in Maui, Hawaii

Footprints in the Sand

Maui was the first Hawaiian island Pamela and I visited. We went before I started traveling heavily and it’s still easily one of my favorite places on Earth. Looking back, many of my favorite places have been one’s I discovered with Pamela. I love exploring on my own. I think it is a basal need for me, but when you share your journey with the right partner, it makes life better.

This particular beach in Maui, Honokalani Black Sand Beach is located near the town of Hana in the Wainapanapa State Park. We took the road to Hana that day and found this gem towards the end of a day of magical Hawaiian wonder. Easily, this beach was our favorite part, not only of the Road to Hana drive, but our entire trip! This place was pure joy the day we visited. Like footprints in the sand, so too are our lives. Enjoy those moments of bliss no matter if you find them on a black sand beach half-way around the globe or if they materialize in your own backyard.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/2.8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 23 July, 2012
  • Focal length: 16mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Location: 20° 47.3383′ 0″ N 156° 0.2118′ 0″ W
  • Shutter speed: 1/3200s
  • Title: Footprints on Honokalani Black Sand Beach in Maui, Hawaii

London Tube Station Sign Heathrow Terminals 1,2,3

Symbols of London

You can probably personally come up with a bunch of symbols of London, even if you have never been there! Big Ben and Parliament, the helpful look right signs painted on streets, the bobbies and their awesome hats, but another symbol stands out in my mind and it might well in yours…the symbol for the London Tube. Often around Europe, the subways are called Metro’s and often represented by a M. BORING! For some reason I just love the London tube symbol. Perhaps because it does actually look like you are looking down a tube…practical and awesome looking…who could ask for more! What are your favorite London symbols?

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Noir Scene at the Vienna Oper House Cafe

On Alert

Traveling all over the world, you have to be alert! Some people are up to no good. Fortunately I have only had two odd experiences that didn’t escalate into something more serious. One was in Buenos Aires, the other was in Vienna. The only time someone has tried to pick my pocket was in the heart of Vienna! Luckily she was a TERRIBLE pick. Her first attempt was an announcement she was interested in my wallet (which was in my front pocket) and not the back pocket she tried to retrieve it from.

The big problem, was she must have decided I was worth the trouble because she kept following me. I was never in any danger in the crowded tourist streets, so I sat down on a bench. She likewise sat down across the street and started begging for money, and watching me out of the corner of her eye. I stared straight back at her! She finally realized I was on to her and let me be. Anytime you travel, you need to be prepared. This particular situation for more comical/sad than anything, but you never know when things might get more serious. I recommend a great book called The Gift of Fear. The world in general is pretty safe, but always listen to your gut and stay safe!

Noir World

It’s no secret I love Noir. Literally meaning black in French, the term Film Noir has been used to describe mostly crime drama’s and have had a number of notable hits including one of my favorite Orson Wells films, The Third Man. I couldn’t help but conjure up gritty black and white fantasies as I wandered the streets of Vienna. My only regret was that the streets weren’t a glistening with a never seen rain. Somehow that would have made the night perfect…along with the running of hard soled shoes across the inky wet desolate cobblestone streets as I was chased into the sewers…but I digress.

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Iron Panda

I Went to the Mall in Hong Kong!

Ok, OK, I know what you are thinking…you went all the way to China and you went to the MALL! Hear me out. I happened to be staying at the Hyatt at K11 and had heard about the strange and very interesting art collection housed at the mall. I assumed it was a gimmick and nothing more, totally writing off a visit. When I was returning from my oh so wonderfully clear night on Victoria Peak, I decided to stop by on my way into the hotel (there are several entrances to the Hyatt inside the mall after all). I was floored! The juxtaposition of their wonderful art collection (mostly contemporary Chinese artists) to those elements purely for consumption had my head spinning with thoughts about where fashion, art, consumption, waste, longevity, youth, sweet shops, labor (on and on) all intersect and interrelate.

Iron Panda

This guy is a sculpture of fiberglass and steel and resin by artist Bi Heng. It was this sculpture that initially caught my attention, drawing me into the zigzag that is K11. Iron Panda combines three elements, the giant panda, his iron man suit and tai chi (nature, technology and spirit); his melancholy is apparent beneath his powerfully rugged exterior. Mankind abandoning our heritage in pursuit of technological power, but perhaps balance can save us if we only work to find it (paraphrased from what I recall of the artists statement and my own interpretation).

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 26 May, 2014
  • Focal length: 24mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/2s
  • Title: Iron Panda

Overlooking Hong Kong from VIctoria Peak on a Clear Night

The Weather is Unavoidable

When you fly halfway around the world for a photo, the least the location can do is cooperate when it comes to the weather! Truth be told, I have been extremely lucky the past few years (knock on wood!!!). Whether it was January in Geneva Switzerland or the constantly fantastic weather in Hawaii…most of the time I have at least a few good days of mostly sunny (with some pretty cloudiness) weather. Our first trip to Hong Kong was an exception and we kept putting off Victoria Peak because of the blanket of clouds. We chose well as our last night was a clear as it got!

Returning to Capture What I Missed

Sometimes I end up going to a place I have been before. The secret of cheap travel (are you ready for this revelation?) is to go where the fares are inexpensive, not necessarily where you WANT to go. If the fares take you to Milan, Italy two times this year, then just take the train to Venice. If you missed a clear Victoria Peak shot on your first try in Hong Kong…maybe the second try will pan out!

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 25 May, 2014
  • Focal length: 16mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Shutter speed: 6s
  • Title: Overlooking Hong Kong from VIctoria Peak on a Clear Night