About W Brian Duncan

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

Chicago O’Hare Skylight Concorse G

Amazing Skylight Art in Plain View

Being an mid-west based American Airlines flyer, I fly through one of two airports on every trip I make. DFW or ORD. Dallas is my preferred airport for both its ease of navigation (skylink) and the American Express Centurion Lounge (possibly the best lounge in the United States). That said, I can’t tell you the number of times I have flown through Chicago’s O’Hare airport via Concorse G and it wasnt until recently that I noticed this wonderful and artful skylight in the central hub.

Today’s Photo

It’s wonderful to me when I discover art in strange places. Lots of people know about the light tunnel at Chicago O’Hare, but somehow I almost prefer art that is there for everyone. Randomly placed things of beauty that perhaps many don’t even pay attention to, but occasionally someone stops and says, “Huh! Look at that!”

Photo Technical Info

Sunset at Ecola State Park in Oregon

Day’s Gone By

I sometimes struggle with what to say about a photo. How do you capture your feelings as succinctly as the camera captures that decisive moment? What can I say about a beautiful scene that really brings home what it was like to stand in that spot. Maybe I share how I got there, or the smell of the ocean and a million trees. Maybe I just let you take it in and create your own story, sometimes the camera does a better job than I ever could.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 7 March, 2014
  • Focal length: 32mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/500s
  • Title: Sunset at Ecola State Park in Oregon

The Big Buddha of Po Lin Monastery in Hong Kong

Po Lin Monastery is Way Up the Mountain

I am a bit afraid of heights and Po Lin Monastery is enshrouded in the clouds that surround the mountains of Lantau Island in Hong Kong. There are only a few ways to get to Ngong Ping, the “Traditional-Style Village” just outside Po Lin Monastery (complete with Starbucks and a place to buy sunglasses and flip-flops). The first is to hike…this takes hours. The second is the travel by bus…this seems boring. The third is by cable car…we chose the latter. I don’t have a recent memory of being so tense while seated. I actually felt better when our view was totally blocked by the clouds.

The Big Buddha

The Big Buddha, also known as Tian Tan Buddha, is immense and impressive. It’s beauty completely makes up for the commercial bit of awfulness that is Ngong Ping Village. The site is teaming with people and during our visit there was a service with monks circumambulating around the base of the statue in a clock-wise manner while chanting and singing.

A Venetian Canal

Familiar Scene in Sestier de S Polo

I was standing outside Basilica dei Frari in Sestier de S Polo, Venice, Italy when I immediately recognized this scene. I am still not sure why I knew it…the Basilica behind and to my left should dominate, but for me, it was the quaint Venetian scene and as always the great light!

Friendly Locals

I love interacting with the locals. I never do it enough. While I was taking pictures this man came up and started talking to me in Italian. I tried my best to convey I didn’t speak Italian. He deeply chuckled and asked…Foto…Gruppo o Solo. AH, I understood, am I taking photos for people or for myself! SOLO, I said. Then, and I swear this happened…he deeply chuckled again this time just like Jabba the Hutt and said…”Huh huh huh…SOLO!”

Rock Stack in Oahu

Stacking Rocks

I have visited several of the Hawaiian islands and on each I have been all over. I tend to wander on my trips and with SO much great hiking in Hawaii, it’s hard for me to stay still on a beach. One thing I have noticed quite a few places is these stacks of rocks. I have always found this interesting, but a recent bit of research into them seems they are actually perhaps disrespectful of Pele (goddess of fire, lightning, wind and volcanoes)! In many places on the Big Island, the practice has elicited the installation of signs saying not to stack the rocks. I have always seen these stacks in places frequented by tourists and I think most people assume they are being respectful. It is perhaps a good lesson to do as you see the locals doing and perhaps abstain if you aren’t sure of a custom. When in Hawaii, Please, Don’t Stack the Rocks!

Hong Kong at Sunset

Strange and Wonderful

I get myself to some crazy places these days. By crazy I of course mean amazingly awesome! Hong Kong is special in a number of senses. The blend of east and west make for a region of Asia that is like none other for Western travelers. I have a feeling I will forever recommend Hong Kong to anyone asking where to go in Asia for their first visit. It’s also an incredibly active city but with tons of natural wonder to explore.

Top of the Island

We visited Victoria Peak the last night in Hong Kong. Most of our time in the city was enshrouded in fog and the last evening was our best opportunity to photograph. There is an intriquate network of trails around the peak that take you out and away from the commercial areas. Here are a few suggestions for photographers:

  • Skip the peak tram and take a taxi. You will only spend a few HKD more and save HOURS!
  • Arrive Early! Because of the above, I didn’t feel like I got a prime spot. There will be many people with tripods.
  • Wear your walking shoes. There are lots of trails…we found our spot on Lugard Road.
  • Bring some layers. It gets cold up on top of Victoria Peak.

Gondolas in Venice

Risso

This photo is deceiving in the way that I took it. It looks as though perhaps the front of two gondola’s, but I realized this is the stern of the boat and referred to as the risso. There are a number of designs which have symbolic meaning, the curve alluding to the curve of the canals of Venice. It seems like everywhere you look in the city you see gondolas, but there are only around 400-500 remaining in the city.

Morning on the Rialto Bridge

Bridge of Shops

Rialto Bridge is a pedestrian bridge full of shops. You can see many of them on this side, there are more on the opposite sides as well. During the day, like much of Venice, the bridge is packed with people. Venice is an odd city, part preserved Europen city and part tourist trap. It’s a bit like one of the Disney parks in a way. You pretty much love every second you are there, but you cant help but feel like you are getting taken at the same time.

Casa Batllo Skylight

Brilliant Design

I cant get over the many ingenious design elements of Antoni Gaudi’s homes. This skylight running through the center of Casa Batllo is a perfect example. The further light has to travel, the weaker it seems. This is something I deal with in photography all the time, but in a multistory home like this it would mean the lower floors would have weak light, while the top floor would be flooded. Gaudi brilliantly used multicolored tiles to counteract this effect. Towards the top the tiles are dark blue. As you get further away from the source of light, the lighter the tiles become. The dark colors absorb more light, the light colored tiles reflect more helping to balance the light to all floors.

Venetian Water Fountain

Not in Short Supply

If there is one commodity Venice will never run out of, it is aqua (water). All over the city you will see little fountains like these constantly running. You are encouraged to fill up your water bottle. WHAT you say? The canals are disgusting surely you cant think I would drink that! Well, as it happens the drinking water in Venice is pumped in from the mainland. More specifically it is pumped in from the Alps and was some of the best drinking water I have had in years; no plastic, not chlorine, only pure mountain goodness. Filling up your water bottle also serves another environmental purpose. Tons of waste end up in the canals every year and plastic water bottles are a particular problem. Please, when in Venice, drink the Mayor’s Water from a fountain. The one thing I cant understand, it how they can afford to waste all that awesome water!