About W Brian Duncan

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

Gaudi Chimney’s and a Blue Sky in Barcelona

The Forms of Gaudi

I have been thinking about Barcelona recently. It’s such a beautiful city and everywhere you turn it seems there is an explosion of art. Random acts of beauty, more-so then you get with most European cities (which is generally quite a bit). Barcelona even takes the time to make it’s subway stations amazing. Obvious placement not withstanding, I often find the little thing the most delightful and it was very much so the case on the roof of Casa Milà, one of the many Antoni Gaudi masterpieces of architecture. These are some of his terracotta chimney designs, something that most designers would overlook, take on a life of their own against the blue Barcelona sky.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 19 February, 2013
  • Focal length: 17mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Location: 41° 23.7203′ 0″ N 2° 9.718′ 0″ E
  • Shutter speed: 1/500s
  • Title: Gaudi Chimney's and a Blue Sky in Barcelona

Wild Flowers on the Shores of Oahu

Incredible Diversity

One of the things I absolutely love about Hawaii is its incredible diversity. It is a CRAZY melting pot of people from all over the world who seek paradise, but I am talking about the landscape. From rocky shores to sandy beaches (and every color imaginable), from forests to mountains, from tundra to big city speed, Hawaii seemingly has it ALL! On a hike to the western tip of Oahu and Ka’Ena Point where I found a cool/weird lighthouse beacon I noticed there wild flowers along the shore. They reminded me of the wild flowers that grow on the fields of Missouri, despite the roar of the Pacific Ocean in the background.

Photo Technical Info

Gateway to Tomorrowland


I visited Walt Disney World last year and of course The Magic Kingdom was my favorite part. I am pretty partial to Tomorrowland. I love the 1950-60’s version of what tomorrow should look like. Walt was in many ways a visionary, not only in the field of entertainment, but also in the way he constantly pushed. We are talking a trip out to Anaheim and will visit Disneyland during our short stay. That park, that started a new empire, was put together on a shoestring budget. The company practically went broke building the park, and it could only operate at the behest of corporate sponsors, but despite the risk and despite near calamity, Disney saw what others would not. He accomplished what only he could. He built his own future.

Photo Technical Info

Park Guell at the Entrance

A Beautiful Mind

To me, Barcelona is Gaudi. It’s an unfair characterization, but when you have a true artist in your city’s history, one so gifted at seeing what others miss, it’s impossible for me not to find comfort. Gaudi is everywhere, or rather it is perhaps that his style is so impactful, one viewing of a masterpiece and it seems all you have seen. Today’s photo was one of his great failures. That too is unfair. It failed during Gaudi’s time, when I visited it was one of the more popular places in Barcelona. Perhaps this is one of the great lessons for people working or even dabbling in the arts. Even the masters have their critics as it seems in Gaudi’s time no one wanted to live in the Mansions in Parc Güell. I can’t imagine, unless at the time the Park was so far from the city proper, but even then, what views!

Photo Technical Info

The Irish Hunger Memorial in New York City

Finding Memorials

I sometimes think I am drawn to odd places. When I travel these days, I usually like to do only a bare amount of research. I of course have to make it to the BIG sights, but I leave a huge portion of my adventures entirely to serendipity. This was the case with today’s photo location. We were staying in NYC down by Battery Park and within is a 1/2 acre site dedicated to the remembrance of the Great Irish Famine. Outside of Ireland, we know this as the Irish Potato Famine and OF COURSE there is a memorial in NYC dedicated to this tragedy of the mid-1800’s! This is actually a very cool site and Pamela and I stopped by during the day and night to see it’s different sides. This is a close-up of one of the outer walls of the structure. The whole memorial is something to see…if you happen to be milling around lower Manhattan.

Photo Technical Info

Dawn Over Haleakala Maui, Hawaii

Revisiting Previous Works

Photography for me, is about exploration, experimentation and finding that photo in my mind. It’s how I recall my life…as photos. Some of the more magical moments are often hard to express. What I see, and prehaps more importantly what I remember seeing is very different that what the camera sees. Saturation changes based on the exposure, for instance.

Our technology despite being marvelous, is a poor substitute for what nature can produce and what our brain can see and recall. I tend to not go back to images or scenes unless they are completely different, but today, I am making an exception. The last dawn over Haleakala photo I felt was too saturated and I used a variety of new techniques to product today’s version. Tell me what you think, which version do you like best and do you revisit photos to work on them again?

Photo Technical Info

The Dry Sierra Nevada Mountains, July 2014

California Drought

I was really surprised by just how bad the drought is in California. During our visit to Fresno we took a picnic with some of Pamela’s family up to Grant’s Grove in King’s Canyon. It and the Sequoia National Monument are some of my favorite places on the planet. There is something powerful about those giant trees, something about their eternity. We are born, and we die, but it’s only a moment for them. They are ever living.

All things though, have weakness and as we drove towards King’s Canyon (away from Grant’s Grove and into the Sierra Nevada), it became apparent the rampant danger California faces with the years long drought (since nearly 2010). The entire landscape of California seemed scorched, ravaged by the unrelenting sun and the lack of precious water. Much of the produce we enjoy around the country is kept alive on irrigation and water rights. I worry for the farmers who make their living in California. I am sad and disgusted by the pollution we have created. Mostly I fear for my trees, if our wanton greed and destruction should damage the Sequoia Groves we not only lose one of our greatest National treasures, we lose part of eternity.

Photo Technical Info

Jumbled Buildings in Hong Kong

So Much Going On

Big cities are always interesting to my small town mind. I grew up in a city of less that 7000 people and when I look back I longed for the “Bright Lights of THE Big City”. I remember collecting maps from National Geographic magazine. Those maps were the only part I recall looking at and I would pour over the details of the Amazon or some medieval European city. We didn’t travel much as a family, for one reason or another, which might well explain my life-long fascination with travel. As a child, travel seemed a magical journey, fought with excitement, and peril. As an adult, I can’t say much has changed in those old attitudes, but one thing I do know…THE Big City is an exciting place to see.

Photo Technical Info

Old Signs in Fresno, CA

Finding Your Way

I found these old signs in Fresno, CA when visiting Pamela’s family. They took us to a place called Simonian Farms where there is a wonderful collection of random old stuff.

Perhaps it’s the raw amount I travel, but I have found myself fascinated with signs. I seem to photograph them all the time. When I was on my first trip, my Mom said, “Brian, just look up at the signs, follow them and you will be OK.”

That’s good advice for traveling and life in general really. Keep your head up. Be observant (read the signs). Everything will be OK.

I have always remembered that piece of advice and I have always seemed to find my way.

Photo Technical Info

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.

Photo Technical Info