About W Brian Duncan

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

Chinese Garden of Friendship in Sydney Australia

Unexpected Gardens

The last thing I thought I would find in the heart of Sydney, Australia was a Chinese Garden! Sure enough there it was. Given the close proximity to China, I guess I shouldn’t be suprised to find a thriving Chinese community in Sydney, but often the things I think I am going to find turn out to be completely wrong! The Chinese Garden of Friendship was not as fantastic as Yuyun Gardens in Shanghai, but it is a wonderful calm place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city!

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Early Spring Flower at the Imperial Palace, Tokyo Japan

Gardens of the Imperial Palace

I had not visited the grounds of the Imperial Palace on my previous trips to Tokyo. The Palace is not a site you can just visit. There are a limited number of tickets and you have to plan in advance which is not exactly my strong suit. I tend to like to go with the flow on trips and when you have an appointment for a site at 10am, you HAVE to be somewhere despite what wonders you find along the way. The East Garden is completely open to the public, but given that I couldn’t see the palace, I never bothered. After my visit, I am sorry this was only my first visit to the gardens. The site is a huge green-space and though I was too early for the cherry blossoms, other flowers were blooming. This flower was perhaps a bee’s paradise!

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Red Ribbon Store Display in Sydney Australia

Red Ribbons

The wall of Camper Shoes in the Queen Victoria Building in Sydney, Australia struck me from outside. Both the color of HIV/AIDS awareness and Heart Health Awareness I was immediately drawn in. I asked the store clerks if it was cool to take a few photos and they seemed to be amused. I hope the photo will help anyone working on a campaign for either charity! For non-commercial work I release everything Creative Commons Attribution so please feel free to use this photo in your campaigns (please give me a link back), and be sure if you are in Sydney to stop in and buy some Camper Shoes!

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Tile and Courtyard of the Museum of Marrakech

The Red City of Art

I didn’t think I would find myself so taken with the artwork of Marrakech, but it’s so omnipresent its hard to not be impressed. Perhaps it’s the stark backdrop of the desert, it frames everything. Everywhere I looked seemed to be contrasts. The Red City is rust red with bland buildings, but everywhere are orange trees and rose gardens. Islamic tradition shows no outward signs of wealth. Inside is another matter entirely. Looping geometric tile patterns, stained glass, woodwork like I have never seen. The craftsmanship of many of these homes, palaces and schools is absolutely incredible!

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Inside Pike Place Market, Seattle, Washington

Cornucopia of Sights and Smells

When I think of Pike Place market I think of a mess. Not because it’s unclean, no more than any open air mall, but because is the wild sense you get when visiting. There are 100 different and strong smells vying for your attention. Fish mongers throw fish, flower sellers clip stems for bouquets. Vendors hawk their wares, candy, nuts, fruit, pasta, flowers, fresh fish. The Puget Sound is right outside. All is chaos here, but its also alive and vibrant. The chaos can overwlems, but it also is exciting and wonderful.

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A Place to Sit at Jardin Marjorelle

Majorelle Blue

The color is hypnotic, so vibrant it forces you to look at it, even though you should be enjoying the plants. Jardin Majorelle is a strange place, with its terracotta pointed concrete sidewalks and phallic ode to Yves Saint Laurent. It is a decent collection of plants from all over and there is something serene and wonderful though all the tourist laden wash. Perhaps its the history of the place. It was home to two artists Jacques Majorelle, for which the garden is named and fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent who rescued the site from ruin. It is that history that held up this site…that and the impossible blue.

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Rustic Arbor in The Queen’s Hamlet, Versailles, France

Old Arbor in Fall

This arbor is located in The Queen’s Hamlet in a far off corner of the Palace of Versailles. A place of extreme indulgence, an escape of Marie Antoinette. The small space on the vast expanse that is the Palace of Versailles quickly became my favorite area and one of my favorite historic sites we visited in France. It seems silly really, that a queen would dream for the “Providential Life“, but then her dreams weren’t based in reality, but rather a farcical version wholly indicative of the excess of Versailles. It was fall when we visited and the arbor vines were almost completely dormant for winter, but no doubt, they will be resurgent in the spring.

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Blue Moroccan Skylight, Marrakech, Morocco

Mystery, Majesty…Marrakech

I don’t know what I expected in Morocco, but it was completely different. It’s always the same story with me. I travel to some far off land and despite knowing I should not have any preconceived notions, I always do and they are ALWAYS wrong. Morocco is the second predominantly Muslim country (though most of that time was in Bali, a mostly Hindu island) I have visited this year and people are as they are all over, helpful, kind and genuinely good. This is not unexpected…I learned long ago the basic kindness of others. It is the overwhelming nature of Marrakech that was so surprising. I have not had a greater assault on my senses anywhere I liken it to a casino, a three ring circus and 1000 hawkers, storytellers, fortune tellers actors and more…ALL AT THE SAME TIME!

The Art, OH THE ART

Islamic art stands by itself. It’s logical, mathematical, repeating, infinite…impossible to describe as its muse. The more I experience the art of the Middle East, the more and more I fall in love with it. My first real experience was at the Doris Duke Foundation in Honolulu, but this trip to Marakech deepened my understanding and love of this geometric representation of divinity.

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A Tree in the Grand Canyon

Hole in the Ground

I expected The Grand Canyon to be less the exciting. I pictured that scene from Guilt Trip…”How long are we supposed to look at it?”. In reality I was blown away! I love hiking and one day would love to hike all the way down and spend the night, though I would NOT relish hiking back up with a pack. Even the fit hikers looked tired that were headed up from the bottom of the canyon! This was one of the many scenes from our hike down…we made it to the first rest stop before making the trek back up.

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Island in the Columbia River

Foggy Island

I sat in a car, riding through the fog. I would have preferred to fly…I always prefer to fly, but my colleague insisted. It was a long trek, but in the end I got to see part of the country I had never knew existed. The diverse landscape of Washington and Oregon is vast, it changes abruptly and in surprising ways. This stretch along the Columbia River was enshrouded in dense wisps of fog…not completely obstructing your view, only adding mystery.

Fog
By Carl Sandburg
The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

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