About W Brian Duncan

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

The Most Impressive Room in the Chicago Cultural Center

On Seeing

An interesting thing happened the last two weeks that I didn’t entirely intend. Perhaps you can see it too, but the last two Monday’s photos were my more modern post processing technique. The last two Thursday’s were a mismatch of old and new. Today’s photo and In the Garden of St Elizabeth’s were photos I had processed long ago and felt were unfinished, something was missing. I found these years later like little gifts in a Lightroom folder marked Needs More Work. Combining the old and the new made for something that felt more complete. Maybe that is what I am always doing here. Exploring, learning, testing my limits.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 12 October, 2012
  • Focal length: 16mm
  • ISO: 1600
  • Shutter speed: 1/160s
  • Title: The Most Impressive Room in the Chicago Cultural Center

A Glimpse of the Dome of Santa Maria del Fiore

Italian Splendor

There is something about Italy, that speaks to my soul in some old way. Perhaps it’s simply European sensibility, but where other cultures in Europe lean too much one way of the other, Italy always seem to have the right mix of carefree, culture and humanity.

My previous day in Florence (I only had two) was grey and rainy, but the second day was ablaze with sun in the crisp winter air. I spent most of my previous day cold and wet shivering in the vast spaces of Santa Maria del Fiore. The last hike was up Giotto’s Campanile and I saved it for perhaps a perfect day. This view was one of the first I saw and perhaps one of my favorite. It hints at the majesty of the church without going overboard. Much of the view, is of the city, of the people without who, the grand church has no purpose.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 15 January, 2016
  • Focal length: 26mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/60s
  • Title: A Glimpse of the Dome of Santa Maria del Fiore

In the Garden of St Elizabeth’s

Church Garden

This beautiful little scene was waiting quietly for us one hot May afternoon. It was a welcome respite from the blazing sun and a serene spot to sit and contemplate. When you find spots that seem like a gift, this can be a great time to stop, and smell the proverbial roses, metaphorically or in this case the real thing!

Photo Technical Info



There is a line from some movie that goes a bit like, “and they remain to this day, the most beautiful girls you have ever seen close up.” I am probably recalling that totally wrong, but this is exactly how I felt seeing David. I have always enjoyed sculpture, it’s a demanding and frenetic art requiring so much planning and forethought. I planned an early morning to the Accademia Gallery and once I found him, I stayed for several hours soaking one of Michelangelo’s greatest gifts. David is like no other sculpture I have ever seen.

I hesitated even posting one of the many photos I took. They do no justice to his presence or intricacies. Depending on where you stand, you see his myriad emotional states as he confronts the invisible Goliath. You see his determination, you awe at his enormous hand infused with the might of God, you see the paralyzing fear in his eyes. Every glance and slight change of your location brings a new view into his complex soul. He stands firmly in place, larger than life, but you can feel too, the struggle he faces.

David is the most beautiful man I have ever seen close up and perhaps one of humanities greatest treasures.

Photo Technical Info

The Best Spicy Peanut Noodles in Shanghai

Chinese Comfort Food

I have eaten some spectacular food throughout my travels. New flavors, exotic smells, weird dishes…all are an essential part of world travel, today’s photo is one of those. This plate of Spicy Sesame Noodles has all the trappings of “Comfort Food”. I was told the menu on the wall has been there since the 1970’s. They list things as “Out” that they no longer even make. The staff rushes out other patrons out so you can sit down; Chinese Fast Food. There is a gruff lady who takes your money, she speaks no English, for this is a place of locals. The bottles of soy sauce are old plastic, reclaimed for a purpose they are not intended. All matters little, once you have a bite you will know this is some of the best Peanut Noodles in all the World.

Photo Technical Info

The Snail that Said Slow Down

Finding Meaning

I think, if you listen, the universe sends you messages. I was hiking Fushimi Inari-taisha in Kyoto, Japan. The day was grey and rainy, but I had arrived early before the truly overwhelming mass of people. I also knew the physical toll the Kyoto mountains would take on many tourists and the further I hiked, the fewer people I would find. Furiously I climbed, passing people, stopping only for photos, perhaps I missed some things. All of a sudden, I came upon a lake surrounded by this fence, it was a welcome serene sight and a respite for the ever upward climb.

It was then I noticed the snail, alone on the fence. People hurried by all to involved to notice the snail. In a flash, the Sun broke gloriously through the clouds and reflected power from the surface of the still water. The snail continued all the same, but I heard the message. The snail was saying, “slow down”.

The rest of my hike was alive with light, that danced off the rain drops still clinging to the endless Torii Gates of Fushimi Inari-taisha. I did slow down, people came and went, but my speed now allowed them to pass by with ease, and me to linger to find things hidden in the Japanese wood. I took some of the best photos of my trip, because I listened.

Photo Technical Info

Traditional and Modern Tools in Japan

Turning Japanese

If it seems like I have Japan on the brain lately it’s because I DO! I am headed to Japan in a few months for the Cherry Blossom season! I have wanted to be in Japan during this time for a long time and only missed it by a few weeks in 2015. Hopefully this year I will get lucky since the time from bloom to fall is VERY short!

This is a collection of tools used by the caretakers of Meiji Jingu. I love how there is a mix of traditional brooms and modern tools as well.

Photo Technical Info

Traditionally Dressed Japanese Kids at Meiji Shrine

Finding History

There is an old adage in Hollywood traditional ascribed to W.C. Fields, but universally known, “Never work with animals or children”. To those not acting however, they are like gold! What could be more adorable than two small children all dressed up in traditional garb to visit Meiji Jingu in Tokyo.

I am always looking for some elements of time or even timelessness, contrasts between the old and new. Does this work in that sense?

Photo Technical Info

White Japanese Chrysanthemum

Huge Flowers

My mother is the gardener in the family. I realized very quickly after moving into my own home, some years ago that I prefer to see gardens rather than participate in their cultivation. Visiting the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo, something I most always do when visiting Tokyo I found these Chrysanthemums. This particular white was much bigger than a softball or my hand. I imagine it takes a great deal of patience to grow a flower this large and beautiful.

Photo Technical Info

Perfect Beaches in Kauai

Finding Your Place

It’s no secret that I LOVE Hawaii. It’s not the sun exactly, or the beach, it’s not beautiful people or some island style. It is all of these things, but rolled together and a calm that you rarely see on the mainland. This beach in Kauai is one of my perfect spots. Both times I have come here were early and I had the place all to myself. I don’t think it’s probably every really busy, but I love the way the forest grove shades my pale skin from the strong Hawaiian sun. I can sit here and think, be with myself, be with the ocean. In the world, it is one of my perfect spots just to be.

Photo Technical Info