Begijnhof, Amsterdam

Perfect Timing

I have this theory of travel. I believe trips come to us, sometimes in unexpected ways, just when we need them. That is probably less metaphysical that it first sounds. We are often drawn on some subconscious level to the things we need, real or perceived. Amsterdam has been a city high on my list for years but I had yet to visit until last week. I was drawn there (though largely by an airline fare sale) but it fed my soul all the same.

There is a constant question that plagues many and it can take many forms. Why am I here? What is my purpose? Who am I? These essential musings on our very nature are often lost in the wanderings of day to day existence. Travel helps us see though the daily haze and wonder at the incredible beauty in the world. It helps us question our place and seek new possibilities. It helps us see the universality of pain and see our own pain through the lens of others suffering. It helps remind us of the amazing talent and beauty people share every day, and the genius of artists of the past that still make us cry in joy that such a thing of beauty could even exist.

Many of the residential areas in Amsterdam contain a wonderful courtyard called a hof. Begijnhof is perhaps one of the most famous, but hidden from view behind a door. It’s a beautiful and peaceful place away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It is one of the great lessons Amsterdam taught me.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 18 February, 2017
  • Focal length: 25mm
  • ISO: 1000
  • Shutter speed: 1/2000s
  • Title: Begijnhof, Amsterdam

The Ethereal Essence of Sakura

Magic in the Air

Magic is probably the wrong word to use. I feel like Sakura is must more of an Eastern philosophical festival than my Western mind completely grasps. There is so much beauty in the blossoms of the cherry trees. The burst forth to the enjoyment of all and fill the previously cold world wrapped in winter with color and life and the most glorious fragrance. Their time here is so short, only about 10 days, then the blossoms fall (die?). When this happens, a cool breeze come through and the petals of these one beautiful flowers rain down to the ground. I can most compare it to snow, but at the same time, nothing like snow. In that moment, for me at least, is perhaps their most beautiful expression. They leave the world in a gracefully chaotic fall that I can only call magical.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 9 April, 2016
  • Focal length: 35mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/320s
  • Title: The Ethereal Essence of Sakura

Zen Seclusion

Taking a Moment

Tokyo isn’t exactly a place for quiet. It’s hustle and bustle non-stop and packet to the gills with people. This is almost doubly so during Sakura! I have found though, even in the most densely populated places you can find moments of zen.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 9 April, 2016
  • Focal length: 17mm
  • ISO: 640
  • Shutter speed: 1/640s
  • Title: Zen Seclusion

Flowering Bush in Tokyo, Japan

Spring is Around the Corner

Believe it or not, Spring is not far around the corner! Personally I can’t wait for winter to be over, but this realization got me thinking about Sakura. I am not traveling quite as much as in years past. Part of me is really sad about this, but it also makes me thing about the Buddhist meaning of this time in Japan. The cherry blossoms live only for around 10 days and they are a reminder of impermanence. Nothing can last forever, but despite inevitable mortality, spring will come again.

I found this flowering bush (or maybe tree) while viewing Sakura. The closer brighter blossom was nearly perfect, it too made me thing while circumambulating the Shinobazu Pond that while the Sakura gets all the attention, there is beauty all around.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 9 April, 2016
  • Focal length: 35mm
  • ISO: 640
  • Shutter speed: 1/160s
  • Title: Flowering Bush in Tokyo, Japan

In the Courtyard of the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute

Up Early

I got up early this day to walk across the Ponte dell’Accademia in Venice, Italy. I was hoping to catch the sunrise on the bridge and since I was so close I figured I would go to the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute. You probably recognize this church from photos shot from St Mark’s Square at sunset. The Basilica dominates the view in the West from the main square, but because you have to cross the Grand Canal, its out of the way nature makes it seem almost an after thought. I was lucky to be the only person at the Basilica that morning (another couple was leaving as I was entering) and I absolutely LOVE to catch birds in flight on a wet morning!

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 26 January, 2014
  • Focal length: 16mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/100s
  • Title: In the Courtyard of the Basilica of Santa Maria della Salute

Entering the Medersa

Unending Beauty

It’s difficult to describe just how beautiful I find Islamic art. I was first introduced to infinite repetitions in Hawaii of all places. I am come to find it’s geometry, repetition and message somehow soothing. Entering the Ben Youssef Medersa in Marrakesh, Morocco you immediately know you are entering another world. The craftsmanship in this school is beautiful beyond most anything I have ever seen. I sat in this place for hours mesmerized.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/4
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 25 April, 2015
  • Focal length: 16mm
  • ISO: 1250
  • Shutter speed: 1/800s
  • Title: Entering the Medersa

Equal Armed Cross in Venice, Italy

Keeping an Eye Out

I love the little things you find when traveling. Sure the guidebook provides some historical context and the highlights that are NOT to be missed, but often I most enjoy the serendipity that abounds when I am away from the familiar. All around, people have created beautiful things. We often fail to realize the beauty all around and maybe that is because of familiarity. This carved stone equal armed cross was on the side of a building in Venice as I walked one early morning to Santa Maria della Salute. I could have easily missed it or walked by, but instead I brought it back to share its beauty with all of you.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 26 January, 2014
  • Focal length: 35mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/40s
  • Title: Equal Armed Cross in Venice, Italy

Abstract Web and Light

Abstraction

I am working this weekend in New York, and I figured I would bring you something a bit “different” from the Big Apple. What do you thing….hmmmmmm?

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/2.8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 21 October, 2012
  • Focal length: 35mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 1/125s
  • Title: Abstract Web Light

Washington at Night

Happy New Year!

It’s a new year, time to say good bye to 2016 (thankfully) and hello to 2017. I can’t say that I enter this new year without a strong bit of trepidation. The country is more divided than at any time in my past memory. Perhaps I am deluding myself, all times are hard or joyous depending on your outlook. What strikes me worst of all, perhaps, is the seeming reality that we have forgotten our original National Motto, E pluribus unum (out of many, one).

Originally about the colonies and the formation of the Union, in more modern times it speaks too of our diversity. Out of many cultures, races, genders, sexual orientations, we are The United States of America. Our amalgamation makes us indelibly stronger. In the past few years, I have been all over the world and I have seen other peoples and cultures, how they differ from and are the same as us. I have seen beauty and horror, joy and sorrow, felt frightened and lifted up. I don’t know where we are headed in 2017, but it must be towards the causes of human dignity, toward the rights of all people, towards the preservation of inalienable right.

I heard a story recently about asking what made a true Frenchmen. It was explained, a TRUE Frenchmen is one who was born in France and who’s forebears were also Frenchmen, for generations back that lineage could be traced. I adore France! Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but in my country an American is anyone naturalized in the last second. That is a powerful difference, and one worth fighting to preserve.

Photo Technical Info

  • Aperture: ƒ/8
  • Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Taken: 27 May, 2012
  • Focal length: 35mm
  • ISO: 100
  • Shutter speed: 13s
  • Title: Washington at Night

Instagram Favorites October – December 2016

Limited Travel

Instagram Favorites

Happy Christmas (more exactly Happy Boxing Day!).

I haven’t been as many places this year as usual. This “lighter” travel schedule will very likely continue into 2017. It seems the airlines and hotel chains aren’t quite as excited as before to have me. Regardless I think posting semi-regularly some of my favorite Instagram posts is fun so here we go!

Hawaii November 2016

NYC December 2016