All posts tagged “travel

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Project: 1926 Map of U.S. Highways, Digital Restoration

1926_USHighways_2500px

A recent article on CityLabs commemorated November 11, 1926 – the day when all the old national road trails were first renumbered as the U.S. National Highways System that survives pretty much intact to this day. The article also featured this great map that was produced at the time, and a link to a very high-resolution scan of it over on the Wikimedia Commons.

Being a subject close to my heart (as this highway system is the basis of not one, but two of my “subway map” projects), I downloaded the map and began perusing it eagerly; seeing where the system had changed and where it remained the same. As I looked, I began to see that while the quality of the scan was good, and the content of the map was fascinating, the map itself was in a pretty sorry state. Basically, it looks like you’d expect an 88-year old map to look — dirty spots, fold and crease marks, ink that had rubbed off on other parts of the map when the map had been folded, and so on.

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Flight Attendant

Flight Attendant

Camera: Canon Digital Rebel XT (EOS 350)
Lens: Canon EF 70–300mm f/4–5.6
Exposure: 1/125
Aperture: f/8
Focal Length: 120mm
ISO Speed: 100

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I don’t do a lot of candid/street photography: it’s a very difficult discipline that requires quick thinking and flexibility. I prefer to take my time composing my shot and thinking about how different apertures, shutter speeds and focal lengths affects the final photo. However, when this flight attendant stepped into my otherwise empty abstract architectural shot, the opportunity was too good to miss. She provides a great visual counterpoint to the stark white airline terminal, with her dark, curved shape. The only down point is that her eyes are closed, but you can’t have everything, I guess!

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Across The Gate

Across The Gate

Camera: Canon Digital Rebel XT (EOS 350)
Lens: Canon EF 70–300mm f/4–5.6
Exposure: 1/200
Aperture: f/11
Focal Length: 235mm
ISO Speed: 400

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One of my favourite photos, and one that always gets a positive reaction from viewers. The combination of the monumental size of the bridge compared to the traffic below and the softening effect of the fog really work well together.

People often ask how and where I took this photo: it’s actually not that hard to replicate. I was at the Vista Point lookout on the Marin side of the bridge, and just moved around carefully until I was looking directly down the bridge’s length. A long zoom lens (I used a 70-300mm at 235mm) allowed me to really get in close to the pylon of the bridge, even from this distance.

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Vaporetto

Vaporetto

Camera: Nikon Zoom 140ED (film camera)

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A photo taken on a fog-shrouded morning in Venice, Italy back in 2003. I’m on the bow of another canal ferry (called a vaporetto locally), which had just pushed off from the Ferrovia (railway station) wharf and was standing by as this other vaporetto came in to dock.

The way that the fog makes the buildings along the canal disappear into nothingness, with the ferry emerging from that emptiness is what makes this shot for me.

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Recursive

Recursive

Camera: Canon Digital Rebel XT (EOS 350)
Lens: Canon EF-S 17–85mm f/4–5.6
Exposure: 1/4
Aperture: f/10
Focal Length: 20mm
ISO Speed: 800

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A view along the length of the old officers’ quarters at Fort Point, San Francisco. I’ve tried a lot of different processing methods on this picture since I took it way back in 2006, and this is really the first time I’ve been truly happy with the result.

As you can tell from the EXIF metadata, shooting conditions were challenging. It was gloomy inside the building, and no tripods were allowed. So I pumped up the ISO (800 was about as far as I ever liked to go on the ol’ Digital Rebel, as noise just got too noticeable after that), set the aperture for some decent depth of field and braced the camera against myself as best I could. With an exposure length of 1/4 of a second, this really shouldn’t have come out anywhere near this  sharp, but it somehow worked. The new 2012 processing algorithms in Lightroom 5 definitely do a much better job than the old ones, while the straightening and lens distortion tools took care of my slightly off-kilter framing.

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Early Morning, Amsterdam

Early Morning, Amsterdam

Camera: Canon Digital Rebel XT (EOS 350)
Lens: Canon EF-S 17–85mm f/4–5.6
Exposure: 1/60
Aperture: f/7.1
Focal Length: 17mm
ISO Speed: 100

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Amsterdam’s Red Light District likes to party hard most of the way through the night, which means that you have the area pretty much to yourself if you get up early enough in the morning.

Exploring the beautiful canals in the soft morning light was a peaceful experience and allowed me the time to find and compose shots like this without hordes of people crossing my view.

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Sheet Metal

Sheet Metal

Camera: Canon Digital Rebel XT (EOS 350)
Lens: Canon EF-S 17–85mm f/4–5.6
Exposure: 1/125
Aperture: f/10
Focal Length: 68mm
ISO Speed: 200

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A detail shot of the exterior of the Frank Gehry-designed Experience Music Project (EMP) building in Seattle, taken back in 2006. What really stood out for me as I took this shot was the beautiful sinuous form of the metal cladding (especially the curve that runs through the middle of the composition), and the wonderful contrasting blue and gold colours.

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Bike Culture

BikeCulture

Camera: Canon Digital Rebel XT (EOS 350)
Lens: Canon EF-S 17–85mm f/4–5.6
Exposure: 1/60
Aperture: f/5.6
Focal Length: 85mm
ISO Speed: 100

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Colourful bikes against a blue wall outside a bicycle tour business in Amsterdam. The bright, anodised colours are definitely what drew me to take this photo in the first place, and I framed my shot nice and tight to crop out any extraneous detail, keeping only the repeating patterns of the bike frames. Processing in Lightroom intentionally emphasised the image’s contrast and colour saturation.

Portland is considered a pretty “bike-friendly” city by American standards, and I commute by bike to work almost every day. However, we have absolutely nothing on Amsterdam: bikes are almost ubiquitous there, with fully separated bike lanes in many parts of the city, as well as giant, secure parking stations dotted around the city. Absolutely incredible!

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Polder

Polder

Camera: Canon Digital Rebel XT (EOS 350)
Lens: Canon EF-S 17–85mm f/4–5.6
Exposure: 1/160
Aperture: f/8
Focal Length: 44mm
ISO Speed: 100

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On a flight out of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport back in 2009, I was in a window seat facing towards the sun – a challenge for good photography, but very rewarding when things go right. Soon after take off, the plane banked slightly, and I could snap this photo of the long, narrow fields below. Filtered afternoon light, long shadows and those beautiful silvery/gold irrigation canals full of water created a shimmery delight.

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Project: European E-Road System as a Subway Diagram

E-Road Map

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Interstate System? Europe laughs at your petty Interstate System, America. In 1975, the United Nations Economic and Social Council’s Economic Commission for Europe ratified a document outlining international traffic arteries through Europe and beyond. Commonly known as E-Roads, these highways criss-cross Europe in much the same way that the Interstate system does the United States, but with even more roads and even longer routes.

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