France on foot…

The first three stops (two if you don’t include the day in León) of my trip were spent in southern(ish) France, in Clermont-Ferrand and Grenoble specifically. Slightly off the normal touristy beaten path, they presented some excellent photographic opportunities. Check out the gallery linked below.

France on Foot at Pictures of the Long Road to Nowhere

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Pictures from Tunisia…

I had a quiet afternoon, so I went through and re-mastered some of the pictures I took on my trip to Tunisia a few years ago. Take a look at the gallery.

Tunisia at Pictures of the Long Road to Nowhere

London in Monochrome…

Does it count as travel if it’s in your own country? I think it does, even when the UK is tiny comparatively speaking.

I went to London for a few days with a friend. We had no plans for what to do at all, so we spent the time walking around anywhere that looked or sounded interesting, sitting on the Underground, and being jostled by rush hour crowds.

For instance, there was the gentleman in Covent Garden market wearing a multi-coloured, sequinned hat and a technicolour dreamcoat who was manning a camera stall and shouted at me for daring to point my camera in that general direction saying “It’s not a side show, you know.” Well actually, if you dress like that, you kinda are, but I didn’t even want to take a picture of you – I wanted one of all the antique cameras.

Exploring Leicester Square was entirely underwhelming due to the whole thing being boarded and fenced off because of roadworks (I am yet to be whelmed). Trafalgar Square was slightly more impressive, though I did have the impression that Nelson’s Column would be substantially larger than it was (har har).

One of the pods from the London Eye was missing from the wheel and just kinda… sitting in the waters of the Thames below where it should’ve been attached, so this wasn’t overly confidence-inspiring as to the safety thereof. I’m sure it was fine…

As usual my camera was pretty much attached to my hand and I came away with a few pictures I really like. Take a look at the gallery over at Pictures of the Long Road to Nowhere.

London in Monochrome gallery

Lithographic Italy…

I was playing around with a lithographic effect in Photoshop and by happenstance tried it on one of my pictures from Italy. It came out really well, so I had the idea to do a whole set of pictures from the various places in Italy I visited using this effect.

After all, while I didn’t necessarily love Italy while I was there (I dunno, perhaps it looked at me funny that day), the place itself is incredibly beautiful all over. I hope the pictures in the gallery give you a feel of that.

Lithographic Italy gallery at Pictures of the Long Road to Nowhere

Another nother look at Bosnia…

Sorry. This really should’ve gone in the previous post but I didn’t wanna update it again.

The reason the above picture is in the gallery I just posted may not be abundantly obvious, as on its own it’s not particularly noteworthy. To me it is, for a couple of different reasons.

Firstly from a historical viewpoint – that tower block was one of the ones used by Serbian snipers to camp out in and shoot people while they went about their business in Mostar. That makes it damn interesting, in my book. The tower was shelled during the war and is pretty much destroyed inside and out. That’s why it stood abandoned ever since.

Which is the second reason it’s noteworthy. I, in my infinite wisdom, heard the story of this tower and was told where it was and immediately thought “I shall climb that thing.” And I did. On my own, at dusk, with about a thousand pounds of camera equipment with me, miles from the hostel, with no one knowing where I was. So that ranks pretty highly on the list of stupid stuff I’ve done so far.

As you can see, the inside of the place was literally left for dead after the war and so it’s a complete shambles. This made it a pleasure to stroll through.

It only struck me after I’d actually entered the tower that it might be a good place for local homeless people / criminals / gangs of feral youths to congregate and harass the passing public. At this point I was one or two floors up and hadn’t heard anyone, so I discarded this as a worry for a later time.

Speaking of climbing floors, the stairs were concrete, with cracks in them and no railings or walls at all. Open stairwells to both the outside of the building and the ground below. Good fun to climb. I was determined to make it to the top to check out the view though, as the owner of the hostel I was staying in told me it had wonderful views at sunset.

I did make it to the top, although at that point the wisdom in waiting around for my only source of light to fade and then having to climb back down started to dawn on me. At the top were huge walls that I couldn’t scale to get a view from the highest point anyway, so you’ll have to make do with a picture from about a third of the way up.

At one point there must have been elevators in the building – either that or they needed the huge shafts for ‘worker incentive’ or some such.

As I made my way back down from the roof one of two things happened. Either I started to go slightly mental and started hearing things, or some people entered the tower and were making some noise a few floors below me. This, on the whole, did not thrill me. I didn’t want to make my way down the main stairs that I’d climbed to get to the roof in case there were roving bands of miscreants in the building, so I started looking for alternate routes of egress.

I was in a broken down tower block with no doors, windows, and certainly no emergency exits (unless I could, you know, fly. Or bounce.)

I frantically (and it was frantically, at this point) started running around the floor I was on making as little noise as possible, looking for another way down. I eventually found a tiny little staircase at the back of the building so I started making my way down that way. It was covered in debris, so doing this while attempting to make the noise of a ninja walking on a cloud was a challenge.

Upon reaching the ground, I immediately and with most haste got my ass back out onto the street, and started to make my way back to the hostel. So, that was my tower climbing adventure. Probably ranks in the top three of damn stupid things I’ve done for a decent photograph, but in retrospect it was a lot of fun and definitely worth it.

Another look at Bosnia…

I’ve been home for a little while, and I’ve caught up with quite a few friends here and there. One thing they always invariably ask me is “where was your favourite place so far?” or variations on that theme. I usually try and get them to narrow their question down a little to at least a country, or city, since I spent three months in the US and a lot of the US is very different to a lot of the rest of it, and I spread myself around both western and eastern Europe which is equally varied.

Either way, the answer usually comes out at Bosnia and / or Sarajevo.

I still can’t really explain why. When I was planning that part of the trip I was expecting the country to be grey and desolate and still suitably war-torn, which it is in parts. But the surprising things were the other parts that were really rather beautiful. Now, lacking the suitable language to really explain why I liked the country so much, I thought I’d go with the whole “a picture is worth a thousand words” thing instead. So, here’s 18,000 words on why I liked Bosnia a lot.

Gallery over and Pictures of the Long Road to Nowhere.

P.S. Sorry for those of you who received this twice. I had a dumb.

Picture update, mostly…

As the title says, this is mostly just a heads up that I’ve finally removed my opposable digit from my rectum and worked on some photos and posted them up on the companion blog over at Pictures of the Long Road to Nowhere

The recent ones posted were all from several day trips with a friend of mine from LA – the same person I’m doing the Two Photos a Day thing with.

Bottles was taken in an old skool candy store in Pasedena while we walked around the Old Town for a few hours one afternoon. We saw the Cheesecake factory where Penny from The Big Bang Theory apparently works. It looks nothing like it’s portrayed on the show. I felt cheated. I did not feel surprised, but they could’ve made it at least slightly close to reality, no?

Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica 3rd Street Prom, Pier Couple and End of Route 66 were all taken on a day trip to Luxembourg. No, wait, that’s not right. Santa Monica, sorry. Easy mistake to make – they’re right next to each other. They were all taken at night, hand-holding my camera with no tripod or rests at all. Given that, I’m pretty impressed with how clearly they came out. I also haven’t played with B&W photography for a while, so they were fun to edit.

It also occurred to me that should someone, for some reason I cannot fathom, want to contact me about this blog at all, they have no real way of doing so save for leaving a comment on a post, which lacks privacy and finesse. On that note, I have created a Contact Me page up at the top should anyone need to. Also, I’m serious about the smoke signals.