Looking for a true adventure? Look no further.

m_dsc_5921Renowned Italian photographer, journalist and explorer Luca Bracali has announced his 2017 workshop schedule, with locations including India, Norway, Namibia and Iceland, among others.

I met Luca in Italy while attending the 2016 Siena International Photography Awards (SIPA) Contest event and the Siena Art Photo Travel Festival and quickly learned that not only is he a talented photographer, but extremely passionate and dedicated to his true calling — shedding light on environmental issues around the world. In other words, he is one incredible and super awesome human. (Fun fact: the Siena photo festival drew 50,000 photographs from 130 different countries — Luca himself has traveled to 138 countries in the past 20 years!)

photo-workshop-2017_eng_11Luca has written and photographed several features for National Geographic. He is also a Fujifilm X photographer and works with scientists around the world on environmental issues such as climate change. Learn more about Luca’s experience, publications and awards on his Wikipedia page here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luca_Bracali

dscf0234_dscf0230Luca’s small group workshops are carefully designed around natural environments and wildlife, local culture and the best light conditions for each location and season.

Sebastiano Scollo, a repeat client, said the incredible locations in conjunction with Luca’s passion for the planet, cultural and scientific knowledge and an easygoing teaching style make the workshop experience “a true adventure.”

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For more details (including information in English) go to Luca’s website, click on the workshops tab and fill out the contact form (Contattami): http://www.lucabracali.it/

See detailed program information in English for each workshop below.

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Artist Profile: Photographer Lou Jones

jones.jpgDuring my recent travels to Europe, I had a long layover in Boston. I tracked down photographer Lou Jones in advance & was lucky enough that the timing worked for us to connect and meet in person. Well, it wasn’t all luck. Lou dashed back from teaching at New York City’s PhotoPlus Expo to make it to our appointment and I am ever grateful. This month, he’s featured in Street Photography Magazine. I wrote the piece that accompanies his incredible street photography. Thanks very much to Lou and Street Photography Magazine editor Bob Patterson!

Here’s an excerpt:

“I met up with photographer Lou Jones in his home city of Boston, Mass. at Donna’s, an old-school “Eastie” breakfast-all-day spot where the servers still call you “hon” no matter your age.

The place was packed, and as we tucked into steaming mugs of coffee and healthy portions of eggs, pancakes and home fries, the world beyond fell away as I listened to a true master of the craft talk some street sense into me.”

Download the issue here: http://streetphotographymagazine.com/issue/december-2016/

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Iceland in a Nutshell and on a Budget!

cropped-ocean2.jpgIceland is SPECTACULAR. The landscapes, the culture. It’s a photographer’s dream and a nature lover’s wonderland. And the capitol city of Reykjavik is full of activity and art and fun to explore.There’s really nothing not to love about this beautiful little northern island country. But it’s also very expensive and the now bustling tourism industry will empty your pockets if you let it. I recently sent some information gleaned from my trip there last January to a friend & thought I’d share.

cropped-church2.jpgFirst, the best informational website I’ve found is http://www.iheartreykjavik.com.

Their Reykjavik City Walking Tour is affordable and fantastic: http://www.iheartreykjavik.net/the-tours/our-tours/the-iheart-reykjavik-walking-tour/

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Iceland has created quite the tourist industry post-2007 market crash. It’s a pretty busy place. I tried to keep things simple because some of the organized tours are a little over-the-top and expensive.

little-houseLanguage: Icelandic people are 100 percent fluency in English and Icelandic. You won’t need to worry about language issues. It’s also known as one of the most literary-minded places in the world. I saw a bench in Reykjavik where you could download an app and listen to literature being read.

cathedral-daytimeSafety: People still leave their kiddos in buggies while they eat inside the cafes. VERY SAFE. I traveled solo and went out at all times of day & night and had no issues.

Party scene: Downtown Reykjavik is wild at night. Go for a stroll at 2 a.m. on a Saturday night & the bars are just getting going! Bar time on weekends is 5:30 a.m.!

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Early morning: I was there in January so I’m not sure if it changes seasonally, but nothing was open early except for this one beautiful little bakery: http://sandholt.is/en/

There are a few more places here: http://www.iheartreykjavik.net/2015/05/4-places-in-reykjavik-to-get-breakfast-before-8am/

from-above2Transportation: I am not typically a bus tour sort of person, but I went in winter and didn’t want to rent a car, so it was a good seasonal option. There are also plenty of jeep tours, etc. Car rentals are widely available, but road conditions can be sketchy. Here’s an adventurous option: Iceland by motorcycle with Bike Viking http://www.rmc.is/en/biking-viking/

colorfulFood Cost: EXPENSIVE! I paid $14 for a bowl of so-so lamb soup at an outpost café during a tour to the South Coast. If you want alcohol, buy it at the duty-free shop at the airport and take it to your guesthouse/lodging with you. It’s heavily taxed in Iceland and will set you back a pretty penny ot ten. I had great success saving $$ by shopping at the grocery stores. “Bonus” is the cheapest. Here’s a location map: http://www.bonus.is/verslun/holtagardar/

If do any shopping for gifts or trinkets, etc., there is a duty-free program for tourists. Just ask at the shop and they’ll give you a receipt to take with you to customs when you head home.

More grocery info: http://www.iheartreykjavik.net/2013/07/the-ultimate-guide-to-food-shopping-in-iceland/

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Culture: Very European in terms of the fact that people are friendly, but not overly smiley like Americans, haha. I had a wonderful experience. I asked the tour guide for advice on not making locals crazy with American traits. She said to avoid insincere compliments and wipe off that goofy grin. It can come across in other cultures as dense rather than happy. That said, I had no issues other than when I tried to make small talk with a waiter at a restaurant. He was all business. Just be a good human & you’ll do fine.

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Lodging: I love guesthouses and don’t mind shared bathrooms and common spaces. I meet more people that way and save money! http://infoiceland.is/guesthouse.html Everything in Iceland is so clean and cozy. I stayed at Loki 101 Guesthouse & it was wonderful.

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Cheap Flights: Iceland Air and WOW Air offer  affordable flights from the U.S. to Iceland and on to Europe with great stopover options where you can stay for up to a week in Iceland on the way to or from your final destination with no additional charge. WOW Air flies from several major U.S. cities with rates as low as $99 each way to get to Europe. They’ve really democratized European travel, but there’s a catch, of course, with rates like that. The service is good, the planes are safe and clean – but there are no real amenities onboard. I couldn’t afford to travel without deals like that, so I LOVE them. But I’ve learned to travel very light and be totally self-sufficient. I tell myself, “I am backpacking a plane” and I haven’t had any problems. Once in Europe, the inexpensive European airlines are much the same, so if you’re a “regular bloke” like me and can’t fly on star status, you might as well get used it.

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reykjavik-harborMore Links:

  • Hidden Hot Springa (avoid the tourist trap that is the Blue Lagoon and look for better options like this):

http://www.iheartreykjavik.net/2013/05/seljavallalaug-a-hiidden-gem-in-south-iceland/

 

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In Desperate Times

weed-fluffIn times of darkness, I turn to poetry, things of the heart and soul, grasping. The news from Aleppo this  morning is so, so sad, so horrific. The state of the planet is so desperate. “If only it were our mother.” It was, once. We were, once.

Earth Presses Against Us

by Mahmoud Darwish

Earth is pressing against us, trapping us in the final passage.
To pass through, we pull off our limbs.
Earth is squeezing us. If only we were its wheat, we might die and yet live.
If only it were our mother so that she might temper us with mercy.
If only we were pictures of rocks held in our dreams like mirrors.
We glimpse faces in their final battle for the soul, of those who will be killed
by the last living among us. We mourn their children’s feast.
We saw the faces of those who would throw our children out of the windows.
of this last space. A star to burnish our mirrors.
Where should we go after the last border? Where should birds fly after the last sky?
Where should plants sleep after the last breath of air?
We write our names with crimson mist!
We end the hymn with our flesh.
Here we will die. Here, in the final passage.
Here or there, our blood will plant olive trees.

translated by Munir Akash and Carolyn Forche

The People of Malcom X Blvd ~ Harlem, NYC

This is a wonderful blog post from the “queen of street,” photographer Valerie Jardin.

On Human Rights Day: Albert Kahn and His Archives of the Planet

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I desperately wanted to see the Albert Kahn Museum and gardens in Paris the last time I was there in October, but it’s undergoing a long-term renovation. Japanese architect Kengo Kuma won the design contract of a new 2,300-m² building. The museum will also feature new housing for prints and a 120-seat auditorium, as well as the opening of a Japanese tea room and a restaurant.In France, museum renovations can take years and when the website says visits are restricted, they aren’t kidding. I called the number numerous times and sent emails. Non! One day, I will get inside! In any case, I was thinking about Kahn, a French banker and philanthropist today, on the UN’s Human Rights Awareness Day.
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Kahn believed that knowledge of foreign societies could bring about respect and peace between peoples. He used his own resources to create a traveling scholarship called “Around the World” that sent photographers to the far reaches of the globe in a far-ranging documentary effort. According to the museum, “Between 1909 and 1931 they collected 72,000 colour photographs and 183,000 metres of film. These form a unique historical record of 50 countries, known as The Archives of the Planet, now housed in the Albert Kahn museum.”
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See more of the images here on Pinterest…..https://www.pinterest.com/sannieburen/albert-kahn-collection/
 
And if you happen to be in Paris, maybe the museum will finally be open…..the renovation is expected to be fully open sometime in 2017, according to the Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau, which maintains a comprehensive list of cultural site renovations and openings here: http://en.convention.parisinfo.com/latest-news/openings-and-closures/culture.

PDX Trending in Japan

img_2161As someone who grew up near Portland, Oregon, USA, the current hipness is interesting to me. I started taking the bus alone into Portland from my small farming town of Sherwood just to go to Powell’s City of Books, which is now a tourist destination. I still have some of the books I carried home on the bus in recycled brown paper grocery bags. I was about ten years old at the time and my mother’s only warning to me was to stay away from the waterfront, which was undeveloped and seedy at the time. We raised animals on a few acres and went to a local feed store for supplies like horse grain, seeds and chicks. Now there are stores in the city like Urban Homestead Supply that sell mason jars for twice the price, chicken sweaters and mango butter soap. There was an advisory in a newspaper in Eugene, Oregon awhile back warning people not to kiss their chickens because urban “farmers” were getting sick.

In any case, my home city is now hot, even in far away places like Tokyo. In fact, there are even Portland-themed restaurants in Japan. Aside from the hipster jokes and the fact that I don’t like some of the impact of becoming “cool” like high rent and the negative impacts of gentrification, we are lucky to live in a great, beautiful and freeing place — a place of possibilities. Now I need to travel to Japan and experience a different view for myself.

Here’s a piece I recently wrote for Oregon’s 1859 Magazine on the trend:

https://www.pdxmonthly.com/slideshows/2016/5/25/peek-inside-tokyo-s-new-portland-themed-taproom

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