Trieste – The Lost Italian City

[…Trieste, Italy  September 2011…]

Trieste might not be the most colorful Italian city but it does not fall short on colors when it comes to its sunsets. Neither does it lack photographic opportunity for a nautical scene, in this case at the Saccheta basin of San Giusto marina.

 

If it was hot in Piran, it was even hotter in Trieste, and this time I could really feel it while walking in the wide-open lanes and boulevards. My Slovenian driver, Boris, had told me to expect Trieste to be a much bigger place than I was used to in Piran, and that I felt as I walked from one location to another along the stretch of the seafront, from my hotel near the Canale Grande to the lighthouse of Sacchetta.

I had been to several Italian cities and Trieste did not, at first impression, evoke the same atmosphere that I was used to in Rome, Florence or Venice. People are more inclined to head on over to the more popular cities for many reasons including familiarity. Besides, you don’t really see Trieste in guidebooks or probably have not even heard of this city at all. I have read somewhere that 70% of Italians don’t even know that Trieste was in Italy – whether or not that figure is accurate, it’s still sad to think about it.
[…Read more about Trieste…]

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Piran – The Tiny Jewel of the Adriatic Sea

[…Piran, Slovenia September 2011…]

What better way to spend your early morning than to climb up the hill over the red rooftops and watch the first sunlight touch the face of St. George's church, then gradually embrace the town in a nice, soft and warm light.

 

Boris picked me up at the airport in Trieste just before 4 pm. I had arranged for a car service knowing that I wouldn’t have made the 3:00 bus to Piran and needed the quickest way to get there before sunset.

It was only 24 miles (40 kms) away, driving along the coastal route, first passing the Gulf of Trieste in Italy then the Adriatic sea as we cross the border of Slovenia. As we pass different towns along the way – Koper, Izola, and smaller towns – I see the same campanile over and over again just like the famous one in San Marco of Venice. The landscape did not change much and had it not been for the border crossing sign, I wouldn’t have guessed where Italy had stopped.
[…Read more about Piran…]

Oslo – The City of Peace, Still

[…Oslo, Norway August 2011…]

A sad day for Norwegians. A blanket of roses filled the grounds of Oslo Cathedral as Norway mourns the victims of the massacre that took place on July 22, 2011.

 

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived in Oslo. The European city known for awarding the Nobel Peace Prize has its own peace compromised just a few weeks ago when a car bomb exploded in front of the government quarters while a lone gunmen went on a shooting rampage at a youth camp in Utoya. This sort of violence I would expect anywhere else in the world, but it just seemed farfetched to me that it would happen in Norway. Suffice to say, this is one of the most horrific events in Norway’s peacetime history which left not only the Norwegians stunned, but also the rest of the world.
[…Read more about Oslo…]

Riga – Day 2 – A Walk Around Vecriga, The Old Town

[…Riga, Latvia May 19, 2011…]

The spire of Riga Dom Cathedral, with Vansu Tilts spanning the Daugava river. Seen from the tower of St. Peter's.

 

When I first looked at Riga’s map, it seemed to me like a huge city, so at first I was concerned about having to get to one place to another in a short span of time. But arriving here, I quickly found out for myself that it’s compact, walkable, and as an added plus – has easy orientation with well-planned street layout. The landmarks are distinguishable, and when you’re walking around old town, all you need to to do in case you lose your bearing is to look up at the church spires – sort of like the North Star guiding your way.

The skyline of Riga is dominated by church spires. I lost count of how many churches there are but the famous ones are the Riga Dom, St. Peter’s and St. Jacob’s Church. Not only the churches have the pointy tops, even the town hall and the Latvian Academy of Sciences bear it. Of course, they look great across the river at sunset or twilight when their silhouettes stand out against the blue sky.
[…Read more about Riga…]

Riga – Day 1 – Sunny Smiles Bring Sunny Skies

[…Riga, Latvia May 18, 2011…]

Zvirbulu Peteris

 

Arriving in Riga very late last night under a drizzly and heavily-clouded sky, I could only hope for a better day today. It was hard to predict how today was going to fare weather-wise. Every few minutes, the skies would change its palette from fierce grays one minute to bright blues peeking through clouds the next. If there was anything constant and unpretentious today, it was this man’s – Zbirbulu Peteris – sunny smile and disposition. Although it was the least of things I had expected coming to Riga, a smile from a stranger was what made my trip memorable.

The city of Riga sure has taken a bad rap from travelers’ forum and reviews on the web, from being dubbed as the drunk capital of Europe to having the most rude and unfriendly people in the Baltics. Although I don’t want to arrive at my destination on a clean slate as far as impression goes, I also try take these bad reviews with a grain of salt and find things out myself. After all, this city had endured quite a beating from its turbulent history of occupations, and has not too long ago just broken free from a confused and oppressed rule. Difficult times, they say, build character and perhaps that’s what it’s just all about.
[…Read more about Peter…]

Night in St. Paul’s

I still can’t believe I live so close to London.

It had rained most of the day so it was not the best night to take photos. I still liked how most of my shots turned out though, and I’ll be posting my twilight (or what’s supposed to be twilight) shots later on, including those of the Millennium bridge – a very challenging bridge to shoot because it moves all the time – it is in fact also nicknamed the Wobbly Bridge.

Meanwhile, here’s some night shots I’ve taken of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Light trails is a popular subject for night photographers, one that I love taking shots of as well. The exposure can be tricky at times, but with practice as with most everything else, it can be perfected. I think I have found my comfort zone as far as exposure time is concerned, but what I think makes a light trail image successful is perfect timing. Buses make nice light trails, but since their light streaks extend higher than regular cars, I try not to overwhelm the scene with the streaks and give ample window to still see the subject behind them, as what I did with these St. Paul’s images. It definitely takes some patience, and sometimes luck, but it’s always fun to do especially in London where double-deckers are all over the place – that’s twice the fun!

I was happy to see how the first image below turned out. It was my last shot of the day, and was talking on the phone while I took the shot – one hand on the trigger, one holding the phone – who say’s you can’t multi-task while doing long exposures? I especially liked the image when I realized that the bus with the trails is a number 26 bus, which incidentally is the same number of the bus I took a photo of while in Valencia, Spain earlier this year. Number 26 seems to be a fortuitous number for me, so now I’m looking forward to shooting more number 26 buses, by accident.

This was my last shot of the day. I took 10 shots of this scene, strategically positioned myself a few feet from the bus stop at the end of the curb. Not bad of a shot, I think, considering I was talking on the phone as I took this shot. I also liked how I was able to include another bus on the other side of the street, and nicely placed in the scene too! Sometimes you just get lucky. I just wished I had done this at blue hour, but that's for next time.

More light trails. Fun fact about St. Paul's Cathedral: Prince Charles married the late Princess Diana here, and more recently, the Queen celebrated the Golden Jubilee and her 80th birthday with thanksgiving services in this place of worship.

Almost wrapping it up after a shoot at the Millennium bridge, I stopped to take a shot before crossing this street to the cathedral. I think it's pretty cool how I got both red and green crossing lights in one exposure.

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