Tag Archives: travel photography

Kirkjubøur, Faroe Islands

Yesterday the TCP crew went on a bit of an adventure to Kirkjubøur, a historic village located on the southern point of Streymoy Island.

Kirkjubøur village is considered the Faroes most important historical site and has a number of ruins dating back to the 1100s.

Kirkjubøargarður (Faroese for Yard of Kirkjubøur, also known as King’s Farm) is one of the oldest still inhabited wooden houses of the world, if not the oldest according to Wikipedia.

The old farmhouse of Kirkjubøur dates back to the 11th century. It was the episcopal residence and seminary of the Diocese of the Faroe Islands, from about 1100. The legend says, that the wood for the block houses came as driftwood from Norway and was accurately bundled and numbered, just for being set up.

The ruins of the Magnus Cathedral (Kirkjubømúrurin), built by Bishop Erlendur around the year 1300 is very impressive. The medieval building was never completed and still remains unfinished and without a roof.

The grass roofs of the traditional houses are very beautiful and something I have not seen anywhere else.

What I am finding even more beautiful is the landscape of rocky outcrops, cliffs and islands jutting out of the sea. It is the stuff of dreams and magic and we can’t wait to experience more of this beautiful place.

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Katmandu, Nepal – A Photo Essay

The recent earthquake in Nepal has bought back memories of an unforgettable trip I did the Nepal in late 2008, I hope most, if not all, of these places are still standing.

Also see my subsequent post Ama Dablam Trek, Nepal – A Photo Essay.

Thoughts on The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel: Linda Carroli

Introduction

We are very pleased to welcome a new contributor to Geokult Travel – Linda Carroli. Since the mid 1990s, Linda and I have been good friends and have collaborated on many art and media projects. Linda is an Australian based writer and urban practitioner, who also has consulting experience across a broad range of fields – art, community development and heritage. She is internationally recognised for her writing and contribution to the arts, winning many awards. We hope you enjoy Linda’s thought-provoking writing and commentary on travel.
Tracey Benson

Book Cover: The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel
Book Cover: The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel

The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel by Linda Carroli

This is the first blog post of many I hope to share on Tracey and Marty’s Geokult Travel blog. In my posts, I will explore more unusual and unexpected aspects of travel, tourism and travel writing. This first post is a musing on The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel by Rachael Antony and Joël Henry (The Laboratory of Experimental Tourism). While the book is now nearly a decade old, having been first published in 2005, it continues to enthral and enhance a travel itinerary. In a sense the book offers ‘gamified’ travel in a way that makes for a sense of difference and play – experiencing differently or playfully. ‘Gamification’ means the application of game dynamics and processes to non-game contexts.

‘Experimental Travel’, also known as experimental tourism, is acknowledged by the authors as difficult to define. They describe it as a “playful way of travelling, where the journey’s methodology is clear but the destination may be unknown”. They suggest that the only requisite for such an approach to travel is an adventurous spirit. Discovery and exploration are multiplied by playing some of the games or following some of the simple instructions. The instructional nature of experimental is particularly interesting: the acceptance of constraints, such as directions, help redefine experiences.

The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel provides a catalogue of 40 experiments for you to try as well as details the results of experiments undertaken through the Laboratory of Experimental of Tourism.

The book includes methods drawn from the Situationists such as dérivé, as well as Dada and Surrealist style games. Psychogeography, mythogeography and flânerie are also in the mix. Imagine throwing a dice or coin to make decisions about your tourist experience and to define your travel itinerary. Have you ever considered spending 24 hours in an airport or journeying from airport to airport? Airports have been described by anthropologist Marc Augé as a ‘non-place’, an institutional environment designed to expedite transit and passenger conveyance, though strangely reminiscent of a shopping mall.

The Lonely Planet Guide is but one resource for experimental tourists, and will not placate everyone’s sense of adventure. Road Junky, for example, describes it as ‘sanitised’ and has compiled a list of 101 experimental travel ideas available online, with many of them prompting intercultural and interfaith excursions (not to mention national security concerns!), such as visiting every Muslim country in the world. Initiatives in Countertourism are attentive to the heritage tourism experience and encourage:

innovative consuming, intervention and even ‘infiltration’ to transform the way that the heritage industry and its sites are visited, looked at, experienced, conserved, managed and changed.

Technologies, such as GPS and GIS, and social media can also enhance the experience. Perhaps there’s another guide to be written about experimental travel using social media e.g. You arrive in a place and tweet asking for advice on a good place to eat, go to the first recommendation. You can continue to co-design your travel. Many of the experiments are open-ended urban incursions, they are ambulatory and constrained. If you have doubts, try it locally first. Try backpacking in your home city, or taking a line for a walk in your neighbourhood. Part of the challenge lies in figuring out how willing you are to relinquish some of the decision-making by following simple instructions and venturing into the unknown or unplanned. While some aspects of the journey are pre-figured, the route and the destination are not.

[NOTE: You are always responsible for your own safety when using experimental travel guides or practicing experimental travel. The author and publisher of this blog disclaims any responsibility for and liability for loss or injury in the event of experimental travel.]

Biography

Linda Carroli is a Brisbane-based writer and urban practitioner. Her consulting work has included studies on visitor experience, tourism infrastructure, cultural and heritage tourism, and destination management.

Quick Guide to Travel Photography

By Garry Benson
Edited by Tracey Benson

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

Travel photography is a creative adventure. Away from home, you have the opportunity to record the unfamiliar with a fresh eye. This can be as true of a regular family holiday as of rare and special trips to exotic places.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

Purely as records of experience, travel photos are often irreplaceable – you cannot go back. This means that to find, take and bring home an accurate record you need to be well prepared. An important section of these notes are such essentially practical matters as what equipment to carry and how to look after it. There are also general tips on travel formalities and on the challenges of different locations. And a final section shows how to put it all together in a slide show or trip album.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

But travel photos can be more than by-products of a trip. Holidays and journeys give you the luxury of time – time to observe the beauties or oddities of the world and to compose images that capture the atmosphere and spirit of people and places. By travelling as a photographer and with a photographer’s selective eye, you can come home with a collection of evocative images.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

1. Planning a Trip
Anticipation is one of the pleasures of travel. And with some advance knowledge of where you are going, you will waste less time in the wrong places and come back with a more interesting photographic record. Also, you will take better pictures if you have packed the right equipment. So before you leave, do some planning.

The first stage of preparation is to research as thoroughly as possible the places you will visit by going online, using guides, travel books, brochures, magazines and postcards. Such visual material will provide a starting point for your own photographs and websites like Tripadvisor help to inform you about other travellers experiences. You should also find out what kind of weather to expect, if there are strict rules about access to particular sites, and the starting times of any special events to be held during your stay. For example, a nearby town might be celebrating a festival; or a night scene reproduced in a travel book may suggest a good subject for time-exposure pictures. All this research will help you decide what equipment is vital and what you can leave behind.

The need for planning does not stop when you get to a destination. If you’re alone, you can work out a photographic schedule according to the subjects that appeal to you most. But if you’re holidaying with family or friends you’ll have to organise your photographic schedule around your companions’ plans. So try to organise your more ambitious outings for the days when others are indulging in more conventional amusements. For example, if you need to take a long, steep climb for an overall view of a resort, wait until your companions are relaxing on the beach, rather than drag unwilling hikers along with you.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

2. Travel Formalities
Camera equipment tends to attract attention from customs authorities, particularly at airports. In some countries, the amount of equipment you are allowed to bring in is surprisingly limited, and if you are flying overseas with more than one camera there may be problems.

Try to check the allowances beforehand with the tourist information services and Smart Traveller. In practise, customs officials have wide discretion over how strictly they enforce the rules. A reasonable, cooperative attitude will often work wonders. Remember that the regulations are generally designed to prevent people selling items at a profit without paying duty. Always stress that your cameras and equipment are personal effects.

A good tip is to list cameras and lenses, with their numbers, so that the list can be registered with customs, both when you leave your own country and upon entering a foreign one. Alternatively, suggest that the details are entered by customs on your passport so that you are obliged to take out the same items you brought in.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

3. Local Research
However well you prepare the ground for a trip before leaving home, there is no substitute for on-the-spot research. The more information you can glean from local sources, the more chances you have of finding unusual viewpoints or rich photographic source material. Begin with that published information – guides, maps and postcards from bookshops and kiosks at stations, airports and hotels. Studying postcards is particularly useful: you can put yourself in the photographer’s position, and then consider other possible viewpoints and approaches. next, visit the local tourist office and travel agents. There, you can get free, up-to-date literature and detailed information on subjects that interest you. A list of organised tours, even if they are too expensive or not to your taste, can be helpful when you plan your own excursions.

Finally, remember that your best sources are all around you: the local people. Never hesitate to ask and ask again. A sound policy is to ask several people the same question, because not all the information you receive will be reliable. The staff at your hotel or guesthouse will usually be very helpful, but if possible take the precaution of checking out what they tell you at the photographic site. For example, if you want to get shots when fisherman are retuning with their catch, make your enquiries at the harbour.

The first step at any site is to make a reconnaissance visit. If time and the site permit, walk around the subject to assess every possible angle. Make running notes of the advantages and disadvantages of various approaches, and try to imagine how changing lighting conditions will affect each view. Again, postcards of the subject will provide useful comparisons. Deciding when and how to take the picture will depend on what you want to convey about the subject.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

4. Judging a Location
Once you have research a locale and have a clear idea of the subjects you want to photograph, you should consider the best conditions for taking your pictures. Of course if you are recording an event. Timing, and to a certain extent camera position, will be predetermined. But for more stable subjects – scenic views and interesting landmarks and buildings – the time of day and the viewpoint you choose are all-important.

For example, to help you choose the most effective conditions, find out both the time and the direction of sunrise and sunset; these will depend on the season as well as the place. Remember that the angle and quality of early light change very quickly; arriving at the site even ten minutes late may mean missing the best picture. Where the climate is consistent, you can plan your pictures precisely. Otherwise, be prepared to visit a site several times until the conditions are right.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

5. Putting it all together
Photographs are meant to be seen, and the lasting pleasure of travel photography comes when the trip is over and you can browse through your images. Selecting, arranging and presenting your pictures are as much parts of the creative process as taking photographs and deserve as much care.

The advance planning, local research and notes you made about pictures along the way will now pay off. Instead of a random heap of images, including some you cannot identify, you will have a unique and vivid record of your whole trip. You might choose to arrange your images consecutively, in order of then places visited; or according to one of more themes planned at the time. And keep an open mind – you may find that an unexpected theme suddenly occurs to you.

365 Places: Torquay

Day 74: Torquay, Victoria, Australia

Today, I return to a journey I started to document earlier – the trip we took across Great Ocean Road (GOR), which included our couple of days in Kangaroo Island.

Dawn at Torquay, Image Credit: © Tracey Benson 2012
Dawn at Torquay, Image Credit: © Tracey Benson 2012

Torquay is considered the gateway of GOR and is located about 20 kilometres south of Geelong. The township faces Bass Strait, so it is a bit chilly to swim in the ocean compared to the warmer waters of SE Queensland and northern NSW, where we usually go swimming. Although the water is cold, Torquay and nearby Bells Beach are famous for their surf beaches and surf culture is a key aspect of Torquay’s identity. Mr Wikipedia says:

Many of the world’s most famous surf companies have their home in Torquay, including Rip Curl and Quiksilver- all of which make up part of the Surf Coast Plaza, which provides shopping and eating, as well as the Surf World Museum.

If surfing is your thing, then the best time to head to Torquay is over Easter to check out the world’s best surfers compete in the mighty Rip Curl Pro.

The Torquay shops are well worth a look, with a number of galleries and interesting boutiques featuring local art and craft. We came across the work of  Ed Sloane and also the Watermarks Gallery had some lovely photographic art works.

Torquay, Image Credit: © Tracey Benson 2012
Torquay, Image Credit: © Tracey Benson 2012

The coastline around this region is beautiful and it is no wonder Torquay became a popular spot for day trippers and picnickers from Melbourne and Geelong. For us, it was a great start to our journey and we hope to return back there some day soon.

Notre Dame, Paris – A Photo Essay

These pictures were taken during a stroll around Notre Dame in September 2013.

Photowalking in Villaneuve

This is a post from Garry Benson from late in May when he was in Queensland. It has some beautiful images of the area around Somerset Dam in Queensland.

Images and text © Garry Benson 2014

Photowalking in Villaneuve

I’m staying with friends in a cottage next to the vast Somerset Dam in the Village of Villaneuve. Villeneuve is a very small village in the Somerset Region, Queensland, Australia, The town is named after the railway station, which in turn took its name from Frank Villeneuve Nicholson, owner of the property Villeneuve.

I arrived on Sunday night from Brisbane and went for a Photowalk last night and again at dawn this morning. Here are some of my images, unedited (apart from my watermark) and not in any order. I often find that sunset and dawn give the best opportunities for great photos. The light changes quickly but subtly and if you take lots of shots you’ll always end up with some interesting images.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

A Buddhist in Bali

Text: © Garry Benson 2014
Images: © Garry Benson 2014

Honouring the Gods is such a long-standing tradition in Bali that the island is named after the native word for ‘offering’ – Bebali. For the Balinese, to make the material world as beautiful as possible ensures a safe journey to the afterlife and a better reincarnation.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

The religious festivals of Balinese daily life are a continuous performance. Traditional music, dance, theatre and the arts are there to give pleasure to the Gods. The daily offerings are an excellent example – every banana leaf offering is covered with rice and marigolds, mostly grown in the highlands around Bedugul in the north of the island.

Bouquets of flowers and larger offerings abound, and in traditional towns like Ubud the daily hubbub of tourist traffic is punctuated by the sight of these beautiful ‘bebali’. Lavish sculptural offerings of food and gifts are created for odalan, or regular temple activities.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

Tono Prayseta is an Ogoh Ogoh artist from the small artist’s village of Batubulan near Ubud.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

An Ogoh Ogoh is a classic Balinese figure that is closely associated with Nyepi – the Hindu Day of Silence or the Hindu New Year in the Balinese Saka calendar. The villages are cleaned, food is cooked for 2 days and in the evening as much noise is made as possible to scare away the devils.

On the following day, Hindus do not leave their homes, cook or engage in any activity. Streets are deserted, and tourists are not allowed to leave hotel complexes. No arrival nor departure flights at Ngurah Rai Airport in Denpasar – Bali. No tourist activities… The largest celebrations are held in Bali as well as in Balinese Hindu communities around Indonesia.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

Ogoh ogoh is a kind of statue/giant doll made of light materials such as the combination of wood, bamboo, paper, and styrofoam so it is easy to be lifted and paraded. The name ogoh ogoh is taken from Balinese ‘ogah-ogah’ that means something that is shaken. In fact, when an ogoh-ogoh is paraded around it is always shaken by its carriers to make it look like it’s moving or dancing. There’s no set image – it can be any of dozens of frightening creatures.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

In culturally diverse Bali the celebrations of Hindu holidays are very important. For example Galungan celebrates the return of Balinese gods and deified ancestors to Bali. For ten days, Balinese families offer prayers and offerings, along with ceremonies to cleanse and balance the inner and outer energy on the island.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

Galungan lasts for 10 days and features, among other things, Barongs (links with Vishnu) dancing from temple to temple in each village. The festival symbolises the victory of good over evil. The origins of Galungan are still a mystery, but essentially this is the beginning of the week in which the gods and ancestors descend to earth…and good triumphs over evil.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

The Balinese have maintained their unique culture for centuries despite many outside influences. 95% of traditional Balinese practise the Hindu-Dharma religion (known as Agama Tirta). This uniquely Balinese combination of Hinduism, Buddhism and ancestor worship is basically a monotheistic religion with one Supreme Being, Sang Hyang Widhi.

As a practising Buddhist when I took Refuge in Buddhism I made five vows:
1. Not to kill any sentient being.
2. Not to steal.
3. Not to lie.
4. Not to indulge in sexual misconduct.
5. Not to surrender to intoxifying substances.

The Balinese have their own Five Religious Principles:
1. Brahman, belief in One Supreme Being
2. Atman, Belief in Souls and spirits.
3. Samara, or Reincarnation
4. Karma, that action and practice is appropriately rewarded – that is good rewards good and evil, evil.
5. Moksa, the possibility of unity with the divine.

There are many parallels with Buddhism apart from the fact that Buddhism is regarded as a philosophy and we don’t believe in One Supreme Being.

A Balinese person’s life is marked by rituals, beginning in the seven month ritual of pregnancy followed by the birth ritual; the sixth month ‘baby touching the ground’ ceremony; the teenage’s toothfiling ceremony (perhaps in abeyance now); wedding and birthday celebrations and clan gatherings at temple anniversary ceremonies.

The ultimate ritual, Pitra Yodna, is coming next month – in July and August many villages prepare pyres for the elaborate cremation of the dead, to speed their souls to Balinese heaven so they can be reincarnated for an even happier existence in another physical form.

© Garry Benson 2014
© Garry Benson 2014

One thing is certain. The tremendous growth in tourism has generated demand for the work of all Balinese artists and craftsmen, revived their traditional skills and fostered a thriving new industry. Whether it’s sculpture in stone, wood or styrofoam; fantastic kites or wallhangings, the art of Bali has a soul – and that’s also expressed by their daily offerings and lifestyle.

Flowers around Alam Jiwa, Ubud, Bali – A Photo Essay

We had an overnight stay in Ubud, Bali where I had the opportunity to take these flower shots, enjoy.

Other posts about Bali:

365 Places: Alam Jiwa

The Soul of Nature: Alam Jiwa

Candi Dasa – East Coast of Bali

365 Places: Sanur’s Balinese Restaurant

North Bali – A Photo Essay

365 Places: Bali

365 Places: Nyuh Kuning

365 Places: Sanur Beachfront

Tasman National Park, A Photo Essay

These photos are from a visit to the Tasman National Park, Tasmania, on a very hot day back in late January 2008.

See other posts on Tasmania:

Cradle Mountain, Tasmania – A Photo Essay