Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ten Photographs I Never Knew I'd Take in Norway

1) Abundantly Blue Skies. Like, 12 days of them. Seriously. (Varden overlook, Molde)

2) Naked human body sculptures. (Frogner Park Vigeland Installation, Oslo)

3) Fish eggs packaged as lip gloss. (Fish Market in Bergen)

4) A glacier that had significantly melted since the brochure photo and caption suggesting "Hike on a glacier!" (Briksdal Glacier, Olden)

5) A Norwegian Groom waiting as his Norwegian Bride is photographed on their Wedding Day. (Stavanger, old town)

6) A car stuck to the side of a building. (Stavanger, not-so-old town)

7) A print photograph of reindeer stuck to a utility box with tape. Street art? (Oslo)

8) A tiny starfish in my daughter's hand. (Lysefjord shoreline)

9) Hot, tan beach volleyball players. Really? Yep. (Stavanger, every year, apparently)

10) A selfie with a goat....and not with a hot tan beach volleyballer :( (Flam)

More writing:
Ten Things I Never Knew About Norway

More photographs:
Norway Travel Photos

More #IGTravelThursday Posts:

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ten Things I Never Knew About Norway

Ten Things I Never Knew About Norway (before going there)

  1. The very best, tastiest, and sweetest strawberries anywhere on the planet are grown in Norway. It’s not just something they boast about. It’s true. So if you are looking for one and only one reason to make a trip to Norway, let it be: strawberries.
  2. Trolls have tails. Somehow, this detail evaded my childhood education regarding trolls, I just thought they were small scary looking things with big eyes and long noses, who turn to stone in the sun. Apparently, they also have tails. Now, I really well and truly have no desire to cross paths with a troll, not in Norway, not under the Freemont Bridge in Seattle, not at a gift shop, not anywhere.
  3. It never really gets completely dark in the summertime – this leads some to suffer from “darkness deprivation”. The sun has been setting around 11:30pm and rising around 3:30am, and the sky stays light in between. But they tell me that in the winter, they still get 4-6 hours of daylight and never experience 24 hours of darkness.
  4. It rains more in Bergen than any other city in Europe. What’s crazy about this factoid is that Bergen has also burned down in more fires than just about anywhere else. How, exactly, the wettest city in Europe manages to catch fire at all, ever, is beyond my comprehension.
  5. There are a gazillion tunnels in Norway, and the Norwegians are master tunnel builders. Not only do they tunnel to get through the steep mountains, but they also build tunnels to cross deep ocean fjords…underwater. Those who suffer from the aforementioned “darkness deprivation” should live in one of these tunnels.
  6. It is possible to spend 10 days in Norway without ever encountering a Viking dude wearing a horned helmet, or a Viking maiden with long blonde braids.
  7. There’s supposedly a Norwegian youtube celebrity by the name of Kolbjorn who videos himself jumping rope in different places around the world. He also rides bikes backwards, on the handlebars, both downhill and uphill. He was on our cruise and introduced us to many Norwegian chocolates. But now I can't find anything to substantiate his existence online. Anyone?
  8. Norway wasn’t always the most expensive country in Europe. In fact, it was one of the poorest before oil was discovered and exported in the 1970’s.
  9. Parental Leave in Norway allows a generous 47 weeks with 100% pay, with fathers specifically getting over 3 months of that. Parental responsibilities are equalized. Norwegian dads make baby-wearing and diaper-changing look as manly as chopping wood.
  10. Apparently, Disney’s movie “Frozen” has made Norway a popular family destination this year. Our trip was planned long before the movie came out, and we weren’t sponsored by Disney or anyone else for that matter. The Norwegians weren’t jumping on the Disney bandwagon themselves; no Disney princesses lining the gift shop shelves. They remain true to their culture and heritage with abundant souvenirs of Viking ships, trolls, and ski wear, none of which appealed to me. I happily redirected my souvenir budget on fresh Norwegian strawberries.
I didn’t photograph any strawberries, trolls, tunnels, Vikings, fires, Disney princesses, oil rigs, baby-toting dads, or even Kolbjorn. I did manage to photograph the lack of darkness.

For images, see “10 Things I Never Knew I’d Photograph in Norway”.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Selfies with Strangers: Cuba (Part II of Series)

Recently I debuted a new blog series "Selfies with Strangers" featuring Morocco and, yes, myself. But wait, it's not all about me. In fact, it's not about me at all, it's about travel and photography, and sharing the perfect tool for enriching your experience of travel, and for taking better pictures when you do.

The travel experience is about more than beautiful landscapes, iconic architecture, luxurious hotels, and good food. It's about people - discovering the other humans who share our planet and observing their culture, customs, and way of life. My recent travels to Cuba provided the ideal circumstances and opportunity to learn more about the people, face to face.

How could I resist a selfie with with Cuba Bling Dude?

If I've taken a picture of someone, I share it with them. That's easy for anyone to do, after the fact.

But try sharing the camera before taking the picture. It's never any easier than with kids. Taking selfies with kids is especially rewarding, as they love to see themselves and often want to push the button.

Selfie with two boys before I photographed them

Two boys at Muraleando Projeto, Cuba
These demonstrate that having engaged and shared with the kids first made for a more relaxed and genuine photo when I shot them candidly. You can also see that the boys have a relationship with the photographer, and are comfortable just being themselves in front of the camera.

Although I am a photographer, I don't hide behind my camera - too busy perfecting settings or looking through the viewfinder to take in the life happening around me. I know, shyness is a big barrier for many photographers. I understand. I used to be a "shy person", and in some circumstances, like meeting Frans Lanting or Jan Morris, I still am. But when traveling, I find the experience more fun being engaging than being shy. Then the picture has a story, and tells a story, too.

Engaging with a local banana vendor in Remedios

The Banana Man first sees himself on the phone...
Now he's ready to take the selfie!
Here are more examples of my "selfies with strangers" in Cuba. 

A proud moment with my Afro-Cuban Dance instructor in Trinidad

My "Uncle" Enrique who welcomes me as family every time I return to Cuba

Selfie with the man who rolled my first Cuban cigar at Finca Robaina

Clearly, I'm not shy when it comes to connecting with people of other cultures. But let's get back to the kids, and you can see for yourself just how effortless it is to engage with others and take "selfies with strangers" for more story and depth to your photos.

Kids dressed as honeybees in Caibarien

Young dancers/performers in Santa Clara

Finally, I think this sums it up as well as anything - I didn't realize I had the iphone set to video when I went to take a selfie with the kids....and look what happens!

This post is shared for #IGTravelThursday. Search the hashtag on instagram and also discover Instagram Travel-related blog features every week!

More on Cuba:

Cuba Cubed - instagrams of Cuba
Cuba From the Heart: Mourning and Music
Cuba Image gallery