Thursday, January 8, 2015

Two Stories and a Photo Lesson

This post contains a couple of travel stories that will be in our next book which now at least has a title, The Rambling Adventures of a Traveler and Golfer (not set in stone yet, so comments are welcome)--the book is into the editing stages now.
Loch Awe and Scottish Mountains.  This will be the cover of the new book.
Also in this post is my take on what makes a good travel photograph--this comes from a presentation I did for a local arts group.

Night Noises and a Strange Animal Pen

We found a lovely B&B in the Dumfries area of southern Scotland in the isolated village of Twynholm.  We had a quite nice large bedroom at Linnhope B&B, but a couple of things made the stay special.  First, on the menu for breakfast was “trout and scrambled eggs--when available.”  There was a handwritten note on the menu: “Available now.”  I ordered the trout because Sue, the B&B owner, is a fly fishing instructor and I figured she’d know how to do trout well.  I was right.  Breakfast was delicious home-smoked fresh trout and eggs.  Fantastic!
The second reason Linnhope was special is stranger.  In the night we heard scrabbling noises above our bedroom, but the house is only one story.  We figured the noises were from some vermin in the rafters above the room; a squirrel or mouse.  The noises never disturbed our sleep. In the morning we looked out to the manicured backyard and saw a strange animal pen (our guess) in the yard.  It was about an eight foot square fenced in by 2x12 planks.  In one corner there was what looked liked a small dog’s house.  We couldn’t figure out what the pen was for--it wouldn’t have kept in cats, small dogs, or rabbits.  At breakfast we asked about the pen.  Sue said, “It’s for the tortoises.”  She explained that they have two pet tortoises who spend the day out in the pen and the nights in the house in the rafters above our room.  Ah, the noises in the night explained!  She went on to explain that the tortoises made great pet because in the winter when they close up the B&B and travel the tortoises hibernate in boxes of excelsior in the attic.  Then she said that right now they were overfeeding them to get ready for hibernation and then they would “purge the little guys” before putting them to bed.  She left the “purging” details to our imagination.  

Bus Tour vs Self Tour

Great bus tours are plentiful and can be a very effective mode of transport to see Ireland.  But we choose to drive ourselves.  It gives us more freedom and allows us to be flexible as we tour.  Perhaps the best explanation of the advantages to self-touring can be summed up in one experience we had on our first tour of Ireland.
Irish Round Tower and Celtic Cross.

Corcomroe Abbey is an early 13th-century Cistercian monastery located in the north of County Clare at the edge of the Burren.  Known as St Mary’s of the Fertile Rock, the abbey is famous for its detailed carvings and rich ornamentation.  Set against the limestone rich hills of the Burren near the sea, the abbey is a prime tourist location.  We drove into the parking lot just as a tourist bus was dropping off a large group of visitors and just as the heavy clouds dumped a downpour onto the tourists.  
Anne and I sat in the car waiting out both the deluge and the drowning tourists.  Soon the bus horn sounded and the wet tourists trundled back to their rolling cavern, which now I’m sure was steamy and smelled something like a wet puppy.  The bus pulled out of the parking lot at the same time as the sun broke free of the dark clouds.  It’s then that Anne and I starting exploring the lovely abbey now made more photogenic by the rising steam off the stones.  Is there any wonder we choose to self-tour rather than bus-tour.

Travel Photo 101
Cairn Holy Chambered Cairn, Scotland

Loch an Eilean Castle, Highlands

The preceding  pictures of Loch an Eileen Castle in the Scottish Highlands and the stones of Cairn Holy Chambered Tomb in the County of Dumfries and Galloway in southern Scotland are good examples of artistic photographs taken while traveling.  I would not call them great “travel photos.”
What makes a “travel photo” particularly good?  How is a travel photo different from an art photo.  While many good travel photos can also be good art photos, there are key differences.  An art photo, whether landscape, seascape, cityscape, portrait, or still life, emphasizes composition rules (or breaking those rules) and/or details like color, pattern, contrast, etc.  The key element to a good travel photo is the telling of a story.  In the following examples look for the story inherent in the picture or the story that the picture evokes.  A few of these travel photos are also good art photos, but primarily they each tell a story.
Tearoom Conversation, Kirriemuir Art Gallery Cafe, Scotland.

Fishmonger at a street market in Crieff, Scotland.

Fire Bomber, Mt Ashland Fire

Early Selfie--Snow Beard

Street Drummer in Portland.

Street Dancer, Dumfries, Scotland

This last example is my pick as the picture that is most successful as a travel story and an art photo.
Sunset on Princess  Street, Edinburgh.

Which are your favorites?  Let me know.