Bhutan has been lauded by many as the happiest country in the world.Curious travellers are very much drawn to very notion, despite the high daily tariffs imposed on visitors. Some take a reprieve from the daily stress of everyday life and work; wanting to discover for themselves the secrets to the fountain of bliss. Why are people perceived to be the happiest in this small inconspicuous Himalayan Kingdom where wealth, resources and technologies needed in modern society are clearly not in abundance?Scholars and government officials from various countries visit Bhutan for a very different reason altogether. They are surgical in the analytical dissection of the famed Gross National Happiness (GNH). One of the strangest barometer of national success ever institutionalised in the modern world, GNH de-emphasise material wealth and broadens its indices across four development pillars. In short, they are hunting for the elixir of good governance – the ability to attain, measure and implement happiness at a national level………
A few weeks back as I sipped my coffee driving east toward a sunrise location on the snowy backroads of Montana I came to sudden realization. I was about to celebrate one year of making images with my Fuji X-T1. The last year of making images with my new camera system has been a bit of a revolution and creative awakening. As I’ve mentioned before, I was a bit nervous about switching camera systems from the more traditional digital Nikon DSLR that I had been shooting for a decade. It had served me well, but the bulk and heavier weight were starting to wear me down for my travels. As I started to research lighter weight systems I realized the mirrorless technology has come a long way and performance specs were up to snuff with DSLR for a fraction of the weight and bulk……..
Cuba has light. Cuba has shadow. Cuba has decaying colonial grandeur. But what really matters is that Cuba has Cubans. Almost any place in the Caribbean contains the strains of African, Spanish and Anglo tradition that come together on its largest island. But nowhere else do they come together to such effect. Maybe it’s the land—after the Revolution uprooted the capitalists half a century ago, tobacco growers packed up seeds on their way out to plant them in Central America, but it turned out it wasn’t the seeds that made a cigar Cuban. It was the soil of Pinar del Rio, on the island’s western reaches. Apparently there is no place on earth like it…..
Im ersten Teil meines Reiseberichts hatte ich schon einiges zu den ersten Stationen meines Trips durch die Toskana geschrieben. Weiter geht’s! Nach einem wunderschönen Abend in Cortona, geprägt von leckerer Pizza auf einem zentralen Platz, kam der nächste Morgen und die tägliche Frage, wohin wir als nächstes fahren wollen. Wir wollten grob in Richtung Pienza, so dass die Wahl auf einen Stop in Montepulciano fiel. Richtige Entscheidung, wie sich im Nachhinein herausstellen sollte. Denn Montepulciano ist nicht nur schön, sondern hat wohl auch die beste Osteria ganz Italiens. Wie wir sie gefunden haben? Nun, nachdem wir den Ort einigermaßen erkundet hatten, vor allem die Weingewölbe der Deutschen Musikschule vor Ort, bekamen wir Hunger und gingen in das erstbeste Lokal… DIE Osteria! Wer konnte schon ahnen, dass wir so einen Glücksgriff landen werden? Wir wurden direkt auf eine Bank neben andere Leute gesetzt, und unser Versuch, einen etwas intimeren Platz im Lokal zu bekommen, wurden klar abgewiesen. Andere Länder, andere Sitten, dachten wir uns, und bestellten Pasta und Gnocchi……..
Es gibt Phasen im Leben, da muss man abschalten, runterkommen, alles sortieren und sich neu ausrichten. Ground Control ist der sichere Hafen, aber in diesen Lebensabschnitten kann es helfen aus seiner gewohnten Umgebung auszubrechen, um den Kopf frei zu bekommen. Grenzenlose Freiheit und der Drang sich selbst zu entdecken führte Major Tom und seinen besten Astronautenfreund in die Toskana. In genau jene Region in Italien, die wohl die malerischste ist. Voller Ruhe. Inspiration. Freundschaft. Und viel Kraft und Orientierung, die man nur tanken muss. Die nachfolgenden Bilder zeigen die fotografischen Ergebnisse eines Soul Trips durch die Toskana. Die Bildsprache ist sicher anders und entspricht nicht den gewohnten Fotografien aus der Region. Aber sehe es als Chance, die Toskana mit komplett neuen Augen zu sehen. Mit meinen…..
Unlike Jaipur (The Pink City – that is actually orange), Jaipur truly lives up to its name and is, from above and inside, mainly blue. It is stunning. Established as a colour, the mix of which was initially adopted by the Brahman Caste as an auspicious colour, was used to keep houses cool and repel termites. The entire city is not blue though but only the main part around the Palace Fort as this is where most of the Brahmans were concentrated.We arrived by train from Jaisalmer and headed straight up to the Fort as the town’s main attraction. It is without doubt, the most fascinating one we have done so far and the audio-guide is absolutely fantastic. The Palace Fort stands well above the blue area of town and is truly imposing. It has been used as an impressive backdrop in many films, most recently, in one of Christian Bale’s portrayals of Batman as he climbs from a pit to find himself at the base of the fort……
Heads-up X100-series fans, the popular fixed-lens APS-C X-series camera from Fuji now has a younger sibling in the X70, and while the sensor size and resolution remain the same, much is certainly different about the Fuji X70. For starters, it’s a wider lens at 28mm eq, and the camera is much smaller and lighter. But of perhaps equal or even greater significance to many is that the X70 costs just a little over half the price of the X100T, and yet it still retains the characteristic wealth of vintage external controls that fans of X-series cameras tend to crave. The first question from us at IR with a new camera line is virtually always the same: „How’s the image quality?“ Our First Shots from our test laboratory Still Life target are generally the best place to begin………
Delhi is an enormous city – probably why it is in its own state. The size of it is mind-boggling, with 16.3 million inhabitants (London has 8.1 according to versus.com). It’s smoky, rammed with cars and people and extremely noisy, 24/7. Both Sarah and I were advised to get to India, adjust and then return to Delhi having experienced a bit of the country, acclimatising a little, as it can be quite a culture-shock. So, other than one night on arrival, that is what we did. In fact, we visited Varanasi before returning to Delhi so by then, Delhi was a walk in the park! On return to Delhi, we were keen to get into Old Delhi. We had been to Hanoi in Vietnam a few years earlier and I had a similar image in my mind. This was reasonably accurate but Hanoi has more motorbikes. Old Delhi is, well… old, hot, smelly and dirty. But we really loved it……..
Only three days in any major city is not enough – but that’s especially true for Tokyo. This city has always been on my „bucket list“ so I was fortunate that circumstances brought me here, if only for a short time. I limited my gear to my Fuji X-T1 and probably my favorite lens,the excellent Fujifilm XF 23mm f/1.4 R, which is perfect for travel. Tokyo is such an interesting place, it’s almost overwhelming – there was always something interesting to catch my eye. The X-T1, as always, proved to be a worthy camera in some challenging conditions. I will always remember Tokyo as the city I first used my Pano mode! Lol. Here are some of my favorite shots……..