People in Your Landscape Photos?

Church; Porto, Portugal
I wanted a shot of this Church all alone (and I did make one early another morning), but I like the way the people in this image come together in the square in front of the church to give some “area context”
[Copyright Andy Richards 2022
All Rights Reserved]
IΒ  HAVE shot primarily nature, landscape and other outdoor venues for all the years I have been at this. And for many of those years, I worked hard to get people-free images. Still do some of the time. In popular places, it was not uncommon to sit patiently (or sometimes not so patiently πŸ™‚ ) waiting for people to clear a scene. Later, the ability to “remove” things from images digitally softened some of the angst. But that doesn’t always work. I found myself still waiting for opportunities where the “offending” body was in a spot that would be easy to remove. And then, of course, that brings on all the “isn’t that cheating?” stuff.

I liked the way the yellow jacket contrasted with the mostly monochromatic image of Buckingham Palace. It pulls the gold gilded statue top too. I waited for her to walk into the frame and then made the image.
[Copyright Andy Richards 2021
All Rights Reserved]

not every national park, scenic view, or iconic location was put there for me and my camera

THERE ARE, of course, still going to be times when you want a pristine landscape shot. Often the best time to do that is very early in the morning, before tourists and even workers are out. Getting up early takes a certain discipline, but every time I do so, I am rewarded. Often with complete solitude. Sometimes with just a lot fewer people around. Another way to get that kind of shot is to shoot scenes and places where there aren’t a lot of people. Places that haven’t been discovered yet. Or places that don’t have tourist appeal. I have found some of my best farm scenes to be places that haven’t been “discovered” yet. I have also learned – unfortunately – that it isn’t a good idea to identify those locations in this day and age. There are a couple now famous scenes in Vermont, for example, that used to see the occasional photographer in the road near them – usually during the fall foliage season. But today, everybody and their smartphone wants to photograph these places, and in addition to large numbers of people, many of them have zero respect for other’s property. Indeed in recent years, some of these once quiet, bucolic scenes have taken on a “carnival” atmosphere that is totally at odds with what drew us to them in the first place.

Sometimes the image is ABOUT the people. This close shot of the entranceway into the Buckingham Palace Grounds would be boring and static without the guard. I was really shooting the guard, not the palace, here.
[Copyright Andy Richards 2021
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PEOPLE IN the scene can often be perceived as a negative. But I also have to remind myself sometimes that not every national park, scenic view, or iconic location was put there for me and my camera. Indeed, (at least before the advent of the smartphone), the vast majority of visitors to these locations are/were probably there just to see the place. And they certainly have every bit as much of a right to do that (even if they are standing in my photo πŸ™‚ ). Tolerance does not seem to be a popular thing these days, but I still try to practice it.

This is one of my favorite images of London. The two gentlemen engaged in thoughtful conversation makes an otherwise “nice” image of the backside of Westminster Abbey much more interesting, in my view
[Copyright Andy Richards 2021
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IN RECENT years, though, something that I have learned is – especially in my travel photography – putting people (or using the people that are there) in your photos sometimes creates added interest. In addition to scale, they can give perspective, and sometimes create questions. Like what is she looking at? What is he thinking? Or they can help express the pure joy of experiencing one of our worldwide wonders. So, for me the trick has now become how to best position the people that are inevitably there in the image. I have begun to look for those moments. I know I am probably late to the game (but suspect I am still with, or ahead of many of my fellow “nature” photographers). Street photographers often purposely seek out people in their imagery. I have never felt really comfortable engaging people, but I am slowly coming to grips with it. In the meantime, I often try to portray people in the image in a basically incognito way (looking away, or so distant as to not have recognizable face). But other times that is just not possible. And when people are in public, they have a reduced expectation of privacy, so I feel that as long as I am not portraying them in a negative way, it is probably o.k.

Porto, Portugal
I made several images as this woman walked through the frame. I like the way in this one, she appears to hesitate, and you wonder, what is she looking at/for?
[Copyright Andy Richards 2022
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WHILE INCLUDING people in photographs can be an enhancing factor, I also believe there is a tipping point. I have had times where the venue has been so crowded with people that I have decided not to even shoot it. Sometimes crowds can detract from a shot. Unless, of course, you are trying to depict crowds.

I made this image to illustrate the packed Wine Festival in Evora, Portugal
Evora, Portugal
Copyright Andy Richards 2022
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IΒ  DON’T think I have used people in images anywhere more than my recent trip to Portugal. We were in two of the most populous cities in the country and let’s face it: there were bound to be people everywhere. Even early in the season. I think this year is perhaps unusual, as people were pent up from the pandemic, and ready to get out and travel again. For whatever reason, there were a lot of people in Lisbon and Porto in late May and early June.

The line (or “qeue” as they say in Europe) for getting into Lisbon’s popular Belem Tower historical site was long. The lone person standing near the water attracted my attenion. Another one of those “wonder what she is looking at” people images.
Lisbon, Portugal
[Copyright Andy Richards 2022
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SOMETIMES PEOPLE and their behavior make an otherwise uninteresting image worth a second look. I was walking around St. Kitt during one of our Caribbean Cruise stops and looking for color and interest. The obviously attractive young woman in this shot caught my eye. If the shot were about her, though, having her walking out of the frame is just not very good composition. As much as it may seem so, she is not the true subject of the image. I had all I could do with the fast moving action and my widest zoom to catch the entire important parts of the scene. But mine were not the only eyes she caught. Do you see it? πŸ™‚ I couldn’t resist making this one.

Double-Take
St. Kitts
[Copyright Andy Richards 2014
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THE “SELFIE” has become (for better or worse) a common occurrence in these times. There are times when people compromise privacy, safety, and property in there unending quest to produce the best Instagram selfie. But sometimes it is just people trying to capture a memory It certainly speaks of behavior. The gondola scene at Piazza San Marco on Venice is iconic. Most of us shoot it trying to exclude outside elements. I was doing that one early morning – making a motion-blur image of the rocking gondolas. When I arrived, I saw this young woman who I believe was making a selfie with the piazza and St. Mark’s in her background. It gives great human interest to the image, in my opinion.

Piazza San Marco
Venice, Italy
[Copyright Andy Richards 2013
All Rights Reserved]
IΒ  HAVE made numerous cruise ship pictures over our years of cruising. I am usually shooting either the landscape, or action on the ship. I am never the only one doing so, though most often it is folks with their smart phones (or even tablets sometimes). I love to make images of a harbor as we enter it and dock. As I was doing so in the very picturesque Cobh, Ireland, I noticed the gentleman below doing likewise. I have gotten smarter about my photography over recent years, and was glad I had the presence of mind to capture the scene, which certainly tells a better story than my “solo” images do.

Cobh, Ireland
[Copyright Andy Richards 2019
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OF ALL the imagery I have made over the years, a substantial majority has been landscape – and of that, more than anything, fall foliage. Mountains, reflections, closeups, barns and farms all make wonderful context. Occasionally, people in the image add color, or interest, or even scale and perspective. I shamelessly confess that I totally “copycatted” the following silhouette image, after seeing a colleague framing it up. But what a great storytelling idea. The photo is another “ho hum” fall foliage image without them.

Hiawatha National Forest Lake
Munising, Michigan
[Copyright Andy Richards 2012
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SOMETIMES STAGING people in an image works. During my trip to Vermont in October, 2021, we were composing and contemplating shooting an uphill Vermont back road, framed with colorful foliage. I made the point that this one needed some interest – a person walking up the road. On of our friends offered to “model,” wearing a bright yellow raincoat I had (which was the brightest “prop” we could find). I think the photo worked well. But when I got home, and reviewed the image on my screen, it occurred to me that red would have more impact. So I made it red. I know. That “cheating” thing again. πŸ™‚

Pudding Hill Road
Burke, Vermont
[Copyright Andy Richards 2021]
IΒ  AM certain that I miss many opportunities to use “models” in my images. I am, by nature, not an outgoing person when around strangers. Again, sometimes, I just get lucky. I was walking in the St. Kitt Cruise port area shooting some of the colorful buildings. This young shop employee asked me out of the blue if I would like her to pose for me. I am no portrait photographer, but I thought this was a kind of fun image that would not have been the same without her in it.

St. Kitt
[Copyright Andy Richards 2014
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AS OFTEN as I get “unlucky” or even annoyed with the people in a scene, sometimes I get lucky. The scene in Rome was interesting enough to capture my attention. But when the young man walked into the shot, it seemed like a case of “right time; right place” for me.

The man in the center of the street gives this image a sense of scale
City Center
Rome, Italy
[Copyright Andy Richards 2013
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LOOKING FOR opportunities often begets opportunities. In case of the photo below, we were on a street art walking tour in Cape Town South Africa in January. While mostly shooting the street art imagery, I am always on the lookout for colorful subjects. And – lately – also for human subjects of interest. Here I found both and couldn’t help but wonder if the conversation was about our group?

 

Cape Town, South Africa
Copyright Andy Richards 2023
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WHILE SOMETIMES, a photo leaves you wondering about the people in the photo, other times it’s just obvious what the person is doing in the photo – and yet still adds interest. This young woman was one of another couple that joined us on the street art walk recently in Cape Town. The focus of the day, of course was the street art itself. Usually in context. But this opportunity presented itself and I liked the symmetry (physical and figurative). There is little doubt in my mind that the inclusion of the photographer adds interest to the already visually compelling subject.

Cape Town, South Africa
Copyright Andy Richards 2023
All Rights Reserved

O

VERALL, I think there is always going to be room in my portfolio and shooting style for both. I will always want to at least try to make “clean” images. Sometimes that means waiting. Sometimes using content-aware processing. But what I have learned is to look for both opportunities. I think both views, for example, of the Pink Street below are interesting. I had to go very early in the morning to get the empty street. But the people in the second image are always there, beginning in the early evening, and by nighttime, the place is packed. That’s reality and if you are going to portray reality, you are going to have people in the picture. πŸ™‚

The Pink Street
Lisbon, Portugal
[Copyright Andy Richards 2022
All Rights Reserved]
[Tomorrow, I head to Ft. Lauderdale to board a cruise ship bound for the Caribbean for a few days. When I return, I am going to take the blog in a slightly different direction – temporarily. See you in a couple weeks]

Copenhagen

Langelinie Port; Copenhagen, Denmark
[Copyright Andy Richards 2022
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OF THE places we were originally scheduled to stop, the two that held the most interest for me were St. Petersburg and Copenhagen. I have beaten St. Petersburg to death here. But Copenhagen. It promised many of the elements that I find such a draw in my photography. There are colors, reflections, boats and buildings with distinctive architecture. It is a relatively small, and very walkable city. I would have loved to have spent more time there.

Langelinie Cruise Port
Copenhagen, Denmark
[Copyright Andy Richards 2022
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WE CAME in just as the sun rose, and I was up on the deck, as usual, making images in the nice morning light. I was impressed by the size and activity in the Copenhagen Port (I was to learn, later, that this was just one of several ports in Copenhagen).

Langelinie Port
[Copyright Andy Richards 2022
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AS IT was, we had just one day to explore. We had found and booked a walking tour with our friends Mike and Elaine for the day. Our meeting point was in town, and we thought that – though walkable – we would probably have better success taking a taxi. Fortunately, there was a taxi stand just inside the port, near our berth. That turned out to be a good call, as the meeting point was about 2 miles from the ship, near the Copenhagen main library.

Copenhagen Main Library
[Copyright Andy Richards 2022
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MUCH LIKE the inner cities of many European cities we have visited, there are small cafes and restaurants along every street and on every corner. As always, color attracts me, and I loved the red and white theme of this cafe, complete with red and white checked table-cloths. Also like many European cities – at least those in relatively moderate climates, there are always outdoor tables.

Cafe Sorgenfri
Copenhagen, Denmark
[Copyright Andy Richards 2022
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WE WERE relatively early this morning, and the city was just waking up. I love the mornings, both for its lack of crowds, and for the great photographic light. Lots of contrast makes shooting sometimes a challenge, but when it is right it is pretty nice. My eye naturally travels to streets like this one, with its cobblestone pavement, and brightly colored buildings beckoning in the distance.

Copenhagen, Denmark
[Copyright Andy Richards 2022
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FROM OUR meeting point, we walked to the small square housing Copenhagen University, a quite popular university among European students. From there we walked to Christiansborg Slot (Palace), which is a pretty imposing building. The mainly Baroque styled building is the seat of Danish Government and the Danish Supreme Court. It also houses the Prime Minister of Denmark, and offices of the Danish Monarch. According to Wikipedia, Christiansborg Palace is the only government building in the world that houses all 3 branches of government under one roof. There are also Royal Stables on the bottom floor. The site was home to 2 prior castles, the first one built in the late 12th Century. Both were eventually demolished, and in 1733, King Christian VI began construction of the current castle. Christiansborg was destroyed by fire in 1794, rebuilt in 1803, and again partially destroyed by fire in 1884. It was finally restored again, 23 years later and is essentially the building we see today. We walked through the grounds near the stables, and then out the other side, where we exited onto the street. Later, we would return here on our own after our tour and go to the top of the tower shown here, for some pretty spectacular views of the city (including a shot of our cruise ship, the Celebrity Apex).

Christiansborg Palace
Copenhagen, Denmark
[Copyright Andy Richards 2022
All Rights Reserved]
Christiansborg Palace
Copenhagen, Denmark
[Copyright Andy Richards 2022
All Rights Reserved]
 

View From the Tower; Christiansborg Palace
Copenhagen, Denmark
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Celebrity Apex in Port
Copenhagen, Denmark
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ROM THE front of the palace, we walked back north, across the canal and into the ritzy shopping district. I spotted the original “Flagship” Royal Copenhagen store on one of the street. I wore RC for many years, and still have a bottle of it. At some point, somebody suggested it had a bit of an “old mannish” scent, and I abandoned it. But I kept it, knowing full well I would be an old man someday. Well . . .Β  here we are. Guess it may be time to break that RC out again? πŸ™‚ We walked back west from the square, toward Nyhavn.

Nyhavn
Copenhagen, Denmark
[Copyright Andy Richards 2022
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YHAVN WAS the main spot I wanted to see in Copenhagen. Running east and west from the old “Kings Square” part of the city out to the main canal which separates the Island of Christianshavn from the mainland, the Nyhavn Canal was dug by hand in mainly by Swedish prisoners of war, in 1660-1675. The canal was intended to accommodate ship traffic with cargo and fish, into the old city. The area was populated with rowdy sailors and known for drinking and prostitution, among other things. One notable fact is that famed Danish writer, Hans Christian Anderson lived in Nyhavn from about 1845 – 1975. The northern, more sunny side of the canal is flanked by the colorful buildings you see in the images, and fronted by small, mainly fishing boats along the jetty. The relatively smooth water surface makes it good for reflections and in spite of the rather late time – mid-day – I was able to produce some reflections. As ships became larger and modes of ground transportation developed over the years, the significance of Nyhavn for these purposes diminished. In the mid 1960s, a movement began to revitalize the area, and in 1980, the streets flanking both sides of the canal were converted to pedestrian traffic only, for the length of the canal. Today, Nyhavn is a popular tourist and nightlife destination. The north side is lined with restaurants and some shops. Our guide was accommodating of my request to walk on the south side, so I could photograph this scene. Given that we were in more or less mid-day sun, it was everything I hoped it would be. I was glad today that I had the 9-15mm lens with me.

Nyhavn
Copenhagen, Denmark
[Copyright Andy Richards 2022
All Rights Reserved]
OUR GUIDE had mentioned to us earlier in the day that one of the “draws” of Copenhagen is that it is a very walkable city. We could see that. We walked to the end of the Nyhavn canal and turned again northeast. We walked along the main canal. The views across were impressive, including a shot of the Copenhagen Opera House, and some modern architecture housing.

Copenhagen Opera House
Copenhagen, Denmark
[Copyright Andy Richards 2022
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Modern Architecture Housing
Copenhagen, Denmark
[Copyright Andy Richards 2022
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WE STOPPED for a drink (included in the tour price πŸ™‚ ) here and a brief rest, where we had the opportunity to learn more about our tour guide, who is doing this partly to help support her two children and herself. Our next stop was Amalienborg, the home of the Danish Royal Family. Originally built for 4 “noble” families and founded by King Frederick V, this “compound” in the middle of the city is unique. There are 4, identical palaces situated around an octagonal courtyard. The first residence was built by/for Queen Sophie Amalie and is thus known as “The Queen’s Palace.” The other 3 have served over the years as private residences other members of the Royal Family. The view into the courtyard is spectacular, with a fountain at the entrance, and the green-domed, marble, Rococo designed, Frederik’s Kirche (church) in the background. The palace exteriors are “Classical” and the interiors are said to be Baroque (we did not go inside).

Amalienborg Castle
Copenhagen, Denmark
[Copyright Andy Richards 2022
All Rights Reserved]
Amalienborg Castle
Copenhagen, Denmark
[Copyright Andy Richards 2022
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UR TOUR ended shortly afterward, and we walked back to Christiansborg Palace to climb the tower (I make it sound worse than it is. There is an elevator most of the way up πŸ™‚ ). From there, we found a taxi back to our port. We had no trouble finding the taxi stand. We did have one problem, though. None of the 4 of us had memorized the name of our port (Langelinie). We had about an hour before the all-aboard time. Our taxi driver spoke very limited English. He asked us which port? We all looked at each other with wide-eyes. There were – apparently 5 ports to choose from. We eventually worked it out that it was indeed, Langelinie. Lesson here: πŸ™‚ Don’t leave the ship without knowing the name of the cruise port! Our trip was almost over. We had one more day at sea, which we would make the most of. In addition to Mike and Elaine (who we are now joining on a Caribbean Celebrity Cruise in February 2023 – just over a week from today), we met a couple from New Jersey, and their friends who got engaged on the cruise. We also met a very nice couple from Canada, who ended up joining us for dinner every night. We had also met Flo and Jim, before the cruise, as they live just 20 minutes north of us here in Florida. We had lots of fun with these new friends. The New Jersey couple were also cigar smokers, and we had a least one more celebratory cigar on the last at sea day. It was a fun cruise and yielded much more photographically than I thought it might. Copenhagen is a place I would love to return to one day!

 

 

Stockholm

Stockholm Passage
[Copyright Andy Richards 2022
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FOR THE most part, these European cruises have been about either major or historical cities and towns along our route. After spending nearly 20 years engaged almost exclusively in outdoor, nature and landscape photography, the switch to travel and “cityscape” shooting has been interesting, and enjoyable. As I have mentioned here on other occasions, the elements of the latter type of shooting are often very different. Likewise, the equipment (often shooting with wider, smaller lenses, and shooting handheld). As discussed often, it has also involved a reducing and lightening of my gear, to make travel more convenient and shooting more fun. So “landscape” wasn’t really on my mind as I planned this trip. After all, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Helsinki, and Copenhagen are pretty major European cities, with lots of buildings, seaports, and people. My mindset was directed accordingly. Only after I was on board and listening to others’ description of some of the cruise, did it occur to me that I might have a couple major “landscape” opportunities en route.

“landscape” [photography] wasn’t really on my mind as I planned this trip

Stockholm Passage
[Copyright Andy Richards 2022
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CONSEQUENTLY, I completely missed one of these opportunities. I was just unprepared (my bad) for the passageway out of Amsterdam to the big water. For 2 hours, there was agricultural, industrial, and undeveloped landscape which could be seen from our high vantage point on the ship. By the time I realized what I was missing, it was really too late for me to switch gears and shoot. I had become involved socially with some new friends, and it would just have been rude to drop everything and go get my camera set up. But you can be sure that, given another chance at this, I will be prepared and have set some of that time aside.

Stockholm Passage
[Copyright Andy Richards 2022
All Rights Reserved]
BUT WHAT I also learned was that the cruise into Stockholm (and back out) would present another possibly great opportunity for landscape shooting. The passageway from the Baltic into the Port of Stockholm is some 40 miles, much of it picturesque countryside and shoreline. I would spend most of the morning on the way in from just after sunrise until we docked, up on the deck, shooting. And then, as a result of an unscheduled early departure, I was able to spend the next morning shooting on our way back out to the Baltic. I have talked before here about the unique perspective provided by the high platform of a cruise ship’s upper decks. In addition, there is often good visibility for composition because of lack of sometimes undesirable foreground objects. This was certainly the case, here. And in some cases, the waterfront views provided some reflection opportunities.

Stockholm Passage
[Copyright Andy Richards 2022
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THE PASSAGE held views of what appear to be small communities which were probably vacation homes in many cases, as well as decently sized tracts of agricultural land. There were many pleasure craft moored and at docks along the way, and much of the housing looked to be that of well-to-do owners. I also noted with some interest, that (much like I pointed out in Warnemunde), there were car ferry crossings at several points along the passage, underscoring that there are no other means to cross from one side to the other.

Stockholm Passage
[Copyright Andy Richards 2022
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ANOTHER INTERESTING sight was the cruise ship traffic in the passage. There are two passenger lines which operate “overnight” cruises between Stockholm, Helsinki, and Tallin: Viking and Tallink. Tallink operates their own “Tallink” ships as well as a separate line called “Silja.” I had some fun chasing these ships with my camera as they both followed us and at some point passed us going the opposite direction. They are fairly large and colorful ships, making them photogenic.

Tallink and Viking “Overnight Cruise Lines”
[Copyright Andy Richards 2022
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A

S WE neared the port, things changed from more of a rural setting to more commercial and industrial setting surrounding Stockholm, which is a fairly large city both in terms of population and geographically.

Port of Stockholm
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THIS WAS, in many ways, the least well-planned cruise we have taken over the years. I think it was a combination of things. It was the last in a line of “tries,” which cruise by cruise, got cancelled in the midst of the Covid Pandemic. World events conspired to change the complexion of the cruise in a big way, with Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine. Following this, it is my best guess that 40-50% of the booked passengers cancelled their end of the cruise. It was much more difficult than pre-covid to find excursions and to find persons to join or who were looking for others to join them on excursions. We read that because of the cancellations during the Pandemic, many passengers elected to use substantial on-board credits with the cruise line on cruise-sponsored shore excursions. There was a lot of “unknowns.” But in the end, we just didn’t really have much planned. Stockholm was one of those cases. It is a pretty immense city, with very large, impressive buildings.

Stockholm, Sweden
[Copyright Andy Richards 2022
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THERE IS an old city – Gamla Stan – which is reputed to have great cache’. But while we were there, it was overcrowded, and very touristy. Most of the narrow old streets were populated with tourist trinket shops. In spite of that, I was able to make a few images of some of the less populated side streets. Like Amsterdam, Helsinki, and Copenhagen, Stockholm is a city with numerous canals.

Gamla Stan
Stockholm, Sweden
[Copyright Andy Richards 2022
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THERE ARE, of course many other spots, and things to do in Stockholm. There are some major museums, as well as government buildings and churches. I spent some time at the Riddarholmen Cathedral, which is on its own little island, just across one of the canals from Gamla Stan, and near the city center. It is a pretty impressive church.

Riddarholmen Cathedral
[Copyright Andy Richards 2022
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OLLOWING THE decision to cut out St. Petersburg as an overnight stop on this cruise, the Stockholm stop was converted from one day to an overnight. I know there are a lot of logistics that go into these decisions, including port availability, port fees, travel times between stops, and the like. I cannot fault Celebrity for its choices. If I were in charge and could have things my way, I probably would have rather seen our last stop: Copenhagen be the overnight stop. I would love to have been able to do some nighttime shooting in Copenhagen. We had made plans to join our friends, Mike and Elaine on a tour of the ABBA (1970-80’s rock group) museum the next morning. But as luck would have it, when we returned to the ship after spending a few hours on shore, the Captain announced that a severe weather system was approaching Stockholm and that if we stayed on as planned, we would probably be confined to the port for at least another day, as navigating the twists and turns of the passage can be challenging on any day, and nearly impossible in high winds. So, we lost our “second” day in Stockholm, and left the port about 4:00 a.m. the following morning. I did make several more images of Stockholm while we were on shore and you can see more of the city and the passage on my website, here. We would be at sea for most of the next two days, as we made our way down and over to Copenhagen.

Stockholm, Sweden
[Copyright Andy Richards 2022
All Rights Reserved]

Tallinn, Estonia

Russian Orthodox Cathedral
Tallinn, Estonia
[Copyright Andy Richards 2022
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OTHER THAN St. Petersburg, this was the port I was most looking forward to. It was one of only a couple where we had actually booked a tour. With St. Petersburg out of the mix, Tallin was – in my mind – perhaps the “next best” photo opportunity with a “Russian” feel (though it would turn out that Helsinki also afforded some great and similar architecture opportunities). Unfortunately, there was a communications failure between us and the tour guide. We got off the ship and followed our way to Town Hall Square, and the designated meeting place, where we waited for nearly 45 minutes, before concluding the guide and any others in the group were not going to be there (we later learned that at the last minute they had sent us a text moving the meeting place). Unfortunately, I think we missed some pretty interesting stuff, and at least one viewpoint I had been seeking out. By ourselves, we just didn’t successfully find it.

you can easily see why it holds as much charm as it does in all the literature

BUT, KNOWING we were already in the center of things, I dredged up my research and we schlepped our way around to at least some of the major points of interest. We found the Russian Orthodox Cathedral and one of the (but not really the best one) viewpoints in the Upper Town. The Cathedral might be the coolest building I have ever photographed. Given its size and our close proximity, perspective was a significant challenge. As I may have mentioned here before, after our Lisbon trip, I decided to change up my lens lineup. I originally was using the Olympus M4/3 setup with just the “kit” 14-42mm (28-84 in 35mm equivalent) lens. Its greatest feature for me was its tiny size. Just 1 1/4″ long, it made the SLR style camera just nominally larger than my pocketable Sony RX100, with nearly identical range). But I have found times where I wanted two different things: wider and longer. I had picked up the 40-150mm lens prior to the Portugal trip to give me the “longer.” But I still missed the “wider,” especially in city and architectural settings. So, shortly after returning from Portugal, I acquired a 9-15mm lens. One of the goals, though for travel, was lightweight and simple. I was quickly moving away from this goal, with 3 different lenses. My next acquisition would be a different longer zoom: Olympus’ 14-150mm. This allows me to cover in 35mm equivalent, 18-300mm with just two lenses. Seemed like a workable compromise. The 14-150mm measures just 4″ long and about 2 1/4″ in diameter, and though heavier than the little pancake lens, is still imminently small, light and portable. And it is more versatile. The 8-15mm is 2 3/8″ long and just over 2″ in diameter (not significantly larger than the non-pancake “kit” zoom that often sells with that series of bodies). This setup fits comfortably in my carry bag for walking around during our travels (I have since used the 14-150 on another trip and photographed some wildlife. While some of it was from behind glass, even that which was not, at the longer end of the lens, shows it to be just mediocre where sharpness is concerned. But the compromise is still important to me, so the jury is still out on this lens).

The Russian Orthodox Cathedral might be the coolest building I have ever photographed

 

OF COURSE, as experienced photographers know, perspective becomes an issue with longer lenses. The built-in corrections in my post-processing software of choice, Adobe Photoshop CC, for Olympus lenses aren’t as good as they are for other lenses. So I do spend a fair amount of time using Photoshop’s perspective correction tools in post-processing. But by and large, I have been happy with these lens choices. As I have read others’ thoughts on the wide-angle issue, one approach I haven’t tried yet (I need to get out and experiment) is to use the medium length – like the 14-150, for example – and do overlapping shots, to be stitched together later in post. I am not sure that is practical with the pace we often move when on shore or on tours. But if it were to work out, it could shift me back to just one lens again (or 2). Time will tell on that one.

Russian Orthodox Cathedral
Tallinn, Estonia
you can easily see why it holds as much charm as it does in all the literature

WE ALSO found the walking path between the walls of the 2 cities. In Medieval times, Talllinn was a major port in the Hanseatic League trading routes. At one point Tallinn was divided into an upper town and a lower town and the inhabitants didn’t necessarily get along, which is why there were separate walls around the two cities.

Tallinn, Estonia
[Copyright Andy Richards 2022
All Rights Reserved]
W

ALKING DOWN Pikk Street, we also found our way to St. Olaf’s Cathedral. St. Olaf’s was known to house the Russian KGB “signal jamming” antennae used to jam Estonian signals in its effort to stop anything that went against their iron rule – and propaganda. The Estonians have, and historically had, a lot in common with the Finns, including some shared language, architecture and religious leanings. Tallin is a favorite “long-weekend” destinations for the Finnish people, and there are some very active ferries running back and forth from Helsinki (as well as from Stockholm, Sweden).

St. Olaf’s Cathedral
Tallinn, Estonia
[Copyright Andy Richards 2022
All Rights Reserved]
. . .Β  and the old KGB building.

KGB Rooms
[Copyright Andy Richards 2022
All Rights Reserved]
TALLIN’s STREETS were perhaps the roughest and most uneven cobblestone we have seen in our recent travels. You really had to watch your footing. There were also some hills. But all in all, you can easily see why it holds as much charm as it does in all the literature.

Town Hall Square
Tallinn, Estonia
[Copyright Andy Richards 2022
All Rights Reserved]
IΒ ONLY wish that we would have had the benefit of what I know is rich and interesting history here, from an organized tour.

Pikk Street
Tallinn Estonia
[Copyright Andy Richards 2022
All Rights Reserved]
IF THE opportunity arises to return to Tallinn, we will work very hard to get a proper tour scheduled. In the meantime, our self-guided tour basically over, we headed back to the ship. The next scheduled stop was overnight at Stockholm, Sweden.