Shot of the Day – Stockholm

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Walking through the narrow cobblestone streets at night in Stockholm was a pretty amazing thing.. I had to wait until almost 1:30 AM for it to get dark enough to take this shot.. I didn’t realize that it stayed light that long..  It is definetly a strange thing when you have to use black-out curtains to sleep at midnight..

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Packing – Priorities

Anytime I decide to take a trip.. day trip or longer to a new city, my first thought is “Hmmm..what cameras do I want to take?” The basic bag, sure, but what extras do I need?

Of course that depends on what I plan to shoot.. and when..

Candles along Polish Walk

Cloudy? Bright sunny mid-day? Low light?

U41

 

Prague West 2

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Will I be shooting architecture, weird stuff (always have time for door shots) or people on the street?

Coil

 

A Place to Rest

Framed Church-Barcelona

Okay.. probably all of the above.. so let’s just pack the standard gear.

1st in the bag, as always, my go to camera..Nikon D3200 w/16-85mm attached..

D3200 w/ 16-85mm

D3200 w/ 16-85mm

 

Since I hate to change lenses, next in is the D40 with a 35mm prime..

 

D40x w/ 35mm Prime

D40x w/ 35mm Prime

And because change is sometimes necessary, extra lenses – 10-20mm macro wide angle and a 55-300 mm zoom..

 

Extra Lenses

Extra Lenses

Filter kits – UV, Polarizers, and Variable ND filter..check

 

Filters

Filters

Cleaning cloths and dust blower , extra batteries, memory cards… check

Batteries, Memory, etc

Extension tubes (for macro) … check

Extension Tubes

Point and click back-up camera (my fav right now is the Samsung NX1100)..check

Samsung NX1100

 

Throw in the I-Pad…and a small flashlight, remote trigger and a couple of gallon size ziploc bags.. and I am packed..All this goes in the backpack… a Lowepro 150…

Now that the equipment is packed… time to get myself ready..

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Pysanka – Ukrainian Easter Eggs

I know it’s not travel related.. or maybe it is, but I spent Sunday learning the Ukrainian art of creating Pysanka, the traditional Ukrainian Easter eggs…

Setting Up

 Setting Up

Cleaning Eggs with Vinegar

Cleaning Eggs with Vinegar

Well, painted is a misnomer anyway because the eggs are not really painted..They are created by drawing the designs with wax and then soaking them in dye.. It is called the “wax-resist” method or batik.  Some people just start with wax and draw the design but, as novices, we drew ours with a pencil first..

The Pattern

Patterns

 

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Then covered the penciled drawing with the wax using a stylus .. The cup of the stylus is filled with black wax and heated over a candle..

Heating the Wax

Tracing with Wax

It takes a steady hand, which means I probably should not have had 3 cups of coffee before starting .. Then it is soaked in the dye for the 1st color.. starting with lighter colors first..

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Into Yellow

Leaves will be Yellow

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Areas of your egg that you want to remain that color are then waxed over before being soaked in a different color dye

Preparing for 2nd Color

 

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And the process continues until you have finished with all the colors that you want to have on your pysanka egg.. the darkest, background color being left for last..

1st Attempts Finished

 

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MessyIt is messy and time consuming but also a lot of fun.. it took me back to the days of decorating Easter eggs.. And I know I will try this again..

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Happy Travels!!

Photos by me (Steven Liveoak) , Iryna Gashporenko and Elena Galay

 

 

An Afternoon in Kiev – Pirohiv

Pirohiv (Ukrainian) or Pirogova is an outdoor museum of Folk Life in Ukraine..  It is located in the southeastern part of the city.

Wooden Church

Wooden Church

It is laid out in sections, each dedicated to the architecture of it’s respective region.. The buildings were brought from all over Ukraine and carefully reconstructed to give just a glimpse into life in the villages..

Windmill on the Hill

Windmill on the Hill

The surrounding area is covered in wheat fields and windmills..

Wheat Another WindmillEach “region” has it’s on style..it’s own church

Wooden Church 2 Small Wooden Church Beehives - I Think

The cottage yards are full of flowers and fruit trees

Storage Cottage Garden Folk Home w Church

 

You can even find musicians playing authentic instruments

Musician Strings

 

Feel free to give it a try

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On the outer edge of the area, there is food, drink, and, of course, souvenirs…

Milking a Wooden Cow Traditional Ukrainian Shirt-Vyshivanka

Food Alley

 

It is an interesting way to spend a pleasant afternoon in the country, without ever leaving the city.. Entry fee 30 uah (about $3.00 USD)  .. if you want to park close to the entrance, be prepared to pay a 20 uah fee for the parking lot.. OR  get there early to park without a fee on the side of the driveway..  It opens at 10 AM..closes at 5:00 PM

To get to the museum from metro stop  Demiivska or Golosiivska, you can take the trolley bus №11, marshrutka 172 or 156

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Yanukovich’s Palace – A Monument to Avarice

On Saturday, we took the 30 minute drive up to Mezhyhirya, where the ousted president of Ukraine, Victor Yanukovich, had built and maintained an opulent manor.

Main House

                                               Main House

The estate is over 350 acres and situated on the banks of the Kiev Reservoir, also known as the Kiev Sea.

Shoreline of the Kiev Sea

                                           Shoreline of the Kiev Sea

The immense park-like grounds are entirely surrounded by a fence and criss-crossed with brick inlayed paths..

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           Brick Path

                                                           Brick Paths

The grounds around the main house, yes, there are several houses for guests on the property, were immaculately manicured

Main House 2

and filled with ponds, fountains

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and statuary.

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There is a golf course, which we saw..

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and a zoo..which we didn’t..

The buildings had been sealed so we weren’t allowed inside, unfortunately..

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We did look through the windows of the Galleon, a restaurant shaped like a, well,

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a galleon..

The gazebos which dotted the countryside are fitted with chandeliers

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I am not Ukrainian, but I live and work in Kiev, and  looking at this place made me angry.. and sad.. A monument to corruption, greed and avarice built with contempt for the Ukrainian people.

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I think some visitors felt the same as I..

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Entry fee ( the signs call it a donation but it is an entry FEE ) is 20 uah.. there are bikes for rent, which I recommend because the area covers 7 km on paths. If you want to see what corruption can, and often does, build and you can overlook the fact that a common slug

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                                      My Opinion of Yanukovich

(umm thug) from Eastern Ukraine stole billions of dollars to build it.. it’s worth the trip from Kiev..

According to the security people, they may re-open the buildings once a complete inventory is finished..

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Shot(s) of the Day – My Favorite Subject

Commercially, I know it’s a waste of time but, like they say, doing what you like is never really a waste.. I love to photograph things… common, everyday things.. Things people might just walk by without even a glance..  To find beauty (which, of course, is in the eye of the beholder) and symmetry in the most common places.. the most common items..is my goal in life as a photographer..

Tourist Office

Tourist Office

And doors are my favorite, with windows and various storefronts a close second and third..

Traektoria

Traektoria

Why doors?  A good question… Maybe because no matter where you go.. no matter what you travel to see.. there are always going to be doors..  So an endless supply of subject matter.  And the cities in Europe (and possibly elsewhere – I’ll tell you when I have seen EVERYWHERE) have an endless variety..  from stately and majestic .. to crumbled and abandoned..

Rust and Brick

Rust and Brick

For some reason, I prefer the crumbled, rusty, falling apart scenes..I think it’s texture and contrast more than anything else..

No Parking in Weeds

No Parking

I have images like this for sale as framed prints.. and they get alot of views, so I know people like looking..almost as much as I like shooting..

Suitcase Flowers

Suitcase Flowers

Cables

Cables

9 with Bench

9 with Bench

I hope you enjoy my simple shots.. back with more travel advice tomorrow..  What to pack for a day trip  and why..

 

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Exploring the City – Getting Started

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You’ve seen them.. the urban explorers.. Huge packpacks..2 cameras hanging around their neck.. walking stick, hiking boots, a battered map in their hand.. The epitome of the modern day adventurer. You’re just waiting to hear them say –

“Livingston, I presume?”

But what are they doing? They are taking the same old picture of the Eiffel Tower …following the same herd to and across the Charles Bridge .. joining the masses in front of the Parliment Building..

Parliment Building in Budapest, Hungary from the south side of the river.

Parliment Building in Budapest, Hungary from the south side of the river.

If you are going to see iconic landmarks in a city, a map is hardly neccesary. Just look for the biggest conglomeration of people with cameras and tag a long.. and make sure it is, at least midday because adventure may wait for no man, but it can,by God, wait until after breakfast..

Arles, France

Arles, France at Sunset

Don’t get me wrong.. seeing the landmarks is one of the reasons we travel to different cities.. Can you imagine going to Paris and NOT seeing the Eiffel Tower..or the Arc de Triomphe .. or the Louvre?  Of course not..  But exploring a city is so much more…

It’s side streets and back alleys.. it’s small hidden cafes and a neighborhood bakery. It’s an open air market with vendors yelling unintelligible things in very loud voices.. It’s watching the sunrise over a new place.. and sunsets with new friends..

Ok..with that being said, there is no “wrong” way to explore during your vacation..some ways are just more right. Let’s go over a few of the different ways you can see what you “must see” and still have a relaxing vacation..

Budapest - Bridge at Twilight

Budapest – Bridge at Twilight

1. Walk.. walk..and walk some more…  Walking, by far, is the most common way to get out and about.. Map or no map, walking allows you to enjoy more of the sights, sounds and even, the smell of your surroundings.. walking gives you total immersion in your enviroment..but it takes the most time and energy..  Granted, you can add the subway or buses to save time, but that’s not really walking ..is it?

2. Hop On/Hop Off Bus Tours …  My opinion, the next best thing to walking… You “hop off” at your destination..take photos..explore the surrounding area (I have been know to walk to the next stop) … and “hop on” the next bus to the next spot.. There is no tour, the bus is just a ride between landmarks.  Most cities have some version and most are fairly inexpensive. Whenever I visit a new city, at least one 24 hour period is devoted to seeing the landmarks..and I usually choose this way to do it.

3. Bicycle … This is another good choice but it takes common sense, a degree of caution and, in most cities, nerves of steel.  It is a fairly quick way to travel that still allows you to enjoy your surroundings, even more so going uphill..which usually morphs from cycling back to just walking.. only this time, walking AND pushing..  My biggest complaint about this is taking care of the bicycle..if you want to go inside a museum or gallery, you have to lock it up.. carry your helmet ..

4. Guided Tours … My least favorite of all ways … They have their place,of course, but just not my cup of tea.  I took a mountain wine tour outside of Batumi, Georgia that was very enjoyable..even though the tour guide spoke only Russian and I understood only one word in 10.. Still, the tour was fun, the other “tourists” were pleasant and a great meal was included.. Still, having to move when everyone else moved, stop when everyone else stopped and, even worse, was having to pass up on great photos because noone else wanted to stop..

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Eiffel Tower — Nightime from a Boat

Packing for a day trip can be as much an adventure as the actual trip .. we’ll talk about what to pack..and why.. next time..

Until then  HAPPY TRAVELS!

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Interesting Entrance to a playground in Kyiv, Ukraine

Interesting Entrance to a Playground

Bykivnia Graves Memorial – Kyiv, Ukraine

Crosses in Shadows

                                     Crosses in Shadow

About 15 km east of the center of Kyiv, on the road to Brovary, there is a historical monument that few in Ukraine know about..

Bykivinia Graves National Historical Memorial

                      Bykivnia Graves National Historical Memorial

Hidden, a half kilometer inside the thick pine forest, is the Bykivnia Graves National Historical Memorial. This memorial is dedicated, and located at, the former village of Bykivnia, and was the site of the mass graves of political enemies of the Soviet Union during the Stalinist purges of the mid 1930’s.

Sunburst over Crosses

                                             Sunburst over Crosses

These unmarked mass graves were actually discovered by invading German forces during WWII.  There is an estimated 30 – 100,000  victims that were buried here. Victims of Soviet propaganda, Polish Army officers executed during the siege of Warsaw in the 1940’s… and as many as 20,000 officers and intellectuals in the Katyn Massacre.

Path through the Forest

                                           Path through the Forest

While it is easy to blame the Soviet Union and the Stalinist Purges, it is known that the German army also used the site for burial of Ukrainian Nationalist and army officers captured during the war.

Polish Victims Wall of Names

                        Polish Victims Wall of Names

Mass Grave MonumentIron Crosses by the Highway

Iron Crosses

Iron Crosses 2

If you plan a visit to Kiev, Ukraine, take some time to visit this memorial. Along with Babi Yar, it is a grim reminder of humanity’s troubled past.. Take time to explore, to examine, and to remember.

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