Looking Back at 2016 Photos

germany, hong kong, japan, london, scotland, south korea, taiwan, thailand, Thoughts on Life

I thought it might be fun to spend one of the last hours of 2016 taking a quick look back through this years photos and picking out a few of my favourites by month.

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I took 6390 photos this year, that’s almost double what I took in 2015 and 2014. And I was a bit surprised to see that 2420 of them were taken in Thailand. It really is one of my favourite places to be.

There is a direct correlation between how I feel and how many photos I take. I was feeling pretty awesome in Thailand at the start of the year, but as the year moved forward I struggled to eat healthy and get into better shape; two big ongoing goals. And that coupled with difficult work meant my mood wasn’t great for the second half of the year.

I travelled quite widely, but didn’t really take full advantage of it. I’m glad I am thinking this through now as it’s now my main goal to improve eating, fitness and mood in 2017.

Without further ado, let’s take a look month by month through my pics of the year.

January

Only 55 photos taken in January and all in London. However there are a couple of nice ones including the Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park and the New Crossrail Station at Canary Wharf. I was back to using my old D3100 and 50mm lens.

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February

February and more London shots. I went around Soho / Chinatown / Shoreditch with a new ‘used’ camera. A D610 with the kit lens. I used this and my 50mm for the rest of the year.

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I also went to Thailand for a bit of rest and relaxation. Highlights were a great flight on Eva air with the nicest air stewardesses, the sunset at Bang Sare and the cocktail VW buses popular in Thailand.

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I also started a collection of photographs to capture ‘motorbike’ life in Thailand, they are such an integral part of Thai culture.

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March

1152 photos in March. A lot of motorbike and beach shots. I also discovered the awesome Baa Hop Fang festival / market in Pattaya. At the end of the month I went to Bangkok and started working my way through a book of Bangkok walks.

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Bangkok

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April

April was another Bangkok month. I had a great time walking around the city. I think my best pictures of the year are from April; especially one shot of the Maha Nakhorn building. I also enjoyed Songkran; the Thai new year festival. That’s an unmissable experience!

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May

May was back to London for work. I got some nice spring shots in Shoreditch. I also went to Scotland to see family but got a chance to take some pictures in Edinburgh, Crail and my mum’s garden.

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June

No photos! – My work project was managing the half year report for Standard Chartered so I can only guess I had no time at all to even think about the camera!

July

I think I was quite busy in July too, only a handful of shots from city walks in London and another Scotland trip.

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August

With work coming to an end I went of to Tokyo with an unexpected layover in Frankfurt due to a Typhoon.

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September

More Tokyo where I enjoyed some of the best Karaoke nights out and a few visits to my local Maid Cafe. I then went onto Taipei.

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Taipei

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OCToBER

This was another good photo month. Some more shots in Taipei and then off to Hong Kong and Shenzhen before heading to Seoul.

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Hong Kong

(I need to revisit the processing on these HK shots it’s not great)

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Shenzhen

The highlight was OCT Loft

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Seoul

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November

Last few photos in Seoul. Korea really has the most beautiful a palaces.

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December

Back to the UK, and I had a lovely chance to finish the year with some pictures in Scotland and London.

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That’s it, 2016 in photos. I do need to take some time to go through all the photos, there are some picks in their that haven’t been processed yet, but it takes a load of time to review photos.

I’m really grateful for the chance to see the places and people I have this year. On the other hand I know that I didn’t push myself with a positive attitude to get the most out of it. That’s my big goal for 2017.

So, watch this space, hopefully there will be a lot more interesting sights to come in the year ahead.

Portable Loft, Yangjae Citizens Forest, Seoul & Fish In The Pool

south korea

I found the cutest local cafe in Seoul with the friendliest owners.

It’s called Portable Loft. They also have a craft / design store – Portable Lollipop.

I found their blog; you can see some pictures of Portable Loft and the owners plus their friends / family here http://blog.naver.com/jungurion/220896163629. The Lollipop website http://www.portablelollipop.com/

The cafe and store are located in Yangjae Citizen’s Forest; totally off the tourist route, but not far from Gangnam. About ten different buses from Gangnam pass by the area.

It was a lucky find, I happened to stay in an Airbnb apartment above the cafe for the week.

The owners don’t speak English, but despite that they made me feel super at home. Through pointing and gestures I managed to order their delicious hand drip coffee in the morning. They also have two draught craft beers on tap and a selection of other drinks.

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The owners gave me one of their postcards which is based on a hand drawn sketch of the cafe. You will recognise the lady in the postcard and blog pictures by the distinctive hairstyle :)

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Portable Loft really inspired me. If I were to have my own cafe / shop business this is pretty much the blueprint I’d love to create it based upon. Some of the charming features I loved were:

  • Hand chosen craft beers and hand drip coffee that show care and love for quality
  • Beautiful natural interior decoration – a little bit ‘Scandinavian wood feel’
  • They do have a food menu, but it’s literally one cooker behind the bar, so cute
  • A lot of customers appear to be friends and I saw groups come and enjoy relaxing and talking to the owners
  • The cafe and shop show an interest in art and design and they have built a really interesting collection of products.
  • They are off the beaten path so I think most of their customers are local or may come based on word of mouth etc. no unappreciative tourists!
  • They have a music system in one corner and they have a pile of vinyl and CDs next to it and their selection of music is beautiful. A lot of acoustic and calming sounds.

Talking of music I came across the fish in the pool by Hekuto Pascal album while sitting in Portable Loft. I didn’t know what it was, but realising it was Japanese I snapped a pic of an empty CD cover with Japanese text on it. I later found the album on Spotify:

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This is some seriously beautiful music.

I’m slightly embarrassed to say this music actually brought me to tears a few times.

The album is mostly instrumental, but the final track has lyrics and there is something soft, sweet and magical about the melody and vocals. Perhaps there is an undertone of sadness. It’s a songs that makes me feel an appreciation for people and places, but also a sadness for lost opportunities and lost times.

Portable Loft is one of the reasons I love to travel. Forget the tourist checklist, I really appreciate the chance to see a corner of local culture and to meet people that care about art and design and customers.

I recently came across a book called Do / Design: Why Beauty Is The Key To Everything by Alan Moore.

It’s a great little book that takes about good design and why that matters in life. This resonates strongly with me and I think design along with community are two of the most important things that can bring enjoyment to everyday life.

Portable Loft hit’s both of these perfectly.

Big City, Local Touch – The View from Bukchon, Seoul

south korea, Thoughts on Life

Seoul – we’ve taken a look at the royal palaces Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung, we’ve also seen the view from Naksan Park. Now I’d like to share the beautiful view from my favourite area; Bukchon Hanok Village.

It’s a village on a hill in northern Seoul comprised mostly of traditional ‘hanok’ houses.

These houses are small and quite beautiful, they were originally known as Joseon Houses after the Joseon dynasty. This was the time when Korea went through a lot of prosperity and advancement. An interesting character to read about is King Joseon the Great, he is widely regarded as having improved politics, science etc. promoting Confucian style values (family / education) and he is the leader who introduced the impressive Hangul writing system.

Did you know you can learn the Hangul aphabet in a day.

Then you can go to K Pop Karaoke!

Bukchon can be packed with tourists during the day, but is quiet a night. Let us take a look at some pictures:

Ihwa Village & Naksan Park, Seoul, South Korea

south korea

Another good spot to check out in Seoul is Ihwa Mural Village and Naksan Park with beautiful views across the city.

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It’s near to Hunsung University so there are a lot of cafe and cheap food options. It’s also a short walk from both Changgyeonggung and Changdeokgung.

Head up the hill from the main road to the mural village and park. I arrived just as sunset was ending and literally ran all the way up to try and get a shot with the sun! I almost died..

As well as the mural village being famed for street art, there are also a number of art installations around the area.

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You can see N Seoul Tower from here.

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If you walk a little further up you can you get a view to the North, East and back to the South.

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On the walk back down I spied a lovely little pagoda style terrace overlooking the west.

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Unfortunately this trip to the Mural village was a bit dark for photography, but here is one shot from a previous trip.

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Dongdaemun Art & Cultural Centre Pt II

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Continuing on from my last post about a set of stairs at Dongdaemun Art & Cultural Centre in Seoul, South Korea I was also impressed by the main walkway from the street to the museum and design halls.

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The concrete captures the afternoon light beautifully and the shape is quite striking.

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I also like the mix of English, Hangul, Katakana and Hanzi / Kanji (Chinese Character) lettering on the various halls.

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That’s it from Dongdaemun.

Stairs – A Short Study, Dongdaemun, Seoul

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I’m really getting on board with the enticing blog post titles; “Stairs – A Short Study” – hardly groundbreaking clickbait.

There is relatively modern design plaza in the centre of Seoul. I decided to take a few photographs as the architecture is quite unusual.

This post is about one set of stairs.

I was drawn by the wonderful geometry. I love how they widen as they descend. I like the grey concrete of the stairs, floor and wall and how while they are similar they have different angles and textures. I think it’s a wonderful piece of subtle design.

But the stairs aren’t the full story, the interest was completed by watching different people walk up and down.

A single guy strolling down slowly.

A middle aged couple marching up in bright winter coats.

A young couple romantically staggering up.

One of the things I love about photography is the frozen motion especially mid step, jog, leap..  I think that’s why some sports / action photographs can be so striking.

Looking back on images of people frozen in time as they ascend or descend is more interesting than the real moment; sometimes life goes too quickly to catch the details.

Note: these photos are unadjusted from RAW in the camera, I like the natural unedited low contrast. I think it’s the first time I haven’t wanted to process a photo at all (I’m not talking about photoshop, just the normal in camera automatic processing).

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Am I crazy, or do these stairs hold any interest for anyone else?

Changdeokgung Seoul Korea (Royal Palace)

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Ok – so last post I was so excited to visit china and do some tai chi…  well… it didn’t quite work out. So, I’m in Seoul, Korea now.

Shenzhen was more developed and interesting than expected, but after a week I realised it wasn’t the right kind of chill atmosphere to enjoy tai chi. And with early morning and late evening lessons there just wasn’t enough non-shopping activity to keep me entertained.

Instead I hopped on a plane and came to Seoul to see a friend. I’ve been travelling about 8 weeks now and I felt like I could really do with seeing a familiar face. I’ve also been dreaming about Korean Chicken and Beer for about a year.

This is my second trip to Seoul. On my first trip I went to one of the Royal Palaces; Gyeongbokgung – it was so beautiful. So on this trip one of my first stops was Changdeokgung; another royal palace, that happens to be a UNESCO heritage site.

I wanted to share some pictures of Changdeokgung. I spent a few hours walking around the palace and secret garden.

From about 200 photos I picked 22 out that I am really delighted with. Keep your eye out for the Racoon; perhaps one of the last of a long line of royal Racoons.

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This place is really super photogenic. It’s a bit packed with people as you can see in the photo with the large palace building. However there is a large part of the complex that most tourists seem to skip. If you ever go then start by heading into the former administrative area. Many of the lovely pics were taken there; so peaceful.

And isn’t Autumn just so fantastic!

I have to admit I’ve was in love with photography in 2014 and 2015, but this last 6-8 months I’ve been losing interest a little. But this trip around Changdeokgung has sparked the desire in me to continue.

I plan to make some other posts about other aspects of Seoul soon. It’s a top city.