Hawaiian pro big-wave surfer Garrett McNamara, 44, has officially made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for his November 2011 ride on a 78-foot wave (previously recorded as being 90-feet). McNamara was towed in on a jet ski off the coast of Nazare, a fishing village north of Lisbon, and absolutely killed it gliding down the face of this monster. Don’t try this at home, kids.
Some cities just draw you in, beckoning you to capture their souls on camera. There are billions of places in the world where photo ops abound — The Pyramids, Rome, London, and The Great Wall of China are a few of the most famous examples.
Here are ten less common places where magnificent scenery, people, and everyday life are like no other — and can lead to some terrific travel photography.
Quite simply, Budapest has the most exquisite architecture. The detail of the buildings is like no other, especially at dusk — they all seem to change color with the succession of each frame.
Further, the winding River Danube dividing the city is a spectacular sight, with its bridges spaced at precise intervals.
Fira, Santorini Islands, Greece
Everyone has seen images of Santorini, one of the famed Greek Islands, but somehow when it’s captured through your own lens, it speaks to you of ancient time and tradition, of a different culture that you have only read about in history books.
Views of the volcano and spectacular sunsets in Fira, Santorini’s capital city, seem surreal. The people and their faces, the blue sky touching the blue water — both blue, yet somehow distinct — and the white stucco houses and churches, restaurants and tavernas are images that bring a serenity to your heart and a love for all things Greek!
Alive and bustling around the clock, people-watching in Tokyo is like no other place on earth. The vibrancy of this 24-hour city — the neon signs and jumbo-trons in Shibuya, the color, the streets — you don’t know where to look first.
Divided into sections called wards, each section has its own allure. Despite the differences among the wards, though, you can easily sense the fast pace of this city in its photos.
San Francisco, California, USA
Synonymous with diverse culture, ocean scenery, and unusual topography, this San Francisco is a photographer’s best friend. The streets winding through here — from exclusive Nob Hill, to Chinatown, from Fisherman’s Wharf, to the Embarcadero, from Haight Ashbury, to the Mission District — provide the contrasts of life in this hilly town.
Moreover, the fantastic views of the San Francisco and Bay Bridges make for a fantastic portfolio of visual memory. Even the weather is photogenic — with it’s rolling fog enveloping the bridges and hovering close to the ocean.
No list would be complete without mentioning Paris, for obvious reasons. Despite having seen thousands of images of the Eiffel Tower or the Arc de Triomphe, each one still makes me gasp just a little. Moreover, taking my own photographs of the sights of Paris, both day and night, make me smile.
This sophisticated City of Lights has “that Wow Factor.” Snapshots of Moulin Rouge, Sacre Coeur, The Louvre with it’s glass pyramid, or sitting on a park bench in the Jardin des Tuileries capturing the heart of the French people, all display such a span of eras in France — new versus old. The meandering Seine River, with boats lazily drifting by, reflect a relaxing calm. The allure of this city is that even if you have never visited, you can identify it unmistakably through photos.
This seaside village, north of Lisbon, is an out-of-the-way, modest, fishing village. The people sitting on their stone sidewalks, playing musical instruments, or selling fruits and nuts under colorful umbrellas, have that intriguing look from another time. Their happy and smiling faces will fill your lens with joyful simplicity. Even the food is delightful to photograph with it’s authentic ethnicity, caught right at the ocean’s edge and cooked to perfection.
One of the other things you may be drawn to in Nazare are the old doors and doorways, brightly colored and uniquely shaped and sized. A collection of those door photos is one of my prized possessions, since it always conjures memories of my visit.
Capturing people at work here — serious and intense — in Obidos was my favorite, not to mention that they still live in colorful village apartments above their stone shops with clay roofs, surrounded by olive trees and churches. It’s here in this picturesque village that I’ve captured countless photos of the intricate stone and exquisite tile work for which the Portuguese are famous.
In Lucca, you can learn to cook and eat Italian food, bike, sightsee and capture the most unforgettable photos of authentic Italian life. Nothing is more beautiful here than pictures of food, because in Italy, food is an art!
Hollywood, California, USA
Hooray for Hollywood! Quintessential Tinseltown! This is where star-gazing in every form is a pastime. Celebrities abound, and glitz and glamor is everywhere. All the landmarks, from Hollywood and Vine, to Sunset Boulevard, to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, seem surreal and indulgent.
Casts of characters (literally and figuratively) line the streets, sometimes in the flesh and sometimes in the form of the Walk of Fame Stars. It’s everywhere, waiting for the eye of the lens. be sure to keep your camera firmly in hand, ready for that celebrity sighting.
Road Town, Tortola, BVI
Down into the Caribbean Sea we go to capture a special kind of tranquility in photography. The small Island of Tortola, BVI, (capital city: Road Town) accessible by a ferry, entices you right at the dock.
The houses are brightly painted in Caribbean blues and greens, with splashes of pinks and corals. There’s nothing like a photo of that gorgeous aqua clear-to-the-bottom water! Further, sunsets on Cane Garden Bay are tranquil purples, golds and blues. Also, the slower pace is evident and amazingly (and easily) conveyed through a lens.
Hundreds of thousands of places around the world are worthy of being photographed, but these wonderful places are each a treasure trove to be captured and remembered.
Want more? Don’t forget to check out Gadling’s series, “Through The Gadling Lens,” which explains how to get the most out of your travel photos.