2013 in 50 Photographs

Kris and I visited 13 foreign countries in 2013. In order: Spain, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Canada, England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Japan, back to Spain, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, and Hungary.

Our travels within the US included trips to Napa, California and Hawaii, both new to us as well.

Here are 50 photos I made along the way. They're in no particular order. I hope you like them.

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mattias church budapest
Mattias Church, Budapest.

[1] Budapest, Hungary

The Mattias Church. The wild stenciling and abstract frescoes are unlike anything I've ever seen before.

christmas market prague
Prague at night.

[2] Prague, Czech Republic

The Christmas Market in the Old Town Square. The lighting just adds to the festivities. We hadn't gone out with the intention of shooting any photos, so I didn't have my big camera. This is taken with my little Canon S110.

st vitus window prague
St. Vitus Church, Prague.

[3] Prague, Czech Republic

We were in Prague for a week, and had a total of about two hours of sunshine. I was lucky enough to capture the strong rays coming through a window of St. Vitus Church.

soviet war memorial berlin germany
Soviet War Memorial, Berlin.

[4] Berlin, Germany

Of all the artifacts of the Soviet occupation of East Germany, this is the one that struck me the most. A huge memorial to the Soviet soldiers who were killed in the final assault on Berlin in April-May 1945. About 7000 of the 80,000 Soviets killed in that battle are buried here.

sagrada familia barcelona
Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

[5] Barcelona, Spain

When I first saw the Sagrada Familia in 1975 it had no roof or windows. It's come a long way since then. I had to stand in line for more than an hour to get into the church in November. It was worth it.

fuji japan
Mount Fuji.

[6] Mount Fuji, Japan

Fuji is a reluctant friend. While we were there for three days, he only showed himself for a few hours total. This was our first glimpse, the morning after the first snowfall of the year.

Mt Fuji from Iyashi no Sato
Mount Fuji from the village of Iyashi no Sato.

[7] Mount Fuji, Japan

Another shot of the mountain from the other side of the lake. The clouds closed in about five minutes after taking this shot and the view of the mountain was lost for the day.

birthday party japan
Birthday party, mountain lodge Japan.

[8] Sugadaira, Japan

We took an unplanned detour to an off season ski lodge when we couldn't find a hotel anywhere else in Japan during a holiday weekend. We ended up being invited to share in a family birthday party. It was the grandfather's birthday, but, as usual, the youngest got to blow out the candle.

monk hiraizumi japan
Buddhist monk, Hiraizumi, Japan.

[9] Hiraizumi, Japan

Many of the temples of Hiraizumi were destroyed in long ago wars, but a few are still in use. I caught this image of a monk who joined the ceremony late and simply knelt at the edge of the mat and quietly joined in the chanting.

temple golden pavillion kyoto japan
The famous Temple of the Golden Pavillion.

[10] Kyoto, Japan

The most famous temple of Japan. We were lucky to catch it on a calm day the allowed maximum clarity of its reflection in the pond.

hiroshima japan
Atomic bombed dome, Hiroshima.

[11] Hiroshima, Japan

It was near dusk when we arrived by train in Hiroshima, but we immediately took the tram to the epicenter of the atomic blast. This is the so-called Atomic Dome, a earthquake-reinforced building that was 160 meters from the epicenter. The skeleton of the building was left as a memorial.

nagasaki japan
Nagasaki memorial.

[12] Nagasaki, Japan

The memorial of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki consists of columns of translucent material that form a colonnade that points to the epicenter, a few hundred meters away. At the end of the memorial room is a list of the 160,000 people killed by the attack.

sunset shirakowago japan
Sunset, Shirakowa-go, Japan.

[13] Shirakowa-go, Japan

Sunset over the mountains at the World Heritage Site that made the end of a lovely day.

sumo tokyo japan
National sumo tournament, Tokyo.

[14] Tokyo, Japan

The first day of the national Sumo tournament in Tokyo.

innisfree lake sligo ireland
Lake isle of Innisfree, inspiration for one of Yeats' most famous poems.

[15] Sligo, Ireland

One of W.B. Yeats' most famous poems is The Lake Isle of Innisfree. Innisfree is a tiny island in Loch Gill on the outskirts of Sligo-town. We hiked a ways off the road on a rainy day to get this view of it.

yeats grave sligo drumcliffe
Yeats' grave, near Sligo, Ireland.

[16] Drumcliffe, Ireland

Yeats wanted to be buried within sight of Ben Bulben, the famous mountain in west Ireland. The lines on the tombstone are from his own eulogy poem, “Under Ben Bulben.”

ben bulben sligo ireland 2
The iconic Ben Bulben, Sligo, Ireland.

[17] Sligo, Ireland

We drove around Ben Bulben and got several angles on it's unique shape. This is the head-on view.

coventry england
Coventry Cathedral, now a park.

[18] Coventry, England

The Coventry Cathedral was mostly destroyed by German bombers in 1940. The ruins of the cathedral have been turned into a park used by city residents for casual strolls and an afternoon read.

stonehenge england
Pile of rocks at Stonehenge, England.

[19] Stonehenge, England

We walked around Stonehenge for more than an hour and finally got this shot with some interesting clouds and just a few tourists.

wells cathedral england chapter house
The geometry of the medieval cathedral is always intriguing.

[20] Wells, England

The entrance to the chapter house at Wells Cathedral. The geometry of the intersecting stairways just looked better in black and white.

exeter cathedral england
The cascade of arches at Exeter Cathedral.

[21] Exeter, England

The ceiling, the organ, the majesty of a wonderful medieval cathedral.

london thames boat
The storied Thames.

[22] London, England

Walking around London on another dreary English day. The sun poked through over the Thames just long enough to get this shot from a bridge.

el cedral festival cozumel
The annual fiesta at Cedral, Mexico.

[23] El Cedral, Mexico

Everyone, down to the babies, dressed up for the El Cedral village festival on Cozumel.

arm wrestle cozumel
Fun at a Cozumel bar.

[24] Cozumel, Mexico

A little contest in Cozumel's Money Bar over who was going to pay for the next round.

boats san sebastian harbor
The San Sebastián harbor.

[25] San Sebastian, Spain

A walk around the harbor area of San Sebastian and a look at its fishing fleet.

el escorial library
The library at El Escorial.

[26] El Escorial, Spain

Photography was prohibited in most of the El Escorial complex. Again, thanks to the tiny Canon S110, I surreptitiously got this one in the library.

women taking picture Nara
Mutual selfies, Nara, Japan.

[27] Nara, Japan

Two women in traditional dress taking each other's picture at the Nara temple complex.

Japanese craftsman Shirakowa-go
Craftsman restoring an old house in the World Heritage site.

[28] Shirakowa-go, Japan

The centuries-old village of Shirakowa-go is undergoing extensive renovation by skilled Japanese craftsmen. This fellow couldn't understand why I wanted to take his picture, but he graciously acceded to letting me shoot a few.

abbess zenkoji nagano
The abbess of the Nagano shrine.

[29] Nagano, Japan

The abbess of the Zenkoji temple returns home after her service. I got this shot just before her guard told me to stop shooting.

giants causeway
The interesting geology of Northern Ireland.

[30] Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland

The legend of the Giant's Causeway is that it was created during a fight between Scottish and Irish giants. That's probably a more interesting explanation than the heating and cooling of lava flows, no?

bogside artists derry 1
Murals commemorating the “troubles” in Derry.

[31] Derry, Northern Ireland

Several buildings in the Bogside neighborhood of Derry are painted with scenes from the “troubles” of the recent past.

housesteads fort hadrians wall
Housestead's Fort at Hadrian's Wall, northern England.

[32] Near Haydon Bridge, England

We went to Northern England with every intention of walking the length of Hadrian's Wall. The very cold and rainy June weather changed our minds, so we bounced along the wall route for a few days in our car and stopped for pictures at significant wall sites, like this old Roman fort at Housestead's.

chapter house york minster
Windows of the York Chapter House.

[33] York, England

For me, churches are all about the windows. And the chapter houses of English cathedrals usually put a lot of good ones in one spot.

playa pescadores tulum mexico
The white beach at Tulum.

[34] Tulum, Mexico

Beautiful white beach, which hasn't yet been discovered by the tourists. We only saw Mexicans here, and few of them.

Tikal at Dawn 2
Sunrise over ancient Tikal.

[35] Tikal, Guatemala

Stayed at the Tikal lodge within the park just so we could get up at 4 a.m. and hike for an hour to get this shot.

Howler Monkey Tikal
These howler monkeys live up to their name.

[36] Tikal, Guatemala

This guy and his family kept waking us up all night with their howls. But he made up for it by posing for this picture in the morning.

Hermano Pedro Antigua Guatemala
Postings from grateful pilgrims.

[37] Antigua, Guatemala

The Church of Hermano Pedro was nothing special, until you got to the side rooms where all the people who had been helped by prayer left their tributes to the Saint.

staircase royal fairmont hotel toronto
The exquisite architecture of the Royal Fairmont, which I later learned has been remodeled into a bar.

[38] Toronto, Canada

The Royal Fairmont is the hotel the Queen stays in when she comes to Toronto. It's just this lovely wherever you look.

Crocodile Lamanai Belize
Lurking croc.

[39] Lamanai, Belize

We took a two hour river cruise to get to the Mayan ruins at Lamanai, and stopped at my request to take a closer look at this guy.

temple carvings kabah yucatan 2
The detail of the Mayan carvings.

[40] Kabah, Mexico

Kabah has some of the best carvings among the several Mayan sites in the Yucatan.

haleakala maui hawaii
The desolation of a volcano.

[41] Haleakala, Maui, Hawaii

Tall volcanoes provide some of the most interesting lunar-like landscapes, especially when you're above the cloud line.

garron point fishermen northern ireland
Fishermen in the surf.

[42] Garron Point, Northern Ireland

I stopped to shoot these guys, and had about two minutes to take a couple shots before they gave up. Not biting, I guess.

elevator toronto gladstone hotel
The colorful elevator at the Gladstone Hotel, Toronto.

[43] Toronto, Canada

I don't usually take pictures of elevators, but I made an exception at the Gladstone Hotel.

golden gate bridge san francisco
The Golden Gate.

[44] San Francisco, California

The iconic Golden Gate, with a cooperative ship passing underneath to make the shot.

jack london ranch california
Jack London Ranch State Park.

[45] Sonoma Valley, California

The writer Jack London was an early advocate of sustainable farming. The Jack London State Park is his old ranch.

shoreline san sebastian spain
San Sebastian's picturesque shoreline.

[46] San Sebastian, Spain

We spent most of our time in San Sebastian eating pintxos, but forced ourselves to walk them off afterwards. On the walkway around the point at dusk, we watched the waves crash into the rocks.

atotonilco mexico
The adobe of Atotonilco, in the hot sun.

[47] Atotonilco, Mexico

I was just struck by this roofline of the main church here. It's a World Heritage site mostly due to the painting of the inside chapels, but the outside is also beautiful.

The pyramids at Teotihuacán, Mexico.

[48] Teotihuacán, Mexico

Again I was up at dawn to shoot a Mayan site, but was thwarted by the entry crew who showed up late. But, the vistas down the thousand-year-old streets to the pyramid were still stunning. I especially like how the pyramid mirrors the mountain behind.

mexico city cathedral
The ornate organ of Mexico City.

[49] Mexico City, Mexico

The organ and the ceiling of the Mexico City cathedral provided a bit of a challenge to shoot in low light, so I wedged myself into a corner, held my breath, and got a steady shot even without a tripod.

squirrels bayliss park council bluffs iowa
Black squirrels in historic Council Bluffs.

[50] Council Bluffs, Iowa

The unofficial mascot of my hometown is the black squirrel. A few years ago, the city put in a new fountain in Bayliss Park and surrounded it with sculptures of playful squirrels.

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32 thoughts on “2013 in 50 Photographs”

  1. Tom,

    This is a wonderful world tour. It is pure poetry. I’ve never been to Japan, but these pictures lure me in that direction. I’m looking forward to the additions of Greece, Turkey and maybe Russia? I also think Kauai Hawaii should be on your 1914 list. Thanks for sharing the mystery and charm of our blue/green world and the artefacts built upon it.

    • Sandra, we did go to Kauai this year, but didn’t get any photos that made the cut. It is lovely, and mostly unspoiled (so far.) Monsanto is doing its best to wreck it though.

  2. Tom, Your photographs are absolutely breathtaking. I read some of your photo tips in a prior blog post was inspired to improve my own travel photos. I need much more practice and a “real” camera and even then, I cannot imagine taking anything this stunning. Thank you for sharing this journey.

    • Never mind the real camera Nancy. Just work on your own eye. I took a few of these with a point and shoot, and at least two of them with my phone. Just carry something with you and shoot every day. Make notes, and try to do it better next time.

  3. Tom
    Congratulations…as always, wonderfully composed and evocative images. You inspire us all to travel more and see the world through clearer eyes.

    • Suzanne, most were taken with my Nikon D800E, which is definitely a pro level camera. But several were with a Canon S110, which is sort of a point and shoot but has a lot of manual control. I usually use it in manual mode. A couple were taken with my iPhone. But, like I’ve said many times, the camera is secondary to the eye of the photographer. There are lots of really good photographers working just with camera phones.

    • The Thames shot, the Golden Pavilion, the Wells Chapter House, the squirrels, and the Escorial Library were taken with the little camera. The birthday cake was with my phone.

  4. Tom,

    The photos of you and Kris dancing on the bar at Señor Frog’s did not make the cut? Disappointing . . . although these 50 were impressive to say the least. safe travels!

  5. Tom, These are some fantastic photos! I love everything Japan, but my two favorites are your Monkey Bar arm wrestling…love the action and the people and your Californian tree. All are gorgeous! Where are you and Kris nowadays? Happy shooting in 2014!

  6. Great stuff. I love these photographs, Tom. Interesting how black and white can be so dramatic. You chose exactly the right images–Berlin, Hiroshima and Wells. Hope you have fabulous travels in 2014.

    • Gemma, I think we looked into Scotland from Hadrian’s Wall, but we didn’t wander too far in this time. We were in Scotland for a while several years ago. We need to get back soon. Beautiful country, and a great place to photograph.

  7. Oh wow, some great photos! We spent 3 months in Prague last summer but can’t say I got a night shot of the Tyn Church that compares to that one.
    Happy to be a new subscriber, just came across your site :)
    Frank (bbqboy)


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