travel tips

Marrakech: A weekend of 1001 Nights

Hi everyone,

for this trip we wanted to try something a little bit different. Getting out of our comfort zone, trying something new, something that's a bit more off that beaten path. We also wanted to experience a different culture, a different religion and a different way of living. 

Not sure how we came up with Marrakech, most likely because convenience is always winning and since it's only about 3 hours flight time from London we quickly checked the Airbnb availability and booked the trip.

 

Day 1: Arriving in Africa

It's amazing how quickly you can escape the western world. You get your double shot Flat white at your favourite London Coffeeshop, board the plane and three hours and a cab drive later you find yourself somewhere that feels like infinitely far away from everything you're used to.

Getting around in Marrakech can be quite tricky which is why we decided to get a guide for the first day. The streets and markets can be quite a maze with barely any street signs, so getting a local to show you around is of great help. 

After the trip through the souqs we took some time off from the heat and spend some time at the hotel pool as well as the rooftop terrace. For the end of the day we had booked a camel ride at the local palm grove. Especially at the late afternoon North Africa gets some incredible smooth light which led to some great photos.

Day 2: Tour through the Atlas Mountains

Leaving the city behind on our second day, we headed north towards the Atlas Mountains. You can easily books day-trips online and in advance. A lot of the villages that surround Marrakesh are quite remote and still feel like time has stopped many centuries ago.

The tour was in a private 4x4 and our guide was really friendly and helpful, he never got tired of stopping the car for me to hectically get out of the car to take a picture. The trip also included lunch and tea at a traditional berber house, featuring a delicious meal combined with a stunning view over the Atlas mountains at almost 3000m altitude. 

Day 3: Lost and Found in Marrakech

On our last day we felt confident enough to explore the city on our own. We started the day early in the morning by visiting the Jardin Majorelle, a botanical garden which was owned and re-designed by Yves Saint Laurent in the early 80s. It's an incredibly vibrant and colourful place, I'd recommend going there in the morning as it's less crowded and the light is going to be a lot softer.

Next on our checklist was the Ali Ben Youssef Medersa, a former islamic school that used to be one of the biggest in the country. Today it has been converted into a museum, exhibiting beautiful architecture with walls and ceilings filled with marble ornaments and wooden carvings. Not far away from the school is the Musee de Marrakech, a converted palace that was once home to the rich and powerful. It offers a great insight into the life of the moroccan upper class of the 19th century.

At the end of the third day we were pretty exhausted, the heat was getting to us and we decided to ease out the last day at one of the balconies at the Djemaa el-Fna, also known as the Large Square. It's pretty much a big open space right in the heart of the old town, getting incredibly busy after the sun sets as little food stalls start popping up all over the place, offering traditional moroccan street food as well as drinks, herbs and spices. By securing a spot at one of the rooftop restaurants we managed to escape the trouble and were rewarded with a beautiful last sunset over the mosques and markets of Marrakech.

7 Best Spots for Photography in Paris

Bonjour mes amis,

when I first came to Paris about a year ago I was completely overwhelmed: The city is filled with the most beautiful architecture, elegant avenues and picturesque parks. No matter in which direction you're going to go, you will most certainly find some breathtaking sights. So in order to make your photographic journey through Paris a bit more pleasant, I've assembled my personal 7 best spots for shooting amazing pictures in Paris:

1. La Tour Eiffel

Alright, let's start with the obvious. It's gonna be hard to miss Paris' most iconic sight, the Eiffel Tower. Does it look great on Photos? Yes. Is it gonna be really touristy? Of course. So is it worth it? Definitely! 

Even though it has been photographed probably a million times it's still looks great. Bring a wide angle to capture the some different perspectives, try and get really close to the iron scaffoldings, if the weather isn't perfect the tower is going to look stunning in black and white. And the great thing about the Eiffel Tower is that it's visible from all over the city which gives you plenty of opportunities to play with different compositions.

2. The Louvre

The Louvre is one of the worlds greatest collection of art. Even if you're not into classical art, simply wander around in the gigantic building through sheer endless corridors of art and history. Book tickets in advance to avoid the queue, also the Louvre is open till late one day a week, which is usually a great opportunity to see the Louvre a little bit less crowded. 

3. Get out at night

If you think Paris is pretty during the day, wait until you see it at night. Pretty much all the famous sights are illuminated quite spectacularly. Definitely stop at the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre for some stunning shots.  

4. Get up high

Paris offers a lot of great opportunities for cityscapes. Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur on top of Montmartre, and Notre Dame are just a few examples to get that wide angle lens out on a tripod. Sometimes there are lifts, sometimes just stairs, so pack light. A fantastic insider tip is the Galeries Lafayette. It's a pretty big department store in the centre of Paris but it has an amazing rooftop terrace (which even has a bar). Try and be there when the store opens (usually around 9) to avoid crowds. 

5. Watch out for Street Art

Apart from all the official art exhibitions, Paris has a lot of guerrilla artists actively enhancing the facades of houses, bridges and building. So keep your eyes open, some are well hidden, some are quite obvious.  

6. Montmartre and Sacre Coeur

The district of Montmartre has quite a vivid history with being home to artists like Dali, Monet Picasso and van Gogh. Today the 130 meters high hill in the middle of Paris is still incredibly vibrant with art markets, little galleries and coffee shops. Right on top is the church Sacre Coeur, which will give you an amazing view over Paris.

7. Get aboard for a Riverboat-Tour

Perfect for your last day when feet already hurt. The Seine pretty much flows along all the major sights so you can get a last chance to get a shot of Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower, also from a different perspective and without the hassle of walking and taking the underground. It's a hop on/off ticket in case you feel like spending some on land. 


5 Reasons to visit Barcelona

Hola, 

last weeks we spent 5 amazing days in beautiful Barcelona. It's an incredible vibrant place packed with inspiring architecture, a seemingly endless beach, fantastic food and loads of little alleys which are just waiting to be explored.  And I have to admit that 5 days probably can't to justice to city like that. However these are my top 5 reasons why everyone should have visited this urban playground at least once:

1. The Alley Maze

First thing you will find yourself trapped in after you've left the high streets: A never-ending maze of little alleys and back streets. You can most likely walk for hours without hitting the same spot twice. It's great for street photography, food and shopping. So loose yourself, let your curiosity guide you and you sure will discover something unique.

2. Gaudi and the Sagrada Familia

Ok, we've all seen cathedrals. We've been in big ones, small ones, photographed them from every possible angle, we've seen medieval churches, gothic chapels, renaissance sanctuaries, baroque temples, we've simple seen them all. But I guarantee you, you've never been to a cathedral like the Sagrada Familia, Gaudi's masterpiece.  

But that's by far not the only place Gaudi designed. You can find spot all over the city that were designed or at least inspired by him.

3. The Markets

Personally I love markets. Not necessarily for the food but I just love the atmosphere. And the Mercado de La Boqueria right in the heart of Barcelona is literally buzzing. It's packed with little stalls and people buying and selling everything the catalan cousin has to offer. 

4. Tibidabo

I was looking forward to visiting this place for quite a while now. An amusement park on the top of a hill overlooked by a majestic gothic church? And did I mention the cable car that brings you all the way up? Sounds pretty amazing to me. 

5. The Nightlife

When the night sets over Barcelona the city becomes even more colourful. Almost every building is illuminated of some sort, there are light-beams and coloured fountains, street music and a warm breeze. So that stroll after dinner will definitely be worth it. 

So don't get me wrong, there are possible a million more reasons to visit Barcelona. These 5 are just an appetizer. Go there and discover yourself, you won't regret it.

A Photowalk through Hamburg

I have to admit,

getting up some pictures of my hometown Hamburg was way overdue. The place where I bought my first camera back in 2005 and where I since shot so many photos I kinda lost sight of how pretty this place can be. Ironically when I went there last week Hamburg didn't quite show it's sunny side. Instead we got mizzle and drizzle, so black and white was the only reasonable option to keep my photographic Me happy. 

A typical view from the riverside onto the dockyards

A typical view from the riverside onto the dockyards

I was quite lucky and my good friend Daniel kindly joined me for a stroll through the town, starting at the signature hanseatic harbour though the old tunnel below the river Elbe and then back into the centre.

 

What to do with all that rain?

If you're travelling to different places sooner or later you will hit a rainy day, it'll be lousy and cold, all theory about that perfect light and the Golden Hour lost behind a grey curtain of rainfall and fog. On the bright side these conditions are a great opportunity for some moody black and white shots. And it's also a great creative exercise as you have to be much more aware of your surroundings. Everyone can shoot great pictures during a sunset whereas getting that perfect shot on a rainy day is a great challenge. Here are my tips from last weekend:

  1. Look for contrast. Since you're gonna get rid of all the colours you're pretty much left with just luminance. Also thing ahead of what you might be able to do with an image in post processing. Harsh shadows are usually a no-go but can look fantastic in black an white
  2. Skies. Always make sure you're sky isn't clipped. I'd even go as far as slightly underexposing the foreground in order to get enough detail in the sky. Especially on a stormy day clouds can add a lot of dynamic and atmosphere to a landscape or panorama.
  3. Look for Shapes and Patterns. Stairs, brick walls, tiles, fences, everything that's geometric or repetitive. 
  4. Reflections. Look up, look down, look into puddles, get out of you're usual comfort zone. Move yourself, shoot downwards or upwards, shoot windows or mirrors, traffic lights reflecting on wet roads.

I'm sure there a dozens more things you could try, so leave a comment to send me a message if you fancy sharing any tips for that rainy summer day. These are the pictures I took. Enjoy.