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The Unbelievable Beauty of Nepal

Navigating harsh, high altitude terrain; occasionally soaked from rain, at other times sweating from exertion only to end up shivering from cold soon after; exhausted from walking for hours on end, heavy packs on our shoulders and with one bad knee in tow. None of that mattered. The challenges of the Himalayas were muted and […]

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Planning the Annapurna Circuit

Why Go? It’s daunting at first glance. And then you look closer and you realize it’s not just daunting; it’s also ridiculous and crazy and a downright rough way to spend a month long holiday. After all, aren’t holidays meant to be spent on the beach, stiff drink in hand and with no worries to […]

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High Spirits and then a Snag in Kathmandu

A Memorable Flight I’m mesmerized by the view from our plane’s window as we near Kathmandu. It’s only an hour flight from Delhi, but the haze has already faded and I’m seeing thunderstorms on the horizon as we begin our descent. I catch my first glimpse of the Himalayas. The mountains and storms glow pink […]

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A Photowalk Through Zurich in Wintertime

It’s Almost Here Winter is fast approaching and I can hardly contain my excitement. Maybe it’s the crisp, refreshing air, maybe it’s the holidays, or maybe it’s the way the sun lingers low on the horizon throughout the day. If the name of this website doesn’t already give it away, I love winter. Last year I fully embraced […]

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Swarovski CL Pocket Binoculars in Nepal

Harsh Conditions on the Circuit I was loaned a pair of CL Pocket Binoculars for evaluation on my recent trip to Nepal. So how did they fare? Did the binoculars stand up to the brutal abuse and intense conditions along the circuit? Find out in this first hand review of Swarovski’s new product. Initial Impressions […]

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A Layover in Delhi, India

A Culture of Chaos Walking past the designer brands in the airport and driving past the Canon sign on our way into the city, I’m reminded yet again that Delhi is a place whose modernity defies its present day culture of chaos. Fighting fatigue from our long 15hr flight from Newark, New Jersey, I look up […]

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A Stroll Through Dublin’s Saturday Markets

One of my favourite things to do in Dublin on a Saturday is to explore its many markets that pop up in public spaces on the weekend.  This trip, my Airbnb host thoughtfully left me information about Temple Bar Food Market, which led to further discoveries.   Temple Bar Food Market As the name implies, […]

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A Tale of the African Leprechaun

Once upon a time a rural, tribal village in Zimbabwe….. A bunch of Western tourists sat in a mud hut, huddled around an 81-year-old almost naked chief. He was a friendly fellow, wanting to know about each and every one of us visitors and where we came from. One person was from Ireland. To give […]

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Facebook Cover Pictures

Is the old Facebook profile getting a bit stagnant? Is your cover shot in need of a facelift? Introducing The Polar Route’s collection of Facebook Cover Shots. Facebook cover shots are a total pain. You can’t just find any old picture, put it up as your cover shot, and have it looking good right away. […]

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All About Neutral Density Filters

Several months back, I received this question on Twitter from @HusbandInTow: Would love to see basic stuff for photo novices, like how to use a filter, how to slow shutter speed, etc Thanks for the question @HusbandInTow. The best way to slow your shutter speed is by using Neutral Density Filters. To make the most […]

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A Change in Perspective

I’ve just landed in Japan. It’s my first time here and it’s raining on this night. It’s late December and the rain is cold. I know where I’m supposed to sleep but all the signs are in Japanese and I’ve seen bowls of spaghetti with more organization than this metro map which I’m presently trying […]

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A Day in Bangkok

“Only 10 bhat tip? Give me more. You give me more!” Thus began our day outside of the Wat Po temple complex in Bangkok, Thailand. We had already massively overpaid for the short tuk tuk ride, but most drivers refuse to carry tourists for anything less than some multiple of the local price. It’s possible […]

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The Travel Photo Carnival Round 5: Motion!

Showcase Your Best Motion Shots! Welcome to Round 5 of the Travel Photo Carnival. What’s that, you ask? The Travel Photo Carnival is a way for all of us travel photographers to connect with each other and share our best photos from each week’s theme. Entering is super easy; just email your photo to me […]

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Why Bangkok Works in the Land of Smiles

Stay the hell away? Bangkok overwhelms in every possible way. The heat, traffic, crowds, noise, the constant assault of street food on your olfactory receptors. The polluted air and intense, near-equatorial sun lend a heavy feeling to being there and there’s no escape. Every single street corner is a barrage of concrete, electrical wires, idling […]

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Using Jet Lag to Your Advantage

 Fast Planes and Big Oceans. Why You Can’t Beat Jet Lag. Humans have been around for a couple hundred thousand years, and only within the last 70 have we begun flying big planes across big oceans. The idea that 16 hours is a “long” time to travel between Chicago and Hong Kong, or San Francisco […]

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Enter the Night Photography Contest!

Want to shoot some incredible night scenes this week? Perfect! I’m running this week’s photo contest over at Currys PC World, and I’d LOVE to have you enter. I’m looking for images that inspire, motivate, and show the world something new.   Why You Should Enter You might actually win the thing! For night shooting […]

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The Coolest Little Town in Patagonia

The Hilarity of “Underrated” “Underrated” doesn’t even begin to cover it. If it were anywhere else on earth, you’d already have heard of Puerto Natales. Problem is it’s right smack dab in the middle of Patagonia, widely regarded as one of the most beautiful areas in the world. It’s like putting your perfect little daily […]

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Battle of The 50s: A Bokeh Comparison

This is a totally unscientific, just for fun bokeh comparison between three (four?) of Canon’s 50mm lenses.   What Makes Good Bokeh? What’s attractive to you may not be the same for everyone else, but in general the more rounded the out of focus elements the more pleasing the bokeh. Good bokeh shows the background […]

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Breathing in Northern Asia

A short story to cool you off It’s late July, North America’s just endured its worst heat wave of the year so far, and I can’t wait for things to cool off. If you’ve been reading this site for a while, you already know my affinity for cold weather. Otherwise, “The Polar Route” says it […]

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Finding Your Photographic Style

It’s all about STYLE, baby The other day I was thinking about developing your own photographic style, and the famous Ted Grant quote popped into my head. Like so many great photographers, Ted has a style that’s all his own: “When you photograph people in color, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in […]

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How to Lose a Tail in Goa

“Hey man, I think those guys are following us.”   We had just arrived in Goa, India. I was traveling with two of my friends, and we were beginning of our third week of South Asian travel. We did what all reasonable travelers do on arrival in Goa, we found a place to stay and […]

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Good Will Hunting and Why I Travel

Have you ever seen Good Will Hunting? It’s one of my favorite movies, and even though it takes place entirely in Boston it completely sums up why I travel. Take a look at the following exchange between Sean the therapist played by Robin Williams, and Will the genius misfit kid played by Matt Damon: Sean: […]

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You Should Go To Sri Lanka.

Just go there. It’s cheaper, more exotic, prettier, more laid back, and better than just about every other beach destination on Earth (yeah, even Thailand). Have your doubts? I’ll prove it to you.   It’s cheap Where else can you stay at a “Hilten” hotel for $9 USD a night? Okay, so it’s not THE Hilton, […]

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New Destination Gallery: RUSSIA

Twelve Cities, Six Weeks Worth of Travel The new Russia gallery is the culmination of about six weeks of travel through Russia on two separate trips. Cities included St. Petersburg, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Tyumen, Tomsk, Omsk, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk, Listvyanka and Lake Baikal, Khabarovsk, and Vladivostok. Travel between each city involved a cumulative 16 days worth […]

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Review: Canon 50mm f1.0L. Yeah, 1.0!

A Big Old Heaping Pile of Glass… The first thing you notice about this lens is the glass. This lens is all glass with a little bit of that nice “L” series black plastic wrapped around it. This thing weighs 2lbs – it’s even heavier than the 5D Mark III camera it was attached to for […]

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The Best of My Year in Daily Photos

The end of the first year, and some changes This month marks the end of my first year in Today’s Photos. It also marks a significant change in that I’ve switched to an entirely new format, one that’s simpler and better. I dumped Smugmug in favor of Flickr, and I’ve removed all daily photo posts […]

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Istanbul: A Photo Essay

Last month I spent the better part of a week in the incredible city of Istanbul, Turkey. I was caught off guard at what a lively city it is – the people are passionate above all else. They’re proud of their history and they have an active and vested interest in their future. It’s plainly obvious […]

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What’s Your Favorite Country in the World?

One of the first things I’m asked when people find out I travel is, “what’s your favorite country?” Most travelers I know can’t answer this question, and I never could either. There’s far too much awesomeness out there to pick just one place. And then I went to Mongolia. Mongolia is my favorite country in […]

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Getting that Film Look

I have a new found fascination and respect for film after shooting with it extensively, including on my recent trip to Istanbul. I love the stuff – it’s challenging, it’s beautiful, and it’s so much fun. Although I got my photographic start with my first film SLR, I’ve never really considered myself a film photographer. With film, […]

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Tasting Istanbul

A tour for someone who hates tours Istanbul is a food lover’s dream. There are so many food options and so many flavors in the city that it’s absolutely overwhelming. It’s like being in a maze without a map, without a sense of direction, and with no idea of where to even begin. It’s a perfect […]

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Film Pictures from Istanbul

Last week I spent a quick 5 days in Istanbul. I had mostly good vibes about the city. I loved it’s food, architecture, history, markets, and culture. But WOW are there a lot of people! There were long lines for the touristy things, and the non touristy things had tons of people too. I wouldn’t […]

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Where can you see THIS?

They’re not cute… Really. I never realized how incredibly stupid penguins look until I saw them for myself. Seeing them waddle awkwardly on land, watching them flap their useless wings, listening to them caw loudly at each other for no apparent reason other than to make noise. But get them in water, though, and they suddenly transform into […]

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Shooting Film. Again.

Do you listen to records? Still pumping those Reeboks? Do you rollerblade? If you answered YES to any of these, or if you just plain love all things retro, then maybe you should try film… again. It’s totally rad! Besides nostalgia there are lots of other super awesome reasons to (re)try film: Cameras and lenses […]

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Top Things to Do in Iceland

I spent two weeks driving around Iceland last fall, and I can’t wait to go back (someday…) All these must sees can accessed by making a circular route on Highway 1, Iceland’s main highway, and this post is vaguely laid out in a clockwise fashion around the country. Without further ado: Check out Reykjavik Resist […]

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Living Large in Reykjavik

Live large in Reykjavik Iceland’s capitol is bursting at the seams with life and energy. A full day can easily be spent walking around without a plan.   The View Situated on Iceland’s southeastern coastline, you’ll be treated to breathtaking glimpses across the bay as you explore the city. Don’t miss the view from the top […]

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Instagram… in Real Life

This is Gracie. She’s my family dog, and this is her “portrait”. The picture’s out of focus, the colors are horrible, and yet something about this picture screams awesome. It’s awesome because it’s real. No Instagram, no batteries, memory cards or digital cameras, and not much in the way of photoshop, either. In fact there’s […]

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Video! Welcome to the Trans Siberian Railway

Welcome to my first video! It’s a summary of Trans Siberian train travel covering two separate trips – once westbound in late fall on the Trans Mongolian route from Shanghai to Moscow, and once eastbound in winter on the classic Trans Siberian route from Tallinn to Vladivostok. The video’s best watched in full screen (click […]

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What Camera Should You Buy?

Taking a big trip soon? In the market for a new camera? A lot of people start seriously considering buying their first “real” camera before they take their first major trip. They want quality, memories, and lots of good pictures. There’s no upper limit to what you can spend in photography, and it’s easy to […]

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Just How Cold is Siberia in Winter?

I just finished my second trip on the Trans Siberian Railway, an epic journey that took me from Tallinn, Estonia to Vladivostok, Russia by land. I went in late fall the first time across, and although it snowed in every Russian city I visited I was left wondering just how cold it gets in the […]

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