Blog

Embracing the Challenges of Traveling Abroad

Regardless of where you are in the world, traveling challenges in unexpected ways. It’s how we deal with those challenges that make the difference between a successful or unsuccessful trip. I’m in Tyumen, Russia, halfway around the world and twelve time zones away from my home in Chicago. Two months ago I’d barely even heard of […]

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The Icelandic Swimming Experience

Maybe it’s the always chilly arctic temperatures that make swimming in a warm, naturally heated pool so irresistible. And perhaps it’s the stunning views and pure, unpolluted northern air that’s prompted so many Icelanders to build those pools outside. I use the term “build” in a loose sense, as many Icelandic pools are nothing but […]

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The Rudest City on Earth?

I have to assume the woman is apologizing. She’s working the coat check desk at the Armory Museum in the Kremlin, and she’s just aggressively slammed my coat down onto the table. My DSLR was inside one of the pockets, and a horrible sound filled the room as a part went flying. All eyes are […]

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How to Travel Cheaply

One of the most common reasons people give for not traveling is it’s too expensive. But it’s all a matter of priorities, and people who value the travel experience usually find a way to make it happen. Here’s how you can minimize the expense of your travels:   Airline tickets Airline tickets are often a […]

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Don’t Baby Your Camera!

Cameras don’t need to be coddled. Your camera is a well constructed tool that’s built to take a beating. The more relaxed you are about your gear, the better pictures you’ll take. After all, the real beauty of a camera is found in the pictures you produce with it. Think of the stereotypical camera toting […]

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Why Would You Want to Travel HERE?

Welcome… to Siberia It’s rare that the mere name of a place evokes the sort of visceral feelings that “Siberia” is likely to conjur. For me it’s a wide ranging mix of sentiments: amazement, wonderment, fascination, a little bit of fear, and a lot of respect. Far from anywhere and sparsely populated, Siberia is the […]

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Make Your Own Gluhwein This Winter

I wasn’t able to make it to Europe this December like I had hoped. But no big deal; there’s plenty to get done at home and in the down time there’s Gluhwein! What’s Gluhwein you ask? It’s spiced wine mixed with fruit juices like apple, orange, and cranberry. It’s served hot with an optional shot […]

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Running Across Lake Baikal

Running… on a lake? By volume, it’s the largest freshwater lake in the world. It’s also the world’s oldest and deepest lake, and it holds some of the clearest and cleanest water on earth. And it’s cold. The lake freezes over every year thanks to Siberia’s brutal winters, and every March a marathon is run […]

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My Favorite sub $1000 DSLR

I am not being paid to tell you about this camera. These opinions are entirely my own. If you’re thinking of buying a DSLR, what you’re really looking for is value. What’s going to give you the most camera for your money? Looking at Canon’s lineup, the cameras available now are the Rebel T3i ($600), Rebel […]

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Road Tripping Iceland

Long hours were spent in the car during my 2 weeks worth of road tripping around Iceland. I never got bored, not once. Here’s why: The landscape changes quickly and for no apparent reason. One minute you’ll be driving through a frozen wasteland of nothingness, the next you’ll descend into a valley of lush, vibrant […]

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iPhone 4 Wallpaper

Welcome to The Polar Route’s newest addition: iPhone 4 Wallpaper! You’ll find the image above, “Shanghai Sunrise”, and more here. You can also find new wallpaper on my Pinterest Page. Don’t have an iPhone? Neither do I… us unlucky few will have to wait until other photo sizes are released 🙂

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Capturing Time with a 10 Stop ND Filter

The Blur Effect You know that nighttime motion blur you get that looks oooh-so good in photographs (see below)? Did you know you don’t have to wait till nightfall to obtain it? You can easily “stop motion” with extraordinarily short exposures: A hummingbird in flight, a single drop of falling water, a popping balloon. But how about […]

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Two Days in Besalú, Spain

Why Not? All you can eat, all you can drink. A private chef, a visit by the mayor, an amazing villa in which to stay, and being surrounded by cool people who share one common passion for travel. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that? I love taking pictures and for me that’s the easy […]

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Finding Unique Ways to Photograph Common Things

The world is pretty well explored – wherever you are, somebody’s already been there. And whatever you’re taking pictures of, well, somebody’s already taken pictures of the exact same thing. So how do you find originality in travel photos? Create it. Just because you aren’t photographing anything new doesn’t mean you can’t do it in […]

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The Traveler’s Spirit

Travel breaks up the routine. It allows us a glimpse of what life is like somewhere else, it humbles us and makes us appreciate the things we take for granted. And it’s sooo much fun. I travel for all those reasons, but most of all I travel because it’s the closest I’ve ever come to fully, […]

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The Southern Tip of the World

I’m an easy sell. The phone rings. Its a friend and fellow traveler, and by the end of our short conversation I’ve agreed to clear my work schedule for the next two weeks and instead head down south. Waaay south… Patagonia has always been low on my list: I don’t speak the language, prices are […]

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Traveling Light

I go somewhere new every few months and I’ve got packing down to a near-science. It’s amazing how little you actually need to bring, even for a multi-week trip. Besides my passport, I never leave home without:   For the flight: -Eye mask and ear plugs for sleeping -Ear phones and a small music device […]

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A New Way to Saturate Colors

Color Saturation. Pretty basic stuff, right? Sure it is, until you push it too far and see dreaded color banding. It’s easy to do even if you’re going for a natural look. Photoshop has two well used primary controls: Vibrance and Saturation. Vibrance targets the blues and other non-skin tone colors. It does a nice […]

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Review of the Canon 5D Mark III

This is a real world review of the Canon 5D Mark III DSLR camera, released in March of 2012. Let’s cut to the chase. I look for four main characteristics in travel cameras: image quality, usability, portability, and ruggedness. The 5D Mark III image quality is exactly what you’d expect – phenomenal. For usability, after […]

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Northern India Travels

Arrival. I’m alone, it’s midnight, and I’ve just arrived. My last 24 hrs were spent either on an airplane or connecting to the next flight. Chicago, Detroit, Amsterdam, and now, finally, Mumbai. I cant wait to grab a cab, get into bed, and sleep for as long as my jetlagged body allows. But first, I […]

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Thailand Travels Part 1: Bangkok

Thailand Travels So you’ve seen The Hangover 2. Or The Beach. Or maybe you’re the one who watched Bangkok Dangerous… And now you want to travel to The Land of Smiles. Let me tell you all about it.   Getting there If you are traveling to Thailand from anywhere far, you will almost certainly arrive […]

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Around the World in Two Weeks

View a high resolution version Around the World in Two Weeks You know those taste test kiosks at the grocery store, the ones that give you just a bite so you can see if you like it? Speedpacking is the travel equivalent of that. It’s ideal for people who don’t have a lot of time […]

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Best Places in Europe for…

Looking for new travel ideas? Here are 5 places in Europe to check out. Best places in Europe for: For going broke on $10 coffees: Moscow, Russia Кофемания (Coffeemania) in Moscow, at $10 usd a cup, boasts the most expensive coffee anywhere I’ve ever seen. Well, except for maybe the $30 cup of Kopi Luwak coffee […]

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Southern India Travels

In January – February 2012 I spent 2 crazy weeks traveling through southern India. We took trains, busses, planes and rode motorbikes from Chennai to Mumbai. If you are thinking of traveling to India or just want to do a bit of armchair traveling, read on…     Prepare yourself India is not for the faint of heart or […]

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Review of Canon 28mm f1.8 Lens

This is a real world review of the Canon’s 28mm f1.8, released in 1995. At the time of this review, it sells for $480 new. All shots in this review were captured using the 28mm lens. The lens is easy to use, easy to carry, and well built. It has a fast 1.8 aperture and the […]

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Christmas in Munich

‘Tis the Season The holidays are my favorite time of year: the air is crisp and refreshing, snow blankets the landscape, and there is a wonderfully festive quality to all the hustle and bustle as people brave the elements and get their shopping done. And when it comes to the charms of the season, you’d be […]

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A trip with the Canon Powershot SD1300

I just got back from a quick trip to Southern California where I attended a graduation, flew a light aircraft up north along the coast, and went camping by the ocean. I brought my 5D III in hopes of taking some nice pictures, but the aptly named M-Fn button somehow got stuck down which rendered […]

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The Difference Between Snapshots and Photographs

Walking around Prague on my latest international trip, I couldn’t help but notice the myraid cameras adorning the necks of enthusiastic tourists. It got me thinking: if everyone’s taking pictures of the same thing in the same place at the same time, what can be done to stand out? What’s the difference between a tourist snapshot and a […]

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Review of Canon 24-105mm f4.0L Lens

I’ve had the Canon 24-105 f4L lens for a few months and I was finally able to put it through it’s paces this week in Prague. Here’s my biased and subjective review, based solely on my personal experience. You have been warned! Initial thoughts: When I first picked it up I thought, wow – this is a […]

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A Guide to Travel Photography

Travel and photography go hand in hand. Everyday life to the locals may very well be something special and unique to a foreign visitor, something that will create a lasting memory through photography. Over the years I’ve taken a whole lot of travel photos… TONS of bad ones, some good ones, and a very select few great […]

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Canon 5D Mark III Weather Sealing

I’ve had the new 5D III for about a month now and all I can say is it’s an absolutely phenomenal camera. In that time I’ve really put it through it’s paces learning the ins and outs of this thing. There are plenty of reviews online, and of course plenty of arguments over which is […]

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