Archives For Travel

Ideas On Backing Up!

October 28, 2016 — 1 Comment


Following on from my previous blog post ‘4 reasons to back up your photos and videos’ here are my thoughts on backing up your valuable images and videos.

There are many file/photo storage/sharing websites/apps available, Google images, iCloud, Flickr to name a few.  Dropbox is my site of choice and seems to be popular among photographers and non photographers alike. Dropbox is an excellent online file storage/sharing website that’s easy to use and easy to navigate around.

A free Dropbox account allows 2GB of storage. If you are looking for storage for your smartphone images then this is plenty of space. 

For anyone who shoots in RAW (very large files) this is not a lot of space, however if you use it as temporary storage it can suit just fine

I recently upgraded to Dropbox pro which allows a huge 1TB of storage. Let me put this in context – in the 7 years I have been a Travel Photographer shooting in RAW (very large files) I have yet to fill 1TB of storage. 1TB is 1024GBs which is an enormous amount of storage space!!! Dropbox pro is well worth the investment especially for backing up images from your smartphone as they can be backed up as soon as they are taken ensuring you never lose any of those special and precious memories.


So when is the best time to back up your images and videos?

You will answer this questions by asking another question – how much time worth of images/videos are you willing to lose?

1 year? 1 month? 1 week? 1 day?

If you shoot images/videos every day then backing up day by day would be worth a thought. On the other end of the spectrum if you don’t shoot images/videos regularly then backing up less frequent is fine. It really depends how much time of images/videos you are ok with losing!

If you have a good system in place, backing up should only take a few minutes (or can be instant with most apps) whereas regret at the loss of precious memories will no doubt last a lot longer.


Whether your images are shot with your smartphone or with a professional SLR it’s good practice to have a solid back up system.

My back up system is something that has evolved over many years of trial and error and also from learning from more experienced photographers. Here is my current back up system for my professional images.

As soon as possible after shooting, I download my images from the memory cards to my laptop and also to 2 separate external hard drives (EHDs). This means my images are stored in 4 different places – SLR memory card, laptop and 2 EHDs.

As I edit my images on my laptop and carry out work required i.e. image editing, creation of books, prints etc, I back up to the 2 EHDs every week. This means my work is always in 3 different locations and I will never lose more than 1 week’s work (sometimes I back up more frequently depending on the volume of work created in the  week).

When my work is completely finished and all prints, books etc have been handed over to my clients I back up all of my work to the same 2 EHDs mentioned above and also a 3rd EHD in a different physical location. I then clear my SLR memory cards for reuse and also clear the work from my laptop freeing up valuable space in both. I am safe in the knowledge that all of my work is now backed up in 3 separate EHDs in different locations which gives me the piece of mind I require.

Storing my EHDs in different physical locations was a tip I learned from professional landscape photographer Peter Cox and it has served me well so far.

(For images shot with my smartphone (non professional), I back up to Dropbox regularly and follow the same process above every month)


I’m sure a lot of photographers use online or cloud storage for permanent back up, I use these for temporary back up but for a long term permanent solution I like to know I have more control over where my images and work related to them are. In saying that I’m always changing and improving my back up system to ensure it is safe, frequent enough and takes as little time as possible and so maybe cloud storage is something I will use in the future.

Are you backing up your precious memories?

Are you backing up frequently enough?

Do you have a back up system that works for you? 

Safe Travels,


x x x

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In this digital world most people own some sort of a camera whether it’s an SLR, digicam or smartphone camera. No matter what you use to shoot images or videos it’s a must to regularly back up your images.

Here are 4 reasons why


If your phone/camera/memory card gets stolen and your images are not backed up they are gone forever, there is no way of getting them back unless of course you catch the robber, they haven’t damaged your images and are happy to hand your device back!


If your phone/camera/memory card gets damaged in any way chances are so will your photos and videos –  worst case scenario they will be damaged beyond repair!

Same goes for losing your device, of course all will be well if you find it again but wouldn’t you like to have piece of mind that you have backed up your treasured memories just in case it doesn’t turn up!


Your phone memory and memory card is of a finite size. Once you reach available memory space you will need to delete, move or back up images and videos to create space for new ones. Phones have a lot of space and the size of image files are quiet small, however if you use an SLR and shoot images in RAW (which is highly recommended) then your memory cards will fill up pretty fast.


If you download your images/videos to your laptop/computer, this will also have a finite size and will fill up pretty quick depending on the number of images you shoot, the number you edit etc. My Mac Book Pro has a memory for 250GB which you would think is large enough but with the amount of images I shoot in RAW this memory is filled faster than you would think.


Whether your images and videos are personal or professional they are precious and the moments captured are once off that can never be uniquely captured again.


If you don’t already do so I hope you will consider backing up your images regularly,


In my next post I’ll go through the process I use to back up my images whether shot with my smartphone, digicam or professional SLR.

Safe Travels


 x x x

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There are many online websites where you can create photo books. My favourite and the one I have been using for many years is Blurb.

Blurb books are easy to create, easy to order, are very reasonably priced. I am a big fan of Blurb books and have used them to create 9 Travel Photography Books (6 pictured below) and 4 Wedding Books – see the link to my portfolio here.


My Travel Photography Books created by Blurb

Here are 10 steps to creating your very own Blurb book,


Download the Blurb BookSmart software from – here is the link to do so – Download BookSmart


Open the BookSmart software and choose a name for your book and the template you want to use, there are many templates to choose from depending on what style of book you are looking for. You can even make a FaceBook Blurb Book and an Instagram Blurb Book using your images from these social media platforms. As all of my books are photography books, I use the Travel Photo Book template. There are also a range of sizes to choose from, I have created books using a variety of sizes and have been immensely happy with all of them.


Upload your images to the book template you have created.

Images need to be at a high enough resolution allowing an image to fill a page if required.  If the resolution of the images are too low the software will readjust them to the optimum size on the page.


Starting from the start, create your cover page – there are many templates for cover pages that can be semi edited.  Most formats include a title for the front page and an optional title for the spine of the book, I usually use both.

When you have created your cover page,  fill in your index page which is optional. I usually use this index page as an introduction to my books. For my Travel Photography Books, I use it to introduce myself and the content of the book. For Wedding Books, I use it as an introduction to the happy couple accompanied by one of their favourite images.


Now comes the fun part, creating the body of the book. There are a variety of layout templates to choose from for each page or you can create your own custom made layout templates. There is no end to the creativity that can be unleashed here. Pages can be added easily and it Is here that you determine how many pages your book will contain. The price of your book is dependent on the number of pages you have in your book.

Click here for Blurb book pricing and a handy pricing calculator. 

There are also a variety of background colours to choose from. I tend to use either black or white backgrounds depending on the type of book and the type of images. See different colour backgrounds below, the black background suits my Cuban images while the white background is more suited to my images from india.


The Photographer’s Guide To Cuba (using a black background)


The Photographer’s Guide To India (using a white background)


When you have created your book I recommend that you check it once, twice and three times – if you have time check it once more just to be sure! When your book is ordered you can no longer edit it and so it is well worth your time to check your book a number of times ensuring

  • You have included all required images

  • All images are within the page borders highlighted

  • There are no blank pages

  • All text is in the correct place

  • All text has the correct spelling

  • You are happy with the cost of your book – see pricing list in step 5 above

When you are completely happy with your book then you can upload your book to The time this takes will depend on the size of your book and the speed of your internet connection.


Once uploaded, it is time to choose the type of paper you would like your book to be printed on. You can choose from many different types depending on the look you are going for. The cover type of your book is also chosen at this stage. You can choose from any of these fabulous cover types – Softcover, Hardcover ImageWrap and Hardcover Dust Jacket.  My favourite cover type is Hardcover ImageWrap. This is a highly professional finish that looks and feels amazing.


That’s it, your work on your book is compete, time to hand it over to Blurb to work their magic. Order your book and share with friends and family on your favourite social media networks by making your book public in Blurb’s bookstore or keep it private and send a link to the lucky few!

Sit back, relax and wait for your custom made book to be delivered by Blurb,

If you want to sell your book through the Blurb website you can register it for sale here and decide what profit you will earn after costs to create the book are deducted by Blurb. You can also register your book for sale on Amazon. Click on the Amazon logo below to view my author page and my books available through Amazon.




Click on the images below to view my Travel Photography books created through Blurb

bhutan cuba

india     vietnam 

  new-york     venice



I highly recommend Blurb as a book making website

Safe Travels,


x x x

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Anyone who is a photographer knows there is a lot more to photography than taking pictures.

From preparation to editing to marketing to the ever evolving world of social media, the life of a photographer is varied and complex. And so that is why I am grateful to those who assist and support me on this complex yet exciting journey as a Travel Photographer.

I shoot and edit all of my own work, however the printing of my Fine Art prints is outsourced to whom I refer to as the best printing studio on the planet!


RightBrain is a cool, unique and Hahnemühle certified Fine Art printing studio based in Cork City, owned and run by Tony O’Brien whom I have had the pleasure of working with for many years. Tony’s high end and highly professional printing process’s enables my work to come to life in a way that is just not possible with ‘run of the mill’ printing/papers.

Tony handles my prints with great care and his attention to detail is second to none. As well as creating excellent quality prints Tony is open and generous with his time and his knowledge of printing, photography and Fine Art.

If you are looking for prints of the highest quality, you will not be disappointed with the finished product and the outstanding customer service that RightBrain offers.


Man in Prayer – Bhutan – Printed on Hahnemühle Photo Rag 308 paper that allows colours to come to life and pop off the paper without oversaturation

There are many types of papers to choose from, a full list can be seen on the RightBrain website here – Fine Art paper

All the different type of papers achieve a different look, finish and feel to the Fine Art prints they create, Tony is always on hand to give the best advice for the type of Fine Art to match your style of photography.

On excellent advice from Tony, I use 2 types of paper, one is Hahnemühle Photo Rag Baryta 315. The gloss finish achieved with this paper will be familiar to the viewer as the glossy finish is similar to regular photographic prints. However the difference is in the depth of colour, the richness of the whites and creams and the almost 3D like quality of the subjects coming to life on this luxurious paper.

Tony’s description of this paper on his website completely sums it up

‘Hahnemühle Photo Rag Baryta 315 – the best quality baryta on the market today. The surface shows fibre from the cotton beneath, the white is beautifully warm. A paper with incredible character and depth’.


This black and white Cuban street scene is particularly suited to the gloss finish and enriched creams/whites of Hahnemühle Photo Rag Baryta 315

The other paper I use is a matte finish – Hahnemühle Photo Rag 308, this gives more of a print look to my images, meaning depending how you look at them, they can look like drawings, paintings or photographs. Beauty, with this paper, is truly in the eye of the beholder.

The feel of this paper is exquisite, it is a heavy cotton like feel, holding it you know high quality is in your hands.

Again Tony’s description of this paper on his website is spot on,

‘Hahnemühle Photo Rag 308 – a heavy weight variant of the classic velvety smooth clean white matte paper. Suitable for photography and art reproduction. Great for pinning, portfolios etc’.


This Vietnamese street scene is particularly suited to the matte surface of Hahnemühle Photo Rag 308

As a Digigraphie certified printing studio, RightBrain provides Digigraphie certified Limited Editions of Fine Art prints.

You decide the size of the print, the paper to be used and the number of Limited Editions  required and Tony will print these one by one as required certifying each Limited Edition print with a Digigraphie certificate and a Digigraphie embossment on the print itself.

See information below taken from RightBrain’s website

‘At RightBrain we are authorised to produce Digigraphie prints which are certified as being printed to the very highest standards with rigorous 3rd party auditing of the colour management aspect to ensure quality and consistency. Digigraphie prints can be produced on a range of approved materials called ‘Signature Worthy Papers’. A signed and stamped Digigraphie Certificate is issued with each print and the border of the print is embossed with our official Digigraphie cold press stamp. You also have the opportunity to register your print and place an image on the Digigraphie website for others to see. We are the only lab in Ireland certified by Epson to produce Digigraphie prints.’


Signing my very first Digigraphie certified Limited Edition 

I currently have 2 Digigraphie Limited Edition prints available to view and purchase on my website – Limited Editions

My first Limited Edition – Cuban Dancer – was shot in Cuba while attending a 2 week Travel Photography workshop with Travel Photographer Of The Year winner Lorne Resnick

My second Limited Edition  – Bhutanese Candles – was shot in a monastery in Paro in the Land of Gross National Happiness – the spiritual Kingdom of Bhutan.

These Limited editions can also be seen on the Epson Digigraphie website


My Digigraphie Limited Editions – Cuban Dancer and Bhutanese candles

RightBrain has printed all of the images used for all of my Travel Photography Exhibitions, the quality of these prints is just exquisite

There you go, a brief summary of where to get the best Fine Art Prints on the planet!

Safe Travels,


x x x

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The Aran Islands are a trio of islands located on the west coast of Ireland.  The islands are, in decreasing size, Inis Mor, Inis Meain and Inis Oirr. Most islanders are fluent in English however the language most used by all is Irish. For those of you visiting from mainland Ireland, I highly recommend you brush up on your ‘cupla focal’ before you visit any of the islands, if you have any Irish at all you will be expected to use it!!!!

The Aran Islands are one of Ireland’s many gems. Whatever type of break you are looking for, the Aran islands will not disappoint.  Whether you are looking for a quiet break away from the hustle and bustle or a few days of mad craic, or something in between the Aran Islands has something for everyone.

Mike and I recently spent a long weekend on Inis Mor. The fact that we were lucky enough to enjoy an ‘Irish heatwave’ that weekend was an added bonus. However, I’m sure a great time is guaranteed on Inis Mor no matter what the weather is like.

Here are my 5 top things to do if you visit the Aran Islands




There are just a few modes of transport available to explore inis Mor – tour bus, bike and horse and carriage.How you explore the island will possibly depend on how much time you have on the island. As we had lots on time to explore, Mike and I chose bikes as our preferred way of getting around the island.

At the end of the pier where the Aran island ferry comes in you will find tour buses, horse and carriages and Aran Bike Hire.  Aran Bike Hire will be on your right hand side at the end of the pier. They offer bikes of every kind imaginable from electric bikes, 2 seater bikes and numerous types of bikes for children. The cost to hire the bikes is €20 with a €20 refundable deposit on return of the bike. This is very reasonable and includes a free map of the island, excellent advice and free roadside assistance which thankfully we didn’t need.

Everywhere on inis Mor is within cycling distance, it’s a great way to appreciate the raw and unique beauty of the island and of course a great way to work up a hunger and thirst for the next best thing to do on the island.





Visiting any of the 3 pubs on Inis Mor is in itself an experience. The pubs are a mixture of Irish speaking locals and tourists speaking many other languages.

We found an excellent pub to eat, drink and listen to music in.

Joe Watty’s is a must visit – their food is delicous, their staff are courteous, friendly, highly professional and the music plays all day and late into the night ensuring a great night for tourists and locals alike.

No visit to the Aran Islands is complete without having a meal, drink and a late night at Joe Wattys.


Photo Credit: Mike Downes


Photo Credit: Unknown



There is nothing more fabulous than a relaxing day at the beach and there is nowhere more beautiful than the beaches on Inis Mor. Kilmurvey beach is located about 20 minutes cycle outside of Kilronan village on the road to Dun Aonghasa. It’s a beautiful blue flag beach that would rival any of those on the mediterranean coast.

Good advice given to us by Cait O’ Flaherty whom we stayed with on Inis Mor, was to get to Kilmurvey beach early in the morning before the first ferry arrives in at 11am. This was advice we took and was so glad we did.  When we arrived at Kilmurvey beach early in the morning we were able to enjoy the peace and solitude of the beach and surrounding areas and capture it’s beauty before the visitors of the day arrived.







Dun Aonghasa is a must see if you visit Inis Mor. There are several prehistoric forts on the Aran Islands, Dun Aonghasa being the most famous of them. It’s about a 20 minute trek up to Dun Aonghasa, mostly on stone and so good shoes/trainers are a must if visiting here. There are spectacular views at the top of Dun Aonghasa as it overlooks a 100 metre high cliff.  There are no rails or protection from this 100 metre drop and so if visiting with small children take extra care.

There is a lovely little cafe just across from the visitor centre with great food to build up your energy levels after the trek down from Dun Aonghasa or to fuel up before you trek up!









To say the landscape on Inis Mor is rugged is an understatement. It is rugged, rural and immensely beautiful.

One of the most beautiful views we saw on Inis Mor was from Teampull Bheanain (Small Chapel).

Teampull Bheanain is thought to be the smallest church in the world. Dating back to the 11th or 12th C, there is now just 4 walls left of the once active Christian church. It is a most beautiful place to visit with exquisite views in all directions.

The steep path up to Teampull Bheanain is overgrown and full of rocks and stones however this only adds to the adventure and the views are well worth the effort.






Whatever you decide to do on the Aran Islands, I’m sure you will thoroughly enjoy it,

Until the next time,

Safe travels,


x x x







Abu Dhabi is the capital city and the second most populated city of the United Arab Emirates, the most populated being Dubai. Abu Dhabi lies on a T-shaped island jutting into the Persian Gulf from the central western coast. Abu Dhabi has a sub-tropical, arid climate with sunny blue skies and high temperatures expected most of the year. The climate is one of the reasons it has become a very popular tourist destination. Mike and I recently spent 8 days there, it was sunny every day and we didn’t see  a drop of rain – bliss!!!

Here are my 5 top things to do if you visit Abu Dhabi, there is so much to do there that the below is really a fraction of what is on offer in this fabulous city.


If you only have a few hours in Abu Dhabi I highly recommend your first stop to be Jumeirah hotel at Etihad Towers. The luxurious shops on the ground floor of Etihad Towers are worth a look around as they prepare you for the opulence of the Jumeirah hotel.

Make your way to the Observation Deck 300 on the 74th floor where the most spectacular views of Abu Dhabi await you. This 360 degree view is the highest vantage point in Abu Dhabi and enables magnificent views of The Emirates Palace, The Breakwater area, the City skyline and developing areas of Abu Dhabi.

Everyone deserves a treat and no better treat than a nice meal here in the Observation Deck 300. The food and service is as spectacular as the views.







If you have a bit more time or are staying overnight then why not dine at the most luxurious hotel in Abu Dhabi – The Emirates Palace. This hotel absolutely lives up to it’s 5 star luxury status! Luxurious and classy with down to earth staff who offer incredible service and a warm welcome.

I highly recommend to book a table at BBQ Al Qasr where you can enjoy evening drinks on the private beach as the sun sets followed by dinner al fresco in one of the beachside verandas.

Even though the weather is very hot in Abu Dhabi it can get a little chilly by the beach in the evening. No need to worry as the Emirates Palace staff will provide you with blankets to keep you cosy.







The Corniche is an 8km long stretch starting at the northern end of the City and making it’s way down to the Breakwater area. The Corniche contains walking and bicycle paths, parks and beaches. There are many ways to experience the Corniche. You can take a leisurely walk, run or hire cycle bikes from any of the 4 FunRideSports bike hire stands that are located at numerous places along the Corniche. This is an excellent way to pass a few hours and help you to navigate your whereabouts in Abu Dhabi.








The Sheikh Zayed Grande Mosque is a must see. A unique structure surrounded by intricate architecture and design, every part of the magnificent building is a feast for the eyes. Inside the Grand Mosque you will be greeted by the world’s largest chandelier and the world’s largest carpet upon which generations of prayers have been said.

The Grande Mosque is an immensely respectful place and so visitors are asked to show the same respect by dressing accordingly, do research the dress code before you go.

The Grande Mosque is a photographer’s dream with it’s abundance of reflections and leading lines.

The following paragraph is taken from Visit Abu Dhabi’s website, this is an excellent summary of what the Grand Mosque is,

‘This architectural work of art is one the world’s largest mosques, with a capacity for an astonishing 40,000 worshippers. It features 82 domes, over a 1,000 columns, 24 carat gold gilded chandeliers and the world’s largest hand knotted carpet. The main prayer hall is dominated by one of the world’s largest chandeliers –10 metres in diameter, 15 metres in height and weighing twelve tonnes. The mosque’s first ceremony was the funeral of its namesake, Sheikh Zayed, who is buried at the site.
Reflective pools surround the mosque, amplifying its beauty. The striking white and gold colours shining in the sun are transformed at night by a unique lightning system which reflects the phases of the moon.’



Photo Credit: Mike Downes





Photo Credit: Mike Downes



Immerse yourself in the culture and traditions of the United Arab Emirates on this excellent desert safari. Starting with what can only be described as a rollercoaster ride in a jeep you will be driven up and down sand dunes at almost 90 degree angles!!  Once out in the middle of the desert you are introduced to a real bedouin camp. The following activities are available to take part in, I highly recommend you do as many as possible.

  • Sand Boarding
  • Camel Riding
  • Traditional Dress
  • Quad Biking
  • Henna Tattoes

After a tasty BBQ al fresco you will be treated to a traditional belly dance after which you are invited to take a moment to enjoy the star filled sky and the peace of the desert. This is a most enjoyable evening and an absolute must if you are staying in Abu Dhabi!



Photo Credit: Mike Downes





That’s it, as mentioned above there is so much more to do in Abu Dhabi. The above list is a fraction of what this fabulous city has to offer.

Until the next time,

Safe travels,


x x x




The streets of Calcutta remind me of the streets of Cuba – fragile, unique, deteriorated, abundant with stories of years gone by. These streets contain a beauty that is not as obvious on modern, newly decorated streets evident in various wealthier cities I have visited. The beauty seen and felt on the streets of Calcutta is a deep beauty, a beauty born out of years of struggle, poverty and a class system that bewilders most people born in the Western world.

On landing in India for the first time there are 2 things I will never forget – the heat and the smell – these two intertwine seamlessly to become almost as overwhelming as the traffic and the overcrowding. In saying that the moment my feet hit Indian soil I was hooked and knew immediately this would be the first of many visits.

India just like the two paragraphs above is a land of contrasts, a land of the most amazing, jaw dropping contrasts. As a Travel Photographer it is these contrasts that evoke curiosity and a deep desire to return to experience these contrasts again and again.

Within the first hours of arriving in India on a Photography trip with The Hope Foundation we found ourselves walking the streets of Calcutta, smiling at the friendly faces that greeted us and capturing their beauty with our cameras.

The first person to catch my eye was a beautiful older Indian woman. She peered out at us from behind her front door, possibly wondering what all the noise was and who were the paler than pale individuals carrying large camera equipment. I stopped to greet her and as she had no English and i spoke absolutely no Hindi, our greeting and subsequent interactions were carried out through gestures and body language.




Gestures and body language are often the only mode of communication available to Travel Photographers as most of the time we don’t speak the native language and the people we meet may not speak our language. This mode of communication does take getting used to but after a while it becomes second nature and almost becomes as easy as speaking your mother tongue.

On greeting the beautiful Indian lady she became shy when she realised I wanted to photograph her. My camera and lens were intimidating and I could sense it made her feel uncomfortable as her eyes averted from me for the first shot.




On showing her the image in my camera she liked what she saw and began to relax. Her shoulders dropped and she became the perfect model – relaxed, assured and confident staring into the lens.






Some images are better with a serious face or a half smile but I knew this lady’s face would come alive with a wide grin and I was right. As I gestured for a smile she nodded in agreement and I took the shot. Her eyes beaming with happiness, her skin reflecting radiance from the Indian sun, an Indian beauty indeed.





I often think of this indian lady and wonder what her life was like, what life she had lived. I may never know this but what I do know is that my life was enhanced by our chance meeting that day on the streets of Calcutta.


Safe Travels,


x x x


The above image was part of my Travel Photography Exhibition recently exhibited at George Best Belfast City airport.

More images of my portfolio can be viewed on my website