Capturing the colour of my travels

Thanks to Erin, The World Wanderer, for tagging me to participate in TravelSupermarket’s Capture The Colour blogging contest! Even if I don’t win an iPad 3 or the £2000 in travel money, this was still a fun post to write and even more fun to look through my heaps of travel photos.

Why do we take pictures when we travel? Most probably say to remember our trips and where we’ve been. I might even supply that answer – but that’s not all there is to it. I try to capture a moment – a feeling, an emotion. I’m not always successful, as I am not a professional photographer, nor do I claim to be; but I do enjoy taking photos and revisiting them long after a trip is complete so I may attempt to relive moments from my travels and, therefore, from my life.


Istanbul is a city that begs to be photographed. There is so much action and so many people that I, at least, wanted to capture it all. At the same time, the crowds and the chaos were a bit overwhelming for me during my first few days in Istanbul. The one place I was able to kind of escape the madness and have a bit of peace was Hagia Sophia. Unbelievable, I know, since it’s probably Istanbul’s most popular attraction. There were not many people there when we visited, and we pretty much had the entire second level to ourselves. That’s how I was able to capture this serene moment, this shot of the sun breaking through the clouds to shine down on Blue Mosque (hence, my use of this photo for the “blue” category). And it was completely accidental. There are small windows lining the wall of Hagia Sophia that faces Blue Mosque. The windows are set a bit higher than your average window; therefore, being vertically challenged, I couldn’t fully appreciate the view. I could see the sky, though, and thought it dramatic: early evening, sun about to set, peeking through perfectly moody clouds. So I adjusted the settings on my camera to what I thought would work, given the lighting conditions. I set the camera on the sill, zoomed in and out a bit (again, complete guesswork), and snapped. This is the result.


Visiting the state of Arizona never really interested me until my father moved there in 2006. I don’t do well in extreme heat and, since Arizona is primarily desert – especially Scottsdale, where Dad lives – why would I want to go there? Not to mention, I don’t care for places that are monochromatic and, therefore, drab. Those turned out to be my initial impressions of Arizona but I kept going back because I wanted to visit my father. One of my chief complaints about what I’d seen of Arizona is that there is no green anywhere: I hadn’t seen any grass on front lawns or in backyards. Green conveys to me a feeling of being alive and of growth. I definitely didn’t get that feeling in Scottsdale or any other place I’d visited up to that point. And then, during one visit, Dad took us for a drive through Tonto National Forest. Desert terrain gave way to deep red bluffs and every shade of green imaginable. I was shocked. Tonto National Forest changed my mind, and how I looked at and felt about, Arizona. (I’m still not crazy about Scottsdale.)


I didn’t want to go to Venice. I was dead set against it because, don’t you know, I was this intrepid, independent world traveler who avoided major tourist areas for fear of losing my backpacker cred. (Can’t you just smell the snark?) But in 2006, my sister and I were planning our first trip to Italy, the country of our heritage. We each had mental itineraries, thoughts of cities and places we wanted to see. My “big one” was Florence; my sister’s was Venice. “No way,” I said, obeying the instructions I’d read on various indie travel websites to avoid Venice at all costs. I held my ground for a good while and then… maybe because she’s my baby sister and I’d do anything for her, I gave in and agreed to add Venice to our  itinerary – but I wasn’t happy about it. As the story goes, I ended up falling madly in love with Venice (while completely loathing Florence, but that’s a discussion for another time and place), and this shot of that adorable yellow building is one of my favorite photos from my time there. The photo also serves as a reminder that every place – country, city, town – is worth a chance. You got that? Just hope that, six years later, your younger sister isn’t still gloating and saying, “I told you so.”


I made my first ever visit to Washington, DC when I was 34 years old. Kind of embarrassing for an American, right? But I like to look at it this way: it allowed me plenty of time to learn about the sights I wanted to see the most. At the top of my list was Arlington National Cemetery. I believe it was my duty to pay respect to those who made the ultimate sacrifice while fighting for my country throughout the centuries, and to fallen heroes who survived their respective wars and were later laid to rest at Arlington. Visiting JFK’s gravesite was moving; the changing of the guard at Tomb of the Unknowns was unforgettable. But what struck me the most were the rows upon rows of stark, white marble grave markers for the thousands of veterans buried there. According to the Arlington National Cemetery official website, its intention is to provide “a sense of beauty and peace” to the families of the fallen. I definitely felt it, gazing respectfully upon that sea of white headstones.


Let’s go back to Istanbul for the red category. One of the best things we did while there was go to the top of Galata Tower for unobstructed and unrivaled panoramic views of the city. Our visit coincided with a call to prayer; we were surrounded by the chants and the prayers being broadcast over the loud speakers from the many mosques. I didn’t want to move or breathe because I wanted to take it all in: the sound, the sun, the wind. But then I spotted this giant, red Turkish flag flapping in the breeze, almost in rhythm with the chants, and I knew I had to move so I could capture the moment.

Now it’s my turn to tag some fellow bloggers to participate. I nominate:

Annie – Head In Knots

Pola – Jetting Around

Christina – View from the Middle Seat

Raúl – I Live To Travel

Adam – Visit Flyover Country

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32 Responses to Capturing the colour of my travels

  1. Raul July 18, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

    Love the picture of the Turkish flag! Also, your post is a warning to listen to Indies travel opinions with a big grain of salt! What a dumb position to have on Venice! Yes, it is over crowded with tourists but one can get away from the throngs and discover the real Venice. Age brings wisdom…

    • Francesca July 18, 2012 at 9:59 pm #

      I definitely learned my lesson, Raul. Also, I am no longer concerned with backpacker cred. Now I’m more focused on showing the world to my daughter.

  2. Ephemerratic (@ephemerratic) July 19, 2012 at 3:21 am #

    What great photos, and so much architecture appreciation too. And Venice was crowded and touristy, but it was SO easy to get away from the tourist hordes. They tend to travel in large packs and not stray too far from their hotel!

    • Francesca July 20, 2012 at 7:48 am #

      You’re totally right. And that’s exactly what my sister and I did – we just wandered around Venice and did our best to avoid the crowds. We found some wonderful cafes and bars that way, and also charming residential areas (my favorite thing to see in any city). Thank you for stopping by & commenting!

  3. D.J. - The World of Deej July 19, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

    Great pics…especially love the white one. I spend a few hours in Arlington every visit just wandering around and contemplating…

    • Francesca July 20, 2012 at 7:50 am #

      Thanks, Deej. Arlington is such a powerful place. Have you seen the changing of the guard?

  4. Leah Travels (@L_e_a_h) July 19, 2012 at 1:28 pm #

    White is so my favorite. All are beautiful, but there is so much depth and meaning to the white. Great stories with each one, too.

    • Francesca July 20, 2012 at 7:52 am #

      Thank you, Leah. It’s so easy to just snap pictures at Arlington (or anywhere), so I’m happy to learn that I was able to capture depth and meaning with my photo.

  5. Tawny- Captain and Clark July 20, 2012 at 12:08 am #

    Your photos are absolutely stunning. I’m torn between yellow and blue… and white. They’re all so good!

    • Francesca July 20, 2012 at 7:53 am #

      Thank you, Tawny! That is such an amazing compliment. I think blue might be MY favorite… or white. I’m torn, too 🙂

  6. Lazy Travelers (@lazytravelers) July 20, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

    ooh la la! love your choices! the turkish flag influenced my choice for my red photo too, in a very roundabout way 😉

    • Francesca July 22, 2012 at 5:08 pm #

      Ah, I get it now, why you picked the photo you did for “red”! Nice to know I can be a positive influence (sometimes)!

  7. The World Wanderer July 20, 2012 at 5:51 pm #

    Great pictures! I love the one of Venice the most, great colors. I actually didn’t want to visit Venice either, and while I liked it, I didn’t fall in love with it the way most people do, so I want to go back. This picture served as a reminder for me to actually give it another try!

    • Francesca July 22, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

      Thank you, Erin! I definitely think you should give Venice another try. My best advice to anyone visiting for the first time (or second 😉 ) is just wander. A map will do you no good in the city anyway, so just walk and walk and see what you can discover. Or, ride the vaporetto to the different neighborhoods, hop off and explore for a bit, then hop back on. If anything, it’s a cheap boat ride.

  8. lola July 22, 2012 at 9:36 am #

    i LOVE the Turkish flag photo! WOW that red really stands out. i hope i get to go to Turkey one of these days. i imagine it to be so colorful and i just adore color. i always enjoy reading your posts and seeing your amazing photos, Francesca.

    • Francesca July 22, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

      You are too kind, Lola. Thank you. I, too, hope that you get to Turkey soon. I know you will love Istanbul and I know I will LOVE to get Lola’s takes on different places in the city!

  9. Ana Silva O'Reilly (@mrsoaroundworld) July 22, 2012 at 11:06 am #

    I absolutely love your choices and your personal insights on each photo. And also delighted to have been to all but one of your spots.. and you won’t believe this.. my next stop will be going back to Istanbul! Guess who inspired me?

    • Francesca July 22, 2012 at 5:14 pm #

      I inspired you to go back to Istanbul?! Wow, I’m feeling all kinds of flattered 🙂 Which of the destinations in this post have you not been to (I’ll guess Arizona)? And Ana, you, too, are way too kind. Thank you for such a lovely compliment.

  10. Scarlett July 22, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

    Brilliant! I absolutely love ‘Green’ xx

    • Francesca July 22, 2012 at 10:35 pm #

      Thanks, Scarlett! You’re the first one to give my green photo some love 🙂 Glad you like it!

  11. craig zabransky (@StayAdventurous) July 22, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

    Istanbul gets 2 images, nice… I imagine some magic carpets there might have all 5 in one image, but my favourite story is clearly the green… it’s always amazing how places can surprise you… that’s why we travel. As for best image, well the most powerful – white. great image.

    stay adventurous, Craig

    • Francesca July 25, 2012 at 7:10 am #

      Thanks so much, Craig. What you say is so true… Arizona and its greenness totally surprised me!

  12. Jetting Around (@jettingaround) July 23, 2012 at 11:12 pm #

    Wow, fantastic photos, Francesca!!! I love the one from Venice and the top one at dusk. Great job. And thank you for tagging me.

    • Francesca July 25, 2012 at 7:10 am #

      xoxo Pola! Thank you & you’re welcome!

  13. elatlboy July 27, 2012 at 7:30 pm #

    Great photos Francesca! Love shots with lots of green so the desert and cactuses one definitely caught the eye. 🙂 Never have associated Arizona with green, so that was a pleasant surprise. The heart of Phoenix has been my only experience there.

  14. Francesca July 31, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    Thanks, Aaron! I never associated Arizona with green, either, until that visit to Tonto National Forest. And you know how I feel about (Spartan) green 😉

  15. Adam Sommer August 1, 2012 at 10:20 am #

    Love the photos! I have to agree about the Arizona comment – I do not usually think of Arizona as “green” but that photo really captures the color well. You are quite a good photographer!

    • Francesca August 2, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

      Thanks so much, Adam! I’ve traveled in Arizona a bit more since I took that picture. The farther north one goes, the greener Arizona becomes – and I like it!

  16. onedayinacity August 29, 2012 at 11:11 pm #

    Gorgeous picture of the Blue Mosque. I haven’t seen one quite from that angle before and also love how the sun is shining through the clouds on it.

    • Francesca September 6, 2012 at 6:11 pm #

      Thank you! That shot of the Blue Mosque was a combination of right place/right time, luck, and good guesswork 🙂

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