Saying a Fond Adieux to Quaint & Beautiful Perth

Stephen F. Dennstedt

Our time in Perth, Scotland is quickly coming to a close. Our next stop will be the larger city of Aberdeen (about 4x larger than Perth) on the northeastern coast of Scotland (Population just shy of 200,000).

We’ve booked a three-week stay because it seems to be the hub on the east coast for getting oot & aboot (or out & about in English). We woke up to bright sun, crystal-clear blue skies and warmer weather this morning.

Today’s forecast calls for a high temperature of 7°C/45°F with winds of 15 mph (windchill 3°C/38°F). We’ve been in Scotland for almost three weeks and this will only be the third day we’ve seen any sun at all. And a high temperature of 45°F seems almost balmy after the past few weeks. Nicknames for Aberdeen include the Granite City, the Grey City and the Silver City with the Golden Sands. During the mid-18th to mid-20th centuries, Aberdeen’s buildings incorporated locally quarried grey granite, which can sparkle like silver because of its high mica content.

Aberdeen, Scotland – Internet File Photo (Not My Photo)

We will be checking out of the Grampian Hotel on Thursday morning, grabbing a taxi to take us the short distance to the Park & Ride outside of town, and then hop the two-hour bus to Aberdeen. Our two weeks in Perth have been grand even with the rain, sleet and snow. We’ve eaten at a few moderately priced (by Scottish standards) restaurants and had some good meals—standouts include the Indian food at The Nawaab of Perth, the Galettes at Breizh French Restaurant and the Fish & Chips at Holdgates Fish Bar (our favourite little eatery). Perth is easy to walk and the walkways along the River Tay are beautiful.

The River Tay with Saint Mathew’s Church of Scotland – Perth, Scotland

If you’re ever undecided about where to visit in Scotland you could do worse than Perth. I don’t think it’s a huge tourist mecca like the Highlands or big cities but it has a charm all its own—it’s small, quaint and authentic. Claire and her husband (the owners of the Grampian Hotel) couldn’t have been any nicer, City Centre is quaint and fun to walk, the Saint John’s Shopping Centre has lots of shops and restaurants and the river walkways along the River Tay (Scotland’s longest river) are scenic and interesting. The Balhousie Castle & Black Watch Museum are also a must-see.



What’s It Like to Live in a Snow Globe

Stephen F. Dennstedt

I’ve always been a sucker for Snow Globes. Little vignettes of romantic fantasy tucked inside a glass ball. The scenes are always idyllic: little cabins in the woods, snowmen (Santa Claus & Christmas Trees) and 19th century Dickensian England.

As a young introverted kid growing up 1950s Southern California I could lose myself in a Snow Globe. A couple of quick shakes and I could be transported to a different time and place—to a different world. Even in the midst of a sweltering Santa Ana.

Since departing the USA in late November of last year, to begin World Trek Part II, Joel and I have lived the fantasy. First Iceland for two weeks, then Ireland for three months (both the Irish Republic in the South and Northern Ireland) and now Scotland (for another three months). It’s winter of course and an unusually harsh winter for the UK. Again, Joel and I were born and raised in San Diego, CA so we’re more accustomed to sunshine and heat. Though Joel lived in Alaska for fifteen years his blood has once again thinned to Southern California consistency.

We spent our first six years (World Trek Part I) slō-travelling through Mexico, Cuba, Central America and South America. With the exception of the Andes Mountains (Peru, Chile and Argentina) and Southern Patagonia (Argentina) most of that travel was in warmer climes (often much warmer climes). Since leaving the USA for the second time (after a visit to family & friends) we’ve been bundled up in four to five layers of clothing (see my photo inset at the top of this post taken yesterday). It snowed all-day yesterday and is forecast to snow all-day today—for the most part it’s really cool (pun intended).

But then we don’t have to commute or work in it. We’re retired after all and our schedule is open and flexible. For instance when we first arrived in Scotland (Cairnryan) from Northern Ireland (Belfast) on the ferry we got stopped cold in our tracks. Storm Emma from the Atlantic had collided with the Beast From the East (from Russia) and brought most of the EU and UK to a complete halt. We were headed to Glasgow but got stopped in the small Scottish town of Ayr (Population 47,000) because the trains and buses had stopped running. No problem—we just hunkered down for a day and arrived in Glasgow one day late.

We have family and friends who live and work in the midwest and on the East Coast and I can’t even imagine trying to work in severe winter weather. Here is Scotland we just go with the flow—today we didn’t even leave the hotel for breakfast we just had our large traditional Scottish breakfast in the dining room (more expensive but more convenient too). Watching the large soft flakes drift down as we indulged ourselves with a second cup of coffee was relaxing, while those outside were braving the elements. Living in a Snow Globe is kind of neat as long as you have a warm retreat (and maybe a fire, whiskey and an old dog).


Rain, Sleet, Snow and Nightmares

Stephen F. Dennstedt

Rain, sleet, snow and nightmares. My nights often include bad dreams, nightmares and even full-blown night terrors. Tossing & turning can quickly become low moans and keening to screams and shrieks. Can’t explain it—night terrors are for two-year-olds.

My ex-wife quickly learned to keep her distance during these violent episodes because I wakeup fighting (for my life). And I’ve brought brother Joel wide-awake many times with my blood-curdling screams and flailing and he never gets used to it.

I rarely remember the circumstances of these late night adventures, only that they are terrifying in the extreme. Sometimes these shenanigans cause me bodily harm—I once broke a toe in Mérida, Yucatan when I violently kicked a bedside dresser in the middle of the night. Waking up in the morning I had no recollection of the event. Last night (here in Perth, Scotland) I dramatically flipped myself out of bed at 3 a.m. in the morning. I bashed my head on the nightstand, tweaked my neck and wrenched my shoulder—and woke Joel up with a loud crash.

God only knows what the other hotel guests heard and thought this morning. When staying in the occasional hostel dormitory I’m always embarrassed to think what our roommates think of my late night episodes. They probably think they’re rooming with an escaped psycho-killer from a lunatic asylum—I know they always look at me with a wary eye and never give me any shit (one benefit of being crazy I suppose). I have no explanation whatsoever for these psychotic travels into alternate realities except to think they are the Karmic consequences of a misspent youth.

Me This Morning in the Rain, Sleet and Snow

So it was with a headache, neck-ache and shoulder-ache that I faced a new day this morning. Looking out our hotel window I could see white rooftops and snow flurries drifting about and so I quickly Googled the weather forecast: -1°C/30°F with winds of 28 mph (windchill -9°C/16°F). Snow forecast for the next two days with partial clearing by Monday. A bleak morning in Perth (to match my bleak mood) but there can be a certain beauty in bleakness if you’re open to it. I quickly popped some aspirin (for my morning aches & pains) and we headed out to breakfast and COFFEE.

Walkabout Town After Breakfast

Moods (bleak or otherwise) are just emotions and they come and they go. Emotions will mislead you into thinking they’re all-important but they really aren’t. My Buddhist practice taught me that years ago—don’t attach or cling to emotions (good or bad) just observe them as they pass through your life. Life is not about being continuously happy, it’s about being content with whatever is going on. Happy and unhappy are just extremes of a continuum and are not worthwhile goals in themselves—strive, instead, for acceptance and contentment. My spiritual teacher Reverend Jisō taught me that a long time ago.

Walkabout Town After Breakfast

Having said that, however, the photo of me above (in the rain, sleet and snow) makes me look anything but accepting and content. That is a pretty dour look on my face but totally in keeping with the Scotts that surround me. Trust me I’m not as miserable as I look. Maybe the long (and cold) winter months in Iceland, the Irish Republic, Northern Ireland and Scotland are catching up with this born & raised Southern Californian—one of my Facebook friends just asked me if I was crankier than usual. I noticed today’s temperature in Mérida, Yucatan (my former home) is 21°C/70°F with full sun and 89% humidity.



The Downside of Photography Groups & Forums

Stephen F. Dennstedt

Photography groups & forums are interesting places. For the most part I shun them like I do other forms of social media. I am not a big fan of group-think—Conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh (who I detest) coined the term Sheeple.

Sheeple has been replaced with Snowflake to describe my brand of politics though I am not a Liberal (Progressive). I tend to be a fiscal conservative and social progressive which basically labels me a Libertarian.

But I’ve always hated labels (political or otherwise). I am what I am. Of course I am what I am and that’s all that I am was coined by another guy I never really liked—Popeye the Sailor Man. Wow—what a rambling introduction to a potentially controversial blog post. The bone I have to pick with most groups and forums (photography included) is that they’re too political, governed by opinion and appeal primarily to the ignorant masses. They tend to pander to our basest human instincts as does most social media. I usually find them banal and a waste of time.

The River Tay with Saint Mathew’s Church of Scotland – Perth, Scotland

I’m an odd duck—a loner, introvert and social misfit. So I caution you to take my words with more than a grain of salt and not get your panties all in a wad (it would be a complete waste of time). I’m sure I’m going to lose some subscribers over this rant but I’ve always written this blog for me (as a creative outlet) and not for my readers. If my readers find my posts interesting or helpful so much the better but I’ve never been one to worry too much about the opinions of others, positive or negative. The modern trend on social media is to promote personality over content and I’m just not that guy.

Perito Moreno Glacier – Southern Patagonia, Argentina

I am not God’s gift to photography. There are thousands upon thousands of photographers who capture better images than me. But I am competent and honest when it comes to my work and I work really hard to hone my craft. Digital technology is changing the way we approach art and creative effort—everyone copies everyone else and calls it original. Everything is melting into homogenous crap, pabulum for the masses. Literature, music, movies are all increasingly formulaic and boring. We’ve really strayed from our roots and I find it sad. Original concepts are copied by millions the next day.

Brown-faced Capuchin Monkey – Northern Amazon River Basin, Cuyabeno, Ecuador

I find that most groups and forums tend to foster this group-think mentality. That members often mimic what others are doing instead of pushing new boundaries themselves. Anyone who doesn’t conform to group-think is unjustly criticised and culled from the group while those who pander to the (largely uneducated) masses prosper and are hailed for their creative efforts. My experience leads me to believe that groups and forums function more as social interaction than places of real education—and as clearly stated earlier I am not a social creature.

Giant’s Causeway – Atlantic Coast of Northern Ireland

I’m old enough to remember the first efforts to keep both the foreground and background in sharp focus using wide-angle and ultra wide-angle lenses and tilt & shift large format cameras. Now we just focus stack. I can remember spending hours, days and even weeks seeking the perfect shot—now we just composite our images. Just slap that big old moon into any creation we want and better yet silhouette an owl or wolf in it. Peter Lik just got caught doing that very thing after claiming all his photos are real and un-manipulated. Bullshit. Be honest with your work.

Orange-winged Amazon Parrot – Northern Amazon River Basin, Cuyabeno, Ecuador

There was a time when HDR (high dynamic range) processing pushed the envelope and then it became the thing. Now we’re trying to dial it back with subtle exposure stacking or better yet with improved camera technology. I have nothing against post-processing—virtually every digital image is post-processed either in-camera (as JPEGs) or processing RAW file images in Lightroom, Photoshop or Adobe Camera RAW. In the old days we processed film negatives and prints in a wet (chemical) darkroom now we process digital files electronically. One method is wet the other dry but they attempt the same thing.

Great Egret in Flight – Monterrico, Guatemala

I love digital technology. But I miss the discipline and originality of the old film days. I like classic anything: classic movies (especially black & white), classic rock & roll, classic blues, classic country music and jazz, classic literature and dance and most especially classic photography. Before the bean counters took over and demanded that everything be commercially successful. Now everything is run by accountants (and not creatives) with their advanced algorithms and we get CRAP. Same-old, same-old. People love the new and innovative, bean counters want tried & true.

The Blue Door – San Juan Chamula, Chiapas, Mexico

Star Wars was new and innovative—now we have Star Wars 184. Die Hard was new and innovative and now we have Die Hard 168 starring an 80-year old Bruce Willis (I don’t really know how old Bruce is but he’s too damn old to play that guy). Look at any creative genre from food to music (to photography) and all you get is same-old, same-old. Boring and uninspired. As photographers we are Indie-creators, no one hires full-time photographers anymore: newspapers, magazines, advertisers and corporate America all contract their assignments to freelancers like me.

Photo Shoot for The Yucatan Times Newspaper (Local Zoo) – Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

The word cliché rings loudly in my ears. Things (or words & phrases) that become so common as to become routine. Think no further that ND filters applied to moving water (oceans, rivers and waterfalls). When that technique first appeared years ago the water (and clouds) looked magical—so silky smooth and ethereal. Now its become totally cliché—every single photographer does it. The same thing can be said about Astro-photography—really cool in the beginning and now totally cliché. I think photography groups and forums foster this kind of copy-cat photography.

Clifden Castle Ruins – Clifden (County Galway) Ireland

I only belong to two photography groups these days. They are both closed groups and you have to be invited to join. There are some really great photographers involved, some pretty good photographers and a few beginners. These are social photographers who meet up for shoots and learn from one another—I just can’t do that. The loner, the introvert, the anti-social part of me rebels at the thought. I’ve made some good (social media) friends in these two groups but I could never join up for group photography outings. I shoot alone—I always have.

Northern-crested Caracara – Yucatan, Mexico

I appreciate their recognition and praise of my work but I don’t live for it. I find that my favourite photos rarely receive much attention whereas the over-processed, gaudy and clichéd photos of others garner most of the group’s praise. Many highly touted photos actually cross the line into graphic arts. I can appreciate graphic arts as a creative medium but again it’s not my cup-of-tea. Maybe it’s the photojournalist in me. If I had to define my style (and I abhor the idea of boxing myself in) I might call it artistic documentarian. I like my photos to appear natural but with a certain artistic flair.

Male Cinereous Harrier – Southern Patagonia, Argentina

When I’m shooting for money I shoot for my client—their wishes are my command. When I shoot for myself I shoot my way, to please myself, and I don’t really give a rat’s ass who likes it or not (that’s not entirely true). I try really hard to avoid the cliché images if possible (I will leave those to others). I think that’s why I gravitate to wildlife photography, scenic photography and street photography (and of course photojournalism). Real animals, real people, doing real things. If I’m not on commercial assignment I will artistically post-process my images (a taboo in photojournalism).

Juan Pablo – Antigua, Guatemala

I want my viewers to see real subjects presented naturally but artistically—that requires sophisticated but subtle post-processing skills. Over-the-top processing (aggressive sharpening, contrast and colour saturation) creates unnatural crunchy looking images. A cooking metaphor would be they are over baked. I hate the look. Again, photography groups and forums tend to foster this over-processed look. Maybe I should start my own group—NOT! Constructive criticism is a powerful tool but most creatives are not open to it. Your worst enemies are family, friends and group members.

Uros Indian Girl – Lake Titicaca, Peru

They tell you what they think you will want to hear and not the truth. And frankly most non-photographers wouldn’t know good photograph if it bit them in the ass—they lean towards the sensational and overworked. Checkout what people like on Facebook and you will see my point. Photography, in my opinion, should be like a Zen painting—subtle, refined, simple and perfect. Compelling subjects tastefully rendered: tack-sharp, properly exposed and well composed. They should look simple and not overworked (look at a Zen garden). Simple is not easy—simple is very, very hard work. Keep it simple.

Galapagos Sea Lion Pup – Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Field Notes: I suspect I’ve probably pissed off a few of my photographer friends with this post. It sounds pompous and arrogant and it probably is. But I’m older than the T-Rex and even dirt so it really doesn’t matter. We live in an overly clichéd world and I hate it—I crave spontaneity, realism and innovation in all things (especially the creative arts). Photography groups, forums and YouTube channels can be great resources but they are also guilty of perpetuating stereotypes and clichés. The next time you photograph water take a pass on the silky look—just once. SFD 



Photography 101: Selling Your Fine Art Prints

Stephen F. Dennstedt

Unless you’re Peter Lik you aren’t going to get rich selling prints. Fact. But if getting rich (and by extension famous) is your goal then photography probably isn’t for you. Photography by its very nature is an artistic creative pursuit and you are either driven by it or you’re not. It’s a passion first and foremost.

To make a sustainable living with photography you need good business acumen as well as creative talent. Talent alone won’t get you there. Above all Peter Lik is a great marketer. Thomas Kinkade was another successful artistic marketer. Although Kinkade’s medium was paint both Lik and Kinkade marketed the same.

Truthfully, I am not a big fan of either one’s work but I do applaud their business skills. Lots of smoke & mirrors, building artificial demand and trading more on fame and personality than talent. Just my opinion of course—a lot of people love their work and have made them both multi-millionaires. They’re just not my cup-of-tea. I’ve written a lot about making money with photography both on this blog and at Northrup Photography.

Fine Art Print: Perito Moreno Glacier – Southern Patagonia, Argentina

I said earlier that you won’t get rich selling prints (alone) and that’s true enough—but you can make some extra bucks on the side and it’s always an ego boost when you sell something. When I was headquartered in Mérida, Yucatan I sold large canvas prints (up to 3 x 5 feet) through SoHo Galleries, Cafe la Boheme, through word-of-mouth and through my online gallery at Indochine Photography. My prints typically sold for $350 USD to $750 USD to local expats and tourists depending on the print size and medium (canvas prints, acrylic prints, metal prints and matted & framed prints).

60 x 33.75 Inch (6 x 2.81 Feet) – Acrylic Print

$679.30 USD + S&H

551.48 EUR + S&H

£486.98 GBP + S&H

Now that I’m travelling full-time (365 days a year) it’s harder to sell my fine art prints and I rely solely on my website and online store for sales. I don’t need print sales to sustain my modest lifestyle abroad but the extra money does come in handy for buying equipment and defraying some of my everyday travel costs. Selling prints shouldn’t be your only revenue stream but it can certainly be one of your many photography revenue streams. An easy way to begin is to set up an online e-commerce store, preferably on your website. If you don’t have a website then shame on you.

Fine Art America PDF Sales Sheet

I set up my website through and you can view it at (go to the Store tab > Prints in the upper toolbar to browse my store). Another nice website platform is Squarespace and of course there are many others to boot. My store is hosted by Fine Art America (a Pixels company) and they do everything for me: product fulfilment (printing and matting & framing), packaging & shipping, accounting, tracking and marketing. Their premium service costs me $35 USD per year (not per month). I’ve been a member since 2011.

Overall 57 x 36 Inches (4.75 x 3 Feet) – Matted & Framed Print

$613.00 USD + S&H

497.28 EUR + S&H

£438.99 GBP + S&H

I’m not going to give you a tutorial on how to set your store up—I will leave that up to you. It will take you some time initially but after you’ve set all your parameters and downloaded your images it’s very easy to maintain with a minimum of effort. FAA does not guarantee sales—it’s up to you to drive business to your online store (either through a website and/or social media). What FAA does is give you a complete infrastructure to process orders: from printing to shipping to billing. FAA isn’t the only company to offer this service but it is one of the oldest and biggest.

Field Notes: I am not schilling for Peter Lik, Thomas Kinkade, Northrup Photography, Fine Art America or Squarespace. I was a contributing author to Northrup Photography in 2016 and got paid for my articles—Tony & Chelsea are still friends and I will often share their videos on this blog (however I no longer get paid by them). All opinions expressed in this post are my own and I am not compensated in any way, shape or form. I still sell my fine art prints but I don’t actively market them like I used to. I am still a registered freelancer with the Boston Globe and The Yucatan Times newspapers and will take the occasional assignment. But mostly I just travel (full-time in fact), take my photos and write my blog posts. SFD


New Artwork Now Available for Sale


The River Tay with Saint Matthew’s Church of Scotland – Perth, Scotland

Periodically I will add a new photographic image to my portfolio, gallery and online store. It has to meet certain aesthetic and technical requirements before I will consider it worthy of inclusion and sale. First the subject has to be compelling in my opinion and draw the viewer’s attention. Second it must be super high-resolution so it can be printed large (up to 60 x 33.75 inches). Third it has to be tack-sharp, properly exposed and tastefully composed. When these criteria are met I must be further satisfied that it’s commercially viable—that people will want it to decorate their home or office.

Canvas Print 60 x 33.75 Inches

I took this picture early yesterday morning after weeks of rain, sleet and snow flurries. The morning offered a brief glimpse of rare winter sunshine (less than two hours) and I grabbed this shot. In the foreground is the River Tay (Scotland’s longest river) and in the background is City Centre Perth dominated by Saint Matthew’s Church of Scotland (1871). This print is available in various media (Canvas Print, Acrylic Print, Metal Print and Matted & Framed Print), sizes and prices. To see all the choices available simply click here or on any one of the pictured images.

If you’re on a budget (and many of us are) consider buying a Fine Art Print (any size) and matting & framing it yourself or buy a box of Greeting Cards. There are lots of ways to collect and display art and you don’t have to break the bank or put your family on welfare to do it. Hopefully you will be able to visit Scotland yourself one day but if that’s not possible then you can have a small piece of the auld sod hanging in your home or office for a fraction of the cost of a two-week stay. I hope you like this image as much as I liked photographing it and presenting it to you.

Stephen F. Dennstedt



A Rare Bonnie (Sunny) Day in Scotland

The River Tay with Saint Mathew’s Church of Scotland – Perth, Scotland 

Today we saw the sun. At least we saw it for 1-hour and 45-minutes. Yes—I actually timed it. We’ve been in Scotland for a few weeks and this was only the second time we’ve seen the sun. Since leaving the USA in November of last year we’ve been dodging rain, sleet and snow in: Iceland, the Irish Republic (South), Northern Ireland and now Scotland. It is absolutely beautiful here and the sun’s brief appearance made the morning perfect. Photo Notes: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR with Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM ultra wide-angle zoom lens (Settings: 1/250s handheld @ f/8 ISO 100 @ 16mm).

Stephen F. Dennstedt