My Photographs: Top 5 Central Park, New York City.

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The Mall, May 2007.
When Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux began work on Central Park in the 1860s, the vast area at their disposal was little more than marshland. Their vision was simple: To build the world’s greatest park, a place that could be enjoyed by all New Yorkers, regardless of colour, class or creed. In these respects, and indeed so many others, The Big Apple’s premier green space has been a resounding success. For those seeking a simple walking route through the middle of the park, look no further than The Mall, a pretty tree-lined walkway running from 66th to 72nd street.

Bethesda Terrace, May 2007. Follow The Mall in either direction and you’ll soon come upon Bethesda Terrace and its fountain. Accessed by three stone staircases, today the park employs a sculptor to maintain the impressive sandstone carvings. The terrace provides wonderful views of Central Park Lake, while movie fans may remember the fountain from Ransom, when Mel Gibson’s onscreen son is kidnapped by Gary Sinise and friends.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, May 2007. This amazing reservoir was probably my favorite Central Park spot for getting shots of the NYC skyline. Holding a billion gallons of water, the now decommissioned basin is famed for the 1.58-mile running track that encircles the water. In 1994 the reservoir was named after former US first lady Jackie Onassis, who revealed it was her favorite jogging spot.  

Strawberry Fields Memorial, May 2007. This western area of the park, located between 71st and 74th streets, was a favorite walking spot of the late Beatle John Lennon. In fact, in the 1970s he lived just across the road with his wife Yoko Ono in the famous Dakota Building. When he was tragically murdered outside his home on December the 8th, 1980, plans were set in motion to re-landscape his best-loved section of the park. Eventually re-named Strawberry Fields after one of Lennon’s most popular songs; its focal point is this black and white Imagine mosaic with its message of peace and humanitarianism. Day in day out musicians come here to play music and honor Lennon’s legacy.

The Great Lawn, May 2007. This fifty-five acre stretch of pasture sits right in the centre of the park and is one of the most famous lawns in the world. Open from mid April to mid November, it’s a great people-watching spot, with snacking, drinking, kite flying, soccer-playing, Frisbee-throwing, napping, studying, juggling, acrobatics and even baseball training on the eight diamond-shaped pits that run along the outer rim. I remember slumping under a tree with a salad box from a local deli and watching it all play out. The lawn also hosts concerts from time to time, with Bon Jovi, Diana Ross and Paul Simon all boasting triumphant performances.

 

My Photographs: Top 5 The Empire State Building.

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The Empire State Building, May 2007. I felt like such a kid on my first trip to New York! Never before had one location boasted so much bucket-list stuff! I had over a dozen movie sites to check out, along with a pilgrimage to The Dakota Building to pay my respects to John Lennon, right on the spot he was so cruelly robbed of his life on December the 8th, 1980. Add to that the wonder of Central Park, the Bob Dylan inspired cafes and bars of Greenwich Village and a live gospel performance in a Harlem church. The Empire State Building meanwhile was so fantastic we scaled it twice, once for daytime views and then again in night mode. The journey up to the 86TH and 102nd floor decks begin in the lobby, a historic landmark in its own right after a staggering eighteen-month restoration project. Don’t miss the 24-karat gold aluminum wall-leaf and a striking depiction of the building itself behind the front desk, complete with beams of light radiating from the mast. Because they could.

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My Photographs: Top 5 Setti Fatma, Morocco.

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Approaching Setti Fatma, October 2008. The peaceful, picturesque little Moroccan village of Setti Fatma sits neatly nestled in a canyon beneath The High Atlas Mountains Mountains at the southern end of The Ourika Valley. Keen to do some foothill hiking, I arrived here on a day trip from Marrakech by minibus. The trip took just over an hour and a half and the scenery was fantastic as we closed in on the village.

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My Photographs: Top 5 Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca.

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Hassan Mosque, October 2008. “There’s nothing to see in Casablanca”, a misinformed Australian once told me. Ok… the city may not be packed with an abundance of sights, but this jaw-dropping mosque is pretty much reason alone to make the journey. As the largest mosque in Morocco (third largest in the world!), Hassan is an architectural delight stunningly perched on a promontory overlooking The Atlantic Ocean. It also boasts the world’s tallest minaret, at a neck-craning six hundred and eighty nine feet.

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My Photographs: Top 5 The Great Wall Of China

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Jinshanling Section, May 2010. I’ll never forget my first ever Great Wall experience, back during my maiden year in China. I was living in Beijing at the time, which meant there were a bunch of routes to choose from. While I had no desire whatsoever to subject myself to the overcrowded Disney circus act of Badaling, I also figured It might be wise to leave some of the more wild stretches for later on. In the end the Jinshanling section fit the bill perfectly, a ten-kilometer trek that took in some of the country’s most stunning Great Wall scenery.

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My Photographs: Top 5 798 Art District, Beijing.

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798 Art District, March 2010. Only in a city as wondrously contradictory and confusing as Beijing could a place like 798 Art District exist! Formerly a huge network of factories built by the East Germans in the 1950s, by the mid 1990s the entire area had fallen into a state of abandoned disrepair. It was around this time that The Beijing Central Academy of Fine Arts setup shop here to take advantage of the cheap rent and vast working space. Soon after independent artists began trickling in and the community grew and grew…

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My Photographs: Top 5 The Summer Palace, Beijing.

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The Summer Palace, January 2010. I’ve always considered The Summer Palace to be Beijing’s crowning achievement! For me you can keep the organised chaos of The Forbidden City and the anticlimactic expanse of Tiananmen Square. While these places are definitely worth seeing, China’s largest royal park has way more charm, with breathtaking temples, gardens, pavilions, bridges, a huge lake and dazzling hilltop views. This shot was taken as I closed in on the top of Longevity Hill for a look in The Hall of Benevolence and Longevity. Guarded by a selection of fearsome bronze animals, its focal point is a giant hardwood throne.

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