a new start

I haven’t written a post for a year and today is the day to reach out again.

You see, I fell in love and my life has changed what seems to be 180 degrees.

During each of my three visits to Portugal since March 2012, I fell in love more and more with so many facets of this beautiful country that it will be hard to explain.

If you are a traveller, or love light and stunning landscapes, or have the heart of a dreamer, you will understand me.

I’ve travelled in many countries in the world and none have captured me in the way of the land of my new home. I am not short on incredible life experiences. Among many things, I have seen magnificent stars in the inky sky up north in the wilds of Thailand, vistas that go on for miles in the Masai Mara of Kenya, the varied turquoises of water in the Caribbean, and the golden glow of sun against proud cypress trees in Tuscany. Yet I fell in love with Portugal.

I spent a month is the Sintra area in the fall of 2014 and, even though it rained many days, the skies were azure blue when the sun appeared and the lanes were redolent with the fragrance of autumn flowers.

My amazing Portuguese friends, Jose Antunes and Fernando Picarra, took me to explore places that most visitors don’t see. They are not on tourist maps or “must see” places. The pristine beaches washed of summer suntan lotion, the craggy cliffs overlooking tiny villages, and quiet forest paths that lead to flashy blue dragon flies flitting over ponds filled with croaking frogs and jumping fish spoke to me and gave me dreams of wanting even more. Two of the best days of my life were had in Portugal. How could I not want more?

I returned to Vancouver mid-October sad and, in some ways, grieving the closure of those happy days. I had layers of rich memories and countless lovely photographs to remind me. There was a stirring and I tried to deny it.

My closest friends noticed a change in me. I was glowing and smiling more. I’m typically a pretty happy person but I guess I had some kind of tangible essence that reached beyond my beating heart.

When Jose sent me this photograph he took of me during my visit in March 2014, I knew I loved Portugal because I was so happy there. I couldn’t explain it. I just felt it.

Marion in Ericeira Portugal 2014

Marion McCristall in Ericeira Portugal


Recently retired from a career I loved and with a new found freedom, I took a huge leap of faith. Thanks to email and FaceTime I knew I could stay connected with family and friends. So, after a lot of soul searching, I made a decision. Last March, I said very teary farewells to my loved ones in Vancouver and headed out to explore a new life in Sintra, Portugal.

I have so many stories I want to share with you. I plan to start a new blog with everything from tales of my adventures and challenges, to thoughts on photography and artistic pursuits, quotes I love, and ways I find inspiration that may give you some ideas too.  I think I’m ready to start again and will give you the link to my new blog once I have it up and running.

Wishing you countless blessings, love of family and friends, and a good sprinkling of wonder in your life.


Happy Holidays

Christmas day is just around the corner and I’ve been busy making preparations to celebrate with family and friends. I like to send e-cards and created this one from a photograph I took of an angel on a pillar in the chapel of the Tile Museum in Lisbon, Portugal.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays and all the very best for the coming year. Marion

To see more of my images, please visit my website http://marionmccristall.com

© Copyright Marion McCristall, all rights reserved

Looking Beyond the Obvious

Sometimes we go places with our camera in hand and expect to capture images of the usual or those similar to what we have seen before. We may look for iconic scenes or subjects but forget to take the time to see what else may catch our eye.Sintra National Palace POR 2014 BWI’m back from spending a month in the charming village of Sintra, Portugal. I was fortunate to attend the annual Kelby Worldwide Photo Walk on the grounds of the National Palace with 20 friendly Portuguese photography enthusiasts. Our leader, Jose Antunes, (http://joseantunes.com) gave us some guidelines that included only capturing images from within the grounds of the palace but not inside the palace or gardens where entrance fees were required. Kelby Walk pigeon feeder POR 2014 BW It was fun to walk along the lane at the back of the palace and see the ruins and overgrowth. I also enjoyed people watching and capturing some scenes of young and old having a good time relaxing or exploring the environment.Kelby Walk man cane POR 2014 BWTo see more of my images from the walk, check out my new eBook, Two Hour Challenge, at http://issuu.com/marionmccristall. Kelby walk title page copyNext time you’re out with your camera, I hope you will take a few moments to look more closely and make images of things that do not normally catch your eye. You may be surprised at how interesting it is and enjoy the fresh new photos you come home with.

Please visit my website http://marionmccristall.com to see more photographs and slideshows.

Some of my photographs can be purchased at http://marion-mccristall.fineartamerica.com

© Copyright Marion McCristall, all rights reserved

Memories of Istanbul

I have countless images in my photo library that call out to be edited and shared. Now that I have finished my photo essay on Portugal, https://mccristall.exposure.co, and created an eBook on Lisbon, http://issuu.com/marionmccristall, I am starting to process some of the images I captured during my recent visit to Turkey.

Sultanahmet Mosque

Sultanahmet Mosque

Istanbul is a fascinating city that blends modern and old worlds on both sides of the Bosphorus Strait. Formerly called Constantinople, it has been inhabited for thousands of years and includes land in both Europe and Asia. Everywhere you turn there are remnants and artifacts of previous civilizations as well as incredible museums, mosques, bazaars, and markets. There are limitless rich treasures waiting to be explored and enjoyed by visitors and those who live there.

Below are three images I will be including in my photography eBook on Istanbul.

Sultanhamet Mosque also known as the Blue Mosque

Sultanahamet Mosque also known as the Blue Mosque

Doorway in the Blue Mosque

Doorway in the Blue Mosque

Fresco in the Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora

Fresco in the Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora

I hope you have the opportunity to visit this vibrant, amazing city one day. I’ll post a link when my Memories of Istanbul eBook is complete and ready to share. Enjoy.

To see more of my images, please visit my website http://marionmccristall.com

© Copyright Marion McCristall, all rights reserved




Lisbon: The City of Seven Hills

Capturing the essence of a place is something I love to do with my camera in hand. Not only do I create mental visual memories but also images that I can look at and enjoy for years to come. After returning from my travels, I like to make sideshows, greeting cards, calendars, prints, and photo essays that depict my experiences.

My photography e-book called Lisbon: The City of Seven Hills shows some of the countless sites I saw during my visits there in the last two years.Lisbon VistaI added post-processing effects in Photoshop CC and created the e-book in Lightroom 5 Book Module.  You can browse my e-book, Lisbon: The City of Seven Hills, here http://issuu.com/marionmccristall/docs/lisbon_ebook_by_marion_mccristallLisbon: the City of Seven HillsImagine the clang of the No. 28 Tram as it weaves through the neighbourhoods, brilliant terracotta rooftops, exquisite tiled facades, lemony coloured walls, twisty cobbled streets with laundry flapping in the breeze, leafy plazas with cafes, and historical sites at every turn. Enjoy walking in the streets of Lisbon through my eyes. Hopefully you will go there one day and take in the wonderful ambiance of such a magnificent city.

To see more of my images, please visit my website http://marionmccristall.com

© Copyright Marion McCristall, all rights reserved


Once upon a time … a Photographic Journey in Portugal

Every photo, every “once” in a time, is also the beginning of a story “once upon a time. ~ Wim Wenders

Sharing stories and images of everyday activities as well as exciting adventures is one of the many ways we remember them and re-live the experiences again and again. Sometimes when we travel it takes a while to sift through the rich memories and countless photographs to bring it all into focus.Village Street POR 2014 A collection of some photographs from my recent trip to Portugal is ready to share with you. I’m thrilled that the tour I organized was such a wonderful experience for everyone. Jose Antunes, our expert photo pro and guide, and Fernando Picarra. our friendly, extra driver, were encouraging, patient, and more than willing to help all of us create images that will give us memories for years to come. Jose took this photo of me as we were walking towards the sea in Ericeira, a colourful, little fishing village on the Atlantic. Marion McCristall Tour Leader in Portugal by Jose AntunesI hope you will take a few minutes to enjoy my photo essay with images ranging from seascapes to quaint villages, palaces, botanical gardens, Roman ruins, and more of the treasures that “say” Portugal. Click the link to view “The Charms of Portugal, A Photographic Journey”. https://mccristall.exposure.co/the-charms-of-portugal

(Click on images in the article if you want to enlarge them.)

Note: If Portugal is not on your list of places to visit, you’ll want to add it. However, you must be careful as one visit there can captivate and charm you and you’ll likely find yourself returning and telling your own story of “Once Upon a Time”.

If you’re interested in doing some photography in Portugal, contact Jose Antunes to arrange individual or small group outings. http:joseantunes.com

To see more of my images, please visit my website http://marionmccristall.com

© Copyright Marion McCristall, all rights reserved



Photography Through the Eyes of Others

Going on a small group photography tour is an exciting way to see a specific location through the eyes of others. Being in the presence of those who have a passion for making images can get our creative juices flowing and inspire us to think about what we’re looking at and how to tell the story of what we see.
I lead a photography tour in Portugal in March with Jose Antunes, an esteemed photographer and writer there. As our photo guru and guide, he helped us hone our photography skills and took us to special places where he loves to photograph. During the week we explored everything from landscapes and seascapes to small villages, city life in Lisbon to 2000 year old archaeological artifacts and geological formations from 72 million years ago.FOTOdigital July cover 2014The summer issue of FOTOdigital is online now. Jose showcased a selection of images that my group took during our week in Portugal in the spring. It’s so interesting to see how unique we are and how we pointed our camera at different things that caught our eye.
When you go out with your camera be sure to look at your surroundings with fresh eyes and see what you can capture.
Enjoy photographs taken by our group from Canada, (Gerry, Kitty, Norah, Judith and myself,)  in FOTOdigital, (pages 14-47 and 50-63,) and share the link with your friends and family. https://issuu.com/joseantunes

Check out Jose’s website for more information on day tours, eBooks, and the Lightroom and Photoshop courses he offers. http://joseantunes.com

To see more of my images, please visit my website http://marionmccristall.com

© Copyright Marion McCristall, all rights reserved

Archaeological Museum in Portugal

Travelling gives us the opportunity to see, learn about, and make photographs of places and historical sites we don’t have access to in our local area.museum artifacts 14 POR 2014

During a recent trip to Portugal I was invited for a private tour of the Archaeological Museum of Sao Miguel de Odrinhas in the Sintra area. It was fascinating to see the large collection of Roman artifacts and other ruins that were so well-preserved and on display.museum artifacts 16 POR 2014museum interior26 POR 2014

Discoveries of stones with inscriptions included influences from Italian, paleo-Hispanic, North African, and other origins were found across the region. People had been collecting everything from shards of pottery and tools to huge tombstones and Etruscan sarcophagi for hundreds of years. Scholars started a collection at the site in the hermitage of Sao Miguel in the 16th Century. This beautiful museum has been further developed and modernized so the antiquities could be gathered together in one place for all to see.museum artifacts22 POR 2014Museum artifacts10 POR 2014

There is an extensive library at the museum where researchers and visitors can take their time to learn more about the history of the region. A small chapel, with an ancient graveyard and Roman mosaic tiles embedded in the ground, is still in use today.museum library2 POR 2014

Here is a short slide show of some of the images I took during my visit to the museum.

If you are planning to go to Portugal be sure to take time to enjoy this interesting museum. It’s located about a half hour drive from Lisbon. Check out their website for information about displays, educational opportunities, and special events.museum outside3 POR 2014http://www.museuarqueologicodeodrinhas.pt/default_en.php

To see more of my images, please visit my website http://marionmccristall.com

© Copyright Marion McCristall, all rights reserved

Portugal Through My Eyes

Today I’m happy to share the May edition of FOTOdigital with you. In an article called Portugal Through My Eyes, Jose Antunes included some of my images from my time in the Sintra area doing photography with him in 2012. You’ll find it on pages 15 to 36. It brings back fond memories of an amazing trip. http://issuu.com/joseantunes/docs/fdmayl14_issuuFOTOdigital May 2014 title page

I’m still sifting and sorting through the photographs I took the end of March when I led a group of photo enthusiasts there. There are so many that it is taking me quite a while to edit my favourites. I plan to have them ready to share soon.

I hope you enjoy the article, and others in FOTOdigital, and sign up to receive Jose Antunes’ inspiring monthly ezine. It’s free and enjoyed by thousands of readers all over the world. Jose writes photography tutorials for a variety of online sites as well as eBooks. He takes small groups on outings to learn more about photography and to capture images of the fauna, flora, seascapes, and landscapes of the remarkable area of Portugal he lives in. http://www.joseantunes.com

To see more of my images, please visit my website http://marionmccristall.com

© Copyright Marion McCristall, all rights reserved

Enchanting Portugal Photography Holiday

Jose Antunes and I have organized a fabulous photography tour in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Sintra, Portugal, and the surrounding coastal area. Our one week photo holiday will include scenic seascapes and forests, visits to palaces and gardens, and the ruins of the 16th C. Capuchos Monastery. We’ll also enjoy a day trip to vibrant, bustling, historic Lisbon. We’ll visit places of extraordinary beauty, (natural and man-made,) have fun. laugh and share days filled with adventure. Details at www.marionmccristall.com

Take a few moments to enjoy this beautiful eBook Jose created to inspire us. We will have the opportunity to photograph some of these awesome sights during the tour.Portugal Enchanted LandClick on the link below to read the eBook by Jose Antunes, Portuguese professional photographer, writer, instructor, and tour leader. http://issuu.com/marionmccristall/docs/portugal_phototour_promo2014_issuu_

Our week of photographic opportunities and study is limited to six participants so that everyone will benefit from Jose’s expertise and teaching. Photographers will come away with stories to tell of wonderful experiences, stunning images to share, and a desire to return to Sintra as this fairytale land captures everyone with her charms.

Photography Tour in Portugal, March 2014,  information, terms and conditions, and registration details are available at http://www.marionmccristall.com

To see more of my images, please visit my website http://marionmccristall.com

© Copyright Marion McCristall, all rights reserved