We’re Going to Cuba! Join Us!!
May10

We’re Going to Cuba! Join Us!!

This is a long overdue announcement. I get emails on a near daily basis asking about when my next travel photography workshop and tour will be announced. And the truth is, my photography partner in crime Jeff Bartlett and I have gone back and forth on about a dozen different destinations, and dates before coming to a decision. We’ve decided to run our next big photography tour in Cuba December 2016! I can’t tell you how excited I am for this. I was in Cuba in October doing some scouting and working with local agencies to see if a trip like this is possible. And, in the end, not only is it possible, but it’s going to be an amazing experience. As you know, Cuba is like a step back in time. I’d say that since leaving Africa 3 years ago it is the most visually interesting country I’ve set my lens on. Every corner of the country is just so photogenic. The landscapes and nature are impressive, the people are some of the most friendly in the world, and the architecture and classic cars are from another era. This photo tour of Cuba will start in Havana on December 4th, 2016. We’ll visit highlights in the country such as Viñales, El Nicho, the Bay of Pigs, Trinidad, and much more. Check out the full 13-day itinerary here. The goal of this particular travel photography workshop, is not to just give you a change to take some excellent photographs with the instruction of professional photographers, but to give you an insight into life in Cuba. We will take some amazing photographs of beautiful things, but we will take away memories far more powerful than any photo. To get the full information on the workshop, head over to this page. There you’ll get information on how to sign up, the costs, and every other bit of information you’ll need. Photos From Cuba Here’s a slideshow of some images from locations this photography workshop will visit.  All of these images were shot in a 3 week period of time. Information for Americans The US government has re-opened its Embassy in Havana, so local support is available in Cuba. There are now direct flights to Cuba from Miami, or there are dozens of daily flights connecting in Central America. The American government has lessened the restrictions on visiting Cuba. However, the rules for travel to Cuba are still very strict. If you have any questions regarding your ability to visit Cuba, please refer to the information provided by your government. Please note that government policies can change, so please keep yourselves informed...

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Rounding Up My Fathom Experience
May08

Rounding Up My Fathom Experience

I started writing about my experience with Fathom Travel immediately when I got back to Miami from the trip to the Dominican Republic.  I got about 200 words into my thoughts when I realized that I needed to let things soak in a little bit.  I needed to take a step back and try to understand what my Fathom experience meant, and what it could mean to those looking to join a trip with the cruise line.  I think that’s important to do. In today’s world of blogging so many of our words are knee jerk, so many of our thoughts are spilled out on paper; written high on emotion.  I wanted to let my emotions come back down to earth before writing this article. What is Fathom Travel Of course, before I can get into this piece, I need to talk about the brand.  Fathom Travel is a cruise line – under the umbrella of Carnival Cruises – that has started running trips down to the Caribbean for cultural and humanitarian purposes.  In fact, Fathom became the first American cruise line to visit Cuba in nearly 40 years recently.  The idea of the trips are to use mass tourism to make a difference.  Instead of lounging on the beach, or swimming with dolphins, guest have the opportunity to take part in “impact activities” such as tree planting, pouring cement, teaching English, or making water filters. Of course, whenever there’s a really quick hit style of volunteering like this, there are critics. And some of them are justified.  I have some thoughts. Criticisms of the Voluntourism Model I’m going to start off diving into a couple criticisms not to be cynical, but because I love the idea of tourism for change and positive impact, and I want to see it succeed. Positive vs. Negative Impact: We have to try to look at the balance. Is this trip having more of a positive impact, than a negative one?  The positive impact is clear and obvious. During the time we were there, we gave 3 new houses cement floors that didn’t have them before. We planted a couple thousand trees. We gave dozens of students, and people in the community a chance to learn a bit of English. But what were the negative impacts? Did we take jobs away from other people? Did our being there have a negative environmental impact? Which way did the positive vs. negative impact see-saw sway?  I think it was to the positive side. Fish vs. Teaching to Fish: A lot of what we were doing sort of fell in the category of handing out fish rather than teaching people...

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A Photographer’s Guide to Cinque Terre, Italy
Mar30

A Photographer’s Guide to Cinque Terre, Italy

In keeping what I’ve been doing a lot on this blog lately, this is a guide for photography in Cinque Terre. I found that there are quite a few other posts out there describing the best places to take photos in the area, but few are really that comprehensive. Thus, since I had 5 days in the area, I thought that it would be a good idea to put together a list with everything you need to know about visiting Cinque Terre as a photographer. In the video below, you’ll see where I’ve shot from and some examples of the images I took. If you want to see even more detail, I have put together a guide on Fripito that includes not only Cinque Terre, but also Florence. There is details about that further along in this article. Best Locations for Photography in Cinque Terre Of course, Cinque Terre isn’t just one town, but rather a national park with 5 villages. All 5 villages, they are pretty photogenic. However, there are 3 villages that are truly special. You can also photograph Cinque Terre from outside the villages on the hiking trails that connect towns. In this section of the guide, I’ll share my thoughts on the best locations in each village. Manarola The most popular village to photograph is likely Manarola. It’s also by far the easiest to shoot. Whether you come at sunrise or sunset, the light is almost always beautiful and there are always places to shoot images from without worrying about other photographers or tourists being in your shots. For me, there are 2 or 3 very obvious spots to photograph from in Manarola. The first is down on the rocks. It’s obvious on how to get to this spot once you get arrive. But, you’ll basically just go down to the stone pier and cross the ropes and wander onto the rocks. Be careful down there though, the waves can be intense, and if it looks like the seas are too rough or the tides too high don’t go down there. The other location that really worked for me was up at the cemetery. From the cemetery you can get a nice clean view of the city and the seas behind it. That said, there really is only one or two compositions that can be shot from here. Finally, along the walking trail that leads to Corniglia, the views are great for photography as well. Here, you have the luxury of having the rocks below in the foreground. Vernazza This is the village I stayed in Cinque Terre. It’s a favourite of a lot of...

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An Introduction to Photographing Venice
Mar28

An Introduction to Photographing Venice

It might seem crazy to some people that I’ve travelled 6 continents and nearly 100 countries and had never set foot in Venice.  In so many ways, Venice is the quintessential travel destination.  A place that so many people visit within their first travel few travel experiences.  Well, I’ve obviously always been a little bit different.  I’ve chosen to go well off the beaten path, and have spent more time riding scooters around Africa, and hitch hiking in the Guianas than I have in major European cities.  But, that has started to change a bit as I’ve now started to base myself in Europe.  As such, I’ve started also to visit places, like Venice, that I’ve long neglected. My stop in Venice was a quick one.  I really didn’t have an assignment here, or any photography task I was hoping to achieve.  In many ways, I was just photo location scouting for potential future assignments or projects.  I ended up wandering nearly the entire city looking for cool angles and compositions for photography in Venice.  I definitely found a few.  I also made a trip out to the islands of Murano and Burano which were absolutely beautiful. The Challenges of Photographing Venice Venice is such a photogenic city.  It really is.  It seems like around every corner there’s a new image to be made, or a killer photo waiting to develop.  But, it’s really not as easy as one would expect.  Especially when you first arrive and see how beautiful it is, it feels like it should be an easy place to shoot.  But, these are some of the challenges I faced. No Open Spaces: Most of the photogenic parts of the city are really hard to photograph.  There’s simply nowhere to set up a tripod. There are very few bridges, for example that cross over the Grand Canal.  Thus, the best views of Venice are often from the boats.  And well that’s fantastic, it doesn’t really work well if you’re trying to shoot long exposures. Lots of Boat Traffic: Speaking of boats, they caused havoc for me as well.  When set up on bridges or view points, there was a constant stream of boats going through. And well blurring them slightly in the early evening and morning made for some cool shots, as soon as the exposure got over about 5 seconds, the boats left horrendous looking light trails in the images. Hard to be Original: Since there are only a couple really perfect locations to shoot from in the city, it can be hard to be original in your photography.  For example, I created an image down...

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A Complete Guide to Photographing a Destination for the First Time
Mar15

A Complete Guide to Photographing a Destination for the First Time

One of the favourite parts of my growing readership here and viewership on my YouTube channel is that I get a lot of great ideas for articles and videos from that audience.  After my short visit to Helsinki a couple months ago, a reader asked me how I can possibly photograph an entire destination in just a couple days; especially a place I’d never visited prior.  I thought that was a great question, and I thought that during my trip to Florence, a city I’d never been before, was a great place to show you how I do it.  Thus, the video below is long.  It’s a complete walk-through of how I go about researching, planning, and executing my travel photography in a locations I’m visiting for the first time. Moreover, this is also a guide to photography in Florence, Italy.  The city was absolutely stunning and a real treat to photograph.  I’ll walk you through some of the locations I shot below, and in a week or so I’ll have a guide on Fripito for photography in Florence and Cinque Terre.  For now, here’s what I got up to in Florence. Building a Photography Blue Print Photographing a city like Florence, or any destination for that matter, doesn’t just involve rocking up to the city, pulling out the camera, and shooting it.  Like a good article, you first have to create an outline for your photography in a certain destination.  But, instead of having an intro, body, and conclusion, when planning a photography assignment you have research, plan, and then execute. Researching In researching a destination you’re going to photograph, the most important thing is to find a way to see image locations from a city and then decide what your photography goals are for your trip.  When researching where to photograph in Florence, I noticed that the main two things that kept popping up where the Cathedral and the famous bridge.  Thus, I knew that those were the two most iconic things to see in the city.  From there, I can then start to asses how much time I need to shoot everything in the city, and the locations to best photograph them. For researching images, I use tools like Google Images, and 500px.com.  Then, for researching the locations I use google maps, an app called the photographer’s ephemeris, and a good old fashioned google search. Planning Once I’ve found the potential locations, I then try to plan out when I want to shoot each spot.  The most important thing in this regard is the direction of the light.  I look at sunset vs. sunrise, and golden...

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Kwihala Camp and 3 Other Breathtaking Places to see Wild Elephants in  Africa
Mar08

Kwihala Camp and 3 Other Breathtaking Places to see Wild Elephants in Africa

Visiting an elephant sanctuary is nice…you can see the animals up close, you can even stroke them, but nothing beats seeing elephant in their natural habitat, strutting across the African savannah. Being in the wild amongst these huge, majestic, intelligent creatures is an utterly breathtaking experience, and within just a few minutes, you’ll learn so much more than you would by spending days with a captive elephant. You’ll see entire herds protect babies, marvel at how desert elephant treat the scant vegetation with the utmost of care, and if your vehicle happens to separate a herd crossing the road, you’ll be met with incredible displays of mock-charging. Wild elephants are at the top of most safari travellers’ must-see lists – you just need to know where to find them. Here, we highlight three of the most breathtaking locations for viewing wild elephant in Africa, from the infamous Kwihala Camp in Tanzania all the way to Samburu in Kenya. Tanzania With around 40,000 elephants roaming its land, Tanzania boasts one of the largest wild elephant populations in the world. The country yields 16 national parks, plus a variety of game and forest reserves, so you’ve got plenty of choices when trying to find a Tanzanian safari to fit in with your itinerary. Ruaha National Park is the largest reserve in Tanzania, yet it’s not inundated by travellers, so your wild elephant sightings will be relatively uninterrupted. It’s here you’ll find the Kwihala Camp, which is one of the most highly regarded camps in the whole of Africa, famous for its in-depth walking and vehicle safaris that are perfect for spotting wild elephant. Tarangire National Park is another great option, especially if you’re visiting between July and mid November, as it’s renowned for elephant migration. Even if you’ll be in Tanzania during the wet season (December-May), Tarangire still provides an intriguing visit, as it’s possibly the only place you’ll encounter large breeding herds of elephants – and by large, we mean hundreds! Botswana Botswana is where you go if you want an idyllic safari experience; the country is sparsely populated, and the entire northern hemisphere has given over to safari. There are an estimated 70,000 elephants in Botswana, and interestingly, they are considered to be the largest elephants in terms of body size. As so many tourists travel through the country, the wild elephant here are relatively used to travellers, so you may be able to get slightly closer than you would in other areas. The Ngoma Safari Lodge is popular amongst those who want to visit the northern part of Chobe, which is well known for its unique wilderness appeal,...

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