Join us in Peru and/or Iceland!
Feb19

Join us in Peru and/or Iceland!

Of all the places we get requests to run tours, Peru and Iceland and far and away the most popular.  I get emails almost every week asking when our next Peru travel photography workshop will be.  I get about the same amount of emails for Iceland.  So, it was just a matter of time before we’d go back to Peru, and initiate our first workshop in Iceland. Going Back to Peru Our trip to Peru in 2014 was a massive success.  Not only did we have a great tour filled with incredible imagery, but we had an amazing group of participants which made the tour even more special. Peru is one of the most photogenic countries in the world.  It’s also one of the most diverse places in the world for photography.  In just a 2 week period, we’ll photograph the desert, the coast, the Andes Mountains, and even parts of the rain forest.  As far as subjects are concerned, there will be people, mountains, wildlife, seascapes, and so much more to photograph in the country.  As usual, Jeff Bartlett will be co-leading this tour with me. You can download the full itinerary for Peru here. And, for more information on the trip to Peru or to book, visit this page. Iceland! I can’t tell you how excited I am to be heading back to Iceland.  It’s one of my favourite countries to shoot, and definitely one of the most impressive places I’ve ever been.  As usual, I’ll be running the Iceland photography workshop alongside my buddy and fantastic photographer, Jeff Bartlett.  He has also spent a lot of time in Iceland scouting locations and organizing this trip.  We’ll also have with us a local photographer named Ivan Olaffson who will help guide us around and show us some of the secret photo spots off the usual beaten path. For the full itinerary for Iceland, click here. And, to book, or for some more information on the trip, click here. Images from Peru and Iceland If you’re interested in seeing some of the imagery you can come up with in these two incredible countries, check out the videos below.  The first one is a piece I put together from my first time in Iceland in which I spent a week exploring the ring road of the country location scouting. The second video is from my last photography workshop in Peru: Can’t Join These Ones? If you can’t join these photography workshops, but are interested in potentially joining one in the future, be sure to sign up to the form below.  That way, when we launch future workshops you’ll be...

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Epic Photo Location: The Banaue Rice Terraces

Of all the places in the Philippines, I think it was Banaue that I was most looking forward to. The images of the landscapes and rice terraces are all over the social media and marketing for The Philippines. I couldn’t wait to get my lens on them, and head out and explore them as well. But, as the jeepney I caught from Sagada rolled towards town it poured rain. At times, I’m sure the driver couldn’t see more than 10 meters in front of him because of the fog. But, somehow the ride was still a lot of fun. I should have known it would be a bit of foreshadowing for my next couple days in Banaue. The forecast was showers, with a chance of occasional brilliance. Wandering the Villages around Banaue With heavy fog in the air my first morning in Banaue, I slept in a little bit. Later in the morning, I headed out to do a village trek in the area. I started with a visit to a village called Tam-an. Just outside of Banaue, this little village is perched on a hill’s edge with incredible views of the valley. I stopped there, pulled out the drone, and took a flight to get an overview of the area. It was fun, not only because the views were beautiful, but because the drone served as such a nice ice-breaker into conversations with the locals. They all came out to chat. Then, I pushed on towards the village of Poitan. However, I managed to get totally lost on the way there and found myself wandering aimlessly through some rice terraces. By the time I found the trail down to Poitan, I was covered in mud all the way to my waist. Again, the hike down to Poitan was stunning. It cut across some rice terraces, but also carved along the cliff-side lending to some beautiful views of the area. By the afternoon, the rain rolled back in and cut into my dreams of shooting photos from the classic view of the rice terraces. No Batad, Bad Brendan! I had plans of catching a ride out to an area called Batad. The terraces out that way are meant to be the most beautiful in all The Philippines. However, it poured rain the whole day. And, if I’m being honest with you, I probably should have just fought through it anyways. Of course, the weather could have been better that way – although, to be fair to myself, it probably wasn’t. I hiked up to the viewpoint for sunrise, but struck out. Then, in the afternoon, I hiked up again...

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Trekking Through Alberta
Oct04

Trekking Through Alberta

This project in Alberta was full-on. The plan was to work 19 days, with a 3 day break in the middle of it. However, my best friend got married on those 3 days between. Well, only one of those days, but you know how weddings are: day 1 = rehersal, day 2 = wedding, and day 3 = trying to recover. Moreover, I was dealing with a lot of personal issues over that weekend. It wasn’t as relaxing as I had hoped it would be. So, by the time we got back to work on the Google Trekker project, I didn’t have much of a rest. The second half of the project was meant to be a nice mix of locations, though. We were spending some time in the mountains, and some time in the north of Alberta; both locations I was looking forward to. K-Country Kananaskis Country used to be the biggest hidden gem in Alberta. So many tourists jet straight out to the National Parks, leaving K-Country largely to locals and people in the know. Things have changed a bit, and the region is certainly more crowded. However, it’s still mostly quiet. And it’s still incredibly beautiful. We did some trekking in the area. Jeff did an epic 18km hike over 2 mountain passes with a vertical gain of over 800m. I did some shorter moves, including a beautiful 12km hike with a 500m gain to a place called Prairie View Lookout. From that peak, there were 360 views of the mountains, Barrier Lake, and the prairies. Of course, we did some shooting both in Canmore and in Kananaskis Country. Rain, and Northern Lights In a bit of a tease, Jeff and I pressed down the Icefields Parkway without stopping. It was strange for me to drive that road without pulling off to do some shooting in some of the locations along the way. That road never gets old. We were pushing north, however. We made our way all the way north to Grande Prairie, which is about as far north in Alberta as I’ve ever been. It rained a lot. But, we still managed to get some trekking done. And, we managed to catch an extremely beautiful sunset on the prairies and a wicked display of the Northern Lights. From Grande Prairie, we pushed on to Slave Lake. Again, we were met with a bit of rain. But, wow, Slave Lake is beautiful. I was really impressed with that area, and had no idea interesting it is visually. I would have loved to get some better weather up there to do some photography. We did, of...

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Come with Me to Cuba!
Sep22

Come with Me to Cuba!

As some of you know, Jeff Bartlett and I are running a photography tour to Cuba this December. We’re almost nearing the deadline for participants to join, so this post is a bit of a reminder that if you’re interested, we need to hear from you soon. If you haven’t heard about our travel photography workshop in Cuba yet, be sure to head over to this page for information. Flights to Cuba The great news is that there are now direct flights coming from the United States to Cuba. You can fly into Santa Cruz and Camaguey from either New York or Miami now, which is fantastic. What’s even better is that the flights are extremely cheap. JetBlue, for example, has launched flights as cheap as $99. Though the tour starts in Havana, we can definitely arrange transport from either one of the cities in Cuba that the American flights come from. Can Americans Come to Cuba? Absolutely. When you leave the United States, you’ll be given a form asking for your reason for visiting Cuba. Since you’re not allowed, as an American, to be in Cuba as a tourist, you’ll need to fill one of the other categories. One of those categories is education, and since our workshop is of educational nature, you have every right to be there. Moreover, you might be asked if you will be having “peer-to-peer” activities with locals. And, you’ll be staying with locals, and even have a local photographer teaching you his skills one day. It should also be noted that since 2008, not a single American has been reprimanded for visiting Cuba in any capacity. Is the Trip Guarenteed Yes. As of right now, we’ve reached the minimum of what we need to run the workshop. Book Now If you’re interested in booking, please send us an email to brendanvanson (at) gmail (dot) com. I’m happy to discuss the next step and organize payment. For more information on the photography workshop, or others we’ll be running around the world visit here. Some Photo Teasers I thought I’d leave you with a couple photo teasers from Cuba. It’s such a wonderful place to photograph! Book Now We need to have a firm figure on the number of participants by mid-October, so if you’re interested, please get in touch as soon as...

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A Quick Guide to Photography in Iceland
Aug04

A Quick Guide to Photography in Iceland

Iceland is one of those places that’s just magic for photography.  It seems like everywhere you look the light is amazing and there’s something totally photo-worthy.  But the real beauty of photography in Iceland is that the weather and light changes so dramatically and quickly, that everyone experiences places completely differently.  Of course, that’s also the struggle.  It’s hard to properly prepare for Iceland as a photographer when the conditions are constantly switching up.  Thus, this is a bit of a guide to photography for Iceland. The Time of Year Iceland really is special anytime of year.  You can go in the summer for the long days, or the winter for the short days and those beautiful northern lights.  Really, it definitely depends on you.  Personally, I think June is the best month of the year to visit Iceland.  June is the month where the weather cooperates the most. Also, towards the end of the month you have those incredibly long days where the beautiful sunsets just seem to last forever.  If you want a bit more of an depth look at the best time of year to visit, check out this more general Iceland travel guide. The Gear Gear is always such a challenge, and choosing what equipment to take to Iceland is incredibly tricky.  That said, I think the general rule is to pack more than you think you’d need.  The other rule is to be prepared for weather.  Packing things like rain covers, lens wipes, and even silica packs to keep your gear dry is really important.  Other non-electronic gear you’ll want to bring are rain slicks, and if you’re hoping to get into some of the streams and waterfalls, you’ll want to bring hip-waiters. As for camera gear itself, I think you really want to be shooting two bodies in Iceland.  The reason is this: the weather is so nasty that you don’t want to be switching lenses out in the wild conditions.  I’d recommended a lens like a 16-35mm, and a long lens like a 70-200mm.  I really think that with just those two lenses you could probably shoot all of Iceland.  The last time I photographed the country I used these two exclusively and I never felt like I was missing something. Also, don’t forget the importance of a good tripod.  The winds in Iceland can be completely unforgiving.  If you don’t have a sturdy tripod, your camera could definitely take a tumble and get damaged. I’ve heard from a number of people who have broken gear in Iceland due to the high winds.  Don’t cheap out on your tripod.  Try something that’s...

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Location Scouting on the Via Dinarica
Jun18

Location Scouting on the Via Dinarica

I know, I know, I’m so slow at getting updates on the blog lately.  I’ve been so focused on building my newly minted Vlog, that the blog has been a bit of a time crunch victim.  But, alas, here I am with an update. I spent a couple days in Bosnia & Herzegovina, which is a country I’ve only spent a very small amount of time in. The goal of this trip was to join a buddy who founded an NGO building, and promoting a trail called the Via Dinarica.  We set out for 2 days to do some location scouting along the Via Dinarica to try to find some of the most epic photo spots, and maybe toss around ideas for ways to promote it. About the Via Dinarica I’m not going to get into too much detail, because I talked about it on my last trip to Bosnia.  But, essentially, it is a mega-trail that spans all the way across the former Yugoslavia.  The trails start in Slovenia, and stretch all the way to Albania and Kosovo. In reality, there are 3 trails.  The blue trail follows the coast, the green trail cuts through the forests, and the incredible white trail follows the highest peaks of the Dinaric Alps.  My buddy Tim’s organization has been working to build sign posts on the trail, get communities engaged in tourism opportunities like accommodation and restaurants, and mapping things out in various apps.  It’s a pretty incredible project, and seeing the progress from this year to my last visit has been amazing. The Most Remote Village in Bosnia One of the locations we came to on the trail was a village called Lukomir.  This is the most remote village in Bosnia.  In fact, during the snowy months of winter, the village is completely inaccessible. Lukomir’s location – along the white trail – is absolutely epic. The old village sits right on the edge of one of the most dramatic canyons in all of Europe.  Everybody in Lukomir knows Tim, and we spent some time with an older couple who are like his Bosnian grandparents. They were incredible sweet, and it was fantastic to have a bit of a cultural interaction like that – something that’s so hard to find in modern day Europe. Boracko Lake and Kravice Falls A couple other amazing spots on the Via Dinarica we went to were Boracko Lake and Kravice Falls.  Though the weather was terrible when we got to Boracko, the spot is beautiful. There were lingering clouds, and stunning reflections on the lake.  With the weather cold, we started our day off with...

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