Travel Diaries: Home for the Holidays
Jan09

Travel Diaries: Home for the Holidays

It’s been a funny couple of months.  The end of 2016 was crazy. In just 2 months I spent time in 11 different countries on 5 different continents. I was a part of two big campaigns – one in India and the other in Spain and Italy.  I taught a travel photography workshop in Cuba, and also solo travelled all over Southern Africa.  If I’m being honest, by the time I got home to Phoenix, I was exhausted. Home in Phoenix? Now, you’re probably thinking: aren’t you Canadian? How is Phoenix home?  Well, to be fair I use the term “home” fairly loosely.  And, I have plenty of “homes” around the world.  Phoenix is one of them.  My parents bought a house there a few years ago when the housing crisis in the US meant for extremely good deals on properties.  They’re retired now, and spend the winters there playing pickle ball and avoiding the cold weather of Canada. It was so good to be back around family.  I’m pretty sure I drove them mental though.  My past couple months of craziness left me a little rough around the edges, I think.  And, I think my levels of patience and “chill” were at an all time low.  Still, it was so good to have them around.  There’s nothing better to ground a person than being around family who really reminds them where they came from, and who they really are.  I’m very thankful for them.  They always keep me humble – or at least, they try. Patience at the Devil’s Bridge I didn’t just chill out while in Phoenix, though.  There are so many places to see and so many awesome photo locations that I had to get out and do some shooting as well.  Plus, I was way behind on some work for a couple clients, so getting out and shooting was kind of a priority. One of the locations I really wanted to shoot was the Devil’s Bridge in Sedona.  I’ve been up to Sedona a couple times, but never knew about the Devil’s Bridge. So, when I saw some photos I realized that it would be a great place to get some cool shots, and also get some images for my clients. Of course, like nearly every photogenic spot in the US it took some patience to get the shot I wanted. The Devil’s Bridge was packed with people right up until the minute the light disappeared.  It was a Friday right before the holidays, so it might have been more busy than normal.  But, the shots came out cool – despite a lack of good light...

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Melatsunyane Falls is Crazy!
Nov08

Melatsunyane Falls is Crazy!

I’m falling behind a bit on the blog again, so I’m going to try to be a bit quick with this update.  Basically, all I have to say is that Melatsunyane Falls is crazy! Like, legit incredible.  I’m not really sure how no one knows about these waterfalls, or how Lesotho in general is so under the radar as a tourism destination. Melatsunyane Falls might actually be my favourite location for photography in 2016, it was that good.  Moreover, I wasn’t even there during the right season. I’d love to be at the falls during the wet season when the falls are really roaring. I also put together a little video about using filters in your photography when I was at the falls, so check that out if you would like. Hiking to Melatsunyane Falls If you want to get to the falls, the best way is likely on foot.  If you go to the Semonkong Lodge, there’s an activity desk and they can give you a map to get there. But, it’s fairly simple.  Alternatively, you can also hire a guide to take you there.  You can also hire a horse or donkey to take you there as well.  It’s about a 45 minute walk to the falls from Semonkong Lodge, and it’s pretty pleasant. You wander through villages and there are lots of friendly people along the way. Some Photos from Melatsunyane Falls I didn’t really have much luck with the light at Melatsunyane Falls.  It’s the very start of the rainy season in Lesotho and it was really cloudy when I was shooting.  Then, on the way home from the falls I got absolutely smashed by a mix of rain and hail.  That said, I did get a couple shots I’m pretty happy with. What’s Next? I’m going to catch up on this blog as quick as I can!  Next, I’m off to Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park which might be the best places in Africa to see...

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Food Photography in Emilia Romagna
Oct20

Food Photography in Emilia Romagna

When I decided that I needed to be more dynamic with the vlog, I asked people what sort of episodes they wanted to see. Overwhelmingly, people wanted to see a video style that I used to shoot before moving to a vlog format I called “Getting the Shot”. Essentially, in these episodes, I take people through the process of getting a specific shot. Pretty self-explanatory, right? The idea is to tell people of my vision for a shot, and then walk them through the process of making that photo happen. Sometimes, it might take a whole day to shoot, film and edit. Other times, I’ll be able to knock out that image in 15 minutes. Now, while the concept behind this style of episode is old, I really wanted to keep the vlog format so, it’s not stale – I hope. It’s still me out in the world, I just have a very specific goal for the day. In the first installment of this style, I tackle one of the trickiest styles of photography that exists: food photography.  And, is there a better place on the planet to do a video about food than Emilia Romanga, Italy? Quick Info on Shooting Food Photography Tip #1: Lighting is Important In food photography, the goal is to make the food look appetizing. To do so, you need to light the food properly. If you don’t the food will just not look tasty. It’ll have shadows, or be dark, or even a different colour. With this type of photography, having a nice even light, and as few shadows as possible, is so key. Of course, in travel, you won’t have ideal light, nor will you likely have the tools you need to create the light. So, you have to be creative. Find an open window with soft light flowing in, or a nice white over-heat light. Also, one of the greatest food photography hacks out on the road is to use your cell phone’s flashlight to add some fill light. Tip #2: Composition is King Maybe more than any other type of photography, composition is king in food photography. Not only should you have a visually appealing plate, but also a visually appealing composition of your plate and setting. Moreover, it’s important to style the scene as best you can – from the cutlery to the napkins, everything in your frame should have a purpose. Tip #3: Tell The Whole Food Story Don’t just photograph the food. You should be creating a food photo essay. From the farm to the plate, and everything in between, you should be capturing the evolution and...

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A Week in Saskatchewan
Sep21

A Week in Saskatchewan

Every Canadian has their ideas of what Saskatchewan is. We all have our own pre-developed views of what it looks like, and what it feels like. But, very few actually give it the time it deserves for you to move past the stereotypes and truly start figuring out what Saskatchewan is all about. I’ll be honest. I was one of those people who had not given the province a chance. I’d seen parts of it. I’d seen the prairies. And, the rumours are true: it’s very flat. But, thanks to a week-long photography trip with Tourism Saskatchewan and my buddy Jeff Bartlett, I got the chance to dig a bit deeper into the province most assume is just 99% covered in wheat, and the other 1% in grain elevators. Grasslands National Park East Block If I’m being quite honest with you, I’d never even heard of Grasslands National Park. Obviously, I didn’t know that there was also an east block to it. Jeff and I made the mistake in not doing our hard research, too. When we got near the park, we realized there was no restaurant, grocery store, or even fuel station in or near the park. We had to make a massive detour to find food, and stocked up for the 3 days we’d be in the park. After a night of pretty beautiful skies, we set out on a bit of an adventure in the park. We headed out on a hike into a place called The Valley of 1000 Devils. This part of the park is home to some beautiful wild badlands that are relatively untouched. It’s beautiful in there, and there’s even quick sand – yes, it’s a real thing. That night, we wild camped in the badlands. And, yes, it was wild. Just as the sun was about to set, we got hammered by one of those epic prairie storms. We were soaked, destroyed, and cold. But, we trooped through it, as the light following the storm was amazing enough to make you forget that all your clothes are so wet they weight 20 pounds. Grasslands National Park West Block After our couple nights in the east block, we headed over to the West Block of Grasslands National Park. This part of the park is older than the other, and the infrastructure is better. But, there still wasn’t showers, or a restaurant. So, we were out in the wild for a bit longer. For me, the highlight of this park was the prairie dogs. There were hundreds upon hundreds of them scattered all over the fields, popping up curiously and constantly. There are...

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A Week in The Alberta Rockies
Sep14

A Week in The Alberta Rockies

I keep promising that I’m going to get caught up, but then I never do. So, I’m going to stop promising, and just roll out these posts as they come.  I’m trying to get back to the much more stress-free version of myself I was a couple years ago.  I don’t know when I became such a work-addict unable to step away from it.  But, I’ve been doing my best to do so more often lately. I really have started to feel like work has gotten in the way of my personal life. I also feel like the focus on “me” in these blogs has made me way too self-indulgent.  I don’t like that. So, it’s time to start working on me again, for real.  Travel used to be such a great tool for personal growth. But, since I left Africa I don’t think I’ve done much growth, and may have even regressed a bit. Hopefully, the realization of these things will start to put me back on the right path. But, it’s going to take time to regain the humble, positive, and thoughtless person I believe still sits within my skin somewhere. Anyways, 200 word intros are too long. Let’s get into the travel. Coming Home After our pretty incredible RV trip across Canada with GoRVing Canada, I got to show Erin (from The World Wanderer) a little bit of my home province.  I was so excited to be back. Being home has a way of grounding me.  I’m not sure if it’s the mountains, the open spaces, or the presence of friends and families, but it always seems to bring me back to earth.  I don’t think I’ll even come back to Alberta to live, my lifestyle would make it too hard to be based there, but my heart will always be there. My Favourite Places on the Planet Everyone is proud of where they’re from, I think.  I meet people in some of the most below average places on the planet, and they all rave about their home as if it’s the best place in the world.  So, I might be a bit biased to say it, but The Canadian Rockies really are home to my favourite places on the planet. We only had a short amount of time to explore them, so I really had to pick and choose the highlights to show Erin.  Obviously, I would have loved to get her off the beaten path and to some of the true gems in the mountains that so few people get to, but with only a week we stuck to the more classic locations.  One...

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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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