04. February 2016 · Comments Off on Travel and Compromise · Categories: Philosophy, Photography, Travel · Tags: , ,

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”   Mark Twain

What I have found, is that as a photographer, there are compromises that need to be made when travelling. The number of compromises increases with the number of people you travel with.  The featured image above is an example; shot from the bus window as we were driving by. The photo required large depth of field, high shutter speed, which meant high ISO…Compromise.  If I had been by myself, I could have stopped, set up the tripod and had a better image. 

Sunset, a set of compromises.

Sunset, a set of compromises.

The compromise is often around time, as a photographer, I need time to take photos, the others don’t want to wait, or can’t wait.  Sometimes the compromises are with yourself; in the sunset picture the rest of the group was enjoying a cold one, or in the pool, I make the choice for the photo rather than cooling off.  There were other compromises as well, no polarizer  because of time and condensation.  Not having enough time to deal with the condensation that makes the left part of the image soft. 

I knew going in that travel would be a set of compromises, not enough time in return for having the experience.  Compromise was forced on me in that my primary body was in the shop and I was using the backup body.  And so, the list of compromises continues.  There will always be compromises. Given that there will always be compromises, then the question becomes what choices do we make in the face of competing desires or goals, how do we choose between more than one goal with limited time and resources?

Rice paddies and mountains

Rice paddies and mountains

With ‘Rice paddies and Mountains’ a different comprise; I was riding a bike with my camera in my knapsack, limited amounts of time to stop, no deviation from the route.  Exceedingly well worth the the bike ride, and even the pack spill that I went down in.   Lot’s of possible ‘IFs’, but if I was focused on what was not available I would not have been present for what was available.

Tanah Lot is incredibly popular as a world heritage site. In this photo there were folks on both sides of me and behind me all jostling for an opportunity to take this photo.  How do we deal with others that may have goals that are different than mine?  

Photography, like life is learning to choose and live with compromises.

For more pictures of Bali, visit my Bali Album

Tanah Lot

Tanah Lot

26. January 2016 · Comments Off on Too Perfect? · Categories: Philosophy, Photography, Travel · Tags: , ,

“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” Salvador Dali

I was sharing with a friend photos from Bali. He surprised me and said the pictures were too perfect ! LoL

Are these photos too perfect?

Everyday beauty, Common offering of flowers in Bali.  Too Perfect?

Everyday beauty, Common offering of flowers in Bali

Sunrise and fishing. Too Perfect?

Sunrise and fishing

Sunset

Sunset


Water Park / Temple

Rice paddies and mountains

Rice paddies and mountains

I would argue that they are not too perfect, but rather their imperfections are not as glaring as the typical travel point and shoot pics. No, not too perfect.

Let’s look at each of these photos and see what might have been done better.

The bowl of flower petals, gorgeous bowls made every morning. In the photo the upper rim of the bowl is slightly out of focus.  The red was more vivid than the photo. And there is a glare reflection in the center of the bowl.  If I had been using a polarizer, the the colors would be better.  A tripod and greater depth of field would have helped the upper rim. No not too perfect

Looking at the sunrise photo, a nice photo, one of the best from the trip. My timing was slightly off, the boat needs to be slightly more to the left. But worse, is that the horizon is not level.  I should have caught that imperfection in post processing.  Again, if I had had a polarize on the colors would have been more vivid. No, not too perfect.

The sunset photo although eye catching has many goofs that the trained eye will notice. First are the awful spots, worse than zits on a face, on a face you don’t get a lot of choice, in a photo you do. Also the horizon isn’t level. But there is another problem with this photo over on the left edge, notice the softness in the water?  Our rooms were thankfully air conditioned to about 70 with much of the humidity remove.  Outside at 90 to 100 and 75% humidity was a different story.  The issue was, taking the camera from the cold room outside promptly caused LOTS of condensation on the lens.  This needed to be carefully wiped away to take a shot until the camera warmed up and it was good for about 10 seconds.  Again, a polarizer would have made the colors more vivid still. No not too perfect.

The water temple is nice, but notice the lens flare above the fountain?  Taking time, with extra shading from a hat would have prevented the lens flare.

The rice paddy with mountains; see the glare in the water?  That would have disappeared with a polarizer, and the polarizer would have made the sky darker more contrasty.

Conclusion, no not too perfect.  However, there are several vastly more important lessons to be gleamed here. There isn’t really perfection, it is a journey as we become more perceptive to nuances.   There is a prayer that I love that speaks to learning to live with imperfections. “God, I humbly ask you to remove all of my shortcomings that get in the way of me being of service to you”  notice not all the shortcomings, some of the ‘shortcoming’ might just be needed even though we may not like them. Photos like life are not too perfect, they are perfect they way they are.

19. January 2016 · Comments Off on Travels in Bali · Categories: Travel · Tags: ,

Much has happened since the last post in September, including a computer crash and a trip to Bali, Indonesia. One of the most powerful characteristics of travel, is its ability to allow us to challenge assumptions about life and living that we take for granted.  When a fish is out of water it suddenly notices the lack of water that it never noticed before. The featured photo is of Tanah Lot, Bali, which is a world heritage site.  It is a Hindu Temple site, but Muslims and Christians as well as others visit it in peaceful coexistence.  Besides a being beautiful, the rock has a fresh water spring welling out of it.  In Bali, temples are built where there are unusual, auspicious things.  In our western way what do we become jaded to? Why can’t we have coexistence and cooperation rather than one up, one down?

On this trip, I went with Spirit Tours.  Usually I travel on my own without the pampering that I received from this tour.  However, more importantly, this tour encouraged me to examine my beliefs and grow spiritually as a result. In Bali, there are statues EVERYWHERE! Here are some examples.  The statues always seem to have a cultural/spiritual reference.  I guess this isn’t surprising; statues always seem to have this, or at least historical significance.  The statues everywhere reflect the cultural importance of religion in everyday life.

Carved in the rock

Carved in the rock

Pool at first hotel, the elephant a figure of wisdom in Bali

Pool at first hotel, the elephant a figure of wisdom in Bali

Another character from the Ramayana, as depicted in Bali

Another character from the Ramayana, as depicted in Bali

Rama and Sita, in Bali

Rama and Sita, in Bali

Gryphon in Bali

Gryphon in Bali

 

 

Similarly, everyday, offerings of flowers are made. What would our culture be like if we lived it with a spiritual perspective pervading all that we did?

Everyday beauty, Common offering of flowers in Bali

Everyday beauty, Common offering of flowers in Bali

Everyday beauty, Common offering of flowers in Bali

Everyday beauty, Common offering of flowers in Bali

Everyday beauty, Common offering of flowers in Bali

Everyday beauty, Common offering of flowers in Bali

Common offering of flowers in Bali

Common offering of flowers in Bali

 

Bali is caught between the old and the new. Tourism is 70% of its income, however about half the population is still rural subsistence farming, as seen in these photos.

Rice paddies and mountains

Rice paddies and mountains

Otherwise a typical scene in Bali

Otherwise a typical scene in Bali

Terraced fields in Bali

Terraced fields in Bali

Village fields in Bali

Village fields in Bali

Typical house and plot

Typical house and plot

Getting ready for planing

Getting ready for planing

As a tropical location with all of the humidity, there are beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

Sunrise and fishing

Sunrise and fishing

Sunset

Sunset

Sunrise

Sunrise

Sunrise

Sunrise

 

For more images of Bali visit my Bali album.

07. June 2015 · Comments Off on Wallowa – Whitman · Categories: Travel · Tags: , ,

This is a travelogue for Wallowa – Whitman.   The first time I was here was in the late 1970s.  My favorite uncle talked my  wife and I into backpacking in this place that no one had ever heard of in North East Oregon, Wallowa – Whitman.   I fell in love with the place, it reminds of the pictures of the Alps and the movies Heidi, and Sound of Music.  The second time, I took my sons backpacking there, during the late 1990s.   This last time was car camping as I only had Memorial day weekend, and once again, I see why I love the place.

The mountains rise dramatically above the surrounding wheat fields.

Wallowa-Whitman Mountains above wheat

Wallowa-Whitman Mountains above wheat

This year, we were early, and the back country is not yet open as can be seen in the photos with all the snow.  I traveled with my cousin Julie and her husband Pete (seen below).  He is a willing model as he practices on his mandolin, and so photogenic !

Cousin Pete while camping at Wallowa-Whitman

Cousin Pete while camping at Wallowa-Whitman

Wallowa-Whitman has more to offer than spectacular mountains and camping in good company! Even this early in the year, there are wild flowers.

Wild Camus

Wild Camus

Wild Camus

Wild Camus

But the quaint old towns along the way have a special nostalgic feel to them.

Old General Store

Old General Store

Union Market

Union Market

Old Canisters

Old Canisters

There are also some fun and funky places for coffee and other things.

Dragon in the town of Joseph

Dragon in the town of Joseph

Oregon is a place for active people, and they are proud of it as seen in the photo in front of a micro brewery.

Bicycle Oregon

Bicycle Oregon

The set of photos though, that I am most proud of are this eagle who was kind enough to pose for quite a while as I shot these out the van window. The eagle was across the river.

Cooperative Eagle

Cooperative Eagle

See more photos on my website

13. May 2015 · Comments Off on Using a Point & Shoot -Traveling Lessons · Categories: How to, Locations, Photography, Travel, Uncategorized · Tags: , ,
Lake Traful, Argentina

Lake Traful, Argentina

“No photographer is as good as the simplest camera.”

Edward Steichen

I am in Patagonia (Argentina) for 10 days.  I debated taking the Canon 5Dii, but decided not to bring it because it would be a tempting target for thieves.  Instead I opted for taking a Point & Shoot (P&S).  Below are my pro and cons around using a Point & Shoot.

Reasons I don’t like a point and shoot

  • No tripod – a tripod would have helped, even in the wind I could hold it down
    It was windy

    It was windy

  • No polarizing filter; the sky has big beautiful puffy clouds that just are not coming out  IMG_2624
  • More resolution; to allow for cropping
  • Sharper lens.  There is a distinct curvature in the P&S images that is annoying.  Lightroom  lens correction helps, but it is not enough.  (see the  image of lake Traful, Argentina)IMG_2677  IMG_2530
  • Can’t hand hold something that light in the wind steady.  Yes, I could/should bring a tripod and put a plate on the Point and shoot, but the tripod ball head is practically as big as the P&S.  A tripod by itself would have done nothing given the high winds that were blowing us people around.   However, putting my weight on the tripod would have done better than me swaying in the 40 mph winds.
  • Lower dynamic range (see waterfall photo).  This is particularly an issue when traveling when it is harder to get the morning and evening hours of low light that decrease the contrast.  HDR helps, but it is not enough to compensate for the very high contrast environments.
  • Have to have higher ISO with more noise to account for the hand held aspect.

Reasons for using a P&S

  • Less likely to be mugged when travelling abroad because of big expensive camera.  This was the primary reason for bringing the P&S versus the Canon big glass.  If it is stolen, then less loss.
  • It is lighter and easier to use (not true) when traveling.  Yes it is lighter, and smaller which is a big plus.  But in the wind, and for the shots I want, it did not produce them.
  • Why take a tripod for a P&S (oh how foolish am I).
    • With a tripod it is easier to take exposure bracketed frames to increase dynamic range.
    • Not have as blurry a photo.
    • Use a lower ISO that has better noise characteristics.

 

So the conclusion is….

I need a new small, doesn’t look like big glass, lighter solution.  So, for the price of a single big glass lens I can get a body and lens. I got a Sony Nex 6,

06. May 2015 · Comments Off on Spring break · Categories: Philosophy, Photography, Travel · Tags: , ,

“Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!’ “

Robin Williams

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”

Terry_Pratchett

For college kids Spring break is PARTY TIME!  (sorry no pictures of cute gals in bikinis and buff guys), but for me it is an opportunity to travel and photograph new things, or try and get a better shot of something that is compelling that I am not satisfied with.

Campfire on the beach- Spring break

Campfire on the beach- Spring break

PL20070128-Capitola-0241

A destination during Spring break

What do you do with your Spring break?  Do you give yourself a break?  We travel during Spring break.

 

This year, we will travel to the San Juan Islands for our week.  Usually we go to the southwest, but this year,  Spring break comes late for us, and we are heading North instead.

What goes into travel?  So much has been written.  For me, I have to recognize my expectations; do I want to sunbathe all day? or ride a single track all day or something in between ?  I am looking forward to getting great photos of harbors, coasts country side, quaint shops, bald eagles,  and maybe some fishermen.  Hopes include Orcas up close, and a good kayak paddle.

OK, so what am I going to do, to help fulfill my expectations?  I have acquired (thanks Amazon) several guide books and maps.  Now I just need to read them.  Taking the time to read them helps me prepare so that I know places to go to get the shots that I want to get, otherwise, they just make the suitcase heavier.  And then there is the camera gear.  I will take the rain covers for camera and lens, as well as a poncho and rain jackets.  Not sure what else yet (hum, not prepared?).

 

And I am looking forward to returning, refreshed with LOTS of photos.