TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY: Light, Location & Lenses

Posted in Angkor Thom, Angkor Wat, better my photography, Birds, BlackRapid, Cambodia, Canon, Clik Elite, Columbia sportswear, Filters, Floating Villages, Floating Villages Cambodia, Golden Pavillion, HDR, how to photography, Indochina, Japan, Kinkakuji, Kyoto, Laos, learn photography, Lenses, Lexar Digital Film, Light, photo tips, photo tours, photo workshops, Photographer, Photography, photography skills, Photography tips, photography workshops, Pro Photographer, Pro Photography, Professional Photographer, Sigma, Ta Prohm, Tamron, Tiffen, Travel, Travel Photography, wide-angle, wide-angle lens with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2013 by mmphototours

Where do I go to get the best shot of…?  When do I go to get that shot?  These questions have troubled travelers and photographers for years.  Travel photography is more available and affordable than ever.

Great travel photography boils down to three things: Light, Location and Lenses.  In the following short paragraphs I will share with you the prime basics I have learned over the last 30 years of travel photography.  Since the early 1980’s I have traveled to over 160 countries—yes, there are that many and still more to go!

Storm clouds over Bayon at sunset web ready

Light.  Without it GREAT photography is difficult—even with the high ISO digital cameras of today.  Truly excellent photography begins AND ends with light and how you use, protect, manipulate and ultimately capture light.

Kinkaku-ji

Just as important as the primal light mother-nature provides is the light of your own imagination and eye.  The art of seeing light is a must for being able to visualize exactly how you want to capture the light you have to work with.

The key with travel photography, as with most other photography, is how you put yourself into position to capture the best light for the location you are working with.  This can vary depending on the location.

How do we combat or work with light?  Rise before the sun, and most people, to be out, set-up and ready to release the shutter on location before even the bell tower mice of Notre Dame are awake.  The best light of any day and any season is often the morning light.  The soft rays create hues and angles which even the novice can make look extraordinary.  In my opinion morning light is the most interesting and clean light of the day.  Of course, the often vibrant rays of the evening are inviting and awesome as well.

As always, before you begin clicking away, consider how the available light, weather, as well as lens selection and camera position will impact your shot.  Take some time to walk around your subject, if possible, while considering all of these elements. Take your time and look through the viewfinder (or even LCD screen) and be open to the unusual and the unexpected.

Location.  The world is such that many people have traveled and seen much more than even 20 years ago.  The classic sights—The Eiffel Tower, The Leaning Tower of Pisa or even a Bull Elk in Yellowstone National Park have been shot by MILLIONS of photographers.  Each of them has a killer shot of the site—right?  However, many travelers do not go back to a location to ever shoot it again.  Hitting sights in each of the four seasons brings them to life.  If at all possible return to favorite locations and shoot often—the Light is NEVER the same and your mood and imagination may bring you new discoveries.  Spending time watching locals interact and visit sites can add a layer of creativity and vision to how you approach and shoot it.  Find out as much as you can about your destination before you start traveling.  Use the Internet, travel books, maps and the phone to find out details about potential shooting locations and weather.  When you arrive on location take some time to look at post cards of the area to get ideas and locations.  If the schedule allows, scout a location to determine the best camera position for the next day—these are all things we do and provide in advance on a photo tour!  Putting yourself in the right place at the right time is a must to excellent travel photography.

Elephants

Lenses.  Do NOT skimp on glass.  I would rather have a basic (read entry level) DSLR and GREAT glass than a fully-loaded pro DSLR with inferior glass.  Yes, we recognize that there is a lot of good glass out there.  Every maker has raised the quality level to deal with the specific needs of digital photography.  The key here is to take the time, effort and spend the money you can afford for the system AND desired results you want.  Our Imagination, Light and Lens (ILL) make SICK (read awesome) pictures!  When the three L-elements come together with our imagination the possibilities are endless and the creativity and beauty are as magnificent as the love of our life.

Majestic Bald Eagle

What are the answers to the above questions?  Get out and travel.  Take your camera and shoot.  When we couple travel & photography the world takes on new meanings and adventures.  The people, places and sights that are travel photography open our eyes and fill us with an appreciation for the privilege we have to document the Light & Location through the Lens, of not only the camera, but our minds and hearts.  As we say at M&M, “You don’t just take a photograph, you experience it!”

Floating Village Family Homestead Back Door View- Cambodia

Contact me directly at: mikeg@mmphototours.com with questions about our tours, general travel questions, and of course anything photography related.  Thanks for all the support.

Cambodia: Ancient Temples, Floating Villages

Posted in 1, Angkor Thom, Angkor Wat, Ankor Thom, better my photography, BlackRapid, Cambodia, Canon, Clik Elite, Fashion Photography, Filters, Floating Villages, Floating Villages Cambodia, HDR, Hill Tribes, Hill Tribes Vietnam, how to photography, Indochina, Laos, learn photography, Lenses, Lexar Digital Film, Monks, National Geographic, Photo Competition, photo tips, photo tours, photo workshops, Photographer, Photography, photography skills, Photography tips, photography workshops, Pro Photographer, Pro Photography, Professional Photographer, rice paddies, Ron Wyatt, Sapa, Sapa Vietnam, Seoul, Sigma, street food, Ta Prohm, Tamron, Terraced rice paddies, Tiffen, Travel, Travel Photography, Vietnam, water buffalo, wide-angle, wide-angle lens on October 25, 2013 by mmphototours

As we move to Cambodia, the group gets immediately immersed in the life of the local folk on the floating villages of Tonle Sap.  These hearty people have built their entire existence around fishing from the lake.  Their homes either float or are built on stilts and they even keep a supply of regular farm livestock for dietary variety in floating pens as well.  Here are a few examples of the daily activity on the lake.

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Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, Tiffen Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Film, Black Rapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

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Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, Tiffen Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Film, Black Rapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

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Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, Tiffen Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Film, Black Rapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

One of our guests Carolyn gave each child a small ring as a gift and it helped us get  wide smiles that were great to photograph.

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Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, Tiffen Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Film, Black Rapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

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Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, Tiffen Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Film, Black Rapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

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Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, Tiffen Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Film, Black Rapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

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Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, Tiffen Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Film, Black Rapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

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   Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, Tiffen Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Film, Black Rapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

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Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, Tiffen Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Film, Black Rapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

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Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, Tiffen Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Film, Black Rapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

On the tour, we cover the floating village experience in two days because our guests love it so much.  There is so much to shoot and the lake is very large so we visit several locations to get the best shots.

These two children were out practicing their seamanship near the shore of the lake at their home.  They become comfortable with water life from a very young age and quickly become expert at catching fish or shrimp and drying it for long-term storage.  Cooking is done on small fires inside metal containers inside the house.  They want smoke from the fire to fill the house because the smoke treats the thatch walls and roof so bugs will not eat it or live in it.

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Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, Tiffen Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Film, Black Rapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

 Another awesome part of Cambodia that we visit is the temples at the Angkor complex.  These shots are from Angkor Wat.  The first one was an in-camera HDR shot on a Canon 5D MKIII.   The results are truly amazing.  The shot needs no post processing and looks this good.  Give yours a try if you can.

155B3594Canon 5D MK III, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM, Tiffen Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Film, Black Rapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

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Canon 5D MK III, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM, Tiffen Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Film, Black Rapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

This costume is prevalent in Thailand and Cambodia because of their similar heritage.  It was shot in low light so the ISO needed to be higher to capture a clear image but as you can see the detail in the shot is still good.  This was a great place for our guests to practice their low light skills and have an excellent meal too.

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Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, Lexar Digital Film, Black Rapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

This man was in charge of bailing while his group rode in to town from their floating village.  They make occasional trips like these to get supplies and to buy livestock.

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Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, Tiffen Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Film, Black Rapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

At Ta Prohm, old trees have overgrown much of the temple site.  It makes for fantastic pictures.  Every year, this area has become more commercial and more boardwalks are erected.  If you want to see this stunning area in it’s original state, you should make the journey as soon as possible.  The longer you wait, the more that will be “fixed” for tourists and the less photogenic it will be.  This is one reason we offer this trip every year and encourage others to go soon.

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Canon 5D MK III, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM, Tiffen Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Film, Black Rapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

Many people have seen Monks in this region.  How many have seen female monks though?  We took our guests to this village where predominantly female monks gathered for their morning meal.  It’s a unique shooting opportunity for all our guests.   These female monks wear white gowns rather than the traditional saffron color wraps common to male monks.

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Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, Lexar Digital Film, Black Rapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

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Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, Lexar Digital Film, Black Rapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

This man was working to restore a part of the female monks village that was damaged.  He liked seeing the camera display with his picture on it and he posed for more pictures.

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Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8,  Lexar Digital Film, Black Rapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

We visited a local market where folks can buy anything from clothing to fresh produce to cooked meals.  One of our guests Hal tried the fried grasshopper and said it was good.  “Like buttered popcorn” he said.  You can get great photos when you interact with the locals doing their daily work.  Here are some shots of the market.

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Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, Lexar Digital Film, Black Rapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

Do any of you who have gone with M&M Photo tours on this trip recognize this face?  Hint: local lady, eats grasshoppers with us, speaks fantastic English, fits in a suitcase… She’s on Facebook if you want to look.

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Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8,Lexar Digital Film, Black Rapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

Making noodles at the market.  Great skill too.

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Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8,Lexar Digital Film, Black Rapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

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Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8,Lexar Digital Film, Black Rapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

This trip is all highlights.  As you can see from this and the previous 3 posts there are more photo opportunities per minute than just about anywhere in the world.  There is so much to shoot that some guests have chosen to do the trip twice just to get the great shots they were missing while getting a great shot.  You almost need 360 degree lenses to get it all.  On average, guests shoot at least 10,000 shots on the trip and most shoot many more.  Space is limited because of its popularity but remember that we also offer private tours.  If you are longing to see Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia, give us a call and whether on a private group or a regular tour, we will make it happen!

Good Morning Vietnam

Posted in 1, Angkor Thom, better my photography, BlackRapid, Cambodia, caves, Clik Elite, Columbia sportswear, Filters, Floating Villages, Floating Villages Cambodia, H'Mong, HDR, Hill Tribes, Hill Tribes Vietnam, how to photography, Hunt's Photo & Video, Indochina, Laos, Lenses, Lexar Digital Film, Monks, Photo Competition, photo tips, photo tours, photo workshops, Photographer, Photography, photography skills, Photography tips, photography workshops, Pro Photographer, Pro Photography, Professional Photographer, rice paddies, Ron Wyatt, Sapa, Sapa Vietnam, Seoul, Ta Prohm, Terra Cotta, Terraced rice paddies, Travel, Travel Photography, Vietnam, water buffalo, wide-angle, wide-angle lens on October 20, 2013 by mmphototours

After an awesome shoot in Laos, our group moved to Vietnam to continue our frame-making joyous journey.  This land is full of great places to shoot including terraced rice paddies, hill tribe folk, Ha Long Bay, and the Tay Ninh region.  But this first shot comes from a tribe near Sapa.  These ornate headdresses confirm tribal status and make for some great photos

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Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, 1/320, f/4, ISO 400, Tiffen Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Film, BlackRapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

The Sapa region is one of the unspoiled treasures in Vietnam.  Only a few options to get there but the journey is a must if you want to see village life and capture it for yourself.  This Lady was instructing her grand-daughter when we arrived.  She gave us a quick tour of her place and was very proud of her new sewing machine.

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Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, 1/500, f/4.5, ISO 640, Tiffen Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Film, BlackRapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

You have heard of bringing home the bacon?  This is how you bring home the poultry… on your scooter!  These birds are still alive, bought at market, then taken home to the family farm.

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Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, 1/320, f/9, ISO 200, Lexar Digital Film, BlackRapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

This family was making corn wine in a giant indoor still.  Grandma was in charge of the kitchen and supervised the whole operation.  Children and grand children all do their part.  No sampling for our group, but the family did offer.  Great folk who are generous to even the strangest of strangers.  It was dark in here, so it was great to have a fast and reliable lens to get this photo.

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Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, 1/80, f/4, ISO 2000, Lexar Digital Film, BlackRapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

In Saigon while shooting some local pagodas, we came across this couple on their wedding day.  Their own local photographer was struggling so we decided to help them make some good memories.  We made sure the bride and groom got copies of these pictures for their happy day.  That makes two wedding shoots in one trip!  We also shot a funeral during our time here.  Always make the most of your opportunities and don’t be afraid to try these activities even if they are new to you.  It builds your photo skills and makes the locals happy too.

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 While we were in Saigon, proceedings were underway for the funeral of a Great Vietnamese general and dignitaries from all over came to pay their respects.  This man was happy to show his pride in service

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Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, 1/640, f/4.5, ISO 400, Tiffen Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Film, BlackRapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

In Hanoi, (AKA Scooter City) you take your life into your own hands every time you enter the street.  Scooters are everywhere and no one obeys the traffic laws.  This officer was mad at our pedal taxi driver for trying to use a closed street.  It was a scary ride, but well worth the photos.  Be sure to roll some video if you take this ride.  it will be a guaranteed hit at your photo party later.

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Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, 1/400, f/2.8, ISO 640, Lexar Digital Film, BlackRapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

This photo was taken with a long exposure at Sward Lake in Hanoi.  A tripod was used to be sure to make the image steady and sharp.  When you travel, always take along a Benro Travel Angel or similar tripod that is lightweight and quick to set up.  It needs to fit on the side of your bag and in the overhead storage of the plane too.  The travel angel also converts to a monopod as well.  Fun shooting at night, but bring good equipment when you go.

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Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, 1/3, f/2.8, ISO 200, Lexar Digital Film, Clik Elite Pro Express, Benro Travel Angel convertible travel tripod

No trip to Vietnam is complete without seeing the Cao Dai temple.  You will never find a better place that begs photography and has culture saturated in every image.  This ceremony is open to the public (with limits).  The colors are fantastic and the sounds are awesome as well.  Video and stills are both a must here.  These shots also make great black and white images or sepia toned frames.  It is well worth the drive from Saigon.  If you do HDR (High Dynamic Range) at all, you will want to try some here.  The outside pic is “in-camera” HDR.  Also, bring a wide lens so you don’t miss the edges since the building is very large and long.

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Canon 5D MK III, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM, 1/125, f/4, ISO 800, Lexar Digital Film, BlackRapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

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Canon 5D MK III, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM, 1/80, f/4.5, ISO 800, Lexar Digital Film, BlackRapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

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Canon 5D MK III, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM @ 70mm, 1/320, f/16, ISO 200, Lexar Digital Film, BlackRapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

This is a great shot on the way to Ha Long Bay.  There are many fields and many workers to photograph.  Don’t forget to do as our guest pro Ron Wyatt says and “zoom with your feet”.  Most folk roll up in a car and snap one out the window.  Those lazy people didn’t get this shot.  You need to interact with the locals and they are happy to see what you are doing just as you see what they are doing.  Show them the images and they may even make a suggestion for a better picture.  Many have good English skills too.  Regardless, make an effort.  The two best things a photographer can do is go to the image (don’t shoot from afar) and to be patient for the right image (watch cars, background, subject blinking, etc.)

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Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, 1/640, f/4, ISO 200, Tiffen Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Film, BlackRapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

This is the top of our boat in Ha Long Bay.  We stayed overnight on the boat and had private meals catered.  You can too!  Join us early for this trip though.  It always fills up fast because it is a true gem.

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Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, 1/250, f/10, ISO 200, Tiffen Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Film, BlackRapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

This is more Ha Long Bay.  The view is from a cave entrance that we visit.  Many of these mountain islands have monkeys on them as well and can make great wildlife shots.  The cave is huge and well worth the 225 stairs to visit.

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Canon 5D MK III, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM, 1/60, f/5.6, ISO 640, Tiffen Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Film, BlackRapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

This guy was winning but likely due to his full concentration.  They did not even seem to notice four of us shooting them.  Some of the bystanders were coaching us for shots and coaching the players for a win.  Great culture shots of daily live in rural Vietnam.  This village has pottery makers, a clay water pipe business and several reburial casket makers.  Of course agriculture is a strong influence and some even deal in exotic meats.  These photos tell the story.

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Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, 1/50, f/5.6, ISO 640, Lexar Digital Film, BlackRapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

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Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, 1/200, f/6.3, ISO 640, Tiffen Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Film, BlackRapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

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Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, 1/120, f/4, ISO 640,  Lexar Digital Film, BlackRapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

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Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, 1/640, f/4, ISO 640, Tiffen Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Film, BlackRapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

Villages also offer the opportunity to visit the local schools and see how the children learn.  This girl was the obvious champion in this game with equipment made from bicycle inner tubes cut to strips and tied together.

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Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, 1/320, f/13, ISO 640, Tiffen Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Film, BlackRapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

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Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, 1/320, f/13, ISO 640, Tiffen Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Film, BlackRapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

From here, we take a short flight to Cambodia to see the famed Angkor complex and the floating villages of Siem Reap.  Stay tuned to see how the tour ends with a bang in this ancient wonderland.  Take extra memory cards on this part of the trip. You won’t want to miss out an any of these shots. The weather is hot, but the photography is even hotter!

Exploring Laos

Posted in Angkor Thom, Angkor Wat, Ankor Thom, better my photography, BlackRapid, Cambodia, Canon, Clik Elite, Columbia sportswear, Fashion Photography, Floating Villages, Floating Villages Cambodia, H'Mong, Hill Tribes, Hill Tribes Vietnam, how to photography, Hunt's Photo & Video, Indochina, Laos, learn photography, photo workshops, Photographer, Photography, photography skills, Photography tips, photography workshops, Pro Photographer, Pro Photography, Professional Photographer, rice paddies, Ron Wyatt, Sapa, Sapa Vietnam, Seoul, Sigma, Ta Prohm, Tamron, Terraced rice paddies, Travel, Travel Photography, Unique Photo, Vietnam, water buffalo, wide-angle, wide-angle lens on October 11, 2013 by mmphototours

After meeting our guests and flying to Laos, we proceeded to take Luang Prabang  by photo storm.  The hotel was great, the food was excellent and the friendships will last a lifetime.  Below is a photo of the main source of transportation.  These friendly drivers will get you to the monks and back to your hotel with no effort or planning and with little cost.  Great entrepreneurs as well as some organized companies will show you this city of monks and temples.

 

 

Here is a rare sight… A monk smiling.  The picture below is from the sunrise procession of monks doing their alms.  They live on only what is given to them  and each day they gather food in their bowls that is given to them by the local villagers.  Some of our group including Dan P. joined in the giving as hundreds of monks passed by on their way to their temple.  This is truly a highlight of the trip.

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Later, these same monks gather to pray, to eat, and to learn.  We were able to get an exclusive look at this part of their day when they invited us to photograph this normally private time.  Some even remembered M&M from previous years and were happy to see us again.

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This is a shot of an elderly lady in a small village right on the Mekong river.  She was anxious to see our photos so we reviewed an entire memory card full of images.  She explained as best she could her relationship to each one we showed her and her joy at seeing them was rewarding for both of us.

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This image was from the same village.  Earlier, one of our guests Carolyn had been teaching all of the village kids some English and giving them a fun ring to wear.  This mother appreciated her efforts and rewarded us with great photo opportunity.  Great people and great time shooting as well.

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Does this look like where you ate lunch?  It does to me.  It’s on the Mekong as well near the China border.  We had fine linens and china to match the exquisite food prepared by the small restaurant next to these boats.  Our group loved the meal.

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Again we visit the monk procession early in the morning so we can be sure to get great shots.  Here are two more that show the pageantry and solemnity of the occasion.   You have to be there to get the full effect, but most who go end up shooting video as well on this just to be sure not to miss anything.

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These children waited for the monks to return so they could offer their alms with their mother and grandmother.  This is a way of life for them and it begins at sunrise every day.

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While photographing at one of the most beautiful waterfalls and reflecting pools in the world, we came across a group of folks experiencing the mineral-rich waters.  The woman below was from Argentina and was on vacation with her boyfriend and 2 other couples.  When she saw a group of photographers and one commented she should be a model, she decided to give it a go.  Our waterfall shoot became a model shoot and we got great images.  Of course the boyfriend wanted copies and so did she.  Always take the photo opportunities that are presented to you.  This was unexpected, but ended up being great photography.

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We continue on next to Vietnam and see the great Ha Long Bay, Hanoi, Sapa, and many other gems in this fascinating country.  Stay tuned for the next post.  As always, we will show you what we are doing, and what you will be seeing when you join us next year.  This trip usually fills, so let us know soon if you want us to hold a spot for you.

Seoul Stop Before Indochina Tour

Posted in Angkor Thom, Angkor Wat, Ankor Thom, Art, BlackRapid, Cambodia, Canon, Clik Elite, Columbia sportswear, Great Buddha, Hill Tribes, Hill Tribes Vietnam, how to photography, Hunt's Photo & Video, Indochina, Laos, learn photography, Lexar Digital Film, photo tips, photo tours, photo workshops, Photographer, Photography, photography skills, Photography tips, photography workshops, Pro Photography, Professional Photographer, Sapa, Sapa Vietnam, Seoul, Sigma, Ta Prohm, Travel, Travel Photography, Vietnam, wide-angle, wide-angle lens with tags on October 5, 2013 by mmphototours

155B3846Seoul is open for business!

One of the great benefits from foreign travel is the occasional opportunity to make good use of a long layover.  Today on our way to our Indochina trip, We had a 12 hour layover in Incheon Korea so we decided to take advantage of our time and tour around Seoul while we waited for our flight to resume to Bangkok.  The street photography was amazing and we got some great images so we are sharing a few unedited JPEGs to give you an idea what we are seeing here… Come Visit!

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This is the Gyeonbokgung Palace in Seoul.  We were able to tour the grounds and get some great images.  The next two are from the same palace.  Bet you can’t see this in Brooklyn! 155B3729

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Below is a local Buddhist  temple grounds.  We were able to visit during a prayer session so we have images of the locals in attendance and the well-kept grounds too..155B3761

See if you can spot Mike Gulbraa poking in one of the doors.  Yep, same Columbia shirt you saw him in 2 years ago.  He said he washed it.  Fantastic color and weather for photos. 155B3776

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This is a strange shaped cigarette butt collector.  Very decorative and photogenic.

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From here we are off to Indochina so stay tuned for a few posts as we progress on the trip.  Wish you were here.  This is stunning as always!

Specials on lenses from Hunt’s Photo & Video

Posted in Hunt's Photo & Video, Lenses, Sigma, Tamron with tags , , , , on June 13, 2013 by mmphototours

We have many great sponsors and partners that take excellent care of us while we are on the road, at home, giving presentations, and just enjoying our photography and travel.

Hunt’s Photo & Video (http://www.huntsphotoandvideo.com) which has 8 retail locations in the greater Boston, MA area and a huge on-line presence (http://www.huntsphotoandvideo.com) has teamed with us to offer our Blog readers and tour/workshop guests some incredible deals on gear that M&M uses, has tested for makers, and/or sponsored by – that is a lot of cool stuff!

In the first installment we have teamed to offer sweet deals on 5 lenses that M&M has been testing this month for a couple of lens makers.  Look for specific and detailed reviews through the end of the year as we finish our testing.  This first offering includes lenses from both Sigma and Tamron.  Why?  We are often asked if there are good alternatives to Canon and/or Nikon glass.  We like to know what the lenses we can do before we suggest people purchase them.

To get the special pricing pursuant to this offer please contact Keith Panankar of Hunt’s at 781-462-2340 or patankar@wbhunt.com.  **Standard pricing listed as required by manufacturer – Keith will give you the special pricing – just mention you saw in on the M&M Blog.

This first lens – the Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 OS lens is spectacular and will please all who use it :

mikeg_sigma120300os

The next lens – the Tamron 70-200 f/2.8 VC has impressed us thus far & we look forward to putting it through more in-depth work:

mikeg_tamron70200

Once again, the next lens has impressed us in the first 2 weeks of use – the Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 VC:

mikeg_tamron2470

This next lens offers and interesting blend of a “nifty” 50 and the reach of a 500mm the Sigma 50-500 OS – more to come on this:

mikeg_sigma50500

Last but not least – if you want reach – I MEAN reach – the Sigma 300-800 f/5.6 (constant) will get you close:

mikeg_sigma300800

Thank you for all your support.  We look forward to having you join us soon AND maybe you’ll be sporting one of these lenses.

Explore Your Camera, Build Your Skills

Posted in Advertising, Basketball, better my photography, BlackRapid, Canon, Columbia sportswear, Filters, how to photography, Hunt's Photo & Video, learn photography, Lexar Digital Film, Light, Marketing, NBA, Photo Competition, photo tips, photo tours, photo workshops, Photographer, Photography, photography skills, Photography tips, photography workshops, Pro Photographer, Pro Photography, Professional Photographer, Ron Wyatt, Sports, Sports photography, Tiffen, Travel, Travel Photography, Unique Photo, Utah Jazz, wide-angle, wide-angle lens with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 20, 2013 by mmphototours
155B1918A
Canon 5D MKIII, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 @ 70mm, f/3.2, 1/1600, ISO 8000, Lexar Digital Film, BlackRapid Sport
The vast majority of us who enjoy photography own equipment that is far superior to anything that was available even 5 years ago.  Cameras have become electronic devices as sophisticated as any laptop.  Some may even argue they are more advanced than laptops due to their complex audio and video systems and endless array of connectable accessories.  Even $500 entry-level digital SLRs have features that cost thousands of dollars in the recent past.  The growth in technology is also staggering.  Many cameras are obsolete in 3 years (coincidentally the same depreciation schedule as laptops for a business).
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Canon 5D MKIII, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 @ 200mm, f/2.8, 1/1600, ISO 8000, Lexar Digital Film, BlackRapid Sport
Given the level of engineering you likely have in your camera bag and the speed of industry improvements, you owe it to yourself to see what your machine can do.  Sometimes we get in the habit of using the same settings because we are comfortable with the results.  We find that most of our comfort level comes from routinely shooting the same or similar type shots.  Because we lead photo tours many of our shots are landscapes, and street shooting (or boat shooting in the case of a floating village).  We often find ourselves using similar settings, accessories, filters, and techniques.  While it’s true that in order to be excellent at any craft it needs to be practiced, it’s also true that having a full quiver of optional techniques gives us an edge over photographers who repeat techniques without variation.  We often hear that owners of professional athletic teams want the best athletes, not just one who has a particular skill or who can play a particular position well.  This is good advice for photographers as well.  We should become great photographers, not just great landscape photographers, Photoshoppers, wedding photographers, etc..  Above all though, we should become experts at using our own equipment.  To do this, we propose we each need skills that can only come from shooting something we are less comfortable with.  We also propose that as we do this, we should try different settings on our cameras that we don’t customarily use.  In doing this, we will discover new things about our cameras, techniques, accessories, and shooting style that will help us become the best photo-athlete rather than just a good player in our specific genre.
155B1996A
Canon 5D MKIII, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 @ 180mm, f/3.2, 1/1600, ISO 8000, Lexar Digital Film, BlackRapid Sport
As we attempted to take our own advice, we decided in advance to make ourselves uncomfortable and not worry about the results.  We decided this was a good time to make bad pictures if we had to (bad as a 5D MKIII can take which isn’t very bad) in the interest of learning what our camera can do.  A Utah Jazz v Philadelphia 76ers game with seats behind the Sixer’s bench was the perfect opportunity.  Needless to say, travel/landscape shooters seldom have need of higher ISOs, fast shutter speeds, and low aperture settings.  We needed to use all of these just to get an in-focus and non-blurry shot, but we also decided to explore different lighting settings (usually use auto, daylight, and cloudy), different focus settings (i.e. changing up focus zones as well as tracking styles) and various noise reduction settings to see what the equipment was capable of.
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Canon 5D MKIII, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 @ 97mm, f/3.2, 1/600, ISO 8000, Lexar Digital Film, BlackRapid Sport

Its one thing to technically know the capabilities of these fantastic new electronic devices but it is entirely another thing to experience firsthand how changes in settings affect your required input, the camera function, and the image.  Shooting an indoor sport made us appreciate even more the fantastic work our resident sports expert Ron Wyatt produces.  We shot the whole first half on aperture priority, but as the event progressed, we switched to full manual and set both our shutter and aperture to a fixed combination to eliminate issues with varying backgrounds needing different light for each shot.  Having that information set for the entire 2nd half, we then proceeded to alter our focus screen zones, dots, and display.  We discovered that shooting team sports is much like shooting wildlife where a single center dot for focus was best for getting the subject sharp while ignoring other surrounding and close by distractions.  The automatic and default focus points yielded poor results because of the narrow depth of field required for low light high speed action.  Here are a few of the photos we made at the event.  We noticed amazing clarity even at the high ISO of 8000 – looks like high ISO is the new normal on many cameras.

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Canon 5D MKIII, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 @ 70mm, f/3.2, 1/600, ISO 8000, Lexar Digital Film, BlackRapid Sport

Our cameras have different ways the sensor and focus treat subjects entering the frame and moving within the frame.  One setting will capture the fastest moving subject while another pays attention only to something quickly entering the frame.  There are settings for speed of subject, and for how erratic the subject moves as well.  Each of these settings are also customizable and could take a while to learn which in itself is fun as well as very productive for a finely tuned photo-athlete.  The point of course is to learn more of what your gear can offer so your photo quiver becomes fuller.  This applies to settings on your lenses (I know some of you tape those switches down so they don’t move), your flashes, lighting filters (yes, they still work for digital cameras on indoor lighting), or even your remote control devices (many have focus or intervalometer settings that don’t work with some focus settings).  Since we mention Ron Wyatt, we’ll give you his advice.  Put your camera book in your bathroom and learn one new thing from it each time you are in there.  We expand that suggestion though and advise you to dig out all your equipment manuals and put them all in there.  With your complete equipment library, you will have no shortage of new techniques to learn, and when you emerge, you can go try it out with your equipment.  As always though, there is no substitute for shooting.  Avoid trying to just fix everything in Photoshop.  Find ways to shoot uncomfortably and as you explore your equipment; you will build your skill.

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Canon 5D MKIII, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 @ 97mm, f/3.2, 1/600, ISO 8000, Lexar Digital Film, BlackRapid Sport

Hope you enjoy.  Look forward to having you join us on tour soon.  Please visit us at www.mmphototours.com to select the trip you’d like to join us on.

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