Italy 2016 Adventure

Posted in 1 on August 29, 2016 by mmphototours

Italy is a country that amazes with her beauty, food, people, and varied landscapes.  This is why at M&M we rotate 3 different tours – Best of Italy, Classic Tuscany, & Northern Italy & Lake District photo tours.  This post is from the 2016 Best of Italy adventure.

_E7A5094 Manarola long shutter web ready

Manarola long exposure with storm clouds

This year’s adventure started on the Cinque Terra where we enjoyed varied weather.  The shot above was shot at f/22 for 2 seconds at ISO 100 at 24mm with a Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 24-105L IS lens.

_E7A6509 Gondolas at Blue Hour in Venice web ready

Venice Gondola Blur at Blue Hour

Venice never disappoints.  We also hit Burano while in the area but this was the shot selected for the this post.  The shot above was shot at f/22 for 30 seconds at ISO 100 at 25mm with a Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 16-35L lens.

_E7A6555 Ponte Vecchio Blue Hour web ready

Ponte Vecchio at Blue Hour

Florence has so much to shoot and our groups love Blue Hour.  The image above was shot at f/16 for 8 seconds at ISO 160 at 35mm with a Canon 5D Mark III and a Canon 16-35L lens.

_E7A6603 Florence Cathedral Dome B&W web ready

Florence Duomo B&W

The Florence Cathedral is an architectural marvel with shapes, patterns, and simplicity.  The above image was shot at f/8 for 1/640 of a second at ISO 400 at 70mm with a Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 70-200L IS II lens.

_E7A6772 Storm clouds over the Arno River in Pisa web ready

Pisa and river with storm clouds

While doing our walk along the river in Pisa some EPIC storm clouds formed and the light on the buildings facing us was great.  The above image was shot was shot at f/22 for 1/40 of a second at ISO 400 at 24mm with a Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 24-105L IS lens.

_E7A6843 Pisa Field od Miracles web ready

Pisa – Leaning Tower and Cathedral with storm clouds

The weather continued while we wandered the Field of Miracles shooting the Pisa Cathedral and Leaning Tower.  The above image was shot was shot at f/22 for 2 seconds at ISO 100 at 28mm with a Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 24-105L IS lens.

_E7A7019 Group reflection in sunglasses web ready

Fun with reflections

While waiting for the light to shift we decided to have some fun with mirrored sunglasses.  Harvey modeled them and I caught most of the group in the reflection.  The above image was shot was shot at f/4 for 1/60 of a second at ISO 2000 at 105mm with a Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 24-105L IS lens.

_E7A7137 Amalfi Coast sunset web ready

Amalfi Coast sunset

The Amalfi Coast is so full of beauty and color it is nearly impossible not to come home with some pleasing shots.  The above image was shot was shot at f/9 for 1/125 of a second at ISO 800 at 40mm with a Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 24-105L IS lens.

_E7A7498 Faraglioni Rocks Capri web ready

Capri Islands Faraglioni Rocks

The boat ride around Capri was eventful – a little wind, a little water, some cool clouds and the iconic Faraglioni Rocks.  The above image was shot was shot at f/6.3 for 1/1250 of a second at ISO 800 at 28mm with a Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 24-105L IS lens.

_E7A7521 Blue Grotto boats web ready

Capri Blue Grotto boats

As we were departing the port we walked past these extra boats which locals use to take folks to the famous Blue Grotto on Capri Island.  I added a bit of grunge for effect and the help the weathered look stand out.   The above image was shot was shot at f/8 for 1/800 of a second at ISO 400 at 35mm with a Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 24-105L IS lens.

_E7A7537 Boats in Sorrento Harbor web ready

Sorrento Boats

Sorrento is known for boats.  Evening light and the color cast shadows of the right hand boats makes this shot for me.  The above image was shot was shot at f/8 for 1/1000 of a second at ISO 400 at 400mm with a Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 70-200L IS II lens w/ 2x extender.

_E7A7622 Looking at St Peters Dome across river at Blue Hour web ready

Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II & St. Peter’s Dome Color at Blue Hour

We always end the Best of Italy trip in Rome.  There is simply so much to see and shoot.  Can’t do Rome and not include a Blue Hour.  The above image was shot was shot at f/16 for 10 seconds at ISO 100 at 45mm with a Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 25-105L IS lens.

_E7A7622 Looking at St Peters Dome across river B&W web ready

Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II & St. Peter’s Dome B&W

A B&W rendition of the color image above.

_E7A7652 Arch of Constantine Vignette Lens web ready

Arch of Constantine – Rome

Putting a little more art in my imagery – shooting an arch through an arch.  Shot from inside the Coliseum.   The above image was shot was shot at f/11 for 1/400 of a second at ISO 400 at 40mm with a Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 25-105L IS lens.

_E7A7755 Trevi Fountain web ready

Trevi Fountain

On our last night we wandered till last and found the freshly restored Trevi Fountain refreshing and unobstructed.  The above image was shot was shot at f/16 for 5 seconds at ISO 100 at 28mm with a Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 25-105L IS lens.

Hope you enjoy.  We visit Italy every year and will hit northern Italy and the Lake District next May.  Check out http://www.mmphototours.com for all our tour offerings.  Hope to have you join us soon.

 

 

Sigma 150-600 C lens test in Tanzania

Posted in 1, Africa, African Safari, Benro, better my photography, Birding, Birds, BlackRapid, Canon, Clik Elite, Columbia sportswear, elephants, how to photography, Induro, Kaenon, Lake Manyara, learn photography, Lenses, Lexar Digital Film, lions, Marketing, Ngorongoro Crater, photo tips, photo tours, photo workshops, Photographer, Photography, photography skills, Photography tips, photography workshops, Pro Photographer, Pro Photography, Professional Photographer, Serengeti, Sigma, Tanzania, Tarangire NP, Travel, Travel Photography, warthog, waterbucks, zebra with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2016 by mmphototours
_E7A8391 Elephant walk web ready.jpg

Young elephant crossing the river in Tarangire National Park

In June of 2016 Mike G had the chance to make a visit to Tanzania with family and friends where he spent several days testing the Sigma 150-600 C lens in three different Tanzanian National Parks – Tarangire, Ngorongoro, & Lake Manyara.

Bottom line – Mike G, who has used the Tamron 150-600 VC lens and Canon L series big glass on African safaris in the past, was very pleased with the lens and feels it is every bit the lens the Tamron is with possibly better stabilization and color reproduction and offers a better bang for your buck than the much more expensive Canon or Nikon options.

All of the following images were taken with a Canon 5D Mark III and the Sigma 150-600 C lens.

_E7A8312 Waterbuck family web ready

Waterbuck family checking surroundings

Elephant crossing the river in Tarangire NP

_E7A8396 Elephant vignette web ready

Elephant crossing the river Tarangire National Park

 

The first thing most people are going to notice with this lens is the price tag – much less than the Canon 100-400 II, Nikon 80-400 VR, Canon 200-400 w/ 1.4x, or any of the prime BIG glass lenses either Canon or Nikon offer.  And, you are gonna save size vs a few of the other options while not adding much bulk vs some of the slightly smaller options – Canon 100-400 II or even Nikon 80-400 VR.

High quality glass is vital to the optical quality of any image.  The quality Mike G observed in this test shows that the 150-600 C is an excellent lens with high quality workmanship coming out of the Sigma Aizuwakamatsu (where Mike actually lived for several months while a young man) factory in Japan.  The FLD & SLD glass elements help the lens achieve a high degree of clearer, sharper, greater clarity and excellent contrast across the focal range.  While not weather-sealed like its Big Brother the S version the lens should withstand most light weather situations but you’ll want some form of heavy weather protection should you venture out in heavy rain/snow.

Mike G finds the lens be very sharp at all focal lengths up till about 550mm – especially when stopped down to f/8.  Above 550mm stopping down to f/11 helps keep the center of images sharp and clean.

_E7A8184 Lilac Breasted Roller web ready

Lilac-Breasted Roller checking surroundings

The next thing you are going to notice is a wonderful range (150-600mm) which will allow you to fix this lens on your favorite camera body and shoot all day without changing lenses – which can be extremely convenient and save a lot of sensor cleaning while out on safari – or even shooting birds in the backyard or wildlife in Yellowstone National park.  With a minimum focusing distance of 110.2″ critters will have to be pretty close – 9.2′ or just a tad over 3 yards away to not focus.  If you are that close to any wildlife you had better be near small wildlife that cannot hurt you or in vehicle that can help protect you.  For sporting events – depending on the event – it can be the lens that reaches out and touches the action.

Some of you may ask – what about the min/max aperture range of the lens – f/5-6.3 – f/22 and capturing images in low light?  Not a concern if you are shooting with a relatively new body that handles noise/high ISO situations well.  Feel free to bump that ISO up to keep your shutter speed up if needed.  Plus, the Sigma Optical Stabilization, which includes an accelerometer for better panning results, is going to get gain you anywhere from 2 – 3 stops when handholding with good, solid technique.  So, go ahead and shoot away.

_E7A9186 Wildebeest rut B&W web ready

Wildebeest males battle during rut

_E7A8970 Lion gaze web ready

Male lion surveying Ngorongoro Crater surroundings

How about the auto focus performance you may ask?  Mike G found it to be very accurate, fast, and quiet.  The Sigma Hyper Sonic Motor is reliable and Mike G found it be a bit faster than the Tamron 150-600.  The lens does also come with a focus limiter switch which can be handy when subjects are more than 33+ feet away.

_E7A9288 Warthogs in wild flowers web ready

Warthog family lounging in the short grasses of Ngorongoro Crater

_E7A8377 Young elephant water-crossing web ready.jpg

Young elephants crossing the river in Tarangire National Park

Do we (Mike G) recommend this lens?  Yes.  This lens offers great image quality at an excellent price point.  The outstanding performance seen coupled with the savings makes this lens a viable option for even the most serious wildlife photographers.

_E7A8661 The horns web ready.jpg

Lounging gazelle

_E7A7889 Zebra face web ready.jpg

Zebra

Scotland in the Spring

Posted in Benro, better my photography, BlackRapid, Canon, Castles in Scotland, Clik Elite, Columbia sportswear, Edinburgh, Eilean Donan Castle, Europe, Filters, Fingal's Cave, Highland cattle, Highland cow, Induro, Iona Island, Kerrara Island, Lexar Digital Film, Lighthouses, Scotland, Scottish Shortbread, Shipwrecks in Scotland, Staffa Island, Tamron, Tiffen, Tobermorey, Wool Sweaters with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2015 by mmphototours
Who doesn't like Scottish Shortbread?

Who doesn’t like Scottish Shortbread?

There is never a bad time to go to Scotland.  It is beautiful year round – you may have to define your beauty but there is plenty there to find, enjoy, soak-in, and photograph.

Who doesn't love Scottish wool sweaters?

Who doesn’t love Scottish wool sweaters?

We ventured to Scotland and many of her beautiful isles in April of this year (2015).  We got every kind of weather you’d expect for April in Scotland – rain, snow, wind, sleet, bright sun, clouds, warm, cold, and more.  Driving some of the single track roads and smelling the pungent odor of a whiskey distillery as approached was enough to excite even the oldest in our group.  The drives made the trip – the photography completed the drives.

The most photographed castle in Scotland.

The most photographed castle in Scotland.

Eilean Donan castle is the most photographed castle in Scotland and one that we spent several hours at.  The light and weather were different each time – sometimes VERY flat and diffused and others with nice light and shadows coupled, like in this image, with clouds and snow on the peaks behind/beside it.  The castle is awesome in almost every light and a place where every photographer should spend a couple of visits with during a stay.

The Highland cattle is classic Scotland and I’d be remiss if I did not include a shot of one – he had an itch:

Highland cow with an itch.

Highland cow with an itch.

Part of Scotland’s heritage is boats/ships.  I thoroughly enjoyed the various ships/boats and lighthouses we saw and tried to work/photograph each of them as we wandered the coast and specific islands.  One quick note, the boat ride to Staffa was probably the most fun I have had on a boat in years.  The waves of the North Atlantic were epic and the little boat just rolled and pounded through them like a duck in the eye of a storm.  It is something I look forward to again next June.

Kerrara Island was a sweet visit for the shipwreck and the castle.

Kerrara Island was a sweet visit for the shipwreck and the castle.

Abandoned boats on Tobermory.

Abandoned boats on Tobermory.

Lighthouse on the way to Mull Island - love the colors and shadows.

Lighthouse on the way to Mull Island – love the colors and shadows.

Staffa and her famous cave…

Fingal's Cave & Staffa Island Scotland.

Fingal’s Cave & Staffa Island Scotland.

Eilean Donan is too beautiful not to show a couple more shot…enjoy.

Eilean Donan castle reflection at low water.

Eilean Donan castle reflection at low water.

Eilean Donan castle and bridge walk way with rocks.

Eilean Donan castle and bridge walk way with rocks.

Genealogy is a worldwide craze and many Americans can trace their heritage back to Scotland.  On this trip we had a mother-daughter pair that was/is into Scottish history, genealogy, and the lore of the Clans of Scotland.  It made for great conversation.  Couple that with our local guide Chris and our guest pro Neil Downey (www.neilalexander.net) , a native Scot – our group not only got the shot but we learned a lot about the country and her people – past and present.  It was a great educational experience for me (Mike Gulbraa) which I enjoyed.

Iona was bathed in beautiful sun….The Island of Iona was a special visit for several in the group.

The beautiful bay of Iona Island.

The beautiful bay of Iona Island.

Iona Island bay with Abbey included.

Iona Island bay with Abbey included.

Anyone that knows me knows that I love stained-glass…this gem is from the Iona Abbey.

Iona Abbey stained-glass.

Iona Abbey stained-glass.

There is so much more to Scotland than any one Blog post can express.  Oban, Edinburgh, Tobermory, and more were simply awesome to wander and shoot.  The Scottish people are kind, intelligent, and passionate about their freedom and, I learned, about their whiskey – our group had nightly tastings (which I observed) and they seemed to enjoy most of what they sampled and even brought home several bottles.  Here are my last few images for this post…hope you enjoy and that you will consider joining us in June 2016 for our next (warmer) adventure to Scotland – details here: http://tinyurl.com/pv7tf24

Tobermory colored homes.

Tobermory colored homes.

Edinburgh night street scene.

Edinburgh night street scene.

Wonderous Namibia

Posted in 1, Acratech, Africa, African Safari, Benro, BlackRapid, Canon, Clik Elite, Columbia sportswear, Induro, Kaenon, Lexar Digital Film, Namobia, Sand Dunes, Tamron, Tiffen with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 24, 2015 by mmphototours
Dead Vlei Dunes - Namibia

Dead Vlei Dunes – Namibia

We have visited many awesome countries and cultures in our travels.  There are so many that it is hard to list and explain how many awesome places there are on earth for photography let alone on learning about people and cultures.

Namibia is one that will blow you away with awesome photography and some of the hardest working and nicest people on earth.

Our visit to Namibia in March of 2015 was full of fun with an awesome group and the best local guides one could ask for.  The lodging was world-class and the food was simply amazing.  Our evening bush dinner was a highlight – the Oryx and Zebra were rather tasty.

Group at tropic of Capricorn

Group at Tropic of Capricorn

Swakopmund Hotel

Swakopmund Hotel

We were there to get to know the country a bit more and shoot as much as possible.  Namibia DID NOT disappoint in any regard.  There are so many images waiting that it is almost impossible to go too many minutes without capturing a stellar image.  It is always a good omen when you wander out on your first day in country and it starts to rain – but only lasts a few minutes and then you are presented with an awesome double rainbow…

Double Rainbow on first day of shooting

Double Rainbow on first day of shooting

Namibia possesses some of the most stunning landscapes in Africa.  A trip through the country is one of the greatest road adventures to be had on earth.  This was our journey – the roads and sites of southern Namibia.  Namibia gained its independence March 21, 1990 after having passed through the hands of the Germans as a colony and then being tossed around as German South-West Africa and then South West Africa – part of South Africa.

There are so many natural wonders in Namibia but the desolate desert roads where granite rises out of dense red-colored desert sand is what will dazzle and amaze.  This trip for us concentrated on the southern half of the country – the sand dunes and coast.  We’ll save the wildlife of Etosha National Park for a combined trip in the near future.  In our opinion there is simply no place else of earth that provides the vast and amazing sand dunes and coast of Namibia.

Dead Vlei Trees Low Profile

Dead Vlei Trees Low Profile

Dead Vlei Triplets

Dead Vlei Triplets

Dunes

Dunes

Climbing Big Daddy Dune

Climbing Big Daddy Dune

Dunes

Dunes

Sand Dune Ripples

Sand Dune Ripples

Sossuvlei Dunes

Sossuvlei Dunes

The people of Namibia are kind, gracious and always smiling.  We also found them to be very happy to allow us to capture some shots of them doing their thing.

Namibian Bushmen

Namibian Bushmen

Kalahari Ferrari

Kalahari Ferrari

Gunther The Chopper Pilot

Gunther The Chopper Pilot

One of the most popular sites to visit is the Ghost town of Kolmanskop – the eerie images of the old buildings being recaptured by the sands of the desert remind us of the power of Mother Nature and make for some classic shots.

Kolmanskop Door in Sand

Kolmanskop Door in Sand

Kolmaskop Ghost Town

Kolmanskop Ghost Town

Kolmanskop Ghost Town

Kolmanskop Ghost Town

Kolmanskop Ghost Town

Kolmanskop Ghost Town

We even found some desert wildlife with the help of Tommy who is an awesome guide and has a great sense of humor to boot.

Mountain Zebras

Mountain Zebras

Sidewinder

Sidewinder

Desert Critter

Desert Critter

Chameleon On The Run & Changing Colors

Chameleon On The Run & Changing Colors On Hot Sand

Oryx B&W

Oryx B&W

Chameleon Catch

Chameleon Catch

We hope you’ve enjoyed our little trip through what we enjoyed most about Namibia.  We look forward to returning again soon – April 1-17, 2016 (travel days included) with a fine group of photographers and invite you to join us as well as we cover both the southern and northern parts of the country and include Etosha National Park and the wildlife in the trip itinerary.  For details visit here:

http://mmphototours.com/Store/tabid/80/txtSearch/namibia/List/1/ProductID/111/Default.aspx?SortField=ProductName%2cProductName

Sunset on Namibia Coast

Sunset on Namibia Coast

Croatia & Slovenia trip

Posted in better my photography, BlackRapid, Canon, Clik Elite, Columbia sportswear, Croatia, Dalmatian Coast, Deb Sandidge, Deborah Sandidge, Dubrovnik, Europe, Filters, HDR, how to photography, Hunt's Photo & Video, Hvar, Julian Alps, Lake Bled, learn photography, Lenses, Lexar Digital Film, Light, Ljubliana, Luka Esenko, photo tips, photo tours, photo workshops, Photographer, Photography, photography skills, Photography tips, photography workshops, Plitvice Lakes, Plitvice Lakes National Park, Pro Photographer, Pro Photography, Professional Photographer, Slovenia, Soca River, Soca River Valley, Split, Tamron, Tiffen, Travel, Travel Photography, Unique Photo, wide-angle lens with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 29, 2014 by mmphototours

It seems like ages ago but the Croatia & Slovenia trip was one to remember.  We had an awesome group of M&M Photo Tours returnees and added a new guest/fan to the mix.  The trip went off without a hitch and the weather was awesome the entire trip.

We hosted our first female guest pro – Deborah Sandidge (http://www.deborahsandidge.com) – who was awesome to work with and showed us a few great techniques for long exposure images and was just an excellent person to travel with.

Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 @ 55mm, f/11, ISO 200, 1/3, BlackRapid Sport, Lexar Digital Media, Tiffen filters, Clik Elite Pro Express

Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 @ 55mm, f/11, ISO 200, 1/3, BlackRapid Sport, Lexar Digital Media, Tiffen filters, Clik Elite Pro Express

This trip takes to the best locations both countries have to offer and we experience a feel and flavor that is unique and special.  Our local guide for both countries is Luka Esenko (http://lukaesenko.com/about) who is an awesome photographer himself which adds to the group and locations we shoot – Luka knows his stuff.

Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 VC @ 24mm, f/11, 1/4, ISO 100, BlackRapid Sport, Tiffen filters, Lexar Digital Media, Clik Elite Pro Express

Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 VC @ 24mm, f/11, 1/4, ISO 100, BlackRapid Sport, Tiffen filters, Lexar Digital Media, Clik Elite Pro Express

We travel from the beautiful coast of Croatia starting in Dubrovnik, then to Hvar, Split, Plitvice Lakes NP, and then head into Slovenia where we shoot Lake Bled, the Soca River Valley, & beautiful Ljubljana.  From the Dalmatian Coast to the awe-inspiring Julian Alps of Slovenia and all the gems in between make this trip a landscape photographers dream BUT also delivers for those who love culture, street photography, macro, and more.

For those who may be concerned about the past history of the locations – you have NOTHING to worry about.  The trip is safe, the people kind & helpful, the food is some of the best in Europe – awesome pizza and seafood which I love (MCG), the lodging is superb, the towns are clean and open, and the photography is simply awesome.

Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 VC @ 55mm, 1/20, f/22, ISO 100, BlackRapid Sport, Lexar Digital Media, Tiffen filters, Clik Elite Pro Express

Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 VC @ 55mm, 1/20, f/22, ISO 100, BlackRapid Sport, Lexar Digital Media, Tiffen filters, Clik Elite Pro Express

Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 VC @ 45mm, 1/800, f/5, ISO 2000, BlackRapid Sport, Lexar Digital Media, Tiffen filter, Clik Elite Pro Express

Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 VC @ 45mm, 1/800, f/5, ISO 2000, BlackRapid Sport, Lexar Digital Media, Tiffen filter, Clik Elite Pro Express

Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 16-35L f/2.8 II USM @ 16mm, 1/800, f/6.3, ISO 800, BlackRapid Sport, Lexar Digital Media, Tiffen filter, Clik Elite Pro Express

Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 16-35L f/2.8 II USM @ 16mm, 1/800, f/6.3, ISO 800, BlackRapid Sport, Lexar Digital Media, Tiffen filter, Clik Elite Pro Express

Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 VC @ 51mm, 1/400, f/4.5, ISO 2000, BlackRapid Sport, Lexar Digital Media, Tiffen filter, Clik Elite Pro Express

Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 VC @ 51mm, 1/400, f/4.5, ISO 2000, BlackRapid Sport, Lexar Digital Media, Tiffen filter, Clik Elite Pro Express

The overall beauty that awaits, the crisp clean light, the fresh clean air, the ease of access to locations, and our guest pro Deb Sandidge and local pro/guide Luka Esenko add so much to this trip that the value and photography are off the charts.  There is simply so much to shoot at every stop that you’ll have a hard time paring your images down for your camera club presentations that you’ll be asked to do once folks see your images.  It is that good!

The 2015 Croatia & Slovenia trip is scheduled for June 15-29, 2015 and is an all-inclusive trip – as are most M&M international tours.  There is still space available but will fill fast once we get past the holidays.

Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 VC @ 70mm, 1/1600, f/9, ISO 800, BlackRapid Sport, Lexar Digital Media, Tiffen filter, Cilk Elite Pro Express

Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 VC @ 70mm, 1/1600, f/9, ISO 800, BlackRapid Sport, Lexar Digital Media, Tiffen filter, Clik Elite Pro Express

Tuscany 2014

Posted in Baptistery Italy, Baptistery Pisa, BlackRapid, Brolio Castle, Canon, Chianti, Clik Elite, Columbia sportswear, David, Field of Miracles, Filters, Florence, Florence Bell Tower, Gelato, HDR, how to photography, Hunt's Photo & Video, Italy, Italy photography, Leaning Tower of Pisa, learn photography, Lenses, Lexar Digital Film, Light, Meleto Castle, Michelangelo, Michelangelo's David, Montepulciano, Olive Oil, Photo Competition, photo tips, photo tours, photo workshops, Photographer, Photography, Photography in Tuscany, photography skills, Photography tips, photography workshops, Pienza, Pisa, Pisa Baptistery, Pisa Cathedral, Pisa Duomo, Pisa Field of Miracles, Pro Photographer, Pro Photography, Professional Photographer, Radda in Chianti, Ron Wyatt, San Donato, Tamron, Tiffen, Travel, Travel Photography, Tuscan foods, Tuscan villa, Tuscany, Val d'Orcia, wide-angle, wide-angle lens with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 14, 2014 by mmphototours

Our annual trek through Tuscany in May of each year is always enjoyable, relaxing, and filled with excellent photography opportunities.  Once again this year we set up residence at our favorite villa outside of Arezzo and explored Tuscany from there.  Our group was small which allowed us flexibility to take the time we needed/wanted at each location.

Our hosts at the villa - Mirella & Stefano

Our hosts at the villa – Mirella & Stefano

No trip to Italy – let alone Tuscany is complete without awesome meals and awesome people to share them with.  There were plenty of meals to share and the group made for great company.  We ate like kings, shot like kings, slept like kings, and overall just had a wonderful trip and many great experiences during our two weeks in Italy.

We like to give ourselves assignments on or before each trip.  This trip was about handheld HDR and really testing the lenses, Canon 5D Mark III, and seeing if the image stabilization of the lenses would give us the stops we need to forgo a tripod at times.  We were happy with the result BUT have determined yet again that a tripod is always a good idea.

A little low light, high ISO work - Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 16-35L @ 27mm, ISO 5000, 1/40, f/2.8, handheld, BlackRapid Sport, Lexar Digital Media

A little low light, high ISO work – Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 16-35L @ 27mm, ISO 5000, 1/40, f/2.8, handheld, BlackRapid Sport, Lexar Digital Media, Clik Elite Pro Express

Several of the guests enjoyed the wine while we all enjoyed everything about the trip.  One of our favorite things and parts of this trip is the stained-glass we get to see – here are a few of our favorites from an old church in Montepulciano:

Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 70-200 @ 200mm, f/4.5, ISO 500, 1/250, handheld, BlackRapid Sport, Lexar Digital Media, Clik Elite Pro Express

Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 70-200 @ 200mm, f/4.5, ISO 500, 1/250, handheld, BlackRapid Sport, Tiffen HT Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Media, Clik Elite Pro Express

Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 70-200 @ 200mm, 1/800, f/5, ISO 640, handheld, BlackRapid Sport, Lexar Digital Media, Clik Elite Pro Express

Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 70-200 @ 200mm, 1/800, f/5, ISO 640, handheld, BlackRapid Sport, Tiffen HT Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Media, Clik Elite Pro Express

We ventured to so many different parts of Tuscany during this trip that it is difficult to express which part we like most – fact of the matter is that we love them all or we would not go.  Landscapes, people, architecture, and food are some of the reasons we visit Italy – we photograph them all.  The next several shots are some of our favorites from this year’s trip:

Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 70-200 @ 200mm, 1/640, f/8, ISO 800, handheld, BlackRapid Sport, Lexar Digital Media, Clik Elite Pro Express

Chapel on The Hill – Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 70-200 @ 200mm, 1/640, f/8, ISO 800, handheld, BlackRapid Sport, Tiffen HT Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Media, Clik Elite Pro Express

Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 24-70 @ 33mm, 1/640, f/9, ISO 1000, handheld, BlackRapid Sport, Lexar Digital Media, Clik Elite Pro Express

Grove of Cypress Trees – Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 24-70 @ 33mm, 1/640, f/9, ISO 1000, handheld, BlackRapid Sport, Tiffen HT Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Media, Clik Elite Pro Express

Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 24-70 @ 40mm, 1/1000, f/7.1, ISO 800, handheld, BlackRapid Sport, Lexar Digital Media, Clik Elite Pro Express

Pitigliano – Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 24-70 @ 40mm, 1/1000, f/7.1, ISO 800, handheld, BlackRapid Sport, Tiffen HT Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Media, Clik Elite Pro Express

Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 24-70 @ 44mm, 1/1000, f/8, ISO 800, handheld, BlackRapid Sport, Lexar Digital Media, Clik Elite Pro Express

Florence – Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 24-70 @ 44mm, 1/1000, f/8, ISO 800, handheld, BlackRapid Sport, Tiffen HT Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Media, Clik Elite Pro Express

Pisa - Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 24-70 @ 24mm, 1/1000, f/8, ISO 800, handheld, BlackRapid Sport, Lexar Digital Film, Clik Elite Pro Express

Pisa – Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 24-70 @ 24mm, 1/1000, f/8, ISO 800, handheld, BlackRapid Sport, Tiffen HT Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Film, Clik Elite Pro Express

San Antimo Abbey - Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 24-70 @ 70mm, 1/250, f/8, ISO 200, handheld, BlackRapid Sport, Lexar Digital Media, Clik Elite Pro Express

San Antimo Abbey – Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 24-70 @ 70mm, 1/250, f/8, ISO 200, handheld, BlackRapid Sport, Tiffen HT Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Media, Clik Elite Pro Express

We also spend a few days in Rome and make a few stops outside of Tuscany while on this trip.  Here are a few of our favorites from those days in Orvieto and Rome:

The Orvieto Cathedral is my favorite in all of Italy - Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 16-35L @ 18mm, 1/1000, f/11, ISO 500, handheld, BlackRapid Sport, Lexar Digital Media, Clik Elite Pro Express

The Orvieto Cathedral is our favorite in all of Italy – Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 16-35L @ 18mm, 1/1000, f/11, ISO 500, handheld, BlackRapid Sport, Tiffen HT Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Media, Clik Elite Pro Express

Rome - Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 24-70 @ 24mm, 1/200, f/22, ISO 800, handheld, BlackRapid Sport, Lexar Digital Media, Clik Elite Pro Express

Rome – Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 24-70 @ 24mm, 1/200, f/22, ISO 800, handheld, BlackRapid Sport, Tiffen HT Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Media, Clik Elite Pro Express

Rome heading towards Vatican City - Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 24-70 @ 40mm, 1/800, f/14, ISO 800, handheld, BlackRapid Sport, Lexar Digital Media, Clik Elite Pro Express

Rome heading towards Vatican City – Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 24-70 @ 40mm, 1/800, f/14, ISO 800, handheld, BlackRapid Sport, Tiffen HT Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Media, Clik Elite Pro Express

We even got to spend a Sunday afternoon at Vatican City and listened to Pope Francis deliver an address to the crowd in St. Peter’s Square.  Did not understand a word but as we say at M&M “You don’t just take a photograph, you experience it!”  It is one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences that anyone who goes to Rome should try and experience.  Wish I would have brought a longer lens – even left the 70-200 at the hotel as I chose to do this walk with just one lens.  Lesson learned?  Yes, carry your pack and gear at all times – even if you have been to a location MANY times before because you never know what will present itself.

We even got to see The Pope - Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 24-70 @ 70mm, 1/800, f/8, ISO 800, handheld, BlackRapid Sport, Lexar Digital Media, Clik Elite Pro Express

We even got to see The Pope – Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 24-70 @ 70mm, 1/800, f/8, ISO 800, handheld, BlackRapid Sport, Lexar Digital Media, Clik Elite Pro Express

After the Tuscany trip was complete I had a few days to myself in Rome and Venice while in transit to Croatia for my next group.  Here are a few shots from Venice:

Venice - Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 24-70 @ 70mm, 1/400, f/4.5, ISO 2000, handheld, BlackRapid Sport, Lexar Digital Media, Clik Elite pro Express

Venice – Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 24-70 @ 70mm, 1/400, f/4.5, ISO 2000, handheld, BlackRapid Sport, Tiffen HT Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Media, Clik Elite pro Express

Venice canal - Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 24-70 @ 70mm, 1/800, f/6.3, ISO 2000, handheld, BlackRapid Sport, Lexar Digital Media, Clik Elite Pro Express

Venice canal – Canon 5D Mark III, Tamron 24-70 @ 70mm, 1/800, f/6.3, ISO 2000, handheld, BlackRapid Sport, Tiffen HT Circular Polarizer, Lexar Digital Media, Clik Elite Pro Express

Hope you enjoy the post.  Look forward to have some of you joining us in Italy next year – May 17-26, 2015.

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.

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