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Tanzania – wonderful wildlife safaris

Posted in Acratech, Africa, African Safari, Benro, better my photography, Birding, Birds, BlackRapid, Canon, Cheetahs, Columbia sportswear, elephants, Filters, how to photography, Hyenas, Induro, Jeff Cable, Kaenon, Lake Manyara, learn photography, Lenses, Lexar Digital Film, Light, lions, Marketing, Ndutu, Ngorongoro Crater, photo tips, photo tours, photo workshops, Photographer, Photography, photography skills, Photography tips, photography workshops, Pro Photographer, Pro Photography, Professional Photographer, Serengeti, Sigma, Tamron, Tanzania, Tarangire National Park, Tarangire NP, Tiffen, Travel, Travel Photography, warthog, water buffalo, waterbucks, wide-angle, wide-angle lens, zebra with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2017 by mmphototours
_E7A0993 Elephant under the Acacia B&W web ready

Elephant rendered in B&W – Canon 5D Mark III, f/11, 1/320, ISO 200, 35mm

_O5A1869 Lioness on a tree1 web ready.jpg

Lioness resting on a fallen tree – Canon 7D Mark II, f/4.5, 1/1000, ISO 2000, 74mm handheld in very low light right before sundown with thick cloud cover

Every year M&M ventures to Tanzania in January and sometimes in August to witness two of the greatest wildlife spectacles on earth.  In January I call it the reverse migration when wildlife returns to Tanzania from Kenya.  This is the calving season for many of the hoofed animals – zebra, wildebeest, gazelle, impala, and more.  It makes for great predator action.  In August we venture over again for the better known Great Migration and river crossing you have all heard about and seen images from many different sources.  This is when the migration leaves Tanzania for Kenya and the better grass across the border.  This post is meant to share just a few comments about Tanzania and several images from recent M&M trips.

Most of trips to Tanzania are all-inclusive – RT economy air from certain US gateway cities, all meals, all lodging, all ground transport, all park fees, world-class driver/guides, and more.  We usually fly through Amsterdam and then into Kilimanjaro International Airport just outside Arusha, Tanzania.

During most trips we visit the following areas – Tarangire National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, and then spend as much time as possible in the Ndutu area, & Serengeti National Park.  Each area gives us a different view of the wildlife and the migration.  They also afford their own benefits and scenes for the wildlife photography we all desire.

We head to Tarangire for a few reasons – resident wildlife and the elephants.  The park has solid numbers of resident wildlife anytime of year.  This gives us a quick warm-up for what we’ll experience on the rest of the trip.  The Ngorongoro Crater needs no words.  With one of the world’s most dense resident wildlife populations it is hard not to see amazing wildlife or capture great images.  The crater offers one of the best wildlife experiences in all of Africa and certainly one of the top in Tanzania.  Ndutu is a region known for awesome wildlife year round.  The resident cats (lions, leopards, cheetah, and more) are some of my favorites here but there are also elephant, herds of zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, and more.  One of the pluses of a several day stay in Ndutu is the that off-road safari is allowed so you can track and get even closer to wildlife than in other areas.  Of course, we and our driver/guides maintain a respectable distance and give the wildlife the space they need to keep them comfortable.  The Serengeti is arguably the best National Park in all of Africa.  It offers excellent wildlife viewing year round and the space and numbers of animals in the park make every safari authentic and every safari participant yearning for more.

People often wonder what our lodging is like on safari.  Here I am going to give you links to the places we usually stay (our first picks) so you can decide for yourself.  We try to combine authentic safari experiences with several comfortable lodges/camps so our guests are comfortable, safe, and enjoy their time in Tanzania.  Of course, the food is always delicious…

We first stay at Rivertrees upon arrival – Rivertrees is set in a pleasant semi-rural location around 20km to the east of Arusha and is therefore convenient for Kilimanjaro International Airport.  It sits in beautiful informal gardens filled with large shady trees and is centered on a lovely old farmhouse.

Our next stop is one of two camps in Tarangire National Park.  Tarangire Safari Lodge – Tarangire is situated in an impressive hilltop position deep inside the reserve, with extensive views from camp of wildlife along the river. It is a simple facility, but with very nice well-intentioned owners.  Tarangire offers good quality dry season wildlife, notably superb elephant viewing Jun-Dec.  Additional activities include vehicle safari and balloon safari, plus some modest walking safari and night vehicle safari.  Or, we’ll use Tarangire Ndovu Camp depending on group makeup and numbers.  Ndovu is a medium specification mobile tented facility in a quiet location in the northeast of the reserve. It is a comfortable camp, with just six guest tents. Activities include daytime vehicle safari, with possible options for walking safari and night vehicle safari. Wildlife viewing is usually at its best during the dry season, Jun-Dec, particularly strong for elephants.

Our next stop is the Ngorongoro Crater.  Here we always try to use Lemala Ngorongoro Camp.  Lemala is a high quality mobile tented camp set on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater.  It includes a comfortable and nicely appointed mess and nine pleasant guest tents, with reliable owners and a reputation for a really good atmosphere amongst the camp staff.  The lodge is on the better northern side for weather and for early access into the crater.  Vehicle safari into the Ngorongoro Crater itself is the main activity, with walking and cultural activities also being possible.

We always try to book Lake Masek Tented Camp in Ndutu.  Lake Masek is a medium specification permanent tented lodge set in the important Ndutu area and is open year round, with the main migration often being in the area Nov/Apr.  The lodge offers a relatively high level of conventional comforts, especially compared with the mobile tented camps which are so numerous in this area during the migration season.  Another option we have on hold often is Kubu Kubu Tented Camp.  Kubu Kubu is Situated on a gentle hillside with broad views of the Central Serengeti area and is a medium specification permanent tented camp.  It is centered on a large circular structure which contains the lounge and dining areas, leading out to a large swimming pool.  Guest accommodation is in a total of 25 spacious tents on raised platforms and with great views, which are suitable for up to five people, making this place a big favorite for families and camera clubs.  Activities are centered on vehicle safari, with the area offering very solid wildlife viewing year round, notably with incredible predator sightings.  The migration usually passes through May-Jun and Nov-Dec.

Depending on the time of year and camp availability we’ll use one of two of three camps in The Serengeti.  We always like to give folks the experience of a true “roughing it” camp so we use Ronjo Camp.  Ronjo is a medium specification mobile tented camp set in a relatively quiet location in Central Serengeti.  It offers an authentic safari experience, with animals often passing through camp. The camp has a pleasant canvas mess and around sixteen reasonably comfortable guest tents.  It is a closed access camp, which means it does not accept vehicles from other operators, which can lead to a much more intimate atmosphere.  After a couple of nights at Ronjo we’ll move our guests to one of two more upscale camps – Dunia Camp or Kaskaz Camp.  Dunia is a high specification mobile tented camp is in a relatively quiet location in Central Serengeti.  It offers an authentic safari experience, with animals often passing through camp.  The camp has a lovely canvas mess and around eight guest tents. It is elegantly presented and genially hosted.  Activities are centered on vehicle safari, with the area offering very solid wildlife viewing year round with incredible predator sightings, especially Jul-Oct.  The migration usually passes through May-Jun and Nov-Dec.  Kaskaz is a small and relatively upmarket mobile tented camp with eight guest tents .  Kaskaz offers style and grace in the northern Serengeti – we use this camp for the August Great Migration safari.

We cap every trip off with a stay at Gibbs Farm (when available and we book far enough in advance.  This place is an oasis after a safari and bring a level of comfort and peace that unrivaled in Tanzania.  Gibbs Farm has been voted Best Safari Hotel in Africa in the past.  Gibb’s Farm imparts a sense of well-being, tranquility and history—deeply rooted in African culture and community—in a warm, rustic luxury environment.  A peaceful sanctuary to rejuvenate the senses while on safari in Tanzania, the farm features cozy, well-appointed cottages, breath-taking scenery and wildlife and unique cultural activities that allow you to fully experience the rhythms and beauty of the farm, community and nature.

Hope you have enjoyed our little piece on our Tanzania adventures.  We’d love to host you on one of our Tanzanian safaris sometime soon.  We have tours coming up in August 2017 that has 2 spots available, one in January 2018 that still has multiple spots open, one in August 2018 that has multiple spots open, and back-to-back luxury trips scheduled for January & February 2019 with guest pro Jeff Cable.

Cuba – Gotta go before it all changes

Posted in 1, Acratech, Benro, better my photography, Canon, Cars of Cuba, Cienfuegos Cuba, Classic Cars of Cuba, Clik Elite, Colors of Cuba, Columbia sportswear, cuba, Cuba photo tour, Cuba photo tours, Filters, Hamel Street photography, Havana Cuba, how to photography, Hunt's Photo & Video, Images of Cuba, Induro, Jeff Cable, Kaenon, Light, Marketing, People of Cuba, photo tips, photo tours, photo workshops, Photographer, Photography, photography skills, Photography tips, photography workshops, Pro Photographer, Pro Photography, Professional Photographer, Sigma, Street scenes of Cuba, Tiffen, Travel Photography, Trinidad Cuba, Vinales Cuba, wide-angle, wide-angle lens with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 1, 2017 by mmphototours

CUBA – what a wonderful place to photograph and experience some of the best hospitality on earth.  Cuba may be stuck in time but will not remain that way for too many more years – YOU gotta go before it all changes.

_E7A6110 Cuban Flag hanging on building web ready

We spent a wonderful 10 day trip to Havana, Vinales, Trinidad, and Cienfuegos in late November and early December.  It was a first time visit for all our guests and I dare say they all came home happy and with awesome images.

We were lucky – I think – in that we arrived in Havana just a few days after Fidel Castro died so we got to experience a side of Cuba that will only happen once – the mourning period for their Fidel.  We had the privilege of attending 2 nights of services for him in Havana where it was obvious that many people supported their Fidel.  The second image is just one of four main streets at the plaza and well before it was filled to capacity.  We wandered, photographed, took video, and even spoke with folks about their Fidel.  One of those Once In-A-Lifetime Experiences that you will never forget.

_E7A6616 July 26 and Cuban flag web ready

_E7A6509 Crowd gathers for Fidel web ready

Cuba is lively, colorful, and greets you with open arms.  We felt safe, secure, and welcome everywhere we went.  The trip was about photography so here are some of our favorite images.

First up – everyone loves Cuba for the old classic cars.  They look old and classic on the outside but the truth is these cars have been rebuilt and many use diesel engines and other non-original systems BUT the bodies and interiors have been babied and painstakingly “restored.”  We could do an entire post on the vehicles but we’ll save that for another time.

The art work is another great attraction to Cuba – COLORS and more COLORS!  It does not matter which neighborhood you are in there is art work and color everywhere.  We enjoyed Hamel Street and other areas – the graffiti is colorful and well done.

We loved simply wandering the streets to see what we’d find – we found a lot to photograph – there is so much there we have to go back often to get it all.  It did not matter if we were in Havana, Trinidad, Vinales, or Cienfuegos – the beauty of the country and her people is amazing.  Yes, this is one of the favorite parts of our job – traveling the world and meeting new people and making friends and learning about each other.

As with any trip, the people make Cuba special.  The following are some of our favorite “people” shots from this visit.

We hope you enjoy the post.  We’d love to host you on one of our global photo tours and would love to have you join us for an upcoming CUBA photo tour with one of guest pros.

Please take a look at for a complete list of upcoming trips or contact us at with any questions you have about the trips.

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


Photo Tour or go on your own?

Posted in B&H Photo, better my photography, BlackRapid, Canon, Clik Elite, Columbia sportswear, Filters, HDR, how to photography, learn photography, Lexar Digital Film, Marketing, Naional Park Photo Workshops, National Park Photo Workshops, National Parks, photo tips, photo tours, photo workshops, Photographer, Photography, photography skills, Photography tips, photography workshops, Pro Photographer, Pro Photography, Professional Photographer, Tiffen, Travel, Travel Photography, wide-angle, wide-angle lens, Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 24, 2013 by mmphototours

Posta de Sol & mirror lake shot

We get questions from folks all the time about our tours and why a photo tour is better/easier/more complete than non-photo tours.  Our reply is usually based on how they answer a few questions.

1) We hear from folks that they went on a tour but were always being rushed to get back to the bus.  When we ask which photo tour they on and with whom their reply is always – ‘Oh, no I/we went on a regular tour hoping we’d have plenty of time to shoot what we wanted but we were always being rushed and having people upset with us for holding up the group.’

2)  Our follow-up question is usually “So you left the hotel every day after breakfast and were eating dinner as the sun was setting?”  To which we get the reply ‘Yes, usually left between 8 and 9 AM and were stopping for dinner between 6 and 7 PM.’

3) Our last question is usually “So all you saw was the set big sites and didn’t take/have time to get in touch with the locals?”  To which we hear in reply ‘Sure, we saw all the classic sites in mid-day light but had no significant time to explore on our own or connect with the locals.  It wasn’t good for photography at all.’

We also hear from another group that likes to plan on their own because they “…have traveled a lot and can use the web and guide books to make arrangements for hotels, meals, and guides.”

Either method is fine and may work and help you capture some memorable images during your trip.  If you sincerely want to visit a location/country for the photography there are several reasons why you should join a photo tour.  Namely,

A) Have you built the relationships with local guides, hotels, and other services/people who will help you come home with images that most people do not capture?  M&M has leveraged its 30+ years of global travel experience and developed relationships in every country we offer a tour to give you an awesome photographic experience AND to come home with the images you want.  We leave nothing to chance except the free time we give you to explore and find hidden gems.

B) How much time do you have for research – if research is needed?  Unless you have been to 162 countries (many of them more than 20+ times each) you will need to spend a significant amount of time learning about your location and the best sites, times, season, etc. to get the shots you want.  M&M already has this extensive knowledge/database to get you where you need to be, when you need to be there, to get the shots you’ve dreamed about.  Sign up and leave the planning and worry to us.  We spend over 200 hours planning/scheduling every tour we offer EACH year.

C) How well do you tolerate/deal with the unexpected?  If you plan a tour on your own it better be high.  Traveling with M&M on a photo tour alleviates the unexpected as our air/ground vendors have our wishes dialed in and work closely with a huge support team to make sure things go well AND we always have a Plan B and Plan C  in the unlikely event something pops up.

D) Do you know the best time/season to visit a specific location/site to get the shot you want?  M&M has our trips dialed in and our ground support teams know what our guests expect and want in their photography.  We know when the rainy season ends and the dry season starts.  We know when/where the key local festivals are.  We know when and where the best markets are.  We know the back roads and hidden gems that will separate your images from others that have visited the same region.

E) When you travel alone or with a friend you are responsible for everything – added costs, arrangements for early breakfast/late dinner, drivers as needed, local guides, etc.  M&M takes care of everything for you.  All you have to do is show up and have your gear ready to capture the images you’ve always dreamed about.  OK, you may have to worry about having a soda or beer with dinner.

The bottom line is that our time is the most overlooked factor when actually executing a trip.  We can plan all we want on our own but unless we’ve “been there done that” we will have most likely missed something and spend hours fixing/re-planning the trip on the fly.  On the road our time and the exact execution of that time is the most precious item we have and need to capture the images we dream about.

Do not leave your photo tour to chance.  M&M trips are precisely planned and smoothly executed at every juncture.  Fewer hours spent fixing things means more hours making frames, memories, friends, and ensures that you’ll arrive home safe with many more award-winning images.  Traveling with like-minded people (photographers) adds a dimension to a trip that cannot be enjoyed with others.  Keep in mind that MOST M&M tours are all-inclusive taking the unknown out of the equation.  Lastly, you will have more in-field camera time when traveling with us than not.

We look forward to having you join us soon.  At M&M “You don’t just take a photograph, you experience it.”

Mesa Arch2

Camera Clubs and improving your photography

Posted in Advertising, Angkor Thom, Angkor Wat, Ankor Thom, better my photography, Cambodia, Canon, China, Clik Elite, Columbia sportswear, Discount, Filters, Great Wall, Great Wall of China, how to photography, Indochina, learn photography, Lexar Digital Film, Light, Marketing, Naional Park Photo Workshops, National Park Photo Workshops, National Parks, Photo Competition, photo tips, photo tours, photo workshops, Photographer, Photography, photography skills, Photography tips, photography workshops, Pro Photographer, Pro Photography, Professional Photographer, Tiffen, Travel, Travel Photography, Vietnam, wide-angle, wide-angle lens with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 30, 2012 by mmphototours

We present travel photography seminars often at Camera/Photo clubs.  We love these opportunities because they give us a forum to share our passion with many like-minded people.  Another reason we take every occasion to present at clubs is because we LEARN from those that attend – we learn about shooting locations, we learn tips & tricks, we learn about gear, we learn techniques, and we recharge our batteries to keep the passion and continue our pursuit of awesome images.

Canon 5D MarkII, Canon EF24-105mm f/4L IS @ 105mm, ISO 500, 1/500, f/8, Clik Elite pack, Lexar Digital Film

We have put together a list of benefits of belonging to and participating in a camera club.  It does not cover all the reasons/benefits but it is a great start and will surely put you on a path to better familiarize yourself with what joining a club may do for you.  Here you go:

  1. Do you ever have photo questions you can’t answer?
  2. Would you enjoy getting critiques or suggestions on your photography?
  3. Would you enjoy judging other’s photography work?
  4. Do you want to see many different brands of photographic equipment at once?
  5. Do you enjoy photo outings with other photographers?
  6. Do you appreciate having photo professionals give you pointers in live presentations?
  7. Do you like seeing new photography gadgets when they come out?
  8. Can you benefit from learning proper use of filters, tripods, and other photo equipment?
  9. Do you like to compete?
  10. Would you like to learn where the most photogenic sites near you are?
  11. Do you like to travel, and see images created by others while they travel?
  12. Do you need photography instruction?
  13. Can you provide others with photography instruction?
  14. Would you like discounts at your local photo retailer or even on national tour company trips?  M&M offers significant discounts to camera clubs we work with!
  15. Do you want to make new, like-minded friends who will last forever?

Canon 5D MarkII, Canon EF24-105mm f/4L IS @ 24mm, ISO 100, 1/90, f/8, Clik Elite pack, Tiffen Polarizer, Lexar Digital Film

We have several photo clubs that we deal with often and appreciate the opportunity we have to work with them – The Sun City Camera Club (, Nevada Camera Club (, Colorado Nature Camera Club (,  Livingston (New Jersey) Camera Club (, Wasatch Camera Club (, Ogden (Utah) Camera Club (, and the 56 clubs of The Florida Camera Club Council ( are clubs we have worked with recently.

If you’d like information on a club near you please shoot us a note at and we’ll be glad to send you information on a club near you.  We can also advise if your club receives discounts on our trips/workshops AND we can help you get our offered discounts if your club does not currently receive them.

Bottom line is – get out and shoot.  Try new things, new styles, new gear/tools/gadgets – do not be afraid to get out of your comfort zone.  Camera clubs can help expose you to many ideas and shorten your learning curve if you are a new photographer and can recharge your batteries to look at new things if you are a seasoned photographer.

Canon 5D MarkII, Canon EF24-105mm f/4L IS @ 24mm, ISO 500, 1/90, f/4, Clik Elite pack, Lexar Digital Film

Tuscany Day 1

Posted in better my photography, Canon, Europe, Filters, how to photography, Italy, Italy photography, learn photography, Light, Marketing, Monks, Montepulciano, photo tips, photo tours, photo workshops, Photographer, Photography, photography skills, Photography tips, photography workshops, Pro Photographer, Pro Photography, Professional Photographer, Tiffen, Travel, Travel Photography, Tuscan villa, Tuscany, Val d'Orcia with tags , , , , , , on May 25, 2011 by mmphototours

Hello from Tuscany.  Excited to be back in Tuscany and have a fine group of guests enjoying “la dolce vita” in one of our favorite parts of Italy.  We flew into Milan and then took the train down to the Florence area where our private villa awaited with serenity, privacy and a massive swimming pool.

Today we ventured through the Val d’Orcia.  We hit Montepulciano – famous for wine, Pienza, Bagno Vignoni and drove the back roads looking for great images.  Nice thing about this early in the season is NO crowds.  Everywhere we’ve been we’ve had excellent access to sites and unimpeded views for our photography.

Our villa is superb and the private chef is amazing – sorry no pictures of the food it disappeared too fast to get any.  Suffice it to say that we are enjoying fine Tuscan homemade cooking with our private chef.  She and her husband make a great team.

All-in-all the tour is off to a great start.  Here are just a few images we liked from the day – we hope you enjoy:

This first one is a scene of the private chapel of a local farming family just outside Pienza.  I like the serenity.  The framing with the yellow flowers draws the viewer’s eye directly to the chapel.

Canon 5D MKII Sigma f2.8 70-200 @ 200 mm f/8 1/350 ISO 320 w/ Tiffen Circular Polarizer

Canon 5D MKII Sigma f2.8 70-200 @ 200 mm f/11 1/125 ISO 250 w/ Tiffen Circular Polarizer

This image is a stained glass window from the Cathedral in Montepulciano.  Love the colors and vibrance.

Canon 5D MKII Sigma f2.8 70-200 @ 200 mm f/2.8 1/250 ISO 100 w/ Tiffen Circular Polarizer

This next image is a villa sitting atop a field of olive tress and red poppies.  I like the color variations.

Canon 5D MKII Canon 24-105L @ 58 mm f/8 1/125 ISO 200 w/ Tiffen Circular Polarizer

The last image for this post is the local wine master of Montepulciano named Adamo.  Adamo has been making wine since the 50’s and is internationally known.  He always love to pose for pictures and greet guests who come by his cellar.

Canon 5D MKII Sigma f2.8 70-200 @ 200 mm f/5.6 1/125 ISO 400 w/ Tiffen Circular Polarizer

Tuscany has so much beauty and flavor – you have to experience it for yourself and as a photographer there is no better way to enjoy it than immersing yourself in it for 10 days with us next year.