Archive for the Marketing Category

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, Deb Sandidge, Deborah Sandidge, 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 http://www.mmphototours.com for a complete list of upcoming trips or contact us at mikeg@mmphototours.com 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

Zebra

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 (http://www.scpdcaclubs.com/activities/clubs/camera/home.htm), Nevada Camera Club (http://nevadacc.org), Colorado Nature Camera Club (http://www.coloradonaturecameraclub.org),  Livingston (New Jersey) Camera Club (http://livingstoncameraclub.com), Wasatch Camera Club (http://www.wasatchcameraclub.com), Ogden (Utah) Camera Club (http://ogdencameraclub.blogspot.com), and the 56 clubs of The Florida Camera Club Council (http://www.f3c.org) are clubs we have worked with recently.

If you’d like information on a club near you please shoot us a note at mikeg@mmphototours.com 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.