Archive for the Travel Category

Eastern European Adventure

Posted in Acratech, Benro, Berlin, Berlin Wall, better my photography, BlackRapid, Blue Hour, Budapest, Canon, Chain Bridge Budapest, Charles Bridge, Clik Elite, Columbia sportswear, Deb Sandidge, Deborah Sandidge, Eastern Europe, Europe, Filters, how to photography, Hunt's Photo & Video, Induro, Krakow, Poland, learn photography, Lenses, Lexar Digital Film, Light, Mikulov, Moscow Russia, Night photography, Old Town Prague, Our Savior on Spilled Blood, Parliament Building Budapest, photo tips, photo tours, photo workshops, Photographer, Photography, photography skills, Photography tips, photography workshops, Poland, Prague, Pro Photographer, Pro Photography, Professional Photographer, Schonbruun Palace, Sigma, St Vitus stained-glass, St. Basil's Moscow, St. Petersburg Russia, Tamron, Tatra Mountains images, Tiffen, Travel, Travel Photography, Vienna, Warsaw Poland, wide-angle, wide-angle lens with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 2, 2017 by mmphototours

Last September we took a 3 week adventure which started in Berlin and took us to Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, The High Tatra Mountains, Krakow, Warsaw, St. Petersburg, and Moscow.  7 countries and many wonderful sites, meals, and people over the 3 week trek.

We saw the great sites of Berlin but what caught our eye most was the street art and the remaining Berlin Wall.  We love history and we were right in the middle of it!

Berlin was awesome – look forward to going back soon.

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Street art – Berlin

_E7A1109 Brandenburg Gate web ready

Brandenburg Gate – Berlin

The Great Wall is covered in new art – found this one powerful – tells the story of the thousands that wanted to escape the oppression they suffered:

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Berlin Wall art

Next was my favorite city in central Europe – Prague.  Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in all of Europe with great sites, food, people, and history.  There is so much that can be written about Prague but we do not have the skills to do it justice so we’ll just share some images…

_E7A1161 Charles Bridge and Castle bright web ready

Charles Bridge and more – Prague

_E7A1397 Old Town Square Prague from tower web ready

Old Town – Prague

After Prague we had a nice and relaxing visit to Mikulov and Cesky Krumlov.  Loved this scene:

_E7A1546 Cesky Krumlov wall web ready

Street scene – Mikulov

Next on the adventure is Vienna – quick and easy is Vienna.  Again, so much can be said about Vienna and her history but that is for a different day.  We enjoyed a nice Blue Hour shoot at Schonbrunn Palace:

_E7A1884 Shounbrunn Palace at Blue Hour web ready

Schonbrunn Palace – Vienna

Had not been to Budapest in a few years BUT got to go twice in the course of 1 month!  Right before this wonderful 3 week adventure I spent a week in Budapest and Prague with good friends.  Didn’t have any real-time for photography with my friends but was able to get some shots to update things on the longer trip.

_E7A2148 Hungarian Parliament at Blue Hour web ready

Parliament Building – Budapest

_E7A2051 Budapest Blue Hour - Castle and Chain Bridge web ready

Chain Bridge and more – Budapest

Bratislava and The High Tatra Mountains were next.  Loved the mountains and the relaxation and fresh air…

Krakow & Warsaw were next on the menu.  Once again, more history than we can shake a stick at BUT plenty of cool images to be had if you get out and walk – and look – and shoot.  We are only sharing a few from Warsaw for now…

We wrapped up the trip with a few days each in St. Petersburg and then Moscow, Russia.  We have lots we could say about our visit but will withhold here.  Weather was not the best, we were rushed (beyond our control), and had a few locals that were less than friendly with us.  Even with all that we still we happy to come home with a some images we like.  Hope you do too.

_E7A3404 St. Basil's Moscow1 web ready

St. Basil’s – Moscow, Russia

Hope you enjoy the quick trip with us.  We have a blast on all our trips and have some excellent ones coming up – Uganda for the mountain gorillas, Tanzania, Cuba, Japan, Indochina, China, New Zealand, Myanmar & Thailand, and more.  Let us know which one interests you.

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

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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.

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Lounging gazelle

_E7A7889 Zebra face web ready.jpg

Zebra

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.

Cambodia: Ancient Temples, Floating Villages

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

155B5198Canon 5D MK III, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8, Lexar Digital Film, Black Rapid Sport, Clik Elite Pro Express

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Making noodles at the market.  Great skill too.

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

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

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

Good Morning Vietnam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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