Archive for Europe

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, 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.

_E7A0765 Hand in Berlin web ready

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:

_E7A0814 Berlin Wall faces escaping web ready

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.


Scotland in the Spring

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

Who doesn’t like Scottish Shortbread?

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

Who doesn't love Scottish wool sweaters?

Who doesn’t love Scottish wool sweaters?

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

The most photographed castle in Scotland.

The most photographed castle in Scotland.

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

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

Highland cow with an itch.

Highland cow with an itch.

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

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

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

Abandoned boats on Tobermory.

Abandoned boats on Tobermory.

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

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

Staffa and her famous cave…

Fingal's Cave & Staffa Island Scotland.

Fingal’s Cave & Staffa Island Scotland.

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

Eilean Donan castle reflection at low water.

Eilean Donan castle reflection at low water.

Eilean Donan castle and bridge walk way with rocks.

Eilean Donan castle and bridge walk way with rocks.

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

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

The beautiful bay of Iona Island.

The beautiful bay of Iona Island.

Iona Island bay with Abbey included.

Iona Island bay with Abbey included.

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

Iona Abbey stained-glass.

Iona Abbey stained-glass.

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

Tobermory colored homes.

Tobermory colored homes.

Edinburgh night street scene.

Edinburgh night street scene.

Restricted Photo Gear

Posted in Africa, African Safari, Angkor Thom, Angkor Wat, Ankor Thom, Art, better my photography, Cambodia, Canon, China, Ethiopia, Europe, how to photography, Iceland, Iguazu, Indochina, Italy, Japan, Laos, learn photography, Machu Picchu, National Park Photo Workshops, National Parks, New Zealand, Nikko Japan, Patagonia, photo tours, photo workshops, Photographer, Photography, photography skills, Photography tips, photography workshops, Pro Photographer, Pro Photography, Professional Photographer, Terracotta Warriors, Travel, Travel Photography, Turkey, Tuscany, Vietnam with tags , , , , , , on May 13, 2011 by mmphototours

A few times a year we find ourselves at different locations around the country offering travel photography seminars and presentations.  We discuss many different things, what to take, how to pack, how to travel efficiently, travel photo tips, and images from past trips…but one topic that people always enjoy is “Restricted Photo Gear”.

Many photographers don’t realize that certain locations have restrictions on photography gear whether it be size, type or weight. The last thing you want, for example, is to show up to Machu Picchu for your photographic adventure of a lifetime only to be turned away at the entrance because you have 200+mm lenses. It is very important to “know before you go” and for that reason we would like to share a list of restrictions in a few areas. Take note this is not a complete list, and you should research each specific location you will be visiting.

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (aka Ayers Rock) – Under Australian law, namely the EPBC Act of 1999 and EPBC Regs 2000, fines in the thousands of dollars can be imposed upon commercial photographers who take pictures in the national park without a permit or who take pictures of the ‘wrong’ parts of the national park. Some restrictions apply to amateur photography as well.

A person does not have the right to not be photographed in Australia; as Australia has no Bill of Rights in the sense that many other countries do, there is no guaranteed right to privacy. This does not however mean that it is a free-for-all. Be kind, courteous and aware of others. If you are on private property you must follow the rules dictated by the owner.

New Zealand 
Restrictions on photography come into play when it may be construed as “offensive” to a reasonable person.

The Sistine Chapel in Vatican City
– prohibits all still and video photography.

You can photograph anything in public but if you plan on publishing it the subject must give consent. Street photography has been essentially rendered illegal.

You are allowed to take photographs of private property from public property, but once upon private property, the owner has ultimate control over whether or whether not you are allowed to photograph, even if it is publicly accessible.

Locations such as Trafalgar Square, Parliament Square, or any of the Royal Parks allow recreational or artistic photographs. Commercial photography of these locations is prohibited.

The UK forbids any photography that may somehow prove of use to terrorists.

United States
US National Parks – Permit requirements vary by park for commercial photography. Non-commercial or amateur photographers are free to shoot in the parks. You may be questioned if you are using tripods or other “professional” equipment. There are exceptions for “educational” groups. 

Alaska – Bush planes restrict weight of all equipment and luggage.  Check with your tour operator or M&M.

Machu Picchu – Professional looking large tripods and lenses are restricted in the Machu Picchu complex. There have been many instances where photographers where charged upwards of $300 for every large tripod and lens larger than 200mm. A possible way around this is to use “Tele-zoom lenses”. They are great to use at Machu Picchu instead of the prime lenses.  

Authorities sometimes ask for “permit fees” for street photography of government buildings.
Police/Military do not like their pictures taken. Please contribute to making photographers reputations better by following their wishes.

While crossing the border sometimes authorities may restrict gear and/or demand a fee. 

In Islamic countries photographing women is forbidden.

Terra Cotta Warriors – No tripods of any size are permitted inside the buildings that house the Terra Cotta Warriors. If caught using one it will be confiscated without warning and will not be returned.

Authorities sometimes ask for “permit fees” for street photography of government buildings.

Chinese Police/Military do not like their pictures taken. Please contribute to making photographers reputations better by following their wishes.

Authorities do not allow pictures of military installations and many government buildings.

Anyone taking very expensive photographic gear into Egypt, particularly if they are professionals, should contact the Egyptian Press Office in their Egyptian consulate.  Equipment must often be registered, because the government does not want such equipment bought into Egypt and then sold without paying customs taxes.  They will check this gear upon arrival and check it upon departure.  CUSTOMS FORM 4457 is VITAL.

Photos cannot be taken INSIDE the pyramids, tombs and most museums in Egypt without a permit.  Your gear may be confiscated and you may be fined.

While crossing the border authorities may restrict gear and demand a fee.  Restrictions vary in Gaza areas depending on local activities.

Galapagos Islands 
Officials do not restrict any specific equipment but often limits the length of time you take to “set-up” your tripods and equipment according to wildlife, flora and access for others.  Common sense should rule the day.

Without a permit you are restricted to shooting during the mid-day hours. This is often solved by being with a tour group who has already acquired the appropriate permits.

Flights into Patagonia (Argentina or Chile) restrict weight of all equipment and luggage. Check with the airline or M&M.

Allowed gear: 1 camera with film rolls (up to 20 rolls), 1 video camera/camcorder with accessories as personal items.  M&M works with in country vendors to ensure we do not have any issues upon arrival.  FORM 4457!

May restrict any/all of our camera gear into the country.  The Ethiopian government has a reputation for locking up camera equipment and not giving it back until the owners leave the country.  The government fears any media that may make them out to be corrupt or irresponsible.  Our ground vendor takes care of our “permits” in advance so we do not have any issues. FORM 4457 is a must for Ethiopia as well.

Tripods are no longer allowed (signs are posted) at the following Temples/Shrines in Kyoto: 
Kiyomizu Temple
Ginkaku Shrine (Silver Pavillion)
Kinkaku Shrine (Golden Pavillion)

North Korea
Please be aware that tourists are under very strict regulations as to what they can and cannot do and this is not negotiable. For example, you are not free to wander around on your own, there are photographic restrictions and video cameras are generally prohibited. There have been serious problems in the past with journalists and therefore they are not welcome.

Generally you are only supposed to take pictures of what your appointed guides allow you to. The public is obliged to report all photography.

Your are restricted from taking photographs of: soldiers, check points, poverty, sneaked photos, while driven around and close ups of people.

Do not take your camera with you if you are alone and without a guide.

Any lens over 150mm is not allowed in the country.

Most Countries
You are almost guaranteed to find trouble if you photograph anything that could be perceived as being of military or security interest — including bridges, airfields, military installations, government buildings or government vehicles. This could result in being detained and questioned, along with hefty fines and confiscation of the camera.

In Conclusion
The best option for anyone out there is to join a photo tour who has already obtained the proper permits, can provide you a list of restrictions and advise you while you are out shooting.

If you ever need any help you can always call M&M Photo Tours. We are ready and willing to help.  Also feel free to email us ( with any inquiries. To stay informed of changes ask to be signed up for our news letter.