Travel Photography

Yeah I travel lots. In fact I travel way too much. Most of my travel is for my full time job. The job part of that statement gets in the way during the travel part. I have been doing it for 16 years or so now. But it feels like 60 some days.

The other travel I do for vacations and photography workshops is the fun travel. Although even the travel part of that statement is starting to get old.

So one of the questions I hear most often when I tell folks I am off on another business trip is “are you taking your camera?” Well yes and no is my answer usually. They look at me as if I just told them their underwear was on backwards. Then comes the explanation part. I have to explain what I mean when I say these thought provoking (aka dumb ass) statements.

My work trips are not, normally, very long. In other words I normally don’t travel longer than 5 days a week. I usually leave on a Monday (always fun with the other 63 million people traveling on the same day) and return on the Friday. Given that, I have to consider the following points when deciding if I am taking a camera or A Camera:

How much “free” time will I have?

Where am I going and does it matter?

Am I working days or nights?

So lets first look at the last part of my statement above where I mention if I am taking a camera or A Camera. Some folks out there don’t consider a camera to be a camera unless it is a DSLR with all kinds of gizmos and gadgets and expensive stuff attached to it. Other folks, like me, know that the best camera is the one you have with you. So when I say a camera I mean either my phone (which I always have anyway) or a small point & shoot. When I say A Camera, I mean a DSLR. This is not a discussion about gear or stuff so lets leave it there shall we.

So back to my considerations. First off, how much free time will I have. Most times that is not an easy question to answer and sometimes it falls into the “am I working days or nights or both (at the same time).” If I know ahead of time I will have some free time, then the DSLR light bulb may come on. And if I have nights available that can sometimes be the deciding factor for the DSLR (camera phones and point & shoots are crappy for night shooting).

However I think the biggest deciding factor is where am I going. If I am heading to Calgary for example, and know I will have some time to head out to the Rockies, then the DSLR gets the nod. But if I am heading to Somewhere, PA and I have never been there and I have no time to research it, then most likely the DSLR will stay safely tucked away in its bag and either the point & shoot will come out or just the phone will be used.

If we stop for a moment and look at travel for photography workshops. The fun stuff I was talking about earlier. When I sign up for a workshop, I always know that the folks that are running the workshop have been to this location(s) at least once before the actual workshop. They have taken a couple of images (5 or 10 thousand) and have done their research about where to find the best, and coldest, beer. So where was I going with this? Oh yeah…research. Travel photography is about the only genre of photography that you really can’t do a lot of research for. I mean if you know exactly where you are going, you can check out places and so forth. But usually your time at a place is limited, so you have to jump in, feet first. You can’t worry about weather, light or locked gates. You have to hope that everything cooperates and you walk away with some shots that worked out. Rarely does it happen, but when it does, you thump your chest and exclaim to the world “I Photographer…you…mere mortal.”

Travel photography can be stressful if you let it be. You happen to end up somewhere you have seen online, and you think to yourself…”self, I need to get that shot of the Milky Way coming out of the top of the mountain like I saw in National Geographic.” You work your magic and still all you have is a bunch of burry dots on your iPhone. You need to be practical. Or steal a perfectly good shot from another photographer. (not that I am condoning that…just saying…)

For me, doing photography on work trips is never a lot of fun. I have had some moments, like a couple of years ago, when I was invited to shoot some ice climbers with Paul Zizka and the Northern Lights decided to put on a show. But carrying all the stuff for work trips and then having to haul a camera bag and a tripod along as well can be a pain, mostly in the back and shoulders. But I love doing photography on work trips ‘cause it is my stress relief. When I have had a rough day, if I know I can get out, even for an hour or so, and go shooting, it puts a big grin on my face.

If you are planning a vacation and want to turn it into a photography vacation, then you need to do your research, and have some patience. Depending on where you are going, the time of year, the weather and how long you have, will all be factors in whether you walk away with some great shots, or frustration. One of the biggest mistakes that folks who are going on a one or two week vacation make, is going somewhere with pre-conceived notions about what they can expect to find because this is what they saw online. If you get somewhere and the weather is sucky, don’t be sad. Pull out the camera condom and shoot away…err photograph I mean. Sometimes nasty weather can lead to great shots, or expensive camera repairs. If you get somewhere and the gates are locked and you forgot the bolt cutters, don’t sweat it. The bear was probably sleeping anyway.

Travel should be a joy. It should be educational and rewarding. And it is. But it is like anything, you have to be prepared and you have to be able to adapt. Go on, travel and have fun! Take lots of pics and throw 98% of them in the trash. But the 2% you keep…well they will be magical. And most of all, look away from the camera and enjoy the place you are in. For you might never return but your memories will always be there.

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“I only had my phone with me”

A recent quote from David duChemin is indeed something that has been on my mind for a while now. He says and I quote “What we lack is not better cameras but better photographers”. I so agree with that statement. Lately I have been seeing a lot of posts from people saying “oh look at this or look at that but I only had my phone with me”…
 
Really? You only had your phone with you? So it is not good enough?
 
No I believe your phone is a perfectly good camera. It is you who is doubting the capabilities of yourself or the camera. The camera is only a tool to achieve an end result. I can drive a nail in to a piece of wood with a $5 hammer from a dollar store or a $50 hammer from Home Depot.
 
I have literally taken 1000’s of images with my phone(s). Maybe I can’t print them wall size, but that would not be the purpose anyway. The purpose is to capture the moment.
 
Another favourite quote of mine is “It’s not the camera you have, it is the camera you have with you.”
 
Don’t let the type of camera you have stop you from creating. Don’t see with your camera, see with your eyes.
 
Image shot on my iPhone from a moving car (passenger seat)

Lightroom Course – 2017

Hello everyone,

I am teaching my beginner Lightroom course on January 7, 2017 out of my home in Hamilton. If you would like to attend please follow the link below.

https://photobycraig.wordpress.com/photography-courses/lightroom-course/

 

What Makes Someone a Good Teacher?

I teach photography courses out of my home and in the field. I have no formal training, never went to school for it, but I love it. Why?

I have been asked a few times why I enjoy teaching. There is no simple answer to that question. I consider myself a decent photographer. I am by no means amazing, technically gifted or anything else. But I have a passion for it. I absolutely love to be behind the camera, capturing the beauty that surrounds all of us every day. Okay, you enjoy photography, but how does that make you want to teach it to others? Simply put, I love to see the smile on someone’s face when they see the result of an image they have taken out in the field on one of my excursions. I love to hear the “wow..that worked!” I love to see the fist pumping and the high fives when people make images they are happy with. Being able to pass knowledge onto others is not only rewarding, but makes me happy as a person. Most times when I am in the field teaching, I don’t take a single image. I may set up my camera to show others a composition, but for the most part, I am there to help. 

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What makes someone a good teacher? What makes you want to go and learn from that person? 

Knowing a lot about a particular subject does not necessarily make someone a good teacher. It is having the ability to pass that knowledge onto others in a manner that makes them want to learn. Everyone wants to learn throughout their lifetimes. It is being human that makes us want to learn something new. Some teachers will teach in a way that is boring. They will drone on about the subject, without having any emotion. Others will teach by telling you their way is the only way. And others will teach you in a demeaning way. Criticize you and bring you down. I have been taught by all 3 types of teachers and it is not a lot of fun. But I have also been taught by those who are passionate about their subject. They show real emotion, they are friendly and funny and they just love to teach. I try to be a teacher like that. 

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If you have ever taken any of my courses you will know that I avoid handing out criticism, constructive or otherwise.  Many photographers will tell you that constructive criticism is the only way you will learn. I don’t agree with that. I think many people will learn by making mistakes and by learning from those mistakes. We all make mistakes, each and every day. It is up to you to learn from those. Photography is an art form. And as such, it is completely open to interpretation of the subject matter. You can sit 10 people down, show them the same image, and perhaps 5 will like it and 5 will not. There are literally hundreds of reasons why one image may appeal to someone and not appeal to someone else. All images are completely subjective. Everyone has their own opinion and it is their right to like or dislike an image. I will always help you when you take my courses. I will show you the way I do something, or how I approach a scene, or how I set up for a particular image. But I will never, ever tell you that is how you must do it as well. For it is up to you. You may not like the image I have composed and you may find one that appeals to you. That is perfectly fine. That is what learning is all about. That is what finding your path and growing creatively means. 

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This coming year I will be introducing 2 brand new courses! Stay tuned!

Life Through The Lens – Part II – May 29 Image

This evening I taught another photography class for Burlington Beach Rentals down at the waterfront. The participants had a great time. One of the lessons was stopping action. This shot is from some very dirty (and smelly) water splashing down at the beach. 

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Life Through The Lens – Part II – May 14 Image

Here is another shot from last nights Photographing The Night Sky course I and fellow photographer Mike Kukchucska taught at Binbrook Conservation Area in Hamilton.

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