November 30, 2010. I participated in the 9th annual East Austin Studio Tour (E.A.S.T.) Nov. 13-21, exhibiting my photographs in a working studio venue for two successive weekends. Although I had exhibited a few of my photos in a handful of one-day exhibitions over the past two years, this was my first full-fledged attempt to work a multi-day show with a substantial number of my prints. The response was very gratifying. I received many good comments and sold 10 prints out of the 27 that were hung for the show. Most of these were sold to people I had never met before, all the more rewarding to a beginner in the art show world!
October 30, 2010. My wife and I and three close friends have just returned from a trip to Egypt Oct. 13-24. This was a whirlwind tour of many of the major cultural and historic sites from the Great Pyramid of Giza to the awe-inspiring temple of Abu Simbel on Lake Nasser, including a five day cruise on the Nile from Luxor to Aswan. We went with our favorite travel company, Wilderness Travel, of Berkeley, California, with an excellent Egyptian leader from Cairo and two other couples, making a total group size of ten. The tourist crowds were thick almost everywhere, and the heat (into the triple digits) was much higher than expected at this time of year, but the sights were so magnificent that none of this seemed to detract from the experience.
Photographic opportunities were everywhere, even out the window of our moving bus (with a very fast shutter speed!). The fast pace of an organized tour and the needs of all the other participants makes photography difficult and somewhat frustrating at times. Once in a lifetime scenes and vignettes pass by and dissolve into the distance as I struggle to frame and focus, all the while trying not to be left behind by the steadily moving group. One has to accept the fact that all cannot be captured by the photographer and it is probably better to take care with what we choose to photograph, rather than snapping hastily at every exotic opportunity that flits by. That said, I took well over 2000 photos in the twelve days, of which I processed only about 250 for possible use in slide shows or as prints. So I probably did not practice what I preach! But good photography is every bit as much about editing as it is about making the initial shots. You must learn to recognize and unemotionally remove all but your very best material to maintain the standards you set for yourself.
August 16, 2010. I recently returned from a trip to Tahiti in French Polynesia where we witnessed a total eclipse of the sun at sea, and also visited several of the main islands. Photographing the eclipse from the deck of a moving ship presented some challenges, but turned out reasonably well. However, should this opportunity ever present itself again, I would use a faster set of bracketed shutter speeds to better capture the various subtleties of the corona, and combine them into a single "high dynamic range" (HDR) photo. This technique is being increasingly used to produce spectacular photos that more closely match what the human eye sees, or even beyond.
Another very interesting aspect of the trip to Tahiti was the opportunity to snorkel and do underwater photography. I decided to undertake that activity with the Canon G11 camera that I have been using for some time. So I purchased a plastic housing made by Canon that protects the camera down to at least 100'. I used this camera rig, without flash, from the surface down to about 10' and then color corrected the resulting photos in Photoshop. The camera was set for high depth of field (f 7.1 - 8) and fast shutter speed (about 1/500 sec), and usually used at maximum wide angle (about 28 mm). Ideally you are trying to get within a couple of feet of your subjects for best clarity and color. There is also a setting to take VGA movies, and while those also turned out well, it would be preferable to have Hi Def capability.
June 10, 2010. I have just returned from a two week trip to Greece. Although this was more of a tourist-type vacation with friends rather than a photography-oriented excursion, I did manage to take almost 1000 photos with my compact Canon G11 camera. I am posting a few of the more interesting ones in the Recent Work category and also placing them in a permanent Greece file under Foreign Travel. Photography on this sort of "vacation" trip is definitely a challenge, not necessarily in the sense of photo opportunities, but in having the time to absorb the sense of place and take meaningful photos rather than just "snapshots". Also, choosing to leave the SLR, several lenses and a standard tripod behind, bringing only the compact camera (and a backup), limits somewhat the variety and quality of photos that are possible. Nevertheless, a photographer should not be deterred from making the best of such a situation. Indeed most travel photography is a compromise based on available time and mobility. Transportation schedules, weather, chance events and other factors can conspire against (or for) the best laid plans. But there is a lot of truth in the old cliche' of "f8 and be there", and you may find that no matter how limited you are in time and equipment, "magic" moments will often present themselves to be captured.