What a wonderful evening last Saturday at the Borrego Art Institute at a reception to cap off a monthlong exhibition of my photographs from Mongolia and the launch of my book Mongolia: Beneath the Eternal Blue Sky. The location for the exhibition was selected to highlight the sister relationship between the Anza Borrego State Park and the Ikh Nart Nature Reserve in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia. Among the many guests were the Consul General and Vice Consul from the Mongolian Consulate in San Francisco. In addition to the 28 images on display, I was pleased to present a half-hour slideshow to provide additional context to this fascinating country.
I'm really pleased to be launching a brand-new website to display my photography - cleaner, less cluttered, but with quite a lot of new content. Please take a look around and let me know what you think. I would love it if you liked, shared or commented below!
It's been two weeks since we arrived in San Francisco to complete our awesome ride across the US. I just finished a compilation of daily photos and emails from the trip that can be viewed by clicking here. It's in the form of a glossy magazine with several photos per page, so it's best viewed expanded on a larger screen.
Just back from the ride of a lifetimeRead More
A write up and some photos of my Baku photo exhibition were picked up in this Azerbaijani website
We had a great event last night at the opening reception of my Baku photos at the Meyer Fine Art gallery in San Diego. Here are a couple of photos with my wife and with some of the performers of traditional Azerbaijan music who will be in concert at the Balboa Theater in San Diego tonight.
A WEEK IN BAKU
In March of this year I was invited by the Nasimi District of Azerbaijan’s capital city of Baku and Azerbaijan’s Consulate General in Los Angeles to visit Baku and shoot photographs “from the perspective of a San Diegan.” Prior to my visit I, like most Americans, knew relatively little about Baku or Azerbaijan. A brief search uncovered some interesting facts.
Thanks to its strategic position on the Caspian Sea, Baku has a long history at the crossroads of civilizations, cultures and religions. Its strategic importance and its natural resources have led to Baku being fought over many times over the centuries, including a turbulent period during the Soviet era. In the early twentieth century, prior to the discovery of the Arabian oil fields, almost half of the world’s oil production came from Baku, making huge fortunes for the Nobel brothers, Rothschilds and others; and oil is still the lifeblood of Azerbaijan’s economy.
Baku’s diverse past was clearly evident throughout the city. Parts of it reminded me of an elegant European capital with elaborate 19th century facades; the Old City has its winding streets, fortifications and palaces dating back to the 12th century; the back streets feel more Middle Eastern in character; recently, innovative modern architecture is springing up in an impressive construction boom; and dotted about the city are more somber Soviet era buildings.
The population is predominately Muslim, but synagogues and churches can also be found in the city. Each religion has its adherents, but they seem to be moderate in their devotion, and tolerant and respectful of each other. Conveniently, a friendly “Salam” greeting works in every situation and at any time of day.
My stay in Baku coincided with the spring festival of Novruz, a weeklong holiday with celebrations throughout the city. I spent eight days there – long days of exploring and shooting from before dawn until well into the evening. Eight days is both a short and a long period of time: short because it’s impossible to capture the scope and variety of such a diverse place in just over a week; long because even after just one week I had accumulated a large trove of images and then faced the difficult task of selecting a mere 25 for this exhibition.
This show represents the images that I found interesting, moving or somehow illustrative of the character of Baku. There are many iconic sights in Baku that provide ample photographic opportunities. However, interspersed among the sights, I have included images that capture the feel of the place and the friendliness of the people. Even shooting the ground beneath my feet was an interesting and varied experience!
Baku was a relative mystery to me before this trip. Some of the mystery is lifted, but I feel that much more remains to be discovered.
I'm really excited to have a solo photo exhibition of images I shot on a recent trip to Baku.
I was commissioned by the Azerbaijan Consulate to visit Baku and take photos from the perspective of a San Diegan.
The show is at the Meyer Fine Art Inc gallery in Little Italy in San Diego and runs for three weeks starting May 8th. Please come and take a look.
I just got back home from my photography trip to Azerbaijan (which was combined with a previously planned trip to Beirut and Istanbul).
My visit coincided with the spring festival of Novruz I got the opportunity to shoot many interesting and varied images of the city and its inhabitants. I was really surprised by the diversity of the city, with parts of it reminding me of Europe, the Middle East, the Emirates and Russia. And the peaceful coexistence of Jews and Christians in a predominately Muslim country was a welcome sight.
I now have a few thousand photos to go through and pull together an exhibition in May! Lots of work ahead, but it will be fun. Here are a few.
In a couple of days I am leaving for a week in Baku, Azerbaijan. I have been commissioned by the Azerbaijan Consulate in Los Angeles to take photos of and put on an exhibition in May in San Diego. I'm really looking forward to it.
I was in Maui last week. Here are a few of photos that illustrate the range of landscapes found on this island...The rainforest on the northern side of Maui and a view inside the volcanic basin of Mt. Haleakala.
I will be giving a pair of photography workshops at the San Diego Fair this Sunday, June 14.
12:30-1:30 pm – Planning & Taking Travel Photographs
The first of a two-part presentation will cover the planning and preparation for a photo trip or while on vacation; and provide tips for shooting while traveling. It is intended to help photographers capture interesting images that can then be turned into compelling collections or books in the next session.
2:00-3:00 pm – Creating Compelling Travel Photography Books
The second session will focus on how to create photography books using examples from my recently published book La Jolla: A Photographic Journey and several other self-published books from travels to Italy, China, Vietnam and India. I will cover some of the technical as well as aesthetic choices involved in turning a collection of images into an interesting and coherent book.
The workshops will be held in the Veranda Cafe on the 2nd Floor of the East Grandstand, and are free
I got back about a week ago from a wonderful trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. I went with my wife and another couple and spent about two and a half weeks there.
It was a very varied trip that had us starting in Hanoi in the north, working our way southward and then moving over to Cambodia. Along the way we spent a night on a large junk in Halong Bay; two overnight train trips to and from Sapa in the northern highlands near the Chinese border; a few of days in Hue and Hoi An in the central part of the country; a couple of days in and around Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) before spending several days traveling through the Mekong Delta; then on to Phnom Penh by boat and from there a short flight to Siem Reap, home of Angkor Wat and numerous other amazing temples.
There were tons of photographic opportunities all along the way. As usual, I tried to make the most of them by getting up early and staying out late. So I was rewarded with lots of night shots, many of which are of things my travel companions never saw. (Apparently, I missed out on some really great foot massages, but as photographers we have to make choices.)
Here are a couple of examples of the shots I took:
In just over a week, I’m going to Vietnam and Cambodia and wanted to describe the photography gear I’ll be taking with me.
I’ll be going with my wife and another couple. We have travelled well together before, so I have a pretty good idea of how much photography I’ll be able to do. My favorite times to shoot are early in the morning and late in the afternoon and evening, so I usually get a few hours a day to myself, in addition to the normal touring times together during the day. (I come back exhausted, but happy.) Since I do get a generous amount of time to shoot, I have decided to take a fair bit of kit with me.
Here’s the big stuff, in order of priority:
Nikon D800 Body (not light, but fantastic)
Nikkor 24-120 mm f4 wide angle zoom (the one that’s usually on the camera)
MeFoto travel tripod (typically gets a lot of use during the early morning and evening)
Rokinon 14mm f2.8 (economical, but works well for superwide panoramas and interior shots)
Nikkor 70-300 mm f4.5-5.6 telephoto zoom (which I use less and less these days)
Nikon SB 700 speedlight (nice to have, but doesn’t get used much when I’m travelling – may leave it behind)
Nikkor 50 mm f1.8 (for low light and shallow depth of field)
A few small accessories:
Polarizing filter for the wide angle zoom
Neutral grey card (for setting white balance in unusual lighting conditions)
Collapsible 22” reflector (optional, but it’s so light; will take it if I bring the speedlight)
Then there are the supplies:
3 camera batteries
8 AA batteries for flash (4 in use plus 4 spare)
288 GB of memory cards (the D800 takes SD and CF cards)
Small flash light
And the storage (for photo gear and data):
Ruggard messenger bag with heavy-duty shoulder pad (as though that’s going to make a difference)
Rick Steves travel backpack (which I use if I’m just going out touring with minimal photo equipment)
Acer Aspire One netbook (for daily backups and staying connected)
What I’ve been doing on recent trips is not carrying all my gear all the time, but making educated selections. For example, I’ll take the tripod in the early morning and evening, but will leave it at the hotel during the day. Also, I usually won’t take the telephoto zoom with me in the morning and evening, unless I know there is something specific I need it for.
Also, a word about my memory strategy; I try to take enough cards to see me through the whole trip; the D800 shoots large 36 megapixel images (about 45MB each) so my 288 GB of cards will get me over 6000 images, which has always been enough for a two week trip. I back them up each night, but do not delete anything until I get home and have them all safely uploaded to my computer and backed up to an external hard drive.
And here’s one more thing I’ve been doing to remember where I took each photo. The D800 is a fantastic camera, but it doesn’t have a built in GPS. There are various solutions out there for plug in devices, but I wasn’t too keen on any of them. So I have been using an iPhone app called GeotagPhotos, which is great. You have to make sure that your phone and camera are set to the same time. The app tracks your movements, and when you get back home it assigns GPS coordinates to each photo based on where it knows you were when the photo was taken.
Please leave a comment if you find any of this useful or interesting.
I can send you back composite images to show you how it would look with different sized prints hanging on it…
If possible, please take the photo from directly in front and at right angles to the wall. Also, give me a couple of key dimensions, so I can scale the photo correctly (e.g. the height and/or width of the wall or any major feature). I think you’ll find this a very useful way to visualize the piece in your own home.
My photography trip to Italy this year was very different from the one in 2013, so I thought it would be interesting to compare those two trips. In 2013, I toured around northern Italy for 16 days. In 2014, I spent about the same amount of time, but split it between Rome and Barcelona. In 2013, I rented a car, had a very detailed and aggressive itinerary, stayed in 8 different towns (Milan, Bergamo, Padua, Venice, Montepulciano, San Gimignano, Florence and Cinque Terra) and stopped in several more (Verona, Vincenza, Ravenna, Siena and Genoa). In 2014, I spent my Italian week without a car entirely in Rome, with just a single day trip to Naples.
The change of pace was by choice. I thought I would slow things down a bit and spend a more leisurely time soaking up the atmosphere while taking photographs. However it didn’t work out that way. In 2013, I was either walking around all day or driving between towns. In 2014, I rented a city bike and spent many hours each day cycling and walking, which was at least as strenuous as last year. As you can tell from the photos below, my favorite times to shoot are early in the morning and late in the evening, so on both trips the days were long. But since the days were a little shorter in October, the schedule in 2014 was a little less punishing.
The major difference between the trips was the amount of variety I encountered. Rome is a wonderful city and I think I could happily spend the rest of my life there. But it is just one city, and it cannot hope to match the visual variety that the northern half of Italy can offer. Also, I was lucky in 2013 to experience a wide range of weather and lighting conditions, and even a flood in Venice. I came back from my 16-day 2013 trip with about 4,500 images that resulted in a 240-page book. This year, my 7 days in Rome yielded about 1,500 images from which I have so far produced a more modest 60-page book of black and white images. (You can see both in the Books page.)
I had a great time in Italy and Spain this year, but northern Italy last year remains the benchmark by which I will continue to judge my photography trips. I realized that taking it easy doesn’t really work for me (not yet, anyway). I want my days to be jam-packed and will end up making them that way, even if I set out with a different objective in mind.
I plan to talk more about photography trip preparation in subsequent posts, but one of the key first steps in planning such a trip is to know yourself. How much do you want to put into it and what do you want to get out of it? In my case, I know I’ll be dialing it back up a notch next time around.
Just got back from a great trip to Europe a few days ago. I spent a week each in Rome and Barcelona – two of my favorite cities. The main purpose of the trip was photography, but I managed to also do a lot of cycling (my primary mode of transportation) and my fair share of sampling the local food and wines.
I was travelling on my own, just because no-one else would put up with my crazy schedule of out before dawn and back late at night – and the whole time in between either on the bike or walking (or eating and drinking). At least in October the days aren’t as long, so it’s a bit less exhausting than trying to do the same thing in June.
I’ve started sorting through the photos and I’m thinking of doing a couple of collections – black and white from Rome, shot mainly at night and early morning, and color from Barcelona, highlighting the vibrant art and architecture.
Here’s a sample of what I’m thinking as the theme for each one.
I currently have an exhibition of about 25 framed prints at the La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla, and last night was the opening reception. We had a great night. Thanks La V and all who attended!
Here are a few photos from early on in the evening. The exhibition will be on display until January. I hope you can stop by if you haven’t already.
I did a presentation and book signing of my La Jolla book last night at Warwick’s Bookstore.
The presentation went very well and was really enjoyable. The audience was a nice size and very appreciative. I got a lot of positive comments, which is always nice. Several people told me that they had bought multiple copies, and one lady had already bought 8 copies as gifts! I had a great time and now I can’t wait to hang the photos at the La Valencia hotel for the exhibition opening on the 24th.