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Your Feet are your best Transportation

PV_CanonF1_Slide--5 One thing we do a lot of is walking when we travel. By walking, we can take our time and stop at the places that interest us. We can also explore areas off the beaten path, so to speak, and discover areas less frequented by the regular crowds. With the photography that I like to do, getting away from the main tourist thoroughfares is important to get some ‘real life scenes’ type of photographs. I love the common, everyday, what people do type of shots that can be difficult to find in the high tourist traffic areas. This means I have to do a lot of exploring off the beaten track. Relax Prior to our trip to Europe, we spent a lot of time researching Paris and London to get an idea of where we would like to visit. Being that this was our first trip to these cities, the locations, for the most part, were the popular tourist areas. We did choose hotels in each city that were well located for seeing the popular attractions as well as easy access to the city transit systems, the Metro of Paris and the Tube in London. I also researched the use of these and the first thing we did in Paris was buy a 10 pack of tickets and in London, an oyster card. We didn’t even use up the 10 tickets in Paris even though we were out exploring every day, rain or shine. Our hotel was about a 10 minute walk to The Louvre museum and only a couple of blocks away from the Tuileries Gardens. From here we could walk to many different areas that we wanted to see. In London, our hotel was right beside St Paul’s Cathedral, about a 15 min walk to the Thames River Walkway. We were also a 5 min walk to the St Paul’s Tube station where we could easily travel to areas of the city that were too far to walk to where, after a brief tube ride, we could wander at our leisure and have lots of time to do so. DSCF2983-2 The great part about walking to a set destination is that you find many different interesting places along the way. For the most part, I don’t pay attention to the time when wondering around. I rarely have a set time for any place that I have to worry about so if I detour for a while, I’m not messing up a schedule. Many of my favorite shots were taken during the journey to a destination, not the destination itself.  PV_Bessa_Slide--4 PV_12_11-1341 There have been occasions where we have booked a tour to get a good idea of the different areas of a city and we could then revisit locations that interested us and explore further at our leisure. We did this in Havana and Puerto Vallarta. Unfortunately, we did not have enough time in Havana to revisit some of the areas that we would have liked to but someday hope to return there and do so. We have visited Puerto Vallarta many times now and are very comfortable getting around there but still make new discoveries with every trip.  Many of the side streets and small markets that are great for photography would have remained unknown if we hadn’t done a lot of walking around.  In Havana, part of our city tour was a walking tour of Old Havana but it was done at a quick pace and there are many areas that I would love to revisit and explore off the path we took. HavanaStreet5 HavanaStreet6 I guess my suggestion for less experienced travelers would be to book a city tour early during your visit, make note of places you see that you would like to explore, then get out there and walk lots. Check out anything that looks interesting. Most important of all, don’t leave your hotel without your camera. PV_Bessa_Slide--2

Black and White in Travel images

London St Katherine Docks - Fujifilm X-Pro1

London St Katherine Docks – Fujifilm X-Pro1

So, do I process the image as color or black & white? This is a question I ask after choosing one of the images from my day of shooting. A lot of times I choose color because when traveling to a new place, the colors are an integral part of my first impressions and the feel of the location.   A color image gives a real life representation in a photographic format. “This is what I saw so this is what I’m showing to you.” When sharing travel images, this can be important because for some, that image is the only representation they will ever see of that place so including all aspects of the scene, including the various colors, is essential.

Las Vegas  New York New York Hotel and Casino - Fujifilm X100S

Las Vegas New York New York Hotel and Casino – Fujifilm X100S

There are images where I have made the effort to get out early in the morning to capture the scene in a certain light. With these images, color is an important part of the composition. I do consider color or Black & White as composition elements that need to be considered when making my images.

Paris Seine River - Fujifilm X-Pro1

Paris Seine River – Fujifilm X-Pro1

So why do I process a lot of my shots as black & white? Well sometimes the colors are out of whack or practically nonexistent like in some of my nighttime photos. Sometimes, the colors are very distracting and overwhelm the subject that I’m actually trying to convey. And sometimes I just like the look of black & white for that particular image. In these cases, it is purely subjective based on my tastes. It is my image after all. No one paid me to get the image. I took it simply because I wanted that image and I made it black & white because I prefer the look of it in black & white or something inside me said that it just needed to be black & white. This should be true for anyone taking pictures of anything. They are your pictures and unless you are hired to take them, you should process them based on how you feel about the image.

Paris street - Fujifilm X100s

Paris street – Fujifilm X100s

Lastly, I love to experiment. Sometimes you can really discover something new in you image and also, it’s a lot of fun.

London iconic phone booth - Fujifilm X-Pro1

London iconic phone booth – Fujifilm X-Pro1

There have been times when I took a shot thinking it would be a black and white image but after getting it on the computer decided to keep it color.

Las Vegas Harrods Hotel and Casino - Fujifilm X100s

Las Vegas Harrods Hotel and Casino – Fujifilm X100s

As a footnote, I have to add that on one trip to Puerto Vallarta I took along 2 film cameras, a Voigtlander R4a rangefinder and a Canon F1 SLR. I also took 10 rolls of film, 2 color and 8 black and white. I scanned the negatives into the computer for processing. In the case of color film, I have a choice of keeping them color or processing them in Black & White. I don’t have that choice with the Black and White film but it gives me a unique look to the image that I have not been quite able to duplicate with digital camera shots. That unique look is also true in the case of the color images when using certain films. Finally, by shooting film I am forced to slow down, think about what I’m doing to nail the exposure and the content I want in the image. I only have 36 shots and no immediate feedback from a screen on the back of the camera. I won’t know if I got it right until the film gets developed so I better be sure I’ve got the settings right to the best of my ability. I also learn to ‘see’ in black and white when I am composing my images and have some idea of what the final image will be. Maybe I’ll do a separate blog on the benefits I have gotten from shooting film.

Puerto Vallarta street - Voigtlander R4a

Puerto Vallarta street – Voigtlander R4a

Puerto Vallarta street market - Canon F1

Puerto Vallarta street market – Canon F1

That concludes this blog. I hope you found it informative and interesting. I do need to stress that these are just my opinions and how I work and think. Everyone is different and if your thinking and opinions are different, that’s great. That’s why we have such variety in life. I think that knowing or hearing (reading) what others feel makes us reflect and refine our own methods and way of thinking.

Keep shooting.



Travel and Photography

Cancun Lagoon - Canon 5D MkIII

Cancun Lagoon – Canon 5D MkIII

Besides my beautiful wife, Loretta, there are two things I have come to love and they go hand in hand together. Traveling and Photography. Prior to 2000, I had not done any traveling outside of Canada and what traveling I did do was for visiting family and friends. In 2000, Loretta and I went to San Jose del Cabo in Mexico and from that day on, I was hooked.

In the area of photography, I had been an film photographer from the time I as 16 when I picked up my first 35mm SLR camera. It was a Zenit and was my only camera until 1982 when I picked up a Canon AE-1. For the next few years I was quite enthusiastic  about photography but never did enough or became good enough to make it a career. By the mid 1990’s my gear basically sat packed away.

My beautiful wife Loretta and me in Cuba.

My beautiful wife Loretta and myself in Cuba.

In 2008 I got married. When we were at our first interview with our photographer, I started getting that photo-bug again. Prior to leaving for Cuba, where we were getting married, I picked up a Canon Rebel to take along. That was the start of getting really serious about photography. It was a slow start but in 2011 something clicked and I began to really start studying everything I could find on the web and in books and really just getting out and shooting. It has been growing exponentially since then. It has been 3 years of experimenting, learning, acquiring equipment, more learning, more experimenting, highs, lows, and a whole lot of watching others and absorbing information.

Puerto Vallarta Marina - Canon Rebel XTi

Puerto Vallarta Marina – Canon Rebel XTi

All the time that I was getting serious, we were also traveling. Mexico is our default holiday destination having multiple visits to Puerto Vallarta, Cancun, and San Jose del Cabo. We also visited Cuba, Las Vegas and The Bahama’s. Our most recent trip was to Paris and London. I’m still culling through the massive amount of pictures taken over 2 weeks in those cities.  For the last year and 4 trips that we have taken, I haven’t had either of my DSLR camera’s with me. For travel the Canon 60D and 5D Mark III with lenses are just too much bulk and weight to carry around. They are also very imposing when trying to do street photography.  I have gone over to the Fuji X system for my travel kit. They are small, light(er), and give me great results, especially in low light. They are much less imposing when doing street photography too. They are the right tool for the job.

Las Vegas Inside the Venetian - Fuji X100S

Las Vegas Inside the Venetian – Fuji X100S

So, in a nutshell, this is what this blog is going to be about. I will pull some images from a trip and talk about the trip and the equipment. There will be no particular order of our trips but will be what I want to show and talk about for that particular post. It will not be strictly about the place or the equipment I was using. It will be me sharing my thoughts and perhaps some may find that interesting. That’s it for my intro blog other than sharing a couple of images from our recent trip.

Paris, the Seine River

Paris, the Seine River – Fuji X100S

London, St Pauls

London, St Pauls – Fuji X-Pro1

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