Boring Vacation Pictures?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bored myself before, during, and after a vacation or excursion. The destination was fine, but I wasn’t enthused with the resulting photographs. But I’m a seasoned photographer, what gives?

I used to be guilty of taking too many digital images of the same subject from the same point of view. With the explosion of smartphone photography, this approach has become aesthetically numbing. No matter the camera type, any of our photographs could technically qualify to grace the pages of National Geographic. But what would make our pictures of, for example, the pyramids or the Effiel Tower, stand out from the usual fare?

I’ll tell you what I do. What you don’t see in this picture of the pyramids is the line of bus traffic I waited to pass by. The camels entering the view made it appear like a scene from 1910 and not 2010.

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Speaking of camels, I ditched the standard animal shots to wait for them to cause a “traffic jam.”

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How many times have we seen open-air markets in foreign lands? Too many. I waited till nightfall and photographed the person who cleans up in Old City Jerusalem’s street market.

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Forget about staged or group portraits, it was more interesting photographing these Bedouin guides during a night expedition.

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Here’s a quickly assembled color series from a trip to Hawaii.

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Here are my tips to create a compelling narrative while developing a critical photographic eye before, during, and after a vacation.

1. Google your destination. See what has been photographed before and what possible perspectives may be available for you to shoot from. Then again, it may be preferable to not look at anything until you arrive there with fresh eyes.

2. Become familiar with and shoot with one focal length. Too many changes between wide angle and telephoto views can be confusing to you as well as your audience.

3. Ruthlessly edit down the number of images. Get rid of duplicates.

4. Ruthlessly select the best images from your destination. A single image may represent a single experience or a single stop.

5. Regard your selections as special, as if they were in a show. As a matter of fact, make prints instead of putting your photographs on a video screen. 10 to 20 compelling images will be more interesting than 200-300…trust me.

In my next post, using the above method to edit images from a recent trip to San Diego and Carlsbad, California. I took about 300 digital and film images, but I’m not going to bore you with everything. 😃

If I Do Color, I’m Doing Snapseed

Only two of the 88 frames I took at the Berkeley Marina were presentable. That’s much better than the “Zero” out of 150 taken weeks prior. But that’s not what drove me crazy. I wasted time attempting to edit these two on the computer…I remember why I became a minimalist photographer. I wasn’t going to accept the super sharp, plastic rendering.
 
As I was about to throw the whole project away, I decided to play with Snapseed, the Google photo app on my phone. One click and it was over! It gave me the grainy look of Kodak Portra 400, my preferred color film. No more color editing on the laptop. Snapseed on an iPhone or iPad or forget it.

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What’s In My Bag? What’s in My Pocket?

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“What’s In My Bag” is a popular subject on some photography websites. There are even video versions on YouTube. Whether you are a professional, enthusiast, or beginner, it’s instructive to see what other photographers regard as essential equipment.

Here are the essentials I keep in my backpack, fanny pack, and pockets…24/7.  🙂

Lomo LC-A+

Lomo Sprocket Rocket

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100

-FujiFilm EF-X20 flash

-spare batteries for all

-Ilford Delta 3200 black and white film
-Kodak T-MAX P3200 black and white film
-Kodak Tri-X black and white film
-Kodak Portra 400 Color Negative Film

 

 

“Keeping Up with the Kardashians” on Your Mobile Device?

There is no rule that we must use tablets, smartphones, and laptops 24/7, everywhere. Citing safety concerns, some municipalities have enacted ‘distracted walking’ laws to prevent people from walking into cars while checking Facebook or texting. Our time and higher brain function were already under attack before these technologies dominated our lifestyles but today, the assault is relentless. Entertainment options are a minefield on your mobile device. Putting limits on when and where to use our devices is important but controlling further distractions through quality entertainment selections will also reclaim our time and attention span. If we practice the restraint I’m advocating, we will reap the additional benefit of becoming more enlightened consumers of the arts.

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BOOKS
15 years ago, I couldn’t get enough of Anne Rice’s vampire novels and no 14-hour drive to Florida was going to interrupt my reading schedule, so using the audiobook versions, I completed two books while driving. 🙂 Today, audiobooks remain an expensive, but an effective option when reading becomes inconvenient. And since I don’t have Donald Trump type money, I make wiser book selections.

PODCASTS
As a former radio talk show junkie, of course, I became a podcast junkie but I refuse to play them in Apple’s confusing podcast app. I use Pocket Casts. Pocket Casts can even sync between your iPad and iPhone so there will be no interruptions in listening. I started out listening to 50 podcasts but today, I have narrowed that list to 15 that really add value to my life.

MUSIC
Apple’s native music app is also a confused piece of junk. Although I don’t listen to a lot of music, there are better apps out there, like EQLRZR PRO and online alternatives such as Spotify and Pandora. EQLRZR PRO handles both music and podcasts but I haven’t had a lot of success using it in this way. My wish is that someday, Pocket Casts will handle video and audiobooks as well.

LONG ONLINE ARTICLES
Not only do I use Voice Dream to review my blog posts. I use it to listen to long online articles. Just copy and paste into Voice Dream. Big time saver.

MOVIES and TELEVISION
Back in the early days of television, you could watch “The Beverly Hillbillies,” or “The Ed Sullivan Show” without feeling that you were rotting your brain. There were 3 networks, a few hundred radio stations, and where I lived, it took 5 years for a big budget movie to even get to our local theater. Today, I’ve lost count keeping up with television and movies. Few deserve your time and attention. Apple’s native TV viewer does work and I find it easy to rent or buy only QUALITY television and movies. QUALITY is whatever works for you. I have the Netflix, HBO, and CBS apps on my mobile devices, but they remain in storage. I try to record programs for later viewing on the television.

GAMING
Tell the truth, for some of us, this is the “elephant in the room.” A friend fixed this for me when looking at the amount of combat and flight simulators I had on my iPad. “Tolbert, the reason you are not writing and creating business opportunities, that you are clearly capable of, is that you are unfocused with too many $#%#&*@#!% games on that thing.” I couldn’t argue with the logic even though I hardly had the time to play with any of them. Their mere presence was a distraction. By the end of that day, I deleted all except the one that actually helps you learn about flying a plane!

BOTTOM LINE-BE RUTHLESS
When it comes to your mobile device and entertainment, ruthlessly limit or cut unnecessary activities and apps which distract from your projects, visions, goals or desired lifestyle. Forsaking “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” has enabled me to restructure this blog and now produce what is now the 60th blog post! 🙂 It’s Not That Complicated!

iPhone Photography: Blending in

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As I recently took delivery of a new iPhone SE, Apple’s smallest (and least expensive) smartphone, I recalled photographer Eric Kim’s article on this model’s significance to photography.  Kim noted that the phone’s compactness and ability to efficiently process and publish images may be all that most people really need to photograph. As one who has spent a small fortune on almost every type of camera and now practicing photographic minimalism, I revisited that idea starting with the last photo I posted.

The biggest advantage of using a small phone, especially for a street photography, if you can get used to the ergonomics, is public acceptance.  You will not be scornfully looked upon; commented negatively about, or even physically assaulted as if you are a pedophile or terrorist. You blend into the rest of the Instagram/selfie-taking public. 🙂