India with Ken Lee

“This is India; the land of dreams and romance, of fabulous wealth and fabulous poverty, of splendor and rags, of palaces and hovels, of famine and pestilence, of genii and giants and Aladdin lamps, of tigers and elephants, the cobra and the jungle, the country of a thousand nations and a hundred tongues, of a thousand religions and two million gods, cradle of the human race, birthplace of human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, great-grandmother of tradition…” – Mark Twain, Following the Equator, 1897

In many ways, not much has changed since Mark Twain’s visit over a century ago. India is still a land of contrasts, carved by deep rivers of spirituality and history. In other ways, however, change dominates every aspect of Indian society today. Fully exploring, much less understanding this vast nation in a brief visit is impossible, but we will catch authentic glimpses of the India of yesterday and today throughout our image making adventure. Our itinerary covers the best of the must-see monuments including, the incomparable Taj Mahal, but we veer off the beaten path early and often in search of more genuine visions of Indian life.

Ken will be with you each step of the way to help you make the most of these opportunities. We’ll work together in groups and one-to-one to help you better understand your equipment, master new techniques, and expand your creative vision. Ken’s specialty is teaching practical ways to develop your ‘photographer’s eye’, but he’s happy to work with you on any aspect of the image making process.

HOLI FESTIVAL OF COLORS
Holi, India’s Festival of Colors, is a riotous celebration of the arrival of Spring. Enthusiastic revelers ‘play Holi’ with handfuls of colored powders that are thrown, rubbed, and smeared over everything and everyone. Participation is mandatory. Rich, poor, tourist or local, no one is exempt. But it’s all in the spirit of celebration and good fun. In fact, another name for Holi is the Festival of Sharing Love.

No matter what you call it, it’s an amazing spectacle to see and even more so to photograph. Precautions must be taken to protect cameras and lenses, but Holi is an event no photographer should pass up. Our itinerary is crafted so that we experience Holi celebrations in several times and places including a very special version of the festivities known as Lathmar Holi, where the women of one village, armed with sticks, beat back the advances of the men from the neighboring village in a mock reenactment of an ancient legend.

THE MAGNIFICENT TAJ
Known as the World’s Greatest Monument to Love, the story behind the Taj is almost as inspiring as the marble masterpiece itself. This icon deserves the time to be carefully considered with our cameras and we will pay it proper homage with multiple opportunities to photograph the Taj Mahal from various vantage points and in different lighting conditions including sunrise and sunset. You will have your opportunity to make the classic reflecting pool photo, but we will also look for more unique perspectives including some not usually available to tourists.

ANCIENT VARANASI
On the banks of the Ganges River, the holy city of Varanasi is India’s spiritual capital, and one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities. It’s also my favorite place to photograph in India. Early morning on the historic stone ghats (terraces) that line the river bank is a magical experience. Mist filtered sunrise light bathes young monks practicing yoga in warmth as the first pilgrims of the day arrive seeking blessings in the waters of Hinduism’s holiest river. But Varanasi has even more to offer. Poignant scenes of everyday life await discovery in its winding streets and markets. Varanasi is also the center of India’s silk weaving industry and much of the work is done in the surrounding villages by hand using traditional equipment and techniques. We will get a taste of rural life in India as we visit with and photograph these master artisans at work. Be prepared to be mobbed by curious children who may have never seen a foreigner.

DELHI
Sprawling Delhi is India’s capital and the beginning and end point of our journey. Nowhere is the clash of old and new more apparent, with its 25 million inhabitants living amidst luxury townhomes, the remnants of colonial rule, and ruins dating back millennia. Here we can find a bit of everything: the serenity and self-reflection of locals practicing meditation and yoga at sunrise in the gardens of Humayun’s Tomb; commerce and chaos in the maze of Old Delhi’s crooked narrow lanes; compassion embodied in a Sikh temple that serves 10,000 free meals daily; tradition and craftsmanship in the Kumhar Gram, a potters colony reputed to be the world’s largest but largely unknown even among locals.

JODHPUR, THE BLUE CITY
Jodhpur exudes an incredibly relaxing vibe that makes you want to do nothing but park yourself on a rooftop terrace with a cool beverage and stare at massive Mehrangarh Fort dominating the skyline. The only problem is that there is so much to explore and photograph here as well. The once ubiquitous blue facades of the old city are slowly disappearing but still make striking backdrops for scenes of everyday life. Early morning is a great time to visit Jaswant Thada, an ornate monument to a former Maharaja carved from white marble. Later, as the sun and temperatures climb, is an ideal time to explore the interior of hilltop Mehrangarh Fort from which fantastically wealthy rulers once surveyed their domain. Bustling Sadar market underneath the old city’s historic clocktower is an experience to remember and photograph. With so much to see, maybe the relaxing will have to wait.

JAISALMER FORT
Wake up to sunrise over beautiful Gadissar lake in the remote outpost of Jaisalmer Fort and then ride into the Thar desert atop a camel for sunset and a star filled night in the sand dunes.

Costa Rica with Scott Setterberg

Join us March 1-6, 2020, on an exceptional, all-inclusive, 6-day, 5-night, travel photography tour and photograph spectacular beaches, five sensational Costa Rica waterfalls, three amazing national parks, stunning tropical landscapes and sunsets, and hundreds of species of flowers, birds, butterflies, poison dart frogs, and other Costa Rican wildlife.

You will improve your images with personalized, professional photography assistance; relax in luxurious, award-winning hotels; enjoy delicious traditional Costa Rican and gourmet international cuisine; travel in comfort with private transportation; learn about the incredible biodiversity of Costa Rica from our licensed, English-speaking nature guide; and pamper yourself with revitalizing massages and spa services courtesy of ColorTexturePhotoTours.

This photo tour is perfect for those with limited time or those who want to do a short photo tour and then continue exploring Costa Rica on their own.

Availability: Only 4 spots available!

Locations: Playa Hermosa, Llanos de Cortez, Rincón de la Vieja Volcano National Park, Rio Celeste, La Fortuna, Chachagua, Lake Arenal

Whales of Southern Baja California with Diana McPherson

Each year, gray whales travel thousands of miles from the Arctic Ocean to the warm waters of
Baja California’s lagoons to court, mate, give birth, and care for
their young. Capture images of these magnificent creatures, along with unique vegetation, stunning landscapes, birds, and other wildlife of the arid Baja Peninsula, all under the guidance of professional photographer Diana McPherson.

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS
• Encounter gray whales at close range during multiple
excursions aboard small panga boats.
• Experience the crystal-clear waters, pristine beaches, geology, and wildlife of Coronado Island in the Sea of Cortez.
• Enjoy opportunities for kayaking and hiking.
• Take a special excursion in search of whale sharks, the world’s largest fish.

Waterfalls of Costa Rica with Scott Setterberg

Join us February 3-8, 2020, on this exceptional, all-inclusive, 6-day, 5-night, travel photography tour and photograph 12 of the best waterfalls in Costa Rica; stunning landscapes; tropical sunsets; and hundreds of species of birds, butterflies, flowers, frogs, jungle cats, monkeys, sloths, and other Costa Rican wildlife.

Improve your photo skills with personalized, professional photography assistance, and relax in luxurious award-winning hotels. Enjoy delicious traditional Costa Rican and gourmet international cuisine and travel in comfort with private and spacious transportation. Learn about the incredible biodiversity of Costa Rica from our professional English-speaking nature guide, and pamper yourself with revitalizing massages and spa services courtesy of ColorTexturePhotoTours.

This photo tour is perfect for those with limited time or those who want to do a short photo tour and then continue exploring Costa Rica on their own.

Availability: Only 4 spaces available!

Locations: Bajos del Toro, Las Gemelas, La Paz, Rio Celeste, La Fortuna, Danta, Lake Arenal

Costa Rica with Scott Setterberg

Join us January 19-24, 2020, on this exceptional, all-inclusive, 6-day, 5-night, travel photography tour and photograph spectacular beaches, five sensational Costa Rica waterfalls in three amazing national parks, and immerse yourself in nature photography with stunning landscapes, incredible Costa Rica sunsets, and exotic wildlife. Improve your photos with personalized, professional photography assistance, and relax in fantastic, award-winning hotels. Enjoy delicious traditional Costa Rican and gourmet international cuisine and travel in comfort with private transportation. Learn about the incredible biodiversity of Costa Rica from our licensed, English-speaking nature guide, and pamper yourself with free massages and spa services. This photo tour is perfect for those with limited time or those who want to do a short photo tour and then continue exploring Costa Rica on their own. Only 4 spots available!

Costa Rica with Scott Setterberg

Join us January 12-17, 2020, on this exceptional, all-inclusive, 6-day, 5-night, travel photography tour and photograph 12 spectacular Costa Rica waterfalls in four amazing national parks, and immerse yourself in nature photography with stunning landscapes and hundreds of species of birds, butterflies, flowers, frogs, jungle cats, monkeys, sloths, and other Costa Rican wildlife. Improve your photos with personalized, professional photography assistance, and relax in fantastic award-winning hotels. Enjoy delicious traditional Costa Rican and gourmet international cuisine and travel in comfort with private transportation. Learn about the incredible biodiversity of Costa Rica from our licensed, English-speaking nature guide, and pamper yourself with free massages and spa services. This photo tour is perfect for those with limited time or those who want to do a short photo tour and then continue exploring Costa Rica on their own. Only 4 spaces available!

Exploring South America

Montevideo’s beach on the Rio de la Plata (River of Silver) features a colorfully painted seawall.

Montevideo’s beach on the Rio de la Plata (River of Silver) features a colorfully painted seawall.

Story and photos © Jerry Ginsberg

The enormous continent to our south has a mind boggling array of natural and cultural beauty. Here we can marvel at the wonders of the rugged Andes Mountains, wild Patagonia, towering Iguaçu Falls, the sprawling Amazon basin and several historic Spanish colonial cities spread throughout many nations.

Easily overlooked among the behemoth nations of South America is tiny Uruguay. That is precisely the point. Throughout its two century history since achieving independence from Spain, this small country has perfected the art of hiding in plain sight. Sandwiched between mighty Spanish Argentina and even mightier Portuguese Brazil, little Uruguay, smaller than Missouri, has perfected the art of staying out of the way.

The bustling capital, Montevideo, with a metro population of almost two million, boasts the majority of the country’s three and a half million total souls. This leaves plenty of room for open spaces out in the countryside.

Often overlooked as a tourist destination, today’s Uruguay is still a land of ranches and gauchos, very similar to the pampas of neighboring Argentina, authentic seventeenth century Spanish towns, crashing ocean surf and quaint seaside villages.

Your exploration of Uruguay might well include these highlights:

Uruguay’s imposing capitol showcases a classic symmetrical design.

Uruguay’s imposing capitol showcases a classic symmetrical design.

Montevideo

This modern capital is a really appealing city with some charming architecture. Don’t miss the soft sand beach on the Rio de la Plata, the very imposing Capitol building and the lovely old (vieja) town.

Fine wine ages in huge 100 year old oaken casks in a cool wine cellar.

Fine wine ages in huge 100 year old oaken casks in a cool wine cellar.

Wineries

Uruguayans do love their wines. The country is liberally sprinkled with numerous picturesque vineyards and wineries. Many offer tours and tastings. This can be a fun way to spend a couple of hours on a sunny afternoon when the light is too strong for landscape photography. Keep your eyes open for signs as you drive.

The small fishing fleet of Punta del Este exudes a very laidback attitude for a commercial operation.

The small fishing fleet of Punta del Este exudes a very laidback attitude for a commercial operation.

Punta del Este

A great little resort town. Poised right on the corner of the Rio de la Plata and Atlantic Ocean, beaches wrap around Punta del Este. Strolling the charming streets, you’ll want to take in the lighthouse, the harbor with its little fishing fleet and sociable harbor seals and the shoreline itself.

Rocha is just one of many lovely protected natural preserves throughout Uruguay.

Rocha is just one of many lovely protected natural preserves throughout Uruguay.

Rocha

One of many natural preserves, Laguna Rocha is a tract with a calming, laid back feel and lots of subtle beauty.

Once out in the countryside, ranches and mounted gauchos (paisanos) are common sights.

Once out in the countryside, ranches and mounted gauchos (paisanos) are common sights.

Florida

As the name of both a department (province) and its largest town, Florida is largely a rural area featuring ranches, cattle and horses. With patience you should be able to locate some gauchos (often called ‘paisanos’) working with the livestock. These colorful cowboys on their small and hardy criollo horses make great subjects.

The charming cobblestone streets of the historic neighborhood of Colonia del Sacramento hark back to the days of Spanish colonialism.

The charming cobblestone streets of the historic neighborhood of Colonia del Sacramento hark back to the days of Spanish colonialism.

Colonia del Sacramento

The historic 17th century colonial Spanish village portion of Colonia is one of my very favorite spots in all of South America. Reminiscent of Colonial Williamsburg, VA, these authentic buildings have been lovingly restored and maintained. Even the cobblestones that now pave the streets arrived here as ballast in the holds of Spanish galleons. Walking this compact neighborhood very early in the morning should allow you to capture the charm and romance without hordes of tourists.

Typical example of the historic buildings found all over the well preserved area of Colonia el Sacramento.

Typical example of the historic buildings found all over the well preserved area of Colonia el Sacramento.

Logistics

Flights to Montevideo’s international airport are available from several US gateways including Miami and Dallas.

Once in country, you will find a wide variety of accommodations. The cities offer modern hotels ranging from about two to five stars with three often being quite adequate. A buffet breakfast is almost always included.

Out in the countryside staying on a ranch (estancia) is an excellent way to quickly become immersed in the ambiance of the culture. It’s an ideal choice for equestrians!

Uruguayan roads are pretty good so renting a standard passenger car will prove adequate. To reach some of the roadless seaside villages, just hop on one of the shuttle-trucks that make the short run through the sand surrounding these little hamlets.

With its relatively long coastlines, the need for such lighthouses to protect navigation emerged early on.

With its relatively long coastlines, the need for such lighthouses to protect navigation emerged early on.

Note: While it is possible to get along without speaking Spanish, Uruguayans probably speak less English than residents of most other South American countries. Even in Montevideo, the last ATMs that I saw had no option for English instructions. A pocket dictionary or phrase book can be very helpful.

Jerry Ginsberg is a widely published photographer whose landscape, Nature and travel images have graced the covers pages of hundreds of books, magazines and travel catalogs. He is the only person to have photographed each and every one of America’s National Parks with medium format cameras. (Newly created Indiana Dunes N.P. coming soon!) Jerry has been awarded Artist Residencies in several National Parks. This October, he will be in residence in Shenandoah National Park in VA. His works have been exhibited from coast to coast and have received numerous awards in competition. Jerry’s photographic archive spans virtually all of both North and South America.

More of Ginsberg’s images are on display at www.JerryGinsberg.com
Or e mail him at jerry@jerryginsberg.com

 

 

 

From the Archives: Seven Tips for Air Travel with Gear by Jeff Parker

Here is a useful post from about three years ago that is just as relevant today as it was then – how to handle your gear when traveling by air.  Enjoy!  DL

 

© Jeff Parker

© Jeff Parker

Story and Photography by Jeff Parker

 

1) Disguise your gear. 

You don’t want your bag to scream “Expensive photography equipment inside!” so make sure it looks like any other bag—or, make it look worse (perhaps you can even have a bit of fun making it look “extra” undesirable).  Cover up or remove any easily recognizable logos like “Canon” or “Nikon.”  A bit of black electrical tape works well.  Continue reading

7 Tips for Air Travel with Gear by Jeff Parker

© Jeff Parker

© Jeff Parker

Image and text by Jeff Parker

1) Disguise your gear. 

You don’t want your bag to scream “Expensive photography equipment inside!” so make sure it looks like any other bag—or, make it look worse (perhaps you can even have a bit of fun making it look “extra” undesirable).  Cover up or remove any easily recognizable logos like “Canon” or “Nikon.”  A bit of black electrical tape works well.  Continue reading