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.

Oregon with Scott Setterberg

Awe-Inspiring Oregon Photo Tour

Join us on the exceptional, private, 6-day, 5-night, all-inclusive Awe-Inspiring Oregon Photo Tour and explore both sides of the Cascade mountain range and three of the Seven Wonders of Oregon. Photograph thirteen spectacular waterfalls, magnificent landscapes, mountains, lakes, and streams, and improve your images with personalized, professional photography assistance. Relax in excellent hotels, enjoy great food, travel in private transportation, and rejuvenate with free massages and spa services. This outstanding photography tour only has space for four lucky people and it will sell out quickly, so check out the itinerary and book your spot today.

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

 

 

 

A Photographer’s Journey Through Peru

Grand view of ancient Machu Picchu, last refuge of the vanished Inca civilization in the Andes Mountains, Peru.

Grand view of ancient Machu Picchu, last refuge of the vanished Inca civilization in the Andes Mountains, Peru.

Story and Photos by Jerry Ginsberg

Peru is perhaps the most fascinating country in all of South America. Considering the many wonderful sights, both natural and cultural, to be found on this vast continent, that’s saying a whole lot. You will find a great deal of diversity here. From the arid lands of its long Pacific Coastal area to the snow-capped summits of the sharply carved Andes, there is something here for everyone.

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“Bosque Wildlife” at Bosque del Apache NWR with Sandy Zelasko and Irene Hinke-Sacilotto

Situated along the Rio Grande River, Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge covers more than 57,000 acres and is a major wintering ground for cranes and waterfowl. Refuge personnel manage the water levels of its wetlands and impoundments to simulate what was once the seasonal flow of water from the Rio Grande before the river was damned and the flow altered. To feed the huge number of birds visiting the refuge each year, nearby fields are planted with corn, winter wheat, millet, and other grains. Loop roads transect the refuge marshes and fields and provide prime sites for wildlife viewing and photography. Species that may be seen include shovelers, buffleheads, pintails, teal and other ducks; bald and golden eagles; kestrels and other hawks; turkey; meadowlarks; quail; roadrunners; coyotes; mule deer; and more. In November, large flocks of snow geese and sandhill cranes will be present. At night to escape predators, the birds flock to the marshes and shallow pools. With dawn, the snow geese and other waterfowl rise in mass from the wetlands and sweep overhead on their way to nearby fields to feed. Each day we will spend the early morning and late afternoon hours at the refuge photographing birds and many other species of wildlife which are present at the sanctuary.

Outer Banks Lighthouses with Margo Taussig Pinkerton

The Outer Banks are a long, thin strip of barrier islands that protect the North Carolina Coast. Preserved to a large extent by the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, it is a visual feast of historic lighthouses spaced between long stretches of wild beaches and pristine sand dunes. The Outer Banks are part of our own back yard that we know so well, and we will go to great locations where you can seek your own vision and make wonderful photographs …

With workshops limited to 12 participants (a maximum 6:1 ratio, students to instructors), you can be assured of nearly as much one-one time as you want/need. We also welcome those whom we affectionately call our “Spousal Units,” those spouses and SOs who return so often to our workshops.

More details. Discount for NANPA members.

 

Low Light Visions by Nevada Wier

© Nevada Wier 2014. Kerala, India: Fire dancer, Theyyam Festival. Canon 5DMarkIII, Canon 16-35mm f/2.8, 1/125sec at f/3.5, ISO 1600 Shutter Priority. Evaluative Metering. Daylight White Balance. Flash not fired.

© Nevada Wier 2014.
Kerala, India: Fire dancer, Theyyam Festival.
Canon 5DMarkIII, Canon 16-35mm f/2.8, 1/125sec at f/3.5, ISO 1600
Shutter Priority. Evaluative Metering. Daylight White Balance. Flash not fired.

 

Nevada is one of the featured keynote speakers at the 2015 NANPA Summit taking place in San Diego, California from February 19th – 22nd. To learn more about the Summit and to register for this exciting and inspirational event, please visit  www.naturephotographysummit.com

 

Images and Story by Nevada Wier

Photographing in low light is particularly challenging, but immensely satisfying — if you can overcome the difficulties. However, it is these kinds of situations that stimulate me as a photographer. I know that it is these times when it is more possible to create what I call a “snowflake photo”: one that no one else has in his or her portfolio. So I seek out the difficult light and perspectives. Of course, that also means that the chance of failure is high; I have to work extra hard in these situations. I am on alert, paying attention, anticipating the action and seeking out whatever light is available.

One is definitely constrained by the quality of their equipment. Sorry, an iPhone is not going to be the camera of choice for photographing at night or inside a hut lit by a candle – unless you are going for an abstract with high noise. Many digital camera sensors are not able to produce a relatively noise-free image at an extremely high ISO. Unless you have a top-of-the-line camera that can handle 1600 ISO or more, the highest exploitable ISO for most cameras ranges between 400–1600 ISO. Another limiting factor is the lens. If you are using a zoom lens that has a minimum aperture of f/4.5, it is going to be problematic. Not only will you not have a fast enough shutter speed, the lens will not be able to quickly and accurately focus in dim light. And, it is critical to pay attention to the focusing. During the day in strong light focusing quickly is easy and accurate; it only takes a quick press of the focus button to be accurate (I use the back * button on my Canon for focusing and to set a specific focal point). In low light it is important to squeeze the focus button until you see the focus alert signal in the viewfinder. Sometimes I have to use manual assist. Occasionally I need to shine a flashlight on my subject so I can focus.

Sometimes I use flash but not for a primary source of light, rather to pop color or stop the action with a slow shutter speed. A flash is always a secondary source of light. I usually go to the highest ISO that I am comfortable using and on my Canon 5D MarkIII I rarely go above 1600 ISO; if I can I much prefer to stay at 800 ISO or lower. I photograph primarily on Shutter Priority, but in low light I sometimes switch to Aperture Priority when I want to stay at a wide-open aperture. However, I do like slow shutter speeds (and I’m not afraid to hand-hold at ½ sec. or slower) in combination with flash, either for panning or having a flash stop the action within a blur, so there is sharpness within a sense of motion. I carry a number of different gels for my flash so the flash outputs blends seamlessly with the ambient light. I usually keep my white balance on Daylight unless there is an abundance of red, and then I use Auto (red is a difficult color to desaturate, it tends towards purple).

I make sure my exposure is absolutely perfect; better too light than too dark. I constantly check my histogram. At a high ISO you do not want to have to lighten your image in post processing and expose ugly noise. Honestly, I rarely use a tripod. I don’t like to walk around with them. The photographs I’m showing you on this blog are all hand-held. In fast moving situations it is difficult to use a tripod, and in crowds – forget about it! Knowing how to use flash appropriately is a big key to success.

© Nevada Wier 2014. Barranquilla, Colombia: Carnival. Canon 5DMarkIII, Canon 24 f/1.4, 1/50sec at f/3.2, ISO 1600. Shutter Priority. Evaluative Metering. Daylight White Balance. Flash Fired.

© Nevada Wier 2014. Barranquilla, Colombia: Carnival.
Canon 5DMarkIII, Canon 24 f/1.4, 1/50sec at f/3.2, ISO 1600.
Shutter Priority. Evaluative Metering. Daylight White Balance. Flash Fired.

I mentioned earlier that it is important to anticipate so that one can be in the front of a crowd. I am used to “wiggling” myself into a good location. There is a fine line between being assertive and aggressive, but I don’t want to end up in the back of a huge crowd.

I expect a lot of failures; in fact I mostly have failures in these kinds of situations, as they are technically and often socially difficult. However, all I need is one great image! I try as many shutter speeds as possible; depth of field is not a critical concern to me at these times. I try slow shutter speeds with or without panning, usually with the flash on. I turn the flash off and work with natural light. I try everything! I always say, “If you don’t try, you don’t get”. And, often what one gets is that magical snowflake image.

© Nevada Wier 2013. Bagan, Myanmar: Ananada Festival. Canon 5DMarkIII, Canon 24 f/1.4, 1/100sec at f/4, ISO 1600. Aperture Priority. Evaluative Metering. Daylight White Balance. Flash Fired.

© Nevada Wier 2013. Bagan, Myanmar: Ananada Festival.
Canon 5DMarkIII, Canon 24 f/1.4, 1/100sec at f/4, ISO 1600.
Aperture Priority. Evaluative Metering. Daylight White Balance. Flash Fired.

 

Nevada Wier is a multiple award-winning photographer specializing in the remote corners of the globe and the cultures that inhabit them. Her journeys have her crisscrossing the world in search of compelling travel experiences and images. To read more about Nevada, view her extraordinary photography and get information about her photo workshops and tours, visit her website at www.nevadawier.com.