Friday, February 29, 2008

Speaking of Mexico, I Found These Ten Tips For Travel Photography

Here are the quick bullet points from a really good piece by Andrew Gibson over at JPG Magazine. 1 - Go somewhere amazing - like Mexico. 2 - Go somewhere ordinary - like your home town, maybe. 3 - Shoot the people, especially if you're somewhere exotic. 4 - Don't shoot the people, especially if you or they are uncomfortable. 5 - Take photos of the kids - most of them will "ham it up" for you. 6 - Research, research, research - hit the Internet before you go and see what's cool to see after you get there. 7 - Search for magical light and I don't mean between 10a.m. - 5 p.m. It really gets pretty before 8 - 8a.m. and after 6 p.m. 9 - Be alert for opportunity - maybe you can buddy up with a fellow traveler. 10 - Look for inspiration sunsets, sunrises, close ups, colors, shapes, etc. 11 - Never be satisfied - you always want to do do better. Here is the complete article right here. It's a nice read.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Thoroughly Marvelous Monday

Good Morning Everybody, After 6 months of blogging, I think DigitalProTalk is starting to hit it's stride. I wanted to share with you my plans for how the blog is shaping up and getting organized. Let me explain;
  • Monday will be an Open post day with any posts pertinent to photography falling into Monday's line up.
  • Tuesday, of course will be Technique Tuesday featuring tutorials on lighting, photography, Photoshop, Lightroom, etc.
  • Wednesday has morphed into "As The Photo World Turns Wednesday." I got the "Oldies But Goldies " series starting this week for 12 weeks - so you get the idea.
  • Thursday is shaping up nicely as B(Business) Day Thursday and is becoming one of my favorite days to post. I love this business, sales, marketing tips and information.
  • Friday will continue to be "Inspiration Friday" and feature photo stories on creativity and the creative process, photography, and design. It's about getting your "brain juices" flowing.
That should be a pretty darn good week of diversified posts that helps us all stay informed and excited about our art, our craft, and our profession. Hey gang, we are off to a good start today. I've got a few cool stories lined up for today, got a brand new Technique Tuesday - "How To Shoot The Wedding Cake" about ready to go for tomorrow, and peeked at a few negs from Ziser's Oldie but Goldie Files for Wednesday, so the week is shaping up like a really great one. I hope you will stick around. Anyway, off we go...

Monday, February 25, 2008

Joakim Eskildsen: The Roma People

Image © Joakim Eskildsen -All Rights Reserved
Joakim Eskildsen is a Danish photographer who trained with the Royal Court photographer Rigmor Mydtskov. Moving to Finland, he learnt the craft of photographic book making and graduated with an MA degree in photography in 1998. To complete "The Roma Journeys", a book which he and writer Cia Rinne recently published, they traveled in seven different countries to photograph and document the life of the Roma and their living conditions. According to Joakim, "these Roma journeys were by no means meticulously planned, and instead the product of a number of coincidences that enabled us to come into contact with the Roma." Joakim's photographs are wonderful...and give us an insight into the lives of the Roma, or Romani, an ethnic group widely known through folklore and literature. I started off this post by describing them as gypsies, but discovered that it's sometimes considered pejorative, based on a mistaken belief of an origin in Egypt. The Roma have their origins in India, with genetic studies showing that they came from a small population that emerged from ancestors in India around 1000 years ago. Joakim's photographs of the Indian Roma feature the Sapera who are known to be snake charmers in Rajasthan. I came across a band of wandering Sapera when I traveled in Rajasthan, who were quite distinctive in their dress and demeanor. I encourage you to explore his web site beyond The Roma's well worth your time.
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Friday, February 22, 2008

Bas Uterwijk: Burma

Image © Bas Uterwijk -All Rights Reserved
Bas Uterwijk lives in Amsterdam, and has just returned from Burma with wonderful photographs made during his travels. Although he recently got interested in photography, he's been telling stories with images for most of his career as a computer graphics artist for a video game company. His Burma portfolio contains lovely photographs of Burmese novices, monks as well as depictions of everyday Burmese life. The photograph I chose for this post and the rest of his gallery are proof that we'll hear more of Bas. Video games and photography...what else could anyone want in life? Bas Uterwijk's Burma

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

"You Gotta Have Heart"

"You Gotta Have Heart" © David A. Ziser
This image is a real "blast from the past." With all the light painting articles today though, I thought is was an appropriate post. This image was made in 1980 - almost 28 years ago, but I still remember taking it. It was a 4th of July wedding and the couple wanted me to capture the spirit of the day in a photograph. Heck, they even brought the "sparklers." That's all I needed.
We found a safe place in the parking lot away from cars so no sparks would fall where they could do harm. I had the couple rehearse the motion of making the heart shape a few times till we all thought it looked good. We were ready, I had my Hasselblad cable release attached and fitted with an 80mm lens positioned on a tripod and ready to go. The game plan was to light the sparklers, have the couple start the heart at the bottom, tracing up and coming together in the middle pointing the sparklers down, and kissing at the end. At that moment, my assistant fired the flash manually and I released the cable release - presto! we had it. Camera specs; Hasselblad fitted with 80mm Distagon lens, F8 @ "bulb" exposure, Kodak Vericolor 400 film. Enjoy! -David
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Updated Websites For TTP

I've announced this through my monthly newsletter, but I've finally updated my websites, including 16 photo galleries. I used an overall design that is simpler and easier to navigate. The short cut for the photo galleries is Tewfic El-Sawy, The Travel Photographer The main portal page is The Travel Photographer, and leads to my 2008 photo expeditions, previous itineraries, the 16 photo galleries, the slideshows and the TTP blog. I will be in Oaxaca, Mexico for about 10 days...and will intermittently post from there.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sarah Caron: Alliance Française-NYC

Image © Sarah Caron-All Rights Reserved
The French Institute in New York City is hosting a couple of events for Sarah Caron's work. An exhibition of her photographs, a documentary film on her by Patrick Chauvel and a panel discussion. Sarah Caron is a French photographer, who travels the world, working both in journalism and on projects. Her assignments have taken her to Thailand, Cuba, Burma, and Mexico. In 2006, she received a Getty Images Grant for Editorial Photography to complete The Al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades– The Balata Sentinels, a series exploring the martyrdom culture in Palestine. Her work has been published in international publications, including Le Monde, Le Figaro, The New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, and Elle. Sarah Caron has also photographed the Indian widows in Vrindavan, titling her gallery "Les Veuves Blanches" or "The Widows In White". The gallery is of black & white photographs, and seems to have been photographed very recently. In fact, I believe I recognize a few faces amongst the widows which I photographed for my own work White Shadows. The French Institute's events on Sarah Caron Sarah Caron's Veuves Blanches UPDATE: I dropped by the French Institute/Alliance Française today (February 14), and I must say that the exhibit was disappointing. Three of Sarah Caron's photographs were large enough, but the remainder of the exhibit were of photographs not much larger than 8x10 at most. The three large photographs were intelligently chosen. Since there were no captions, I'll describe the photographs as best I can. One was of was I believe is of 3 men and a woman carrying rifles and handguns...probably belonging to some sort of militia in Arizona which patrols the border between the US and Mexico. The middle one was of Pakistani mustachioed bodyguards (possibly those of Benazir Bhutto) holding Kalashnikovs, and the third is of a masked Palestinian insurgent loading a RPG unto a rifle. The juxtaposition of these three photographs was obviously done on purpose.

1 on 1: Justin Mott

Image © Justin Mott -All Rights Reserved
The Travel Photographer blog will occasionally post interviews with both travel and editorial working photographers. This interview is with Justin Mott, a photojournalist working in South East Asia, currently living in Hanoi. His work is seen in the New York Times and Time magazine, among others, and he recently published photo essays on mysticism in Indonesia and Vietnamese orphanages. He's represented by World Picture News. 1) TTP: When did you decide to become a photographer? Who or what influenced your decision? A: I used to be a bartender in the financial district of San Francisco for 7 years. I was taking some journalism classes at SF State and I just kind of fell into a photography class when I was registering for classes. I was really into Kerouac at the time and I use to escape the city life with little weekend road trips by myself. I started bringing my camera with me and I never really put it down since. 2) TTP: Do you have any formal training regarding photography? A: I studied under Ken Kobre at San Francisco State University and participated in a few workshops that have had great influence on my life as a photographer. I didn't learn anything in school about being a freelancer or working in a foreign country: that process is ongoing, and from every assignment I learn something new about myself and about being a working professional. 3) TTP : If you had the choice, where is your favorite place to live and work as a photographer in the world and why? A: I personally felt I had a choice so I'm living and working exactly where I want to be: Hanoi, Vietnam. I love the smiling faces, the adventures, the landscapes, and the cost of living is helpful. 4) TTP: Describe your own favorite image, and describe how you went about creating it. A: My favorite image is a really simple image that I took one day wandering near the Red River of Hanoi. I slowly approached a child standing in the frame of his new house being built next to the tiny tent he was currently living in. He was just standing in the doorway of this shell of a house and I had to be stealthy approaching it (needing to get close because I had a fixed 35mm). Most of my personal projects are related to children's issues and about children living in isolation for a variety of reasons. That image represents a lot of my stories and has the lonely feeling to it that my stories have. Not many people compliment the image and some have even suggested that I remove it from my portfolio, but I dig it and I open my web portfolio with it. 5) TTP: Describe a day in your professional life. A: It depends on whether it's an assignment or a personal project. I'll give you an example of a typical day of a personal project I recently finished up in the outskirts of Hanoi. I would get up at my shanty hotel before sunrise and untangle myself out of my mosquito net. I manke sure I have my battery off the charger and my memory cards, then I pack my Domke. Slam a coffee and then wait for my moto taxi to the orphanage. Wave at the random people on the sides of the streets wondering why an American is way out there. I would spend the entire day at the orphanage observing and photographing. In the afternoon I look for any quiet place to take a nap, unused office, tree, etc. I would typically leave when the orphanage closed down for bedtime and head back to my hotel. After dinner I backup my work on my tiny portable hard drive and go through the days take. The following day I will do the same exact thing. 6) TTP: Tell your funniest, scariest, most bizarre, most touching story from a photoshoot! A: The funniest thing that ever happened to me came in Jamesport, Missouri while attending the University of Missouri Photo Workshop. My story was about an Amish teenager and his coming to age as an adult. His father was quite liberal and had allowed me to follow his 16 year old son for the week. On my last day while exchanging pleasantries with Pops I asked him one final question about his son John. I said "Jacob, what do you want for John" meaning for his future. Jacob glanced over at his son working away building furniture and without a smile on his face said" Justin, I'm not really interested in selling any of my children." I couldn't help but laugh out loud and rephrase my question. 7) TTP: What types of assignments are you most attracted to? A: The last few weeks I have been to Indonesia and Malaysia for the NY Times working on a variety of stories ranging from palm oil, mysticism, feuding princes, and the death of the former Indonesian president Suharto. Each story fascinated me and each story presented problems that needed to be solved to tell the writers story with visuals. I love the challenge of solving those problems. 8) TTP: How would you describe your photographic style? A: I shoot very loose and I love empty space. At the Eddie Adams workshop Magnum Photographer Eli Reed cropped my whole portfolio really tight and I got a good laugh out of it watching him mutilating my images. I respect his style and obviously he is a legend, but I like shooting with my fixed 35mm and I struggle with a 50mm. 9) TTP: Who or what would you love to shoot that you haven't already? A: I want to expand to shoot in a studio more and learn how to work lighting equipment better. I want to learn on my own creative freedom and just have fun with portraits. 10) TTP: Describe the photo gear, as well as (if digital) your computer hardware and software you use. A: I have a simple setup. One 5D (best purchase I ever made), Macbook Pro, a Canon G9, 35mm 1.4, 24mm 1.4, and a 100 F2, 580 Flash(never really use it because I shoot at 1.4 a lot). I love my fixed lenses even though it can be scary sometimes on one day breaking news assignments.

NY Times: "A Genocide In Slow Motion"

Image ©Jan Grarup for NY Times-All Rights Reserved
Jan Grarup is an award-winning Danish photographer who traveled the world documenting many historical events. From the fall of the communist regime in Romania to the current occupation of Iraq, he has covered numerous wars and conflicts, including the genocide in Rwanda. He's a member of the Noor agency-collective. Here's his latest work out of Africa, which The New York Times chose to title as "A Genocide In Slow Motion". The feature is in slideshow motion, with Jan Grarup narrating.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Fountains of Hotel Zoso

Hotel Zoso's a pretty cool place, lots of modern furnishings and plenty of conference rooms downstairs from the lobby. I went to a Dwell conference there last year. The food at the conference was good, too, but it was only finger food, sandwiches and whatnot. If you're looking for a quiet place under Mt. San Jacinto, this is not the place. The Hotel Zoso is located on Indian Av., which is a block from downtown Palm Springs' strip. You can walk to coffee shops (Starbucks, Coffee Beanery) and many restaurants. For a great small-town, urban resort getaway, then Hotel Zoso is the hip and cool place .

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Wish for do overs

With WebShots still down, I was thinking about a subject brought up by SheyMouse on his blog about wanting to retake some photos given the chance. Going through my portfolio, I have loads of missed opportunities: beautiful locations and subjects, but a badly composed photo or no photo at all as I didn't even see the chance. Composition doesn't come naturally for me and I have read a couple of books about it without grasping the fleeting notions described in them. It is not until I read "Learning to See Creatively: Design, Color & Composition in Photography" by Bryan Peterson that things started to make sense a little more. If you have some money to spare, I would also recommend his excellent "Understanding Exposure", even for the advanced amateur photographer. I have pre-ordered his "Understanding Shutter Speed: Creative Action and Low-Light Photography Beyond 1/125 Second" and I'll let you know if it is of the same quality.

If Bryan Peterson has a Google Alert on the use of his name and comes across this blog, please eave a comment for a devoted fan :-)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Tripod Resolution

Every now and then when the moon is almost full I grab my camera. I think it's because I love the phrase "waxing gibbous moon." Waxing is the opposite of waning; it means it's getting bigger. And gibbous is the opposite, or the complement, of crescent; it means a partial moon larger than a half moon. I've always wanted to title a picture Waxing Gibbous Moon. Two nights ago I took the camera out by the garage and took this. I tell myself in those situations that there's no time for a tripod. For this shot, I turned on "Anti-Shake" (actually, I never turn Anti-Shake off) and jammed the camera up against the garage door. When I saw that the exposure wasn't totally sharp and the moon was still blown out (this would be a good application for two quick exposures blended with one of those actions that combines two exposures for extended dynamic range—I'm not just imagining that those exist, am I?), I had one of those "tiny epiphanies" of which my days are full—I realized I dislike tripods on principle. That is, I don't think of myself as a tripoddy kind of person, all finicky and particular. I'm an anti-tripodite. Real Purple: This unsharp waxing gibbous moon Kind of Blue moon —a detail from the shot above—is also one of the few times I've ever actually seen bonafide purple fringing from my 7D and 28–75mm lens. I have a friend named Christopher Bailey who was once a house painter. I remember keeping him company once four stories above Georgetown. I couldn't leave the window, but Chris was scampering around on boards laid on scaffolding with nothing under him but sidewalk, dizzyingly far below. Now, I'm scared of heights, dramatically so, so just watching him had my stomach in knots. At one point I said, "Chris, aren't you afraid of falling?" At that, he started jumping up and down on one of the boards, which flexed beneath him and then flung him upwards. He jumped on it like it was a trampoline. "Oh, I don't know," he said, "I just feel like if I fall, I'll get my hands on something." Bingo. That's how I feel about steadying the camera. I'll use anything and everything to brace the camera on or against—mantelpieces, car windows, someone's back, whatever. I like to extemporize. More than that, I like to think of myself as someone who can extemporize. Even when I do use a tripod, I just jam the camera down on the top plate with my hands—I seldom actually attach the camera to the tripod head. What I realized the other night is that I avoid tripods just because of this self-conception I have—even when they're called for, and would be appropriate and useful. There was really no reason at all not to grab a tripod when I went inside to get the camera the other night. So here's my resolution. The next time I shoot a waxing gibbous moon (granted, the shot above is another miss), I'm going to get the tripod out, and use it properly. In fact, I'm going to try to use my tripod more often in general. I don't care for "tripod snobs," but being an anti-tripod snob is no better.

Rainbow on the Ground

Last Sunday in Southern California was a freak day of numerous rainbows--double rainbows, rainbows on the ground, full rainbows across the sky. For more about my great photography day, go to my blog entry on