Jun 052012

10 Days to Iceland!

I’ve got ten days to wait before I depart for a whirlwind tour of Iceland. Looking forward to long nights finding locations to photograph, trying to touch a puffin, watching whales, playing with glaciers and swimming in 2 degree water. I already know a week in Iceland is not enough and I’m going to want to go back again for longer next year.

One of the girls I work with (Alexis) asked me why the hell I’d want to go to Iceland. I’ve had this question a few times, so I thought I’d post a link to what inspired me to go in the first place, Stuck In Customs: Iceland.

Today’s Photo: Lake Ruhondo, Rwanda

Lake Ruhonda, Rwanda with yellow flowers on shore and small island.

While I was taking this photo of Lake Ruhondo, one of the twin lakes, Cameron was off making friends. He spent quite a while chatting to a few of the local guys who asked that I take a picture with him. After the first shot this turned into a bit of a photo shoot. They gave us their e-mail addresses so we could share the pictures with them. At lunch on Monday, Cameron reminded me that I had yet to sort them out so we could send them. So, I’ve finally done it and figured I’d include them here.

Local boys met while visiting Lake Ruhondo in Rwanda.

Local boys met while visiting Lake Ruhondo in Rwanda.

Local boys met while visiting Lake Ruhondo in Rwanda.

Local boys met while visiting Lake Ruhondo in Rwanda.

Something Interesting: National Geographic Photo Contest 2011

I mentioned in a previous post that I’d seen a photo taken on a train where half the image showed what was outside the window and the other looked inside. The other day I happened to come across the same page again. So here it is: 45 photos selected from the entrants to the 2o11 National Geographic Photo Contest. They’re all incredible images!


Jun 042012

I’m Okay!

Anyone who checks regularly for my daily update may be wondering what happened to me. It’s okay, I didn’t fall off the face of the Earth. While having lunch on Friday I realized that I had the opportunity to go to Wembley for the England vs. Belgium game. Coupling that opportunity with the fact that my travel buddy to Iceland was in London, I found myself spending Friday night on a plane. I had packed my laptop so that I could keep up with my daily posts. Unfortunately, in my haste to pack I forgot my external hard drive, where all my photos are located, and as a result couldn’t upload anything! I’m back in Bermuda now, after a great weekend, and had planned on making amends by uploading a whole series of photos. But, it’s late now, and I haven’t finished the photos I had planned on uploading, so you get a normal post today and a larger one tomorrow.

Something Interesting: Imperial History of The Middle East

I’ve decided to start adding interesting things that I find on the internet to my daily posts. It should provide a few more minutes of entertainment if you’re looking for a distraction at work.  I’m not going to set out to do this on a daily basis, I’ll just upload bits and pieces as they strike me as interesting. I plan on keeping the topic travel and/or photography related. However, already today I may be stretching these topics a bit.

This link (click here) is to an animated map showing just how much turmoil the Middle East has experienced throughout history as it takes us through the various empires that ruled the region. I figure the geography and history of a region is closely related to travel, so have decided it just about fits the “travel” topic. Let me know what you think of it in the comments section below. I was particularly shocked by the extent of the Mongol Empire!

Going forward I think you’ll find the “Something Interesting” part of my post below the daily photograph.

Today’s Photo: Lake Kivu Contrast

I saw this scene developing and thought it would make for a pretty funny photo. All those tourists in their bright orange life jackets contrasted with the local fishermen on their way out for a night of fishing. The tourists had arrived at the Paradis Malahide on a bus tour. They ate lunch and then set out on a boat to explore Lake Kivu before piling back on their bus and taking off.

On Lake Kivu, local fishermen and tour boat with tourists in orange life-jackets and Rwanda's rolling green hills beyond.

May 142012

Shooting in RAW

I’ve read a few articles on whether you should shoot in RAW or JPEG. Today’s photo is a good illustration of why you should shoot in RAW if your goal is HDR. I fired off three bracketed exposures, as I usually do when shooting handheld. However, the gorilla was moving to me so quickly that I could never combine these three exposures. RAW to the rescue. I was able to use the standard exposure to create the rest of my exposures. At the standard exposure the gorillas faces were far too dark. By expanding this image from -2 through to +2, I was able to recover this detail.

Today’s photo: Coming Through

I’d like to be able to claim that I carefully set my camera to blur the gorillas left hand and show movement. The reality is, with a gorilla bearing down on me, playing with the camera was not the first thing on my mind. Getting a few shots and getting out of the way was priority. I wouldn’t say I was particularly scared of a gorilla attack. I was more worried about being the asshole that gets in their way and disrupts their day. Nobody wants to leave a bad first impression with a silverback. After firing off a few shots I stepped quickly out of the way and directly onto Chris’s foot. You can here his muffled scream 29 seconds into this video. In this case I’m glad I didn’t succeed in freezing the gorilla’s motion. It’s blurred left hand makes it clear that this silverback is coming straight at you.

Group of mountain gorillas coming through the green foliage with a silverback really showing quickness in Rwanda.

If you’re interested in buying a print: click away!


May 052012

Operation Horseshoe Bay

First, a quick note on this. In case you’re wondering why I haven’t posted any photos from my successful sunrise at Horseshoe it’s because I wasn’t as successful as I’d thought. For some reason I had my ISO cranked right up. This has resulted in too much noise in the original images for me to merge them to HDR. Always keep your ISO as low as possible!

So, I’m starting again. Tomorrow I’ll be checking the weather reports and picking a few days I think will be good for the sunrise down there. Tonight though, I’ve used the Photographer’s Ephemeris to realise that it’s a good time to photograph the smallest drawbridge in the world. So, I’ll be heading up there in about an hour. Using this tool has also allowed me to spot a few other areas nearby that should be good at sunset.

A friend of mine mentioned that the moon is currently appearing larger than usual, so I’ve also identified a spot to capture the moonrise from, something I’ve never done before. I just hope the sky’s clear for long enough.

Sun Behind Clouds Behind Volcano Behind Clouds Behind Farm Land and the Boundary of Volcano National Park

Rwanda’s landscape really is stunning. Every corner leads to breathtaking views. Here you can see the typical Rwandan terraced farming in front of one of the volcanoes that gives Volcanoes National Park its name. It’s also pretty clear here why Rwanda is known as the Land of a Thousand Hills.

Mike has commented on a few of my posts and mentioned on Tea Time that this intensive level of farming must result in massive pressure on local reserves/wildlife. One thing I found interesting, while driving through the hills, was just how defined the line between the farmland and the national park is. If you look at the volcano in this image, just below the cloud level, you can see this line.

Typical Rwandan terraced farming in front of one of the volcanoes of Volcanoes National Park.

May 022012

That’s right, I’m posting yet another photo of the fishing canoes used on Lake Kivu, Rwanda. I love them. they remind of two days of absolute relaxation reflecting on the most amazing, tiring, action packed, three weeks getting a taste of three very different versions of Africa: Cape Town, Zambia, and Rwanda.

The boat here was left behind by the fleet, which can just be seen on the horizon. At night, you could look out to the horizon and all you would see were the lights of the fisherman’s lanterns against the dark sky. These guys go out rain or shine (100% rain while I was there). Although, I guess I’m assuming they go out rain or shine, as I did not see them fishing under any beautiful, starry night skies.

This photo is a combination of 7 exposures, ranging from -3 to +3. The boats actually moved around quite a lot so the ghosting tool in Photomatix was particularly useful.

Triple fishing canoes used on Lake Kivu, Rwanda under a stormy sky with the rest of the fleet seen on the horizon.

Apr 252012

After visiting the gorillas in Rwanda our guide took us on another route back down. It was a lot easier to enjoy the incredible views on the way down than it was on the way up, which was pretty hard work. We paused here for a break so I took the opportunity to grab a photo. The plants in the foreground are potatoes. I had no idea this is what potatoes look like as they grow. I don’t know what I thought they looked like, but I definitely wouldn’t have pictured little purple flowers.

View of Rwanda countryside with potato (purple flowers) farm and shack and mountains.

Apr 172012

On the way from Ruhengeri to the basket weaver’s, we waked through a few villages. Each time the kids would run out to greet us. They all wanted their pictures taken. and after taking photos of a big group I turned around to find this lone boy standing here watching. I motioned to my camera to ask if he wanted to have a photo. He smiled and nodded and posed ready. I decided to kneel down to get down on his level. But, as I knelt, he crouched, trying to stay on the same layer as he’d been with the camera. I motioned for him to stand up and he wouldn’t. So I stood up and he followed. When I knelt back down again so did he. This happened a few times until I managed to get the shot.

I kind of wish I’d stopped down my aperture to blur the background. I’ve just spent about an hour trying to achieve this in photo shop (for the first time) and wasn’t happy with the results. So, I decided to stick with the original image: boy in front of sugar cane, all in focus.

Young Rwandan boy with a serious expression wearing bright yellow shirt in front of sugar cane

Apr 062012

Another view of the shoreline of Lake Kivu occupied by the Padis Malahide Hotel. I was actually staying in the room you can see in the picture, just above the beach. If you look at this photo in full size you can see the church featured in this post. Just to the right of the frame is the dock where the fishermen set out every night and returned the next morning.

Shoreline of Lake Kivu occupied by the Padis Malahide Hotel in Rwanda


Apr 042012

This gorilla is the same as the first of the gorilla shots I posted. After I’d shot the first photo he moved to this position and paused for a moment before he and the big guy behind him began walking towards me. I felt the guides hand on my shoulder and stepped back accordingly. The gorillas casually walked over the spot I’d just occupied and only a few feet from my current location. Amazing.

Group of gorillas surrounded by greenery in Rwanda