Jun 092012

“I don’t Photograph People”

I’ve said that a lot in the past it’s true, I don’t normally take photos of people. It’s just never really come naturally to me and I don’t find it as interesting as setting out on foot to find that incredible vista for a landscape shot. I’ve always been more into landscapes, really only taking photos of people who ask me or candid shots. However, people clearly fit into the genre of travel photography. Some would say they are one of the main subjects. This has resulted in me gaining an interest in photographing people. Still, I’ve stuck mainly to candid shots, people doing things or people as part of a landscape. I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to take photos of people posing. Then along came today’s photo.

Today’s Photo: Cousins

If you’ve been following this site for a while you’ve seen my previous post, Three Generations, and may recognise the kids in the photo below. After I’d taken that photo I let my camera hang to my side, on my BlackRapid strap (awesome by the way). Little did I know, my camera was on and the photo I’d just taken was on display. The kids started craning their necks to get a look at their photo, so I held it up and pointed to the photo. Their faces lit up and I got ready to take another photo. They all started moving towards me and jostling for position. After motioning for them to stop I took a quick photo as I didn’t want a load of cheesy grins. As a result I got some very unique and interesting expressions. Right down to the boy in the back who had clearly already lost interest!

So, normally I find posed pictures of people boring, but I’m quite pleased with this one. What do you think, is this photo interesting enough to be featured as my photo of the day? Let me know in the comments, I read them all.

Candid photo of village children in front of a round straw roofed hut in Zambia

Something Interesting: Amazing Pics, Highlighting only the best photographs

When you see a site called Amazing Pics you click on it with a degree of doubt, especially when it claims to feature only the best photographs. Typically it’s full of very good pictures, but the quality varies and you’ve really got to wonder if they really are the best. Whoever is making the selections for this site is definitely maintaining a uniquely high standard and the photos featured here are absolutely incredible. I hope one day to take my photography to a level where my photos could be featured alongside these.

You can help me out by clicking this link… a lot! That way the selector may take note of my site and keep an eye out for when I do achieve something truly amazing!

Here it is: http://mostamazingpics.com/

I know I’m sending you to another daily photo site. It’s okay, I can handle you seeing other people. Just don’t forget about Traverse Earth!

Mar 162012

Normally I wouldn’t include people posing for a picture in one of my shots. But, as I mentioned in a previous post, taking photos of the kids in this village was great fun! Here you can see my travel companion Chris posing for a picture as Shannon teaches a couple of the kids how to use her camera. The sky was striking and I liked the opportunity to catch a picture of the kids having fun without actually having them pose for me!

This photo is only bracketed from -1 to +1. I had to shoot handheld because if I’d set up the tripod the kids would have flocked long before I was ready to take a shot. I also needed to use a small aperture to get the whole scene in focus. If I’d gone to +2 I never would have been able to get a sharp image.

We’d brought clothes to give as a gift and as thanks for allowing us to visit. We didn’t know that we were going to be visiting this village and had actually packed very light for the safari. It was a shame as Shannon had been carrying a lot of stuff to give away the whole trip (this eventually found a home in a Rwandan orphanage). Everyone managed to pull something out, including Soniko who offered up a brand new world cup rugby jersey. But, Soniko wanted to give this to someone personally and eventually gave it to the older kid in the blue sitting down in the middle of this picture. Being selected for Soniko’s prize possession made his day and he beamed a huge smile as he received the jersey.

Village with round straw huts in Rwanda with groups of local children posing for a photo while others learn to use the camera, under a beautiful blue sky with clouds.

Feb 072012

Stepping out of my comfort zone of landscapes and cityscapes, I was inspired to shoot this portrait. The kids we encountered in Zambia and Rwanda were great. They certainly make a memorable impression. They’re also fascinated by the camera. I’ve mentioned the boy who followed me around Gisenyi setting up and packing away my tripod for me. While we were canoeing the lower Zambezi we paid a visit to a local village. As the chief’s wife gave us a demonstration in how they make flour, I snapped a photo of her toiling away with a small portion of her mob of grandchildren in the background. Without realizing, I left the screen on as I let the camera hang to my side. Suddenly I noticed all the kids were jockeying for a view of my hip. So I knelt down to show them the picture. They responded by pointing  while chanting “Aye Nappa” (I have no idea how to spell this and am a bit ashamed to say I don’t even know what language it is, maybe our African language buff, Soniko, can fill this detail in). Our guide, C.B., filled us in that they were saying, “that’s me!”

Kids wherever we went loved having their photos taken, normally in a pack with huge cheesy grins. Most of these were really just snap shots to show them. As we climbed this hill in Rwanda (in a truck this time) to get a better view of the twin lakes, Burera and Ruhondo, we came across loads of kids –  we were in Rwanda during a school break. As usual, they ran after us along the road and posed for photos. Then, at this verge looking out over one of the lakes there were only a few kids around. I’d started concentrating on taking landscapes before acknowledging the kids as it tended to be impossible after that. I snapped a few photos of this view and noticed that the older boy in this photo was watching me very closely, with that exact expression on his face and the littler one always by his side. I took a few photos and then called him over and had the two of them press the shutter button to fire off my bracketed photos for me. Neither asked for a photograph, which was a bit different, so I asked to take a photo of them. I’m very happy I did. I feel like this kid has the eyes of a wise old man. Regretfully, I don’t remember his name. I’m hoping to track him down. Cameron exchanged e-mail addresses with a few kids further up the hill who I need to send a few photos. They all wanted to be photographed with Cameron, who seemed a bit of a giant in Rwanda. Maybe those kids can track these guys down.

My HDR technique is based on Trey Ratcliff’s website, Stuck in Customs, where he bemoans the fact that Nikons force him to take 5 exposures in order to bracket exposures from -2 to +2. He states that the light range in the majority of scenes can be captured in three exposures, -2,0,+2. For no real reason I started using 7 exposures and have wondered what I would ever tell anyone if they asked me why I take 7. Now I know. It may be possible to capture the light range of the majority of scenes in three exposures. However, I’m still new to this HDR stuff and as such I’m not tuned to recognize when I need to go wider. For this shot, as I was photographing people (which aren’t very still), I dropped my usual 7 exposures down to 3. As a result, the background of this photo was plagued with noise. I think this is the result of Photomatix having to adjust the exposure of the background as it was not captured in the three images taken. Also, the option to mask out the sky in the Photomatix result to replace it with a noise free version didn’t work because I was missing the correct exposure. It’s come out alright after using Noiseware Pro, which is a great Photoshop plugin for removing noise, but I’ve lost some detail as a result.  So, as I’m still learning when to shoot which exposures, I’ll stick to my -3 to +3 just to make sure.

Portrait of two local boys dressed in red where the older looks very serious and wise in front of the twin lakes, Burera and Ruhondo, in Rwanda.