I made it to Meteora early last year, unfortunately I only got to spend one morning there. As you can see from this photo, there are far too many monasteries, clinging to these rocks, to visit in one morning!
It’s been a while since I’ve posted a photo, so here’s one of my favorites.
To visit the amazing caves at Phong Nha town it’s typical to hire a dragon boat at the river bank in town. They then whisk you up river and a good way into the cave. There, they drop you on a beach inside the cave once used as a military hospital during the American War. On the way back I saw the sun’s rays breaking through the clouds and managed to snap this picture. It was a bit tricky though, I had to fit my head through the slats in the top of the boat, then raise my camera with my hands reaching through two different gaps. It took a couple of tries but eventually I was in. I had a brief moment of panic afterwards as my head appeared to be stuck.
Llamas have a bad reputation for spitting on people. I can tell you with absolute certainty that that’s a lie, at least where the llamas photographed are concerned. We walked all amongst these guys and they barely batted an eye at our presence.
This is another of my old photos taken with a point and shoot ten years ago. If you look close you can see little pink blobs in the background, those are flamingos. It’s the only place I’ve ever seen a flock of wild flamingos.
It wasn’t long after taking this photo that our guide woke us up at 2 in the morning and ordered us to get packed and ready to leave. We were supposed to fly from Sucre to Santa Cruz two days later, but he had heard there were protests scheduled in Sucre that would prevent us from entering Sucre if we didn’t leave Ayuni immediately.
After loading onto the bus, bleary eyed, we careened along the rough mountain roads, clinging to the cliffs, towards Sucre. Despite our early departure we didn’t make it back before the roads into the city were blocked by the haphazardly placed vehicles of angry bus and taxi drivers. Our guide went on ahead to assess the situation and came back to inform us that we’d have to complete the last few miles into the city on foot.
Apparently we were lucky it was drivers striking and not farmers because it was less likely that they’d throw rocks at us as we passed (That’s less likely… i.e., not completely out of the question). We were still told to stick together and keep our eyes up as we walked through the barricade. As it turned out, the protestors were content to get us off our bus and make us walk with our packs into the city, and we passed through without incident.
It was definitely a situation where using a backpack trumped a rolling suitcase.
To get to this vantage point we hired a tuk tuk to take us up the volcano. There’s a weird shack there with a viewpoint on top. The ground floor housed less than friendly dogs that snarled as we walked past. The tuk tuk driver hadn’t told us there was a charge for the viewing platform when we decided to hire him to take us up the hill, but sure enough, this weird structure in the middle of nowhere had a ticket booth complete with turnstiles.
The view back across the lake was pretty spectacular though.
Today’s photo is another shot from Lake Como with a sailboat dwarfed by the surrounding mountains that rise, almost vertically, from the water’s surface. Can’t write much tonight as I need to get packing. I’m off to the Bahamas tomorrow for a meeting then taking a few days off in Florida. Don’t have a big enough bag to take all my camera gear at the moment so have some tricky decisions to make.
Today’s Photo: Lake Como
A visit to Lake Como was recommended to me by my uncle. I really knew nothing about the place but had faith that the two hour drive would be worth it. The plan was to hop on the ferry for a low cost “cruise” up the lake followed by lunch and a trip back. I thought it could provide a good opportunity to ratchet up a few photos.
As it turns out, Lake Como is beautiful. Mountains plunged from the blue sky into the deep water. Boats of all shapes and size plied the waters around us as the ferry chugged its way up the lake, from village port to village port. I definitely took a lot of pictures. I’m not sure how usable a lot of them are as a moving ferry doesn’t make for an ideal base. It was really a sort of spray and pray situation. I just kept taking photos in the hope I’d get a few I could keep. I think I’m happy with today’s photo. But, I do have to question whether it would make the cut if I’d gotten to go down to Portofino and the Cinque Terre where I had two days of shooting pretty well planned out!
The Technical Bits
Elia Locardi, over at Blame the Monkey, does this for each of his photos so I’ve decided to give it a try.
Camera: Canon 5d Mk II
Lens: EF70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM
Exposure: 1/320, 1/1250, and 1/80 at f/7.1
Taking the Photo: This is one of the few photos I took on Lake Como that I remember putting a bit of thought into. I wanted to use as big a zoom as possible to compress the image and make the mountains loom over the village and the boats in the foreground. I made a quick switch from the 24-70mm lens I was using to the 70-300mm. I couldn’t zoom my focal length up as much as I wanted to, but the effect is still pretty satisfying. If you’ve read my HDR tutorial you’ll know that I usually keep my ISO down at 100 to minimize noise as the HDR processing emphasizes noise dramatically. But, as I was shooting handheld (no point in using a tripod on a moving ferry) and had a moving subject I wanted to freeze so I bumped the ISO up a touch.
Processing: It was a hazy day, and the camera emphasized this fact, so I wound up with a very dull, flat set of images. I processed them in Photomatix as usual and then did a lot of work adjusting the contrast in Photoshop to try to breathe a bit of life back into it. I used layers to selectively adjust the contrast, and saturation of different parts of the image. Then I realised that the mountains had come out very blue. I probably should have used a polarizer on such a hazy day. So, I made myself a digital, graduated warming filter with Photoshop to warm up the mountains a bit. Then, I used Topaz Adjust to boost the detail a bit. The higher than usual ISO and processing work resulted in quite a lot of noise in the sky, ocean and side of the sailboat. I created a duplicate layer of the image and selectively de-noised the problem areas before sharpening the foreground.
Software: Photomatix, Photoshop, Topaz Adjust, Noiseware Pro
I’m not sure why, but I decided to treat the Twitter-verse to a play by play as I processed this one. I have no idea if it will be interesting to anyone but think I’ll keep doing it from time to time. Purely because I feel a bit like I have this underutilized Twitter account. You can follow me there if you like: @TraverseEarth. If you’ve got some time to kill feel free to read over tonight’s ramblings. If anyone finds them at all interesting, I can try to make a habit of it.
This photo was taken at the end of my first full night in Iceland. The sun was just peaking over the mountains behind us and turning everything we could see a beautiful golden hue. I liked the way the road peaked in and out of view as it wound through the fjord. I do wonder if I’d have gotten a slightly better vantage point if I’d climbed on top of the jeep, though.