Spend a Photography Weekend in Rome - A walk through History

 Spend a Photography Weekend in Rome - A walk through History

A photographic trip to Rome for any photographer really is  ‘A Walk Through the Ages’. From the coliseum and the forum with it’s statues of Caesar and Augustus to the 2 museums of  modern art , the Maxxi  and MACRO via the fabulous 16th/17th and 18th century palazzos and it’s attractive streets full of stylish boutiques and elegantly dressed Romans. 

I spent the weekend pounding the streets of the Centro Storico with my camera.   I also love walking the narrow streets of Trastevere,  I used to live right by the old Jewish quarter which is well worth a visit. 

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Champagne Photography Workshop - And They are Picking the Grapes!

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Last week I took Irma, Alice and Peter on a photography Tour to Champagne to take pictures of the grape pickers at work, drink champagne and try and learn something about photography. 

I took them to the Marne Valley to a local champagne house that I know very well and knew they would be able to spend the time and get some good atmospheric shots before touring the surrounding area for landscapes, Peter’s favourite type of photography.

I call these photography lessons I give, photography tours, although in most cases I have people who love photography but are unsure how to use a camera manually in order to take the sort of picture that they really want.   It was the case on Tuesday so we spent an hour in a café going through the aperture, shutter speeds and appropriate ISO’s with Irma being the most advanced, fully understanding the different types of shots she could obtain and keen to try.

“I wish they wouldn’t move so fast!’ Alice complained as she showed me a blurred shot of one of the guys carrying 2 full baskets of grapes between the vines to empty them.   I set her up in auto focus with a shutter speed priority.  I believe in getting the picture first, then you can try and do it manually.   They were cutting the grapes at great speed and the baskets were filling up constantly with several well muscled men running up and down the alleys between the grapes changing empty baskets for full ones.

Vendanges in champagne

Their task for the day was to make a photography feature ‘A day in Champagne during the vendanges.’  Photographically this is quite a challenge as it incorporates overall landscape pictures with the grape pickers, small groups or individuals at work, macro shots of the grapes and the cutting, some portraits of the pickers, their breaks, a lunch, the grapes being loaded onto the harvesters and tricky indoor shots of the grapes being tipped into the huge vats to be pressed. A pretty comprehensive photography lesson encompassing some fast action and low light atmospheric indoor shooting.

The equipment does help. Irma had it all – wow – a lawyer from Chicago she had brought some great gear.  The Sony Alpha 9 with some awesome lenses, I was quite jealous although I am a Fujifilm fan myself .  Peter and Alice both had Nikons and I actually had a Canon with me so it was interesting to see the results.  I do ask people to familiarise themselves with the cameras they use as I can’t possibly know how every camera menu works.

We enjoyed a lunch washed down by large quantities of champagne that seemed to improve their skills considerably!  At around 4.00 we jumped in a jeep to the depot and began photographing the off loading of the grapes and the men tipping them into the vats to be crushed.  I had brought a tripod and monopod in the car, which helped Alice and Peter out.  Irma of course had her own!

We then took off towards the pretty town ofHautvillers and some superb panoramas for landscapes in spiteof the dull weather.   Alice and Peter were staying in Epernay for a couple of nights so were pleased to find some good spots that they could return to.

We stopped for a final glass of champagne and went through the shots that they had taken and there were some great shots.  We discussed saturation and contrast and how to bring out more colour in post-production.  I am and will remain a fan of black and white in poor weather but the results in colour were great.  They had all learnt how to take a portrait, use blur and movement, obtain depth of field for the landscapes and work in low light without a flash.

Irma tells me she’s coming on one of my photography tours to Sri Lanka or Myanmar.  She says she’s always wanted to go to both those countries and take amazing photos which she will.

Vallee de la marne, champagne

Vallee de la marne, champagne

Champagne is great for photography tours and lessons right into November.  There are some beautiful autumn days, the leaves change colour and there are visits to the cellars that are very photogenic.  You can also buy a couple of bottles at a great price to put in your suitcase for Christmas!  Looking forward to doing a photography tour to champagne with you soon!

CONSIDER TAKING A PHOTOGRAPHY TOUR TO CHAMPGNE THIS FALL

Consider taking a Photography Tour to Champagne in September or October.  It is the best time to visit.  In September the grapes are ripe and ready for picking.  You may be lucky enough to be there during the ‘vendanges’ when the grapes are picked by hand and the countryside is dotted with people in colourful clothes picking the grapes.

A Photography Tour in Champagne offers the possibility to take the best pictures in the most spectacular settings.  You will taste champagne from small and big producers, photograph their cellars, and make beautiful landscape photographs. 

If you come during the grape picking, last year in early September and probably similarly this year, I will arrange for you to spend part of the day with the pickers, getting up close, offering some superb vivid portraits of the people, the vines and the grapes.  Visiting the cellars at this time is sometimes difficult as everyone is busy with the harvest but the photographic opportunities are wonderful.  I also arrange for us to have a delicious local champagne lunch with the harvesters.  You will also be able to photograph the crushing and processing of the grapes.  

Not to worry, if you miss this event.  The countryside with its criss-cross patterns of the vineyards, cyclists and old stone villages make for stunning photographs.  In October, the leaves turn from green to a kaleidoscope of oranges, yellows, rust and gold, and although the grapes have been harvested there are always some remaining, as the quotas in champagne are very strict.  

In Fleury La Rivière there is a small champagne house that we can visit which has exceptional cellar full of fossils abounding with shells that are several tens of million of years old.  I took some pretty interesting and different photographs there and of course we will enjoy a glass of their champagne before leaving.

There are a number of small picturesque villages, some along the banks of the Marne with its boats and pretty bridges.  As all the Champagne area is hilly there are many vantage points allowing a variety of landscapes that are quite different one from the other.

The difference between a private Champagne Tour and a private Photography Champagne Tour is that you will see a greater diversity whilst receiving full photography tuition and will come home with a great set of pictures.  I can organise anything from a day trip to a 5 day trip that will take you to all three champagne areas.

I will definitely be spending a part of September and Octoberin the vineyards taking photographs, so join me!

 

 

 

 

A Photography Road Trip to Jamaica - The Bond Trail, Part 1.

For years I had wanted to visit Jamaica.  As a fan of those early Bond movies and that glamorous bygone era of the 1950’s and 60’s, Jamaica has always evoked beauty and wealth, picture postcard beaches with crystal clear water, luxury hotels, and homes to the rich and famous.  The ultimate Caribbean destination in all its splendour.  Home to reggae, Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, blue mountain coffee, jerk chicken and cheap ganja.

Everything is photography for me, so although the idea of going to Jamaica was to relax and chill out, listen to music, hunt out the old Bond haunts and not put my alarm on at 5.30 every morning as I usually do, I still wanted to get some pictures even though this was not the object of the trip.   I took my old Fuji XE2 with an 18-55 zoom that is sort of permanently attached to me anyway,  and a monopod.   I’m always telling people on my photography tours that the camera is just a vehicle and it’s the eye that counts so be it.

We flew into Kingston and hired a car at the airport.  Most visitors to Jamaica fly to Montego Bay but our idea was to tour the island and flights to Kingston from Europe were considerably cheaper as was the car hire, so bear this in mind.  Before leaving we read horrible reports of it being a dangerous country and as for Kingston, the worst! so we set off in slight trepidation of what we might find.

Before I go any further, let me just say that at no point did we feel any danger or threat and found most of the people friendly and helpful. The worst that happened to us was we followed a guy on a scooter who wanted to show us a waterfall.  It turned out he was a tout so we turned around and drove off.  Some people are poor and they try it on. Don’t follow anyone who deliberately tries to start up a conversation.

After a good nights sleep at the Liguana Club (Bond haunt) in the business district of Kingston and with local SIM cards in our telephone, we set off to the North East coast through a part of the stunning Blue Mountains.  I was blown away by the scenery and in spite of dark, gathering clouds had to shoot off a few photos.  We eventually joined the main coastal road until we arrived at Port Antonio where we had booked a couple of nights at the Rio Vista resort which was to be our base for touring around.

On arrival, I gasped at the view from the terrace, overlooking the Crow Mountains and the Rio Grande river, it was absolutely breath taking.  I photographed it a dozen times at different times of the day.  Yes, I did get up at 5.30!  it was misty and moody and magical.

The east coast is absolutely stunning.  Wilder and less touristy than all the rest of Jamaica, it has gorgeous sandy bays that you can actually visit without big hotels having grabbed and privatised them like so many on the north coast.  Some of them come at a price but they are clean, safe and very beautiful.  Actually, Jamaica comes at a price, full stop.  The East coast is probably one of the least expensive areas to visit providing you have a good map, use GPS where possible and keep asking the locals directions and information.

I photographed the beaches, the road side huts, the incredible scenery, the town of Port Antonio and the Errol Flynn Marina.  Did I wish that I had brought more equipment?  Of course!  A 600mm lens would have been good for the birds!  A lot of small cameras offer you almost that possibility but I can’t vouch for the quality. 

On our way to Ocho Rios, a mega tourist destination and one that I was the most reticent about, but it’s on the James Bond movie trail so it was a must see, we stopped at Oracabessa to visit the James Bond Beach which offered good snorkelling and a couple of pictures.  It is so called, as Ian Fleming built his house there called Goldeneye, hence the Bond reference.

I don’t ‘Do’ tourist things or stay in tourist places but I wanted to do the number one most touristy thing in the whole of Jamaica, visit Dunns River Falls in the morning, the minute it opened!  We had it almost to ourselves for about half an hour and then the hoards arrived.  We walked up through the falls which was actually very easy (you do not need a guide, just follow everyone else!).  There was a wedding couple in full attireposing in the water for a photographer, which everyone stopped to snap too.  Our Airbnb at the Sandcastles had free access to a crystal clear fairly empty private beach which was pretty nice too, and Evita’s Italian restaurant was probably the best meal we had in Jamaica. 

As I downloaded the last of the pictures I realised that I didn’t have too many street scenes or architectural shots, so we decided to go on to Falmouth, an old colonial town before hitting Montego Bay, the final early Bond destination.  Falmouth, Montego Bay, Negril and Treasure Beach coming next!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Preparing upcoming Photography Tours and Workshops to Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Sicily in late 2017/2018

 Preparing upcoming Photography Tours and Workshops to Myanmar,  Sri Lanka and Sicily in late 2017/2018

The difference between a regular tour and a photography tour or workshop is that in addition to visiting the best places at the best times, including some different ones to everyone else,  in a small group of similar minded people, you will learn endless tips on how to take better pictures and make them look how you want them to.

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Join me on a Photography Travel Tour in Sri Lanka for August 2017

Join me on a Photography Travel Tour  in Sri Lanka for August 2017

For a keen landscape photographer, you will be hard put to find so many different landscape and seascape possibilities in one small country.  Those landscapes can be taken alone or peppered with local people, monks, fisherman, school children, tea pickers etc.   The Sri Lankan people are charming and friendly so those more interested in street photography and portraits will find it easy to capture the local population

 

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Take your Camera to Porto this spring and bring back a great set of landscape and street photography

Take your Camera to Porto this spring and bring back a great set of landscape and street photography

There are photos on every street corner and pushing the doors offer more.  The people are absolutely charming, their wines and of course the Port are really excellent and the food delicious, what more could you want?!  Take yourself on a photography tour with a decent camera, Porto merits more than just a phone. 

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It’s Grape picking time in Champagne and a photography tour is a must!

It’s Grape picking time in Champagne and a photography tour is a must!

 

Splashes of colour intersperse the vineyards.  It is harvest time in Champagne and thousands of people are picking the grapes by hand which offers a great opportunity to take some superb, candid, sometimes funny and very varied photographs.  I offer tours and workshops in champagne so am always in the area during this time of the year. 

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Photography Tour to Mount Etna and Syracuse in Sicily

Photography Tour to Mount Etna and Syracuse in Sicily

I’m so excited that at this point I’m almost running with the cameras jangling round my neck and shoulders.  There are plenty of photos to make as you can go up and look down over the craters. 

Sicily is just dripping in potential photos.  I will talk more about them in the next blog. I HAVE to organise a PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP IN SICILY!

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If you choose to become a stills photographer, the chance is you will also become a videographer.

If you choose to become a stills photographer, the chance is you will also become a videographer.

In order to take decent video with a DSLR camera a number of accessories are necessary and expensive.  For a start, an optical viewfinder is a must, without it you will not be able to focus.   A decent tripod with a good pan head is also vital.  I recently bought a monopod for added flexibility.  A camera monitor screen is a really good idea too, as the viewfinder at the back of the camera is pretty small and covered by the viewfinder so it is difficult to see what you are actually shooting and much harder to focus.

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A Photography tour in Paris – Off the Beaten track, walking around Menilmontant

A Photography tour in Paris – Off the Beaten track, walking around Menilmontant

Street photography is the essence of photography, it is a historical necessity that records precious moments that document life depicting the heartbeat of a place for ever.  When I am coaching photography, I always say the most important thing is to seize the moment..  Use your energy framing the photograph as best as you can, the technical points can be sorted out later

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WORKING AS A CORPORATE AND INDUSTRIAL PHOTOGRAPHER –RULES OF THE GAME - contracts, copyright, certificates and more!

Firstly, US and UK corporations cover themselves totally so you’d best get yourself some good insurance which doesn’t come cheap.  As far as many corporations are concerned they pay you, your expenses, you shoot for them andit’s theirs.   Copyright is one of the biggest bones of contention for a photographer.

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