Getting Settled in Spain
Jan26

Getting Settled in Spain

I’ve said it a couple times over the past few blog entries, but the theme of 2017 is home. Or, at least the idea of starting to look at options for a future home.  Spain has always been the obvious location for me to start to put down some roots.  It’s centrally located, I speak the language, I like the lifestyle, and it’s fairly affordable to live in as well. However, logistically, it doesn’t make a lot of sense this year.  I have projects in Argentina, Peru, and Iceland already sorted out for this year.  And, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to be jumping back and forth across the Atlantic when flight prices are so high.  But, I still kind of want to explore the idea of Spain as a future home.  So, I have given myself nearly a month to wander around Spain looking at different towns and getting a feel for what it would be like to live there. The first place I’ll be checking out is Madrid. Welcome to Madrid! After about a week of full on travel that had me jumping from Medellin, to Las Vegas, to Los Angeles, to London, and finally to Madrid, I was exhausted.  I was also extremely jet-lagged. The truth is, I wasn’t going to go out and explore or shoot photos, or do anything on my first day in Madrid.  But, I got the feeling that if I stayed tucked away in my hotel room all day I’d have a harder time getting over the jet-lag.  So, I made the most of my first day in the city.  I got out and had a really nice lunch off of a set menu.  It’s so nice to be back in Europe where you have the option of eating street-side and watching the world go by.  Then, in the afternoon I wandered around town doing some location scouting and shooting a little video. Some Photography of Madrid Day 2 in Madrid, I wanted to get out and do some shooting.  So, after taking care of some chores in the morning, I wandered out into the streets of the city to do some photography.  I hit a lot of the same places I scouted the day before.  And, for a little while I got some really fantastic light. Honestly, I somehow remember the last time I was in Madrid I had a hard time finding photography locations that I liked.  This time in the city, I feel overwhelmed by the amount of different locations there are to shoot.  In one afternoon – or, really, in just a couple hours –...

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Getting to Spain
Jan24

Getting to Spain

My trip down to Colombia was so necessary.  But, it also created a whole set of logistical challenges, and an array of travel diversions.  I had already bought tickets to Spain from Los Angeles, so it meant flying back to the US for a couple days.  Of course, if you know me, and you’ve been following my life long enough, you know that I didn’t take the easy way back to the US either.  It was a mission.  These are the travel diaries from my journey from Colombia to Spain – the long way, as usual. Winning Big on a Layover in Las Vegas My flight back to Los Angeles was set to a miserable schedule.  I booked a flight through Copa Airlines that had 2, 10+ hour layovers just to save $400.  The first layover was spent in Panama City where I didn’t leave the airport and instead just sat in the business class lounge all day doing work. By the time I got to my second layover, in Las Vegas, I was stir crazy from all the time sat in airplanes and airports.  And while I didn’t really feel like going out into the streets of Vegas in the middle of the night, with a 10+ hour layover there, I decided to head out and shoot some night photography. I wandered along the strip of Las Vegas for a couple hours getting some shots.  But, it was cold and I wasn’t dressed or prepared for the cold.  So, I decided that I’d head into one of the casinos and chuck down $80 to play until the money ran out, or I warmed up; whichever came first.  Somehow, though, within about 30 minutes I managed to turn that $80 into $200.  I decided to walk away from the table.  But, when realizing that I still have about 7 hours to kill, I put my initial $80 investment into my pocket, and decided to gamble away with the $120 I earned.  Within about 90 minutes, that $120 became $2320.  And, after losing two hands of blackjack betting $100 a piece, I decided to call it quits with a night’s profit of over $2000.  I’m still a little in shock that it happened.  I always seem to hang on for a while playing blackjack, as I play the odds.  Sometimes I win a little, but never do I turn out a profit like that.  I’m still amazed. I only gamble about once every 3 years, and it was fun.  But, believe me when I say that I won’t be changing my career from professional travel photographer to professional blackjack player....

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Travel Diaries: Colombia
Jan18

Travel Diaries: Colombia

There’s this funny thing that happens to you when you travel the world. At first, you start to feel like you don’t really belong anywhere. You feel like you’re searching for your home, but can’t seem to find it. Then, after a while, you start to realize that there are a dozen of different places pulling you in each direction. When you travel so much, different destination, people, and experiences that you know, and are comfortable with, start to make you feel like you want to be in 10 different places at once. Before heading to Colombia, I felt that way. And, honestly, that feeling beat me up a bit. Obviously, I couldn’t be everywhere at once. Obviously, I couldn’t be with all the people I wanted to be with at once; not when they’re scattered all over the globe. I’m a believer that you have to listen to the signals that your mind gives you. You have to give in to the ideas that spring to life in your conscious.  And for whatever reason, it felt like the energies of the world were all pulling me back to South America. In the end, I decided I needed to make a trip down to Medellin. I needed to see if I still had the same love for Medellin I had back when I was living there. And, so on a bit of a whim, I booked a flight to Colombia. A Colombian Road Trip I landed in Medellin after a sleep-free night flying from Phoenix via LAX and Panama City. As soon as I got there, I rolled over to the family finca (country home) of an old friend. There, we sprung plans to head out on a road trip. Because, you know, sleep is over-rated when you can drive across a country. So, we drove through the night to the city of Pereira. The next day, we drove out to Salento and the Valle de Cocora – both places I’ve been before. With no desperate need to take photos, I kind of just enjoyed spending time with friends and not worrying about getting shots. It’s kind of nice to be a tourist every now and then. I need to remember to do that more often. It reminds be that travel is about more than just getting some shots. That night, we went out on the town. And, yeah, we kind of over-did it. We woke up complete disasters. But, we had a long drive ahead of us back to Medellin. On the way, we stopped at some hot springs in Santa Rosa de Cabral. It was actually the perfect...

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Travel Diaries: Home for the Holidays
Jan09

Travel Diaries: Home for the Holidays

It’s been a funny couple of months.  The end of 2016 was crazy. In just 2 months I spent time in 11 different countries on 5 different continents. I was a part of two big campaigns – one in India and the other in Spain and Italy.  I taught a travel photography workshop in Cuba, and also solo travelled all over Southern Africa.  If I’m being honest, by the time I got home to Phoenix, I was exhausted. Home in Phoenix? Now, you’re probably thinking: aren’t you Canadian? How is Phoenix home?  Well, to be fair I use the term “home” fairly loosely.  And, I have plenty of “homes” around the world.  Phoenix is one of them.  My parents bought a house there a few years ago when the housing crisis in the US meant for extremely good deals on properties.  They’re retired now, and spend the winters there playing pickle ball and avoiding the cold weather of Canada. It was so good to be back around family.  I’m pretty sure I drove them mental though.  My past couple months of craziness left me a little rough around the edges, I think.  And, I think my levels of patience and “chill” were at an all time low.  Still, it was so good to have them around.  There’s nothing better to ground a person than being around family who really reminds them where they came from, and who they really are.  I’m very thankful for them.  They always keep me humble – or at least, they try. Patience at the Devil’s Bridge I didn’t just chill out while in Phoenix, though.  There are so many places to see and so many awesome photo locations that I had to get out and do some shooting as well.  Plus, I was way behind on some work for a couple clients, so getting out and shooting was kind of a priority. One of the locations I really wanted to shoot was the Devil’s Bridge in Sedona.  I’ve been up to Sedona a couple times, but never knew about the Devil’s Bridge. So, when I saw some photos I realized that it would be a great place to get some cool shots, and also get some images for my clients. Of course, like nearly every photogenic spot in the US it took some patience to get the shot I wanted. The Devil’s Bridge was packed with people right up until the minute the light disappeared.  It was a Friday right before the holidays, so it might have been more busy than normal.  But, the shots came out cool – despite a lack of good light...

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Shooting the Stars in Joshua Tree National Park
Dec28

Shooting the Stars in Joshua Tree National Park

I love being based in Phoenix. While there’s not a massive amount of things to do in the city itself, it’s surrounded by really cool locations all within about a 4-5 hour drive.  One of those places is Joshua Tree National Park.  It’s a place I’ve been wanting to go back and shoot under the stars for a while now.  So, while here in Phoenix, I’ve been checking the weather and the moon cycle for the past week waiting for a dark night with clear skies.  As soon as a clear night came, I jumped at the chance to make the 3 hour drive to the park to shoot the stars. Testing the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 Lens Another one of the reasons I wanted to make the run to Joshua Tree was because I got a new lens.  I picked up the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 lens which is a bit of a specialty lens for star photography.  It’s manual aperture and manual focus, but at an aperture of f/2.8 it’s great for star photography.  And, at only $290 it’s not a heavy expense either. Overall, I’m really happy with the lens. It’s sharp and crisp, and from a technical standpoint I haven’t noticed any major issues of vignetting of chromatic aberration.  I’m very pleased. Although, I do want to use it a few more times before I come to any conclusions. Star Photography I feel like star photography is one of the skills where I still have a lot of growing to do.  So, I love heading out and shooting the stars because it’s always a learning experience.  On this trip to Joshua Tree, I really focused on putting myself in the frame as often as I could.  So, I set my camera up on an intervolemeter and raced around to different parts of the image to capture myself in the scene.  I’m so incredibly happy with how they turned out.  Especially this first photo.  I shot it on December 26th, and I think it’s my favourite photo of 2016. What’s Next I’ve got a lot of new gear coming, so look for some reviews as well as some new vlogs.  I’m only in the Phoenix area for a week longer, and I have a few more areas I want to explore. Then, I’m off to Colombia for 2 weeks before heading back to Europe.  After a couple weeks of catch up over the holidays, it’s about to get busy...

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Travel Diaries: 2 Weeks in Cuba
Dec25

Travel Diaries: 2 Weeks in Cuba

To wind down a wild couple months of travel, I finally made it to Cuba.  Of course, if you read my last post you’ll know that it wasn’t without miscue.  I made it to Cuba 2 days later than anticipated. But, still on time for the start of the travel photography workshop I ran there with Jeff Bartlett. Rather than toss out a dozen different posts from my time in Cuba, I thought it made sense to instead update with a series of travel diaries from the 2 week workshop. Street Photography in Havana Havana is awesome. I don’t think I appreciated it enough last time I was in Cuba.  In fact, I kind of wish that I would have given our photography workshop participants another day to explore – although most of them did arrive early and spent a couple days there.  There is just this feeling to the city that is so different to anywhere else I’ve ever been. It’s an amazing place to shoot street photography, too. We took the participants around the city on our day in Havana and took portraits and tried to capture the street life. Aside from the street photography in Havana, there are lots of plazas to photograph; and the architecture is beautiful as well.  On both the first day of the tour and the last day of the trip, we photographed different parts of the city.  These are a few of my favourite shots of the city. Viñales is Always Impressive When I spent a month in Cuba on a location scouting trip, I loved Viñales. I thought it offered such a cool variety of things to photograph.  The town is set within a series of limestone karst pillars which are stunning.  For me, there is no more impressive landscape in the country. Then, within the hills there are a number of impressive caves to explore. Beyond the landscapes and nature of Viñales, there’s the farm life of the region.  This is the most important tobacco-growing region of Cuba, and almost every farm is planted full of the crop.  As soon as we arrived in town, we took our group down to a farm and had a visit. We also had the owner of the farm take us through the process of growing tobacco, as well as rolling a cigar. In town itself, you’ll not find a people on the planet more open to being photographed.  We did some street photography one afternoon, and not a single time were we ever turned down for a photo.  A couple of us even got invited into an old-folks home and played an intense...

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