A Post Card From Kek Lok Si

Kek Lok Si Temple, Penang, Malaysia, Chinese New Year, Fireworks

Kek Lok Si Temple, Penang, Malaysia

Gong Xi Fa Chai from the Kek Lok Si Temple

 

As you know I have been living back in my home country, the U.S., for the past few months. To say it’s been hard is an understatement. If I hear another comment about this or that candidate or about how are Muslims are out to get, us I might just scream! As an attempt at sanity and to pick up my Malaysia My Second Home visa, Alou and I are here in Malaysia just in time for the Chinese New Year.

This is the kind of visa you physically have to pick up in-country. We’ve submitted the forms and now we hope to get approved before we leave to return to the U.S. on March 1st. In the meantime, Alou will travel to the Philippines to visit her family and I will travel to India to meet Piet Van den Eynde and a small group of friends for a photo workshop. We’ll be traveling from Delhi to Agra and then on to Varanasi. Everyone in the group are repeat workshop participants, as such, it is guaranteed to be a fun time.

I will be posting updates from both my time here in Penang, as well as my days traveling and shooting with the group in India, so watch this space.

Today I leave you with this fun shot from last night. The official start of Chinese New Year celebration began with the fireworks and the lighting of Penang’s Kek Lok Si Temple. You might recall a post I did way back in 2013 called Luck Happens: Kek Lok Si Temple. That year I was completely unprepared for the fireworks but luckily, happened to be in the right place at the right time. So this time I was ready. I might have been ready, but the fireworks were flash, bang…aaand it’s over. Truthfully, there were so little fireworks and they blew them off at such a slow rate it was underwhelming. To get this shot I had to composite two exposures into one frame. I am happy with the results and I offer it to you as my Chinese New Year’s wish for a prosperous 2016, the Year of the Monkey!

Depth of Field: Dan Carr

Dan Carr

Dan Carr

I had the pleasure of working with Dan Carr online many years ago when we wrote for the same photo website. He seemed like a great guy to know then and after this interview I can say for sure he is.  Dan is a Brit who has transplanted himself to Canada. He shoots a wide variety of subjects so it’s difficult to peg him into one genre. But he is best known for his adventure and ski photography.

Dan also operates a photography educational site called Shutter Muse where he writes about everything from the business aspects of the industry to location guides from around the world. Dan has many informative eBooks at Shutter Muse as well. In this episode we talk about how he started and his journey. Dan is full of great advice and stories that even the newest photographer will find helpful.

Follow through these services:

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Note: Did you notice the audio quality of this episode? I am sure you can tell it is much better than any previous episode. That is because I have purchased new mics, a new mixer and am using a service that levels the sound so you don’t hear crazy levels between me and my guest. But all this comes with a cost. One way I hope to offset this cost is by offering premium or bonus material. Want to help keep Depth of Field on the air? Then take advantage of the bonus material offered below.

Bonus Content

dop_bonusWant to hear more from Dan Carr? Dan gives us an additional 20 minutes on SEO for photographers. Listen to this bonus material for only $1. Yep! 20 minutes of expert advice on how to improve your rankings in Google and other search engines for a buck! Not bad. Check it out HERE. By the way, by purchasing this bonus material you are helping keep Depth of Field on the air.

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Creative Commons License
Depth of Field by Matt Brandon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://thedigitaltrekker.com/depth-of-field-podcast/.

Depth of Field Podcast: Piper Mackay

Piper Mackay

Piper Mackay

Piper Mackay represents the dream of so many photographers out there. She was working a successful career and gave it up to follow her new found passion of photography.  Her career was in the fashion industry and the area of photography that captivated her was wildlife and later cultural work. In this interview we look at how she did her own, “Great Migration”. Piper speaks openly and honestly about her fears and her doubts. Did she make a mistake to follow her passion. Will she make it in the field of wildlife photography when other more experienced photographers she respects tell her she is nuts to enter.

Join Piper Mackay and I talk about her journey and her struggles. This will be an encouraging shot in the arm if you are a struggling photographer. It doesn’t matter if you are an enthusiast or a professional, there is nuggets in this hour that will make you say, I really can do this!

 

 

Follow Piper Mackay’s works:

Website: pipermackayphotography.com

Blog: HERE

Tour/Workshops: HERE

Facebook: HERE

Twitter: @pipermackay1

 

The Confessions of a Digital Immigrant

Bakarwal Gujjar 1989 - Photographed on slide film. I am guessing Ektachrome given the blues.

Bakarwal Gujjar 1989 – Photographed on slide film. I am guessing Ektachrome given the blues.

 

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A Gujjar buffalo herdsman – 2012. Photographed with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III

 

There are two terms today that seem to categorize the world. Two terms that describe the entire world as we know it; they are digital native and digital immigrant. 1 In short, digital natives are those who never knew the world without the internet and digital immigrants are everyone else. Some of us immigrants speak “digital” like a native, while many of us are still trying to figure out Facebook. We may be fluent, but we are no natives.

As digital immigrants some of us are in a unique position to comment about both sides of the digital divide and how we see these changes affecting us. Some of us on the other hand are much like the frog in the proverbial pot of water, as the heat slowly increases we don’t see the change as it is so gradual. Mind you I am not trying to comment on what is good or what is bad with our current digital world, I’m just highlighting some of the changes this migration has seen.

I migrated to the digital world from the analog world along with all the other digital immigrants my age. If I had to identify one area that was the biggest barrier to my growth in photography I think it would simply be money, not technology. As a young photographer I struggled with the huge investment in camera gear, darkroom gear and the biggest cost of all film and processing unlike young photographers have to deal with today. Photographer Nevada Wier and I don’t see eye-to-eye as to whether the digital world is really cheaper or not. Check out my interview with her on the “Depth of Field podcast where we talk about this issue. (She takes issue with me on this point at 6:55 on the timeline.) I’ll stick to my guns on this. I still believe overall it is cheaper to get into photography today than ever before. Cameras and lenses are better and cheaper than ever. Yes, some software is pricy, but with options like the subscription model for Lightroom, you can get a month’s usage for less than two gallons of Milk (in America 😉 ).

Let’s think about this for a minute. The cost of chrome (slide) film and photo processing in 1976, the year when I graduated from high school, was somewhere around $15. A roll of 36 exposure Kodachrome would cost somewhere around $10 to $12. The processing was often only 2 or 3 dollars after that. So call it a total of $15. Today that same $15 is inflated2 to $63.46! Just buying and processing two rolls of Kodachrome is more costly than a year’s subscription to Lightroom and Photoshop today. Given that price, there was very little chance that a kid of my means would be able to experiment with frame after frame of trial and error to learn from my successes and failures. I got as good as I could through high school classes and later in university classes through a slow and costly process. But today, you can shoot as much as you want and waste as much digital data as you like at virtually (pun intended) no cost. By the way, that process of learning from your successes and failures took at the least a week or more as you waited for your slide film to be processed and returned. Today as we all know it is instant.

But here is a thought. As a photographer today I can shoot until I run out of memory, then delete and shoot some more. With this “digital excess”, if you will, are we really learning as much from it as we can or are we becoming sloppy and lazy. Reality is that creativity thrives under constraints.

“…the imagination is unleashed by constraints. You break out of the box by stepping into shackles.”

Jonah Lehrer, Imagine: How Creativity Works

When we put limitations (intentionally or unintentionally) on ourselves like time and resources we unleash creative juices we never thought we had. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not for one instance saying that the digital revolution has stifled creativity as a whole. But I do think that it might work that way with some people. The amazing wealth of information can also serve to be overwhelming and distracting. Remember a few years ago the book that was making its rounds in the creative community? It was titled, “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. He talked about how so many things fight for our attention. At the top of this list has to be the internet —  Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in particular. I am not alone in this observation; article after article is written about how the internet is stealing our time. With the ease of photographing and processing all your thousands or tens of thousands of images at home on your personal computer comes the risk of distraction or as Pressfield calls it “resistance.”

For me, being a digital immigrant has been a huge blessing.  I would never go back. Gear cost is less than ever. Photographers have been given complete control over over the creative process. I never would have been able to clone, dodge, burn with the detail I can do with Photoshop. If I choose I can leave my graduated filters at home and use Lightroom’s graduated filters and more. The digital era has made all this possible. Light, a company who uses new camera technology has a touch screen user interface that uses sophisticated depth-mapping technology. Meaning, you adjust focus and depth of field even after a photo is taken, all the way to f/1.2!

I love being able to look at the photo I just shot, critique it on the spot and shoot again. It has opened new doors for me to do the same with others in workshops across the globe. I would never want to return to the days of analog.

My migration continues as I have moved from shooting large heavy DSLRs like the Canon 5d MK III to lighter weight and stealthy cameras like the mirrorless Fujifilm X-T1. As tech continues to get smaller and lighter and more efficient, this movement to mirrorless cameras allows less attention to be drawn to the photographer as they are much less intrusive and nondescript.

Change is never easy. Every immigrant is uncomfortable for a period of time. But there is no going back, that boat has sailed. As a Digital Immigrant I can either complain and be a curmudgeon or learn to navigate in the digital world. As I do, I quickly uncover the treasures that await.

 

 

Depth of Field Podcast: David Bergman

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David Bergman

David Bergman is one of the nicest guys you’d ever meet. He is humble, unassuming and crazy good at what he does. David has 13 Sports Illustrated cover to his credit. He has photographed 6 presidents and numerous big name celebrities. If that wasn’t enough he is the personal photographer for Bon Jovi. He is also known for his work with the Gigapan, the pano gear that enabled him to shoot the inauguration of President Obama and that has garnered over 30 million views!

In this episode of Depth of Field we speak with David about his work and his views of what it takes to be a success.  We talk about what’s the point of what you are shooting or why are you shooting what you shoot? What’s your attitude like? Do people want you around? What’s separates you from all the other photographers out there?

Remember, we have a new feed on iTunes and we need your ratings and comments. By rating us you help put us in front of many more listeners. If you want to comment right on the timeline of the podcast, listen in on Soundcloud. Do you have suggestions on who should be a guest on Depth of Field? Great email us at depthoffield@thedigitaltrekker.com. Continue reading

Depth of Field: Timothy Allen

timothyallen1

Timothy Allen

I am starting a new “season” of the Depth of Field Podcast with the impressive work of Timothy Allen.  As I start this new season, I’m not able to promise any frequency of releases or number of episodes, but I don’t want to let it go by the wayside.  Thank you to all of you who reached out and asked for new material.  I will to continue with the quality of guests and interviews that you’ve come to expect, so let’s get started.

In case you somehow haven’t seen his inspirational work, Timothy Allen is an English photographer and filmmaker best known for his work with isolated cultures and people around the world. He shot into the public light with his work on the BBC documentary series, Human Planet. Timothy was the stills photographer for the series and traveled with the crew all around the world. He was put in charge of the Human Planet blog by the BBC where you can see many of his fantastic images. They later did a Human Planet book with all of Timothy’s images. Continue reading

New Video: So who is OFMP.ORG?

Introduction to The On Field Media Project from On Field Media Project on Vimeo.

The On Field Media Project is an organization I started a couple of years ago that provides training in photography, videography and social media for small non profits so that they are better prepared to tell the ongoing story of the good work they are doing in the field. In the modern day, building a continual digital relationship between the organization and their supporters is essential. OFMP bridges that gap to give these organization the storytelling tools they need to continually share with backers, donors and allies. We also strive to see these organizations become self sufficient and non-reliant on pro photographers. Not to take any work away from the pro (there will always be work for the pro), but to empower these organization to begin to tell their own story in a powerful and timely way when they can. Continue reading

A Killer Deal on Photographic Resources: the 5 Day Deal

What if learning photography was relegated to a school classroom and cost university prices? We’d have a lot less photographers for sure. Fortunately this isn’t the case. In fact there are photography courses all over the net at varying qualities and costs. With that in mind, I have a great educational opportunity for you. Once a year the folks at 5 Day Deal gather photographic resources from top photographer from around the world and bundled them for you for a limited time – 5 days. They’ve done it again, Stating today they have pull together a real, honest-to-goodness, deal. This is not a gimmick, it might sound like one, but it is one of the best values in photographic training material there is – bar none and it only last for 5 days. Continue reading

Protection for your other Camera

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You know that a good camera bag is an essential. You also know that you can never seem to find the right bag, right? If I ask any given photographer how many bags they have I usually get an embarrassed eye-roll and then a number between 5 and 20. Seriously, bags are important, first and foremost for protecting your camera and lenses. But what about your other camera? You know, your phone. Continue reading