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August 2018

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Travel Destination :: Bottom Bay in Barbados

By Far, Bottom Bay in Barbados was my favourite trek on the island.  It is tucked away on the south coast, and mostly frequented by the locals, so finding it is not the easiest for a visitor to Barbados.  You have to know it is there.  Parking is easy, and the approach is a cliff overlooking the beach down below.

The beach is semi-enclosed by high coral cliffs, providing a panoramic view of the south shore. The scene is completed by the presence of tall palm trees that add to the peaceful and relaxing atmosphere of the bay.

As I stood on the cliff I could see a fast-moving storm racing across the Caribbean Sea – right for me!  My first instinct was to run to the car, which I began to do, though it did not take long for me to stop.  I walked back to the edge of the cliff, and let the pounding warm rain drench me.  It was as if all cares literally were washed away.  Perhaps that is a bit dramatic, but it was one of the best feelings ever.  After all, on the beach, one gets wet, right?

If Barbados is your travel destination, escape the crowds and head directly for Bottom Bay.  The beach is small but one of the most beautiful you’ll see.   And, I don’t recommend letting your camera get soaked in a rainstorm, though mine survived just fine.

Map Showing the Location of Bottom Bay in Barbados

Destination:  Bottom Bay, Barbados

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On any given day, people watching in Trafalgar Square can be entertaining.  Simply choose a place, stand/sit, then take everything in.  It is possible you will see almost anything.  And then for a change of pace, move to a different area of the square and repeat.

Trafalgar Square is also splendid for photography.  I name this area one of the Best Places To Photograph London in my book.  The views are incredible and there are numerous attractions mere steps away.  If you love street photography, you will not be disappointed here as people pass through all day.

There is plenty of entertainment, whether it is organised or by happenstance from everyday people like you and me.  People dance, others perform some sort of acrobatics, music blares, and huge bubbles float through the air.  People sit, people stroll and the kids run.  You’ll see the latest fashions as well as fashions that shouldn’t be seen in public today.  You will also hear more languages spoken in the relatively small area of Trafalgar Square than you will in your own hometown.  If there is something to celebrate, you will probably find it celebrated here.

Organised entertainment takes place often in the square.  And, no doubt you’ll run into a huge protest in Trafalgar Square.

You can be who and what you want in London.  No one will stop you as long as what you are doing is within the law.  No one is here to judge you.  This is the beauty of London.

This is quite a contrast to my previous post, A Night in Trafalgar Square.  You can easily see the difference in how you experience the square – day to night.  Do you want constant chatter and distraction during the day?  Or, do you want a quiet moment with London?  Your choice or choose both.

The steady boat piercing the cobalt blue waters careens across the Caribbean Sea.  Only Paul and I jet around Curaçao for me to understand the island.  I had already driven from one end of the island to the other, but the landscape didn’t make sense.  Where were the beaches?

Only by seeing the outer edges of Curaçao could I grasp why there were no long stretches of natural sand.  The island is primarily a rocky terrain, which also explains the lack of tropical vegetation found on other Caribbean islands.    Curaçao has a beauty all its own.  With this solo boat ride, I immediately appreciated the island for all of its rocky beauty.  There are small coves of beaches dotted around the perimeter of the island and many are secluded.  This fact makes them all the more appealing.

Almost all Curacao beaches are scattered along the sheltered and calm southwestern coast, where the waters are calm and crystal clear. At some beaches, admission is charged, sometimes including a beach chair.

I spent an entire day on the water with nothing but the sea in front and an ocean of blue sky overhead.  The sound of the water as the boat moved forward was immutable.  Hours after the persistent movement of the water sang in my ears.  

It’s calming being on the water.  The mind clears, breaths are deeper and the world tends to make more sense.  

   

360 Photo of Curacao and Caribbean Sea

Boat rides with a 360 camera are great fun as can be seen in Curacao 360 or Bali 360

In the last post, we established the importance of moving your subject away from the middle of the frame.  You won’t make the mistake countless other photographers make, right?  Remember, when you place your subject directly in the middle of the frame, the eye goes directly to the middle and moves nowhere else.

Your photo composition will be stronger by being off-centre.  Besides, what is original about being like everyone else?

Let’s have a look at more photo examples.  I’ll explain why being in the middle doesn’t always work.  Also feel free to download a free PDF with additional examples of avoiding the middle in photo composition.

I am unsure what story is to be derived from this photo except “blue shoe.” My eye goes to the shoe directly in the middle of the photo and stops.  Too, there are too many lines and circular shapes that leave the viewer confused after leaving the middle. Where are we supposed to look?  For me, it’s frustrating to look at this image for all the reasons above.

This image has potential but fails the composition test for a variety of reasons. The silhouette is nice, yes, the subject directly in the middle of the photograph stops the eye from moving about the image.

Secondly, the photographer should have moved in closer (or zoomed in) to fill the frame for a more effective composition. Simply eliminating the dark spaces at the top of the photo and at the bottom of the photo would allow us to see some type of emotion. The emotion could be anxiety, despair, apprehension, or the like. Right now all we see is a person standing with his/her head tilted downward.

I’ve taken the liberty of cropping the photograph in Lightroom.  Do you notice the difference?  Having the person off-centre and to the right of the photo frame, the image begins to tell a story.  What story do you see?

Another Example:

At first glance, I like the image. At second glance I look at the photo and the golden yellow leaf stops me from looking elsewhere. There are interesting elements in the image that are missed.  The photographer is too clever for his/her own good.

Visualize the subject off-centre. Had the photographer placed the subject to the left or right of centre then our eyes would move across the photo until we reached the golden leaf.  We, the viewer, would notice and take in all of the interesting elements.   In this case, the viewer of the photo would take in the contents of the entire photograph and a stronger composition.   However, the photographer did not achieve this for us.

Study this image.
What two composition mistakes do you notice?

While you view this image think what the photographer could have done to improve the photo composition. When you are confident you know the answers, go to the next photo.

From the previous photo, which improvements did you suggest?

I’ve made my own adjustments and the composition improved somewhat.

First, the subject was moved off-centre so the eye moves about the photo before reaching the man at the end of the concrete jetty. Second, the sky was eliminated so the frame is filled a bit more. Could the frame be filled even more?  Perhaps so.

The colours in the image were always beautiful and complimentary. The blue, aqua and green blend nicely. And, the line created by the jetty naturally leads the eye to the subject.  We will discuss the importance of colour and lines in an upcoming post.

I really want to love this image because I love nature and rugged landscapes.  Travel photography and hiking go hand in hand together.

By now, it’s no secret why I object to the composition.  Yes, you guessed correctly.  The subjects are in the middle and the frame is not filled.  Where does your eye go?  Mine goes everywhere as there is so much to view in this photograph.  Left, right, up and down.  A winning image turns out to be frustrating and a disappointment.

I helped out the photographer a wee bit and cropped unnecessary bits from the photograph.  Have a look at the image below?  Do you notice a difference in photo composition?

The story of the image changes completely.

 

 

 

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Ever wonder what to do with leftover chicken? Well, here is a short video demonstration on making chicken enchiladas, a great use of leftover chicken or turkey, either will work.

It’s a pretty simple process, you can also use the same recipe excluding the chicken for delicious cheese enchiladas. Make sure you use fresh ingredients: fresh onions, tomatoes, jalapeños, and a good mixture of cheeses.

Chicken Enchiladas (pictured below)
( Quantities would depend on the amount you are cooking for and your own taste preferences )

Leftover chicken ( or turkey )
Jalapeños (minced)
Red Pepper (minced)
Onion (minced)
Garlic ( optional )
Cheddar Cheese
Monterrey Jack Cheese ( Asadero is an acceptable substitute )
A Good Red Chili Enchilada Sauce ( I use”Hatch” brand, from Hatch, New Mexico )
Cilantro
Tortillas

In a bowl put the minced jalapeños, red peppers, onion, and optional garlic, and set aside. In a separate bowl, pour in the Red Chili Enchilada Sauce and add cilantro to taste. Dip the tortillas, one by one, into the sauce, then place in a rectangular glass baking dish. Add the leftover chicken and part of the pepper mixture into each tortilla, then roll each into an enchilada shape. Repeat until you’ve reached the desired quantity. Cover the enchiladas with the remaining red sauce. Place in oven, and bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes. When cooked, remove from oven, and cover the enchiladas with a mixture of shredded Cheddar and Monterrey jack cheese. Garnish with the remaining pepper mixture, and serve.

This is a great dish for a buffet dinner or small gathering and can be prepared well in advance and kept warm. Serve with rice, refried beans and enjoy.

Travel Destination :: Fredericksburg Texas

LONG EXPOSURE LANDSCAPE PHOTO

I will always have fond memories of this farm in Fredericksburg, Texas. I saw it go from derelict to functional from my teenage years to just recently. After my parents passed away my chore cleaning turned to reflecting on all my parents gave me. Night gave way to remembering especially while roaming the property under the full moon. The farm is in a remote area and the neighbours are miles away. So, silence offered ample time to talk to my parents. I thanked them for their sacrifices, their unyielding support and for making me the person I am today. With all their faults, they were – and are – the best.

Many good memories flashed through my mind during this time.

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If you love London Night Photography and capturing light streams, Oxford Street is a perfect place for you to be with your camera.  

The best time to be in Oxford Street is during rush hour as there is a constant flow of double-decker buses, one after another, that pass by. Perfect for photographing light trails.  Set up your camera in the middle of Oxford Street where there are proper pedestrian crossings.  The crossing will also be the place where the traffic lights are and there is a slightly elevated concrete platform if you will.  Stay on this small platform and you will be safe.  

Once you are set up, photograph away!  I do recommend a tripod or some means to steady your camera when you are on Oxford Street.  When I am here, it is one of the few times I have a tripod with me.

Two words of caution.  As buses rush by, expect a strong movement of air that could sway your camera.  Hold on to your camera! And, even if you use a tripod, you might want to put your camera strap around your neck or secure it to your arm.  

Also, do not be surprised (or alarmed) if a grumpy bus driver yells at you out their window.  It happened to me.  “You’re distracting the bus drivers don’t you know?”  I simply smiled and waved.  That may have upset her more.  The incident did not deter me from taking another hundred photos.

Oxford Street has never been one of my favourite destinations.  In fact, during the day I avoid it at all costs because it is like Main Street on steroids.  If you are visiting London for the first time, give Oxford Street a go but don’t expect much except for crowds unless your destination is Selfridge’s.  Seriously, unless you must, don’t add Oxford Street to your list of things to do in London.

Below, you can view a few of the photos I’ve taken while I’ve stood in the middle of Oxford Street.  When you capture your own photographs, please share them.  I’d love to see.

In my quest to discover the Curaçao landscape I drove the Western part of the island.  Most everyone lives in and around the capital city of Willemstad, so there is little out West.  The video shows a fast-paced view of the landscape.

What I find interesting about Curaçao is the island is mostly desert.  When I visited, there had been little rain so the shrubbery was void of any sort of vegetation.  I found this to a bit disconcerting given the fact that I was on a tropical island.  In fact, I almost felt as if I was in parts of West Texas or the American Southwest as there was little natural life.

Curaçao is divided in four geological units: the Curaçao Lava Formation, the Knip Group, the Middle Curaçao Formation, and the Limestone Formation.

The oldest known rock on the island is the Curaçao Lava Formation. It’s a 5,000-meter-thick succession of submarine basalts, formed in deep waters in the mid-upper Cretaceous. The Knip Group formed in the upper Cretaceous ages and consists of siliceous sedimentary rock. It’s noticeably thicker on the northwestern part of the island than in the southeast. The Middle Curaçao Formation is found principally in the middle section of the island. Its turbidite sequence, formed in the upper Cretaceous and or Paleocene age, consists of fine-grained conglomerates, mudstones, sandstones, and shales. The Limestone Formation can be divided in two units – the Seru Domi formation and the Quaternary limestone terraces. The Seru Domi Formation basically formed as a sub-marine reef talus slope, and the Quaternary limestone terraces were formed by sea level changes combined with tectonic uplift.

At first glimpse, Curaçao may seem a rather barren island.  Due to the scant rainfall; I mentioned this earlier.  There is certainly a limit to the types of plants and animals that can survive here. But on closer inspection, you’ll be amazed at the variety nature has to offer.  What at first seems to be a monotonous desert landscape turns out to be terrain teeming with life. Curaçao’s total surface area is 444 square km.

The stretched northern coast of the island is characterized by rough limestone cliff formations set on top of an eons-old volcanic rock and weather-beaten terrain. At the western end of the island, you will find expansive, hilly landscapes. The Christoffel Park encompasses most of the landscapes. Inside the park, you will find the highest point on the island – the 375-meter-high Mt. Christoffel. The east end of the island comprises flat and mostly barren plain, with few settlements and some secondary roads weaving to and from its coastal inlets.

All in all the drive is enjoyable even if just to clear the mind.  There are various beaches dotted around the west.  Some beaches are worth exploring or if people watching is your favourite activity, you’ll be easily entertained.

Take a drive through the less travelled West Curaçao with the Gentleman Wayfarer.   If you like road trips, you might also like A Road Trip Through the American West or A Road Trip Through the Sahara Desert.

Destination:  Curaçao

If you look around the internet or an app like Instagram,  you will quickly notice how many photographers place their subject directly in the middle of the frame.  Have a look at your favourite photography site;  I hope you’ll notice these images with their subjects in the middle are somewhat boring.  There is little life in the photos and there’s certainly no action.

When the subject is directly in the middle of an image the eye goes directly to the middle and moves nowhere else around the frame.  Your eye stops.

Why is this an issue?  Well, if there is anything else of interest in the photo it gets missed and all the hard work of capturing the image is all for not.  Plus, your travel photos look like everyone else’s subject in the middle pictures.  Honestly, there is little creativity in approaching photography as everyone else would.  I’m going to show you how moving your subject away from the middle of the frame will instantly strengthen your photo composition.

Yes, improving your photo composition is as simple as placing your subject off-centre.

Let’s look at a few examples.  The image of the single white rose amongst the black background is nice.  The lighting, in particular, is beautiful.  The eye, however, goes directly to the middle of the flower and the nice shadows on the outer petals are lost.  The eye doesn’t see the most interesting bit.

Photo of White Rose in the Middle of the Frame

I intentionally cropped the left part of the photo so now the flower is situated in the left of the frame.  Do you notice how now your eye goes to the outer edges of the rose?  By moving the subject off centre the composition is now much stronger and the eye naturally moves to the important parts of the subject.  Instead of cropping an image in post-production, simply move around to capture your image with the subject away from the middle.

Photo of White Rose Off-Centre

The lines from the railroad tracks save this image but only slightly.  Had the photographer simply shifted his or her position and captured this scene at an angle with the person off centre the composition would be a winner and the photo would be far more interesting.

Photo of Person on Railroad Tracks

Simply moving the subject off centre – left or right, photo composition becomes stronger.  You don’t have to move the subject right to the edge of your frame for this technique to be effective.  Please do make note of this.  Off centre is key.  Do you notice how the image improves when moving the subject off-centre?   Do you also notice there is even a sense of movement because of the way the lines are presented and because of the direction of the front foot?

Photo Showing How Putting the Subject Off-Centre Improves Photo Composition.

There are several elements that are right about the image below.  The light pink of the flowering tree against the pale blue sky work beautifully together.  The suggested sun behind the tree is perfect and adds a feeling of spring and warmth.  More than this the blowing flower petals into the right of the frame are fantastic.  The photographer who captured this has a great eye to see this scene.  Everything in this photo works, especially the blowing flower petals because the main subject is situated in the left of the frame – off centre.  Had the photographer put the tree branch in the middle the more interesting elements would be lost entirely.

Photo of a flowering branch with the subject off-centre.

I love this image of the derelict car.  The muted colours add to the sense that the car is old.  The rust throughout the interior of the car definitely suggests it’s old.  The prominent steering wheel on the left is big and bold and the eye naturally moves to the empty space to the right.  Was someone there?  Or what happened in that seat you might ask.  This is a great storytelling photo and being off centre helps tremendously with a nice composition.

Photo of a derelict car interior.

Have a look at the Icelandic horse in the left of the frame.  Why does this work?  Yes, it works because the subject is not in the middle but the way the horse’s hair is positioned suggests the wind is blowing from the right.  By placing the horse on the left of the frame we can conclude the way the wind is blowing.  And this makes for a very effective composition.  If you’ve not been to Iceland, stop now and go.  Iceland is one of the most wonderful countries you could ever visit.

Photo of Icelandic Horse

This perspective of the Golden Gate Bridge is stunning.  The photo works because the tallest part of the bridge is toward the left of the frame.  Do you notice it is not all the way to the left and the placement works well?  When you look at the photo your eye goes right down onto the road and this is quite nice.  Had the tallest part of the bridge been situated directly in the middle, it would stop the eye from moving anywhere but there.

Photo of Aerial View of the Golden Gate Bridge

Always remember to keep your subject off centre for a strong composition.  Give this photo composition tip – Avoiding The Middle, a go to see first-hand how your own travel photos drastically improve.

 

 

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No matter when or where I go out with my camera, I seldom have a definite plan in mind.  I’ll go do a definite area or location around the world, but rarely do I know the exact images I want to capture.

I might go to a particular area in a city and photograph an interesting element or two.  Then, I take time to view the photographs and think how the area could be captured differently.  What could I do differently to create sensational photographs?  What perspectives could be more interesting?  Should I be higher?  Lower?  Stand on my head?

When I return to an area I’ve already visualized in my mind the photos I want to take.  I look at the scenes differently and with a new set of photographer’s eyes.  I could return a third or fourth time and repeat the same process.  

Long story short, if a scene or particular area interests me enough, I’m on a mission to photograph the area in a unique way.  Rarely am I satisfied with the first images I’ve captured.  How can I photograph the familiar in a new and interesting way; this is what I’m thinking when I’m on location.  This is true whether I’m in an urban area like London or amongst inspiring landscapes like Morocco.

I always call photography my therapy.  When I’m out with my camera, it’s just the two of us and the world’s issues go away.  I get “lost” with my camera.  Being in tune with my surroundings is important for quality images.

Whether it’s beautiful architecture or rolling landscapes I’m photographing, it doesn’t matter.  Photography is almost like an escape for me.  What I’m trying to do is discover something new wherever I am.  The goal is to see the familiar in new and different ways.

Instead of being eye level, I’m looking up or laying on the ground or laying on the ground on my back looking up with my camera in hand. Obviously, by approaching photography the way I do, you see the world differently.  You also see a whole appreciation for the world around you which we often take for granted.

And that’s what photography is for me – discovery, and this is true no matter where I am with my camera.

I’m looking for lines that lead to a new perspective and creating some sort of depth.  

I continue my journey in photography because it’s something I love to do.  Photography has allowed me the opportunity to be taken out of my comfort zone.  Photography helps me learn about the world around me and cultures foreign to my own.  More than this, photography has given me the chance to learn more about myself and has helped me grow as a person.