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March 2021

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Digital Photo Magazine Interview
“Venice :: How I Got The Shot”

Venice Canal at Night

How long have you been taking pictures?

 I’ve been taking photos for as long as I remember.  I’ve always had a camera tho’ I began taking photographs professionally in 2005.

What’s your favourite kind of photography, and does this image fit into it? 

Typically, I gravitate toward night photography, reflections, and motion.  When there is opportunity to combine the three, all the better.  Venice provides sublime opportunities for reflection photography, especially at night.  Too, many of my urban shots tend to be void of people which reflects the quiet I strive to find in every day life.

Tell us about what made you want to shoot this particular picture?

This particular scene attracted my eye not only for its reflection, but also for the long lines leading to a vanishing point, which allows a viewer to be drawn into the image.  Additionally, the “super moon” was illuminating the sky offering a beautiful blue hue to the sky and adding a bit of extra natural light.

What equipment did you use to capture the shot ­ type of camera, lens, tripod, etc?

A Canon 5D Mark IV with a 18mm wide angle Carl Zeiss lens was used to capture this photograph.  Rarely, while travelling, do I use a proper tripod.  The camera was steadily planted on a pavement stone at the edge of the canal.

Tell us about how you shot the image?

Certain scenes may capture my eye while standing, though more times than not I find myself lying on the ground, or squatting in a low position, for a different perspective.  This was not an instant shot, but one in which I paid particular attention to the edge of the building on the left, the reflection, and the unique character of the curved bridge on the right.   As with any image, my view of the scene was through the viewfinder moving the camera about until I was satisfied with the composition.  I rarely use the LCD screen to view a scene before capturing it.

What camera setting did you use to get the shot ­ was this important to achieving the final result?

In urban settings the ISO on my camera is always set to 100 as I prefer the absence of “noise” in an image.  Aperture = f/6.7  Exposure = 30 seconds.  The exposure time allowed the water to “smooth out” to insure a perfect reflection was achieved.   The smoothness also adds to the calm and silence I was seeking to achieve with this image.

Does this image fit in with your usual approach to photography, or did you try anything different to shoot this?

Today my eye is trained to find reflections in low light situations, so it is safe to say my technique did not differ from other times.  Not carrying a tripod in urban settings does present a challenge as I sometimes must be creative to keep the camera steady.  Let’s say, a lot of holding the breath happens from time to time.

What problems or challenges did you encounter when shooting this picture?

Even at night this photograph was a rather easy task given the amount of light along the canal, as well as the full moon above.  That said, the electric lights along the canal presented issues as I had to adjust the aperture to compensate the highlights.   My intention was to keep the exposure at 30 seconds to “smooth the water,” and keep the ISO at 100, so my only other option was to play with aperture.

Tell us briefly about any imaging or Photoshop work you did to the image ­ did you find any of the Photoshop work you did tricky?

I am not much of a photo manipulator.  In fact, I have no clue (or interest) how to use Photoshop.  If any image needs tweaking, I put it through Lightroom adjusting only exposure, or highlights.  With this image highlights were slightly adjusted given the issue with the lights along the canal.

What tips would you give to people who’d like to get shots like this?

The best advice for anyone wanting to capture an image is open your eyes to every possible angle and perspective, and look for the unexpected.  Not all photographs should be taken while standing.

Digital Photo Magazine Mark Paulda Story

I write extensively throughout this blog about Bali.  It would be easy to say – This is Bali, but there are so many sides to theIsland of Gods.  If you prefer Bali is also “Paradise Island”.  How your refer to Bali all depends on why you visit.  If you travel to Bali with an open mind and open heart, it is quite possible to have a travel experience you never expected and even an experience of a lifetime.  In other words, you can have everything Bali has to offer.

Bali is beaches, beach resorts and the vast Indian Ocean that can sometimes be unforgiving.  Bali is sacred temples, some of which date back seven hundred years.  Bali is some sort of ceremony every day of the week.  Bali is the jungle and the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud.  Bali is creativity and the Balinese’s openness to share.   Bali is motorbikes zooming past you in rapid fire.  Bali is lush green rice terraces and palm trees.

Bali is spicy food.  Bali is the great sense of humor of the Balinese.  Bali is friendly and welcoming.  Bali is rich in tradition.  Bali is Balinese Hinduism.  Bali is winding roads through lush green tropical plants and foliage.  Bali is peaceful and quiet.  Bali is yoga and meditation.  Bali is art.  Bali is woodcarving and basket weaving.  Bali is spiritual offerings to the gods.

Bali is anything you want it to be quite honestly.  I think what you experience in Bali is entirely up to you.

The first time I visited I went on a whim.  I had just traveled to Bhutan and Bangkok and thought “What the heck?  I’m  close enough I might as well go to Bali.”  I stayed in Ubud and didn’t venture much further than a fabulous resort.  I did meet Ketut Leyir in person and saw a rice field, but that was it.  I left Bali wondering what all the fuss was about as it didn’t leave much of an impression on me.  The truth is, however, I didn’t take the time to know Bali.

For some odd reason I was drawn back to Bali during another trip to Asia.  I can’t tell you why I thought I had to go.  I just did.  Instead of staying in Ubud, I stayed in Nusa Dua at the Conrad.  I love the Conrad, by the way.  

There must have been an invisible hand guiding me during this trip as I was led to a full moon ceremony in a small village.  It was in this village when I met Gede.  And in an instant, both my world changed and so did Gede’s.  It is because of Gede that my love for Bali began.  He is my touchstone to Bali.  Gede is my teacher of everything Bali and Balinese Hinduism.  I owe a debt of gratitude to Gede.  That was five years ago and our friendship turned to brotherhood.

My best suggestion to you as you consider if Bali is the right destination for you is go.  Make the long trek to Bali.  Travel with no expectations.  Travel with an open mind and an open heart.  And once you are in Bali, let her take you in her arms and take care of you.  Let Bali and the Balinese teach you.  Your peace and happiness are already inside of you.  Allow Bali to bring those elements of life out of you.

Bali is a treasure trove of travel photography moments.  Consider the following iPhone travel photography tips for your next journey.

22 Travel Photography Tips And Tricks

1. Do Your Research
While planning your trip, make a note of destinations that are beautiful. Find out if they are easy to get to and what sort of transportation you’ll need. Will you need a permit for the area? Figure out the logistics ahead of time so you don’t run into problems after you’re already there.

2. Get Inspiration From Others
The best way to learn is through others. Look at other photographer’s blogs and social media to see if they’ve been to the location you’re visiting. As you look at photos, create a bucket list of places you’d like to photograph while exploring. And make note of the composition and angles to capture.

3. Practice At Home
You don’t need to travel far to practice your travel photography skills. Look up local attractions and go visit them with your camera. Learn how the light works in natural settings compared to more industrial ones.

4. Travel Light
You don’t need to (and shouldn’t) bring every camera accessory you have with you on your journey. Not only will they be heavy to lug around, but there’s a danger of losing or forgetting pieces behind. Bring only the key items such as the camera, a charger and memory cards.

5. Charge Your Equipment The Night Before
Make sure everything is charged and ready to go before you set out for the day. Bring along 2-3 extra charged batteries for your camera and external flash.

6. Learn A Few Words In The Native Language
If you’re going to a foreign country where the language is not your own, try learning a few phrases. Things like “hello”, “thank you” and “Can I take your photo?” will go a long way and might lead to a better photograph.

7. Listen To The Locals
Ask the locals where the best places to shoot are. Ask about their favorite photo spot and they’ll likely be excited to share the wonders of their home. Be sure to be respectful of their space and leave them alone if they’re not interested in talking with you.

8. Follow Basic Photo Rules
If you’re a beginner photographer, take some time to learn the basics. When taking photos, keep in mind guidelines like the rule of thirds and your depth of field. Learning photography terms will help you take better quality photos.

9. Get Candid Shots
Not all your shots should be posed and planned out. Try a variety of angles, capturing candids. Take photos of everything, the one you least expect may be the one that ends up the best.

10. Give Yourself Time
When shooting, make sure you give yourself plenty of time at the location. A time crunch will lead to blurry and rushed photos. Leave yourself enough time to set up, learn what setting your camera should be on and find the right light. This may mean starting your days earlier than normal.

11. Embrace Golden Hour
Lighting is everything. Make sure you know the different sunrise and sunset times of the location you’re at. Even places only a few hours away can differ. It may also be helpful to know what direction the landmark is facing that you’re trying to photograph so you can plan to be there when it’s in full light.

12. Get A New Angle
If you’re visiting a place that’s been photographed thousands of times, try a new angle. Find hidden details that aren’t always noticed like paintings on the ceiling. Shoot through an alleyway that frames the photo or move around and try to find a new vision.

13. Stay In The Moment
Don’t overthink the shot. Stay in the moment and go with the flow. Don’t be afraid to switch around your schedule to get a good photo.

14. Take Notes
Bring a small notebook with you as you travel and when you take photos to make sure you’re noting the place and your camera settings. This will help you later on as you go back to see what worked and what didn’t.

15. Be Wary Of The Weather
Look at the weather forecast if you’re shooting outdoors. Remember, just because it’s raining or snowing doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go. Sometimes a foggy backdrop can reflect the light and make for an even better photo.

16. Bring Secure Bags With Locks
You’ve probably invested a lot in your camera and accessories, so make sure they are kept safe. Bring a camera bag with you that has a lot of padding and can be locked.

17. Backup Your Photos
Every time you return to home base, whether that be a hotel or friend’s home, make sure you backup your photos. This will free up space on your camera and will keep your images safe.

18. Always Bring A Camera When You Can
Bring your camera with you wherever you go. The perfect shot could be where you least expect it. This will also let you document your whole trip, not just parts.

19. Be Respectful Of Your Environment
You may be visiting this place but to others, it’s home. Be respectful of the people and animals you meet along your journey.

20. Get Lost
Get out of your comfort zone and a venture off the beaten path. Try finding something unique to photograph. Get a little lost.

21. Share Your Work
Once you’ve returned from your trip, make sure your photos don’t just sit on the memory card or computer. Share them by creating a photo board on your wall or styling a travel photo book.

22. Print Everything Ahead Of Time.
Before you start your travels, don’t forget to print your boarding passes, itinerary and other documents just in case your phone isn’t working properly. By printing everything ahead of time, you do not have to wait in any lines, worry about the digital kiosks in the airport or lack of wifi connection

Travel photography is a fun way to document your trips. It allows you to take your stories home and share them with friends and family. Try creating a collage with a photo collage app and sharing your experiences on social media.