Watch Spirit Canoe: A Superb Video Story

The creative spirit that has motivated me through 35 years of photography, often yearns to do the same with motion shot using my HDdSLR. While I will probably never get there, this video is a great example of what I find so attractive with shooting video stories. Superbly done, the creators tell a inspirational story about a man on a canoe trip.

“SPIRIT CANOE is the mystic journey of a man who is in search of himself and navigating through a passage with the memories of his once self and a special figure who lingers in his soul. He is setting out on a quest, armed with his old map and small canoe, to venture the river in hopes that a new path will reveal a novel future, unfamiliar and restoring. This is a story of the spiritual compass that no one can ever expect to understand; it’s powers, it’s unknown.”

The angles, the lighting, the editing are a great learning experience for a novice film maker like me. It’s worth 5 minutes of your life to watch:

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Photographing the Land and Culture of China’s Southwest Frontier

As a travel photographer and photo tour leader, I’ve been photographing in Yunnan and Guizhou provinces for couple of years.  Yunnan is the most southwest province of China, bordering Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar. Guizhou adjoins Yunnan to the east. They are demographically the most diverse provinces in China.

There are 55 ethnic minority groups in China, over 35 of them are living in these two provinces, including: Miao, Yi, Dong, Zhuang, Hani, Bai, Tibetan, Yao, Thai, Lisu, Qiang, etc. Almost every group has its distinctive cultural traditions, folk customs, architecture, festivities, colorful dresses and handcrafts, which provide endless photography subjects. In addition, some landscapes in these two provinces are breathtakingly beautiful and unique. Overall, the cultural and natural beauties of these two provinces added luster to China’s southwestern frontier, they constantly attract visitors, especially photographers around the globe.

Here are the some highlights of my photographic journey through these two wonderful provinces:

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My Favorite Fall Color Locations in Yosemite

While Yosemite National Park is not on the radar for fall colors to the extent that, for example, New Hampshire and Vermont are, landscape photographers can still “reel in some keepers” if they know the best locations and the best times to catch the respective areas at peak color.

Of course with nature, there are seasonal variations for timing of fall color due to autumn average temperature ranges, etc. from one year to the next.  The best conditions are warm, sunny days, and crisp nights without a hard freeze.  A storm sweeping in with strong winds can strip the trees of autumn leafs overnight as well.  Probably the best conditions for dramatic fall color landscape photography, is after a light snow, which flocks the brightly colored trees and bushes in a dramatic color contrast.  The downside of this situation is that usually the light snowfall is followed with freezing temperatures that turn the gold leafs to muddy brown.  Still, to be present during that short period of time is a photographer’s delight.

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Photographing Plitvice Lakes NP, Croatia

It’s hard to believe that in such a beautiful lake-filled canyon, the first shots fired that marked the start of Croatia’s war with Yugoslavia occurred here.  In fact the first fatality of the war was the park’s police officer.  War never seems to make sense.

But that was then and now the park’s popularity is back stronger than ever, although we Americans are a little slower on traveling to here versus the Europeans.  I first learned of this area watching a Rick Steves travel segment on public television and was so impressed that when I had the chance to travel to the Adriatic, I made sure this park was on the itinerary.  It turned out that I was not disappointed.  The park was Croatia’s first national park (1949) and now is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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14 Great Fall Color Locations in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains

Its fall right now and one of the most vibrant locations in the Western U.S. is Colorado and the San Juan Mountains region.

While there are many great locations to photograph during fall color display, the San Juan’s and many parts of Colorado are exceptional and popular with photographers.

If you are thinking of heading out there you better get going because those colors traditionally peak at the end of September.

And if you do head out there, here are 10 spots you will want to photograph.

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Photographing the Wildlife of Cambridge Bay, Nunavut

by David Hemmings

This year’s trip to Cambridge Bay, Nunavut will be one to remember for many reasons. Upon my arrival in Cambridge Bay four days before my guests arrived for the workshop, it was raining cats and dogs and the thermometer was hovering around 38 degrees Fahrenheit. So I ask one of the locals “is this unusual weather for this time of year”? His reply was, “sure is, we almost never see rain in June and July up here’. So the trip starts.

The idea of me getting there early with our guide was to scout bird locations for photography. One of the primary goals was to find and photograph nesting Snowy Owls. There are basically three different roads to traverse by vehicle in Cambridge Bay. The one that was most likely to lead to the Snowy Owls was closed off due to a damaged bridge that had been rampaged by severe ice melt off and fast flowing water.

When we made this discovery on the second day of scouting, we went as quickly as possible to the town hall to try and find out what, if any, were the plans for getting the bridge open. After all, this was the road that leads to one of the biggest attractions in Cambridge Bay, Mount Pelly. We were informed that they had called in an engineer to assess the situation and see what, if anything could be done quickly to get the bridge back open. We crossed our fingers and went about the task of scouting the tundra from the only two other roads open to vehicular traffic.

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Should You Even Bother Photographing These 5 Locations?

For nature photographers who compete in the business of licensing stock photos, the question should be asked regularly: “what should I be shooting?”

With more photographers than ever competing and the markets saturated with nature imagery, photographers should be researching the markets to assist in determining what subjects will have a fighting chance in those markets.

I ask myself this very question when I plan each year for the locations and subjects I think will succeed in the markets.

While I answered this question I also wonder just what subjects and locations I should not shoot and the easiest way was to search various websites and evaluate the results.

So, I randomly selected 5 locations that I have seen widely published and regularly online when I look at others websites.  These locations are:

Read moreShould You Even Bother Photographing These 5 Locations?

Favorite Places: Nevada’s Valley of Fire SP

I have enjoyed wandering around the United States and bouncing between coasts for more than 25 years photographing many of our natural treasures.

One place that never seemed to be on my chosen route each trip was Nevada’s Valley of Fire State Park. I finally stopped for a visit in 2010 and much to my surprise this place was beyond what I even remotely expected.

As I wandered and explored that first day of my visit I wondered briefly if I had read the map wrong and was actually in Utah’s Canyon Country. Nevada is beautiful! From the Ruby and Santa Rosa Mountains to the North and the Great Basin National Park on the East side, Valley of Fire North of Las Vegas does not seem to belong here.

But I am glad it is as I had two days to figure out the lay of the land. I quickly realized two days was not enough and I would have to plan another visit here.

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6 New National Park Natural Landmarks Worth Photographing

It is always a nice surprise when the National Park Service adds more lands to its inventory of protected areas. Recently, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the addition of 6 Natural Areas for protection and this is always good news to nature photographers.

Every National Park has been photographed to death and the inventory of amazing images is vast. So when there are new additions to the system this generates news and stories and increases the needs for photography from these locations.

The additions are part of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative designed to develop a conservation ethic in the 21st century.

The six new natural areas are: Barfoot Park in the Chiricahua Mountains of southern Arizona, Golden Fossil Areas west and north of Golden, Colo., Hanging Lake National Natural Landmark is east of Glenwood Springs, Colo.; Kahlotus Ridgetop National Natural Landmark is in Palouse country four miles north of Kahlotus, Wash.; Round Top Butte National Natural Landmark is near Medford, Ore.; and Island National Natural Landmark is located  in east-central Oregon.

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