MivaStock: Blog http://mivastock.zenfolio.com/blog en-us (C) Miva Stock 2016 mivastock@gmail.com (MivaStock) Thu, 27 Apr 2017 02:06:00 GMT Thu, 27 Apr 2017 02:06:00 GMT http://mivastock.zenfolio.com/img/s2/v70/u978606232-o761647991-50.jpg MivaStock: Blog http://mivastock.zenfolio.com/blog 80 120 10 Countries That Will Change Your Life http://mivastock.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/8/10-countries-that-will-change-your-life-x There are moments in everyone's life that change a person forever. Maybe not over night, maybe not for the better, but life will change you - it'll change the way you perceive, how you think and how you relate to others. These changes may effect only yourself or those in your immediate circle, or they can take on global significance when they change how you look at the world.

If you're up to the adventure of viewing life anew from a varying cultural point other than your own, then these are the places to start.

Miva Stock_1103 - Cambodia, Siem Reap, Face TowerMiva Stock_1103 - Cambodia, Siem Reap, Face TowerA face tower of The Bayon at Angkor Thom, the largest Khmer city ever built by Jayavarman, part of the Angkor Wat complex - Siem Reap, Cambodia Cambodia: Few countries have suffered as much during the last half century as this small Southeast Asian country where fully 1.7 million Khmers were executed in route to an idealized agrarian society; some were murdered for simply wearing glasses and looking too intellectual. The aftermath is a country that has embraced hope, with a people longing for peace and tranquility. It has ancient temples that will literally leave you breathless as you scale and wonder through them in awe.

Miva Stock_3131 - France, Paris, Moulin RougeMiva Stock_3131 - France, Paris, Moulin RougeParis, France, The world famous Moulin Rouge Caberet and windmill in the Pigalle area of Montmartre

France: What can be said that has not already been written? Paris, the French Riviera, the French Alps, the food, the wine, the culture, the language all led to the infamous English saying "France is absolutely the most perfect place on earth. In order to balance it out for the rest of the world, god put the French there." Seriously, France changes you in unexpected and intellectual ways...and the French, well, let's just put it this way - if they were really all that bad, how could they have created arguably the most inspiring city the modern world has ever seen, let alone allow you to walk its dog poop infested streets?

GeishaGeisha Japan: Perhaps the most perfect of all societies. A people who are undying polite (at least outwardly), where litter is almost unheard of, where the food is so fresh that the term organic is greeted as an obvious, where trains are so punctual it makes the Swiss uneasy, where shopping is seen as sport and where there is just enough underlying kink and outright bizarreness to keep you happy and always looking forward to your next visit.

 

Miva Stock_2889 - Tanzania, Ngorongoro, Elephant, close upMiva Stock_2889 - Tanzania, Ngorongoro, Elephant, close upClose up of a large bull African Elephant (Loxodonta africana), Ngorongoro Crater National Park, Tanzania Africa Tanzania: Arguably the most "African" of nations when looked at from an outsider's perspective. This is especially true if you're looking for adventure. The thundering herds of the legendary wildebeest migration begins here. The world's tallest free-standing mountain, Mt. Kilimanjaro, towers above the savannah. One of the most complete ecosystems in the world resides in the awe-inspiring Ngorongoro Crater. And it's where the noble Maasai warriors still tend their cattle and live in traditional huts and villages along the plains. Tanzania gives us what we expect from Africa, but as always, it's people give much more.

SOLSOL USA: America taught us all valuable lessons in their downward spiral - don't rest on your laurels, don't think that you're above the laws of man, and believe in people more than you believe in money. You may not love what the States has become, but as a visitor, you're free to see it how Americans see it - the greatest nation on earth. From its many inspiring cities and beaches to its unbelievable natural wonders and beauty. From it's near perfect melding of the world's cultures and culinary delights to it's originality in music, art and film – the US has everything you'd want in a vacation. Just watch what you say, write and think while you're there.

Miva Stock_3355 - Australia, Queensland, Cairns, koalaMiva Stock_3355 - Australia, Queensland, Cairns, koalaAustralia, Queensland, Cairns, A Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) in Eucalyptus tree Australia: If Aussies have a single favorite saying it's "No worries, mate" and why should they worry? They live in one of the most remote regions of the world, they are universally loved for their humor and good naturedness, and their national animals are the equally fascinating and lovable koala and kangaroo. If ever there was a country and a people who don't take themselves or others too seriously it's the Land Down Under - heck, even their country's nickname makes you want to take a walkabout along their vibrant cities, world class beaches and their extreme arid and tropical climates.

Miva Stock_0928 - Peru, Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley, SunsetMiva Stock_0928 - Peru, Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley, SunsetPeru, Machu Picchu, the ancient lost city of the Inca at Sunset. Peru: As the Western hemisphere's most authentic and friendly culture, Peru has a lot going for it. Not only do many of the people still identify closely with their original villages and tribes, they are also quite modern in their outlook on life. They know where they come from - all of them speak their original Incan language along with Spanish, and they have a clear path to the future. A future that includes the values of their ancestors where fairness, nature and spirituality will still go hand in hand. With such wonders as Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, Lake Titicaca and the vast Amazon Jungle to share with the world, we all hope their future is realized.

Miva Stock_3005 - Germany, Berlin, Brandenburg GateMiva Stock_3005 - Germany, Berlin, Brandenburg GateBerlin, Germany, Close-up of the Quadriga atop the Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor). Germany: While their national symbol is the Golden Eagle, it might as well be the mythological Phoenix as it has literally risen from the ashes to take it's place once again near the top of the world's countries. In just three generations Germany transformed itself from a reviled nation to one of the most esteemed. From a society that used to trod upon the weak to one that has built a near socialist utopia that cares for all under her wings. And while not everything is fairyland castles, schnitzel and Oktoberfest, the days of Dachau are firmly behind them thanks to a society which refuses to repeat its well documented and often fretted upon mistakes of its past that are open for the world to see.

South African women cookingSouth African women cooking South Africa: As another nation that has seen great turmoil in its recent past from an oppressive regime, this land of great beauty and contrasts is at once vibrant and filled with hope, as well as depressed with a sense of dread. While life for the average South African is much improved thanks to Nelson Mandela, shanty towns are still very much a part of daily life for millions. South Africa has it all otherwise: amazing wildlife, rugged scenery, beautiful oceans and mountains, and a thriving epicurean trade. But how well its people hold onto the values and teachings of its patriarch will decide its fate in a society that just

Miva Stock_0777 - Italy, Rome, Roman ColosseumMiva Stock_0777 - Italy, Rome, Roman ColosseumRome, Italy, Roman Colosseum Italy: La Dolce Vita - no other expression says it so well. The good life is exactly what you'll find in Italy whether you go for their world famous food, art, or history. The lyrical Italian language transports you to a time of wonder where modern societies first took their tentative steps towards freedom and equality, while at the same time transporting you to the foundations of the Renaissance. Its monuments and ruins shout the language of beauty and strength while it's people whisper (sometimes very loudly) the language of love. A visit to Italy may not be so life changing as it is life affirming, but it is the sweet life.

Have you visited a country that has changed your life? Tell us where and why...
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mivastock@gmail.com (MivaStock) 1 1000 5D A picture is worth a 1,000 words Advertising Affection Afford All Alps Amateur Amazing Amazon America Animal Animals Architectural Architecture Art Arts Asia Assignment Australia Award Award Winning Awesome Back Story Backstory Badaling Balance Beaten Beautiful Behind Beijing Best Breathtaking Bribe Brilliant Cambodia Camera Canon Capture Captures Card Challenge Change Change your life Charm Charming China Class Climb Climbing Cloud Complain Complainer Conservation Cool Countries Country Crater Creative Creative Director Culinary DSLR Desirable Desire Destination Digital Director EOS Editor Education Equipment Excellent Exotic Explore Exploring Family Famous Fantastic Film Flavor Flight Foreign Fortification France French Friend Germany Global Globe Good Great Guide Hike Hiking History Hodophile Holiday Hot Hotel Icon Iconic Image Infamous Inspire Inspiring Interacting Interaction Interest Interesting Italy Itinerary Japan Japanese Jump Jumping Jungle Kangaroo Khmer Kilimanjaro Koala LCD Lake Titicaca Landmark Landscape Language Leaning Lens Linguistic Local Locale Locals Machu Picchu Magical Make Making Meet Meeting Memorable Memory Michael Glatt Military Miva Miva Stock Money Mount Mountain Mt Mystique Negative Nelson Mandela Ngorongoro Nikon Obstacle Off Off of the beaten path Off the beaten path Oktoberfest Parapets Paris Path Peddler Peking Peru Phone Photo Editor Photographer Photography Photos Picture Pictures Place Positive Professional Rain Rampart Reason Regular Roam Roaming Roof top Roof-top SD SLR Sacred Valley Samsung Screen Season Section Seeing Seen Sell Selling Series Sexy Shoot Shooting Siem Reap Sight Smart South Africa Special Spectacular Stair Stock Photography Stories Story Sun Sunrise Sunset Sunshine Take Taking Tanzania Temples Time Tokyo Top 10 Top 10 destinations Top 10 destinations for travel photos Tour Tourism Tourist Tower Transient Travel Travel Photographer Travel Photography Travel Photos Traveler Traveling Traveller Traveller's Guide Trek Trekking Trip Tripod USA Vacation Vaida Glatt Valley View Visit Visiting Wall Wanderlust We Weather Well Known Well-known What to do if Why Wildlife Wonderful Word World Worth http://mivastock.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/8/10-countries-that-will-change-your-life-x Thu, 28 Aug 2014 23:20:27 GMT
The Story Behind The Image - The Great Wall of China http://mivastock.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/5/the-story-behind-the-image---the-great-wall-of-china We've all heard the saying: a picture is worth a 1,000 words. This cliché is actually backed by scientific proof as the brain processes images 60,000 China, Badaling, Great Wall of China, Sunrise over the wall. times faster than text. However, 1,000 words can be a real stretch for some photos and often depends upon the creativity of the writer using those adjectives, verbs and nouns.

But these words are reserved for the subject matter of the image - not for its backstory. What did the photographer have to do to get the image, what challenges did they overcome? Where did they travel, what equipment was used? What was the inspiration and purpose of the shot?

These are but a few of the many parameters that go into creating a photograph that allows for a millinery of words. This post is the first of a regular series that will look at the story behind Miva Stock's images - elucidating the creative process, hard work and fun that goes into capturing a shot worthy of the expression.
 
I entitled this photograph the Great Wall of Fire not only because of it's fiery appearance, but because capturing it was a true trial by fire...
 
I was on an assignment for 3 week shoot that took me to the celebrated cities and provinces of China. After just a week of planning for the shoot, my first port of call was the capital city of Beijing. The city itself is full of well-known and infamous locations that are worthy destinations in and of themselves, but undoubtedly the most iconic of all of China's landmarks is the mysterious and colossal Great Wall at Badaling.
 
My assistant and I awoke at 2:00 AM for the pleasure of sitting in Beijing traffic in the driving rain. Even at that hour, the roads and highways are congested with cars and trucks constantly beeping their horns apparently just to let the other drivers know they are still alive in their smog encased vehicles. After 2 hours we arrived to the entrance where we were met by a guide who informed us that the gates would not open until 8 AM, which is well after sunrise. The caretakers live onsite and we had to awaken them and present our credentials to allow us onto the grounds. Despite having previously arranged the shoot, the caretakers were upset and tired and refused us entry for 45 minutes. After having both the guide and our driver beg and plead with them by way of a bribe, we were eventually allowed to begin our assent of the fortification.
 
I was looking for something that was a bit different from all of the examples of the Great Wall I had seen previously. To that end we brought with us ropes and climbing gear to get a unique shot of the wall while hanging from the side of one of its parapets. The trouble was that due to the storm clouds, not even the stars were shining and everything was completely black. Because of the wall's meandering and undulating nature, if not for a compass on my phone, we wouldn't even know from where the sun would rise. I wanted to get away from the touristy part of the wall and we set out upon a brisk 1.5 hour hike up and down the uneven ancient brick stairways and mountain tops that the wall passed over.

Fortunately, the rain subsided along our trek, and as the clouds began to part we could start to see the wall stretch out before us. I wanted a location where the wall was built into the landscape itself - harmonious with its surrounding rather than just a monument to the industriousness strength of man. After climbing to the top of one particular hill, I saw a rocky outcropping in the distance that looked like it might be suitable.

From the top of the nearest turret, we tied our ropes and secured our equipment (I was shooting with a Canon 5D Mark II) and descended various parts of the parapet looking for the perfect angle. At that time of morning the wall was ours — we hadn’t seen another soul since we left the entrance. My assistant and I began to discuss the shot and our settings, when out of the stonework, appeared a family of peddlers who descended upon us like pandas on bamboo— trying to get us to buy every trinket and bauble that was emblazoned with the image of the Great Wall. We tried in vain to get them to leave us alone and even bought some items hoping they would move on, but that only seemed to encourage them. Not only had they broken the tranquility of the morning and our shot process, but they seemed so aggressive that we feared descending on our lines as they could have easily been tampered with and our equipment stolen.

Great Wall soldierChinese Military patrolling the Great Wall After a lengthy “discussion” involving all of us becoming louder and more animated with our voices carrying over the distance, three armed military men showed up to investigate. They promptly shooed away the peddlers reminding them they are not allowed on the wall at all much less before it opens, and with fear in their eyes they scurried away as quickly as they arrived. Then the soldiers turned their attention to us and gruffly demanded to see our papers, which we promptly provided.

After being somewhat satisfied everything was in order, they told us scaling the wall was prohibited and they began confiscating our climbing gear. We tried to quickly explain again that it was all previously approved, and began to fret as the sky was beginning to lighten and we still hadn’t found the perfect location. While I would definitely not recommend this approach, we took a chance based on our previous experience with the caretakers, and offered them money to allow us the honor of doing what the Bureau of Touristry had already permitted us to do. In response, the soldiers all clasped their guns in their hands just as the first rays of the sun began to appear behind the hillside.

Our hearts sank as not only were we in danger of not getting the shot, but of actually being shot ourselves or at least taken into custody for our brash action. Then slowly, the soldiers began to smile and bow to thank us for our generosity, and asked if they could help us in anyway to get our photos of their magnificent national treasure. Sighing in relief, I explained what I was looking for and one of them said they knew just the right location and if we ran, we could still make it before sunrise.

Without time to think and with the soldiers now carrying our packs, we all ran on the slick bricks and passed the next turret. Thankfully, the soldier was spot on with his assessment and we set out to get the shot. The soldiers helped us by securing our lines to the ramparts as we readied our gear. They then lowered us down and we were able to get off a rapid series of images just as the sun’s colors enveloped the clouds. The vibrant hues lasted for all of 10 minutes, and then the sun disappeared behind the clouds as it rose. 

The view was like nothing I had ever seen before or would again. The rain had washed away the constant soot and pollution from the air that blankets all of China, and the wall stretched out before us like a fiery dragon winding its way along the mountain ranges. It was glorious and our makeshift photo posse all stood in silence until the last flecks of brilliance faded away. We thanked the soldiers profusely and showed them the shots we captured on the LCD screens of our cameras, and they looked as pleased by our encounter as we did. After a few final bows the soldiers headed off in the opposite direction slapping each other on the back and laughing as they strode off into the distance.

We gathered our gear and began the long walk back to the entrance — we had another section of the wall we wanted to shoot at sunset. However, just as we descended from the turret, along came the same family of peddlers with a new assortment of Mao memorabilia, brochures and “genuine” Rolex watches. They had obviously followed us and stayed hidden until the soldiers left. In the light of day they seemed to be the sweetest of people, doing what they could to make a living, and after we purchased some more items (everything was a real bargain), they even offered us some delicious homemade treats which we hungrily accepted.

The family escorted us as we made our way back, chatting animatedly with our guide who dutifully translated their questions about us, and our questions about their lives along the shadow of the Great Wall. We realized that without these humble interlopers, the soldiers may have never stopped and this sunrise may have never been captured in just this way.

Massive amounts of tourists visit the Great Wall of China While occasionally stopping to shoot and admire the various vantage points we couldn’t previously see in the dark , we began to meet the throngs of people that visit the wall on a daily basis and who help to sustain the town of Badaling and our new friends. The wall no longer seemed like the same place. While still awe-inspiring, it was no longer as mysterious and hypnotic as it was when we walked alone along the precipice of one of the most remarkable structures on Earth. It became garish, crowded and Disney-like. But for a few hours on one autumn day, we had the entire expanse of the Great Wall of China all to ourselves…and thanks to empty wallets and more than a little perspiration, we have a photo of the fiery dragon to prove it.

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mivastock@gmail.com (MivaStock) 1 1000 5D A picture is worth a 1,000 words Advertising Affection Afford All Amateur Amazing Amazon Animal Animals Architectural Architecture Art Arts Asia Assignment Award Award Winning Awesome Back Story Backstory Badaling Balance Beaten Beautiful Behind Beijing Best Breathtaking Bribe Brilliant Camera Canon Capture Captures Card Challenge Charm Charming China Class Climb Climbing Cloud Complain Complainer Conservation Cool Countries Country Creative Creative Director Culinary DSLR Desirable Desire Destination Digital Director EOS Editor Education Equipment Excellent Exotic Explore Exploring Family Famous Fantastic Film Flavor Flight Foreign Fortification Friend Global Globe Good Great Great Wall Great Wall of China Great Wall of Fire Guide Hike Hiking History Hodophile Holiday Hot Hotel Icon Iconic Image Infamous Inspire Inspiring Interacting Interaction Interest Interesting Itinerary Jump Jumping Jungle LCD Landmark Landscape Language Leaning Lens Linguistic Local Locale Locals Magical Make Making Meet Meeting Memorable Memory Michael Glatt Military Miva Miva Stock Money Mount Mountain Mt Mystique Negative Nikon Obstacle Off Off of the beaten path Off the beaten path Parapets Path Peddler Peking Phone Photo Editor Photographer Photography Photos Picture Pictures Place Positive Professional Rain Rampart Reason Regular Roam Roaming Roof top Roof-top SD SLR Samsung Screen Season Section Seeing Seen Sell Selling Series Sexy Shoot Shooting Siem Reap Sight Smart Soldier Special Spectacular Stair Stock Photography Stories Story Sun Sunrise Sunset Sunshine Take Taking Time Top 10 Top 10 destinations Top 10 destinations for travel photos Tour Tourism Tourist Tower Transient Travel Travel Photographer Travel Photography Travel Photos Traveler Traveling Traveller Traveller's Guide Trek Trekking Trip Tripod Vacation Vaida Glatt Valley View Visit Visiting Wall Wanderlust We Weather Well Known Well-known What to do if Why Wildlife Wonderful Word World Worth http://mivastock.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/5/the-story-behind-the-image---the-great-wall-of-china Mon, 12 May 2014 16:03:56 GMT
The Mystique of the Sexy Traveller http://mivastock.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/4/the-mystique-of-the-sexy-traveller Looking for someone who travels? Check out any dating site - whether you're looking for a guy or gal, the object of your affection will invariably say that they either love to travel or they are looking for someone who does. While "actually looking like your photo" and being gainfully "employed" will usually rank higher, an "interest in travel" floats pretty close to the top of the list of desirable traits in a partner.

Sure, being a hodophile might do wonders for your online profile, but would you really want to form a romance with someone consumed by wanderlust and obsessed with exploring the globe? Before you sign up for e-Harmony in search for that perfect traveling soul-mate of yours, there are a few things you should know about attaching yourself to a traveller.

We're transient. It comes with the territory - we float in and out of people's lives. We're there at the bar regaling stories of trekking through the Amazon, buying drinks and having fun one week, and we're gone the next. We miss things like weddings and birthdays and births themselves. We'll be back of course – but no one's grip is ever strong enough to keep us from leaving again.

We're brooders. You know that distant, far away look that sees right through you? The one that makes you feel like you're Bella in Twilight? Yep, it's mysterious and spiritual alright - but it's not necessarily you we're thinking about. Instead we're lost in the moment musing over a memory of tango dancing in the La Boca district of Buenos Aires, or perhaps wishing we were sipping sangria and eating tapas in the gothic quarter of Barcelona. Either way, we're seeing past you and not into the depths of your soul as you most assuredly deserve.

We're insufferable. We're plagued by a subconscious desire to one up everyone's travel tales with a more exotic one of our own. You got held up at US customs? Well, I got strip-searched while on assignment in Zambia. You saw an amazing sunset while horseback riding in Cabo? Well, I was awoken by an uzi carrying bodyguard at 3 AM just for a chance to see the sunrise over the pyramids while riding a camel in the Sahara with gunfire echoing across the dunes.

We're complainers. We don't favor the local Thai restaurant because "the food tasted way better in Chiang Mai". We moan because the local spirits store doesn't stock the Andechs Klosterbräu beer we were drinking in Berlin. Nothing at home is as good as it was overseas - not even ourselves.

We're boring. If you're unfortunate enough to get stuck next to us at dinner, you'll know all about it. Our adventurous spirit often presents itself in tales of our exploits to anyone within earshot, which means lots of stories that start with, "This one time, when I was in...", and then don't really seem to go anywhere. Or, even more agonizingly, get mixed up with each other, then have to be painstakingly re-enacted with forks, wine bottles and toothpicks as props.

We're a bit miserly. Travellers focus their financial goals on one thing: travel. It comes at the expense of things like careers and cars and houses with picket fences. We often see purchases in terms of camera gear, hotel accommodations or plane tickets - as in, let's put off renovating the kitchen - we could pop over to the French Riviera for that price where we could make reservations instead of an un-amusing bouche whipped up in an newly gadgeted kitchen.

We're snobs. We scoff when we hear the words, "cruise," "all-inclusive" or "resort."  Our travels are not part-and-parcel of buffet dinners, all-you-can-drink beach bars, and itineraries written up by someone more interested in antiquing than bungee jumping. We insist that our exploits be hard  won and our adventures as something that should never be spoon fed. We want to remember our days on earth in triumphant photographs atop of Your truly on top of Mt. Kili Kilimanjaro, and memorialized in the rewarding ache of muscles at the end of a long day's hike. If that's not for you then, phfffttt.

If you're still interested in travellers, then you're a dreamer, just like us. You deserve a life of adventure and possibility. You deserve to live free of encumbrance and embrace simplicity. You deserve to look at life through the eyes of an ingenue with your arms wide open. Because this is where you will find joy. And better, you will find joy together, because dreams are the stuff reality is made from, mystique be damned.

 

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mivastock@gmail.com (MivaStock) Advertising Affection Afford Africa All Amateur Amazing Amazon Angkor Animal Animals Architectural Architecture Art Arts Asia Awesome Bad Balance Bar Barcelona Beaten Beautiful Berlin Best Boca Boring Breathtaking Brilliant Brood Brooder Buenos Aires Bungee Cambodia Camera Canon Capture Captures Card Charm Charming Class Complain Complainer Conservation Convenient Cool Countries Country Creative Creative Director Culinary DSLR Dance Dancing Date Dating Desert Desirable Desire Destination Digital Director EOS Editor Education Egypt Espana Europe Excellent Exotic Explore Exploring Family Fantastic Film Flavor Flight Food Foreign France French Friend Germany Global Globe Good Gothic Guide Hang Out Hanging Out Hike Hiking History Hodophile Holiday Hot Hotel Inspire Inspiring Insufferable Interacting Interaction Interest Interesting Italy Itinerary Jump Jumping Jungle Kili Kilimanjaro LCD La Lake Language Leaning Lens Linguistic Local Locale Locals Magical Make Making Market Meet Meeting Memorable Memory Michael Glatt Michelangelo Miserly Miva Miva Stock Mount Mountain Mt Mystique Negative Nikon Off Off of the beaten path Off the beaten path Old Paris Path Phone Photo Editor Photographer Photography Photos Picture Pictures Pisa Place Positive Professional Pyramid Quarter Reason Riviera Roam Roaming Rome Roof top Roof-top SD SLR Safari Sahara Samsung Screen Season Section Seeing Seen Self-improvement Sexy Shoot Shooting Siem Reap Sight Smart Snob Southeast Spain Special Spectacular Stock Photography Stories Story Sun Sunrise Sunset Sunshine Take Taking Tango Tapas Thai Thailand Time Top 10 Top 10 destinations Top 10 destinations for travel photos Tour Tourism Tourist Tower Town Transient Travel Travel Photographer Travel Photography Travel Photos Traveler Traveling Traveller Traveller's Guide Trek Trekking Trip Tripod Vacation Vaida Glatt Valley Visit Visiting Wanderlust Wat We Weather What to do if Why Wildlife Wine Wonderful World http://mivastock.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/4/the-mystique-of-the-sexy-traveller Sun, 27 Apr 2014 12:38:57 GMT
Many Snap, But Few Ever Really Focus http://mivastock.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/4/many-snap-but-few-ever-really-focus Call it a lack of time, poor planning, or simply a desire to tick off as many destinations as possible in a given amount of time, but too few of us are Cambodia, Siem Reap, Angkor Wat temple spending quality time with our chosen destinations. While we may feel as if we've "done it all" and "seen it all" rarely is that ever the case. Sure, our full to capacity SD cards and hard drives will beg to differ, but there's a lot more to see and experience in the world than can be captured through the lens of your digital camera.

As travel has become more available and affordable for the average world citizen, so has a certain mindset of acquiring destinations as opposed to communing with them. This rekindles a perennial question: What exactly are we looking for when we roam as tourists and photographers around foreign cities and countries? As with so many things right in front of us, the answer may be no less useful for being familiar.

On some level, traveling has always been about self-improvement. Partly we seem to go to seek out something we already recognize, something that gives us our bearings: think of the gaggle of tourists invariably gathered around the Mona Lisa or the Leaning Tower of Pisa. At one time a highly educated Westerner read perhaps 100 books, all of them closely. Today we read hundreds of books, or maybe none, but rarely any with the same intensity. Travelers who took the Grand Tour across Europe during the 18th century spent months and years learning languages, meeting politicians, philosophers and artists and bore sketchbooks in which to draw and paint — to record their memories and help them see better.

Peru, Machu Picchu, young woman takes a photograph overlooking the ancient lost city of the Inca. Cameras replaced sketching by the last century; convenience trumped engagement, the viewfinder afforded emotional distance and many people no longer felt the same urgency to look. But it's our emotional connection to a place that makes it truly memorable. The adjectives are still there - amazing, beautiful, inspiring - but not the feeling. It's like going to a zoo and saying you've been on safari.

These days we tourists and photographers now wander through museums, cities, and countrysides, seeking to fulfill our curiosity of other cultures in a day, a week or fortnight, wondering whether it may now be the quantity of passport stamps rather than the quality of the experience we choose to focus upon to determine whether we have “done” the Louvre or "seen" the Eiffel Tower. It’s self-improvement on the fly.

Now, I'm not suggesting that you devote several months of your time to peering intently at Michelangelo's David or seeing how the leafs change as autumn returns to the Alps, but slow looking, like slow cooking, may yet become the new radical chic.

Watercolor sketch of Angkor Wat Siem Reap, Cambodia Recently, I bought a sketchbook to draw in while traveling Southeast Asia, just for the fun of it, not because I'm any good, but to help me look more slowly and carefully at what I discovered rather than quickly capturing the object of my fascination with my DSLR. Crowds occasionally gathered around as if I were doing something totally strange and novel, as opposed to something normal, like looking at an LCD display a foot in front of my face while figuring out an angle to a shot.

I found that just being alone with my scribbles and looking hard instead of hardly looking opened up a deeper and richer world for me. Not one where I waited for a tourist to get out of my viewfinder, but one where I invited the possibilities and captured the essence of the experience. It's akin to lingering with your cup of café au lait at an outdoor Parisian café as opposed to ordering a Venti in a paper cup.

Art, whether it be on paper, canvas, or digital form fortunately reminds us that there is in fact no correct way to look at any single location, save for with an open mind and patience.

What is true and spiritual about traveling is being able, as often as possible, to turn from the familiar to the unfamiliar; it keeps the mind nimble; it kills prejudice, and it fosters humor. If we take our minds away from what we expect traveling to be, and allow traveling to actually just be, that's when it all comes into focus.

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mivastock@gmail.com (MivaStock) Advertising Afford Affordable All Alps Amateur Amazing Ancient Android Angkor Animal Animals Apple Architectural Architecture Art Arts Asia Awesome Bad Balance Bar Barcelona Beaten Beautiful Best Breathtaking Brilliant Built-in Cambodia Camera Canon Capture Captures Card Chamonix Charm Charming China Class Comradery Conservation Convenient Cool Countries Country Creative Creative Director Culinary DSLR David Destination Digital Director Done Draw Drawing EOS Editor Education Eiffel Emperor's Palace Espana Europe Excellent Exotic Family Fantastic Film Flavor Flight Food Forbidden City Foreign France Friend Good Guide Hang Out Hanging Out History Holiday Hot Hotel Inspire Inspiring Interacting Interaction It Italy Itinerary LCD Lack Lack of Lake Language Leaning Lens Linguistic Local Locale Locals Machu Picchu Magical Make Making Market Meet Meeting Memorable Memory Michael Glatt Michelangelo Miva Miva Stock Negative Nikon Off Off of the beaten path Off the beaten path Old Pad Paris Path Phone Photo Editor Photographer Photography Photos Picture Pictures Pisa Place Positive Professional Reason Roam Roaming Rome Roof top Roof-top SD SLR Safari Samsung Screen Season Section Seeing Seen Self-improvement Shoot Shooting Siem Reap Sight Sketch Sketchbook Sketching Smart Southeast Spain Special Spectacular Stock Photography Stories Story Sun Sunrise Sunset Sunshine Take Taking That Time Top 10 Top 10 destinations Top 10 destinations for travel photos Tour Tourism Tourist Tower Town Travel Travel Photographer Travel Photography Travel Photos Traveler Traveling Traveller Traveller's Guide Trip Tripod Vacation Vaida Glatt Valley Visit Visiting Wat We Weather What to do if Why Wildlife Wine Wonderful World iphone http://mivastock.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/4/many-snap-but-few-ever-really-focus Sun, 13 Apr 2014 11:37:39 GMT
The Yin and Yang of the Camera Phone http://mivastock.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/3/the-yin-and-yang-of-the-camera-phone Have you ever seen or taken a photo that is at once both frightening and majestic, or mesmerizing yet common place? They often make for the most moving of images - they are yin and yang personified in digital realism. They represent what is both positive and negative in the world, and yet are able to achieve a balance. Over the past couple of years, I've come to look upon the camera phone in much the same way. Iphone yin and yang blackIphone yin and yang black

We all know the smart phone has changed much more than just how we communicate. Not only is it how we get our information, there are now apps for every task, thought or self-inflicted itch we may have.

But what has really made them so valuable to both pro and amateur photographers alike are their built-in cameras. These convenient devices were a game changer for the entire photographic industry. However, for every positive yang feature they have, they also have a yin consequence.

Today's higher-end handsets snap pictures that rival many standalone point-and-shoots. Plus, your phone is always in your pocket or purse, and as any photography enthusiast will tell you, the best camera is the one you have with you.

However, their convenience and ease of use has basically led to the death of the point-and-shoot camera market. Now, as a pro photographer, the Canon's and Nikon's make plenty of money off of my ilk as it is, but they should take comfort in that even the best smartphone cameras lack optical zoom, and of course none will stand up to even the least-expensive interchangeable lens camera. Even so, you'll be amazed at the quality you'll get from some camera phones. In fact, for most people, they are good enough that you can probably leave the point-and-shoot behind for good. Score one yang for the camera phone.

Of course one of the most compelling things about camera phones is their ubiquity - it's not unusual to see several people snapping away on any given day, not to mention our obsession with selfies. Because of this people tend not to notice, stiffen up or feel as imposed upon when you get snap-happy with your camera phone as opposed to when you lug out your 2 pound DSLR. Simply put, camera phones allow you to capture a more relaxed and "real" portrait of your subject.

On the other hand, being small and covert isn't always as appealing as you might think. For one thing, they get broken and lost a lot more often than a good solid camera. Also, they can be used for nefarious purposes - exposing intimate or embarrassing situations and general spying are all things that make these small devices a real nuisance. But when used to shoot photos or videos of unjust or illegal acts, or other news worthy happenings, they are true revelations of the times we live in. This one's a push, yin and yang are in balance.

Not surprisingly, a lot of us believe – or at least fantasize, that we have an inner Ansel Adams or Annie Leibovitz in us - both amateurs and professionals alike. I believe that anyone can take a great photograph, as sometimes the photo gods smile down upon you and you capture a real beauty – even with a smart phone. However, as with any skill, it takes study and practice to consistently come away with beautiful shots, and no matter how much you squat down or do that framing thing with your fingers, you'll still be SOL more times than not.

In order to improve their photos, some phone wielding predators have taken to stalking those of us who at least look like we know what we're doing. They try to muscle in on the locations "the big camera people" have set up to take the "perfect" shot. Common manners then seem to fly right out of their apertures as these phone jockeys jostle tripods, or lean against others in an overly intimate manner all to get a shot they will mostly likely just delete. This one goes against the camera phone – yin's point.

Ultimately, however, what tips the balance in yang's favor for the camera phone is that whether you use your camera phone for good or evil, beauty or otherwise, the ability to instantly upload images to social networking sites, email or photo sharing websites makes certain the camera phone is the wave of the future, and isn't going away any time soon.

So what do you think my fellow Photo Travellers, do the yang's of the camera phone outweigh it's yin? Do you find yourself using them more and more as your convenient camera of choice at home and abroad? Or are you going to stick it out with your point-and-shoot camera and hope they become as versatile as the smart phone one day?

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Traveller's Guide to Meeting (and hanging) with the Locals http://mivastock.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/3/travellers-guide-to-meeting-and-hanging-with-the-locals

One of the very best things about traveling is coming home and You never know who you may meet when traveling to lands far and dear. telling of the
adventures you just had to friends and family, and heck, just about anyone who will listen. You'll most likely regale them with stories about the food, the sights, the hotels, the wildlife and maybe even your flights. But how many stories will you have about interacting with the locals – not the waiter or the concierge, but someone who really gives you the flavor of the destination you're visiting?

While the true flavor of a place can, and most certainly does, derive from it's arts, architecture and culinary delights, can you ever really say that you've been to a new destination if you haven't interacted with its people?

Not only does getting to know some of the locals give you a more true connection to the place you're visiting, it often provides for the very best of stories and memories. But how do you meet them without coming across as either some sort of deranged escaped mental patient, or someone looking to score some illicit action?

First off - learn the linguistic basics before you ever get on the plane - know how to say Hello, Please, Thank You , Good Bye. The words for beautiful, amazing and delicious are also extremely handy as well as a few numbers. And study the map while you're in flight so as not too look like such a tool with that ridiculous lost look on your face.

Study your guide books, if you must, at home, in flight or in your hotel room - but know they will rarely, if ever, be helpful when it comes to meeting people. If a guide book says a certain restaurant, for example, is awash in locals - you can be assured of finding mostly tourists hanging out, looking to capture the non-existent local vibe. To find real comradery, you'll need to look off the beaten path.

One of the very best places to meet locals are in central food markets, and the best one I've ever found for meeting locals is the famous La Boqueria in Barcelona, España. This covered market is in such a vibrant and stimulating location, that it absolutely teams with locals buying the freshest and usually most affordable produce. After photographing the vendors (who can be quite the characters!) and their goods, they will often invite you to sample, and strike up a conversation if they're not too busy.  As you wonder through the market you'll see many little nooks and corners to take a seat, order a cup of café, and maybe tuck in with a Spanish tortilla or tarta. As soon as you pull up a chair, you'll be amazed who will saunter up next to you with the morning paper, or stop by to get some refueling after a late night in their pulsating techno clubs.

When in a vibrant city such a Shanghai or Sydney I personally love finding roof top bars and restaurants - the trendy kind, not the revolving floor variety. This appeals to both the traveller and photographer in me. I scout out the cool places with a view, then take advantage of the spot to get beautiful sunsets over the city and capture the very essence of the city at night. People will usually take notice of you, and when you're not shooting, it's quite easy to strike up a conversation with people admiring the view of their home town whilst enjoying the ambiance of the local scene and stealing glances at your LCD.

Speaking of bars, another must-know tip for traveling is the pronunciation of the local words for beer or wine. Not only will it come in handy as you settle in for a drink at that roof top bar or a quaint watering hole that you happen to stumble upon, but it is always a conversation starter, especially if you're willing to buy a round for the interesting folks sitting nearby. The same goes for coffee and deserts when at a sidewalk cafe.

Sometimes just having a camera and a tripod is enough to attract locals to begin a chat with you to see what you're shooting, or make camera small talk or to just shoot the breeze. If you're taking an active interest in their corner of the world, they will often take an interest in you. And nowhere is this more evident than if you attend a local sporting event. Unless the local team is losing horribly, the fans around you will be boisterous and open to sharing their love for team and city if you simply take an interest in the action. A few well placed "the Ref is marde!" or Go-Go Gryffindors!" and you'll be an honorary "Sea Dog" in no time, and be invited to all the after-game festivities.

However, sometimes you might just feel like you're getting a little too immersed in the local culture, because you can't always get away from them when you're in places like China or India. Not only do they have the world's largest populations, but they are also still very curious about foreigners visiting their country. While shooting the Forbidden City at Tiananmen Square, for example, I was inundated every few minutes by people wanting to pose with me or be in my pictures, wanting me to go eat some dumplings with them, asking for me to buy their "genuine" Rolexes, wanting to get involved in long conversations about America or Europe, reading to me from their "genuine" Mao book of poetry, asking if I know Brittney Spears or Michael Jackson, pardoning themselves to please allow them to practice their English, etc. etc...

On the other hand, maybe you actually are looking to be fully immersed during your stay - sites like Couchsurfing offer a great way to meet and know locals instantly. If you're lucky (and if my experiences are any indication, you will be), your hosts may even offer to be your city guide - taking you or directing you to hot spots only the locals know, or showing you angles and views of famous landmarks you never would have found otherwise.

In the end, no matter how you go about it, you'll most likely find that people are more receptive than you might think. Be friendly, casual or cool, but above all, make the effort and you'll come home not only with some great stories, but perhaps also with a new friend or two from our global community.

 

Do you try to meet the denizens of your travel destinations - how do you go about it?

 

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Top 10 Destinations for Travel Photos http://mivastock.zenfolio.com/blog/2014/2/top-10-destinations-for-travel-photos "What's the favorite city or country that you've visited?" This is the single most often asked question put to me by people I meet after learning what I do for a living – immediately followed by "Do you need anyone to carry your tripod?!!"   Yellowstone National Park, Norris Geyser Basin, Whirligig geyser goes off in the Porcelain Basin

But, to tell you the truth, I loath answering this question because in all of its simplicity, it really requires a complex answer. You see, the world is so vast, so fascinating and so varied that the pithy answer they're looking for simply does not exist. So invariably, I must ask them to be more specific - "Do you actually mean what is my favorite city to live? The best place to visit in the winter? The most interesting location for culture? Where is the best epicurean destination?" Everyone brings their own definition of what "favorite" or "Best" means based upon what they enjoy doing or seeing whilst abroad. And while these are all great ideas for future blog entries – I'm finally going to have my say...

As a professional photographer who has travelled to nearly 60 countries, I want to provide you with my favorite top 10 destinations for travel photos - no one is asking you to be a DSLR master to get the most out of these locations - there are some places in the world where it's almost impossible to take a bad photo. Places that are so stunningly beautiful, or colorful, or interesting, that automatic mode and a willingness to press the button are all you need.

These are 10 of those places:

The Sacred Valley, Peru    

Machu Picchu, Peru Peru itself it the most surprising place I've ever been. The three worlds of Peru are the Costa, the Sierra and the Selva (Coast, Mountains and Rain Forrest). On their own each region is magnificent, but it is in the Sierra where one of the true wonders of the world is nestled - Machu Picchu. If ever there was a place to set up a civilization (along with a tripod), the Sacred Valley would be it. The views and hikes are breathtaking (quite literally being located at 2,430 meters (7,970 ft) above sea level) and the people are even more so. Of course being in South America, everyone speaks Spanish - but did you know they all also speak the ancient Incan dialect of their ancestors? No? Well, there's a lot more to surprise you once you visit.

Wachau Valley, Austria

Austria, Wachau Valley, Schonbuhel Castle What's the only thing more impressive than seeing a medieval castle rise above on a cliff as you sail down one of the world's most famous rivers? How about seeing at least twenty in two days along the deep Blue Danube? The castles and abbeys on display along this stretch of the continental river are the finest example of medieval and baroque fortress architecture in the world. Structures like the Melk Abbey – the location of the movie "The Name of the Rose" or the Castles of the Two Brothers locked in an eternal feud over a woman, give inspiration to lovers and photographers.

Italy

Rome, Italy, Roman Colosseum at sunset. A country so vibrant, so historic and so bellissimo that you can't just choose to visit one place – you have to divide it into many long and languid stays. How could you only visit Rome without also going to see Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast? How could you possibly go to Florence without also visiting Pisa and the Tuscan countryside? How could you shop the boutiques of Milan without making a trip up to the Dolomites and Lake Como? You can't, and don't even try. Another thing you won't even have to try at is taking a great picture...that comes as easy as uno, due, tre.


Yellowstone National Park, USA

 4 million people check out the world's first National Park every year and there's a good reason why - Yellowstone has it all. Aptly called the Serengeti Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River of North America, you won't find more bountiful or diverse wildlife outside of Africa. Throw in the fact that 2/3 of the world's geysers reside in the park, along with the largest lake over a mile high anywhere in the western hemisphere, coupled with a canyon and waterfall to rival any on the planet, and you have a photographer's dream. Go in the autumn after the kids are back in school and have the spectacular park, which is nearly the size of Delaware, nearly to yourself.

 

Cairo/Giza, Egypt

==Egypt, Great Pyramids of Giza Arguably the most storied and historically alive city on earth. No traveller's itinerary can ever be complete without a visit to the Great Pyramids of Egypt and that includes photographers as well. Whilst the city is ever encroaching upon the historical sites of Giza and Saqqara as to be seen in the distance, once you're at the base of Great Pyramid of Khufu, Djoser's Step Pyramid or trying to figure out the riddle of the Sphinx – you are there – completely and utterly immersed the weighty history of it all. Even with their ubiquitous images seen everywhere, you stand in awe at these feats of engineering from one of the world's greatest civilizations.

Paris, France

Paris, France, Notre Dame Whilst you can't go wrong with either Rome or London, if there should be only one major city on this list, what better than Paris, full as it is with recognizable monuments, public artworks, beautiful buildings, parks, cafes filled with smart Parisian folk, and the Seine running through it all? But how do you shoot one of the most photographed cites in the world and make it your own? With so much to admire, try breaking the rules and put more than one iconic structure in a shot at once using depth of field, or go when Paris is not in season, like in the autumn, and show it's true beauty when the masses are nowhere to be found. And keep an eye out for the world-class street art that adorns some of the city's walls.

Antarctica

Icebergs, Paradise Harbor, Antarctica Penguins, penguins, penguins. They quickly become an obsession: getting the perfect close-up nesting shot, the perfect waddling group shot, the perfect breaching shot or the perfect penguins-jumping-out-of-the-water-to-escape-a-sea-lion shot. Despite being so seemingly barren, Antarctica is actually teaming with wildlife (not too bad considering it literally means "without any bears"). But even without the wildlife, Antarctica would be a photographer's playground, with soft light playing on icebergs, crystal-clear water and snowy peaks.

 Vilnius/Trakai, Lithuania

Lithuania, Vlinius, Trakai castle You want quaint and classical? Lithuania's capital has it all. With a history to rival nearly any place in Europe, the southern-most Baltic country charms like no other thanks to its olde world charm, with a cold river encasing colorful old classical and Bohemian buildings with narrow, winding streets. It has more Roman Catholic churches per block than anywhere outside of Rome – not too shabby from the last country to officially give up Paganism. Make a side trip to Trakai and see the most magical castle surrounded by eleven ice-blue lakes. After exploring by foot, make sure to catch a ride in a hot air balloon for an amazing aerial view – a clicker's dream.

Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania

Plains Zebra Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania There's not an aspiring or perspiring photographer alive that doesn't fancy having one of those clichéd animal shots on their wall, maybe of a zebra, or a lion, or an elephant, maybe with the silhouette of a flat-topped acacia tree in the background, maybe around sunset, with the light turning golden on the grassy plains. Or maybe that's just me. But the thickly populated wildlife conservation area located inside an ancient extinct volcano is the perfect setting for true wildlife photography.

 

Beijing/Badaling, China

Great Wall of China at Badaling Here's the trick: go when you've got a good chance for rain. If you haven't heard by now, China is seriously polluted. Brown smog polluted. But it has some of the most striking scenery and architecture of any place on earth. So go in November when it rains every few days and be ready to pounce on the Forbidden City, the Emperor's Palace or the restored section of the Great Wall at Badaling or Mutianyu. Because for a few short hours after the quick downpours of the season, the smog is washed away and brilliant blue skies and sunshine will be your reward. The tourists will have run for cover, and the entire place will be candy for your camera.

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