Almost Weekly Photo

Big Yellow Taxi, Iran

Hamadan Taxi Driver, Iran.Canon EOS 5DSR, 70-200mm lens @ 200mm,…

How Important Is Cropping?

Hilltop monastery, near Haa, BhutanPhase One XF 100MP Trichromatic, 240mm…

The New Tradition Update

Regular readers will know that I’m in the process of…

Is This Too Perfect

Patricia Lake, Jasper, CanadaPhase One XF 100MP, 55mm Schneider lens,…

The Boss is getting cold.
Phase One XF, 100MP Trichromatic back, 55mm Schneider-Kreuznach mid-telephoto lens.

Before you read the rest of this blog, check out the four photos. You’ve seen the first up above and the other three are at the end of the article.

What do you know about these photos? What can you tell from the photos alone?

High up on a mountain pass in Bhutan, it was quite chilly. A couple of construction workers stood next to the mandatory chorten, keeping a fire going.

This was the story. It’s a simple story, but it gives you more information to understand what’s happening, but perhaps not quite enough…

The boss had noticed the fire was going out. He sent his assistant across the road to find more wood. Colourfully attired in blue Wellington boots, the assistant grabbed a small tree and dragged it down the hill and back across the road, where he trimmed it ready for burning. He even paused long enough to have a portrait taken.

So, now there’s a story, do the photos have more meaning? Are the photographs more interesting? Do the four photo work better collectively than any one image alone?

Not every photograph we take has to stand alone. I’d suggest none of these photos are brilliant, but together with a little story, they create a mini photo essay.

Before television and video became so prevalent, photographers would create photo essays to better tell a story. They were often documentary in nature and generally very popular with magazine readers.

We can do the same. Whether we publish in a magazine or on a blog doesn’t matter, but I do think it’s important to add a few words, to flesh out the story, to allow your viewers to correctly understand what is happening.

So, on your next photography outing, think about creating a mini photo essay and putting it together. I’d be interested to see what you create – maybe we’ll even publish one or two on this blog?

See the other three images here...

Wangdue, Bhutan
Phase One XF, 100MP Trichromatic back, 35mm wide-angle lens

The world is changing so quickly, you wonder whether photos like these will be around in a decade, even less. Modernisation and mechanisation are reaching small communities and one wonders if small children will be wandering around the rice paddies while their parents work, or if they will be inside looking at a computer screen?

Bhutan is a photography paradise with something to photograph wherever you look. And if you can’t see anything, just wait a little because around the corner, the weather will change or a new village will emerge. This location was an idyllic little farming community of a dozen houses below our eco-hotel. After breakfast out on the patio, looking over the river and the distant Dzong, we wandered down to take a look. Everyone was friendly, as you’d expect, and after an exchange of pleasantries, we managed to capture a few photos of this young girl.

I love the fact that she looks so awkward, so self-conscious about having her photo taken. Her parents were encouraging her to be good and I had no sense of guilt, knowing that in a few years she’d be using her mobile phone to photograph all her friends and, just maybe, some tourists as well!

I had time to shoot one portrait with a wide-angle lens, including the rice fields and the distant dzong. I took a higher viewpoint so that she was framed by the rice field, leaving the dzong up above. It places her in the environment.

I then switched to a mid-telephoto and took a closer portrait, using a wide aperture to throw the background out of focus. By taking a lower viewpoint, I have still managed to keep the dzong and rice fields in the background, although they are less recognisable.

So, which is best? You may have a preference based on the subject’s pose and expression, but from a photographic viewpoint, which best tells the story?

As Ignacio Palacios and I begin to promote our photo tour to Bolivia in July 2019, I asked Ignacio to share one of his favourite photos with us. Here are his notes on his stunning Salar de Uyuni salt lake landscape:

It is a composite image. The top of the image that includes the 4WD and the mountains (Fisher Island) was taken at sunrise and the bottom part of the image with the typical salt plain hexagons was taken at sunset.

The reason why I had to do a composite image is because I only spent one night in Uyuni and that morning at sunrise I could not find the composition that I had in mind (with a strong marked hexagonal line following a diagonal).

That morning, there were also a lot of 4WD wheel marks on the salt hexagons in the area where we parked our car to take a few photos at sunrise. It was so dark that I could not see them, but they ruined most of my photographs. In fact, there were so many 4WDs driving around Uyuni that it was very difficult to find a location without marks...and it would have been a very tedious task to clone them.

Because I wasn’t completely happy with the shots I took in the morning, I asked the driver to take me again for sunset. I was the only photographer on the tour keen enough to come back to the salt plains again for a sunset shot. We had to look for a while until I found what I wanted and then we waited for the sun to set...

Apart from saturating, slightly changing the colour of the salt lake and highlighting the diagonal, I haven´t touched this image very much.

Naturally, I'm keen to get to Salar de Uyuni and find some shots like this. The image won Ignacio first prize in the LUX Awards in Spain and did well in Australian awards too - so I will need to find something different!

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