When I was planning out my trips for the year, I never expected to attend another National Geographic Expeditions trip or head back to New York so soon, but it ended up working out perfectly. This trip to New York marked my third trip with National Geographic, and I decided to step it up a bit with the advanced level class. Our assignment for the weekend was to capture the people of New York experimenting with light and flash. This assignment was kind of a lot out of my comfort zone, but it really pushed me to try out things I had never considered before with this art.
Our first location was the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain in Central Park. This section of Central Park is considered the heart of the park. It provided the perfect backdrop for capturing tourists, locals and street performers. The best way to access this part of Central Park is from the 72nd Street Station, and just follow the path for Strawberry Fields and the Lennon Mosaic.
That evening, we headed to one of New York’s more iconic locations, Times Square, to continue our lesson on street portraits. Let me tell you it is no easy task to approach strangers for thier portraits. Additionally, Times Square is one of the more challenging locations to shoot due to all the bright and changing lights.
For our second day, it was unfortunately raining, but we made the most of it and headed to Grand Central Station to practice movement with people and light. Grand Central is one of my favorite places in New York. Not only does it make for some people watching, but it is a spectacular piece of architecture.
What are your favorite places to people watch in New York?
All good travel bloggers are secretly photographers. I mean we need images for our posts, and with it comes the right equipment. I am frequently asked about what I use to take my images and my various photography gear, so today I am going to show you the inside of my camera bag as well as share some of my tips.
I have had two different Canon DSLR cameras, and I highly recommend them. I love my Canon EOS 70D, it’s a high quality, crop-body camera, ideal for intermediate level photographers. I really love the video and wifi features, which were new compared to my first camera. If you’re just getting started, I suggest the Canon EOS Rebel models. My very first DSLR was a Canon Rebel XSi.
When it comes to lens, I have four of varying lengths. My go-to lens when I’m traveling is the Canon EF-S 18-55mm, but I also have a wide-angle lens, a mid-range lens and a telephoto lens. Anytime I go to a photography workshop I always bring my whole kit, but anytime I am traveling I try to limit my lenses and accessories depending on the situation. Plus carrying a limited kit will help with back and shoulder pain later.
Note: Make sure you always have an extra battery (unless you charge at night) and spare memory cards.
In addition to my big DSLR, there are occasions that call for a smaller pocket size camera. I love the Canon PowerShot models. I always have this guy in my purse for when the occasion calls, and it is perfect when a situation doesn’t allow you to shoot with a larger camera.
I have an older model, but this Canon PowerShot ELPH 190 IS is comparable to the one I have. I really like that in addition to great megapixels for a point-and-shoot it also has video and wifi.
Underwater & Action Sports
It wasn’t until my recent trip to the Caribbean that I started to use a camera solely for underwater and action sports shots. I use a GoPro HERO Session. The GoPro cameras take some practice, but you can get some great shots once you get the hang of it. Like my other cameras, this camera has wifi capability that allows you to download those images you have already taken or to shoot remotely.
We all use our mobile phones to get those quick photos, but sometimes those quick photos require a few edits. My favorite on-the-go photo editor is A Color Story. I use this not only for the photos I take on my phone but also for those I download from my other cameras. My other favorite app is the Later app, which I use this for scheduling my photos for Instagram. I also use the Canon Connect app and the GoPro Capture app for remote shooting and to download my images via wifi.
Now, all cameras require a few accessories. For my DSLR, I have two separate flashes (here and here) depending on the need, a remote, and a tripod. I also use two different bags depending on where I’m traveling. I use this one (similar) for my full kit and this one for basic travel needs. Both have pros and cons, but I love the over-the-shoulder one as it is easier on my back. I also use Ape Cases for my lenses when I want to grab an extra lens but don’t want to bring a big bag. These cases are great for tossing your lens in a backpack or purse without damage. Last but not least, your DSLR needs to have a fun strap. I absolutely love mine by mod.
I also bring another tripod for my phone. I LOVE the Joby Gorilla tripod. This works for almost any smartphone. I also love the HISY Bluetooth remote for when I’m alone and need some help taking those selfies with my phone. Lastly, my phone is always in a LifeProof case. Let’s be real, I’m clumsy at best sometimes and this case has saved my phone more times than I care to count.
Our assignment throughout the weekend with the workshop was to create a sense of place. The first location for our field assignments was the Texas Capitol building. They say everything is bigger in Texas and this includes the capitol building. Construction started in 1882 and it is the largest state capitol building in the US. The central dome was my favorite part, as well as all the original fixtures in the House and Senate. It is truly a spectacular piece of architecture.
I particularly loved the details of the capitol. Definitely be on the look out for all things “Texas” when you visit.
To keep with our theme of creating a sense of place, our little group also walked around Lady Bird Lake in the morning light to practice our motion with the runners, bikers and rowers. If you need a sense of quiet and piece in the middle of the busyness of the city, definitely take a sunrise stroll around the lake. It’s beautiful!
After our morning at the lake, we mosyed on over to the local farmer’s market. The colors and the people interaction were fantastic.
For the month of December, we focused on shooting without a flash and candlelight as our only source of light. It took a lot of trial and error to get the right combination of settings, as well as adjusting several of my momma’s candles to get the light just right. But once everything fell into place, I was very happy with the outcome.
These are the images I submitted for the assignment.
The subject matter for this month’s photography assignment was circles and crosses. I actually really enjoyed this assignment as it really forced me to think outside the box. The majority of my photos for this assignment were taken at an antique store/museum in north Georgia.
For the month of July, my Santa Fe Photography Workshop class decided to challenge ourselves by shooting in black and white. I don’t have much experience with black and white photography, so I found this assignment to be slightly challenging but a lot of fun. It was fun driving around town trying to find the right angles, shading, texture, and topic to create a strong image in black and white.
These are the images I submitted for our monthly review.
It has been little over a month since my adventure to Santa Fe. Our class decided that we wanted to stay connected after we left New Mexico, and to continue to grow as photographers. Armed with our cameras and a monthly prompt, we are exploring our various cities to complete the prompt.
For the month of June, our prompt was the color red.
After doing a little exploring in Albuquerque, I headed up to Santa Fe! Having never been to the southwestern portion of the country before, I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but the South West certainly has its own unique beauty and I couldn’t wait to get started with the workshop and exploring this part of the country!
Our workshop was fast-paced, intense, but so much fun! I learned a lot from our instructors, Nevada Wier and Carlan Tapp. We also had the opportunity to explore some pretty cool spots around Santa Fe.
On our first full day, after a morning full of class, we headed off to Canyon Road. Canyon Road is a half-mile stretch where a lot of fine art galleries, shopping, and dining is located in Historic Santa Fe. After learning all about CLAP (Color, Light, Action, Pattern), we were tasked to photograph Color and Pattern with several limitations. Everything we did challenged us and definitely stretched our creativity.
After spending several hours wandering up and down the road, we headed back to the classroom for our first round of editing and critiques. I was surprised by what I was able to capture, and it was fun seeing what everyone else captured as well. We all walked the same stretch of road, and we all saw it differently. After the critique, we were provided with our evening and early morning projects – working with light!
After a delicious dinner at Blue Corn Cafe, some of the ladies and I headed down to the plaza to work with artificial light and blue hour. The next morning we rose early, like 3:45 early, to get ready and head up to Old Fort Marcy Park, which overlooks Santa Fe, to capture the sunrise. Luckily the clouds cooperated with us and we were able to get some great images. I learned later this was just an average Santa Fe sunrise. I’ll definitely have to go back and see what a “real” Santa Fe sunrise looks like!
For Day 2, we headed out to Ghost Ranch in Abiquiú (almost 50 miles north of Santa Fe). At one point in time, Georgia O’Keefe called Ghost Ranch home. It is now used as an eduction center and retreat by the Presbyterian Church. Several movies have also been filmed there including Red Dawn, Lone Ranger, Cowboys and Aliens, and 3:10 to Yuma. It’s a beautiful ranch! My little group opted to hike the Kitchen Mesa trail, about a 4.6-mile hike that loops around the massive red rock formation before climbing up a crevasse that goes to the top of the mesa. We didn’t realize the trail went up (thanks to the trail not being on the map), so we got slightly lost, and ended up taking a detour through a dried up river bed. As we were taking the trail in front of the mesa, the sun decided to finally come out and Kitchen Mesa showed off all its stunning colors! It made for some pretty incredible images!
Our third day’s assignment took place on Eaves Movie Ranch, which is just outside Santa Fe, and our task was multiple types of portraits. Built originally as a Movie Ranch, Eaves Movie Ranch has had more than 50 movies filmed there. I thought this was going to be my least favorite day, but I absolutely loved it once I got started!
After our morning of working with our models, we headed back to the classroom for our last lesson and for our critique. Not ready to leave, some of us headed back in town to grab lunch before heading our separate ways, and I would be remiss not to mention this adorable little restaurant we tried (thanks Enterprise lady for the recommendation). If you are ever in Santa Fe, you must try La Boca!