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Landscape, cityscape, ocean/rivers all carry many of the same challenges. On a trip with other photographers to Iceland, the “leader/instructor” in addition to other valued advice made a simple suggestion. When you see a photographic opportunity take your shot immediately. You can always try and adjust your settings, change angles or lenses, wait for different lighting, and so on but generally, the best photo is the one you see immediately. If you wait the dynamics of your photograph may change or disappear completely.  

The number of potentially really good photographs I have missed outnumber the ones I have taken simply because of “messing” around trying to get the best possible shot instead of a shot. 


A zoom lens can take the place of two lenses. A wide-angle and a telephoto. There are a couple of generalizations you can consider. First is to take a fairly complete but not quite wide-angle shot. This will provide a great deal of information about your subject and could be the best picture of the day. After that first shot take another at about 50 mm. Then do all the zooming you want capturing small details. Move around changing the background of your subject, if it’s stationary. Be creative! You can always go back to your original full-framed photograph to help make decisions on what you are attempting to capture. This bit of good advice came from a Cuban photographer in Havana with the last name of Batista.


I have accompanied Jim Cline who lives in San Diego on many photographic trips in South America, Central America, and Mexico. He and his camera make magic happen. His expertise has guided my equipment choices, destinations within a destination, and a general understanding of photography for over a decade. 


A final piece of information I have found useful came from Jim. He said when taking a photo, particularly of a beautiful landscape, always look behind you after taking the photo. More often than not you will find another opportunity. 


You never know what may be behind you. When I was traveling down the Baja Peninsula in pursuit of a majestic desert scene or whales breaching-not at the same time. I was sitting on the edge of a zodiac in the middle of a large inlet where gray whales came annually to spawn. I was concentrating on taking a photograph. When another boatmate told me to turn around. A whale had come up alongside the zodiac next to me to take a look and we saw each other eye to eye.



Photographers are by nature equipment geeks. I have boxes of marginally used special lenses, motion detectors, backpack camera carriers, tripods, computer cabling, computer apps, filters, and so on. 


When I became truly interested in photography I put away my Brownie box camera and a series of inexpensive quick shot brands. My father gave me his Konica he had brought back from an Air Force deployment in England. 


Later I decided Nikon would be the camera for me.  It was a toss-up between Canon and Nikon.  I purchased a Nikkormat with money earned from mowing lawns. It was a single fixed lens camera that served me well through the 1970s and until the digital age came about. 


In the early 2000’s I purchased my first full-frame digital camera. Within a few years, I had used, sold, and purchased several newer, faster, and more advanced Nikons. I also had moved up to expensive, fast and heavy glass lenses. They live up to their name and are defiantly heavy. 


I carried a backpack camera bag with one or two camera bodies, three lenses, filters, memory cards, flash attachment, a small computer, and generally a tripod among other miscellaneous items. The backpack weighed up to 40 pounds on most trips. 


While in Peru another photographer shared their new mirrorless Sony camera which was extraordinarily light. It took excellent photos and had a gigantic sensor. 


My next camera was a Sony full-frame mirrorless A7ii which was light in weight until I attached a heavy glass lens. This is a great camera with many interesting features to ensure you get a well-lit, in-focus shot. The camera’s capabilities and the high-speed lenses allowed me to leave the tripod at home. In addition, I now only carry one camera body and a 24-70 mm F2.8 lens.  


Most recently I discovered the iPhone 13. It takes, in most cases, better photographs than the Sony. They may not print as large but close enough. The detail the iPhone captures is amazing and has built-in telephoto and wide-angle lenses. Low light isn’t a problem as the camera locks your subject while it takes a time-lapse photograph.


Convenience and the ability to take a quick photo or photos by pulling your phone out of your pocket has changed the world of photography. Everyone now seems to be a photographer but, in my opinion, it stills takes a special or trained eye to capture the best photo.

Phil meeting a whale.jpg
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