Recently I got the urge to wander (and take photographs). To satisfy that need, a friend and I spent some time in Michigan looking for photographic subjects. Here are some of the results:
On another trip, Kathy (my wife) and I made our way to Cadillac, Michigan.
The following photos were taken on Drummond Island (Michigan).
There are lots of travel possibilities in Michigan. I like nature the best!
In my travels I often find interesting food. Almost no food excites me more than great BBQ. Of course I'll always remember Jack's in Nashville. And Red, Hot and Blue is just a memory now since the local one closed here in Michigan.
Recently I was enjoying a fun day of photography in the Howell, Milford and Pinckney areas in Michigan with a good friend. We realized we were getting hungry and began looking for a good place for lunch. We found it.
Chef Chris' Boogie Woogie Bar-B-Que is located in Hamburg (pretty close to Pinckney, Michigan). This area is not very far from Ann Arbor (home of the University of Michigan). But you won't find BBQ this good in Ann Arbor!
Chef Chris is an interesting guy too. Besides smoking some of the best BBQ around these parts, he is also into blues music. No surprise there -- BBQ and blues go hand in hand. However, Chris doesn't just enjoy the blues, he sings the blues and plays harmonica with a band called the Blue Plate Specials and most recently, the Ramp Shakers.
Chris Sirwinskis was born and bred in Michigan, but his soul reflects the Mississippi Delta Blues and somewhere along the line he developed a talent for Southern BBQ. I tried his pulled pork sandwich (one of my favorite things) and the bread was different (really great) and the pork was amazing. I did not drown it in BBQ sauce; there was no need as it was the best tasting pulled pork I have tasted in the past two years. He smokes much of his meat over oak and cherry woods. The pulled pork is enhanced with several spices and it is really good.
Chef Chris' Boogie Woogie BBQ
5589 East M-36
My wife and I stopped at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore before heading on to Evanston, IL. While we were there, we found a small BBQ place called Smokeys Southern Barbeque. Now their BBQ and sides were outstanding. But the best reason to visit is their pecan and chocolate pecan pies! Man are they good -- no, they are great!
Jaime Salas was happy to let me photograph her pie creations.
Kathy enjoyed the pulled pork and I did as well, but I really enjoyed the baked beans and potato salad too. The BBQ sauce was Kansas-style; sweet and tangy. Of course I had to try the chocolate pecan pie (I was nice enough to share with Kathy). Wow -- we both found the pie to be special (really good).
Below, I am happy having eaten some great BBQ.
Recently, I met Lynn Wadley on a trip to Florida. Lynn is an avid collector of musical instruments. She also teaches herself to play them! This is an amazing hobby/avocation.
She seeks unusual instruments which catch her fancy. Lynn also teaches music.
In the photos above, Lynn is playing a zither (also called an autoharp today) and a mountain dulcimer. Lynn once met Jean Ritchie, the Appalachian dulcimer player and folk singer who made dulcimers famous among the hippies in the late 60's/early 70's. Here she is playing the mountain dulcimer in the traditional way - with a feather!
The photo on the right shows Lynn playing a concertina. Lynn explained that learning to play this concertina was challenging. There are buttons on each end and pushing in (on the concertina) makes one note, pulling out makes another note (with the same button or buttons pressed). So it is complicated to play until you become adept at pushing and pulling while pressing buttons to create the proper melody. But, Lynn did manage to learn it and she performed very well.
Finally Lynn performed a song she wrote and a song written by The Berrymans with her guitar. Both were very good.
I was just reading an article about which lenses to carry. It was interesting, but did not fully satisfy as an answer to this question.
Why, you ask?
Well travel photography is a challenging proposition because your desire to travel light, move frequently and reduce the amount of lens changing that will be necessary bumps up against the wide variety of things you will encounter to photograph.
Think about it for a moment; you will need to focus in close on details (a macro lens), you will encounter tall things or tight quarters (a very wide angle lens) and you will see distant things that you want to bring close (long telephoto lens). Wow - that's a problem. You will need to photograph in many different light conditions (a fast lens). What is the minimum I really need?
When I use my Canon equipment here is my travel gear:
1) Camera body and Canon 15 - 85mm zoom.
2) 24mm f2.8 lens
3) 50mm f1.8 lens
4) 70-300mm lens
The 15 - 85mm zoom does much of the work. It is wide enough most of the time and gives me some telephoto for portraits and scenics.
Both the 24 and the 50 are fast and great for unusual light conditions. The 50mm is for hand held night photos.
The 70 - 300mm tele zoom works well for most things. If I am traveling to photograph birds, I bring a 400mm lens.
When I travel with my Sony equipment here is my travel gear:
1) Camera body and 16 - 105mm zoom lens
2) 50mm f1.7 lens
3) 55 - 300mm zoom lens
4) 35mm f2.8 macro lens
If you are trying to figure out what lenses you need, here's my suggestions.
Most interchangeable lens cameras come with an 18 - 55mm zoom lens. It is usually one of the cheaper lenses the company makes. But it is a fine lens to start with. Later, after you have gained more experience, you may want to find a lens with a little wider range. A 16mm or 17mm gives you more wide angle and a 70 or 80mm provides just a bit more telephoto.
The next lens that will provide the most usefulness, is a telephoto zoom. Either a 70 - 200mm or a 70 - 300mm zoom is a nice addition and you will use it a lot.
Then you might want to add a 35, 40, or 50 mm lens with a larger opening (aperture) for darker days, rain, storms, late evening or night. A f1.8 or f2.8 lens will let more light in, will allow you to narrow your depth of field to emphasize an object or put the background out of focus. It will also permit faster shutter speeds when you need them.
If you enjoy photographing tiny details, a macro lens can be a great deal of fun.
Travel light but carry enough equipment to meet your photographic needs and interests. It is a big mistake to carry too much equipment!
The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) is a national program. Every state has several RSVP programs running to recruit and place volunteers in communities.
Volunteers are placed in public schools, food banks, hospitals, senior care facilities, senior centers, American Red Cross blood drives and hospice care operations.
One year, I photographed volunteers in the county that I live in. I volunteered my time to help a RSVP operation with recruitment and community awareness. Here are some volunteers in action:
Volunteering can be a very rewarding thing to do. Not only are you helping your communities, but you are helping yourself. Staying active and contributing some of your time to help others is good for your health and general well being.
I volunteer once a week at a local hospital and I encourage you to find a way to serve your community! You can search for volunteer opportunities on the web, look for your local RSVP operation, ask at local churches or contact local charitable operations. There are many ways to volunteer.
There are lots of top 10 lists; from Letterman's nightly list to all the travel lists such as: "Top 10 things to do in Chicago" or "Ten best places to see live theater in New York City".
We are often confronted with "The best albums of 2014" or "Eight proven ways to keep your home clean and neat".
So I am jumping on the band wagon with "What I enjoy most about travel"
1) Photography. I would be dishonest if I did not make this the thing I most enjoy about travel. It can be difficult to find inspiration for photographs at home. The places you go so often and the things you see everyday usually become so commonplace that your photographic vision is blinded (or at least dulled).
Going to places you are less familiar with seems to help open that photographic vision. Inspiration comes in many different ways, but seeing something new is one of the best ways to stimulate your creative instincts.
2) If you know me, that one was obvious.
Companionship. I enjoy traveling with Kathy and my sons and daughter-in-law. Even tough usually it is just Kathy and me together on our journey, sometimes we are able to travel as a family.
In our daily lives, we visit with each other, but all the practical things like paying bills, laundry, cooking, cleaning, volunteering, etc help make a busy life.
When we go somewhere together, when we do active things together, when we share new experiences together it is a special kind of fun. Life slows down a bit. Sharing the travel expience with each other is a big part of the pleasure of travel. We have made friends of some of the people we have traveled with. Traveling again with our travel friends is one of the great life events!
3) Learning. Whether we ackowledge it or not, lifelong learning is a part of all of us. It is something that we, as a species, enjoy. Sometimes we find a book, a web site, a lecture, a TV presentation, a museum, or a group that interests us and we learn some new things. But it can be challenging to do that locally. Travel offers many opportunities to learn and often to learn in interesting ways. It's been common knowledge that this is the case. Who has not heard the idea that "travel broadens one"? And perhaps we take this concept for granted, not really thinking about it. Going to new places is simply fun. But as I travel more now, I am becoming aware that learning plays a big part in the fun of traveling. In Barcelona, Spain we learned a lot about art and architecture; about Antoni Gaudi and Pablo Picasso. In San Antonio, Texas we learned about Spanish missions; about LBJ's life at the Texas White House; about aquafiers and the water delivery system in a large city. In Arizona we learned about the Navajo people and the lands in which they live.
4) Eating. Wow, no surprise here. Don't we all enjoy eating? More importantly, eating in different places and different cultures is interesting. Discovering the interstingly healthy food in Costa Rica was great fun. I enjoyed the taste of foods in the American Southwest. I loved the creole and cajun influenced foods in Louisana. We learned that eating in Spain is a very different experience than anywhere else we have ever been. Kathy enjoyed the brown bread and vegetable soup that was found everywhere in Ireland. We both enjoyed the Irish Mist honey-spiced whiskey in Ireland. In fact, the entire pub experience in Ireland is wonderful. California dining and wining was great. Part of the fun in Hawaii is going to at least one Luau. And who would refuse to go to a Tennessee or Texas BBQ dining experience? The Texas ranch where we had BBQ was a fabulous treat, complete with a trip to see the ranchers cattle, live entertainment, dancing, cold beer and great BBQ!
5) Wildlife. One of the great parts of travel is seeing wild animals in their natural habitat. Whale watching from a small boat in Alaska is one of my fondest memories. We saw sea otters on the same boat trip. The howler monkeys and sloths in Costa Rica is another of my favorite experiences. I will never forget being in a caged enclosure with capuchin monkeys in an island off the coast of Honduras. I have allowed flamingos to eat from my hand; I've kissed a Llama; I rode on top of an elephant; stood within five feet of a small key deer in the Florida keys.
6) Environment. By this I mean being a part of nature; experiencing the natural world. I enjoy this aspect of travel. While I do enjoy the great cities of the world, learning about cultures I know little about, and seeing great architecture and art, I enjoy more the great natural environments of the world. I enjoy the smells, sights, and feelings of nature; rain, mist; wind; sun; snow; twilight; sunrise; sunset. I like rain forests, mountains, arid landscapes, wildflowers, desserts, canyons, quaking Aspens, tall trees, cactus, weathered pine trees, jungles, swamps, green valleys and red rocks.
7) Transportation. You may think this is a funny item in my list. But I think it is one of the things I enjoy about travel. Walking is one of my joys in travel; I like to walk. I walk a track in a local gym and, when weather permits, I walk in my neighborhood. I hope to never lose the ability to walk.
When I travel to new and exciting places I enjoy walking. I like to ride trains; cogs; helicopters; subways; trolleys; buses; Segways; boats; bicycles. But I really like to walk. I enjoy boardwalks, bridges, suspended walkways in the treetops; trails. Walking in places I have never been to before is always a joy.
8) People Watching. I like to watch other people. I also like to photograph interesting people. At sites, historical buildings, and museums I enjoy when there are tour guides and/or people in period costumes that illustrate and explain customs, skills, or habits of the place and the people you are visiting. Demonstrations are almost always great fun. Local people and people entertaining are enjoyable to watch and photograph.
I am beginning new ventures. I intend to broaden my web presence.
I have been on Facebook for several years now. I like it but I freely admit that postings are not often very significant. It is, however, a nice way to keep in touch with people you know. If you are a creative person, it is one way to share your creations. And sometimes important information is posted.
I am also on Google + but I don't use it. I feel like it is not as sophisticated as some of the other social web sites. That may be changing. And I may begin using it more. But for now, it is not important to me.
I have posted photographs on Etsy, which is a place to sell your work. It has been a while since I used it. I am planning to put some images up on Etsy again in March/April to see if they receive any attention.
I am posting to Trover now and currently have 36 people following my page. I will continue to use Trover as I believe it is an excellent travel site.
My newest ventures are Flickr and 500px. I have set-up pages on these sites and have posted a few photographs. I plan to post more photographs to these sites.
If you are a photographer or if you have a strong interest in photography and enjoy seeing excellent photographs, these sites are good sources.
I am pleased to call Matt Watroba my friend. I have been a folk music enthusiast since high school (when I rode the bus to St. Louis to buy folk albums that were not available in the area where I lived). Matt has a rich and rewarding history in Detroit, Michigan as the host on WDET-FM of "Folks Like Us" a much-loved folk music program that aired for more than 20 years.
Matt is a life-long student of folk music and has become a walking encyclopedia of artists, songs, performance styles and the influence that folk music has had on freedom, civil rights and union benefits for hard-working Americans.
Matt is also a performer. He has a pleasing and versatile voice and vocal range and a subtle, but amazing style on guitar. He has the wonderful ability to play and sing many different types of folk songs and to encourage others to join in and sing with him. That is a skill that I always admired of Pete Seeger and Matt Watroba has it! In a recent concert, he taught the audience to sing a song that they did not know and he did it in a matter of a very few minutes.
Matt was awarded "Best Overall Folk Performer" by the Detroit Music Awards for the year 2000, and his long list of credits include the prestigious Ann Arbor Folk Festival, the Detroit 300 celebration, The Ark, the Spirit of the Woods Festival, the New Jersey Folk Weekend, Louisville’s Kentucky Music Weekend, the Swannanoa Gathering in North Carolina, the Fox Valley Folk Festival, and hundreds of school and community presentations throughout the Great Lakes Region. He has shared the stage with some of our greatest performers, including Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Arlo Guthrie, Shawn Colvin, Christine Lavin, Peter Yarrow, and Richard Thompson.
I am pleased to report that I have seen each of those (above listed) artists in concert and I know Matt ranks among the best folk artists that America has produced. Not to brag, I even had the opportunity to share the stage (along with several other men) with Christine Lavin, singing "New-Age Sensitive Man".
Although Matt has been a singer for many years, he discovered an ability to write music in his 40's that he really did not know he possessed. Today he is a member of the "Yellow Room Gang", a collection of professional song writers/performers based in Michigan and known across the USA. These artists
meet on a regular basis to review and critique new songs - a method to hone their craft and improve their ability to write memorable songs.
If you are interested, do a web search on "Yellow Room Gang" to find out more about them.
Matt served as Producer/Announcer at WKSU FolkAlley.com at Kent State University for four years. Matt is now back in Michigan and deeply involved in the community singing movement. Matt spent some time with Pete Seeger, interviewed him for his radio show, and absorbed some of Pete's philosophy about folk music. Most music can become folk music. It just needs to pass the test of time. Matt explains that folk music is the music that we know; the music we can sing. It's the songs that have been shared, passed along from one generation to another. Lots of songs have been written. Millions of songs have been performed, purchased and listened to. Not all of them are well remembered.
Some folk songs start as work songs in fields or prisons; some were protests at rallies or themes for movements. It could be a pop song, or a blues tune; maybe a country song; perhaps a song from a play or an anthem, but when Matt starts to play the song in a high school gym or in a city civic center and most in the audience know it - well, that's a folk song.
If you want to know more about community singing, here is a link:
Matt and his wife singing at a recent concert. Watch for Matt Watroba when he tours in your area. Visit his web site to learn more:
I have expanded my blog obout travel photography into an eBook.
I am making this available to anyone who asks for it - FREE!
It's an easy read with example photos. It can be printed (only about 30 pages) and carried with you.
If you want a copy - provide an email and I will send it to you.
Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Most people I know enjoy traveling. Seeing new places, interesting people, relaxing and having fun; a break from work or your normal routine. What's not to like about that?
And there are exciting new ways to keep the memories of those wonderful trips alive. Today, with digital cameras, taking photos and making picture books is easier than ever.
But how about some tips to improve the quality of those photographs...
Tip number one:
Purchase and carry a digital camera that you like and one that is of decent quality. I travel a lot, so I see other people using cameras. I notice that some people bring great cameras on their travels; however, I also notice people trying to use older, inexpensive, tiny cameras that should have been replaced a few years ago. If you would like to have excellent photos from your trip, purchase a camera that was built in the last three years. Camera technology is rapidly changing and getting better with each passing year. A camera for travel is different than a camera for use at home. Here is what you need:
- Any type of camera will do, but make sure it has at least 5x optical zoom.
- Choose a camera that you are willing to carry (light enough/right size).
- The camera you choose probably needs to cost at least $200.00 (anything cheaper will let you down).
- Purchase at least a 16 GB memory card for the camera, so you can take enough photos.
- Set your camera to the highest resolution it is capable of.
Tip number two:
Take your camera everywhere you go on your trip and take lots of photos. You no longer have to worry about the costs of film or the need to change film in the camera. You can always delete the photos you don't like. You cannot recreate the photos you missed (because your camera was somewhere else). Charge your camera battery each night for use the next day. Purchasing an extra camera battery is a good idea. Sometimes your battery will go out on you while touring (just reach for your fully charged extra battery and keep going).
Tip number three:
You must take these three types of photos -- overview, medium distance and close-ups.
I have seen lots of vacation photos over the past 40 years. The most common mistake of all time -- photos taken from too far away.
Yes, a few photos that show the entire scene before you are great. But remind yourself to walk into the scene and take photos of those elements that are amazing, or that you found interesting, or that have special beauty or meaning to you. When you share your trip with others, they want to be able to see clearly what you saw or experienced. You do not want to be saying "see that diver jumping off the huge rock - he was amazing. Oh,yeah, I know it's hard to see him (that little dot), but he was great."
Remember this phrase: DETAILS ARE IMPORTANT. Sometimes, you need to get close. GET CLOSE, DAMMIT, GET CLOSE. Or, sorry, please excuse me. Boring trip photos are the result of not getting close enough when the photos are being taken. If you take nothing from this blog except one tidbit of useful information. This it it. This is the one. Get close! Not for every photograph, but often enough to really show what you saw.
Tip number four:
Photograph people. Travelers visit cities. They take photos of buildings, fountains, parks, each other. That's great. If you see interesting people, ask them if can can take their photo.
Tip number five:
Take photos at all times of the day. But be sure to include rainy days, foggy days, early morning, late evening, sunrise, sunset, night.
Tip number six:
Don't center the main object or person in the middle of the frame. Your photos will be more interesting if the main subject is to the left or right or even higher or lower. Keep the horizon line out of the exact center of the photo. Try to keep the horizon line level.
Tip number seven;
Look for color to include in your photograph. Color adds interest and beauty.
Experienced photographer who has used Canon equipment for several years. I use Photo Shop Elements to finalize my images.
Enjoying the Cliffs of Moher - Ireland
This blog will be primarily about photography since that is one of my strong interests. I may sometimes go off topic if I feel strongly about some news or event.