03 August 2019

Can You Travel Around the World?

Earlier work with good friend, Art Model, Dana © 2007 Terrell Neasley
“Don’t listen to what they say. Go see! Forget about pictures in a book. Put your own eyes on it!”

I'm going to say, short answer, YES! Of course, that's what I'll say. I've been advocating travel for years. Can everybody honestly do it? No, but for various reasons. Most won't out of fear. Others won't because they simply don't have the interest. You may have health issues or concerns. People ask me this question many times over the course of my travels. Traveling around the world is not always about money. How you want to travel is also an important factor and that has to do with your specific tolerances and expectations. Stay open-minded and weigh these considerations in your plans:

How you travel

Intercity, Regional, or International...this is likely the most important factor in everything and a large determinant on the money. I am a backpacker trying to travel around the world. I have everything on my back and I try to find the cheapest means to get from one place to another. I may not always CHOOSE the cheapest means, but I always want to know what it is. I'm guilty of taking a cab or an Uber when public transportation will save me a fraction of the cost. In Guatemala, I could spend $20 on a cab from my apartment to downtown or literally spend only 30¢ to do the same thing on the public shuttle buses. You just have to deal with the crowds, may have to stand, and make sure you hear and understand the name of your stop so you know when to get off.

I will also confess that sometimes I'll fly when I don't need to, but usually, I will take a bus. I save more money on the bus and at this point, that's becoming more and more important. You save time by flying, of course. But taking the bus can mean more experience and for me, time isn't that pressing of an issue. I've been at this for 18 months with 5 more years, (I'm guessing) to go. Buses should be more of a priority for me unless I find a regional flight that costs no more than bus fare. That was the case from Quito, Ecuador to the coasts in Esmarelda. The flight was $80 and was 45 mins. The bus was $20, but 7 hours. I gladly hopped that flight.

Earlier work with good friend, Art Model, Dana © 2007 Terrell Neasley

When you travel

This is also a very important one. WHEN you travel can make the difference between an expensive experience or not. It can make the difference between a miserable experience or a good one. For a photographer, it can mean getting the shot or not.

For any place you go there is usually a high season and a low season. The high season is going to be more expensive. You find the deals in the low season. And that's high and low in terms of volume of tourists that visit the same place. Just be careful, there may be a reason people visit at certain times. It could be weather-related and simply coincide with vacation times.

Weather-related considerations can make a miserable experience. It's always hot in the Amazon, so you can go any time of the year. But there is a dry and a wet season. You may not always enjoy being rained on every day. Mosquitos are also out in mass during that time of the year. At this very moment, I am in Nicaragua because I didn't want to be cold in Argentina right now. Summer for me is Winter below the equator which is something you need to remember. But even in Nicaragua, I was burning up in Granada and it was SO humid! I was there for two weeks before coming further north to Esteli where I am now. Far cooler and less rain in the mountains here!

And there are other factors that photographers need to consider. I was in Guatemala during the summer one year. I got some great shots of Lake Atitlan. However, when I returned another year during the Spring for something similar, I could not get it. The weather was great! But clouds settled on the far side of the lake and obscured the mountains and volcanoes I wanted in my shot! I could not capture any stars either!

Earlier work with good friend, Art Model, Dana © 2007 Terrell Neasley
Where you travel

Of course, where you go will be a big part of your decision process. Go to Paris, France and you will, without a doubt, pay a ton more than you will in Nicaragua. Iceland will be much more expensive than Central America. For me, I am starting to get to the more expensive areas on my route. So far, it has been cheap traveling in Central American countries. Then I was in Colombia and Ecuador and it was still relatively inexpensive. Peru was a different story. Going further south, the cost of travel begins to climb. From Dallas or Las Vegas, I can fly south to just about anywhere for $300, but once I want to fly past Lima, Peru, all that changes.

Are you healthy to travel

You can't really do anything in life without checking to see if you can physically do it. Even advertisements to join a gym will throw in a caveat at the end telling you to consult your doctor before beginning any physical activities at the gym. Likewise, you have to know if you can travel abroad, or anywhere really. This is especially the case if you have medication that you need or if you have physical limitations. Many countries in the world do not have regulatory adaptions for people with physical disabilities, like ramps or braille elevator buttons.  You might think age would be a factor. In my experience, I can't include this. The only real factor is just physical strength. I watch an 80-year old man from the US live here in Nica alone and he travels around at will.

What will you bring when you travel

What do you need to bring with you and how will you pack it around? I carry everything on my back. I do not depend on porters or anyone for help. I try to keep my physical carrying weight to about 65 pounds or 30 kilograms. That is split between my camera bag and my backpack. Camera gear and accessories are more important than clothes for me. I could likely get away with under 30 pounds total if I wasn't traveling as a photographer.

You might need luggage with wheels and a handle. For urban spots, that won't be much of a problem. Try doing that in the jungle and you're going to have issues. Some places will have people to help you and others will not.

Earlier work with good friend, Art Model, Dana © 2007 Terrell Neasley
Travel Alone or With Someone

It won't be the same for you, but for me, I NEED SOMEBODY TO SHOOT on a regular basis! That's MY biggest hang-up. However, in general, I can't say which is better in this case. I know I've traveled with someone and there were moments I looked for solidarity. There have been moments while I'm traveling alone and wished I had company... and not just somebody to shoot, but real company to enjoy a tour or scenery with you or something. There are nonetheless, benefits to both. Even if you are with someone, especially for long periods, it's good to split up for a bit and do your own thing. You can easily crowd each other after a while, especially in small confines when you're trying to be cheap. Don't fear a split for a week to go in different directions and meet up again later.

Traveling alone has been a blessing for me in more ways than it sucks. I invite people all the time to come out and visit. But I have to confess, there have been much in terms of emotional turmoil that has sent me into a tailspin. A break-up and the death of a good friend of mine is one reason I'm traveling like this now. Then the death of my younger brother AND grandfather in the same month a year later smacked me on the back end of recovering from everything the year before! I'm honestly not sure how great company I was to @kayci.lee who actually come out with me for that first month. These are life shake-ups that everybody deals with. But overall, traveling alone has taught me so much. I recommend it. Don't be afraid of it.

So yeah, it can be done. It depends on your attitude, money, and your expectations. The more flexible you can be, the better. Do your research and find out as much as you can about the area and region of the world you wish to see. If you can block out 3 weeks out of your schedule somehow, and do at least half a decent job at planning, you'll have the experience of your life. But even when things go wrong, just remember. Nobody's perfect and NOTHING goes exactly to plan...if you're lucky!

Travel Safe!

23 July 2019

Travel: Reward or Education?

View from Finca Neblinas del Bosque, Miraflor, Nicaragua near Esteli. 

"Travel is not a reward for work, 
it is education for living." 

This was a meme I saw on Facebook a few months ago.

It was layered over the top of a nice picture of a guy standing on the banks at a bend in a river that cuts through wooded mountains. Scenic, right?

I don't get into a lot of memes but THIS one, I enjoyed and I thought it was very thoughtful as well as thought-provoking. It's got me writing about it, so it must be. The easiest analogy that I can think of that explains my reasoning is a comparison to READING. As with travel, not everyone is a reader. However, I know that no one will say to me that their life is just fine having never learned to read. You read every day even if its just the street signs as you drive, the menu at your restaurant, or the prescription bottles in your medicine cabinet to make sure you're taking the right one. The question is whether or not what you read is meaningful, inspires you, and is nurturing.

A quick Google search for "benefits of reading" gave me a few articles that basically agreed on 8 primary benefits. Now, in no way am I suggesting I have mastered all of these. I'm still learning! But, let me relate them to travel and how I think I have benefited from hitting the road. Maybe you can relate, as well.

Miraflor, Nicaragua near Esteli. 
Mental Stimulation/Improved Focus 

This was probably the first immediate benefit I can recall. Traveling abroad brought my focus front and center. How many times have you driven to work and back home and don't even remember the drive? All your senses become immediately engaged when the different smells and sights catch your attention. You instinctively become more aware.

Stress Reduction 

Traveling, by nature helps promote a sense of well-being. Sometimes you just need to get out of your own element for a bit of a perspective change. Nature walks can have the exact same effect but they don't last as long. Traveling helps me take my mind off negative circumstances by changing how I view those circumstances which have not really changed at all... only my perspective of them has been altered. Problems may still be there when you get back but you are much more refreshed and replenished to deal with them.

Knowledge and Education  

Again, this is primarily about perspective, and a little bit more. You can only learn so much in a book about riding a bike. And if you ever involve yourself in a conversation or try to form an opinion about a group of people that you have never met, I think you should really hold your thoughts to yourself. Learning about a culture first-hand is the best thing you can do. Talk to them. Finding solutions is best done when you know both sides of the story. Not only that, I get an expansion on my world history, geography, culture, and the local landscape.

Members, Black Souls Biker Group of Esteli, Nicaragua photographed in Somoto

Increased Empathy 

Empathy - noun - the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
synonyms: affinity with, rapport with, sympathy with, understanding of, sensitivity toward, sensibility to, identification with, awareness of, fellowship with, fellow feeling for, like-mindedness 

Is there ever a situation where too much empathy is a problem? You can feel how you want about your neighbor or other people, but one specific potential benefit of travel I would hope everyone could take advantage of is this one. Getting to know a culture or somebody with first-hand knowledge and understanding is a blessing. You are afforded the opportunity to see that their dreams, aspirations, problems, and hardships might not so different than your own. Taking an opportunity to see and experience things for yourself instead of depending on second-hand or biased information can offer you a truth that may not otherwise be available to you. At least this way, you KNOW!

Here are a few more benefits that were listed:
  • Stronger Analytical Thinking 
  • Tranquility and Better Sleep 
  • Vocabulary Expansion
  • Entertainment 

Ranch at Night near Somoto, Nicaragua

For any of this to stick, Travel has to be a way of life. Your education continues for the rest of your days. So KEEP Traveling! VACATIONS are a reward for work. Maybe I get too much into semantics here, but I differentiate Vacation from Travel. Going to Cancun to an all-inclusive resort for a week and never leaving said resort is NOT travel. That's a vacation no different from Disneyland. Traveling, on the other hand, is a state of mind that is more about a life experience that brings you to another land and or people. It blesses and changes you, and hopefully, you have the opportunity to share inspiration and knowledge in like manner where ever you go.

10 July 2019

How To Make a Crappy Photo GREAT with ONE Click!!

"Anything that excites me for any reason, I will photograph; not searching for the unusual subject matter, but making the commonplace unusual."

~ Edward Weston

Maybe because I use photoshop and am often reading or view tutorials on editing, I get adds that tout some software that lets you improve your images in one click. But I have my own sure-fire one-click method to improve your image in 4 easy steps:

Step 1: Rethink the original shot. Ask yourself should you even have taken that photo in the first place. If the answer is YES, proceed to Step 2.

Step 2: Click the shutter button on your camera to take a better friggin' photo.

Step 3: Don't worry about Step 3, just take a better friggin' photo.

Step 4: Revisit Step 3 if you somehow got this far.

Alright, I confess. I can't stand these 1-click wonder photo improvement guarantees from people trying to sell photo editing software or apps. I am a fan of good photoshop work or even good photo editing tools on your phone. I don't even care if it takes ONE CLICK to do it. But a crappy shot is a crappy shot. Trash it. Taking a better shot is the only thing that fixes a crappy shot. Take another shot instead of trying to fix a bad image with filters. In the military, we used to call such a notion as polishing a turd. Don't polish turds. They are still turds and likely polishing them will only make them look worse.

Full-disclosure. I am a photo traditionalist. I come from the old school of film and darkrooms... you know...Pre-IG/FB. I know that photography has not always been accepted as an art form and I definitely care about the Art of Photography and detests anything that diminishes it, cheats the business of it, or otherwise disrespects it. Edward Weston was one of the early pioneers to bring Photography to the forefront of the art debate. With the help of wife/model Charis Wilson, he was first to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship Grant to go out west and photograph... well, the West! He received this award twice, actually in consecutive years.

"Guggenheim Fellowships are intended for individuals who have already demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts."

I would rather proclaim to would-be shooters to get better! Often photographers complain that everybody with a camera is a photographer nowadays. I've tried to always take a higher road and encouraged my fellow artists in a more optimistic fashion. When I see them polishing turds though... Well, I am not as positive and optimistic. I'll call you out in a second. Why diminish your skills? Why cheat the game? Just do better!! I don't fear photo advances that might, in turn, create lower barriers to entry. I can't prevent them. They will happen, so we may as well treat them as opportunities to further distinguish ourselves and challenges us to stay atop our game.

I think photographers who shot film, developed in a darkroom, and made actual prints are the ones who are most likely to be irked by this. Those who have only shot digital may not be put off so much. I may sound like the old man in the neighborhood kicking the kids of his grass. I get this. But you know, I wonder how many photographers have actually never printed any of their own work. Digital images dominate FB, IG, and the such. Millions upon millions of images are being created every single day. How many actually get made into physical tangible copies that you can hold in your hand or hang on a wall?

I will try, going forward, not to get agitated when I see these ads or when beginner photogs ask me about such "tricks" and if they work. But for those of you who actually want to improve, I say learn the principles of light! Get understanding on how to utilize the Manual Mode on your camera, (or for goodness sake get one that HAS a manual mode). Study the greats. Play with artificial flash! You may be surprised at what you find out that comes to be considered great. Don't be fooled. Some of our greatest shots were not tack-sharp or great resolution. And mistakes like light leaks or concepts that ran counter to "rules" in photography are actually what defined Perfection! The irony! Bob Ross called them "Happy Little Accidents".

And with that, I will come down from my soapbox and leave you to your fun.

Thanks for listening.

23 June 2019

Back in Nicaragua for a Minute

Art Model, @Kayci.Lee, ©2018 Terrell Neasley
"Never forget that the nurturing and preservation of your own muse is job one. Lose it and you may be losing a great deal."
~ Robert Genn

And when I say a minute, I really mean 2 months. Yay! My 4th visit to Nica!

As much as I "thought" I was up for a Argentinian winter, naaah... not so much. A lot of it came down to money and the expense of gearing up for the harsh cold, and then flying all the way back down there. Lima is the last line of latitude for the cheap flights heading to South America. You can hit all the major cities down south and you're not spending thousands to get there... til after Lima, Peru.

The budget airlines stop at that point. Maybe La Paz in Bolivia has some decent flights available, but Spirit does not fly to La Paz. I'll likely end up there soon at any rate. It may not be in the thousands (flying one way. I usually fly one way tickets.), but you're looking at double the price that you could go to Lima which might be about $350. Again... One way.

Art Model, @Kayci.Lee, ©2018 Terrell Neasley
After Peru in March, I came home for my Mother's Birthday, stayed stateside for a bit visiting the kids, as well... which was great, I might add. Taught my grandbaby how to ride a bike. I might have gone military style on her a bit, but she can ride a bike now, whereas the day before she couldn't. God, the bruises, tho...

When it came down to leaving again, I'd have been flying out into a wall of Argentinian winter. Soooo.... No. I jumped down to Nicaragua for a bit. And you know what I forgot?? It's hot as f... (okay, Mama might be read this.) So I'll say hot as f...oreigners in a hot ass place that they are unfamiliar with. (Dang it! Sorry Mama!)

Art Model, @Kayci.Lee, ©2018 Terrell Neasley
The last time I was in Nica during a June month, it was 2015 and it was so hot and humid, my ex-girlfriend passed out cold and almost went down a flight of stairs. Yep. Saved my ex's life. I'm sure she's grateful. Honestly, that was in May. We didn't leave Nica til June 3rd. I had moved her up into the mountains where it was cooler, but heat rises and so did that temp even at higher elevations. We cancelled the last month of the trip and headed home, after 3 months on the road. I still got some badass shots of her and with her. You can see my 4 blog posts with her here =>  Post 1 / Post 2 / Post 3 / Post 4

More recently though, I was in Nicaragua just last year. BUT IN JANUARY! I was with Art Model, Kayci Lee for that whole month (See that BLOG POST HERE) . I'd say it was temperate, but not so humid and muggy like now. This is what I was thinking about when I made my reservation and decided to come back here... sort of taking a break from my travels by still traveling, I guess. But you get my meaning. I'm not on the same path that I was on traveling through South America. Nicaragua is a cheaper place to wait out the cold. AND I am getting in some much needed writing, reading, and hopefully some shooting. But damn, this heat! I may forego Isla de Ometepe as I had planned and head north again. Maybe up into Somoto Canyon, past Esteli, near the Honduran border, and explore that.

Art Model, @Kayci.Lee, ©2018 Terrell Neasley
I'll know soon enough for all that. I'm going to leave from Granada on July 1st and go somewhere either north or further south. No biggie. I'm going to let my shot selection decide that, I think. In the meantime, I'll continue my writing and my reading in my exceedingly comfortable bed and breakfast. I doubled my stay here at Casa Silas B&B. I get a great breakfast every morning. The place is owned by Rob, a Canadian who married a local girl here and decided to relocate a little more than a decade ago.

Granada is relatively quiet. I don't see many tourists here at all. I've met a couple of girls twice and a guy from the US once. The travel advisory has this place at a Level 3. I think they should rethink that. Yes, there was some civil unrest last year and it carries on even now, but at no where near the same magnitude. On top of that, one American was killed last year here during the uprising. Before that, 7 US citizens were killed here out of 2 million to visit from 2009 to 2017. Can you say that in the city that you live in? The DR can't say that and they are a level 2. They've had 7... I say again, SEVEN recent tourist deaths that have all be mysterious. Nica is getting a bad break right now and it's only hurting a good economy.

Art Model, @Kayci.Lee, ©2018 Terrell Neasley
These shots are all new edits from my last time in Nicaragua. As I mentioned, Art Model, @Kayci.Lee came with me for the first month of my trip, January 2018. I went back through to see some of her images for this blog post and wanted to revisit some new edits with a B&W mindset. I can see this is going to be a challenge. Going forward, I'm shooting with B&W edits already in mind. On the other hand, the edit process is quicker. This is going to be fun, though. Enjoy.

19 June 2019

Five Reasons I Will Focus the Rest of the Year on B&W Photography

"If you are not passionately devoted to an idea, you can make very pleasant pictures but they won't make you cry."
 ~ Ruth Bernhard

For the remainder of this year, I'm going to make a commitment to Black and White Photography. Everything I shoot will be edited in B&W... or at least nearly everything. During this backpacking journey, one of my goals is to be better with photography. Yes, I am always talking about becoming better or trying to show YOU how to become better. This will never stop. I'm going to continue to be a spokesman for my craft. I love photography in its various forms and genres. There's enough learning to last a lifetime. Here is why I am choosing B&W Photography to help me achieve this.

Art Model, Leslie ©2015 Terrell Neasley

1. The Challenge

I want to up my game. Putting limitations on myself forces me to exercise photo muscles that can become complacent when you have the ease of use of color. I am already challenging myself with the use of only two lenses. I presently travel with a 55mm 1.8 and a 20mm 1.4. I have nothing in the tele-range. I even left the 90mm macro at home.

I desire to also see light better. I'm pretty decent at judging an exposure without a light meter when necessary. I feel I need to be able to, not just measure light, but I want to see the potential and the opportunities in it. Black and White forces me to stick to the principles of highlights, the mids, and shadows. Without the distraction of color, I am able to focus more on just the light.

Art Model, Safia Sarai ©2016 Terrell Neasley

My first great challenge, back in 2005 as I began in photography, was exposing for snow without making it appear gray or blown out relative to the rest of the composition. So I learned to be better at measuring light. My second great challenge has stuck with me the most. It was being able to THINK in B&W despite what I saw in color. Before I moved to Vegas, I had the opportunity to visit for a few months (summer of 2006) the year before actually moving there in 2007. I shot a nude black woman using film on the red rocks of Valley of Fire. When I tried to process those shots, there was barely any contrast between the model and the rocks! Try dodging and burning that! I did not consider the tone over her skin nor the rocks when shot on black and white film. It was a painstaking process unless I wanted to just be lazy with bland low contrast work. That's not me. I should automatically know what yellow, purple, or brown converts to in monochrome.

B&W work will help me with composition development through a greater emphasis on lines, shape, texture, patterns, repetition, and creating art purely via the juxtaposition of light vs. shadow. I want to be able to "see" more clearly and when I can do that, I find the opportunities for impressive compositions. Seeing the potential will help me with the patience to let a scene develop until I have the right compositional elements at my disposal.

Art Model, Safia Sarai, ©2015 Terrell Neasley

2. Learn More About the Sum of Light

This will be a study. I'm going to learn about light, the characteristics of it, how to best use it, as well as when to use it. I say the Sum of Light because I will focus more on the visible aspect of light... it's sum totality, rather than the spectrum of light, or the color pieces created when light is refracted. In the case of camera sensors, that would relate to RGB pixels which absorbs light selectively via filters. The goal is to be able to make decisions about light subconsciously through repetition and practice. I want to be a more proficient shooter and a more capable teacher of photography by first being a better student.

3. Editing: Back to the Beginning

Sometimes when you want to start over or renew your mind, getting back to the basics of pure fundamentals is the universal start point. It's like going back home. I started out in photography using Arista 400, Agfa100 and Kodak TMAX100/400/3200. That's all professional grade film. I developed my film and prints in a darkroom. I made test sheets of each shot and outlined the regions where I need more light and less light... burning and dodging. You found the overall correct exposure for your prints and then mapped out the individual elements that needed the shadows adjusted or those that needed the highlights tweaked. This will help me with my edits.

Bodyscape, ©2016 Terrell Neasley

As much as I like a challenge, I also want to create advantages for myself. Without the color aspect, editing also becomes easier. Gone are the optical color-based errors that are produced from lenses, such as chromatic aberration. Photo editing tools have a much easier time finding tonal range in compositions when color is no longer a factor in brightening or darkening a subject. You get more quality work even at higher ISOs. So Monochrome surmounts RGB in edit quality and ease of use. Grain is also more tolerable in B&W.

4. Minimalism

I'm looking for a cleaner image. I started on the minimalist trail quite a while back. I've slowly been shedding everything. Now, I carry my belongings on my back. Backpacking is the ultimate in minimalism... just short of being a hobo. Wait... forget I said that. I see the irony, but I see myself as rather nomadic. Sounds better.

As to my work, I want less in my shot. I want my compositions to be efficient... doing more with less. A minimalist must be a master of balance in a composition and B&W will help immensely with this. You are forced to have better foreground vs. background elements. At the very least, you begin to see effective anchor points within a shot that helps create that necessary balance.

Art Model, Leslie, ©2016 Terrell Neasley

5. The Artistry

I honestly think this will help me become a better artist. I want to sell more prints more consistently. I want more exhibitions of my work. Quite frankly, I'm old fashioned when it comes to this. If the current trend says color will guarantee me more of sales and more exhibition, then... well, I'd be stupid not to consider that. However, I have lived my life being true to myself, despite trends. I can adapt, but where I think it's important, I still favor the greats; and that, my friend, is in Black and White photography.

I love the extremes. I tend to weigh more heavily with higher contrast in my edits and those are the same type of images that catch my attention from other artists. I lean towards the left side of the histogram more than I do the right. However, I'll dance around in the shadows or the highlights more than the mid-tones. So the ends are where I play, but I understand grays have their proper place. While I dance on the poles, I still go to work in the middle.

Art Model, Safia Sarai, ©2015 Terrell Neasley
After the love of contrast, drama comes in a close second. I'm not talking social drama, of course. Can't stand that ish. No, I refer to the drama created in the mood of a shot via the use of shadow and in the creative use or the absence of it.

Shapes and lines are more creatively accentuated which result in better and more meaningful abstract symbolism. I can become an alchemist, so to speak because I am able to transform one photo element into something completely different. Having a 42MP sensor lets me crop in on a subject. That too, adds to the ability to create better abstract. So stay tuned. More to come on this.

Art Model, Joanie, ©2010 Terrell Neasley

02 June 2019

Photo Book - Jenny in Peru

Art Model, @JennyPoses4U_2 ©2019 Terrell Neasley
I estimated about 2 months and that's right about how long it took. Two months after Jenny Anne Rose left me in Peru to go back home, I have completed all the edits and now the book "Jenny in Peru" is now available! TWO HUNDRED THIRTY PAGES in a large 14 x 11-inch hardback book, using high quality long-lasting archival paper. This is definitely an art book suited for the coffee table or living room center-piece.

The book illustrates three weeks of adventure in which I detailed much of this in the recent blog post, "Travel Nudes, Jenny in Peru". Do yourselves a favor and go back to visit that post one more time. I think I've got about 10 images from our trip to accompany that post, which is the most I think I've done on any blog post. You can read about the details of our travels from Lima to Northern Peru, back to Lima, then to two locations in Southern Peru, and finally back to Lima again.

Art Model, @JennyPoses4U_2 ©2019 Terrell Neasley

What was unique to me on this particular entire photo project was the greater focus I put on the book while I was shooting. Normally, I shoot simply for the shots, themselves. At most, I shoot with the edit in mind. That's how I've always worked. The edit has always been my primary objective for each individual shot. Almost every single one is made to stand on it's own, sometimes possibly in a series...maybe a triptych.

This time, I followed my normal methodologies, but I also incorporated shots that were specifically for the book orientation, such as shooting in landscape orientation and also some with the intent to make it cover double pages (I want to do the next one in Portrait Orientation) When making a book, the story is the priority. So I want a clear flow for the narrative that gives the viewer a reason to pause and study each page, but also an incentive to leave that page and see what comes after. I want to entice my viewers to travel all the way to the last page. And after having evoked an emotional response one way or the other, they wonder what else I will deliver soon.

Art Model, @JennyPoses4U_2 ©2019 Terrell Neasley
No matter how well-structured and creative a story is, Presentation is second on the priority list. Second, but a very CLOSE second. From the beginning, I wanted the story to be, in a way, narrated by the model with not only her moves but also her words. Given that she is an astute writer, I was able to use her talents and incorporate her style in a way that gave a more complete story about our journey from her perspective as well as insight into her thoughts. In this way, the viewers are able to appreciate the artistic use of her body in unfamiliar environments as well as peer into her mind and witness within as well as without. My hope was a better sense of character development and a deeper appreciation for this model's performance.

Art Model, @JennyPoses4U_2 ©2019 Terrell Neasley

Part of presentation is organization and structure. I organized this book mostly chronologically, but also categorically. I used the model's perspectives to introduce each different segment of our journey. Font, font size, alignment, book title, and book customization all go into essentials in book making. This is an art book, so I chose Premium heavy-weight paper. I wanted to incorporate my same since of quality in my prints into this book which also comes at premium expense. I have used the publishing services of Blurb.com for several years and they have provided me with great results.

Order your copy now to enjoy this most excellent exhibition of adventure, travel, and art. Thank you for your patronage!

Art Model, @JennyPoses4U_2 ©2019 Terrell Neasley

27 May 2019

The New Fujifilm GFX100. Who Needs 100 Megapixels?

Art Model Covenant, Dry Lake Bed, Nevada desert, ©2016 Terrell Neasley
***Special Note: This post is commentary only. These shots were not made with the GFX100.***
"The chief enemy of creativity is ‘good’ sense." 
~ Pablo Picasso

Fujifilm has just announced a new camera, the GFX100. This is a medium format 100 megapixel camera. ONE. HUNDRED. MEGAPIXEL! (Actually, it's 102MP) Oh, and it's $10,000... just for the body. No lens. Of course this begs the two-part question of "Who needs a hundred MP's?" and "Why pay Ten Thousand friggin' dollars for a camera. That's a very good question, so lets get into it.

There are already 100 megapixel medium format cameras out there. Hasselblad and Phase One are already out there since a few years now. You'll spend $30 to $50k on these systems...body only! I can't say this with a high degree of certainty, but I don't see the dslr/mirrorless pro photographer demographic making a bee-line to these systems. Nope, I'm gonna guess this market is for current medium format high end users with the scratch to purchase personally, purchase via a company account, or lease/rent these bad boys. That means a limited and small market base.
Art Model Covenant, Home in Las Vegas, ©2016 Terrell Neasley

This is where Fujifilm makes a drastically different game-change on TWO fronts. The first, of course is price point. Coming in for just $10K, (I laugh when I say JUST $10K, of course), you can get into this high end medium format market for a fraction of the current costs. Drop another $5K and you got yourself probably 3 good lenses. If I were to jump into this, it'd be the 23mm f/4 and the 63mm f/2.8. That would set me back about $3k, so for a $13K total, I'm in with what I need. For another $2K, I could pick up the 32-64mm f/4 zoom and be golden. So this price point might be a tad steep, I'll grant you, but it is much less hefty than dropping $30K on a single system and lens.

The other part to this is the fact that Fujifilm made the GFX100 to be emphatically similar to the Canon 1DX or a Nikon D5. What this means is that they made the thing to FEEL like a dslr/mirrorless full frame camera. Not only that, it also FUNCTIONS like a full frame camera. Going from FF to Medium Format would be like going from a Chevy sedan to a dump truck. Works the same, but TOTALLY different feel.

Art Model Covenant, Staycation in Hotel, Las Vegas, NV, ©2017 Terrell Neasley

The GFX100 is actually just a little bit smaller in size and weight as a Canon flagship camera. It has the integrated battery grip and supports 2 batteries. Like a full frame mirrorless, the GFX100 is the first medium format to have phase detect auto focus (3.7 million points over the whole sensor. Not even sure I understand that.) AND in-body stabilization that gives you a 5-stop assist for those slow shutter speeds. Unlike most of today's digital medium format cameras that give you 1 shot per second, the GFX100 can shoot at 5 frames per second. What makes that unique is the fact that this high megapixel count puts out a ton of information with each shot. So Fuji has coupled this back-side illuminated sensor (made by Sony) with a Fujifilm X-Processor 4 engine to process that info in record speed.

"The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize." 
~ Robert Hughes

Here's one more target market reminiscent of the dslr/mirrorless similarity. Have you ever heard of anybody doing video with a medium format camera? I haven't. I haven't seen a single soul have their go-to system for video be a medium format anything. I think that changes with the GFX100. It will shoot 4k video. That's 30p... INTERNAL. You can do 4:2:0 internal OR output at 4:2:2 all at 400mbs. Damn. Oh, it also comes with F-log if you want to flatten everything out and color correct later. And of course, it has a mic and headphone jack. I can see somebody wanting to do some high end video production with this. I'd like to see what down sampling would look like.

Art Model Covenant, Blacks Beach, CA ©2017 Terrell Neasley

So yeah. I think there are definitely some opportunities with this. I was not on board with the GFX50s series. I did not see a noticeable viable improvement over my Sony A7r2. It was still too much of a medium format system that I haven't adapted to. But this GFX100...? I won't lie. I want to see what my nudes look like under this. I wish it was out for me to take to Patagonia in a few months and see what I can do with some mountain/landscapes or some portraiture. Will the 23mm still let me do Astro photography at f/4? And is it too bulky for me to travel with? Those are the only two points I have that give me pause. Deal-breakers, though? I think not. Hell, I'd figure out a way to carry it. Admittedly, I drooled a little bit. Nudes and mountains at 100 megapixels... Hmmm...

Dang...I forgot. I'd need two systems. I'm not backpacking around the world with one camera. Maybe that Rangefinder body-style GFX50r would be up to par.

Here's what it comes down to.

Do you need it? Good question. It all comes down to two things. ONE, if you are making money and can justify the expenditure, meaning you KNOW you will make your money back this year, then why not do it? I'd talk bad about you if you retorted with memory space issues. The hell with that. Get the friggin' camera.

Art Model Covenant, Mojave desert, CA ©2017 Terrell Neasley

Second... Let's say you are not a professional. You know you will not make your money back on the camera and it's just another hobby expense. Take a look at your current system. If it's a crop sensor or consumer end full frame that you got used, then just enjoy my pics here and I hope you are entertained. But if you are a hobbyist with a D850 or A7R3 with enough lenses to start your own camera store, Get the damn Fuji. Why would you not want to produce the best possible images you can make? For marginal upgrades, yeah. Sit tight. But for THIS? If you can pay $3k for a camera, you can do $10K, so quit trippin'.

Will I get it? Prob not right this second. Availability won't be til end of June. I will not be stateside to purchase one. Towards the end of the year, though...I'm going to be making some decisions. Hopefully, the camera pans out and lives up to all the hype. If so, B&C Camera, Here I COME!!

Check out these links for more reviews and info:
Fujifilm’s GFX 100 is a medium format camera that performs like a mirrorless
Fuji GFX 100 Hands-On First Look YouTube
PROJECT REAL: Michael Clark x GFX100 / FUJIFILM YouTube
Here’s the First Timelapse Shot on the 102-Megapixel Fujifilm GFX100

06 May 2019

Osprey's All Mighty Guarantee

This backpack served me well. 2012 Osprey Aether 70
As a traveler, I tend to do hella shopping at REI. They are my favorite store, but I go there often for a reason. These guys take care of customers and they take care of employees. More on that at another time. For now, I wanted to touch on one of the brands they stock of which I am a big fan. That would be Osprey.

I bought my Midnight Blue Osprey Aether 70 backpack in 2012 for my first trip to Central America. Well, my first time as a civilian, anyway. In any case, a backpack to a guy can be a very personal, dare I say intimate, and very necessary travel accessory. You can't just let someone else pick it out for you and give it to you as a gift. It's the same thing as a camera bag for photographers or purses for some women. So yeah... Quite personal.

Bus station, Guayaquil, Ecuador
You saw plenty of my adventures with that pack on my back or by my side. It's taken the abuse of hard travel, too. About 4 years ago, it fell off the top of a shuttle van doing 80 down a El Salvadoran highway. Later on, airport security, I can't recall where, cut the waist straps off of it. I assume it got caught on a conveyor belt or something. And just before this past New Year's, it got soaked in shrimp juice in the cargo hold of a bus in Ecuador.

Old backpack, Bogota, Colombia
Osprey has an Almighty Guarantee that says they'll repair or replace your bag. I asked about it when I got back stateside last month. They scanned my membership card, checked my account, tracked my purchase receipt, and told me to go pick out a bag, as my Midnight Blue Osprey Aether 70 was beyond repair. Yeah, I picked out a new bag real quick. THEN dude, told me I get a $5.87 credit back to my card. I was all excited to get a new bag. UNTIL the guy also told me I had to hand over my original backpack.

New Osprey Aether 70 AG
I handed it to him. He grabbed hold to take it, but I didn't let go. He tried to pull again. I still didn't let go. The understanding cashier must have experienced this before. He saw my anxiety and gave me a moment, before explaining that the exchange required him to take the old backpack. I understood. I did. Letting go was still hard, but I eventually opened my fingers and released the pack. It didn't occur to me to get pics. I didn't think to even ask if it was going to a good home. But much like my recent post about the transient nature of travel friends, it still sucks saying good-bye.

So now I have a brand new Adirondack Green Osprey Aether 70. I still chose to go with this style of backpack. It suits me and they have made some upgrades. Some of which I am still getting used to. The top lid actually detaches like the old one, but instead of converting to a fanny pack, the new one has straps and becomes a day pack backpack. I'm going to have to spend some more time with it on my back before I can say whether the new Anti-Gravity tech feels better on my back than the former Airscape design. I can, however say that the new waist-strap is much more stiffer and is supposed to better provide a custom mold to you once you get it on and spend some time with it. All in all, I really like the pack. I have a good feel for it and I expect some great adventures with it.

30 April 2019

How a Cracked Tooth Can Mess Up Plans

"Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor"

Art Model, @JennyPoses4U_2 ©2019 Terrell Neasley
There are always opportunities around us. The trick to taking advantage of them exists in two possibilities. One, you have to be sensitive enough to see it when it appears before you. Or two, you prepare yourselves in such a manner that you can seize slash create those opportunities. So it's either the opportunities come to you or you go get them. As life would have it, one of the best times to catch these opportunities (or make them) is in moments of crises. This is not a motivational speech, however. Nope! Not in the least. This is my update to you on my adventures AND challenges. I try to be real. I want you to see me struggle and overcome those struggles too. And I don't want to be stupid about this. Hell, maybe you know of some options or OPPORTUNITIES I can take advantage of.

I'm presently stateside in Tennessee. I came back to surprise my mother for her birthday last month in Texas, see the kiddos in TN, road trip from Vegas to Yosemite, and then head back to down south to Argentina around mid-May to finish the South America leg of my journey. Yeah...that was a great plan until I CRACKED a tooth...lower jaw rear left side molar. Dentist says I need a crown which incidentally would take minimum 3 months. Closest appointment date? Mid-July in Vegas. What the hell am I going to do around here til MID-JULY?? More to the point though is where to stay, how to get around, and then the question of making money. I don't want to just sit some place doing nothing.

Art Model, @JennyPoses4U_2 ©2019 Terrell Neasley
It's expensive staying here in the States. Last time I was in Vegas it cost me a grand a week between hotels and car rentals. Making money this time around wouldn't be as much an issue if it wasn't for Argentina. Going down there for me is at least a thousand dollars in winter gear and then flights to Ushuaia for another grand. It feels funny when I say I'm technically homeless at the moment. At least I always find it funny to say. But this situation puts me on notice that I need a better plan for when I come back stateside for more than a few weeks.

One option is to go someplace cheap and return again in July to fix the tooth. Mexico or Central America are plausible spots. What I really think I want is a 2-month gig with a fat payday!! I don't care where it is in the US...or the world for that matter. The last thing I want to do is get bored to death sitting around waiting for time to pass to get my tooth done. I can justify spending money for either doing something epic or at least doing something that is making me even more money. I want something to do! I guess I can discount some of my art, too. I still print big, but instead of $3500 for a print, maybe $2k. I don't know. I'm just thinking out loud. Coming up with a plan to sell my landscape work more consistently wouldn't be a bad idea either. I haven't sold anything since last Sept.

Art Model, @JennyPoses4U_2 ©2019 Terrell Neasley
But regardless, when I do get my tooth fixed, I still have to finish my travels in South America. Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Brazil, and one more time in Colombia are my priorities. If I can do this like I'm thinking, it's travel to Southern Argentina and make my way northward. Tierra del Fuego, Torres del Paine in Chile. Then Salar de Uyuni and The Death Road in Bolivia. Fly to Brazil and make a 2nd attempt at the 2-week boat trip up the Amazon River. Disembark in Leticia, Colombia. Fly up to Cartagena, Colombia and redo my northern Colombia trek... praying to God I have a model with me. Actually, I'd love to have a model with me from the time I hit the Amazon. All that done by the first part of September and then getting ready to begin my next travel adventure likely in the South Pacific Islands.

I've completed all of Art Model Jennifer's edits from our Feb/Mar excursion in Peru. Her book is also just about done. Final touches, get it ordered, and then I'll have it in my hands. I won't post a link to view it until she gets her copy, of course. She got naked... it's her gig ...she gets dibbs. We got a ton of work from this project and I sincerely hopes her husband loves the finished product as much as I have loved making it. She was absent from her family for 3 weeks to do this gig and I don't think they are used to not having her around for that long. So I hope in the end, they can look at the book, hear her stories, and conclude that the experience was well worth it.

Art Model, @JennyPoses4U_2 ©2019 Terrell Neasley
I want this adventure to inspire others to come out and join me. Even if you're not shooting nudes or even joining me in my travels, my hope is that my stories can inspire you to get out and see what the world is like and to venture outside the US if you've never done so. Get your passport done. You never know when an opportunity will cross your path. If you don't at least have a passport, then you are not prepared to take advantage of an opportunity that could present itself. Either way, if you get it, it's like having a ticket. Now you have to only book a flight. Make a reservation at some hostel. Now you are on your way! Get out and see something different. The world awaits your company.

Art Model, @JennyPoses4U_2 ©2019 Terrell Neasley

16 April 2019

Travel Nudes - Jenny in Peru

Art Model, @JennyPoses4U_2 ©2019 Terrell Neasley

During my last month in Peru, I got to work with art model, @JennyPoses4U_2,  who traveled to Peru from the US to shoot with me. She met me in Lima, Peru's capital city, and we traveled for 3 weeks up to Northern Peru, back to Lima, and then to two locations in Southern Peru before returning again to Lima. We spent almost a week up north at a beach bungalow resort before heading south to Puno on Lake Titicaca. There, we stayed with hosts on a man-made island built by a family from the Aymaras, (nope, not Incas) who's culture has lasted for centuries on this lake at 12,000 feet above sea level. Lastly, a visit to a lodge in Colca Canyon turned out to be extraordinary.

Northern Peru

After a few days in Lima to settle in, we took a flight to Piura and bused to our hotel in Cancas, just north of the popular town of Mancora. Why? Well, when you have nudes on your itinerary, less people and more private beaches may come at a premium, but its worth it. We chose a beachfront bungalow at a resort that had plenty of privacy and an interior worth shooting. Working with Jennifer early in the mornings allowed the best beach advantage. The tide was also at a low point. When we couldn't shoot outside, we did our best to be creative on the inside of our large and spacious bungalow.

Art Model, @JennyPoses4U_2 ©2019 Terrell Neasley

Art Model, @JennyPoses4U_2 ©2019 Terrell Neasley

Art Model, @JennyPoses4U_2 ©2019 Terrell Neasley

Back to Lima

We were actually in Lima 3 different times at 4 different hotels. One, when Jennifer flew in for two days. Again upon returning from Northern Peru. And twice more upon returning from Southern Peru til she flew back home. Each stay in Lima was 2 or 3 days. Of course, there was no outdoor shooting in Lima. But when we were not shooting inside, we went out and just explored. I am not the best city tourist, unfortunately, but I did my best to go shopping and sight seeing around the city without looking like I wanted to be in the wild somewhere. I'm not entirely certain I succeeded, however this was her adventure, too. So being a team player was important. Shopping, museums, and city tours were added to the agenda. Lima had all this aplenty, especially in the Miraflores and Barranco districts.

Art Model, @JennyPoses4U_2 ©2019 Terrell Neasley

Art Model, @JennyPoses4U_2 ©2019 Terrell Neasley

Art Model, @JennyPoses4U_2 ©2019 Terrell Neasley

Southern Peru

It was beautiful and relaxing on the beach for nearly a week in the north. But for me at least, the adventure began in the south. We flew to Puno along the banks of the famous Lake Titicaca which spans the border, and of which 40% is claimed by Bolivia. We were met by our host Wilbur of the Aymara people who live out ON the lake on an island that HE made of reeds. He keeps adding layers every so often as the island will fully submerge after 20 to 30 years. We spent 3 days with this family where the nights are below freezing despite the fact that they were in the summer season. We got 2.5 liter hot water bottles to keep us warm and this was our only source of heat at night. Of course this is not a large island; maybe 50' x 50', so there was not much shooting outdoors and the interiors were not as appealing. Mainly just white walls.

Art Model, @JennyPoses4U_2 ©2019 Terrell Neasley
Colca Canyon
We bused for 6 hours northward, (but still in Southern Peru) to Chivay and then a taxi 10 mins down the road to the town of Yanque. Here we stayed at another lodge that sat on the precipice along Colca Canyon at it's midpoint. Breath-taking is the most literal way I could describe this place. What we missed shooting in on Lake Titicaca, we more than made up for it, shooting here. I endeavor to return here and venture more into this canyon. It's about 45 miles long and over 10,000 feet deep, which is even deeper than the Grand Canyon at 6,000 feet. That gives me a lot of ground to cover! But alas, only 3 days there, a 3 hour bus ride to Arequipa, and then a flight back to Lima. Jennifer returned home 3 days after that.

Art Model, @JennyPoses4U_2 ©2019 Terrell Neasley

Art Model, @JennyPoses4U_2 ©2019 Terrell Neasley

I've been editing for the last 5 weeks, going over more than 3 thousand photos taken over 3 weeks. Granted, most of my peers would be shooting that total per day! A book on this project is forthcoming, as well. I am confident to have it all completed within the first week of May and am looking forward to having a copy of that book in my hands. There's no comparison between looking at it on a computer screen versus having a series of tangible prints in your hands bound in a hardback 11 x 14 150-page book. These will be large full-page spreads on some of the best heavy stock paper made for printing. So yeah, I can't wait to see this. Maybe you'll like it, too! Or even better, maybe you'd like to do a shoot like this. Well... regardless, stay tuned.