22 July 2012

Central America 2012

Lancha ride back to Chal Hun Ta Hostel, San Miguel, Guatemala,
Photo by Heather Rae, In Search of Squid

Well, I think I mentioned that I had a big summer planned. I am currently starting my second week in Guatemala at the moment, traversing the country with Hearther Rae, from In Search of Squid. Even though its only been a little more than a week, it seems more like we have been here for closer to 3 to 4 weeks. Time moves so much more slowly here and by 7pm the sun is down and its already dark. You're ready to turn in thinking that its already been a late night. In only 10 days, we have done so much and covered so much ground. We're adding in Belize to the itenerary and Heather will finish up in Utila, an island of Honduras. I'm considering Panama and another 3 weeks somewhere.

Bridge to El Portel at Semac Champey

Week one started out with 2 nights in Antigua and a long shuttle bus (minivans) and boat ride out to Lake Atitlan. These busses can be really packed to capacity and sometimes even more to capacity. And these guys drive like they are hoping to get picked up by a NASCAR scout or something. Lake Atitlan was a gorgeous place. We stayed on the Santa Cruz side of the lake at Islaverde Hotel. Can't say I was all that excited about the place. I was thrilled at being there, but the accomodations weren't as we hoped. In a nutshell, the place was simply overpriced. Excellent food, though. But we paid hotel prices for hostel accomodations. We'd planned on 4 nights there but only spent 2. And that's the cool thing. There's no obilgation to stay. I don't have a strict time-table that I have to regulate my travels according to a clock. This place didn't work out, so we left. On the other hand, we did hike over to Casa del Mundo. THAT place was cool. Nice views and plush accomodations for the same dog gone price of Islaverde. We tried to do out last few nights there but they were booked solid. I will be back at Atitlan and Casa del Mundo will be my spot.

Temple 1 at Tikal, Guatemala

Next was off to Semac Champey. That was another shuttle bus ride out into NOWHERE! We were deep in the jungle on winding roads, that you can only make with 4-wheel drive. This is where you got to see some of the poorest areas of the country. Very simplistic living on dirt floors. As we passed, some of the locals would just stare at you with blank faces and others were more cordial. Many of the kids definitely liked seeing us pass by. I began to wonder how they felt about us being there. Yes, the tourism is a big part of their local economy, but is there too much of it? Many of the blank faces came from the elderly. Maybe they know what its like when the tourism slows or even halts. Vegas is very much like this and we know we've got to stimulate our economy in a way that isn't so heavily dependent on tourism or any one thing. The same thing happens in the towns near military bases when the soldiers are deployed for extended periods of time.

My cabin at Chal Tun Ha. MUST get a model here!!

We stayed at the El Portal Hotel which is right next to Semuc Champay which has some of the most goreous pools you'll ever see. The day was complete with caving (by candlelight) and tubing down th river. I hate taking touristy pictures, but there was not getting around it here. Its almost like being challenged to come up with different angles in Disneyland. We got there early in the morning, but by the time we returned from our adventure down the river, the main pools were crowded and packed with people. I've met some great people and made some new friends. You see faces from everywhere on these travel escapades. I've started a portrait series based on who I meet while I'm here. I'm off to a great start.

Presently, we are on our 4th day at Chal Tun Ha Hostel in San Miguel, near Flores, Guatemala. This is the best location I've stayed in and I will come back here within the year just to be in this place. I'll bring a model with me of course, but this place is tops. Its run by Neil and his wife and you definitely get the low down on the local hot spots, cultural history, and travel tips. If we can get out of here without Heather absconding with the man's dog, I'll leave here with a clear conscience. She's in love with "Co-co", the Chihuahua  whom she calls "Loco".

More later. Currently figuring out how to work the transpo to Belize and Utila. These pics are snapshots I took with my waterproof camera. The best shots won't be available til I get back and can edit them.

08 July 2012

Naked Faeries

Model Faerie, © 2012 Terrell Neasley
"a pretty girl who is naked / is worth a million statues"
- e. e. cummings

Model Faerie, © 2012 Terrell Neasley
I love me some naked faeries. Actually, I only know one, and its good to get back to shooting Faerie. Its been a long time since I've had her in my sights and we've been able to finally make it happen. Just as gorgeous as ever, I don't think anybody can say one bad thing about this woman, but even on the inside, she a good girl, a great mom and wife, and she's got a beautiful outlook on life. I could definitely say she's a great model not only for me, but she's a great model of a human being worthy of emulation by many young women out there today. The main goal was to work her into some of my Art Nude Ball of Light work. She'd seen some of my earlier attempts and her husband likes them too. After not doing them for a year, it took a bit to make the adjustments, but I have found a way to perfect my sphere-building spin and rotation. It was more towards the end of our session that I began to get better, so we have some more work to do. And of course there are a LOT more images from our shoot last weekend, but I'm only going to get to a few before my adventure down South.

Model Faerie, © 2012 Terrell Neasley
Which brings me to another point. I'm thinking I'm going to start another blog to showcase my travel and adventure work. I know you're thinking I can barely keep tabs on this one, but I am sincerely giving this some thought. The only question is when I'll start it, because I ultimately want to have this thing going when I am more permanently on the road and traveling on a more regular basis for extended periods of time. Granted, this Central America stunt that I'm doing will be for a little while, but I'm talking about doing this as a life-style. That's when I truly want to begin a new chapter of writing. In fact, I think I'm going to take an online course in writing from Matador U. I was thinking about doing their photography class as well, but I think I'll switch to their film maker's course and just work with the two of those. I can't wait to get started. 

Model Faerie, © 2012 Terrell Neasley
The thing I like about all this is that, at the beginning of the year, as I'm laid up in the bed, this is all just a dream. Well now, its about to happen and I'm excited about that fact. Imagine it, plan it, do it. That's they way I want my thought process to evolve. Spending so much time in bed leaves you with nothing but imagination and with a little concentration, you can start planning everything out. Of course this one was pretty easy. All I have to do is follow Heather Rae. She's got the itinerary and beyond that, I don't really care. She's the subject. Whatever it is she's doing, I simply follow and record it. But beyond that, she's been very inspiring as I mentioned in the last post. My tasking is to simply get all the needed gear, learn more about video, and get the audio equipment I'll need to accompany me and I've done that. I have a few adjustments to make but all in all, I'm just about ready. I'll be learning on the fly, but thankfully we have enough time to get it down. The first week will be chill week anyway, so I'll be able to read up on the manuals and maybe we'll have wifi or internet connections and I can do some tutorials online. The Glidecam HD-2000 is giving me problems with the weight. Its tough to balance, but the thing may be too heavy for my needs. I can read a book on the Zoom H4N audio recorder and my on-camera Sennheiser should be easy enough. With that, you just plug in and go. This is going to be so much fun. I enjoy learning new things and am used to trial by fire from my military days.

Stay tuned... 

03 July 2012

Catching Up

Model Faerie, © 2008 Terrell Neasley

Sometimes I like to go over previous posts, especially the ones where I talk about future prospects and see if I've stayed true to some of the things I discuss and plan for. I'll give myself a partial excuse in that I only started back to work shooting in May and its been a madhouse here to catch up with projects and prep for my travel to Central America which is now right around the corner. I've decided to not alter those plans and actually launch myself full force into it. So lets see:

Most of everything between January and March was on my recovery from knee surgery. There was not shooting going on, but I did talk about changes and things I wanted to do differently. I touched on it more in the months soon after this. I spoke on focusing on portraiture and self-portraits. I sincerely want to perfect both. In particular, I want to do more of the color portrait. I'm so much more comfortable with Black and White portraiture work. I want to get better at it, but its still a genre within my comfort zone. COLOR portraiture, however is still outside the box for me. Most B&W enthusiasts might refer to color as a distraction in the portrait. I can't say I totally subscribe to that notion. Its just another form of expression.

Model Faerie, © 2008 Terrell Neasley
I talked about embracing change and taking on challenges as they come with fervor instead of disdain. As I mentioned previously, I want to expand beyond my own comfort zone. I've revamped my business plan and goals. Central America will be the start of something new for me. Video production will be a challenge as I learn on the fly. I've switched from Canon gear to Nikon as my primary gear of choice. I still have some Canon stuff, but since the 36 megapixel Nikon D800E was released, I felt I had to make that change. During my recovery time, I kept feeling like I wanted more depth in my images and was considering medium format. Canon's new 5D Mark III was not going to take me where I wanted to go and was not a significant upgrade from my 5D Mark 2. I became even more convinced medium format was the way for me. When Nikon released the D800, I was initially skeptical. I saw it as a ploy to restart the megapixel war again and draw attention from Canon. But then I started looking more at the reviews and a few friends of mine who own the camera showed me work from it. Eventually, I got to shoot with it myself and probably within just a few weeks, I knew I had to have it. This will hopefully be an alternative to medium format with the significantly reduced cost and far less weight at a time when I need to take the pressure of my knees. I ended up with the Nikon D800E, instead of the standard D800.

Model Faerie, © 2008 Terrell Neasley
So along with some new audio gear, I'm heading to Guatemala and Honduras to follow Heather Rae around the jungles and record her excursions, escapades, and adventures as she travels. She's an experienced traveler/writer and you can catch her on her blog, In Search of Squid, (there's a story behind that title) which fabulously documents a new lifestyle of travel and tries to do more promotion of how easy, fun, and rewarding traveling can be. Its right in line of my thinking on the matter which is why we work well together in this regard. She's definitely one of the most inspiring people I've come across in the last 5 years of being in Las Vegas and as a school teacher, educating and encouraging youths is second nature to her. So it was rather fortuitous that I met her and now we've collaborated to see what our combined efforts can produce. If you've ever wondered what a ball of fire inside a woman would look like, check out her blog and track her most recent excursions. I'm telling you, its as if she has a spinning inner core made of molten nickel and iron because she generates her own magnetic field. She's got that much energy locked up in a tiny petite frame. I'll be happy to be able to keep up with her. This entire adventure is being planned out by her and I'm just tagging along for the ride. But my plans extend a little further than her's. I'll be staying down there a little while longer after she leaves Central America. I have no idea just yet as to what I'll be doing, but I'm certainly open to suggestions for any of you who know of little-known "must-see or must-do" stuff in Central America. I was thinking of skipping over to Belize, but I could also backtrack through Guatemala or do some of the mainland Honduras treks, as most of our escapades will be on the island of Utila just off the coast.

Remember Faerie, well, I just spent the weekend shooting her and will update with some of the new edits soon. Til then, enjoy some of these shots of her from a few years ago.
Model Faerie, © 2008 Terrell Neasley