22 May 2015

Finally Getting Down with Instagram

The inside of a chicken bus. On the way to I forget where.
"Technology has eliminated the basement darkroom and the whole notion of photography as an intense labor of love for obsessives and replaced them with a sense of immediacy and instant gratification."
~ Joe McNally

I've been meaning to jump on the Instagram bandwagon for years and simply didn't do it. I was one of those photogs that resisted Instagram in the beginning. I was bent on not getting hung up on every single new social media app that reared its ugly head. But over the years, I began to learn more about Instagram and see some of the benefits. However, meaning to jump on the bandwagon and actually doing it are two different things.

You can now follow me and see my activities at @photoanthems on Instagram. My friend @shmercier, got me to thinking about Instagram differently more than a year ago. I already had it on my mind to set up an account, but I didn't see it as anything more than a FB alternative/complement. She doesn't use Facebook at all and connects with all her friends via Instagram instead. Her reasoning intrigued me at a time when I was becoming more and more frustrated with FB. For no reason in particular, I still procrastinated on the issue until I met another young Canadian girl, @jessicaaeburke, in El Salvador, who got me refocused again and thereby causing me to make Instagram a priority. It still took me another two weeks, but I'm now active on Instagram.

Various spots in Central America Copyright 2015 Terrell Neasley

Along with FB, I've had to become accustomed to the immediacy of photos. Gone is the patient wait for my return back stateside to edit photos. No longer is there the time to formulate my images into a viable presentation to that may heighten one's appreciation for my art. Nope. Demand is for now...quick, fast, and in a hurry. People want to see what you're up to, what it looks like where you are, and to vicariously join you in your adventure...as it happens. Or at the latest, within hours of the event.

The desire to fill said demand, makes one compromise to some extent. Without adequate editing tools, its necessary to post images on this blog and social media in a much larger format than I would otherwise normally do. I also fail to watermark the images, as my normal workflow would insist. I work around this by choosing images that satisfy the demand without sufficient compromise as to make me lose sleep. I'll choose images that may not be the best ones that I know I'll save for editing later. They still satisfy two needs of my followers. They see good images, (while I save my best ones for later) and they still get a sense of where I am, what I'm doing, and how things are going. So...basically, I just have to manage the trade-off.

Various spots in Central America Copyright 2015 Terrell Neasley

What my hope is, however, is that photographers in general do not become so dependent on social media that they mismanage that trade-off. A couple of things can happen as of a result of this. One is that the art suffers. Less work is done in camera and the art side of photo is traded for Instagram filters. When this happens, less attention is given to craftsmanship. Photogs no longer worry about knowing their equipment or understanding light. Less attention is given to presentation, the print, or the art. In addition, photogs may have a tendency to give away their best work. In their exuberance to post quickly, filters become the new edit, and their best stuff gets published for free. Instead of hanging on a wall, the farthest potential a great shot might achieve is a 72dpi square screen-size image on a profile wall.

Various spots in Central America Copyright 2015 Terrell Neasley

Most of the great photogs you probably already know of don't fall into this trap or tendency. They know better. However the aspiring, up and coming, new blood into the trade are more susceptible to such falloff. But you know who you are. And you know your tendencies. Ask yourself what's more important. Likes and Followers or good business and a commitment to the trade?

Now you'll excuse me while I search through my current travel archives to find some images for this post. Oh yeah...we're presently in Matagalpa, Nicaragua.

03 May 2015

Midway Through...

Art Model, Covenant, El Salvador, Unedited, iPhone 6 Plus, Copyright 2015 Terrell Neasley

"Sometimes all you can do is all you can do."
~ Art Model, Covenant

Present location? El Salvador. Or more precisely, I'm at La Tortuga Verde in El Cuco, El Salvador. I've got another couple days here and then it's off to Nicaragua, or more precisely, La Tortuga Booluda in Leon, Nicaragua. [Actually, by the time of posting, I'm already in Leon.]

So we are probably mid-way through on this adventure. The mist that has been hindering some of my projects here has caught up with me in El Sal and after two months of travel, the rainy season is about to get under way here. I seriously want to challenge myself to improvise and return stateside with work that rivals my initial vision. I can't say I'm there just yet though I have accumulate a bunch of marvelous shots...just not the shots that I feel rival my initial vision. So, I'm working on that.

Last week, we held up at a really nice spot in Juayua (pronounced "WHY-YOU-AH) called Hotel Anahuac. Well, while shooting Art Model, Covenant in some waterfalls there, I took a nasty slip and cut my right hand wide open just below the first knuckle of my thumb. Of seven waterfalls we were to visit, this incident happens just after the second one. That just about ended my shooting until I got the bleeding under control and kept my thumb compressed against my hand til the last waterfall, where I risked burning off a few more shots. Apparently, the thumb is quite an essential digit when it comes to holding things. I count myself fortunate that I didn't drop my camera in the water, but I still got some shots.

Doc stitched me up!
Thanks Doc!

So after 2 more hours of hiking, I made it back and went to see a doctor at the local public health clinic. Doc had me sewn up in no time and they didn't charge a thing. I got stitches, waited a week and then took my knife and some scissors and took them out. Now I just gotta take care not to open the blasted thing up again. Its not easy NOT using your thumb...especially on your dominant hand. Keeping it clean and infection free has been the utmost priority. I wash it every day because this spot is right on a Pacific coast beach. Sand can be a pain in the butt in a wound and is notorious for carrying infection when trapped under a bandage and left unchecked. So between the regular cleaning and my antibiotic, I think I'm doing well.

Art Model, Covenant, Unedited, Copyright 2015 Terrell Neasley

I've still been shooting Art Model, Covenant on a regular basis. This being her first time out of country, she's thrilled at the thought of being naked in a foreign land and doesn't a problem shooting anywhere I get a hankering to point my camera. This is an excellent proposition because not everywhere I need to shoot is private. We've had the occasional spectator of course, but we've also had tour guests and guides privy to our endeavors. Covenant has a nice way of letting them know what we're doing and so far nobody has objected to a woman coming up and asking if its okay if she has her boobs out or takes off her clothes.

So like I said, here for a few more days and then we'll ferry around to Nica. Ferry? Yes, ferry. Its 6 to 7 hours by bus at a cost of about $45. Its Two and a HALF hours by boat for $75. I'm doing the boat for $30 more bucks. Actually, we do have to take another bus after that for about an hour to Leon, but I can handle that. [It was 2 and a half hours to Leon and there was no bus at the port, so we ended up taking a shuttle who had recently dropped off a group for $40. He wanted $60.] Three days in Leon, and then we're off on a flight back to the Caribbean coast of Nica to Big Corn Island and then a half hour boat ride to Little Corn for a week's stay at Farm Peace and Love. Hippy? Well, more like Hippy-sounding. Far as I know, we'll be by ourselves on the Northeast corner of the island in a little cottage. By mid-May, we have no clue.

Art Model, Covenant, El Salvador Unedited,
Copyright 2015 Terrell Neasley
There are currently no exact plans, reservations, deadlines, or anything beyond mid-May. I know we want to make our way down back to my old stopping grounds in San Juan del Sur. If you recall, I almost got myself killed there a year ago scouting a coastline of cliffs and let the tide get high on me before I could make it all the way back. But there are some other stops I'd like to make as well. I didn't get to make it to Granada or Isla de Ometepe in the South, nor Esteli or Somoto Canyon in the North. So the precarious situation I find myself in now is to decide how long I want to spend in Nicaragua.

With funds getting tight, the temptation is to spend these last two months in Nica, rather than head on down to Costa Rica and Panama where things are more expensive. Money definitely goes further in Nica. In addition to that, its usually cheaper to fly out of Managua, Nicaragua, than from either of the airports in Costa Rica or Panama. So the thought is to come back and finish CR and Panama later this year, and THEN proceed on further South into Columbia and down western South America to Argentina.

Art Model, Covenant,  Belize Unedited, Copyright 2015 Terrell Neasley
Another option is to take a break from Latin America and visit Southeast Asia. I really have no idea. All I know is that I suck at video. Like that transition? That was another one of my objectives here...get used to and do better video. I do learn from my mistakes though. Recently, I tried shooting with a more narrow the field of view. After an hour and a half of footage, I think I got my subject in the frame maybe 40% of the time. That's working with the GoPro. The Sony mirrorless don't have that issue since I can see what I'm shooting on the back of the LCD screen. I can even use the wireless feature on my Sony Action Cam to see my perspective on my iPhone. I guess I should have picked up the LCD back for the GoPro, but those things use up battery even faster than it already does. So yeah...more work to be done there. No worries. Not giving up.

BTW, its been almost 2 weeks since the cut on my hand. All's well and healing just fine. No more bandages, but still sensitive. I should be good to go in the next week or so. Next stop...Little Corn Island and Farm Peace and Love!