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Photography Travel

How to Regram Images on Instagram

Pigeons in Venice

One of the great things about Facebook is the ability to share posts and photos with your friends. But Instagram quite frustratingly has not created an easy way to allow you to share images that you might enjoy on your feed to share with others.

Our post on Facebook when Tracy and I stayed at Villa Sofie near Positano, received over 2,300 views as of this writing. But posting that video on Instagram would only amount to a handful of views and the same goes for any photos we post there.

 Villa Sofia in Positano

An Easy Way to Repost Instagram Photos

At Travel Fanatical we are always thinking of additional ways to share our images or perhaps in the future, reposting ones we like. There is one easy solution we found to “Regramming” by using a simple app titled Repost for Instagram. There are a couple of apps with the same name, so the one you’ll want to download is made by Red Cactus LLC.

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Photography Travel

10 Photography Tips To Take Impressive Vacation Photos

Lady in Ankgor Wat Temple in Cambodia

Have you ever taken a vacation and then come back home and start editing your photos and wished you were able to get better photos? As you start looking at them and remembering your trip, you’ll often realize what made a bad photo amounted to one simple idea, composition. It is not so much about what equipment you are using, I have taken some memorable photos with my iPhone, but framing, composition and some creativity will make a huge improvement in your travel photography.

In this article, I’ll share simple composition ideas with you as well as some other travel photography tips I use when I travel.

1. Rule of Thirds

Without a doubt, this is the single most important rule you can use when composing your images. I know, there will be hardcore photographers that will dispute this rule and I agree, all rules in photography are made to be broken. But let me explain a little bit about how this rule will help you, then once you master it, then you can start breaking it.

Let me break this down into a couple of areas, because there is a lot going on in this simple grid.

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Photography Travel

The 10 Best Seattle Activities for Your Vacation

Pike Place Market

Tracy and I operate a tour business in Seattle called Shutter Tours, and we are in the city most everyday sharing Seattle with our customers. We always ask for feedback on what are customers have seen and enjoyed within the city, so I thought I would compile a list of activities you don’t want to miss on your visit to Seattle based on feedback from our customers.

Snoqualmie Falls and City Tour

Snoqualmie Falls with Rainbow

Of course, I think our Snoqualmie Falls and City Tour is one of the best tours in the city and so do almost 600 people on Trip Advisor who gave us 5-star reviews. The tour starts at the Pike Place Market at 10 AM, just late enough where you can grab some breakfast at Biscuit Bitch and a cup of coffee at the original Starbucks. About 45 minutes later we arrive at Snoqualmie Falls, which drops 268 feet to the bottom, over 100 feet higher than Niagara Falls. This is an impressive sight and summer, or winter trips here are equally spectacular. The one other thing that makes our tour a lot of fun is we give our customers simple photo tips on composition and will also take your photos in case you forgot your selfie stick.

Other stops on tour include the infamous Fremont Troll seen in the movie “Ten Things I Hate About You” and the Hiram Chittenden Locks, where you may see migrating salmon during the summertime as they navigate the fish ladder. During the springtime, the locks are homes to the nesting Great Blue Herons, with over 50 nests each year as they raise their young.  We often see Sea Lions and Harbor Seals getting a free meal of salmon during the summertime in addition to many boats going through the locks. An engineering wonder that opened up in 1916 is the busiest lock system in the world based on the number of boats that go through it.

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Photography Travel

Faces of Maasai

Maasai Children

Maasai School Children

When I travel I always like to take photos of people, especially what I would call environmental photos. Taking photos in familiar surroundings puts people at ease and in the digital world, you can share your photos with your subject, especially children to get them to relax and have more fun.

Inside a Maasai Home

One of my goals on the trip was to be able to go to a Maasai village and learn about their culture and spend time asking questions and get a brief understanding of who they are and spend some time interacting in a village where people live on a day to day basis such as in the photo above. Gabriel knew of such a location and I was excited for the day to arrive.

Maasai Herders and sister

Throughout the trip as we got further away from the main city of Arusha, we would see many Maasai tending to their cows and goats. Most of those responsible for keeping these animals on the move and being fed, comes down to boys often under 6-8 years old being helped by an older brother as in the photo above. It was not unusual to see child after child on the side of the road or off in the distance as we whizzed by on the highway.

When we first arrived at the village, we were met by many of the married women in the village and they performed a greeting song for us as you can see in the short video above.

Maasai Men Jumping Dance

The men then came out and performed and then started their traditional jumping song and each time the men take their turn, they try to jump higher and higher.

Inside a Maasai Home

We were then able to go inside a home and learned they take about 4 months to build and are built by the woman. There is not much more than  a simple place to have a fire with an exhaust out the side of the hut and an area to sleep. Men and boys sleep together as do the girls and women. And you can see by the photo above, the beds are very simple as is most everything in their lives.

Maasai men starting a fire

After taking a tour of the home and the homeowner answering many questions, they then shoed us how they make a traditional fire by using a knife and a couple of pieces of wood, something they do on a daily basis in the village I was told. you’ll also notice in the photo above, the guy on left wearing a watch. He told me he attended secondary school in Arusha and many villagers had an interest in my watch, apparently its one of the luxury’s they do like to own. It’s interesting to  me as I look at their culture because they only seem to worry about two times of day, sunrise and sunset.

Maasai Lighting Fire

Once they get the embers hot, they then add it to dried cow dung and this is what really starts the main fire.

Maasai children in school

Next we were able to see children in their school and they are taught English as a second language and they recited the alphabet for us and counted in English as well. The age of the children in the school were between about 3 and the oldest being 11 or 12.

Maasai children

We wandered around the village for a short time and took a few more photo and I thought this one of Ken interacting with the little ones was pretty fun.

Maasai Leaders

Eventually it was time to be on our way, but not before they gave us the hard sell on buying some of their carvings and a few other things they were selling in the village. I picked out a handful of items and then they told me it was $250 Euro’s for everything and I just laughed and handed everything back to them and said I was thinking more like $50. We finally agreed on a price for a few items and then we were able to get a few more photos in the village and it was on to our next adventure down the road whatever that might be.

It wasn’t long after we left the Maasai village, I asked Gabriel to stop again and I was able to get one of my favorite portraits on the trip. As A photographer one of the first things I learned, when I photo opportunity presents itself, you have to take action and get the photo then or you’ll probably never have the opportunity again. Throughout our time driving, every  once in awhile we would see Maasai boys on the side of the road with their faces painted either white or black. I asked Gabriel why only a few boys chose to wear paint like that and he said they were boys who had gone through a circumcision ceremony also known as Emuratta.

Maasai boys after circumcism ceremony

The ceremony is the most vital initiation of all rite of passages in the Maasai society. This initiation is performed shortly after puberty. Young men are eager to be circumcised and become warriors. Once the boys become warriors they resume responsibility of security for their territory. Circumcision initiation elevates an individual from childhood to adulthood. In order for the boy to be initiated he must prove himself to the community. The boy must exhibit signs of a grown man, by carrying a heavy spear, herding large herd of livestock, etc. After the operation is successfully completed, the boy would receive gifts of livestock from his relatives and friends. He would also gain a tremendous amount of respect for his bravery.

Maasai boys with white faces

I was really happy to be able to stop and take a few quick photos of these boys as it was really once in a lifetime shot with the perfect location. I threw on my simple “Nifty Fifty” 50mm f/1.8 lens, allowing me to get some beautiful bokeh in the background with excellent sharpness. They were really good sports about me taking their photo and its one I’ll always be happy with from my trip.

Next up, we stopped at Olduvai Gorge, considered the cradle of man and one of the most important paleoanthropological sites in the world. It’s famous for Mary Leakey and her find of Homo habilis, meaning “man with skill.” in 1959.  

Medicine Man at Olduvai Gorge

Here we also met a man with skill, a Massai Medicine Man who was there selling his medicine to other Maasai at Olduvai Gorge where he allowed me to take this portrait. 

Note: If you’d like to join me on a trip to Africa in 2015, please use the contact page at the top of the site to be added to the list to send information to in December. 

Photography Travel

The Camera in Your Pocket

Amsterdam Bike Parking

I love shooting with a digital DSLR with a great lens and in my mind they are both a requirement for getting professional quality images while on vacation. But there are some times when lugging around a backpack full of gear gets annoying and I just want to lighten my load and give my back a rest.

Since I upgraded to my iPhone 5s, I have found that in many instances the iPhone handles the job quite nicely and is less hassle than a DSLR. The one other great thing about having a camera in your pocket it allows you to shoot as much as you want. I believe this is key for becoming a better photographer. The more you shoot, the better you will get a feel for how to compose images and what works from an artistic standpoint. The one challenge is to not merely take snapshots, but to look at the scene and determine what composition will make the best impact on your viewer.

If you are an avid photographer, a good challenge might be to put down your pro gear and shoot with an iPhone for the day like I did in this post one day in Seattle. I took it one step further and shot in B&W mode too.

Below are some examples of images shot with an iPhone 5s. All the images below are edited with Snapseed for some added visual effects. Don’t be afraid to play with various programs and edit your images. Most pros run their images through Photoshop before sending to clients, so don’t feel as if its cheating or you should just leave your images as they are from the camera. You’ll find some great tweaks in Snapseed such as the HDR Scape mode. I always bring this mode down to about 25-25% via the slider as I don’t like how artificial it looks as 100%. The Coffee shop and Wine shop images below was enhanced in this mode, just enough to make the colors pop a bit. I also like to play with the Grunge and Drama settings and experiment a bit.

When the digital age came, I resisted moving from film to digital. Then I didn’t want to touch my images with Photoshop, I was still trying to be a purist. Now realize these are additional tools to bring our photography to a more professional and polished level.

Northern coast of africa as seen through plane windowNorthern coast of Africa as seen from the plane. It’s so much easier to pull out the iPhone as opposed to unloading a camera bag to get a shot like this.

Boat on canal in AmsterdamCanal in Amsterdam

AmsterdamCanal boats in Amsterdam

imageWine shop in one of the many narrow streets in Amsterdam


“Coffeeshop” in the red Light District of Amsterdam

image Bike parking lot at the central train station in Amsterdam. This composition worked great having the subject in the foreground and with her violin case it even added more impact. Some times patience pays off to wait for the shot.
imageElephants in Tarangire National Park in Tanzania

Morning sunrise in AfricaEarly sunrise in the Serengeti

Panoramic view of Ngorongoro crater in TanzaniaI use panoramic mode a lot when I travel. Learn how to use this mode and you’ll create some impacting images. This is the Ngorongoro Crater, one of the 8 natural wonders of the world. 
imageLunch view of Ngorongoro Crater from the Serena Lodge

imageMaasai children inside a classroom at a village we visited.