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Travel

What to Expect on a Luxury African Safari

Luxury African Safari with Shutter Tours

As a child, I always had this vision of going to Africa and experiencing wild animals in their natural habitat. I could see myself wearing a pith hat and boots in an open vehicle as the untamed Africa unfolded in front of me. Today I am more likely to wear a Tilley hat, flip flops and a long sleeved shirt while on safari in Africa, but the experience is still one of wonder and magic moments that I envisioned as a young boy.

Often when people think of Africa, which is a continent by the way and not a country, (You’d be surprised how many people believe it is a country) their mind goes to stories of Ebola, Malaria and starving children with distended stomachs. As we all know American media feeds us negative stories at a rapid-fire rate and I wanted to dispel some of those ideas and give you a background on what I have experienced by taking tour groups to Tanzania for Shutter Tours.

The Cost of a Safari

Luxury Africa Safari

When you fly halfway around the world to Tanzania, you probably won’t be on a safari for just a few short days. We spend 12 days while we are there and there are times when I wish we could extend it even further because there is so much to see and do. According to Travel and Leisure Magazine, the average safari runs between $800-$1000 per day. Most safaris are all inclusive, so though it may seem like a lot, everything is taken care of except for alcohol, staff tips and things you may purchase.

There are budget safari companies that can get your daily cost down to much less. Our per day price is a bit over $500, but I would caution against using deeply discounted tours. When you are taking a trip of a lifetime, the additional cost to ensure a good experience is worth it in my mind.

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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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Music Travel Video

“Walking with the San” – Music Video

San Bushmen

The San Tribe in Namibia is similar to the Hadzabe Tribe we visited in Tanzania. Though the Hadza’s are still a nomadic tribe, the San are no longer and have been forced to stay in one place to allow their children to get an education.

Recording a song like this comes with challenges, “My music was unlike anything they’d heard before, and they’d never seen an electric guitar or piano before.” Charlie said in an interview.

“I started playing a song in return called Emily off my last solo record, it’s quite slow, like a ballad. “Some of the men in the tribe started crying. It was just the most touching experience, and I was blown away by it. They all came up and hugged me.”

Singing in the Rainforest

Charlie was there to take part in a new television series titled, Singing in the Rainforest, taking singers to meet remote tribes and exposing them to music they have never heard before.

Working with the San, Charlie spent a week to create a song that combined both modern and ancient musical styles. The San don’t use music as a form of entertainment, but as a way to communicate with their ancestors.

Connecting People

Some may think this experiment could have an adverse effect, but as you watch the video, I think you’ll see the joy and warmth the San felt as they performed. A great reminder that music can be an incredible connection and bring us all together.

Charlie’s Music is available on Amazon.com

 

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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Travel Video

Blue Grotto Experience in Capri

Blue Grotto in Capri video

We took a trip out to the world famous Blue Grotto in Capri. Sometimes it’s not always about the destination, but the journey to get to where you are going and the Blue Grotto was no exception. We started mid-morning to avoid the crowds, or that’s what we thought. The boat ride was about 20-25 minutes from the marina in Capri, and when we arrived at the grotto, it was packed. Here’s a little video to share our experience that day.

Travel

Visiting the Hadzabe Tribe in Tanzania

The early morning came way too soon as we gathered our gear and jumped in the vehicle for an hour and a half journey to visit the Hadzabe Tribe near Lake Eyasi in Tanzania.

The road twisted and turned with lots of bumps as the headlights pierced the darkness, an occasional truck passed us in the opposite direction on the dusty, dark road. As the morning dawned, the road followed a single power line dotted with individual lights in front of homes that were barely 500 square feet. We made our first stop at the Lake Eyasi cultural tourism office to pickup our guide Michael, who was well versed in the ways of the Hadzabe.

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Travel

Take a Dream Trip to Africa

Shutter Tours Africa Ebook

Africa Photo Tour EbookTracy and I will bring guests to Africa again in 2017, and we would like you to join us on this once in a lifetime dream trip to Tanzania.  We put together an E-Brochure in PDF format for our upcoming trip to Africa in November 2017.

Great Food and Lodges

Lake Duluti Lodge in Tanzania

Staying at beautiful lodges and luxury tented camps, you’ll travel in comfort and have such fantastic food that you feel like you are on a cruise ship and always eating. We have excellent chefs creating the best soups, meat and fish dishes as well as fresh fruit dishes each day. And when we are out on safari, we also have boxes lunches out in the bush.

Cultural Experiences

Makonde Woodcarvers in Tanzania

We love seeing the animals, but it’s also about having cultural experiences. We will visit a Maasai village near the Ngorongoro Crater, visit our friend Daniel and learn about the Iraqwi Tribe of Tanzania as well as one of my favorite visits, a visit with the Hadzabe Tribe. We also visit the Datoga Tribe where you can watch them create beautiful metal bracelets and a Makonde Tribe woodworking workshop where you’ll need to hold onto your wallet.

Big Five

Every trip we have taken to Africa, we have seen the “Big 5”, though there is no guarantee, we are pretty proud of our track record. You will most certainly see elephants, giraffes, lions, hippos, zebras and a whole host of other African wildlife.

The ebook linked below is full of lots of information and photos from the past three years. We wanted to maintain the high-quality images in the .pdf, so it may take some time to download, being almost 200 MB is size.

Download here (Note: File is almost 200MB and may take some time to download)

Make your deposit today at the Shutter Tours website or to learn more about this fantastic opportunity.

 

Travel

Africa Portraits

Maasai Elder

I had the opportunity to take a tour to Africa in November 2015 for my second trip over there. Though it is great to see the wild animals on a trip like this, even more for me is to take photos of the people that make up the wonderful country of Tanzania.

Tanzania Market Vendor

We had the opportunity to stop at a roadside market on our way to the Serengeti. This market was one where Maasai men would go to sell their goats. Our guide had a friend that could show us around and spoke english and we were able to see the men as they traded their goats and proudly showed off their purchases afterwards. However, the Maasai in a situation like this, are very shy and do not like their photo taken. The lady above was following us around trying to get us to buy her bracelets. She was unable to speak, but her eyes said so much to each of us and I motioned if I could take her photo and she was more than happy to sit for me.

Maasai Medicine Man

At the market we encountered this Maasai Medicine Man and I really wanted to take his photo but he was only interested in receiving a sitting fee. I do not like the idea of paying for photos as it ruins it for the next photographer that comes along. But, I really wanted to get a good shot of him, so the negotiations began. Our guide spoke with him for probably 5 minutes and tried to negotiate a free fee sitting, but we were unable to. At the end of the day I paid him $2.00 USD to take his photo. Before I had him sit here, he was surrounded by Maasai men, but they disappeared when they saw I was taking a photo. I really wanted them as part of the backdrop and this shot he only allowed me 2 clicks and he was done.

Mosquito Village Marketplace

On our tours we go to a village named Mto Wa Mbu or the Mosquito Village. On this particular day it had rained quite a bit before we arrived and we were delayed by rivers that had flooded. Part of our stop here is to go to an area where artists paint on canvas and we are able to take wonderful artwork home in the Tinga Tinga style of painting. We had just left the artists and were heading to our vehicle, when I quickly grabbed a shot of this scene as I walked by. My camera was at hip level and I love how the colors and the child holding his arms up, as if blessing the suns arrival.

Mosquito Village Children

In Africa our group is always a curiosity and children will run out the road to wave at us as we drive by. Here we had just finished a traditional meal and these children were waiting by our vehicle and I couldn’t resist getting a quick portrait of them.

Boy with chicken in TanzaniaIts fun how the children will carry their animals such as goats and chickens with them. This little boy was very proud of his chicken and I’m not too sure what his sister thought of us however.

Maasai Village in Tanzania

 

The one thing I look forward to when going to Tanzania is our stop in a Maasai village. This particular village was located just a mile or so away from the entrance to the Ngorongoro Crater. The location was on a beautiful rolling hill and the sunlight was just perfect. I used my Nikon Nikon D300 on this shot with a 10.5mm 2.8 lens. Setting the F-stop to F/22 I was able to create the star like effect with the sun.

Maasai Jumping dance

When you arrive in the village you are greeted by all the members of the village and the men will do the traditional jumping dance after the woman sing a song for us. After this, we were given a tour of the village and told to take millions of photos if we like. I try to take as many as I can, but I also have to be aware of not missing something on this visit too without the camera being up to my eye the whole time. Below are some of my favorites from the Maasai Village visit.

Maasai Children Maasai Elder in Tanzania DSC03280 copy DSC03239 DSC03243 DSC03256 DSC03213 DSC03337

Maasai man throwing a spear that my customer Roberto was able to purchase. This was a well worn spear and is a souvenir that will be cherished with a great memory of his trip with us to Africa.

Maasai inside hut

Our Maasai guide took me inside his hut and shared how they live. These huts are very simple and are made by the woman of the village. They are made from twigs, soil grasses and cow dung. They use a certain type of grass that also keeps spiders out. They are designed to be comfortable when its either hot or cold. Being close to the Ngorongoro Crater, this hut was approximately 8,000 feet above sea level or 2,000 feet above the crater floor.

Maasai Boys in Tanzania

Last year I was able to get some great photos of Maasai boys on the side of the road and we were real happy when we had the opportunity to stop and take photos of these four. They were really good sports and I think they enjoyed the interaction with all of us as we posed them and tried to create some memorable photos to take home with us. I post processed this in Alien Skin Exposure 6 using a Technicolor filter.

Maasai boy in Tanzania

This young man was a great sport and I was trying to get a good pose that would capture a bit of who he was. I then put his stick on his shoulders and smiled and I knew it was going to be the perfect shot with him. I don’t often like to put my subject directly in the middle of the frame, but it worked well in this shot.

Maasai Boys in a tree

We were just about ready to go and as we were heading back to our vehicle, I noticed this tree in the distance and told everyone that we needed to use that tree for a photo. This is one of my favorites from the trip as well and was shot with my Fuji X-E1 with a 35mm f/1.4 lens. The photos below are not my favorite in this series due to a few sharpness challenges. Edits are in Topaz Adjust 5 with my own custom setting.

Maasai boys climbing on tree in Tanzania Maasai boys climbing on tree in Tanzania

If you would like to join me next year for a trip to Tanzania, click on the photo below for more information.

Shutter Tours in Africa

 

Travel

Brugge at Night

Brugges at Night

On a recent trip to Africa, I made another stop in Amsterdam and Brugge and was fortunate to have a rainy evening in Brugge to get some interesting night photos. This city is like a movie set where every corner you turn has something great to photograph.

Brugge at night with horses Brugge at night Brugge at night with swans Brugge at night Brugge at night with bicyclist

Travel

A Day in Seattle

Gasworks Park Seattle

Seattle Kerry Park with Mt. Rainier

There is probably no better view than Kerry park in Seattle. It’s not often Mt. Rainier will be out and on this particular day it was picture perfect.

Seattle Locks with Kayaks

Hiram Chittenden Locks are always busy on nice sunny days and this day was no different. With boaters and kayakers each sharing the lock to get into Lake Union.
Seattle Center FountainThe fountain at the Seattle Center is always a great place to people watch. This shot was edited with Alien Skin Exposure 6 with color saturation muted and cool.
Seattle Space NeedleBack in the film days I used to use a star filter to create this effect of the starburst at the Space Needle. I’m sure there is a way to do this in Photoshop, but I shot this at f/22 to achieve the effect in camera.

Deadliest Catch Wizard in Seattle

At Fisherman’s Terminal in Seattle, I was lucky enough to see the Wizard of Deadliest Catch fame, pulling out of the dock. I was surprised how much bigger the boat was than I expected.

Gasworks Park in Seattle with Kites

I waited to set this shot up at Gasworks Park as I wanted someone walking the pathway in addition to the kite flyers. The other thing I have learned throughout the years is to have a leading line start from the very corner of the frame as this pathway does in the lower right.

Seattle Gasworks Park Pano

A Panoramic view of Gasworks Park in Seattle with Lake Union and the Space Needle in the Background.

South Lake UnionThis is looking south at the southern end of Lake Union. The buildings in the background is where the world headquarters for Amazon.com is located.

Travel

Sequim Lavender Weekend

Sequim Washington Lavender

For the past three years I have been bringing guests to the Lavender Weekend in Sequim (I can’t say festival due to copyright owners of the SLF getting upset for using that description on a website). Every year it is such a great place to go and enjoy the outdoors and the wonderful city of Sequim. The real treat this year was the ferry ride back with Mt. Rainier in its full glory.
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