The Visual Advocate Blog


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Fun on Mount Entoto

I just wanted to write a quick post before I head out of Addis for about a week. Yesterday I made my way up to the top of Mount Entoto which yielded beautiful views of Addis and the surrounding valleys. In many ways the rolling green valleys and peaks reminded of Oregon.

At the top of Mount Entoto, which is 10,489 feet, there are communities of people living, ancient Orthodox churches and even a church in a cave that they told is over 700 years old.

I am going to try to post again but I am not sure what the internet will be like outside of Addis. Here are a couple of images from the last few days.

The road heading up to top of Mount Entoto is quite steep yet you will see school children, elderly woman carrying huge loads of wood on their back and many others making the trip.

This elderly gentleman was a guard on the grounds of the palace that is at the top of Mount Entoto.

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Checking in from Ethiopia

After three long flights I made it to Ethiopia last night just in time to go to bed. I don’t know about you but I never sleep well on planes so I welcomed the sleep. This morning we hired a guide and walked around Addis Ababa a bit just getting a feel for the city and the people. Our guide was overly cautious about taking images of people or having both of my cameras out in the markets so while I did a little shooting I mostly did some scouting of the different areas.

Here are a couple of images from today. I hope to post more but am not sure how the internet will be once we get out of Addis.

This shopkeeper and his employee loved my business cards. I got to give props to the folks at MOO.com because everywhere I go people love my cards.

At first this Muslim man said no when I asked if I could take his picture but after I spent time in his shop talking with him about his love of soccer, his family and other things he finally asked me to take his picture. He told me I am the only photographer that he has let take his picture.

If you visit Ethiopia you must have some Injera, it is pretty good!


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Shooting for Peace of Thread

The last few weeks I have been working with a local NGO in Atlanta called Peace of Thread which is still very young but growing fast. My assignment with them has been to create images they can use on their new website that is soon to launch and in other promotional material.

Peace of Thread empowers women who have come to the United States seeking refuge from war, persecution & poverty to make a new life for themselves and their families.

It has been fun in a lot of ways but challenging as well. One of the challenges is that I have to create images for where none of the women’s faces are visible because of fear of retaliation against family members who are still in their home countries if they are seen on the internet.

One of the challenges of this assignment has been creating images of the women that do not show their faces.

Yesterday I spent about an hour shooting images of the ladies all sitting in a circle looking through the repurposed fabric they will be turning into bags and purses soon. What was most fun was just shooting as the women were laughing hysterically and chatting incessantly in Arabic.

The women of Peace of Thread gather around Denise, a champion for them and Peace of Thread, to look at fabrics they will be using to sew new purses and bags.

Many of these women had to flee their countries after having their houses bombed and several family members killed. Now that they are in the United States Peace of Thread is helping them make money that helps support their family and start their lives over. One one woman who is helping as a champion with Peace of Thread on behalf of these women is Denise, with whom I want to later post an interview.

Denise is serving as a champion for the women of Peace of Thread and is a good reminder of how just one person can make a huge impact in the lives of so many.

Make sure to check out their website and even buy a bag or ten! Here are some other images from my time with the women of Peace of Thread.

I am leaving for Ethiopia on Monday and will be gone for a couple of weeks. When I get back I am going to be reviewing some new ebooks, Blackrapid gear and sharing some images of Ethiopia. I am going to try to blog while I am there but as you know internet in developing countries is often pretty sketchy.

 


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Another great offer from Thinktank Photo

I absolutely love my Thinktank photo gear which is why I cannot help but let people know every time they are having a killer deal like this one. Here is the scoop, when you buy either the StreetWalker® Pro or StreetWalker® HardDrive before April 30, 2012, you will receive a padded Pro Speed Belt™ for free!

I have carried the Streetwalker Pro around India full of gear and let me tell you the Pro Speed Belt makes the StreetWalker backpacks even more comfortable and provides greater support for the weight on your back. This padded belt also allows you to attach Think Tank’s modular bags which makes it easier to have quick access to your lenses or accessories.

Here is a little bit about the Streetwalker Pro and Streetwalker HardDrive so you  can decide which one would best fit your photographic pursuits:

StreetWalker Pro – Holds most 400 f2.8 lenses with a pro size DSLR camera body attached or a pro size DSLR and 70-200 2.8 attached.  Lens hood can also remain attached in shooting position.  Bottom front pocket can be used to carry a tripod or monopod.  A pop out tripod cup is built-in for carrying a larger tripod.   Removable seam-sealed rain cover included. Click here to order the Streetwalker Pro.


StreetWalker Harddrive – Holds most 15” laptops.   Carry a pro size DSLR and 70-200 2.8 attached with hood in position or a Nikon 400 f2.8 attached to a pro size DSLR body.  Bottom front pocket can be used to carry a tripod or monopod.  A pop out tripod cup is built-in for carrying a larger tripod.  Removable seam-sealed rain cover included. Click here to order the Streetwalker Harddrive.

I would love to hear which one you land on and how you are using it in your photographic pursuits!


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Guest post: Craig Ferguson

The last couple of weeks have been crazy! I am preparing for a trip to Ethiopia on April 16th, which has meant updates on immunizations, getting gear ready and doing research. I have also done some work for a local NGO called Peace of Thread, which I will be telling you more about soon.

Peace of Thread is a local NGO in Atlanta that employes refugee women from around the world.

Craig Ferguson is an outstanding travel photographer based in Taiwan. You can see his work at http://www.craigfergusonimages.com/

Today, I wanted to share this guest post from Craig Ferguson, who is an outstanding freelance travel photographer based in Taiwan. Enjoy!

What Matters Most

Consider for a moment the two magazine covers below. The Taiwan Review cover is a current issue and the Centered on Taipei dates from summer 2011.

Obviously they are of different subjects but they were also shot with very different cameras. Despite both having been published within the last 8-9 months, one was shot on a Canon 5D Mark II and the other on my very first DSLR, a Canon 20D. Can you tell which photograph was taken with which camera?

Can you tell which of these images was shot with a Canon 5D Mark II and which one was shot with a Canon 20D?

The photography world has been buzzing over the past couple of months with the announcements and releases of new DSLR’s from Canon and Nikon as well as Fuji’s new mirrorless X-Pro 1. There are probably a few other recent introductions as well.

And all of that is great. If you’re in the market for a new camera then having all these options gives you more power as a consumer. How do you know if you’re in the market though? Is it simply because a new tool is available? Or because you have just finished paying off your credit card from your last camera purchase?

Do you even need to upgrade your current gear? Any DSLR camera that has come to market in the past few years is so good and so highly evolved that for the majority of users, you can use it until it breaks and not miss out on anything. Sure, shooting clean images at ISO 12800 is great but how often do you really need to do that?

Neidong Falls, Taiwan

Before you fork out a large amount of money for the latest and greatest, ask yourself if it’ll make you a better photographer? Will owning a camera with all the bells and whistles help you improve any? Will your images be stronger as a result? Consider the new Canon 5D Mark III. It’s available at B&H now for $3499. No doubt about it, it’s a great camera. If you buy one, you are unlikely to be disappointed. $3499 is a fair chunk of change though. Will buying one help make you a better photographer? Is there a better way to spend that $3499?

Instead of spending all that money on a 5D Mark III, why not consider a 5D Mark II? They are going for a little over $2000 right now. That leaves you $1500 or so to invest in your photography skills. Looking around the web today I see that Joe McNally is leading a 4 day National Geographic small group workshop in New York in June for $1395. Will a four-day workshop with one of the world’s leading photographers help you improve your photography more or less than buying the latest body? Which do you think will be best in helping you create your own great photographs?

Ultimately, what matters most is the image. How you get there or what tools you use to do so have lesser importance than whether the photograph at the end of the process says what you want it to say. A great photographer can make compelling images with even the simplest and most basic of tools. If you desire to become a great photographer then you’re going to be involved in a lifelong learning process for which there are no shortcuts. A 36 megapixel camera may allow you to create gigantic prints but if you’re like the vast majority of photographers, your images are destined for Facebook or an 8 x 12 on your living room wall, not an advertising billboard.

The seven photographs here have been shot with seven different cameras (Canon 5D Mark II, 5D, 40D, 20D EOS 300 with Kodak 800 and HTC Android Desire) . They all represent my vision and intent at the time of photographing each one. At no time did I feel let down by the tools I had at hand. All the matters to me, and hopefully to you, is what that final image looks like. If it represents what I aim to portray, then the photograph is a success. Equipment and tools are nice but at no point do they replace vision, learning, practice and skill.

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