<![CDATA[Richard Gaston Photography - ANNOUNCEMENTS]]>Thu, 12 Apr 2018 02:21:43 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[The Low-Down on Japan]]>Wed, 21 Mar 2018 17:57:12 GMThttp://richard-gaston-photography.com/announcements/the-low-down-on-japan
Short Version:
Go to Japan.  Learn just a few phrases of Japanese – especially “thank yous” - quite easy to pronounce and probably one of the easier languages to learn.  Walk and taxi around Tokyo for a few days.  Prior to going read about anime and manga and “Electric Town,” read about the incredible artists Leonardo Erlich and Kumagai Morikazu, read about the fish market, the Hamarikyu Gardens and the boat trip to  Asakusa (and its Sensoji Buddhist temple).   Discover (in print and pictures) the snow monkeys near Nagano.  Read all about Hokkaido, determine what type of Japanese food you might be attracted to.  That’s my starting list.  I haven’t mentioned Kyoto and Mt. Fuji, etc., but I had a different agenda.  Oh, and do some lower body stretching exercises.
Now check out my pictures here:

Long version, to be read if your local library is closed:
I went to Japan to take pictures of monkeys and birds, mostly on the island of Hokkaido.  The time to go would generally be January and early February.  I went in early March – very cold, but no new snow, and snow cover receding.  Still worth it.  To get rid of jet leg and immerse a bit into Japanese culture, my son and I stayed 2 ½ days in Tokyo and several days at various places west.  Did that work?  No amount of sushi gets rid of that much jet lag (nor Udon/Soba noodles, etc.).  But glimpses (yes, superficial) of the culture were reveling.  Tokyo is like putting your finger in an electric socket.  From “Electric Town” to the world-class fish market, to the fabulous parks, a few museums, shrines and Buddhist temples.  The streets of this 40 million people metropolis (including environs) are quiet - do they all drive Priuses? – no honking, driving the speed limits.   And large swaths of the city are actually walkable (we did about 8 – 9 miles/day).  Taxis are doable.  No tipping for anybody.  The city has the most Michelin stars of any city in the world, but why bother?  Most high rises have several restaurants on the bottom several floors, all good and affordable.  How can a city this size, with not one visible trashcan on any street, be so clean?  Because your candy wrappers and other throwaways are ‘take homes.”  So this landscape photographer took a bunch of iPhone pictures.
My first bullet train ride headed west, with stops in Kanazawa, Shirakowa and Nagano (past winter Olympic site), each a bit touristy, but what the heck, I was a tourist.    Again – more pictures, including some from my big rig.  And from Nagano a train and a bus took us to the site of the fabulously dramatic snow monkeys.
And then bulleted back to Tokyo followed by a brief flight to Hokkaido, and the “real trip” began.  Owls and red-crowned cranes and whooper swans and (a) fox, and deer and steller’s and white-tailed eagles. 
My problem:  Camera did not function at all well in cold weather below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.  Burst mode did not work, and often neither did continuous focus.  Had to constantly turn off the camera, take out the battery and start over.  So I lost a lot of potential shots.  Still exciting.  One 24-hour day of sleet-type rain caused flooding and snow melt, with closed roads – but I still shot crane pictures.   I am home and sending my rig to Sony.
My observations:  Mr. Ando runs the equivalent a B&B on the island.  He and his wife and friends built a lodge-home and separate gallery themselves, he learned to play the guitar in the 70’s by listening to R&R records 1000 times each; he now collects guitars.  He is a photographer, speaks English, became a woodworker, jewelry maker, storyteller, motorcycle collector and rider and a tourism promoter (+ other stuff).  But he seems to be an outlier.  Or maybe there are millions like him?  Of course I don’t know for sure.  Still there is conformity.  Cleanliness seems to be an obsession – the taxi drivers wear suits and white gloves.  At least 1/3 of the people were surgical masks for various reasons.  The fantastic toilets have heated seats (I once sat on one at a home/B&B at night just to warm up because sleeping on the floor with an outside temperature of less than 20 was getting to me), shoot out water streams at various angles and intensities, make rushing water sounds at programmable volumes, produce pleasant aromas and are self-cleaning.  The “shoe thing” is genuine for them and a huge aggravation for me.  I had only hiking shoes and boots with laces and hooks – difficult to take on and off, especially because there was nowhere to sit and untie them and nowhere to set your foot to re-lace them.  But the floors and mats stay clean. 
Almost no one involved in infrastructure (sales people, pharmacists, hotel workers, taxi drivers - even the hotel concierge) – speak English.  Hotels have beds but houses have mats.  The sinks are low.  Sitting on floors to eat definitely affected this older body with two artificial hips in place.
That is the “low down.”  I touched the surface of Japan.  I was there in 1963.  Now I want to go back before another 55 years for sure.
Now check out my pictures here:
<![CDATA[American Southwest December 2017]]>Tue, 09 Jan 2018 13:53:17 GMThttp://richard-gaston-photography.com/announcements/american-southwest-december-2017When I first stared my photographic journey post retirement, I headed for the US southwest with its beautiful reds, reflected light and phenomenal parks and landscapes.  Lots of road trips.  In recent years I have explored more distant areas – both polar regions, Europe and South America in particular.  So getting back to my roots this past December was long overdo.  With a brief stop to photograph “The Wave” (yes, the lottery came though for a change), we headed south for good weather.  Woops!  Temps everywhere showed AM teens, and one morning my camera froze up twice (solution was to remove its battery and count to 15).  Visited lots of new places.  Basically I used this trip to plan the next one – coming soon.  I have posted a combination of full-frame 42 mpx pictures and smaller resolution versions worked with iPhone apps.   You decide which are best – I have my favorites.

​See Pictures Here]]>
<![CDATA[Irish Luck]]>Wed, 18 Oct 2017 13:29:04 GMThttp://richard-gaston-photography.com/announcements/irish-luckAs I write this note, Hurricane/Tropical Storm Ophelia is just exiting Ireland and passing into Northern Scotland.  We just missed it. This is/was a major storm, and I am not making light of it, but wind and rain (less intense) are certainly a normal component of Irish weather.  I know this, and so does my camera.  Check out this typical weather report
Wind made the camera desperate for a real (meaning very expensive) tripod – need to wait for my next visit. 
Part of the trip was focused on participating in the annual “Irish Light Festival.”  I found out that Irish “light” is often gray and dimmed.   Or was that mostly.  I also know that Ireland has some crime and drug wars.  They struggle with suicides, especially in young men.  The food in Dublin isn’t so hot.  The roads are narrow.  Rental cars need repairs, both before and after renting them.
With that out of the way, here is the reality:   One of my all-time favorite trips, all-time favorite countries.  Historic sites dating from 5000 BC!  Wonderful castles and cathedrals, located near scenic waterways, from the middle ages and forward.  The “Wild Atlantic Way,” especially along the west coast, including the marvelous Burren, carpeted with glacial-era limestone, and the glorious orange colored Connemara.  An engrossing history from the first Irish to the Vikings to the British rule and Penal Laws, to the battles for independence, to the potato famine, the Easter Rising near the General Post Office in Dublin, and to the 1922 birth of the nation.  Then the conflicts with the Northerners.  I am not giving a history lesson – it is very complex, but a must read before going there.  Famous for writers and poets and story tellers.   Guinness beer, for which I am now a convert.  Sites of famous movies, especially Ryan’s Daughter, filmed mostly along the Dingle Peninsula.  I watched all 3 ¼ hours of that movie before leaving on the trip.  I recommend the last 45 minutes, but it was very “cool” to visit all the beaches and the fabulous Minard Castle that were part of the first 3 hours.   How about Trinity College, which was established in the 1500’s.  Here’s a tidbit of info:  56 students total, from all 4 classes, are allowed to eat in the dining hall on campus – they are the top students, called “scholars.”  Imagine thousands of “lesser” deserving students watching these 56 parading into the hall as the dining bell is ringing.  At graduation the students are called up to receive their diplomas in order of class standing – 1st to last.  No one knows the order until the moment he/she is called on stage.  Very nervous parents?  Or students?  And there on campus is the Book of Kells, the illustrated/illuminated book written by monks in the middle ages – the 4 gospels.  First in Scotland and then brought to Ireland and hidden from the Vikings.  Beyond thrilling to see this wonderful piece of history and art.
But here is the topper:  The Irish people – helpful and fun-loving is an understatement.  We were enthralled with the pub action.  Guinness, sometimes chardonnay (my favorite, sold in about ½ the pubs), fabulous Irish music in every pub, and it seemed as though no small combo of musicians played the same instruments from one night or one pub to the next.  Our defective rental car shut down at stop signs and stop lights at least 25 times, and would only start back up after waiting 30 seconds with the car in park and the key out of the ignition.  Have you ever calculated how many cars can back up behind yours in 30 seconds?  Well, a lot!  And never once did we get the expected honk of the horns – only the first-in-line car coming up beside and asking how they could help.  “Just need 30 seconds of quiet time.” 
And because of weather and time we missed Skellig Michael, Inishturk, the Aran and Blasket Islands, New Grange, Northern Ireland and lots more.  Must return!
My dilemma now is what pictures to post.  Any?  A few?  Never was the light, wind, color great.  But the memories are.  So I will put up a few travel photos and hope the next Irish Light Festival will bring this photographer some of that Irish luck.

​See Pictures HERE]]>
<![CDATA[Spain and my iPhone]]>Wed, 10 May 2017 21:44:27 GMThttp://richard-gaston-photography.com/announcements/spain-and-my-iphone​On the same day I began booking a trip to Catalonia I broke my trusted (and old) iPhone.  Not just broke it – smashed it!  Completely non-functional.  My intention was to replace it with a similar model, but the iPhone 7 had been recently released, had an improved camera, and in fact the 7+ had two lenses.  Knowing very little about IPhonography, I never the less bought the new model and spent the 4 weeks leading up to the trip learning its camera’s basics.  Actually quite impressive, with the ability to affect exposure, focus and shutter speed, blur backgrounds in portrait mode, use an HDR effect and much more.  And there are a ton of apps to use to tweak pictures before and after taking the shot (actually, “tweaking” is an understatement).  But so what?  I am a photographer and I use a real rig with several lenses and accessories (making for a heavy load to carry around).  The day before the trip, after days and days of angst, I decided to put my camera (iPhone) in my shirt pocket and travel to Spain leaving my rig at home.  How liberating!!  Yes, pictures can be better with my high resolution Sony, but not always.  Convenience and portability won out in the end, and here are the results.  It was Spain, and in particular Barcelona and Catalonia, that were the winners – the food, music, art, architecture, modernisma, vibe – how fabulous!  Looking forward to more trips and more iPhone pics.

​To see a few of my pictures from Catalonia, click on his link.]]>
<![CDATA[The Faroe Islands]]>Sun, 18 Sep 2016 22:19:17 GMThttp://richard-gaston-photography.com/announcements/the-faroe-islandsHave you ever heard of the Faroe Islands?
Me neither.  That is until this past February when I was shooting pictures in Iceland with a few photographers and 100’s, or rather 1000’s, of tourists.  An Icelandic guide mentioned that the Faroes were “stunning.” I can’t remember if he said “sometimes” stunning or “occasionally” stunning.  Stunning they are, but their beauty is only reveled briefly, inconsistently and in small portions, because only when the rather persist fog lifts can you take in the grand views.  Each of the islands is small, meaning there is always an ocean view.  The islands are volcanic, and straight up and down – no beaches, just cliffs.  There are no trees (except in the capitol, Torshavn), so views are unobstructed.  There are approximately 20 tunnels spread over the 18 islands, with more coming.  They are one-laners and unlit (reflectors only).  In one direction there are pull-outs to use when a car is approaching, but really there is little traffic.  The tunnels run through the volcanic mountains that rise between two small villages (in the old days the only route was a hike over the top).
Culturally interesting:  Norse history.  The men remain fishermen and/or sheep farmers, and may supplement incomes by working intermittently on Norwegian oilrigs or taking some work in Denmark.  The women stay home and “run the show” – raising kids, serving as Ms Fixit, knitting sweaters (they join a knitting club with friends at a young age and remain lifetime members).  Actually the islands are short 2000 women, because many go off to Denmark for college, marry and don’t come back.  The Faroe’s response:  opening two universities to try to keep them local.  But the 21st century of travel and the Internet probably is taking its toll.  Torn between limited and unlimited horizons, what will the near future bring?  Likely a falling population. 
The towns sprinkled throughout the islands are very small.  There are few (almost none) restaurants outside of Torshavn.  Never saw a movie theater.  Each town has a church (Lutheran) almost universally attended.  Each town has a centrally located public bathroom (WC) that makes getting around by car quite easy.  Towns have been “shamed” in the local newspaper if they appear at all run down or dirty – and it worked!  All for tourism.  Kids grow up very self sufficient, starting at a young age.  The islands are very safe.  Everyone plays a musical instrument.  I am sure the people are friendly with their neighbors, but each is very self-sufficient, not asking nor receiving much manual or emotional help.  Lots of sod roofs; lots of puffins.
They do love to eat whale (some legal taking of pilot whales only for personal consumption).  More interesting is their love of fermented rotten meat, generally lamb.  Can’t find either in restaurants, thus no restaurants.
I went to the Faroes because I was in the area (Norway) and did not want to return to Iceland.  Since most people speak English, it is not that hard to have Faroese encounters resulting in good discussions.   Here is a link to one such native who I now call the Faroese “King” of photography.  Plan ahead and set up some days with him.  You will be rewarded.
Ólavur Frederiksen  https://www.facebook.com/faroephoto/photos_stream?tab=photos_albums
Here is the link to a few of my pictures taken during un-foggy interludes.  Yes, I recommend going; stay at least a week. 

For Pictures, click here.

<![CDATA[​Would I Ever Go Back to Svalbard?  Should You Go?]]>Sat, 17 Sep 2016 12:36:25 GMThttp://richard-gaston-photography.com/announcements/would-i-ever-go-back-to-svalbard-should-you-goSvalbard is way up there.  Longyearbyen, its capital (and basically its only town – there is one minor Russian mining community – Barentsburg – and one research “town” – Ny-Ålesund, in King’s Bay) lies at 78 degrees latitude, well above the Arctic Circle.  The area is historic, from the Vikings to the whalers/sealers to the miners to the arctic explorers.  Nowadays there is tourism (but be careful, the Norwegians are trying to restrict more and more of this archipelago from tourism, by not developing marine depth charts in its many fjords – boats can’t get in – and by declaring large parts of some islands off limits.  Laziness?  They don’t need the money?  Tourism actually has left very little negative impact on the environment).  60% is covered with ice.  There are a few permanent residents – ptarmigan, reindeer, arctic foxes and polar bears (who mostly prefer the pack ice) and not many more than 2000 humans.  Lots of migrating summer birds.  Walrus and seals and whales, of course.  It is a stark landscape, and summer travel likely will have rain, snow, fog, rough water and 40-degree temps. 
But it is wonderful.  I sailed around in a small boat with 11 others and a crew of 6.  Small cabins, decent food – no luxury here.  I can’t compare to the larger ships – 60 – 150 clients.  My bias is to go small if possible; go with a friend.
The other “but” is that if you go, don’t play the “I’m a photographer” card.  That is only a part of the experience.  You may never see great light and may never even see a polar bear (that would be, and has been for some, a disaster).  But what a caper! We landed on Danes Island, where SA Andree launched his hydrogen balloon in 1897, thinking he could reach the north pole in a couple of days (he and his two colleagues were found – dead of course – in the eastern most island of Svalbard – White Island – in 1930 – 33 years after his launch).  We sailed to White island.  The great explorer Roald Amundsen set sail in a blimp like airship from Ny-Ålasund in 1926 and is given credit for the first to reach the north pole (he was also the first to the south pole more than 2 decades earlier).  We spent 2 hours in Ny-Ålasund, honoring this great explorer.  We saw the great glacier wall of Austfonna.  Bird cliffs, seals and walruses, reindeer but no foxes. 
Will I go back?  I’ve been to Iceland, the Faroe Islands, the Inner Hebrides and Svalbard in the past year, and Antarctica the year before that.  Time to go warm?  But if you read about it and watch YouTube videos and want something really great – go.  And go soon.  Here is a great tip.  E-mail Morten Jorgensen, one of the very best trip leaders and a world expert on polar bears (http://nozomojo.com) and schedule through him if possible.  Actually, I might be on the same boat.
My polar bear pictures were posted on the previous blog.  These pictures are a combination of travel snapshots and birds and landscapes. 

<![CDATA[I am not a wildlife photographer........BUT]]>Fri, 16 Sep 2016 15:00:15 GMThttp://richard-gaston-photography.com/announcements/i-am-not-a-wildlife-photographerbutBUT:
Really we are all “photographers.”  We might say we are just “landscape photographers,” but don’t tell me you haven’t been called upon to shoot family birthdays, grandkids, a nephew’s high school sport action, maybe even a relative’s wedding?  How about architectural shots of a neighbor’s home he is trying to sell?  Families are unforgiving if you cop to the “I don’t know how” excuse.  So somewhere along the line we learn a bit about flash, reflectors, DSLR video and sound, group posing, using long lenses hand-held with high shutter speeds, continuous focusing and a ton of other stuff.  (Note: and then temporarily your landscape output is diminished a bit, but in the long run it gets better.)
So I am sitting on a small boat with 11 other folks, including my son, and a crew of six.  Not all photographers, by the way.  The boat is floating free in the pack ice north of Svalbard when a polar bear approaches.  That guy is moving.  And it’s not sunrise (well, there is 24 hour daylight) and it’s not sunset (same excuse).  You can’t just sit there.  You have your camera.  You remember that high shutter speeds require an un-landscapy ISO well above 100, and you start firing.  And it’s fun!  And you get excited and want more.  Subsequently you find a few Walruses, whales, Puffins, and flying birds. 
Later you might come down to earth a bit when you realize that your 600 mm lens cost $1000, while the “standard” pro equivalent can be well north of $8000.  But you are not tempted.   The pictures are fine – save the extra $7000 and take more trips.  Even at this discounted price, I am now officially a “Wildlife Photographer.”
Polar bear pictures here:
More Svalbard and a few more wildlife efforts coming soon.

<![CDATA[Winter in Iceland]]>Mon, 07 Mar 2016 14:13:55 GMThttp://richard-gaston-photography.com/announcements/winter-in-icelandPicture
What’s in a name?
Two Chieftains, one Danish and one Norwegian, walk into a bar.  The Norwegian says that he has discovered a lovely large island in the North Atlantic, just below the Arctic Circle, that is snow covered and icy much of the winter (but not too bad) and green and gorgeous much of the summer.  He is afraid his wife will want to join him there, so he has decided to call the place “Iceland.”
The Dane says he has discovered a large land mass lying above the Arctic Circle, covered permanently to at least 80% by think glacial ice.  He is not married and wants his girlfriend to join him, so he is calling his discovery “Greenland.”  Good luck when she finds out the truth.
Well, I went to Iceland - in the winter.  At the suggestion of a friend I “prepped” by reading a mystery novel by the famous Icelandic author Arnaldur Indridason, and parts of “Njal’s Saga,” one of about 40 family sagas written in the 13th and 14th centuries.
I found that the problem is not being in Iceland, but returning home, where you immediately get the flu (102 degrees) and have to do your taxes.  So if you go, stay there.  It is quite a place. 
So what about the photos?  Well, the temps hovered in the low 20’s the entire time.  The good news is that the low temps kept a layer of beautiful white snow untouched for the entire week – no melt.   But – I wore every layer I had all day every day.  My eyes watered continuously making composing extremely difficult.  I could not manipulate the camera with gloves on, so dealt with frozen fingers most of the time.  I dropped and broke my long lens and had no backup.  Two photographers fell into a river, on top of each other, losing the use of several cameras (for some reason they were carrying their backup equipment on their bodies).  The ice was thick and slick and omnipresent, requiring wearing spikes over our hiking boots most of the time.  Several of us (yes, including me) went to ground, but no injuries.  Winds were 30 knots and above much of the time, so tripod shake and wind-chill were ever present.  Hiking in a sea of whiteness is not easy.  Toss in a blizzard here and there just for fun.
Did I get some pictures?  A few.  No homers.  But it was a real caper – glad I went (with my son helping out).  You can enjoy my set of pictures as a sort of travelogue
The other extreme problem is that Iceland has been discovered, and tourism seems to me to be a bit out of control.  Busloads of tourists at all sights IN THE WINTER!  They don’t necessarily take pictures (just iPhone shots).  My own view was that they had the right to have fun, and I stayed clear of the crowds when possible.  No fights.  I think summer travel there must be difficult unless you don’t care about crowds.
Not sure if another trip there is in my future.  If so I will probably be more self-guided.
That’s it.  If you hear of any opportunities for photographers in Hawaii or Cabo, let me know.

<![CDATA[2 pictures, 3 stories, 1 prestigious organization]]>Mon, 02 Nov 2015 00:29:39 GMThttp://richard-gaston-photography.com/announcements/-2-pictures-3-stories-1-prestigious-organizationThe “Friends of Photography” was founded by Ansel Adams, Brett Weston and other internationally recognized photographer-colleagues in Carmel, California in 1967.   How about having those guys on your company’s profile cover page?  The organization quickly established itself as a premier venue for West Coast fine art photography.  Later it moved to San Francisco, eventually closing its doors in 2001.  The Center for Photographic Art (CPA), established in 1988 in Carmel, has inherited the mission/tradition of “Friends,” while at the same time respecting and highlighting the future evolution of photographic imagery.  I highly recommend your bookmarking their site:  http://photography.org and visiting it often.  Visit the center if you are local, and consider joining and contributing if possible.

Well!!  One of my pictures was chosen for display in the recent CPA gallery’s 2015 Members’ Juried Exhibition (late-July to mid-September) - one of 40 pictures selected out of several hundred submitted (by juror Richard W. Gadd - https://www.linkedin.com/in/richardgadd).  And another was chosen for the 2015 International Juried Exhibition, by juror Robert Hirsch - http://www.lightresearch.net (mid-November through early January).  I hope you will visit the latter to see all of these fabulous pictures – I am looking forward to viewing them as well.  There will also be a Web showing.

So what about my two pictures?  They represent two approaches to taking pictures, one fast, one slow.

The first was taken from a slowly cruising Zodiac inflatable through an ice field in Antarctica with beautiful early morning sunlight.  Here was the problem.  It is difficult to change lenses while on a moving Zodiac with 7 other photographers and wearing a heavy parka.  Can do? – I couldn’t.  You make your choice before boarding.  In this case I chose my 70-200.  Then there are the people.  Actually, the client photographers were all great, kneeling or sitting/standing to allow everyone a view.  EXCEPT the leader, who stood in front, blocking views, and getting first dibs.  I’ve been there before while bass fishing.  Could I shoot through his legs?  I liken this (Zodiac shooting) to sports photography.   Pick a shutter speed – in this case fast enough for the long lens hand held as well as the boat movement.  Decide on depth of field – I wanted some.  And then set ISO for exposure compensation.   As we passed by this particular iceberg grouping, I could see that at my minimum 70 mm I was going to jusssst fit everything in.   I was able to fire off 3 shots.  I could see the sun approaching the hole at the top berg, hoping that the boat would hold the line.  I got it, with a sunburst!  In the other two shots I cut a bit off the top in one and the bottom of the other.  I am very happy with the result, but just to say the opportunity was fleeting.  Just like a touchdown.

There are two parts to the second picture.  I and everyone else enjoy taking beautiful pictures of beautiful places, especially during moments of beautiful (meaning unruly) weather or some other natural but unusual phenomenon.  My family/friends love those shots.  But it is often “not quite” for me.  So when possible, I prepare ahead, thinking about what “I” can bring to a photo shoot, what feeling or attitude is invoked in me that I in turn can capture on a sensor (with Photoshop’s help).  I tried this on a shoot earlier this year on Easter Island.  Before my trip I read much of the history of the Island and the Rapa Nui people and the Moai that they constructed.  I considered mystery, spirituality, reverence of ancestry – what did I want to show?  My experience there was thrilling, but I don’t think the photos quite matched my intent.  I tried:  http://www.richard-gaston-photography.com/easter-island-2015.html

With Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve it would seem to be a bit easier.  Make the pictures look lunar.  I had one evening and one morning to shoot.  I set my compositions to evoke that intent, knowing that I would be doing some tweaking (actually TWEAKING) in post.  You can see a few here.  When I decided to submit pictures for this Juried Exhibition, I chose 4, believing that they were unusual and that “Craters” was rarely photographed.  I was pretty sure that if any was chosen it would be the one just above.  Wrong!  That is the second part of this story – what you like may not be what others like or at least like best.  But I like the one just below too.  Definitely a moment on the moon.  Thanks Robert Hirsch.

<![CDATA[South of the Equator: Antarctica & Easter Island & Torres del Paine]]>Mon, 16 Mar 2015 22:28:49 GMThttp://richard-gaston-photography.com/announcements/south-of-the-equator-antarctica-easter-islandPicture
Antarctica is about ice and wildlife and winds and waves and cold and grey and bright and dull.  That describes the first hour.  Then it gets interesting.  Is it too rough to land? To cruise in zodiacs?  Or are conditions favorable?  It’s summer - days are long.  Full moon.  32° + wind chill.  Our 240’ vessel is carrying roughly 100 staff, crew and clients – relatively small but perfect for our wonderings and zodiac launches.  What do you do there?  With eyes open you take pictures; with eyes closed you think Shackleton and Amundsen and Scott and Drake and whalers and “the horn” and shipwrecks and survival, and are thankful that you finally got here, that you followed those guys, that you now understand what drew them and motivated them, and in some small way you have now joined the club of explorers to this remote and difficult continent.  And then the anticipated announcement permeates though the ship and we all race to our elaborate dinner buffet.
PS  Can't post Antarctica without showing a few penguins!!  Right?

When I was a kid I read about Easter Island.  When I was an adult I had a job.  Now that I am a kid again I decided to go there.  Well, we were in Chile post-Antarctica, and to some extent it was a “why not” trip.  But I don't mean “spur of the moment.”  It’s remote - 2500 miles from Santiago, and about the same from Tahiti.  It takes planning and research.  The Polynesians who first settled the island (sorry Thor Heyerdahl, you did prove that it is possible to float with the currents east to west on Kon-Tiki, but the Rapa Nui people are westerners through and through) found a lush island forested with palm trees.  There were abundant land birds, sea birds and sea mammals to eat, plus these early people brought chickens and plantings.  Then the clans starting sculpting huge statues (Moai), moved them as far as 10 miles, put them on heavy platforms (Ahu), and at the same time began depleting the island of its resources.  Then came fighting and killing, every single standing Moai was pushed down to the ground and most broke on impact, the Birdman” cult was born at Orongo, Europeans brought disease and death, Peruvians exported natives as slaves, and the cycle of birth and death of a civilization was complete.  But it is back.  Rapa Nui language is being taught to all children in grade school.  Many of the Moai were repaired and placed upright again on their respective Ahus.  The exuberant Rapa Nui music (with dancing) plays, the tropical weather remains wonderful and horses and (benign) dogs roam, returning to their homes at night.  But there is a problem.  How do you capture this history in pictures, and in particular how to you convey the mysteries surrounding the Moai.  I don't know.  I tried.

Note:  If you are interested in purchasing my Blurb Book containing a nice portfolio of fine art photos of the Moai, use this LINK

Torres del Paine is the Zion National Park of Chile (or the Yosemite, or the Grand Tetons, or…..).  It is also where Giovanni Battista Venturi (1746–1822) figured out that

In case you’ve forgotten, that means it’s windy down there, real windy.  My glasses flew off my face down there.  Try finding your glasses in 50-knot winds when you are not wearing your glasses - and you’re thinking that you still have 3 more weeks to take pictures in Chile.  Well, I did find them (with help).  So I tossed my tripod, decided that I still loved this park, that the clouds (not the color) were spectacular, that my friends wouldn’t buy the “too windy” excuse anyway, and I took out my trusty Sony and took pictures.  I’ll repeat – this is one spectacular park.