Tag Archives: travel

Ward Art in Nature Photo Festival Conference


Ward Museum Art in Nature Photo Festival Education Conference

Saturday, August 13 from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM

Travel photography is an ever-popular and challenging activity. Almost everyone who takes pictures loves to capture their travel destinations in photographs. Often we travel just to give our eyes something fresh to visually inspire us. Long-time National Geographic staff photographer Bob Madden has traveled the world for many years for the magazine and other clients. In this presentation he illustrates tips and tricks to improve your travel pictures.

In conjunction with the 6th annual Art in Nature Photo Festival, the Ward Museum Education Department will offer a wide variety of workshops, field sessions, and seminars lead by expert photographers.

Registration is required for all workshops, field sessions, and seminars. Space is limited.
Online registration is encouraged.

To Register, go here.

Patience Makes For Better Pictures

I was going to call this blog “Waiting It Out”, but the term that Chris Johns, the Editor of the National Geographic and a photographer uses is “circling back”.

What Chris means by this is that the perfect time to capture the subject in front of you may not be now. It may happen in a few minutes, a few hours, days or never. The important thing is to have faith that this particular subject will make a fine photograph, because it speaks to you as being something of importance.

Baobob Leopard

One and a Half Hours

Snow Fence no shadows

15 Min. Later

Snow fence no shadow

At Seashore

This does not mean the subject is “newsworthy”, an amazing scene, or a fantastic event. It just speaks to you. This gives it importance. And if it is really important, are you ready to walk away because the light isn’t right, the subjects aren’t in place or you need to be someplace else?


Fred Maroon, a fine Washington, DC photographer said, “There is always another plane”. It is a good way of saying that many great images take patience to make them.

Ginos in Brooklyn

Four Days

During all of my workshops I spend some time talking about managing one’s photographic expectations. If you are with a non-photographer or on a tour or heavily scheduled, you have little opportunity to hang back and wait.


And it can be tiresome waiting at a particular location for hours – especially with wildlife, as the moment you were waiting for generally happens very quickly and you cannot stay focused (pun intended) for long time periods. Frans Lanting, a terrific wildlife photographer was once asked how he stays focused to make those wonderful shots. His answer? “Ninety five percent of the time I miss it!”

Plane Crash

Two Seconds!

To keep fresh, do as Chris Johns says and circle back. Leave that location for a bit and then come back to it. But remember to return, as perseverance pays. An article was once done or several of the photographers at National Geographic and after the author interviewed us she entitled the article “A Terrifying Dedication.”

Moon over Smith Fence

Five Months


Throughout this blog I have posted a number of images with captions that indicate the “wait times” necessary to capture the image.

Join me for a domestic or international workshop where there is a continuing conversation on subjects like this.






Slide Shows by the Travelin’ Man

If I am traveling and not on assignment, I rarely stay for more than two nights in the same town. Because the friend I travel with is gracious, I do have some time to photograph, but it is difficult to come up with cohesive stories about the locations we are visiting. Normally, the resulting images are a series of one-shots – interesting photographs, but of disparate subjects.

One way I can display them is to make “travelogue” slide shows, where I group the photographs visually and somewhat chronologically and then add music.

In this blog, I am not covering technical aspects of slide show construction or the programs that create slide shows, such as Microsoft Windows Live Photo Gallery, PowerPoint, Google Picasa, Apple iPhoto, etc. That blog is for another day. Here, I want to address the treatment of the subject matter.

Since I want to feature the still images, I do not use “Ken Burns” moves, or dissolves such as “ripple”. I use my own title slides, created specifically for that particular slide show, The music is usually one piece, hopefully establishing a mood or theme. Note: If you are presenting your slide show commercially – even as part of your portfolio, you must purchase the rights to the music, and this does not mean just paying for the track on iTunes.

The programs for organizing the shows are pretty sophisticated at this point in time, and the producer can time slide changes to musical beats, “clip” the music so that there is no dead space between tunes, etc. However, for better organization of the music and the images, you should leave the slide show programs and make a movie. Final Cut Pro and even iMovie are much more sophisticated and can create a professional product if you are interested.

The most important tip I can give in this blog is to edit, edit and edit some more. A five-minute slide show is a L-O-N-G slide show.

Here, I am presenting three “travelogues” that I produced in 2012. Note that the “key frame” presented for each show was not my choice, but established by YouTube. The show itself remains intact.

Hit the “full screen” button in the lower right on the tool bar to get the best effect. Also note that persons subscribing to the blog’s email feed will need to cut and paste the URL for each slide show into their browser to watch it.

The first show is on China, but not really. We only visited Beijing and the Yunnan Province, where we hiked for four days. The title slide helps clear up where we were.

The second show is about a week in Colorado, where we hiked several mountains in preparation for hiking up Mount Meru, a 15,000 ft. mountain in Tanzania. This slideshow has captions placed on some of the pictures to identify who the participants are for those who were not on the hike.

Lastly, a slide show on four weeks in Tanzania and Zanzibar, where we did get to see most of the country.

I have also included two stills from a memorial slide show for my mother. Slide shows such as these have captions on every picture, adding contextual information. I have done several of these shows for others. Also, for friends, I put together award presentation shows, etc.





Slide shows are a great way to feature my photography – and yours too!

How I Survive Long Flights and Avoid Some Nasty Jet Lag

Note: I was in Africa for five weeks and did not have my computer with me. I will report on the trip in my next blog, but this one gives some tips on getting there.

If you are a transcontinental traveler and are making connections to a final destination, your travel times can be lengthy – sometimes up to 24 hours or more. My friend and I experience this half dozen times a year and have developed a strategy on these long flights to lessen the physical effects on our bodies.

When I Book

I secure my seat assignments ASAP. I use seatguru.com (a Trip Advisor company) to look up the airline and airplane that I am flying. Seat Guru gives you information about the airline — website, frequent flyer program, lounges (clubs), check in (on line?), the number and sizes of bags etc. When I choose the airplane (equipment) it shows me the seats, their sizes, legroom, etc. and points out desirable and undesirable seats. Only then do I go to the airline seating chart and pick a seat. A bad seat makes for an ultra-long flight.

If connecting in Europe, many airlines will not give out seat assignments until the passenger arrives on the continent. I find out as soon as I can and get my desired seat.

I look for aisle seats, as they have more legroom and I do not have to climb over people to get to the aisle. Lately airlines are designating “premium seating” and try to collect a little more money from the passenger for those seats. Sometimes, if not filled, these seats revert to regular seats; other times airlines charge the passenger who books late the premium. I also found that if you are assigned a less desirable seat, ask for a seat change at the gate 15 minutes before the flight. With some airlines, the premium seats will revert at that time.

We ask for a special meal when making the reservation. My friend is a vegetarian, and we find that the Asian Vegetarian meal is usually much better than the mass meal that consists of chicken, pasta, beef, etc. We find that one has to double check with the airline about the special meal request, as they seem to have some difficulty communicating the request to the vendor.

Lastly, I have found that airlines sometimes change the flight times/equipment and send me (hopefully) an email to confirm and agree with this change. Please note that I ALWAYS check my seat assignment at that time, as the airlines are notorious for reassigning your seat (“You have an window seat and requested an aisle? Too bad, but it is only a 14 hour flight”, is a response I have heard from the flight attendant on a full flight.


I wear a long sleeved shirt and long pants on the plane. The cabins are rarely warm —usually cold. Compression hose are a good idea to prevent possible embolisms (blood clots) when one is sitting in the same position for hours at a time. My shoes are sturdy for the long walks between gates, but are easy to get on and off.

No one wants to enter the airplane toilets in stocking feet. Hardware stores sell boxes of plastic booties for industrial use. I take a couple of pairs in my carryon and wear them to the toilet.

I also check what the weather will be like at my destination. Rain? Humid? I carry a change of clothing with me if I know that there will be a radical difference in upcoming climate.


As mentioned, we request Asian Vegetarian meals when booking the flights. When boarding, I identify myself to the flight attendant as a recipient of a special meal. I do not drink alcohol, but consume plenty of water, as the plane’s air is usually very dry. The flight attendants are good at replenishing the supply during the flight. I use a towelette or hand sanitizer to clean up before eating.

Sleep Aids

I find a blackout eye mask is essential for sleep on an airplane. In addition, I have a noise reduction earphones (with an extra battery). Earplugs are an alternative, but not as good. Sometimes I take a blowup neck ring, but use it for lumbar support when the seats are not conducive to a good sleeping position. I can inflate the ring to the correct level – pillows don’t work as well. I grab a blanket when boarding, as I may need it for warmth. Also, I alternate sleep with books, movies or audio (my iPhone or supplied audio/video) to make the time go faster. I do not look at the flight progression map and see the minutes slowly tick away (a watched pot never boils!).


Every couple of hours, I leave my seat and walk the aisles. If I can, I do a loop, stopping in the rear galley area to do stretching exercises to loosen up.

Freshening Up

About an hour before landing, I retire to the toilet to refresh myself before our arrival. I wash my face and hands with hot water and brush my teeth (I bring a travel toothbrush in my carryon). A little deodorant, and I feel like a new man! I don’t wait until the plan is on final approach (a half hour before landing) to freshen up, as I may not be able to leave my seat, and if I can, the toilet may be occupied.


• If the airplane is not filled, once on board I change seats if I do not like my assigned seat as well as the unoccupied ones. I then tell the flight attendant that I have changed seats.

• I have a lot of carryon – my cameras and maybe a long lens in it’s own backpack that I do not want to check (ever!). I get on board at the top of my boarding group even though I have an assigned seat, as the overhead bins fill up and when that happens, sometimes the flight attendants force you to check carryon.

• My carryon also has a collection of my favorite snacks so I am not subjected to airline peanuts and pretzels. Also, I can eat them any time I am hungry.

• As noted, cabin air is dry. I regulate my individual airflow to ensure that it is not stagnant.

• Many airplanes now have USB or 110 volt receptacles. I check with Seat Guru and then bring the appropriate attachments on board.


What Are Your Strategies?

This is my strategy for surviving lengthy flights. You may have some others. I invite you to put them in the comments section of this blog, and I will incorporate them (with credit!) into the main body.