Tagged: Tunisia

Tunisian Commerce

While I am waiting for it to warm up and our snow to melt here, I went back and looked at some of my pictures that I took in Tunisia in 2010 and decided to share a few with you.  It helps to remind us of others who live in a warmer climate.

Don’t be fooled by their dress.  For us it was hot but for them it was cool and that is why they are wearing jackets, etc.  It is all relative.



This is why we went to Tunisia … to see Roman ruins.  Dougga is probably one of the best preserved of all the old Roman cities.  You can see more of my pictures from Tunisia by selecting Tunisia under categories on the top right of the page.  That will bring up just the articles about Tunisia.  After you have done that just scroll down the articles.   There are quite a few different articles, including YouTube videos of our daily tour of the country.  The videos will be in reverse order.  You will see the last day first, so if you wish to look at them in-order, continue scrolling down to the first day, April 13.  But there were even more articles about Tunisia that I posted before I put the videos up, so you can continue scrolling back in time to also see them.

The above picture has been redeveloped as a “Film Noir” look-alike using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.  I like this effect with the old ruins.

As Time Passes

Time is passing by while I have experimented with B&W.  As I have stated in earlier articles, I have been on a mission to downsize my photography gear and to try other types in addition to travel photography.

You may have seen some of the following already within my blog but I have used them as well as some new shots to experiment in different styles of B&W photography.  The first is a shot taken with my Canon S95, at relatively close range. You can click on any of the pictures, and then click on the size at the top to see any of them in a larger size.

The next three are scenes from close to the border of WV and VA that I took in the summer of 2009.

And the last one is one of my pictures from Tunisia that I showed previously as Three Generations in Tunisia.  In this version I emphasized the youngest.

In the above, I tried some different styles, different frames, etc. to see how they looked in my blog.  As I progress, or digress, depending upon your perceptions, I seem to be gravitating to 28 and 35 mm (effective 35 mm) focal lengths, prime lenses, and black and white.  I don’t know where I’m going with my photography but I hope to keep seeking and developing my vision.

Down the Road

(click on picture to see larger version)

Taken in Tunisia while crossing salt flats on the way to the Sahara desert.  The overcast is not due to rain clouds … it’s sand in the air.  As we approached this area we could see what looked like storm clouds on the horizon ahead of us, but they turned out to be clouds of blowing, real fine sand.

Camera – Lens Dilemma … all micro 4/3?

Lately I have not been able to see the forest for the trees.  By this I mean that I have been in a dilemma relative to future cameras and lenses without a chance to buy some alternative lenses and travel to try them out while taking pictures.  I have just been sitting here looking at my cameras and pondering.

As you know from previous articles, I have two separate camera systems.   I have a Pentax K-7 DSLR with the 18 – 55mm, f/3.5 – 5.6 WR zoom, a prime 40mm, f2.8 lens, and the 18 – 250mm, f/3.5 – 6.3 all-purpose zoom and I have a micro 4/3 Olympus E-P1 with the Olympus 17mm, f/2.8, the Panasonic 20mm, f/1.7, and the Olympus 14 – 42mm, f/3.5 – 5.6 lenses.  For my trip to Tunisia last April I took the E-P1 system with the 17mm and the 14 – 42mm lens since I needed to travel with no more than 11 pounds carry-on (I never check my cameras).  For my trip to West Virginia last October I took my K-7 system since I wasn’t walking much, was working out of my car, and felt like I had neglected my K-7.

My reasons for selecting the Pentax DSLR rather than a Nikon DSLR were due to the smaller size of the Pentax camera, the excellent prime lenses that they have, and because the Pentax system was better sealed against rain and dust.  I wanted to have a good, but small and light camera for walkabouts either in the U. S. or in foreign countries as well as the ability to use the camera in rain and have the ability to put a long lens on it for taking wildlife pictures in the rain forests.

After I committed to the Pentax DSLR system, the micro 4/3 Olympus E-P1 camera became available.  Before going to Tunisia I bought my micro 4/3 system and tried it out and found that I liked it a great deal and that it was much easier to carry around.  In addition I found that for the type of pictures I usually take in dry countries and for the way I display them (on the web) that the micro 4/3 system was quite good.

My dilemma now is: Could I make do with just the micro 4/3 system for all of my photography?  At the moment I need to use the K-7 in rainy weather and when I need a longer lens.  If I were to go back to the rain forests in the Amazon, or to Costa Rica now, I would definitely take my Pentax system.  My problem is:  I don’t know if I will be doing that again.  While traveling, I usually like to go to new places where I haven’t been.

Assuming that I will only be taking pictures in good weather, I could acquire a micro 4/3 all-purpose long zoom for my E-P1 … the Olympus 14 – 150mm lens or the 70 – 300mm lens.  The 70 – 300mm lens would actually give me more reach then I have with my longest current Pentax lens since the Olympus effective zoom range is from 140 to 600mm and the Pentax effective zoom range is from 28 to 375mm but it wouldn’t be practical without a tripod or at least a monopod … which just adds to the weight and volume of the system.  The 14 – 150mm (effective 28 – 300mm) lens would make a nice all-purpose travel lens … at least in good weather; but I didn’t miss having no more than an effective range of 84mm while traveling in Tunisia from the Mediterranean to the Sahara desert.  You can see my Tunisia pictures, in earlier articles, by looking under “Category” (top right of this page), just select Tunisia.  There are some 20+ different Tunisia selections.

We are considering traveling to Ireland this year and that is adding to my dilemma.  My expectations are that I won’t need a long lens (no wildlife & no distant mountain ranges) but I should expect touring in the rain.  If we were to go tomorrow I would probably take the K-7 and the 18 – 55mm weather resistant lens along with the E-P1 with only the 20mm lens for inside, low light shots; but, I wonder how often I would want to take a picture in a hard rain, and the smaller camera would be easy to keep dry under my rain jacket … hmmm, I wonder if just the 20mm lens would be enough … maybe a wider lens, the 14mm?

In the meanwhile, I am just going to continue pondering.  I also expect that my options will expand in terms of new micro 4/3 cameras and lenses becoming available this summer.  But, for now, I heartily recommend the micro 4/3 system for lightweight, small, high quality travel cameras and I’m leaning towards eventually making it my one-and-only system.  See this field review of the Panasonic GF1 (a competitor to my Olympus E-P1 micro 4/3 camera using the same 20mm lens I have) as a travel camera while traveling in Nepal.  Make sure you read past the ads clear to the end and some of the 100’s of positive comments if you have the time.

PS, I still prefer the Olympus system with the in-body stabilization system, but there are now lots of new ones to consider (click here), and more coming in the next six months.

Are Security Concerns Influencing the Art of Photography?

As I indicated earlier in previous articles, I have been thinking about taking different pictures since I probably won’t be traveling as much overseas.  Some of my old-time favorite photographers have been referred to as “street photographers”.  Photographers like Robert Doisneau and Henri Cartier-Bresson are well-known for capturing the real lives of typical people.  Since these types of shots are very similar to many of the street shots that I have most enjoyed while traveling internationally, I have been considering doing street photography (or at least the equivalent for today) around where I live; but, now I’m concerned.  In the first 11 days of 2011 we have had 11 homicides in the county where I live … many out and on the streets.

I am not sure that there is much to photograph out and on the streets in the suburbs like where I live.  I try to take frequent walks through our neighborhood when the weather is nice and I always take a camera and rarely see anything remarkable to photograph.  As an alternative I have been thinking about driving to other areas where there is a lot more life occurring out on the streets and where the houses and buildings are older with more character, but these are the areas where crime and homicides are on the rise … some of them getting quite close to our neighborhood.  One of the problems is that you never know how someone is going to react to being photographed.  He could have just committed a crime around the corner and doesn’t want a record of his being in the neighborhood, and he might be packing a gun.

Another type of photography that I appreciate is landscape photography … natural landscapes.  Since street photography doesn’t look very promising, I started trying to find locations not too far away where I could do landscape photography.  But, since I had found that street photography wasn’t too safe, I decided to investigate the safety of landscape photography.  I found that it can be equally bad.  One of my current favorite photographers (who I won’t name here for obvious reasons) told about one of his experiences of being followed back to his car by two guys with the intent to rob him while he was out taking landscape photographs.  He surprised me when he mentioned that he now carries a gun when out taking pictures.

OK, what about in Washington D.C. around the monuments and government buildings?  Well, this type of photography has another aspect of concern, and that is restrictions on photographing certain buildings and areas.  Ever since the rise in terrorist attacks, many major cities have cracked down on photographers so one has to be careful of what he shoots, even if it is only a building.  You can see a summary of this situation if you click here.

The above security concerns are affecting photography equipment.  In the current photography blogs and forums, I now find that many photographers have new constraints on their camera bags.  It used to be that it only had to be big enough to hold their gear and be padded, water-repellent, etc. for the protection of their gear.  Now it needs to not look like a camera bag since they don’t want to draw attention to the fact that they are photographers and that they are carrying $1000s of gear.  This concern is also now spilling over to the actual cameras themselves … the smaller it is, the easier it is to conceal.

A bigger concern, other than my security concerns, is the impact that the above changes might be having on the art of photography.  I am getting concerned that the nature of photography is being influenced by security concerns.  I believe that the nature of what people photograph is changing and that future historians will not have a rich collection of today’s equivalent of street photographs to look at to see what life was like in our neighborhoods.  The only thing they will have are the newspaper crime scene photos.  While there is a preponderance of cameras and people taking family pictures today with their phones, etc. very few of those photographs will be preserved for posterity.  The true photographers are changing their subject matter.  We now have large collections of natural landscapes as they occur within our park systems, and we have more and more fashion shots, and we have plenty of wildlife shots.  What we don’t have are large collections of photos about the normal lives of people as it occurs within our towns and cities where the majority live.  We also still have a large number of photographs being taken in tourist locations around the world, well at least outside the U.S. … but that might be changing, note the last paragraph.

While the above may only be a concern of mine and be difficult to prove, I would like to use just one photographer as an example.  I have not communicated with him about this but take a look at his web site, Boxed Light.  He is what I consider to be an excellent photographer, who is not a pro.  He professes to enjoy shooting everything and says that he cannot be labeled as to type of photography.  But, look at his opening page which is a good collection of many of his excellent photographs.  What do you notice?  Yes, he shoots quite a variety of subjects … but they are all safe subjects.  I contend that his web site is an example that photographers are shifting to artsy and safe subjects.   Another source for watching the changing nature of photography subjects is to look at the New York Times pictures as shown on Lens over a period of time.  While they still continue to show the horrors from around the world, their pictures from within the U.S. are changing … just an opinion of mine.

What about you?  Do you shy away from certain subjects?  I know that it is a concern of mine and that I’m still searching for safe future photographic venues of interest where I can go and take pictures for the fun of it.

PS, for those of you who recently toured in Tunisia with me, all is not well in Tunisia … there have been riots and demonstrations in various areas with many killed.  Click here.

Changes in “My Vision” for 2011

Street scene in Tunisia

Photography Opportunities

In the past I have mostly taken pictures while traveling but since I probably won’t be doing as much international traveling as in some of the past years, I hope to expand my shooting to other venues and subjects closer to home.  The changes are still a plan-in-progress and I hope to be showing you and telling you more in later articles.

Camera Gear

I have decided to continue with my photographic preferences and that is to keep my gear small and light using equipment and techniques suitable for traveling light … whether internationally or locally.  In addition, I plan to try to always have a camera with me and move towards simpler solutions and approaches as I make changes in the future.    I have recently been using my time to analyze whether I needed to upgrade or expand my cameras and lenses.  Since my cameras aren’t that old and are still more capable than I am in using them, I have decided to not get any different cameras at this time … but that is dependent upon future changes in subjects and travels.

The issue relative to lenses wasn’t as easy to resolve since it depends a lot on where and what I will be shooting in the future.  One of the things that I did was to analyze what focal lengths I used the most in the past.  Since I have used different cameras over the years and locations, all the focal lengths quoted in my review are shown as effective (e) 35mm lengths.  In Tunisia I took over 61% of my pictures at 28 to 40mm (e) and a little over 19% at 80 – 84 mm (e).  In Costa Rica in 2007, 35% were taken at 40mm (e) (the widest I had with me) and 32% were taken at 440mm (e) (the longest that I had).  In West Virginia in October, 35% were at 28mm (e) and the rest were all over the spectrum between 28 and 375mm (e).  Basically all that I learned was that if taking outdoor landscapes I mostly have used a wide lens of 28 mm (e), if taking a mix of street scenes, ruins, people, etc. I have mostly used focal lengths of 40 mm (e) and below, and if taking wildlife shots, I mostly used 375 to 440 mm (e).   That was helpful, but only if I know the type of shots I will be taking in the future.

Basically the above told me that for a good part of my shooting I have tended to use the two extremes of the focal lengths I had available … either as wide or zoomed in as tight as I could.  What it didn’t tell me is “What would I have used if I hadn’t been limited by what I had?” nor did it tell me “What focal lengths would I have used if I had taken more time to compose the scene?”  Most importantly, since I am not sure as to what kinds of shooting I will be doing this year, I have decided to proceed with the following equipment until I develop my vision and techniques some more.

I will be continuing to stick with my Pentax K-7 while using three lenses:  the 18-250mm zoom, the 18-55mm weather resistant zoom for inclement weather, and the 40mm for light weight and compactness while using the K-7.  This camera has a 1.5 crop factor which means that the effective focal lengths are 1.5 times the actual focal lengths of the lenses.   This system is just about the smallest, versatile, economical DSLR package which is weather resistant that I can put together.  Depending on whether I will be shooting wildlife in the future, I might replace the 18-250mm zoom (which tends to creep quite a lot) with a 50-300mm zoom of a little higher quality.  My previous article showed you my new preferred small bag-carry system for carrying my K-7 camera and lenses.

In addition, I will be using my Olympus E-P1 micro 4/3 camera as my small, easier to always have with me camera.  I have two lenses, the 17mm and the 14-42mm, both of which I used for the trip to Tunisia.  This camera has a 2.0 crop factor which means that the effective length of the lenses is 2 times the actual focal length of the lenses.  If I need to travel as light as possible I will probably continue to use this system.  But, I have decided to make one change and that is to get and use the Panasonic 20mm F1.7 lens with the E-P1 rather than the 17mm F2.8 lens.  I like my compact package with the 17mm Olympus lens, but I wanted something equally compact but with a faster lens and a little better quality for low light shots as my small, always take with me system, especially since it doesn’t have a flash.  At this time, that is the only change that I have planned in equipment.  I’ll be telling you my impression of the 20mm (effective 40mm) lens for my future uses in later articles.  A lot of its’ utility for me will depend on the type of shooting I will be doing with it.


You may see changes in my photography in the future (maybe this spring when it warms up), but for now I just wanted to let you know my current views.  The only thing that is definite is that there will be changes but to what degree I’m still not sure.  Hopefully you will start to notice positive changes in my pictures and my blog.  This year I expect to make changes in my photographic style, techniques, and subjects while working on perfecting and expressing my vision.

Tunisia : 25 April, 2010 … Djerba

After breakfast, we departed Tataouine and headed for the island of Djerba.  While there we visited a Jewish Synagogue, visited the waterfront, and had lunch.  Later we flew to Tunis for our last overnight stay in Tunisia before returning to the U. S. the next day.

It was the end of another great, successful trip with Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) … our eighth trip with OAT.

Tunisia : 24 April, 2010 … Ksar Route

After breakfast we headed out to see more of the castle-like fortified villages known as ksars.  They are centuries old redoubts with beehive-like ghorfas … vaulted granaries once used by the Berber tribes for storing their grain and protecting it from their enemies.

We first went to Ksar Chenini where we walked up and saw the home of a lady who still lives there, then to Ksar Hadada, which was another Star Wars movie location, and then on to Tataouine and Ksar Oueld Soltane.

We ended the day with our first farewell dinner.