Monthly Archives: March 2011

Jiving in Java

These Javanese schoolgirls cornered me during our visit to the famous Buddhist temple, Borobodur, to practice their English. Check out how they just dissolve into laughter everytime I mention the two Indonesian words I know, nasi goreng, which is the name of their favorite fried rice dish.

 

Apologies for the exposure, but I started shooting the video blindly from the chest when I thought that we were going to have some fun with the conversation. I didn’t want to miss the moment by bringing the camera to my eye.

 

The Legendary Cultures tour has been moving along nicely…some bumpy air and a bout of food poisoning, but I’m still standing and in the home stretch.

 

Next stop for the Legendary Cultures tour: Bhutan!  I’ll keep you posted…

 

Here’s a still of the girls posing for a snap.
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Among the Huli Wigmen

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It’s been so crazy I’ve fallen behind on my posts from the Legendary Cultures trip for National Geographic Expeditions.  We went from Mongolia to Lijiang China (I’ll pick that up later) and then to the highlands of New Guinea, where this warrior posed for a tight portrait (D7000, 70-300mm VR) before a small “sing-sing”, or gathering of warriors.

Shooting 98% video on the gig, and learning just how hard it is to use a still camera for video in very fast breaking, fast moving situations.   By the time you get your LCD loupe on the back of the camera, the action is over, so I’ve been forced to try to focus off the back LCD on the camera in bright daylight conditions….a situation that brings out all the foul language this Jersey City boy can muster. 

Despite their ferocious demeanors, the Huli men have great senses of humor and love to kid around.  During an archery demonostration I got to joshing with one of our village hosts and we got into a mock battle with axes and spears.  The picture below shows him delivering the “coup de grace”, much to the amusement of the village kids.  Next stop: Java, Indonesia. I’ll try (I’ll really try) to keep you posted….

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Mixing it up in Mongolia

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This is my fourth time through Mongolia, and I’ve yet to be here when the temperature has hovered over freezing. Now, the temp is hovering just about zero….and that’s Farenheit.

I’m a bit behind on posts from this trip (actually, about three stops (jet, not “f”) behind due to either no internet coverage, or, in China, blocked sites up the wazoo.

Shooting DSLR video on a trip that moves this fast is proving to be a major challenge….it’s hard enough to grab good stills on these whistlestop tours, but lining up and shooting moving images is, um, daunting. (And making sure you’ve got your audio setup too? Fuhgeddaboudit!).

The D7000 is performing well, although I have to admit to going back to manual focus a lot of the time because the autofocus in LiveView is still not fast enough for erratically moving targets…it’s darn good, but I’m still faster. This is as much as surprise to me as anything else….I haven’t focused manually much since, well, since the old Nikon 8008 (I’m dating myself).

I caught the little boy and girl with the 16-85mm on a D7000.  Here (I hope, if it uploads) is a short video of a Mongolian throat singer.  

This is about as long a clip as I can upload where I am. I used a long lens on the D7000, and the Sennheiser MKE 400 shotgun plugged into the Olympus LS10 recorder. Then I used Dual Eyes to automatically replace the camera’s inferior audio with the higher quality file from the recorder. Lovin’ Dual Eyes…it’s seamless and easy.
Next stop: Lijiang, China. I’ll keep you posted.

Appealing Armenia

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We’ve made a temporary escape from the bone-chilling cold by dropping down across the Caucasus Mountains to Armenia. 

This is such an interesting stop because Armenia has a long and fascinating history, but remains largely unknown to most of us. These jet trips stop here often. Our visit is concentrating on the religious history here in the first Christian nation. 

We visited the beautiful St. Geghard monastery, where a women’s choir gave us a haunting a capella concert in one of the monastery chambers cut whole out of the mountainous rock in 4th century.

Then we stopped at the Garni Temple, another ancient structure, where I recorded a man playing the traditional duduk in the ruins.

And after that, we explored the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, the “vatican” of Armenian Orthodox church for a tour of its treasures. In between, we caught some lovely scenery and even a glimpse of Mt. Ararat, said to be the resting place of Noah’s Ark. Not bad for a day’s touring.

These charter jet tours are not photography specific in their design or itinerary, and we move fast. Shooting video and stills in these conditions makes me busier than one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest…I’m beginning to think that that art professor who had a camera implanted in the back of his head wasn’t such a lunatic at all.

Next stop, frigid Mongolia!  I’ll keep you posted.

Lapping up Samiland

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We kicked off the National Geographic Expeditions “Legendary Cultures” tour with a quick visit to northern Norway. Formerly known as “Lappland”, the proper name for the culture is Sami.

These are rugged folk for sure, and I got enough of a look at the life of a reindeer herder to put it on my list of jobs I’m not sure I could handle.

But these are stoic and smart folks. You have to say that about all the Norwegians. Even though they are one of the world’s major oil producers, they pay more for gasoline than anywhere else in Europe….it’s that heavily taxed.

But the Norwegians don’t mind paying the tax, because it’s used to create a fund that will give back tens of thousands of dollars to each Norwegian in 20 or 30 years, when their oil supply runs out. They’re planning on helping future generations by taxing themselves now and putting the money away for the common good.

The high gasoline prices make them careful about how and what they drive and use resources, and they’re providing for a future generation by sacrificing a bit themselves.

Whoa….what a concept!

As I thought, my dual role as videographer/photographer on the trip is driving me up a tree. That it’s do-able at all is thanks to the User 1/User 2 menu on the D7000 that allows me to instantly go back and forth from my video shooting settings to my still settings.

I just have to hope I come home with enough usable clips and pix, and not a complete schizoid.

Next stop: Armenia!  I’ll keep you posted.