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I’m off to Antarctica

Great News! I’m off to Antarctica.

My friend and colleague, David Burren, has organized a photography tour to the deep, deep South during November this year. The trip, which is almost entirely booked out, will include the Falkland Islands, South Georgia Island and the Antarctic Peninsular. Except for the days at sea, most other days will include numerous shore landings. This trip offers a plethora of opportunities for both wildlife and landscape photography.

I’II be acting as co-tutor to help folks make better pictures. There’s going to be formal lectures, opportunities for one-on-one feedback and heaps of practical photography in some of the world’s most beautiful and inaccessible locals. It’s going to be great fun.

From my point of view this is a trip of a lifetime. I’ve dreamed about visiting the region since childhood. Those wonderful BBC documentaries with David Attenborough only increased my desire. And now its about to become a reality.

Here’s a link to the Antarctica 2010: A Photo Odyssey tour on David’s site. I understand that there may be a couple places still available. If you’re interested please follow the above link for more information.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

Kids Hanging Around_Lhasa_Tibet

Canon F1 camera and Canon 50mm f1.8 lens with Agfachrome CT100 precisa film

Today’s image is from the archive. Made on my very first overseas trip in 1988, this image from Tibet features a near candid of 4 likely lads.

The original transparency (slide) has not had an easy life. Adversely affected by poor processing and then scanned with, by today’s standards, the quite average Kodak Photo CD workstation, it’s one image that I never could throw out. So, while far from portfolio standard, its fun to finally get it out into the world thanks to Photoshop.

In the process of preparing this image for posting I couldn’t help but wish I’d made more of my opportunity and photographed the boys individually. They’ve all got such interesting faces. To think they’d all be in there 30’s now. Assuming they’ve survived. I wonder how their faces have changed and if they’re still in contact with each other.

The circumstances surrounding the making of the original image are very vague now. The positioning of the boys with their fly’s down or belts out adds both a sense of humor and an important design element to the image which, I think, is why I made the shot in the first place.

Image processing was conducted in Adobe Camera RAW and Photoshop CS5.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

Alice Springs_Where Old World Meets The Down Right Quirky

Leica M6 camera and Leica 35mm Summicron_M f2 Aspherical lens with Kodak Ektachrome Elite 100 Extra Color film

I love Alice Springs. With a population of around 28,000 people the Alice is the regions major town and a great base from which to explore, in any direction, the wondrous Central Australian landscape.

Part oasis, part frontier town with a tough, hard working ethic the Alice has long been a magnet for those wanting a better life. As a result much of the town’s current population have migrated there over the last 15 years. Adventure and opportunities provide strong motivation for many, including the lost and the lonely. Of course no town is an absolute Eden on earth. Ongoing issues relating to indigenous people, a large and largely secret US intelligence base and the likelihood of a major mining project set to commence within a few years act to divide the community.

The images in this post explore the old world nostalgia, associated with­ European settlement, juxtaposed against typical Central Australian humor.

The Ghan is an iconic term in Australia and the above image depicts a retired carriage that previously travelled the long rail route to and from Adelaide. Nowadays the line has been extended to Darwin, providing a single, continuous rail line from north to south.

Leica M6 camera and Leica 35mm f2 Summicron-M series Aspherical lens with Kodak Ektachrome Elite 100 Extra Color film

The Alice Springs Regatta is a boat race held along the (usually) dry riverbed of the Todd River. This annual event provides fun for locals and tourists alike.

Leica M6 camera and Leica 35mm f2 Summicron-M series Aspherical lens with Kodak Ektachrome Elite 100 Extra Color film

Driving in the centre is not without risk, particularly after dark. Whether it’s kangaroos or camels, you drive at your own peril after dark. And, depending upon your point of view, moonlight may not be the best time to be on the road anywhere near Wycliffe Well, 380km north of Alice Springs and a 13km drive south of the Devils Marbles Conservation Reserve. This area is famous for UFO sightings. Karlwe Karlwe, as the Devils Marbles are known to indigenous folk, is indeed a mysterious site. Huge granite boulders, piled on top of each other and set against a clear blue sky, provides a striking sight in an otherwise flat and seemingly unchangeable landscape.

When next you visit Alice Springs do your best to engage with the local town folk and try to see at least some of the more offbeat attractions both in and out of town.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

Ronbulk Gompa_Tibet

Canon F1 camera and 50mm f1.8 lens with Agfachrome 100 CTi Precisa film

Regular followers of this site will no doubt remember several articles I posted recently regarding my first overseas trip in 1988. During the research for those articles I discovered a number of images that would otherwise have remained unpublished. I’ve decided to bring those images back to life and share the results through this blog.

The above image was made at Ronbulk Gompa (monastery) in sight of Chomolungma (Mt. Everest). My travelling friends and l made a quick visit to the Gompa, prior to taking the short drive on to Base Camp, where we camped overnight.

During processing I employed a bit of Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop hocus pocus to add extra depth and sharpness to the image that, together with most of the photos made during the trip, had been adversely affected by a camera fault resulting in significant overexposure. I also applied a sepia-like tone to add a sense of old world nostalgia to the final image.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

Serbian Orthodox Church_Alice Springs_Central Australia

Leica M6 camera and Leica 35mm Summicron f2 lens with Kodak Ektachrome Elite 100 Extra Color film

I photographed the interior of the Serbian Orthodox church in Alice Springs. The church is famous as one of three churches built under ground in the Alice as a way of providing a refuge for the faithful from the extreme heat of a Central Australian summer. The church provides a beautiful and serene environment and, like much of the regions landscape, a perfect place for meditation and contemplation. A function room adjoining the church provides a place for followers of this brand of orthodox Christianity to meet and socialize.

The color and texture of the stone, enhanced by the warm tungsten (incandescent) light, provide a great environment for photography. It was easy to set up for the above image. All I had to do was arrange the composition to keep as many of the individual architectural elements visible and lined up and still describe the space between.

Fortunately I was granted permission to make a few quick photographs before the day’s mass began. After a few short minutes of photography l stayed on to observe some of the service and was surprised that, other than the priest, the only other person present was a woman who appeared to have some kind of assisting role. I found the service to be a strange experience. I was impressed with the formality of the service, yet felt apart from it due the fact that it was conducted in Latin.

It should be possible for tourists to visit the site. Telephoning ahead is a good idea, as is quiet and respectful demeanor and dress. Leaving a donation is always appreciated, even when not immediately noticed.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

Wheel of Law_Lhasa_Tibet

Hasselblad 503CWi camera and Hasselblad 150mm Sonnar f4 lens with Kodak Portra 160VC Professional film

The Wheel of Law represents the teachings of the Buddha and the endless cycle of death and rebirth known as Samsara. The hub represents moral discipline, which stabilizes the mind; the spokes wisdom to dispel ignorance; and the rim training in concentration to hold everything together. The wheel’s eight spokes are also a symbol of the Noble Eightfold Path from the Buddha’s teachings while the motion of the wheel is a metaphor for the rapid spiritual change possible by adherence to these teachings. The Wheel of Law is often a central element in a Mandala, which is a geometric representation of the Buddhist universe.

The wheel or chakra is a significant symbol in Buddhism. The Buddha’s teaching are referred to as the Dharma, so the term Dharmachakra, which literally translates as the wheel of law or transformation, symbolizes both the Buddha and his teachings. When flanked by two deer, as is commonly the case in Tibetan Buddhism, the wheel symbolizes the Buddha’s first sermon at the deer park in Benares, known today as Varanasi, in present day India.

Today’s image features the Wheel of Law photographed on the rooftop of the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. The image was made with a Hasselblad camera on medium format color negative film. After scanning the image was processed in Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop CS4.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

From My Window_Old Delhi_India

Canon New F1 camera and Canon 24mm lens with Agfachrome 100 film

Over recent weeks I’ve very much enjoyed re-visiting some very old images from my first overseas trip in 1998. The above image was made from the upstairs dorm window of a backpacker hotel in Old Delhi, India. It was a relatively cheap place to stay that proved to be a great place to meet other backpackers. The food downstairs was good and, other than the usual problems associated with theft and illness, I enjoyed my time there.

Of course Delhi is madness. Yet, amidst the chaos there is serenity. The wealthy locals and diplomats find it in their palatial compounds, the up class tourist and business person in top of the range hotels and the masses through patience, a devote spirituality and a belief system that defines their place in the cosmos.

I remember making this image. I’d been looking out the window at the rain, a habit I’ve enjoyed since childhood. Rather than causing folks to hurry and seek shelter, the average man seemed to continue on at a steady gate from one task to another. There’s certainly a metaphor and message here for the lazy, overly pampered, hair and fashion obsessed individual – a little of which resides in most of us.

These workers have no time for appearance. They live their life from day to day doing their best to provide their families with the most basic needs. So with pay TV, holidays, ballet lessons for the girls, car payments and a mortgage not an issue, what’s a little rain when you’re trying to feed your family?

While the above image isn’t going to win any awards it does help focus my attention on some of the more important aspects of life. From an image making point of view I was standing where I was with the viewpoint I had. I only had one lens with me at the time. The light and colors were, pretty much, as you see. All I could control was the moment at which I pressed the shutter. I simply waited until the figure carrying the pack above his head moved into the space between the overhead power lines, thereby creating a frame within a frame, before I tripped the shutter. Having the Brahman cow in the foreground added another interesting element that helps identify the scene with India.

The original 35mm transparency was scanned then brought back to life with Adobe Camera RAW and Adobe Photoshop CS4.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

Towards the Border_Tibet

Canon New F1 camera and Canon 24mm lens with Agfachrome 100 film

The last leg on that momentous 1988 journey from Lhasa to the Nepalese border, via Chomolungma (Mt Everest), and then onto Kathmandu and beyond found my friends (Liz and Lee) and I driving for the last few hours on a steep descent down to the border. The hard and mostly barren landscape and the dry, rarified air of the Tibetan Plateau were being replaced by gentle, green water-filled views and moisture-laden air as we continued our descent towards the border. I remember feeling invigorated and extremely alert. It’s amazing what a dramatic change in landscape and a heck of a lot more oxygen will do for ones sense of well being. My skin was tingling with excitement.

Closing the aperture down to f22 provided the large depth of field (DOF) I required and, with the resulting slow Shutter Speed, allowed me to emphasize the speed and softness of the flowing water. It’s a fascinating concept be able to record movement within the still frame. Just remember the slower the Shutter Speed the more mist-like the water will appear.  It probably only took about 30 seconds to jump out of our 4WD and make the shot. And I’m glad I did. The trip was so long ago, and there have been others since, that a photograph is often the best way to trigger memories of places, faces and friendships. Here’s to more of the same for us all.

The original 35mm transparency was brought back to life through scanning prior to being processed in Adobe Camera RAW and Adobe Photoshop CS4 where I applied split toning to produce greenish shadows and subtle yellow and pink highlights.

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Glenn Guy, Blue Sky Photography

Memories of Shangri-la_Part 2

Tiksey Gompa (Monastery), Ladakh, Inida. Canon New F1 camea and Canon 50mm f1.8 lens with Agfachrome 100 film

Today’s post is the second of two articles on my first overseas trip. It’s a reasonably long article accompanied by 4 photos so, even if you don’t feel like reading it all, please make sure you click on the More symbol and scroll down to see the rest of the photos.

It was early August 1988 and I had crossed the border from Tibet into Nepal. After a difficult trip to Kathmandu, where the upper end of the highway to the capital had been washed away in a flood, I hiked for an afternoon and much of the next day until the state of the road improved and I was able to catch a bus the rest of the way to Kathmandu.

Nepal wasn’t a major part of my travel plans. I had originally planned to travel overland from Hong Kong through China into Nepal, around the top of India and then through Pakistan into Kashgar in far northwest China. Striking out from Kashgar I would journey across the country, via the fabled Silk Road, to Beijing. From there I would travel back to Hong Kong from where my return flight home was booked. The ticket included a special return trip to the Olympic Games in Soul. I wasn’t that excited by the event, but the opportunity to travel to another country was certainly enticing.

Anyway the dodgy meal I’d mentioned in my last post, on my journey from the Chinese border to Kathmandu, continued to cause me problems. I suffered from terrible stomach problems (I’II spare you the details) and, as a consequence, saw very little of the country. After around 10 days I took a flight to Varanasi, the famous city on the holy Ganges River. It is here where Hindu’s hope to be cremated and have their ashes cast onto the river. I remember reading at the time that, as the very poor couldn’t afford the cost of the ceremonial cremation, deceased babies from poorer families were often singed, rather than cremated, and their bodies thrown into the river. In an attempt to deal with the problems this practice was causing a species of crocodile had been introduced into the river to finish off the bodies. This policy wasn’t popular with local fisherman whose boats were little more than large canoes. They were, naturally, sacred of the crocodiles.

After a few interesting days, including a sunset boat trip on the Ganges, where my latest travelling companion was hasselled by our boatman causing me, once again, to swing the tripod, I took a night train to New Delhi.

Well, that train trip was certainly an adventure. I was robbed in my sleep. The next morning I was without my passport, plane ticket home, travelers cheques and all my cash, albeit for about 80 cents. There was no doubt that the eight or so seudo professionals, who bordered the train in the middle of the night, were suspicious characters. A guard approached with a 303 rifle pointed straight at them but, with a “now look here my good man” approach they embarrassed him and caused him to back away and leave the carriage. Outside of an old B-grade movie I doubt that I’d ever seen someone outside of a hospital or medical clinic wandering around with a stepascope around their neck.

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Memories of Shangri-la_Part 1

Canon New F1 Camera and Canon 50mm f1.8 lens with Agfachrome 100 film

This image was made during my very first overseas trip. Some folks will recognize the Potala Palace, the former winter palace of the Dalai Lama, in the background. The year was 1988 and I was 26 years of age. Now, I need to take a moment to apologize for several things. Firstly, the hat I’m wearing in this picture. Akubra hats, made popular by golfer Greg Norman, were popular with some types of Aussie tourists during the 80’s. I was a bit young for that demographic, but was sold the hat by legendary Collingwood footballer Bob Rose, who my mum loves to say danced with her at the Collingwood town hall in 195o something. She even mentioned this fact to him at a function in the 90’s. Surprisingly he didn’t seem to remember. The second thing I need to apologize for are the photos themselves. I was an experienced wedding and portrait photographer with some extra experience as a newspaper photographer. But I had little experience in landscape and photojournalism. Finally, camera problems and poor processing ruined most of the images I made during the trip.

Nevertheless I believe there’s value in what I have to share so I’ve decided to outline some of the more memorable moments from the 3½ months trip over 2 separate posts. Part 2 will be posted a week from today, while part 1 can be summarized as follows:

Melbourne to Hong Kong

The day before the trip’s commencement I began to feel ill. I ended up flying with what seemed to be the worst flu I have ever had. My sinuses were blocked and the pain suffered was quite severe. None of the drugs in my substantial medical kit seemed appropriate to the task.

My trusty guidebook recommended backpacker accommodation in Kowloon for some unbelievable price, I think around US$3 or US$4 a night. To this day I’ve never met a local, either now or then, who believed that price. It was an absolute dive and most of the people who stayed there, one room for guys and one for gals, were pretty sleazy. They seemed to spend most of their time involved in a range of dodgy activities with the sole aim of extending their stay and, as a result, avoid returning home. Small time black market activities including currency exchange and off-loading hard to buy electrical goods in nearby countries seemed to be popular activities. The thing is they never seemed to do anything of value. They existed rather than lived.

The highlight of my stay was a trip on the Star Ferry where I met Stephanie, a local gal who a few years later moved to Vancouver because of her families concerns regarding Hong Kong’s re-unification with China. We became good friends and stayed in contact for many years afterwards.

Hong Kong to Shenzhen

I took the train into Shenzhen; one of the then newly established special economic zones. Upon arrival I looked for accommodation. With no luck I headed back to the railway station at dusk. The area seemed to be deserted. I was immediately surrounded and harassed by a bunch of thugs outside the railway station. Weighed down by a 20kg backpack on my back and holding a camera backpack and tripod I was forced to do a Lancelot and swing the tripod around. There were so many of them that, if they really wanted to hurt me, I’m sure they could have. Nevertheless, it took all my wits and a dash of post-colonial bravo, to get out of that one.

After about a week in Shenzhen, most of it spent at a brand new, soulless and extremely expensive hotel on the outskirts of town my sinus infection had eased enough for me to get back on the road. Though it is a condition that returns to this day I’ve found ways of managing it. Understanding what your body can cope with physically and being better able to manage stress can help protect your immune system from attack from such debilitating and prolonged illnesses.

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