Afghanistan: Wartime Tourism

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Afghanistan is not technically at war and I was not strictly a tourist. But much of the country is driven by fear and uncertainty. In Kabul, helicopters thunder overhead – two crashed while I was there. SUV’s vie with herds of goats, meandering donkey carts and zipping minibuses – doors and throttles wide open – in […]

Five Miles High

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This was probably the most difficult photo I have ever taken, not just because it took three years of planning and one prior failed expedition to get to this spot, but also because it was -15°F and my fingers were too cold to move. It was about 6:00am, just after dawn, near the summit of Mustagh Ata, a fabled peak in the Chinese Pamirs. It’s name translates as “Father of Ice Mountains” in the Tadjik language.

Beijing Dust Storm, 1979

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Beijing is on the edge of the Loess Plateau, an area bound by a huge 500-mile bend of the Yellow River and known for its fine sand, almost like ground flour. Each spring, the sand would descend upon Beijing like Bartholomew’s Oobleck – there was no way to keep it out of your mouth or any other part of your body, even if you kept your windows closed. It was just everywhere. 1980- (2)Sometimes it blew in with a storm, other times it just descended quietly overnight like the first snow of winter – as it did in this photo. At the time I was staying in the Minzu Hotel with a group of advertising executives from McCann-Erickson.

Long Live the “Venerable” E-PL5

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I just retired my first mirrorless camera – the ‘ancient’ Olympus E-PL5 – after nearly 3-1/2 years of loyal service to my continued education in photography. Purchased way back in 2012, it was the bee’s knees of tiny cameras, sporting a gargantuan 16 megapixel sensor (largest available, at that time) on an impossibly small body (there are now smaller ones), with a touch-screen for ‘wysywyg’ (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) composing and shooting, and a dizzying choice of equally diminutive – and powerful – lenses offering pretty much the same choices as the big boys at Nikon and Canon.

The 60-second Street Photographer

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You should be able to read this in 60 seconds. (I don’t know about you, but that’s about my average attention span.)

Recently a friend of mine, on his way to Thailand, asked if I could point him to some blogs about street photography. They’re all over the place – even on my own web site. But it prompted me to try to write a simple crib sheet for people wanting to take photos on the street, particularly in foreign places. Here’s the short list.

Be Ready.
Protect your camera.
Don’t change lenses.
Engage or Stealth.