Opting Out of Photo Ops

Dorty Nowak has lived part-time in Paris for years, though you wouldn't know it from looking at her photo albums.  She'd been too busy enjoying Paris to stop and document her life there. But now, when she thinks of the photos she wished she'd taken, she has regrets. 

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Shoots, Edits & Posts

by Jules Older 


Shooting travel videos was always something other people did.  

For one thing, I'm a word guy, a writer. Visuals are for somebody else.

But that’s hardly the only reason I shied away from shooting. There's my profound lack of knowledge about how to make movies. The teamwork required to do it. The weight and expense of even a secondhand, third-rate movie camera. Plus the knowhow and expense of editing footage once it’s shot.

And all that was once true. Now it isn't. Welcome to one of the true wonders of the Digital Age. I'm still a writer, but now I'm a writer who shoots videos. More than sixty of them and counting. Maori carving in New Zealand. Skiing in Alberta. An action-sport competition in San Francisco. Turns out I like visual story telling, too.  

But the main differences between then and now are technological. Thanks to advances in gear, I (and you) can learn to shoot, buy the gear and even master the editing process without going broke or going crazy. 

I've learned my craft at the Apple Store, using their One to One program, which, when you buy a new computer, is yours for $200 for two full years. No further charges required. No tips accepted.

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The Magical Dunes of White Sands

words + photos by Jean Kepler Ross

They say one picture is worth a thousand words. I believe being there is worth a thousand pictures.

For several years, I edited a travel guide about New Mexico and saw many photos of the gorgeous white sand dunes in southern New Mexico known as White Sands. Each photo illustrated the beauty of the dunes - sensuous mounds of sand, blooming yuccas, delicate lavender wild flowers, kids jumping off the dunes into space...it all intrigued me. I traveled in that area a few times but never had a chance to actually visit White Sands until a few weeks ago.

I was visiting a good friend who lives just out of La Luz, near Alamogordo. We watched sunsets from the west-facing portal of her house and, through a notch between mountains, looked out at White Sands in the distance...it beckoned me. I remembered all the photos I had seen and I knew it was the right time to go.

We visited White Sands National Monument late one morning. The monument is part of the worldʼs largest gypsum dune field - 275 square miles in all; about 40% lies within the monument and the rest is home to White Sands Missile Range. Some of the dunes are active and move to the northeast about thirty feet each year, while others move very little. Gypsum is clear and translucent, but scratches on the grains cause light to reflect in a way that makes them appear white.

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The Bosque Is For The Birds

words + photos by Laurie Gilberg Vander Velde


“Maybe I will go to the car and get my tripod,” I said to my husband.  We were at the edge of a mostly frozen pond, standing on snowpack, bundled up against the 19 degree cold in the pre-dawn dark.  A glimmer of light was starting to show in the sky.  We had staked out a spot in the line of tripod-wielding photographers with their mega-humongous lenses  We were all waiting for the awakening snow geese and sandhill cranes to perform their morning “fly out.”  We were at Bosque del Apache, a National Wildlife Refuge near San Antonio, New Mexico about an hour south of Albuquerque.  It’s a place known to many serious bird watchers who throng to the area in the winter to watch thousands and thousands -- and thousands of snow geese and sandhill cranes come and go.

We are not avid birders, nor am I a zealous photographer.  How could I be?  I love taking pictures and dabble in PhotoShop, but I tote a point-and-shoot camera.  It’s top of the line and somewhat flexible, but it’s still a point-and-shoot, and the SLR crowd look at me with some disdain.  Much as I would love to use a digital SLR and be able to change lenses, my body just can’t schlepp that much weight.  And my husband, despite my batting my eyelids at him, has turned me down flat.  It was hard not to be intimidated by the very serious looking phalanx of expensive equipment lined up on tripods waiting for “the moment.”

Our home is now in Santa Fe, so we made the easy two plus hour drive to the Bosque (means “forest” in Spanish) the night before, aiming to get there in late afternoon in hopes of seeing the “fly in.”  This is the time during the golden hour before the sun sets and the moments after sunset when tens of thousands of snow geese and sandhill cranes fly in.  A foot of snow had closed the refuge a couple of days before, but the plows had sort of cleared the roads.  The observation decks were still snow covered.  The big problem was that there were limited areas of open, unfrozen water in the ponds, and the birds want to land on open water where they are safer from predators.  The helpful folks at the visitors’ center can tell you where the birds landed the night before, but the birds don’t file a flight plan, so we can only guess where they might land tonight.

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Win A Travel Photography Scholarship to Bhutan

a special opportunity from the editors of YourLifeIsATrip.com

ATTENTION TRAVELING SHUTTERBUGS: Grab your cameras and get ready turn your passion into a career. Get professional in-the-field mentoring as part of an amazing new Travel Photography Scholarship opportunity in The Kingdom of Bhutan.

photo by d ha rm e sh via flickr (common license)

We're excited to let you know that YourLifeIsATrip.com travel insurance partner, WorldNomads.com, is giving one exceptional individual the chance to travel with National Geographic on-assignment photographer Jason Edwards in the Land of the Thunderdragon.

We want it to be YOU!

Better yet, the scholarship winner will also receive AU$2000 worth of Pentax photographic equipment.

Your best photos will be published on the National Geographic Channel's website where they will be viewed by thousands of travellers worldwide, offering you a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get your foot in the door of one of the most revered exploration organisations in the world.

Ready, set, apply! Entry deadline is October 17, 2010.

Apply now at www.WorldNomads.com

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by Judith Fein


Join award-winning travel journalists/photographers Judith Fein and Paul Ross on a CULTURAL IMMERSION TRIP TO TUNISIA, MAY 8-22, 2009.


The goal of the trip is to teach participants how to travel deeply in a safe, exciting, exotic, accessible country and to write about their experiences.  The pieces will be read aloud to the group every day, and hands-on instruction will be offered in travel photography, no matter what your level of proficiency.


The 14-night, l5 day trip will include all the highlights of Tunisia-- from the ruins of Carthage to the island of Djerba during a festival dedicated to a woman; from cave dwellers to souk shopping; from Berber villages to Bedouin markets to the stillness of the Sahara desert at night. In addition to visiting the sites, participants will have contact with Tunisians from all walks of life--AND THIS IS THE HEART OF THE TRIP. You will go into homes, music studios, caves, kitchens, mosques and spend time with open-hearted, friendly locals while learning about their culture--how they think, eat, work, live, create art, worship and feel about the world. 

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