Category Archives: photography

Debunking some myths…..The pictures that I was encouraged to shoot in rural North Korea

It have now been over a month since I ventured into the mystical and isolated country of the DPRK, or North Korea that is better known. I got to shoot between 5 and 6000 images on my 11 days trip that took me all over the land. The funny thing for me is that I have posted quite a few images on my blog, Facebook and Instagram pages, and people seem surprised that the images that I have shot is from North Korea. (since they look like they could have been shot anywhere) One thing that I have not shown is the poor side of the DPRK. (The part of North Korea outside Pyongyang) The fact that the DPRK is a very poor country is well-known, and is a fact that have been depicted before. But in the media you get the impression that the “poorer look” of North Korea is how it is all over.

In this post I will show some pictures that are from the rural areas of North Korea, and it is one thing that is very important to point out. All the images that I have shot I got permission to shoot, and I even got encouraged to take them. 

I have no reason or understanding of why they did encouraged me to shoot the images. The only restrictions that I got was to: 1) not take direct  pictures of soldiers, 2) of buildings that was being built , 3) And  images of the leaders (or Pictures of leaders) should be “complete”.  Except for that , it was like anything  goes. So I think is that I get a bit frustrated when I get read news article saying “Look at the pictures North Korea do not want you to see”, or  “This photographer smuggled out these images from North Korea”. So it is important for me to emphasize that every shot is done in the open, with my local guides around, and I did no attempt to smuggle or hide anything during border crossings or in other ways. It is also important to say that some of the images in the story is shot from a moving  car by and have used telephotolensens according to the rules and regulations of North Korea.

Hope you enjoy, even if the images is not of the usual happy travel images this time.

This image is from the east part of where it is an agricultural community. Bicycle is still the primary form of transportation.

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The next is a typical farmers village. The crops of corn are green and lush. But the buildings have something to be desired.

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Next image is from the city of Wonsan , on the east coast. People are busy, and do their things.

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North Korea  is rich in minerals and natural resources. Here we see some kind of mine digging from the mountains.

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Here we have another kind of mine, located by the riverbed. Notice the worker with the ox and carriage in front  of the mine.

 

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One of the major issues that North Korea have struggled with is the power supply. On our way to the east cost they showed us four new power plants. Our guides where very proud of them. And they seem to do there job.

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When it comes to buildings in the towns in the countryside they where in many cases quite old, and had not been maintained for a while.

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A more normal set of houses would often look like this.

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And a typical view of rural North Korea looks something like this. You have a lot of mountains, and in the canyon you will find small villages. As you can see from the image, only a little bit of the land is possible to do farming on, so they use every little spot that is possible.

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You can never have a little story about North Korea without touching the subject of army and soldiers.  You can see them everywhere alongside the road, walking, hitching a ride with a truck or something, but you never see any army camps. (at least I did not…)

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So the big question is of course , where are all the soldiers.?? You see many entrances in mountains, so it is reasonable that there are camps located in mountains. But you also see a lot of more or less “improvised” huts all across the countryside. It seems logical that there is a connection here….

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So that was a little bit of images from all over the North Korean countryside. This was just a little sample of images, and to make one thing clear. Or guides where very proud of  their country.

-Ray

 

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Picture of the day: The best camera in the world is the one that you have with you…

Is a quote from the famous photographer Chase Jarvis. And when I ask a lot of photographers all seems to agree that the important thing is to “get the shot”.  Todays image is of a hawk from Galapagos. We where going snorkeling, and I could only bring my waterproof GoPRO with my wetsuit, and these magnificent birds was all around. Our guide was a bit afraid that we where going to get a little to close, since they are prone to attack if they feel like it, but I just had to try to get a shot. So I tried to line up for my shot. Crawling on my knees, trying to make my presence known for the bird without spooking it, and with my GoPRO that have no screen so that I could try to compose the image, and no settings that I could alter, I tried to get a decent shot.  And I did, of course I should wish that I could have brought my DSLR, but that was not an option at the time. But most importantly. I got the shot.

-Ray

Whats in my camera bag …. when I am going to octoberfest in Münic, Germany

 

Hi

I thought I was going to do a little bit different post today, and telling a little about what I am planning to bring of camera equipment when I am going to Germany in a couple of weeks.

There are some small things to consider , and you will find how I am thinking about it in the YouTube video at the end of the post.

0. Preparation

The name of the game is People and Places, so my gear resembles that. I will bring one wide angle, and one short telephoto for my DSLR, and a fixt 35 mm Fuji for the standard street photography stuff.

So here is the listing of the equipment that I talk about in the video.

1. The bag

Think Thank retrospective 20

2. The camera(s) and lenses

My Canon 6d , and the Sigma 12-24 and Canon 70 – 200 lenses

My Fuji X100s Point and shoot.

My Olympus Tough point and shoot

3. Extra stuff

Cleaning cloths, and lens pen

Notebook and pen

Map and travel guide over Münic

Business Cards

My Colorspace Hyperdrive UDMA 750 GB Backup drive

For more information on how I am thinking, and how the different things look, you find my YouTube video here.

-Ray

 

 

Picture of the day : Out shooting ….. photos

This image was taken at the Svalbard Islands in april this year. One of the activities that I did when I was up there was going on a photowalk together with a pro photographer. And one of the very cool things about Svalbard, is that you are not on top of the food chain. The top is the “Ursus Maritinus” , commony known as the polar bear, and for protection you have to bring a rifle if you are going outside the  safety of the town. And this image shows the photographer getting her gear out with her rifle within reach.

 

-Ray

Tip: What is in my camerabag…. , and how do I bring it with me on a longer trip

I have had a couple of posts before about packing and different types of camerabags for travel, and I have made it on of my specialites when it comes to travel and photography.  A lot of testing and failing when I have been travelling have made me find that I claim that the following characteristics is necessary for a good camera bag that you are bringing with you for travel.

1) Space for a lot of gear
2) Easy to bring along on day hikes.
3) Sturdy
4) “Air port security” sensible
5) Cabin luggage approved
6) Discrete
7) Rain cover / Weather protected

So , I have Pelicases, suitcases, small backpacks, special camera backpacks with ziplocs towards the back for added security, with weather sealing for hiking, and different smaller types bags for spesific  camera types. But if you are going on a longer photo trip. Non of them will be without compromise.

First of,  let me show what I am planning to bring on my next trip.  I am going on a short trip to South East Asia in a couple of weeks.

In the main compartment

– 2 DSLR bodies
– A small handycam
–  5 lenses (1 big 120-300,  70-200, and there more normal sized lenses)
– A teleconverter
– A external flash
– Two Blackrapid Rstraps
– A couple of external harddrives

 

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In the smaller compartments

– Cleaning kits
– Extra batteries
– Extra memory cards
– Different cables and chargers

And in the outside compartment, I am bringing a small laptop or tablet.

Lowepro Pro Runner 450 AW Pro Runner Backpack

So why did I end up with this bag? The main reson was the amount of gear that I wanted to bring, and the most practical when you are on the move is a backpack, and since it is cabin luggage approved it is possible to bring even on smaller regional airlines too. Another  major advantage with the backpack is when we do the security check at the airport. Bringing a lot of electronic gear is a true and valid way of getting picked for a closer securty inspection, so one of my favourite features is that I can open the backpack as a suitcase , and the inspectors can check that everything is as it seems without removing it. When I have used smaller backpacks for camera gear before I often end up taking everything out, and that can be a little bit stressful in a crowded control.

The backpack also have other features that are well known from Lowepro. Compression straps in the front to make a snugger fit, a “cup” for a tripod, and a raincover that can be pulled over the pack at your convenience.

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All in all , a very nice bag that I hope can bring me many good images from all over the globe..

-Ray

 

 

Tip: Travel photo gear : The Canon Powershot G1 X Mark 2, and the BlackRapid SnaprR

Hi

I just wanted to share a little photo gear tip that might be work for travel photographs. One of the major issues with travel photos is that sometimes you don’t want to bring to much gear, and you want to bring it safe and so on. So when I was going to South Africa a month ago, I found out that I wanted to get myself  a smaller point and shoot (compact) camera. Primarily for those times it can be a little difficult to bring a big DSLR with lots of gear and lenses, or a little bit of discretion is the name of the game.

Canon Powershot G1 X Mark 2

Let me just say. I am a DSLR user, and I don’t mind carrying big lenses and a lot of gear, so personally I don’t understand the big protest many have about the G1 X size. Yeah, for a point and shoot it is quite big. But I think it is great. And one of the reasons that I have become a fan over the month I have had it is that it is kind of close in function and functionality to a standard Canon DSLR, so the dials and knobs kind of make sense for me. But I have to say….. the dials are still quite small, and that can be a bit troublesome at times.

So what is my favourite about the G1X Mark 2

No doubt the scene and creative shot modes. There are plenty different modes that are prefixed on the camera, and they work very well. And many of them surprisingly good. Especially I am a fan of the “hand held night modes”

Evening light over a hotel in Oslo in june 2014

 

, and the “star” trail modes that works extremely vel.

Starstruck evening shoot in South Africa in mai 2014

Another function that I enjoy is that you have a 24-120 mm lens equivalent on the camera. And in most cases that is just fine.

And of course , it delivers all the other functions that you should expect from a compact camera. But I have to say, it is one thing that I would have wished that I had, and that is that it could store the RAW file if I use the creative modes, but I guess that is not possible. Another thing that bothers me is that I wish the battery could last a little bit longer, it only last about 250 images, and I think that is a bit to little.

But overall I really enjoy this camera, but it will not replace my 5d Mark 3 as my primary weapon of choice 🙂

 

The BlackRapid SnapR

So I haven gotten myself a new camera, but that only solves half the problem. The other half is how to bring it with you. I am a big fan of the Blackrapid products, and especially the Rstrap. The functionality is great, and the look and feel is good, and an extra benefit is that you have a little more professional look, and that can help in some places that you want to shoot. And now I found a product that is specifically made for point and shoot (compact) cameras, and that is the SnapR. It is “just” a sling type strap with a bag attached, and that makes a big difference. Because it allows you to store your camera safe, and quickly bring it to life if you want to catch that crucial moment.  After using it for some weeks now, I think it have a couple of other nice features too. One of them is that it have a couple of good sized pockets that allows you to bring some small essentials as cleaning kits,  extra batteries or memory cards. This I find nice, and very practical.

“I love it when a plan comes together”

This is how it looks with my setup

 

-Ray

 

 

Photo tip: Different bags, backpacks, suitcases and other cases for different use

Note! I am not associated with any of the brands that I mention in this post.

I am a firm believer in that different situations  or work require a different tools, and that also counts when it comes to photography.  Not least regarding  how you transport your gear. So I have gotten myself some different  bags that I use in different cases.

A quick  summary is that I can divide my different transport gear into the following.

1. Shoulder strap camera bags

2. Camera suit case

3. Back packs

4. Hard cases

Shoulder strap camera bags

This is the ordinary and basic ones. I have  three. The main difference between them is the size, and hence how much gear you can bring with you.

My smallest one is this one here from a company named Godspeed and is very basic. The nice thing about it is that is large enough to bring with a DSLR , and an extra cloth to clean the lens. or som other small items.  It will only support one of the smaller lenses, but should be fine if you are doing a basic shoot.

Image: http://www.filgifts.com/view.asp?xitem=God003.1

The next one is also a Godspeed bag (Model : SY 802M) . It is a bit bigger, and starting to be more practical. If you are going to a little more complex shoot, and you need to bring some extra batteries, some different lenses (smaller primes) or a flash. This model is big enough that you can bring some supplies along when you go and take pictures.  This is one of the one that I uses the most.

Image: http://www.linkdelight.com/330729011M-Godspeed-SY-802M-Waterproof-Shoulder-Camera-Bag.html

The last one of this sort of bag I have and use is an even bigger bag from Godspeed. This is rather large, and in addition to you DSLR and a flash, it can hold several lenses and a lot of other equipment that you feel you need. I use this bag if I go on trips that last for some days, and want to bring some equipment along. The only negative I have to say about the bag is that it can feel a bit heavy if it is fully loaded.  Another practical  implication is the size makes it not fit in the overhead bins on smaller regional airlines. So you might have to stow it under your seat. But the overall look and feel is quite good.

Image: http://www.fotokamerataschen.de/fototasche/alpineplus/photobag-100-tasche-fototasche-kameratasche/a-100044/

Camera suit cases

There are many different companies making camera suitcases, but the one that I have is from Lowepro, and one is the Pro Roller X200. The reason for choosing that specific case is that first of all it is airline approved as hand luggage, and that is very nice feature when I travel a lot. And the second reason it that is was fairly easy to buy at camera stores in Norway. (most of them stock gear from Lowepro) Lets go back to the point of airline for a little while. One of my main concerns when traveling with my camera gear is that some of it should be lost or damage during the security checks in the airports. When I am traveling with my backpack I often was asked to empty it, and that was of quite a concern. With a suitcase you can just open the lid if they need to look inside, and everything is tidy and visible for them to see. I never have to take anything out, so the practical layout of the suitcase is helping regarding security. I can mention that I feel that my equipment is nicely protected in the suitcase, and it have a lot of nice practical solutions  to help you in the shooting.

Image: store.lowepro.com

Back packs

And for me it is Lowepro again,  I use two different back packs . I kind of depends on the situation. The first one is Photo sport AW, and I have to say It is just amazing. It is light , flexible , durable , and very practical. It is very nice to have as a sort of daypack to use on hikes, or in the city if you need to be a bit anonymous. It also have a built-in raincoat that is handy.  The only negative I can say that it is a bit difficult to bring a lot of equipment, it just not designed for it. But like I said , It is a personal favorite when I need it.

Image: store.lowepro.com

The second backpack I use is the Lowepro Flipside 400 AW. This is a very nice designed bag, for the purpose of being fast and sturdy for protecting sensitive gear. I use it primarily when I need to carry a lot of delicate equipment such as flashes and lenses, an I need a little bit more space and protection then I get in the Photo Sport bag. Two of the mail features is that it have back compartment entry that gives you extra security.  In addition you find a lot of the same signature details and features that you find in other Lowepro equipment.

Image: store.lowepro.com

Hard cases

I have previously posted my tip on how to transport your Sigmonster or other large lenses. To conclude , hard cases is the answer.  The most well-known one is Peli that produces the Peli Cases. These are military standard, and are made to handle a beating. Like I have mentioned I a using such a Peli case for my sigmonster. But there is also other manufactures that makes such style of cases. One of them is B+W , that I have a couple of in different sizes.  Why I like to use this type of cases i obvious. They are though. Especially if you are transporting zoom lenses I would recommend you using them.  What I enjoy is that most such cases comes with a foam that is able to be shaped into what you need. So you can fit the case to the lens or what other type of equipment that you want to protect.

Eksample of Peli case is the 1650 that I use for my Sigmonster

Image: flight-cases.nu

The smaller B+W cases looks like this

Image: http://www.fotovideo.no

Hope you found some of the information useful.

Take care, and safe travel

-Ray

Another photography tip: Safe transport of a Sigmonster (or other gigant lenses)

Note! I am in no way affiliated with the brands that I mention here. This is just my personal opinion.

When I travel, I enjoy the art of taking pictures. And when I travel I need to bring my equipment. One of the major issues with photo equipment as everyone knows is that it can be very difficult to both bring, and to transport many or large lenses, tripods or other large items. One lens I will talk a little bit about is my beloved Sigma 300-800 F5.6 aka the “Sigmonster”. It is a gigantic lens , and to be quite hounest it can be challanging to bring along.

More info on the Sigmonster you can find here

One especially difficult bit is how you transport them on a plane since it is impossible to bring it in your carry on.  My solution have been to get a Peli case 1650. Peli is a famous brand for making military spec protective cases, and in my opinion they are absolutely worth the money.  They are sturdy, rough, and can realy handle a beating…

It is one more feature that I realy like about the cases, and that it can hold two pad locks in addition to the seven hatches on the case. My advice would be to get the TSA aproved types if you are going on air travel. Then you dont have to  worry about people opening it without you knowlegde (since the TSA locks leaves a trace color if opened with the TSA key) , and the TSA agents can expect it if they need to.

More information on the Peli cases can be found here.

http://www.peli.com/en/maletas-grandes-para-equipos-sensibles-1650.html

Take care

-Ray