HOW TO BE A BETTER PHOTOG: SHOOT A PHOTO ESSAY

All Photos taken with a Leica M6ttl and a Leica 50mm f/2 Summicron on Kodak 400CN film.  All Photos from the photo essay, “The Faces of Transcarpathia.” By Andrew J. Tonn ©

MONTERREY — Most photographers have favorite subjects and preferred themes.  Some are obvious and others less so. One person shoots flowers and selfies. Another also photographs flowers and themselves but, as with any art, the subject is not always just the subject.  Robert Mapplethorpe’s beautiful black and white studies of calla lilies and tulips are far from ordinary photos of pretty flowers and Graciela Iturbide’s self-portraits are far more than another reflexive selfie.

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HOW TO BE A BETTER PHOTOG: THE PHOTO WALK

Photo by Andrew Tonn

Regardless of whether you are a seasoned professional, an avid amateur, or you just got your first camera last week, an excellent way to become a better photographer is to take photo-walks.  Walking, of and by itself: exploring a new city, a faraway island, a familiar old trail or a nearby neighborhood is one of life’s great pleasures with or without a camera. But this story is about photo walks and one walk in particular I took with my friend, the inimitable Sebastian John, one hot day over a year ago in Mumbai, India.  It was my last long walk in that city I called home for two years and similar to the first long walk I took by myself in Mumbai during the monsoon not long after we arrived. It was not quite as long as that watery hike, because Sebastian and I took our foray into Mumbai’s mad streets in the sweltering days just before the monsoon broke.  The heat in that time of year is very nearly hallucinatory. The temperature, combined with the crowds, humidity, smoke and noise, can only be completely appreciated by someone who has been there. Neither a thousand words nor a thousand photos can describe the reality of the streets of Mumbai.

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THESE FADING PLACES, BY 2018-2019 ESSAY WINNER MATT WHITE

These Fading Places, By Matt White

In the third week of the new year, I have crossed the Mississippi River from my home state of Arkansas and am passing slowly through little Mississippi towns like Rolling Fork and Cary under winter sunlight so pretty I wish it would never end. The Sunday streets are deserted, and the closer I get to the Louisiana border, it dawns on me that everyone is inside, glued to the Saint’s playoff game. Though not apt to follow sports closely, I appreciate high stakes and will always root for all things New Orleans, the great American city that she is. I am listening to the nail-biter on the radio and thinking of everyone I love in the Crescent City. On my approach into darkening Vicksburg: the crushing last-minute defeat just down river, a soon-to-be full moon emerging from a field in my rearview mirror. Evening is falling, and every direction I turn looks the way a Lucinda Williams song sounds.

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THE LAND OF THE THUNDER DRAGON

By Chris Urban

The Tiger’s Nest Monastery, Chris Urban ©

Travel in the 21stcentury doesn’t often feel much like exploring anymore.   Just when you think you’ve had a real Indiana Jones type of experience hiking a wadi in central Oman, you run headfirst right into a Starbucks.  A few years ago, my wife and I were living in and had explored much of India.  We had just been to Everest Base Camp, had seen a lot of other parts of Asia, and were looking for new adventures.  It was around that time that we heard of Bhutan, “the Land of the Thunder Dragon.”  Everything about it called to us as travelers and explorers.  

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THE LEICA-M 90mm ƒ/4 ELMAR C

MONTERREY — I have shot tightly framed portraits of people since I began taking photos at age ten or eleven.  A certain style of naturalistic headshot, the subject fully aware and looking straight into the lens, has been a major element of my work for my entire photographic life.  I still have almost every negative I ever shot and though I hope I have learned a thing or two along the way, I am still rather happy with many of the portraits I took of my classmates, teachers, and family back in Junior High and High School.  

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THE PATH TO THE SUMMIT, AN EVEREST ADVENTURE

By Chris Urban

For years, going to Mount Everest was at the top of my bucket list.  I grew up reading my brother’s National Geographic magazines and watching the Discovery Channel, dreaming about exploring the Himalayas, going face to face against mother nature.  Since I didn’t have a spare $100,000 and a death wish, I knew I was going to have to settle for Everest Base Camp rather than the summit. While it’s not the top of The Mountain, going to Everest Base Camp is still no small feat, and required months of preparation.    Continue reading “THE PATH TO THE SUMMIT, AN EVEREST ADVENTURE”

THE NIKKOR 20mm ƒ/2.8

Maya Shaman conducts rituals in the cemetery in Chichicastenango, Guatemala. Nikon D800, AF Nikkor 20mm f/2.8D

Go wide!  Go wider!!  Go as wide as you can without going too wide!!!  This is how I think about the 20mm lens and, to be specific, the classic 20mm f/2.8 Nikkor in both auto and manual focus.  In my long experience with this lens — I have used it in its MF and AF versions as one of my primary working optics since around 2000 — I have found it to be a special lens in particular and generally as wide an angle as one can get without entering the realm of special effects.  Lenses wider than 20mm can come in handy for unique perspectives and situations, but rarely for every day use.

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NISOLO

Outside the hustle of the downtown, tucked away in a small shop in a corner strip, is a showroom that hardly looks at home in the boot shop packed city of Nashville. While the Nash-Vegas strip may be packed with boot outlets, Nisolo takes a different approach. A clean, open spaced showroom filled with artisan jewelry and quality footwear, a minimalist storefront with a small friendly staff await you if you decide to visit Nisolo.

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QUADRATEC 5/8TH” D-RING SHACKLE

I’ve had my 2012 Jeep JK for almost 2 yrs now, and one of the first things I did was swap out the front bumper and install the D-ring shackle mounts. These mounts bolt on directly through the bumper. The bolt goes in through the rear of the bumper, forward into the shackle mount. I tossed on a couple of Quadratec D-Rings and rode off into the sunset.  Continue reading “QUADRATEC 5/8TH” D-RING SHACKLE”