Mount Rushmore

Photo of the Day: Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore 1974

Mount Rushmore

Forty eight years since it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Mount Rushmore is one of the coolest places most people have never been too!  Nestled in the South Dakota hills near the Badlands, Mount Rushmore was originally intended to show the four presidents from head to waist but money ran out in 1941.  The four presidents are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.  The mountain side is granite and is constantly being preserved.   Harsh temperatures, rain and snow can cause major cracks if left unmaintained.  It was featured in the Alfred Hitchcock movie North By Northwest starring Eva Marie Saint and Cary Grant.  Gutzon Borglum was the original sculptor on the  project and it was he who chose which presidents would be represented.  It is said that he chose these four presidents in particular because they were instrumental in preserving the republic and expanding it.  When Gutzon Borglum died in March of 1941 his son “Lincoln” Borglum took over the work until it’s completion.  The sculptures stand 60′ high.  As I mentioned at the beginning Mount Rushmore begins it’s 49th year on October 15th.  Happy anniversary guys!

Although I have not been there, only 17 miles away is another mountain-side sculpture, it’s of Crazy Horse, in the Black Hills.  If you are going to make the trek to Mount Rushmore then the Crazy Horse sculpture seems like it would make it a good two-for.


Photo of the Day: Namsan Tower, Seoul, South Korea

Photo of the Day: Namsan Tower, Seoul, South Korea

Namsan Tower is the highest point in Seoul.  A communications tower built in 1969 it is now open to the public.  After a quick trek up a very steep hill and a short cable car ride; you will arrive at a park, gift shops, and a great hill top view of the Seoul Skyline.

Be aware that the wait for the cable car on nights and weekends can top an hour or more.  There is also a physically demanding foot path for the real hard core foot travelers.

Namsan Tower
Namsan Tower

Photo of the Day: Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo

Photo of the Day: Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo, Japan.  An expert delicately slices into a Yellow Fin Tuna fresh from the ocean.

Yellow Fin
Yellow Fin















If you visit Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo be aware that you have to arrange in advance for special admission to be there during the main morning auction.  Otherwise they will not let you in the market until 9am.  At 9am the intermediary market comes alive because the fish have moved into their hands and the slicing and dicing begins.


Photo of the Day: Subway Train Milan

Subway Train Milan

Subway Train Milan

I was surprised at how efficient the Milan subway was.  It was very efficient.  So much so that you could almost set your watch by them.  Lots of trains running on time made it very easy to get around Milan at any time of day.  We used the subway all day to get around.  Yes, it’s covered in graffiti but even the graffiti had a color and style.  The word graffiti is derived from the Italian language.

If you are in Milan don’t hesitate to use the subway.  Yes, it can get busy, but that is the same in every major city in the world.


Happy Birthday America!

Photo of the Day: July 4th, Happy Birthday America

Happy Birthday America!


July 4th, Happy Birthday America

So it’s the Fourth of July and what could be more American than Mickey Mouse?  So here’s a photo of a refrigerator magnet I have of Mickey.  I thought about a photo of a flag but I’m guessing that’s been done.

A lot of people get confused about Disney Land and Disney World, and which one is in California and which one is in Florida.  Here’s an easy tip so that you never show up at the wrong one.  Disney LAnd is in LA and Disney wORLd is in ORLando.  Simple, right?




Photo of the Day: Deck Chairs in Hyde Park

Deck Chairs in Hyde Park

Deck Chairs in Hyde Park

It was an overcast all-but rainy day in London sometime in late April when I was walking through Hyde Park on my way to the Royal Albert Hall.  There were these two deck chairs just randomly sitting there just staring out over the Serpentine.  No one sitting in them and no one even near them.  They looked like they there in preparation for something that hadn’t quite happened yet; perhaps just sunlight would have been all it would have taken.

Any way they stood out and I snapped them.

Photography Techniques: Your Camera Dial Explained


What do all of the selections on your camera dial mean?

There are a bunch of letters littering your camera dial. What do they all mean and why are they there? There are too many cameras and settings to cover every camera so here are various settings that can be found on many of the Canon cameras on the market today.

Scene Intelligent Auto Mode (AKA the “Green Zone”)

This automates everything. Auto Picture Style, Auto Focus, Auto ISO, Auto Shutter, Auto Aperture, Auto White Balance, etc. When you need something quick and don’t want to worry about settings this may be a good choice. When you want to reproduce a point and shoot, set it and leave it then this may give you worry free shooting. One caveat is that it will only save JPG files in this mode.

Program Mode

By choosing this mode you are once again giving the camera the ability to automate all of the functions. The difference between this and A+ is that now you do have the ability to make adjustments. You can adjust your focus points and should you need to raise or lower your exposure then you have that ability using the camera’s main dial to change exposure and the camera will factor in any change needed to get the right shot automatically.

Neither A+ or P may be right for you or for any given situation but they are both there as ways you can broaden your options and quickly get the shot you need at any time.

Shutter Priority or Time Value

In situations where the shutter needs to be given priority over the other settings you can turn to TV on your dial. This gives you complete control over the speed of your shutter. Say you are shooting a sporting event outdoors and there is a lot of very fast action that you want to capture. With a very fast shutter speed everything can look like it is standing still which is not ideal for some sports. You want to be able to feel the speed and yet freeze the parts of the action that make sense like a race car, runner, speed boat, etc. On the other hand a slow shutter speed may introduce too much time for you to be able to reasonable capture the action without everything becoming blurred. So many sports require a very specific shutter speed to capture the best of the action. With TV you have that control. Sports are just one example of where TV can be a good choice on your dial. TV stands for Time Value and this name comes from the fact that you are prioritizing the shutter time opening and closing.

Aperture Priority or Aperture Value

This mode gives you the ability to drive all other settings around your aperture. You choose where to set your aperture and the camera will make the necessary adjustments to the other settings to get the best shot. For example a good use of AV mode may be that portrait shot where you need to be ready and in a position to take a shot quickly without needing to make a whole lot of adjustments. Point, adjust your aperture and shoot. On the Canon 5D Mark III the speed dial on the back of the camera is easily accessible and right there when you need to make quick finite adjustments to the aperture.

Manual Mode

Everything is adjustable, all of the time. My best suggestion when using Manual mode is to plan ahead. Set up your camera in advance for the type of shoot that you are going to be doing and make minor adjustments as you need to on the fly. If you get to a shoot and have nothing prepared then you can waste time having to run through settings and changing things. This can mean that you can miss shots. If what you are shooting is not staged; like a sporting event for example then great shots can be there and gone by the time you get set up. Plan ahead and let Manual Mode work for you by making a comprehensive set of options available to you, but by preparing you are limiting the work needed to get the most from the camera.

Bulb Exposure

This mode will allow you to take long exposure shots up to and beyond the standard 30 secs built into the other modes. As long as you hold down the shutter button the shutter will stay open. On the Canon 5D Mark III the length of the exposure time will be displayed on the LCD panel. However be aware that you should not use the light on the an LCD panel as the camera will pick up that light and potentially ruin your shot. It may be best to have another way to time the length of your exposure.

Here are a couple of other tips when using Bulb mode: Most cameras will recommend that you turn your lens Image Stabilizing mechanism off. Bulb mode is best used when you have the camera mounted on a tripod.

C1, C2, C3
Custom Shooting Modes

In order to use C1-3 effectively you will need to register your settings in the camera menu. These three modes allow you to store settings for various types of shoots. For example if you are are a portrait shooter but also shoot sports and landscapes you can set up your camera for your portraits and then in the camera menu store that to C1, and then set it up for sports and store in C2, etc. As I mentioned earlier when using your manual Mode one of the best ways to help the camera to help you is to plan ahead. By storing settings appropriate for different types of shoots you can quickly give yourself a starting point to work from. Think of Custom Shooting modes in the same way you think of Bookmarks in your browser. Rather than having to Google everything your browser allows you to save links to the websites you use most often as a convenience. Your camera is allowing you to save your settings for the types of shoots you do the most.

The above settings are from one of my Canon cameras. Each camera and each camera manufacturer provide different settings but there is a lot of overlap (with perhaps some differing nomenclature).

For reviews and more information on some of the Canon equipment I use please visit my YouTube channel here. I hope you found this useful.




















Photo of the Day: Sforza Castle

Sforza Castle

Sforza Castle

In the heart of Milan, Sforza Castle is lit nightly to showcase it’s beauty.  In the fashion capital of the world it fits right in.  Bathed in light the green grass, the brown walls and the blue light in the turret coordinate and contrast with the straight lines, curves and delicate random texture of the walls.

Milan is a big city and the castle may well be one of the oldest parts and consequently sits in the heart.  It’s a gem to look at in the front and during the day the gardens in the back provide a wonderful respite from the hustle and bustle outside.


Crime and Temperature

Travel Tips: Crime and Temperature

Crime and Temperature

Crime and Temperature

Recently we took a look at the language barrier and how if you are an English speaker you really should have very little trouble traveling the planet and being able to communicate to people. If you make any attempt whatsoever to speak in the local language then you will be way ahead of the game. This week how about your safety? Which countries are safer than others? Well here’s some data and some observations.

Back in the early 80’s Siouxie and the Banshees released a song called 92 Degrees. It was written around the premise that when the temperature in any place reaches 92′ Fahrenheit the murder rate shoots up. Just how safe are the places of the world and how does temperature affect our sensibilities??

I compared data on the crime rates of countries to their average yearly temperature. Well, yep there were some surprising results. Now bear in mind this is all pop-data and just me having a look at various information. I’m not a statistician and so this is not scientific and it doesn’t consider all of the facts, etc. However it does appear that there is a big correlation between temperature and crime.

To test this theory I divided the countries into groups based on their average yearly temperature. I ended up with six groups:
>5’C, <10’C
>10’C, <15’C
>15’C, <20’C
>20’C, <25’C

Then I averaged the crimes rates for countries by their respective groups and it was interesting. Of course not in any way scientific but from a pop-data perspective interesting. There is a clear differentiation between those countries in the top three groups versus those countries in the bottom three groups:

<5’C = 56
>5’C – <10’C = 52
>10’C – <15’C = 62
>15’C – <20’C = 94
>20’C – <25’C = 99
>25’C = 91

So instead of 92′ Fahrenheit it seems that actually 15′ Centigrade is the new crime demarker! The crime rate in countries with an average temperature of below 15’C is almost 30 points better than those countries with an average temperature greater then 15’c! 30 points! that’s significant. Having said that as you will see below there are countries in the top 10 most dangerous and safest (By Intentional Homicide Rate) from all climates!

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime the Top 10 most dangerous countries by Intentional Homicide Rate are (per 100,000 population):
Honduras 91.6
Venezuala 79
El Salvador 69.2
Ivory Coast 56.9
Belize 41.4
Jamaica 40.9
U.S. Virgin Islands 39.2
Guatemala 38.5
St. Kitts and Nevis 38.2
Zambia 38

And the Top 10 safest countries by Intentional Homicide Rate are (per 100,000 population):
Monaco 0
Palau 0
Singapore 0.2
Japan 0.3
Iceland 0.3
Hong Kong 0.4
French Polynesia 0.4
Bahrain 0.6
Austria 0.6
Guam 0.6

I hope this information is useful.

Chinese Lanterns

Photo of the Day: Chinese Lanterns, Italian Style Hotel in the USA?

Chinese Lanterns

Chinese Lanterns in an Italian Style Hotel in the USA?

Yes, as odd as it sounds; but hey it was Las Vegas so perhaps I should have expected the unexpected. The Venetian during Chinese New Year, natural light coming from a skylight and the lanterns contrasted against the blueish light.

Co-joined with it’s sister property The Palazzo, this particular section is on the long indoor section that connects the two hotels.  It is filled with high end retail, restaurants and let us not forget the gambling!  No reason to leave the hotels complex whatsoever as there are convention facilities, first rate entertainment and even a gondola ride!



Travel Photography Blog by MACH

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