I recently returned from a trip to the Yucatán peninsula — fortunately I’d received my pre-ordered E-M1 body and 12-40mm f/2.8 lens before we left for the trip (the lens’ arrival preceding my departure by all of two days), so thought I’d write up some quick thoughts on how the combination behaved for me in real-world travel.
First off, I like to take the shine off my camera gear before travel in the 3rd world (on the assumption that this will make it a bit less attractive to the average petty thief). Both the E-M1 and 12-40mm lens have quite a bit of flashy trim and lettering on them, so it took me longer than usual to “de-bling” them for travel. Still, at least they both have a black finish, so a 3rd party lens cap and about 20 minutes’ work with black gaffer tape did the trick.
You’ll also notice in the above image that I’ve set up my E-M1 with a Peak Design “Cuff” — I’ll write up a full review of this item later, but it proved to be a very helpful ally as well.
Probably one of the most-photographed sights at the ancient Maya ruins of Palenque, it’s the Palace’s tower:
On the days we visited Palenque, we had to deal with pretty persistent clouds — not a huge deal, if you have a few ways to handle them. In this case, I used NIK HDR Efex Pro 2 to avoid losing the shadowed parts of the tower and get a little drama in the otherwise-featureless clouds. It’s on the edge of looking “over-cooked,” but I think it works for this image.
The funny thing in retrospect is that in order to get this shot, I had to stand on what once were the Palace’s toilets. Good thing they haven’t been used for a thousand years.
If you’re planning on travel to Palenque in the near future, I’m doing final edits to my “Photographer’s Guide” eBook for the ruins at Palenque. Should hit the (metaphorical) streets by Wednesday. Stay tuned…
A little scene, captured along highway 82 in Colorado, west of Twin Lakes on the road to Aspen:
A fun little story goes along with this shot. The landowner where I spotted this scene has the cleared part of his / her land set up picture-perfect, almost as if to invite photography. Old barn, old windmill, old tractor — it’s all there just waiting for a “calendar shot.” When we slowed down so I could grab a few shots, someone was already parked in the driveway. I pulled alongside him, and he left — to be replaced about 30 seconds later by another visitor. After I was done shooting, yet another photog took my place.
If the landowner set out a tip jar, they could collect some serious cash (more if they had pre-signed property release forms)!
Looking north along the shoreline at the ancient Maya ruins of Tulúm in Quintana Roo, Mexico:
Tulúm may not have the best architecture compared to other Maya sites, but you’ve got to admit that its location can’t be beat for photography! And if you’re lucky enough to show up at low tide, the beach in this picture is open to swimmers and sunbathers.
Building 6 at the Maya ruins of Dzibanché, near Chetumal in Quintana Roo, México:
Dzibanché is a bit of an odd duck — great things to see, but it’s sufficiently off the “usual” track for tourists that it doesn’t get many visitors. It doesn’t help, either, that basically all the tour guide books describe the road to the site as being a rutted dirt track (it’s narrow and crooked, but has been paved for at least 10 years).
Of course, the good news for those that *do* drive out to Dzibanché is that you’ll most likely have the place to yourself. Oh, and you can climb most of the pyramids here (unlike many of the more-visited ruins).
Building 6, by the way, is the first pyramid you see on your walk into the site. It’s also known as the “Palace of the Lintels” after some carved wood beams that were discovered here (sadly, they’ve been removed and replaced by more modern wood).
12 November update — by the way, if you happen to be planning a trip to the Yucatan, I’m in the process of releasing a set of 12 guides to Maya ruins. Oriented toward photography in the ruins, they only cost a couple of dollars each via Amazon’s Kindle store — the one for Dzibanché and its neighbors is described here. I’ve released two guides so far, the rest of the dozen should be out before the end of the year — so stay tuned!