Wednesday, November 12, 2014



Text and images by:
Leopoldo "Leo" García-Berrizbeitia


This article is to make the editorial; travel, nature, and documentary photography lovers optimize their efforts during productions that involve traveling to far away places. This is where it pays to increase the depth and vision of our photography goals. As our biggest asset is publishable images, the more subjects that we cover during a shoot the better.


This story unfolded, as Revista Exclusiva (a lifestyles local magazine in Venezuela)  sent me to Yaracuy State to interview a Venezuelan entrepreneur. I was to meet him  at his working ranch which is surrounded by a relict tropical forest. As it turned out, I proposed to the editorial company more content for their children and pet magazines, which were to be researched and photographed during the same production, thus increasing its reach, to three of their publications, instead of one, and enabling me to make the most out of single production. 

Product optimization applies to all lines of work, and if one can produce a greater output of  digital images and subject matter for your editorial house, you may place yourself, in a far-reaching place from most of the competition. The question that comes to mind is, would they buy it? Well, been proactive in a competitive environment, such as digital photography, is a test for the daring. Yes, one needs to get out of our comfort zones and take a calculated risk. Therefore, I will let the readers be the judges on the subject. Its up to your imagination to investigate and decide, what kind of output we can get, from a single destination.

How can this be attained? Nothing beats knowing your destination or location, and due diligence is a most. This will enable the photographers to reach into the depths of the subject/content of our destinations and thus, enable us to make appealing proposals to our editors. 

As the object of the assignment was a business- man, and his new vision about the boutique, corporate and sports lodging business. Any added value to the primary work was a plus. So there are many other stories to be told such as: The gentelman, the ranch, the natural wonders of the destination, behind the scenes of a working ranch, the wild life and natural history of the surrounding forest, the scientific research been done in the place, and so forth. How do we sale these idea? By placing value in content for all of those involved: The potential audience, our editorial clients and the gentleman's need in promoting his ventures. So one has a win-win situation for all involved.

The investor foresees, maximizing tourist flow, by increasing different segments for the vacation and corporate market travel business. How? by making the same geographical area available to the travelers, in all walks of life,

as a way, of maximizing business and reducing cost in a competitive market. He is planning different lodging sites, built within the same area, which will be independent enough, so none of them, will be on sight from each other, however, they will be managed under the same umbrella in order to pull resources and make their use more efficient. 

This has caught many people’s attention as an innovating strategy of doing business. Therefore, his idea of developing a multiple segment business, in a single destination, was the object of the article. This visionary’s philosophy was inspirational, and it made a lot of sense. I knew, that in today’s competitive editorial photography field, one needs to make the most out of each effort, and procure, as many digital images as possible, during each production, in order to make the operating costs more efficient and the end results more profitable. Therefore, one most get the most from single job and location, especially, when the production is on your pocket. 

I will publish as many subjects as I can from this photo experience, to get the point across, and I hope, this will become an incentive to make you another multi-purpose visionary in digital photography.


Know your subject(s)!!!

First, I have a one big editorial house, Editorial Ave Fenix 2010, where I freelance for three magazines, another Eco-Editorial venue, Río Verde, is a nature magazine that has publish my articles and photos in the last two years, and last, but not the least, I have my own blog to work for. This is a real challenge, there are no excuses for content writing and image taking, one most meet deadlines, and in the web, a constant flow of articles and images are a most.

This article is about my adventures working for Ave Fenix, with whom I have been working for 10 years. 

Therefore, learning the most about the  geography, ecology, plants, animals,  light and the people involved in the production, is a key element, to plan for future subject matter, and have the readiness to answer what do you have to offer? 


CONTEX AND OBJECT: These two words are
very important for a photo shoot. Context is were
broad subject matter is accounted for. Object is
where the photographer concentrates on the details.
These two objectives are key for any project and 
they should be taken into consideration when you plan
the images that will go in your articles.

You've got to love GOOGLE EARTH

Google Earth is a fantastic tool to use for a photo shoot.
With it, one can learn about coordinates, geography, landscape, 
urban development, logistics and even contingency to help your 
budget planning. Look into it.

THE GEOGRAPHY OF A PHOTOSHOOT: I have found Google Earth to be a fantastic source of photographic information. Their satellite pictures were key in planning my visit to the ranch's location. Using these pictures one can get a birds eye view of the terrain in ways that could no be attained before. The pictures help the photographer by getting your bearings and figuring out where the sunrise and sunset occur (you have to know the light's movement during the day). Where are the open and wooded spaces, so you can plan your shoot efficiently. Furthermore, knowing how far from the nearest town can be of uttermost importance for contingency planning. Do not underestimate geography, I feel it is one of our greatest allies or it can become our greatest foe.

The top image shows the Yaracuy Depression, which is a break between the Andes and The Central Coastal Cordillera of the Venezuelan Caribbean Coast. To a trained naturalist, this is very important, as one could expect to find plant and animal elements of both mountain ranges converging in a single place! More plants and critters allow for a bigger inventory of images for our stock files.

The image in the lower left, shows how small clouds are brought inland by the winds blown from the sea. 

These winds are responsible for the humidity and rainfall of the region. However, Guaquira Ranch is located in the leeward zone of the mountain, which shows, as the less green areas on the map. This is due to the rain shadow that mountainous barriers place on the wet laden winds that come from the ocean. So the ecology of the place may not be as wet as expected.

This means that one has to pack the gear accordingly. Water proofed cases help, however they are burdensome in the field. Waterproof Back Packs are ideal, but if you do not have one, good strong plastic bags are a most. When shooting in a tropical rainy environment, you should wear quick drying garments; pack a poncho, canvas shoes or good wellingtons in case you may trek in the forest. I use a "T" Shirt, which I tuck in my pants, to keep ticks out and a long sleeve shirt, for sun protection. River sandals and/or neoprene booties with toe guards are great to wade surefooted in rocky streams and they are light enough to carry in a day backpack. Hats or baseball caps are great for protection against the sun. Hats work great, however, they can be cumbersome to photographers, so I use the cap and a bandana tucked into the cap to keep the sun out. During field outings one most pack the bare essentials, especially if you are not using an assistant. I prefer to work alone, however, that is not always the case.

What to pack: As the landscape is made up by low mountains, many valleys, open pastures, river crossings and steep forested trails, and there were just a few roads to approach the shooting sites, one most plan to pack light. For me, as a budget documentary photographer, I move around with one camera body a Canon EOS 7D (love to have two) a Kit Zoom Lens 18-135 f/3.5-5.6, Tele zoom 70-300 f/ 4-5.6 and a Macro 100mm f/2.8. This group of lenses plus honed image hunting skills will be enough for most photographers. For support, an old Manfrotto aluminum tripod/weapon this brings my carry around weight close to 17 Kilograms (34 lbs) which may be on the steep side for some people. Walking in small trails, streams and thickets for up to 10 hours requires packing according to the job, and one most be fit to do the walk. This is a very important subject in planning for your locations.

Searching for the light: I had three nights / four days at the location. Since  did not have the priviledge of a pre-shoot site inspection, I had to study the light as the day went on. In travel destination photography, its best to do outdoor shots between 06:00 and 10:00 and 16:00 and 18:00. I mostly do indoors using high ISO or flash fills between 10:00 and 15:00 so planning is important to asses the recourses one needs, and  to mentally frame, your landscapes for the best light the day can provide. The composite below includes the Google Earth satellite image and the pictures I took of the pond, to document it, for future jobs on natural and man made pondsThe pictures were made in different light conditions to use as an example for this article.

Once again, Google Earth proofs to be a great planning tool, as it has an application that allows the viewer to see how the light changes throughout the day!

Up, in the menu bar, you will find an application that allows the user to see the day's shifting light, as you move the cursor, that appears in the small window. This works in both the flat map and the 3D versions of Google Earth.

I chose a time lapse between 16:27 (04:27 PM) and 18:02 (06:02 PM) to show how the shadows and tones shifted over the ponds in a two hour time lapse. Note the warming effect at the 17:32 time frame. This is very nice to know,  especially, when pre-production site inspections are out of the question. This enables the photographer to foresee and even plan a shoot way before the date and thus, make his/her work, and use of time, more efficient.


Each image in this sequence, was part of a light study around the pond. It let me know its timelines and how light affected the pond creatures and how it affected their behavior at different times of the day. Understanding the biological clock of your location pays in a big way in nature photography.


Most photographers will include early morning shots within the "Golden Hour" which are placed sometime before sunrise and before sunset, this times of the day the light is said to be "magic" and I agree. However, I find morning lights to be cooler than pre sunset hours. Why? because, pre-sunset atmosphere has had the whole day to warm the atmospheric gases, thus giving warmer colors to the scenery than pre dawn lights, which had the whole night to cool the atmospheric gases down. Both are wonderful times and outdoor settings look much better at this time.

One of the magic moments in photography is in early morning, just before the sun breaks over the horizon, when the mist rises over the jungle and pond waters, giving off a bluish hue to the cold surfaces of the landscape. I usually do panoramics to document the places context, then, I work the details, emphasizing subject mater, light, and aesthetics. 

High contrast photography in cool morning air is great for silhouettes. As the day warms up, the pond waters work as polarizing filters rendering beautiful reflections of the landscape.

In the image below, the pond lilies loose their green tone and shine in silver that contrasts with the water, that still reflects, the pink colors of the flowers in the pond's shoreline.

Most images are part of a pre-conceived story that comes to mind after reading about the  region’s ecology and other publications. That is why, its highly recomended to study as much as possible the location's history, geography, natural history and cultural information in order to make, a wish list of images, that may work for a wide array of publications.


The pictures below, were made in the afternoon, I've just had to get acquainted with the pond to understand it dynamics. A lot of its eastern coast was in shadows early in the morning as the sun was block by the mountains until 10:00. However, in the afternoon things changed and warm golden light enveloped the landscape, contrasting light became evident, and the scenery became a great myriad of colors.

The relief from high ground to the pond played an important role in the vetegation's zoning. This, in turn was important to learn about the wildlife habits that lived in the area, as they could provide more stories to your editorial bag. So a small walk, can go a long way, in learning and fine-tuning the rest of your work's chronology. Mind you that the images you get wike prospecting will be part of an inventory, that will enable you and your clients to add stories as you start to work your location.

One of the most important things to do is to let your editors know your goals, then, explain them to your host, and make sure that his/her time have the priority. I found that when you plan to do a bigger job, without affecting, the main object, everyone will be happy to help to get your images done.

Well, this is the end of PART 1, stay in touch for more on SINGLE DESTINATION MULTIPLE AUDIENCE info. 

Love to have your impute, so don't be shy and write.

Best regards

Leopoldo "Leo" García

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