February 20, 2011

1st Crit in Vietnam

Yesterday, though I nearly changed my mind because I was a bit nervous, a few of us took motorbikes for a 2h30m trek to a market. Because it has been so foggy and cold, and wet, most decided to go by van. So, the three of us from Nova Scotia could not pass this opportunity up. Nance, Laurie, Mary and I hopped onto our motorbikes, with our guys, and took off. I have to say, the most fun I have ever had! There were areas where you could not see because of the fog and rain, and it wasn't exactly warm, but wow. If you ever want to experience a country, especially Vietnam, how the locals do, you must ride a motorbike.

I am here for a photo course. It is a brilliant opportunity to work with, and learn from, Nance Ackerman.  With all the experiences here and learning about the Vietnamese, it is easy to forgot to think about things from a photo point of view. Alas, we each have a critique where we show 15-20 images (the ones we think are best) and everyone has to pick 3 and tell us why they work, or why they don't. They can be nerve-wracking, but at the end of the day, if you are confident with your stuff, or not, they are very helpful.
My critique was last night and I wasn't too nervous about it all mainly because I try to think of it more as a time to get feedback and ask questions about things you are unsure about.

Here are images that were most successful, before editing and adjusting.

 In a few days, I will repost with the adjustments made. Some need no adjustments, but others could be
much stronger with a few tweaks here and there.

February 19, 2011

Sapa, Vietnam

Today we came to Sapa, Vietnam. We slept overnight in the train. There were four of us in a 'room' and I volunteered to be one on the top bunk, Nance was on the other top. The whole night, I dreamt I was about to fall off, though I am happy to report I did not, and slept rather soundly the entire time. We arrived at the train station around 5am and some of us separated, a few came to Sapa to the hotel and the rest rode a very windy road to a market where the Flower Hmong tribe are. One thing to know about Northern Vietnam, there are five main subgroups of the Hmong tribes, Flower, Black, Green, Red, White, and they are recognized based on attire. They do not speak Vietnamese, though I imagine some might know a few words, rather they each have their own language. We learned 'hello' which I say 'Go Ño Hi' literally translating to where are you going. And the other is 'thank you' which is pronounced Ouch-o.  Note these are not how they are spelled, but how I sounded them out (and wrote them on my arm). I think it was greatly appreciated the effort of trying.
Pictures cannot express the views, and though once again, we had not the greatest weather, it was still breathtaking and surreal.
Tonight we will dine together at the Sapa Rooms Hotel, owned by the same guy where we hold our classes in Hanoi, Six on Sixteen. The art and food alone are worth staying at one of these places while here!
I am pleased to say I had a great one-on-one with Nance at the market today. I am just amazed watching her work and giving me pointers which I am more than eager to have. I wish I had half of her talent! Maybe one day, as long as I keep at it!

February 18, 2011

More from Vietnam

I am losing track of the days here. Wednesday, we travelled to Halong Bay to spend the night on a boat. (Of course I instantly think of the Lonely Island's 'I'm On a Boat' when I say this).  We stayed in what they call the 'junk' and had amazing food on board. There, we were able to pick up a boat and some kayaks for getting closer to the people in the fishing villages, which were homes on the water. We arrived back in Hanoi yesterday evening, and only then, did we find out that one of the tourist boats sunk and killed 12 people, 10 tourists and 2 Vietnamese. Unbelievably tragic and scary knowing it was so close to us, and could have easily been us instead. 
Back in Hanoi, we drove out to a flower village and ate breakfast with a family. What is so amazing about it here, is how close families are, and how involved grandparents are with their grandchildren. More than that, they are more than happy for us to hold their babies, which I have been very lucky, and happy to do!
We walked around this village snapping images of the people there; saying hello or Xin Chao to everyone. Most people get a kick out of saying 'hello' to us and having us respond in English. 
After walking around, we came across a meeting with all men, who were very eager to feed us their rice and what I think were shots of vodka, though they had a tequila taste. Then, we were offered a free 'merry-go-round' ride where is was more a balancing act than anything, and the ride was blown with a fan. Very entertaining! Continuing out walk to a market, we saw a women selling live chickens. I am a vegetarian and part time vegan, and seeing this was okay, but hearing the chickens crying out was a bit too much and I had to leave as I was getting far too emotional for this. The animal/human relationship is much different here, and as I never see how the farm animals are treated at home, though I know the awful stories, seeing it first hand is very hard.
Tonight, we leave Hanoi and head North to Sapa, where apparently the scene is beautiful and poverty is blooming. People all over Vietnam are so happy to see us and try to talk with us. 

Here are a few images from Halong Bay!

February 13, 2011

Vietnam: Hanoi, Day 2

Today, I went out for a one on one with Nance, our photo instructor. We went to Hoan Kiem Lake and played around with composition and lighting, or lack there of. It was pretty gray and flat lighting this morning so we were talking about how to make the most of flat lighting.

In class, we further discussed lighting, and to our delight, the sun has come out!

Vietnam: Hanoi, Day 1

I arrived late last night in Hanoi, Vietnam. After traveling 20+ hours, I finally made it. There was a driver waiting for me with my name on a sign (a first) so I didn't have to worry about language and making my way to the hotel, though many people here can speak a bit of english. We ate breakfast at our hotel, I ordered the rice noodles which came with mint and coriander and some sort of cinnamon tofu, watermelon and tea. I went for a run around Lake Hoan Kiem and though it felt like I was going to pass out, I am glad I went. I might attempt another run tomorrow after my one-on-one photo session at 6:30am.
We had our first class today and hung out with our guides/translators. These girls are students here and are part of a student group that help tourists out. We have two sweet girls helping us out, and I was delighted that Yen, who is 20, thought I was 19 years old. 
We walked around and I attempted to break out of my comfort zone, and take images of the people here. I am still trying to push myself to not be shy or worry they will be angry, as we are told they are used to it, and even enjoy it. I hope I do better tomorrow.
So far, I am eating the most wonderful foods, and such fresh vegetables and fruit. The bananas taste so much better here!!

Here is a sneak of what I photographed. This city moves so quickly, it is so overwhelming, but quite an amazing experience.

So far, I think I skipped over jet leg...I guess I will see how I feel tomorrow!!

February 11, 2011


I am sitting at the Montreal airport, it is 5:51am and I have only had 1 hour sleep. I am on my way to Vietnam to study with Nance Ackerman in her cousins photo tour group. I think once I get some sleep, I will be more excited! I must admit, I am unbelievably excited to study and get critiqued again. 

Pictures will be posted often (as long as I have access to the internet easily!)

First things first, getting through the next 20 hours of flying time :)

The view from my balcony when I lived in Little Italy 

February 8, 2011

More Trixie Cups pics

Going through the film I shot when I did the photo shoot with Trixie Cups and thought I would share these without retouching! I quite particularly enjoy the bright light from the window. Almost gives an angelic glow!

February 1, 2011

February 1st!

Today is the first day of February. That means we are almost through the worst of the cold :)

Here are a couple images from beautiful, sunny and warm Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay.  We took a ferry from Buenos Aires on December 28th to Colonia and stayed one night here. It is a beautiful little city, and also the oldest town in Uruguay.  While here, we stayed at an amazing hostel (Sur Hostel), which happened to open the day we arrived, so we ended up being the first guests there. We rented bikes, and biked to the beach, we ate vegetarian food, and walked around to take some pictures. Everyone was unbelievably kind. All in all, an amazing time!