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Newsletter 35 - sent on the 20 December 2019
A few festive discounts!
Our final photographic tour of the year - to the entrancing country of Laos - was a great success. Even better, we managed to avoid a good half of the lamentable UK General Election campaign! You can see a small selection of pictures from this trip on this link.
In 2019 we have run successful tours to Ethiopia, Morocco and Jordan as well as Laos, but the year has been very slow for everyone in the travel industry in the UK. The political uncertainty has hit Sterling, and across the board people seem cautious about making any bookings. To try to spread a little Christmas cheer though, and in the hope of a more optimistic New Year, we are happy to offer a range of discounts on this newsletter. Scroll down for more information.
We already have two great tours available available for 2020, to Madagascar and Namibia, and are in the process if sorting out an exciting new itinerary for the end of the year – more details on this hopefully in the next few weeks.
Impressions of Madagascar
The incredible island of Madagascar is on many people's travel wishlist, and we believe that our revised Impressions of Madagascar tour offers the best mix of wildlife and culture, adventure and comfort and landscapes and towns - as well as covering most of the highlists of this unique country.
We cover some of the best wildlife reserves in the country, giving you an incredible chance to see and photograph much of the wonderfully varied animal species that have evolved on the island. Much of the wildlife of Madagascar is endemic: you will find it nowhere else on earth. Madagascar is best known for the engaging lemur, and we should encounter many different species, including the iconic ring-tailed lemur and the dancing sifaka lemurs in the Isalo National Park in the South.
As well as lemurs we will be able to photograph a number of species of chameleon, birdlife and possibly even the fossa - a carnivore that is endemic to the island. Our revised schedule should allow us the option to go whale-watching in Ifaty, although this will be dependent on whether the whale migration season begins on time.
The landscapes of Madagascar are stunning. We will be able to photograph the incredible Avenue of Baobabs at both sunrise and sunset, and will also explore the Tsingy of Bemaraha. These fantastical eroded limestone landscapes are hailed by many as the top thing to see in the country. The journey to Bemaraha is an adventure on its own: a 4WD mission, which includes a section on a local raft ferry. The result is that you will truly feel that you have arrived somewhere special, a place that few visitors to the country get to see.
Our itinerary doesn't just show you the wild places of Madagascar. We spend time exploring some of the atmospheric and historic towns, and learning about the culture of the people of the island. Wherever possible we will visit markets and villages as we travel, and have timed our itinerary to see the austere Christian village of Soantanana where the faithful process to church, dressed entirely in white.
We have worked hard to create a balanced itinerary that takes in the higlights of Madagascar. Along our route we visit some incredible places, and stay at some atmospheric and remarkably comfortable accommodation to give you a comprehensive vison of this most unique of countries.
Impressions of Madagascar departs from Antananarivo on the 4 June 2020 for 16 days, and costs from £3795 per person based on twinshare. To see all of the fantastic places we visit on this trip, and the fantastic places that we will be staying, check out the full itinerary here, or you can find the booking form here.
Impressions of Namibia
Namibia is an amazingly photogenic country. The landscapes, wildlife, and colonial architecture combine with a small but welcoming population to make it an exciting country to travel in, and a particularly rewarding place to photograph.
In order to get the very best access fo photography, there are two places that you just have to stay on any visit to Namiba, and unfortunately these don't come cheap. Staying at the Sossus Dune Lodge inside the park at Sossusvlei gives you special access to the park before anyone else, which means that you can get to the hauntingly beautiful dry pan of Dead Vlei in order to witness the sunset, and before the crowds of course!
Staying at Okakuejo, in Etosha National Park, means that you can spend the night at their floodlit waterhole: in my opinion the best in Africa, and your best chance of seeing the critically endangered Black Rhino anywhere on the continent. We spend two nights at each of these places, to give us the best access for photography.
In the North of the country, we head into Damaraland, to seek out the rare Desert Elephant sub-species, and also to photograph the vibrant Himba people, many of whom still lead traditional, nomadic lives.
We also head out to the Kolmanskop Ghost Town, where we will aim to be there as the site opens, again to beat the crowds! Kolmanskop was a rich mining town, that was established in the middle of a diamond boom, before being deserted and reclaimed by the shifting sands of the desert. Fantastically atmospheric, this site changes as the sun moves around, sometimes casting striking shadows.
Another incredible place that we visit is the Cape Cross Seal Colony. This is a sprawling mass of thousands of garralous and squabbling Cape Fur Seals. It is possible to get exceptionally close to these animals, as they are often lounging alongside the wooden walkway. There is a good chance of seeing jackals here, scavanging amongst the seals, and occasional even a hunting hyena.
We have two dates organised for Impressions of Namibia: departing Windhoek on the 23 September and 14 October, each for 15 days. The first trip is led by Steve Davey; the second trip by photographer Jamie Marshall. The cost is from £3995 per person based on twinshare.
To see more of the amazing places that we visit on this exciting photography tour, you can see the full itinerary here, or if you want to book up a place on the trip, you can find the booking form here.
The pdf for this trip can be downloaded on this link.
Destinations Travel Photography Masterclasses
This year I will be running another series of Travel Photography Masterclasses at the Destinations Shows in both Manchester and London. There are a number of masterclasses to choose from, for people of all photographic abilities, including Advanced DSLR & Mirrorless skills, Telling Stories with Composition and Capturing a Sense of Place. The Masterclasses are an intense and concentrated way to learn a number of new skills and include entry to the show, so you will also have time to plan your next trip away.
Masterclasses are held at Destinations Manchester on the 18 & 19 January 2020, and at Destinations London on the 30 January to 2 February 2020. You can see what sessions are available in Manchester on this link; and in London on this link.
The sessions are sponsored by Intrepid Travel, and for a limited time only, you can get 10% off, but quoting INTREP when booking. This means that the workshops will cost just £27 in London and £22.50 in Manchester.
You will also get a £50 Intrepid voucher, which you can also redeem off any of my tours, meaning that you can effectively come along for free and still get money off your trip!
Lightroom tip 07 - heal the noise!
Adobe Lightroom has some fairly powerful tools for reducing high ISO noise, but there are third party plug-ins that can do a much better job. I have recently been experimenting with Topaz DeNoise AI, which can be used as a standalone application or as a plug-in for Lightroom.
If you use DeNoise AI as a plug-in, then it will create a Photoshop or TIFF of the image and work on that in Lightroom; if you use the standalone app then you can save the de-noised image as a DNG file and reimport that into Lightroom and then process it there.
The actual mechanics of using the filter are simple. The Auto suggestions usually work well, but I usually wind them back slightly to avoid people looking like they have just had Botox!
Topaz DeNoise AI currently costs $79, but will easily allow you to shoot at at least two stops higher than you can without any post-processing, and so will be considerably cheaper than buying a new camera! However, if you buy the plug-in in the next week, there is a 25% festive discount, and if you use this link you should get a further 15% off courtesy of Better Travel Photography!
Better Travel Photography
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Have a great festive season,
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