The past few years I have been taking personal trips that take me away from friends, family and everyday life. I’ve taken single days, weeks and even months but length really doesn’t matter. Solitude is the key… this is not just a vacation with a spouse or a get-a-way with a friend… it’s a very deliberate time to find isolation from the oh-so-many distractions we face in our world. There’s something magical about being completely alone… just me and my thoughts and beautiful Creation.
For me, I find the most tranquility camping in the wilderness. I awake in the morning and I see His Light as the sun breaks over the horizon, I feel His warmth as the dew melts off the grass, I hear His power in the roar of a distant waterfall. With nowhere to be and nothing to do, I rest and watch as a new day dawns. It’s in these times I feel most alive, it’s in this stillness where I can cease striving and know that He is God (Ps 46:10) and it’s in these days I feel a physical connection & spiritual harmony with my Maker like no other.
As I go on these trips alone to recharge, people have always looked at me and said “oh he is introverted, of course he needs that” and I honestly always thought they were right. But as I’ve encouraged those around me to take time off and truly be “alone” I’ve learned this time pays off for introverts and extroverts alike. Finding a place to embrace solitude with literally no goal except to think, rest and absorb the beauty in Creation and just praise God for who He is yields a unique prize regardless of who you are.
The idea of being alone may be a bit scary but embracing that fear is rewarding. Look at David who spent hours on end writing the Psalms beneath a tree. Think about Jesus who retreated to the mountains time and time again. These were men living in a significantly slower society with barely any distractions compared to the society we live in today yet they fought to get away into isolation. Don’t be afraid of spending time without a close friend or peers… it might surprise you what comes of it.
It’s easy to think “I’m too busy” or “there’s just so much going on, I could never get away.” Consider Bill Gates… even as CEO of Microsoft, he was finding time for two “think weeks” a year! I’m sure he had more on his plate than you and me combined yet he saw enough value in the power of seclusion to make it happen…and not just once, he did this over and over.
Sure, I’ve gone on 5-week adventures camping solo… not everyone needs such a long trip. But I’m encouraging you to take some alone time somewhere, somehow. It may just be camping at a nearby lake for a night, a week at a log cabin nestled away in the mountains or a month sailing through the Arctic solo.
A get-a-way like this with no schedule or plans will inspire you to create and challenge you to new aspirations. It will give you direction, rest & rejuvenation that you just can’t find elsewhere…but most importantly you’ll find it creates room for the Spirit to feed the deepest cravings of your soul.
Wheverever, however, whenever you do it, you need to do it. Find a place, schedule a time, make it happen… something amazing will come out of it.
A new iPhone release is always fun but as a travel photographer the most exciting aspect is new & improved abilities of the new camera. The 4S was a pretty big upgrade from the 4 and the iPhone 5 has been expected to be an even bigger jump.
We had our hands on iPhone 5s just minutes after their release on Friday… hours later, we were on a flight to Iceland (where we are now) to test out it’s widely-hyped camera upgrades, including it’s all-new panorama feature, low light capability and unbeknownst to us even it’s “dropability.”
After about 48 hours shooting here in Iceland… I can definitely say, it’s a pretty incredible upgrade.
I’ve found the panorama feature works insanely well… almost too good. Panoramic images are going to be the next thing and I predict an Instagram-esque service/app that can features iPhone panoramas will explode. It makes it so fun and easy. As you can see in the image from the plane above, it hands close proximity environments very well but of course any time there are moving objects in your frame there’s going to be trouble (aka people’s faces look morphed.)
It settings like the one below, it works beautifully. This panorama was shot in about 15 seconds, just panning the camera across the landscape as if I was shooting video. The result is a surprisingly sharp, 28 megapixel image.
Holding the iPhone 5 is a tad bit unwieldy to any previous iPhone user… For starters, it’s lighter and just feels like a toy but secondly the taller proportion just feels strange and takes awhile to get used to (haven’t yet.) When shooting the panoramas, the on-screen arrow makes it super easy to stay level and it shows you a live preview of your pano as you create it… a feature I have yet to see in any dSLR. I did find that holding the phone with cold, wet hands it was very difficult to keep images sharp.
Probably the most impressive aspect of the new phone is it’s low light performance. It’s a drastic improvement from it’s predecessor, the 4S. Noise-level are much more subtle and w/ it’s much faster lens it’s ability to focus in near dark is really wonderful.
I did find that the though the panorama feature was able to stitch together an image well in low light, the grain was significantly higher and the image all around darker than a single frame.
Fast Shutter Fire
Shooting speed has SIGNIFICANTLY increased… One of the big bummer with the iPhone 4S was the ability to shoot frames in rapid succession was very limited. With the iPhone 5 I’ve found I can hit the shutter about as fast as possible and it keeps up pretty well. See the series of images shot very quickly below:
Late September in Iceland is not a friendly place for any electronics… this is a time that puts your gear to the test whether you like it or not. Just in the last 2 days of shooting here, I’ve had my iPhone 5 covered in water from shooting near a waterfall and Jordan has dropped his directly in the mud. Both seem to be working fine.
One huge bonus of traveling and shooting with the 5 is it’s “world phone” capabilities… meaning it comes carrier unlocked. We were at Nova shop (major wireless provider here in Iceland) shortly after landing getting new SIM cards. After the staff “ooed and awed” over seeing their first iPhone 5, we had data an voice rockin’ in no time. One minor issue is the iPhone 5’s new Nano SIM but it was nothing a pair of scissors couldn’t fix. After we received our Micro SIM from the carrier, we were able to successfully cut down the Micro and fit it into the Nano SIM slot with no problems.
You might wonder why I even mention this in a review primarily geared toward the camera but I see them as one-and-the-same. The truth is that most images from many photographers, professionals and hobbyists alike, are being seen somewhere on the web minutes after being created. The ability to easily connect your device in a foreign land is huge. It not only means easily posting images to Instagram but also staying in contact with people on the ground and navigating your course of exploration!
I used Snapseed almost exclusively for my iPhone editing. It’s super capable, easy-to-use and fun. On the iPhone 5 I found the Snapseed edits are super fast but a little unstable… not sure if it’s an iOS6 thing or something related to the iPhone 5 itself. Whatever it is, NIK needs to push out a software update pretty quick… some of the glitches are just annoying and others apply weird pixel patterns to images when you save them rendering them unusable.
The era in which people specify “shot on iPhone” is coming to end. It doesn’t matter any more… you can no longer say “look what I did with this crippled device!”… because, well, it’s no longer crippled. In fact, it does things your big fancy SLR can’t. Apple hasn’t let us down with the capabilities of the 5 and I can’t wait to see the images you all create on this thing this next year.
twitter & instagram: @austinmann
travel blog: austinmann.com/trek
video & tons of help from: jor.by
I’m currently writing on my phone from the AISLE seat on a flight from Dallas to Seattle working with RACE Charities which I am super excited about… What I am not excited about is this aisle seat.
I’ve always chosen window seat but this time I re-booked my flight last minute and was unable to get a window after re-booking.
I’ve always kind of wondering about these seats… Am I missing out on something amazing? Maybe some hidden pleasure would be revealed if i just tried it out… Well now that I have been forced to experience the dark side , I have a few thoughts…
Window you get to take pictures whenever you want, aisle you don’t.
Window you have control of the shade meaning full control of light or lack thereof, also can check elevation whenever you want.
Window offers a a view with scenic entertainment instead of just the back of a chair (though it offers that too.)
Window usually gets served their drink / snack first… Not a big deal, but just sayin.
The Great Wall
Window you have a wall to sleep against, lean on and love.
It’s generally cooler against the exterior of the aircraft… I’d way rather be a little too cool in the tight quarters on an airplane… You can always put on another layer if needed. Nothin worse than being sweaty and hot and unable to cool down!
Aisle you constantly get bumped by flight attendants and people walking up and down the aisle. Sleep seems almost impossible sitting here.
Aisle seat every time drinks are served they must pass over your laptop to get to the window/middle… Thus every time
they are served, you put the risk frying your computer (literally) in the of hands of the flight attendants and your co-passengers.
Even if they are careful with sure hands, one bit of unexpected turbulence could result in disaster. Aisle you have to get up as often as the people sitting next to you want to.
Window seat is more secure… If you leave your iPad or iPhone in the seat while going to the bathroom, it’s way less likely to get picked up by a would-be thief walking the aisle.
Window seat is way more private. When you are working on your laptop in the aisle seat, it seems that it automatically draws eyes from those around/behind you and they watch you edit photos or write emails… Not a big deal but sometimes feels a touch invasive. Window is more secluded.
I realize the aisle seats allows you to get up whenever you want but I’m learning from this experience that people get up whenever, regardless of where they are sitting…
These are all thoughts off the top of my head and I’m sure there is more to consider… But the good news is… The In-flight WiFi I am writing and posting this from is equally available in both windows and aisle seats!
Who is out there that prefers aisle? Am I missing something?