I finally decided that it was too much additional effort trying to make my regular web site display my photography in a way I liked and so I went out and tested some of the dedicated photography sites. These sites are aimed at people who want to sell prints but my main interest was in how they displayed the images. I finally settled on Zenfolio as they had a theme that I liked, one that included a full page slideshow, and so I’ve been slowly populating it with images. Shooting RAW affords me the “luxury” of being able to play in a digital darkroom and that has allowed me to rescue some images that would have been discarded had they been JPEG. Hopefully my skills in Lightroom are improving, it’s certainly getting better although I’ve tried Capture One and I might migrate to it once Adobe want me to give them more money (especially if they decide to discontinue the non CC version of Lightroom).
You can visit the site at http://www.markpriorphotography.com and let it show you a sample of my work. Otherwise use the menu to visit the portfolio and a collection of trips. The slideshow feature seems to work best with the Chrome browser.
A number of people are aware that I had a travel goal of qualifying to join the Travelers’ Century Club (TCC), not that I really had any intention of actually joining. This was more about motivating me to get out of a travel rut and visit some new countries than anything else. In November last year I finally hit 100 “countries” but it doesn’t seem all that significant. The TCC’s country and territory list is claimed to have 324 entries (although at least 329 entries appear on their list) compared to the 194 United Nations’ member (and observer) states. While I can agree that some places deserve to be recognised while not being a member state there is a lot to disagree with on the TCC list so it hardly feels like I’ve made it to 100 countries and territories.
So what’s wrong? I think the problem lies in their “Enclaves/Continental Separation” rule. It states:
Continental land areas having a common government or administration but which are geographically discontinuous either by reason of being separated by foreign land not under their control, by being located on separate continents, or by being separated by a natural body of water shall be considered as separate territories provided their population exceeds 100,000. Multiple fragments separated by the same foreign country shall only count for one territory.
There are places where this works fine but there are also a number of cases where it is plainly stupid. Joking aside, from an Australian context listing Tasmania as separate from the rest of the continent because of Bass Strait makes no sense at all. Canadians would also recognise the same situation with Prince Edward Island classified as being separate from Canada. This is potentially made worse than Tasmania because PEI is virtually surrounded by Canada and is so close that it’s connected via a bridge. Additionally Newfoundland-Labrador isn’t included separately (even though it was only admitted to the Canadian confederation in 1949) because Labrador shares a land boundary with the rest of Canada, and Québec is culturally different from the Anglophone part of Canada but that clearly doesn’t count.
Dividing Egypt, Russia and Turkey into two continental areas seems arbitrary and a case of padding the list, as is dividing Indonesia into island groups. Separately recognising overlapping Argentine, British, and Chilean Antarctic claims results in three countries from one landing but it doesn’t recognise visiting a base of a country that doesn’t have a territorial claim that predates the Antarctic Treaty.
It would be easy to just dismiss the TCC list and go with the UN one but then that would diminish places such as South Georgia, that while a British Overseas Territory is in another hemisphere to the UK.
In the end I think I’ve visited somewhere between 71 and 103 counties and territories so maybe I have at most 29 to go and I should just keep visiting new countries.
Last night there was a lunar eclipse that resulted in a red tinted moon. There was some cloud cover so not ideal but it provided an opportunity to exercise the new tripod (wow is it light, love carbon fibre) and the ancient Tamron 500mm mirror lens. I think the mirror lens has gone the way of the dodo but it still provides a small form factor telephoto lens. The f/8 aperture isn’t anything to write home about but at night it’s hardly an issue. The following image was taken just after the total eclipse had finished.
I haven’t finished updating all my photo albums yet but I thought it was time to migrate to the new site anyway. I’m still working through the photos though so expect more photos to appear in due course.
I discovered that the plugin I was using to display photos on my web site is no longer being developed or supported so I thought I better hunt down some new software that I was happy to use going forward.
Of course things like that don’t just stop there, after finding three different slideshows that might work, as I decided to try to make the web site iPhone/iPad/Android friendly and that took me down the Rapidweaver Theme rathole where I found that my original photo plugin didn’t play nice with newer themes.
So now I’ve rebuilt the web site using a new responsive theme, and found an app to build slideshows straight out of Adobe Lightroom. Only problem now is converting all those old slideshows into new (and improved) ones. Not helped by the lack of photo cataloging of the older photos.
It sounded so simple in the beginning…
On my recent trip I had two interesting encounters with the customs service, firstly in the USA and then Australia.
Firstly the USA. While it’s not unusual for border protection in the USA to seem to act strangely I think they out did themselves this time. For the first time I was entering the USA via ship and at a territory (US Virgin Islands). This necessitated a face to face meeting with a customs agent on the ship. Nothing overly unusual there but I needed to bring a paper copy of my ESTA and fill out a I94-W form. I had thought the the ESTA had consigned the I94-W to history but it appears not if you are traveling by ship. Also it seems that the customs service doesn’t do mobile data as you need to appear with a paper copy of your ESTA. No idea how they determine that it’s legit but maybe that’s why they need the I94-W too.
Now in theory I’m in the USA and the ship continues its journey to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. You would think that customs in US Virgin Islands was sufficient but it would appear not as now we go through the passport check and the usual photograph and finger print fun and games. At least we do until we’re running late and then it reverts to a simple flash of the passport. Not sure how this is securing the borders, if they thought the finger print and photo was necessary for some but not all foreigners.
Next up Australia. I’ve just returned to Australia via Perth Airport. I have an e-passport so I can use the SmartGate and it looked like it might be quicker, queues for both the kiosks and the agents. Anyway I queued for the kiosk. On inserting my passport it asks if I’ve been to Africa, Caribbean, Central or South America. Well I’ve been to them all on this trip so what next? Well now it presents a list of countries and regions asking if I’ve been to any. Clearly a Yellow Fever test. I scan the list while the system nags me about answering the question. I spot an Argentine province I’ve visited so answer yes. SmartGate tells me I need to seek out the information desk. On obvious sign where that is so I head to the agent line before all the people arriving from Bali or Dubai descend on it. Get to the agent and present my form, passport and immunisation booklet, which he ignores. Only question asked was whether my travel to Brazil (country most time spent in) was business or pleasure. I’m now waved through and the next person wants to know about the food I’m carrying. Clearly they happy with my answer as they notate my card and I proceed to collect the checked bag. Now onto the next queue where I think the positive answer to both the “have I been to Africa, Caribbean, Central or South America” question and the one about “have I been in a wilderness area” would get some further questions. Apparently not as I’ve waved through to the exit unlike the 3 people in front of me. Got to wonder why those questions are there if no action (or even questions) is taken.
Just had a great cruise down the Pacific coast of Costa Rica and Panama followed by a transit of the Panama Canal (including spending a night on Gatun lake and a visit to Barro Colorado island). Lots of photographs were taken but only one uploaded as the satellite based Internet service on the ship was unreliable and when it worked slow. While I couldn’t always see a mobile phone signal (and turned airplane mode on to save battery life) it would have probably been a whole lot better than satellite. I could understand why satellite would be problematic in Svalbard but Panama is a mystery.
Finally decided to get a StartCom certificate for my web site, just for WordPress really, and the iPad app now happily connects so I’ll be able to upgrade by blog while I’m travelling with just the iPad.
I usually use Picpress to create photo books but they don’t provide a way to share a preview of the book online so I’ve created one for the Land of the Ice Bears cruise using Blurb. It has the added bonus of creating an iPad version but I lose the lie flat binding. Anyway I’ve created the book and now just need to wait for my physical copy to arrive to see how it really turned out. Meanwhile I continue going through the images to create a book for Greenland.
Blurb also provide some code to access the preview so I’ve embedded that here to see how that works 🙂