First built between 220–206 BC by the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, the great walls main construction was during the Ming Dynasty. Stretching across China for over 8,851.8 km ( or 5,500.3 miles) the Great Wall was used as defensive tool.
A popular myth is that the great wall is visible from the moon, it is not. From low orbit it is, barely visible, as are many other man made objects.
Now here’s a look at this process from beginning to end.
How I “photograph” workflow:
I shoot with a DSLR in both raw and jpeg simultaneously. This creates two exact images.
The raw version can be thought of as being the negative version from an old film camera. It’s unprocessed, and quite large in size.
The jpeg version is the same image, but it’s been processed by the camera and compressed to a smaller size.
The benefit of a RAW file is that it contains a lot of information that the jpg does not. And, much like developing a negative in a dark room, a raw file needs to be processed in a similar way using software before it can be viewed properly.
A jpg can be used for viewing immediately.
I shoot with 16GB cards. I could shoot with 32GB or more. But the frank reality of travel photography when on the road 24/7 is that accidents happen. The camera could get stolen, the card may fail etc. 16GB is about right for me to not go overboard and never remove the before backing it up.
I also don’t erase the photographs from those cards until all back up workflows are finished. So yes, I have a few storage cards.
Let the photography workflow begin:
Once back in a hotel / guesthouse room I immediately transfer all the photographs from the day to my laptop and external hard drive (now there are 3 copies, memory card, laptop, HD.)
Once there I open an application to sort through and proof the days photographs. Many people use Adobe Lightroom, personally I do not.
We simply don’t have the same way of thinking, and I am not a fan of its processing capabilities.
I use my cameras own software, or ACDSee. For those not interested in processing and only in photo management of jpegs (batch renaming, resizing etc,) I would suggest Faststone. It’s free. Limited for pro photo usage, but for the very basics it gets the job done.
But for processing photos, converting RAW images, EXIF data, categorizing, batch processing and photo asset management: I would recommend you check out both ACDSee and Lightroom or Aperture for mac users (links to all of these application be found at the bottom of the page).
Selecting the Best Photographs:
With everything open, I spend a lot of time deleting images that have not come out well. Maybe, they are out of focus, the subject is wrong, or they are just plain bad. They are deleted forever.
I use a full screen mode to view each image. Then, tag the good ones. Once I go through the first pass, I do a sort by tagged images. And, delete the rest.
I usually take a break there, a meal or something.
Then I make a final assault and repeat the first step over again.
Organizing Travel Photographs:
With the remaining photographs selected, I split them into different folders. The folders are named and dated by location.
Year – Location – Sub-location – sub-sub-location-(file name)
Each photograph is given some meta information now. This means I batch insert information such as copyright, keywords, categories and special notes into them.
I then batch rename my photographs so both the RAW and Jpeg counterparts both have the same name. it starts with alpha file name, and finishes with a number in order of date time. e.g. sofia-turkey-0021
Once there. I remove the raw files, and send them to another area on my external drive where they will remain untouched until they are backed up.
With the remaining jpgs, I begin to upload them straight from that main source folder.
Uploading photographs workflow
They get uploaded into one big folder on Zenfolio first. The reason I do this, is because internet capabilities get broken up when I travel. I might only be able to upload 300MB on a given night for example.
Yet, the shoot might mean I have 8+ folders of smaller batches to upload. It might seem better to upload everything in smaller batches in this case. But, think about it this way. It’s 10pm. I am tired and want to sleep, or relax. If I upload 50MB of food photos, it will take 2 hours.
Then at midnight I need to get up and upload the next batch from street photography of say 100MB. That should be finished at 3am or 4am …
See the problem? Whereas if I upload everything at once. I can go to bed at 10pm and hopefully everything is then uploaded by the morning and I can then separate them into different folders online, as well as offline. Which, is a lot faster.
Thankfully zenfolio allows one to have many, many sub categories (directories) which is very useful and fast to set up.
A note on cataloging photographs & an example:
Cataloging photographs, or inserting keywords in them is vital if you ever hope to locate a particular image in the future.
I was contacted by an advertiser who wanted an image on my site for a project. I simply could not find it. I knew what it was, where it should be, but could not find it. If I’d tagged it as “portraits” it would have been a lot easier to find.
It’s a simple thing to do, and it can save so much time in the future.
It doesn’t end here though it continues on in the second part of my Photography workflow while traveling.
Links mentioned above:
Zenfolio – photo hosting (use this code ” BDV-TGN-A7X ” for a $5 discount)
SEO means Search Engine Optimization. It is the process of making you website, and or content, visible to search engines. Without it, no one would find you website other than by word of mouth. Which is not good if you are looking for exposure!
The main search engines in the English speaking world are, Google, Yahoo and Bing. The later two are now using the same resources to deliver their results to you.
How does SEO work?
Before you understand SEO, you need to understand search engines. Search engines crawl the internet looking for content, which for the most part comes in the form of text. Text is easy for these automated programs to understand, compute and tell another program what score the content is worth having.
Why score content?
It the same as a book, or magazine article about. One may be well written, the other poorly. If both are about the same subject, then which one are you more likely to choose? The one with good content right?
So you look to reviews, recommendations and maybe even to book charts to make your decision.
Search engines do basically the same thing.
How do search engines tell what’s good or not?
There are several ways. Content, is it relevant to the subject? Are there other sites linking to the article that also have good relative content. Are there people mentioning it on social media, or subscriptions?
All this tells a search engine just how good, or not so good your content may be. And so, it gives your content a rank.
The higher the rank, the more authority your article will have over someone else’s with a similar subject.
Improving your SEO
In magazines and in many form of literature we doing things to highlight a point. We make headlines. We embolden subheadings, and we highlight areas.
In SEO, we need to do the same for the search engines. Who, or course, have their own language. They don’t visual read or look at our sites. They scan them and read the text. So making a heading red, to the public is nice. But, to a search engine it looks like style=”color: #99cc00;”>red. Big difference.
It does not see the color, it see’s the code.
Code your site for SEO promotion
So if you want to tell a search engine what your article or photograph is all about, you need to give it a code title.
Then, a description. This is a good start.
But, to continue on if you have more content, you should label something and headlines, or sub-headlines.
If all this sounds like work, well then, it is. But, there are many easy ways to do all this without getting technical that we will cover later.
Inherent flaws with SEO
This is, again, a basic overview of SEO. There are other contributing factors. For those with maybe a mathematical mind, or statistical background you might be frowning a little here. Can’t all this be gamed? The answer is of course, yes.
However, search engines are constantly evolving. And, this is the best system we have to work with up to know.
Do you need to care about SEO?
No not at all. Many programs out there that put content on the web automatically do a lot of this for you. But not all, and not so correctly.
If, however, you do want exposure. Then you’ll need to place SEO in a priority marker along with the rest of your content.
It’s the best we have to work with for now, and we just have to go with the flow.
Sadly, many people, photographers in particular over look this. And a lot of great photographs, and articles slip by the Internets way of catching it all. Hopefully, in the series of upcoming articles, we’ll be able to tighten the net a little, and get your work seen a lot more.
The Alhambra in Spain is of breathtaking beauty. Built as a palace and fortress during the mid 14th century by Moorish rulers who occupied this region of Spain at the time.
Left in a state of disrepair until the 19th century the Alhambra is now fully restored and a beautiful example of architecture and relief work.
It’s now a UNESCO heritage site as well. Meaning it is flooded with tourists on a year round basis. Giant car parks included. Spending a few days in Granada, Spain and getting to the Alhambra early in the day in probably the best way to see it.
Premier food blog Cumi dan Ciki is a sensory delight. Though focused on Malaysian cuisine, it rises above other food blogs by adding in a dash of humor, a sprig of travel news, a sprinkle of movie reviews and scoops of great food photography.
Run by Mei Teh and her husband Joe, we take a look at the sites main ingredient – great food photography and how it’s all done …
FotoArk: How did your website start? Was it just a personal blog, or have you always been photographing and, writing about food?
Our blog started out a couple of years back as a means to journal our travels and related photos. However, because we enjoy eating so much (as do other Malaysians!) this blog soon took on the form of a food blog…
[learn_more caption=”Click here to learn more about where the name of Cumi & Ciki comes from …”]There is Cumi-Ciki but who is ‘Dan’? For non-Malaysian or Indonesian readers (our languages are similar but have vast differences too), ‘Dan’ is not an imaginary person but the English word ‘And’. It’s not spelt backwards but that’s how it ‘s translated in Malay language. Since we used it in our original Blogger site, we kept it the same here. Cumi & Ciki is a Malaysian food and travel blog, which also tells of our worldly adventures! The name is derived from a popular educational television puppet show for Malaysian children in the 70s and 80s. This is the tale of the two traveling, eating, thrill-seeking monkeys from Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Peninsular Malaysia. Ultimately food and culture go hand in hand and we strive hard to convey this via our blog on a daily basis.[/learn_more]
FotoArk: Tell us how you set up a photo shoot? Do you talk to the restaurant before and make a private appointment. Or do you just show up and start ordering?
Well sometimes we just walk in, sometimes we get emails or a phone call, requesting we pay the restaurant a visit. How and what we write is entirely up to us. We receive no monetary compensation for the review nor are we obligated to write a positive review if the food turns out, not entirely up to expectations.
FotoArk: Have you ever had a problem with a restaurant owner not letting you shoot there, and how did you deal with this?
No, not really. If they say, no shooting, we respect their wishes. These days, restaurants actually welcome food bloggers. Free publicity is great anyway, don’t you agree? (we do!)
FotoArk: Many food photographers photograph food on a plate when its cold. Using things like soap bubbles on bacon etc to make the food a lot more appetizing. Do you do the same, or do you shoot the food live as it is?
Never. We shoot it as it is. Otherwise it defeats the purpose of blogging and keeping it real. Ours is a blog, not a food magazine.. no air-brushing required nor allowed;)
FotoArk: All of your food photographs are well lit, and the lighting beautiful. But restaurants are often low in light. Can you tell us if you use any special lighting to capture your work?
Invest in a good lens and a good flash. It’s not rocket science… just straight up photography. Take a clear, crisp shot and you are home free. No point having fancy props or a huge-ass camera if you cannot just nail one clear shot, right? I used to take shots on a point and shoot and now, a better camera. One thing remains the same. The clearest shot is the shot that you will end up using on your blog and that will make people hungry for more!
FotoArk: What’s the biggest challenge in photographing, and writing about food, and how have you overcome it?
Everybody has off days. Sometimes even the most eloquent of us run out of words. I read somewhere, that if writing is your passion
and you want to be writing till a ripe old age, you need to read. Don’t ever stop reading. Read anything and everything you can get your hands on (not necessarily just about food). Read in the loo, on the bus, in the subway.. read! No input.. no output. Again, not rocket science;)
In photography, my biggest challenge is picking the best shot. Sometimes my head says the clearest shot is the best, but my heart says, the less clear shot but the one with a great composition, that makes me feel something, is the shot to pick. This is always a challenge for me. Maybe I should stop taking so many angles of a single shot, huh? LOL
FotoArk: You’ve become quite the internet and Malaysian celebrity due to your blog and work there. Would you ever consider moving into this full time?
Nope. I love my day job too much;)
FotoArk:What advice would you give to someone just starting out who has a passion for food photography? Equipment, how to go about it etc.
Mitosis. Start small and progress to greater things. That is the logical progression of the universe as we know it.
FotoArk: A pro camera is better than an entry level camera in the hands of an intermediate. Would you agree, or not?
I disagree. I am living proof 😛
FotoArk: What would you answer if a client asked you this: “What makes you different from any other photographer?” (eg, why should we hire you)
If you like what you see on my blog, by all means let’s have coffee and a chat!
Many thanks to Mei for joining us & letting us in on her great world of food photography!
Interested in hiring Mei for a restaurant review or photo shoot? Here’s some more information:
Kerak Telor is a traditional Indonesian snack originated from Jakarta (Betawi). It looks like scrambled egg but has different flavor. The main ingredients are sticky rice, duck/chicken eggs, top with dried shrimp and shredded coconut.
In the Colonial Era, Kerak Telor is considered as privilege food for the rich; today, you can find it on local street vendors. However, with the economic expansion and Betawi community being pushed out of the city, it cannot be easily found nowadays.
You have to go to Betawi Conservation Village in South Jakarta or Kota Tua (Jakarta Old Town) in West Jakarta to get it.
During the celebration of Jakarta Anniversary from mid June to mid July each year, Kerak Telor can be found easily in Kemayoran area where the festival is being held annually.
Whether the blog post is led by a photograph or something I want to document there’s a lot more work involved than many people realize.
Where to start writing a travel blog post?
Sometimes I’ll already have a rough draft done up. Other times, I start from scratch.
I’ll nearly always start out with a title. To me, the title is the idea or the starting point of what I want to convey or document into my journals. By the end of the draft, I usually end up changing the title.
From there I get writing. I don’t spell check, I don’t insert photos, I just write.
My biggest problem is that I don’t stop. So many journal entries go way beyond the “standard” blogging word count. Which I think, in 2010/11 is meant to be around 500 -800 words.
With this done, I take a quick break. Usually to check on a photo upload, write an email and so on.
Second round of the blog post:
Next up I reread it. I will break up long sentences, and paragraphs. Clean up badly constructed sentences. And, spell check really obvious things.
I will now being inserting photographs that relate to the content, if it’s a journal based entry.
This involves coping and pasting two links. One for the photograph you see on the blog post page, and another for the larger image you get if you click it.
Then I need to write an image title for wordpress, so I can reference it. I then write an “ALT” text so that the search engines, and those with sight impairments know what the photograph is all about.
Following this, I write a description of the photograph for everyone to now a little more if need be. That’s the bit under the photo.
Finally, I place the image into the page, and make sure it’s positioning does not interfere with the main text content.
That’s a lot in itself.
I round things out with a good spell-check.
I consider this article or post, near ready. It’s saved for a day or two. Or until I get to good internet again.
Third round of my travel blog writing & revision workflow:
Now is when I come back with fresh eyes and reread everything again. Adjustments are made. Spelling, and grammar addressed. And, I may now change the title a little.
This is also where I add a meta description for search engines etc. Why I do this, is covered a little later.
The article or post is then scheduled for publication.
Publishing a travel blog workflow:
I write ahead of time. It’s not feasible to do so live.
Hopefully, and to be honest usually, I will have one more quick edit before publication.
As many of you know, I have dyslexia, and a lot of mistakes I simply don’t see. But leaving the post or article “stew” for a while helps.
The post is then published.
It’s not over yet though …
Post published workflow:
I use a few tools to let everyone know there’s an update to my journal.
As the update goes live it triggers Twitter which is renown for bringing instant news to the world.
People on twitter get a link to the post or article.
At the same time Twitter then tells my facebook account about the link, and the link is published there too.
While all this is going on, RSS feed readers are updated.
Then an email goes out to all subscribers of my website with whole blog post or article included.
All of this stage I have set up to be automatic. But, I still check to be sure. Slip ups happen when dealing with technology. Or rather, multiple technology providers.
And, when they do slip up, it’s good to be ready and catch them.
When technology fails your travel blog
There are some really good people that follow my journey and belong to the growing community on The Longest Way Home who quickly let me know if something’s not right. Either by email, or twitter.
Thank you guys! You know who you are, so smile. I really do appreciate it!
I’d like to take this time to offer any new reader here the opportunity to join in and get my journal updates via email for free. You’ll also receive my stunning top places to travel photo e-book for free too.
It’s just away of saying thank you for leaving comments, and helping out. I really appreciate the people that stop by here.
Post post publication travel blog workflow:
If there are any mistakes, or corrections I try to get to them as soon as possible. Which isn’t always easy when traveling.
Sometimes there’s nothing I can do except try to forget I misspelled Filipina for the 100th time. Or, mixed up a paragraph. Once, online, I’ll correct any mistakes.
During this time I’ll also approve new comments. Which leads too …
I run a system whereby if you comment for the first time, it will be held until I approve it.
After it’s approved, any comment you make will now show up automatically.
This helps prevent spam. Of which I also have to filter through every time I log in.
I then reply to everyone who leaves a comment.
It might take a little time, but I believe if you took the time to comment on something from my post or article, then I should show due respect and reply individually to you.
I really don’t like blogs or sites that don’t take the time to comment back.
Email feedback workflow:
With or without every article published, there’s usually several emails that are also waiting for me to answer too.
Many people feel it more personal to email a reply to an article than leave a comment. I feel it’s important to reply to these asap.
There are other emails waiting for me too though, and prioritizing is a must.
Some are long emails describing someone’s own hopes of breaking free and traveling, or moving to a new country.
Other emails are simple thank you’s, little hello’s and people reaching out to see who’s behind the website.
I welcome all these emails with much appreciation. Again, I can’t always reply immediately. Sometimes it takes over a week, or even weeks. But, I will always reply.
The secret to getting a fast email, is to – keep it short. With longer emails I feel it’s important to reply back at length as well. So, I mark them for “when I get time!”
The irony here is the longer, more carefully scripted and heartfelt emailers often have longer to wait for a reply than the short one’s.
Again, everyone gets a reply. But I still feel this is one area in my workflow I need to find a better solution too.
Coming up next in my Travel Blog Workflow:
Both before and after publication, there’s the whole world of promotion!
Because without promotion, who would ever have known about the website or article?
How did you find my travel blog, or website the first time?
Was it through a search engine when you were looking for something?
Was it through an email someone forwarded to you?
Or was it through a social media site like facebook or twitter?
Either way, somewhere along the line it wouldn’t have got there if there wasn’t some promotion out there.
My Travel Blog Promotion Workflow:
We already looked at a little of this in the previous work flow. But, here’s a recap.
I ensure my images are search engine friendly
Metadata is written out (many people don’t agree with this, but I use it in conjunction with excerpts)
Posts or articles are automatically listed out on social network sites like twitter, facebook and stumbleupon.
Subscribers are sent out an email with my latest article.
Replying to emails sent in by readers.
Why spend time promoting a blog post?
How many good content websites are there out there? I really don’t know. If I type travel blog into a search engine these days the chances are I’ll get back corporate, sponsored or paid for content.
It’s getting harder and harder to narrow down your search criteria without coming across someone else’s sales criteria. Be it for self promotion, or for sales.
The idea that “content is king” is in my estimation, a fallacy when it comes to today’s internet search.
There are so many people gaming the system of search engines for profit and promotion, that great content is lost.
In my estimation a great marketer, will rank a lot higher in search engines than a great writer.
A writer, unless they are tech savvy, have time, money and capability will lose out every time.
They want to write, they don’t want to spend countless hours looking for link exchanges, advertising, using Search Engine Optimization techniques, adding themselves to the latest top listed directories or buying themselves some votes.
A travel marketer or photography marketer is solely focused in ranking high in search engines. They may have some content, but, the priority will be to market it more than to write it.
There are incredible travel blogs, and photography websites out there that never see the light of day in the general circle of promotions due to this.
Hence, in this day and age – I do try to promote The Longest Way Home as much as I feasible can given my circumstances. Otherwise, it simply will never see the light of day.
It is however, not my number one priority. The journey is. As it had been from the start, the best promotion I have had is from the content I produce, and word of mouth.
Travel blog promotion workflow:
Once a blog post or article is released, the most common way I promote it is via twitter.
I use my phone a lot for this. I’ve tried tweeting out my latest post links on a frequent basis. If I am reading tweets, and replying to people. I usually tweet out my latest link before signing off.
From my own statistics I’ve found that once every 12 hours for a couple of days is good. The tweet needs to hit different time zones around the world.
After that, it’s an element of luck that the right person sees it, reads it, likes it and Retweets it to their followers etc.
I’ve also recently taken to asking an occasional question on Facebook regarding my journey and articles. I really don’t have the time for facebook, but do try for something different there.
I’ve written articles on several other websites. Here I like to diversify my content and write about something I wouldn’t normally do, just like I am doing now. But I put an emphasis on high quality here, after all there will be a lot of new readers that will see you for the first time.
What people have found is that my statements are truthful and honest. They don’t get spammed. They get an update on average twice a week. They get additional content not seen elsewhere on the site. And, of course as promised they get a great photo ebook with lots of tips.
I have a travel blog & photography directory. Anyone can ask for a link exchange. I do however ask you put you link up first, and then tell me about it via a comment on that page.
I get emails asking for link exchanges, but it really is better to just leave a comment on this page. It’s gets updated once per month.
Leaving comments on other sites:
Leaving comments on other websites is a great way to be noticed. I don’t do this for that.
I only comment regularly on a handful of blogs or websites. I do so because I like that particular article or the person who’s written it.
I simply don’t have time to do what I call “communal” commenting. Or “I’ll comment on your blog, if you comment on mine.”
This maybe a mistake on my behalf, but I simply don’t have the time nor inclination to leave a comment, for a comments sake.
However, if you do comment on my site, the chances are huge that I will go to your website and read it.
These days I tend to comment mainly on non travel blogs, simply to get away from “travel” 24/7. Or on helpful and constructive travel sites.
What happens next is up to you! (hint: great content)
Ask for a comment or suggestion
One of the biggest mistakes I see people make, is ego. There’s nothing wrong with sending a tweet, email or comment asking for your opinion on an article you’ve written. Try it, ask someone for their opinion and chances are they will give it.
I wrote about this in the previous article about content writing and revisions. I feel it’s important to reply to anybody who takes the time to contact me.
I do this not because of what I just wrote. But, it has the side impact that the person who took the time in writing got a reply. Just like if I write to a stranger via a website and they reply back, I think well of them.
But there is only one of me, and I am traveling so there is a delay.
This is a personal website, and I feel it’s important to establish ties with people this way. Word spreads via email very quickly. This in turn, may provide a return in time and investment via work coming in. Increased readership.
And, so the word spreads.
What I don’t do is send out spam like emails to my subscribers. I know it’s a huge marketing bonus. But if you sign up to my updates, its finance free, spam free, marketing free, you even get a free photo ebook for free.
It doesn’t get much better than that.
What happens if you don’t promote?
An excellent example of a non-promoted travel blog is Karl Bushby’s. I can’t think of a traveler out there, today, who should be more promoted than Karl. But isn’t.
The reality of it is that Karl is working his butt off just to make ends meet. And, to complete his epic journey. To spend time and money promoting his blog everyday just isn’t feasible.
It’s a catch 22. Become a marketer with average content, and you will do very well these days.
Be an extraordinary writer, photographer or traveler and do nothing to promote your work in the realm of today’s internet. And, the chances are very few people will ever read or see your work.
I think of the above everyday.
The reality is, if you don’t want to be seen, don’t do anything. If you want to get noticed, do something. There are, however, limits.
What path you go down, is up to you.
Next will be the tacking of cost in running a travel blog