mike's meanderings

Bucket list adventures

we haven't been everywhere, but it's on our bucket list

Bucket List Adventuring with our cameras is just an excuse to go and photograph somewhere else in the world, somewhere far away where we don't normally belong. The strangeness of these destinations pushes us to fit in, accommodate, and try to understand. It's a cultural whack on the head.


Mostly we’ve been choosing to photograph the harder places first: places where the only transportation is a dugout canoe or the back of a Bedford truck; places where you and the bats sleep in the same room; places where the toilet is a hole in the ground. We’ll get around to the easy places when we’re old and rickety, God willing.


In the meantime, enjoy some of the places we've already explored.



Photographing people often requires an intimacy with the subject that you can't get by keeping your distance and using a long lens. You must get up close and personal. You must engage them face to face. You must develop a relationship wherein you're a participant, not a voyeur.


With a camera in your hand and a smile on your face you have an open passport to engage strangers on the street. But remember that it's your courage, not your camera, that will enable your ability to make great images.


Work quickly but carefully. A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away, but it's still just a snapshot. The best images will reveal the soul of the subject.

1/1000 and be there

Nature photography is mostly about choosing someplace where you think you can get lucky, and then keeping your eye to the viewfinder until something magic happens.


Like it or not, most wild things don't know the rule of thirds. Whether you're photographing whales or wildebeests, the best you can do is select the right exposure and try to eliminate chaos in the background.


And don't forget to focus when the action starts.

sticks and stones, steel and glass

An architect uses bricks and mortar as an artist uses paints and brushes, combining light and shadow into a texture that cannot help but reflect the very soul of a community.


The best designs will prove to be timeless, like religion. The worst will soon fade away like disagreeable flatulence.


It is for the photographer to expose the difference.


the hills are alive

Recognizing a magnificent landscape comes easily to most of us.


And converting that landscape into an picture that can be shared for a moment on Instagram or Facebook requires nothing more than simply pushing a button on your phone.


But turning that magic moment into a personal and creative image which will remain timeless is usually a far greater challenge.


It requires a real photographer.


And maybe a Lightroom/Photoshop account too.

how do you know if it's upside down?

Complex or simple. Focussed or fuzzy.


You may not understand an abstract image, but you can still appreciate it.


Especially if it has good colour.

Black and white

The notes on a music score are black and white, but the music itself has colour.


Black and white photography focuses on light and shade, texture, shapes and impressions. It produces a purer image, perfect for gravitas or drama.


The best black and white images have a timeless quality about them. They have their own language. They make you think differently.

calgary stampede

Where else can you wear a Stetson, blue jeans and cowboy boots and still fit in while carrying a DSLR instead of a six shooter?


Where else can you shoot rompin' stomping' action from dawn till midnight for ten days every year?


And where else can you be guaranteed great images, day after day, whether you're shooting action, animals, or people?


Oh and did we mention the free pancakes?

Mike O'Connor
Bucket List Adventurer