Art Model, Covenant, Copyright 2015 Terrell Neasley, unedited
“We wander for distraction, but we travel for fulfillment.”
~ Hilaire Belloc

I don’t think I’ve gone a full month without a blog post in a while, but hey…stuff happens.

So, Its been about 6 weeks since my last post and that is the amount of time I have been traveling through Central America with Art Model, Covenant. We flew into Guatemala City and stayed over night before catching the next plane out heading north to Flores. So we spent our first 10 days or so in Flores and El Remate at opposite ends of Lake Peten. From there it was on to Belize. 4 days on Tobacco Caye, 3 days in Hopkins, and 4 days in Punta Gorda. We left Belize and re-entered Guatemala in the little river town of Livingston for 5 days before doing a 10 hour chicken bus ride to Copan Ruinas, Honduras. The goal was to head to Gracias, Honduras,  but we ended up getting stuck in Copan. That turned out to be a good thing,  but I’ll get into that a bit in a future post, maybe. Five days in Copan ended in a 6 hour bus ride BACK to Guatemala, where we stayed in Antigua for four days. I am presently at a hotel on Lake Atitlan getting ready to leave after a one week stay. Tomorrow I head back to Antigua and then another spot nearby to live in a tree house for a few days before heading to El Salvador.

Art Model, Covenant, Jungle Resort Punta Gorda, Belize
Copyright 2015 Terrell Neasley

So that’s how things have gone travel-wise. We have hit some budget spots for the most part. Some of these budget spots have been better experiences than the more upscale properties. I think the way we are traveling suits us just fine. We’ve made plans to economize everything with the exception of one really nice location per month. Its definitely good to take a break and treat yourself to some of the better places. But at the same time, you will also learn that some of these so-called budget places can be just as accommodating as the bigger places. I’m definitely a fan of Chaltunha located on the peninsula from the lake island of Flores. Its a 5 minute lancha ride for under a dollar. Trust you me, I have a lot of good things to say about Casa del Mundo here at Lake Atitlan, but for 9 times the amount I spent at Chaltunha, I can’t say that the stay was 9 times the experience.

Art Model, Covenant Copyright 2015 Terrell Neasley

I’ve also run into some difficulties here that have posed significant challenges to my photo plans while I’ve been here. This is an excellent time of year to travel. But I’m starting to see that many of the spots have not been as ideal as I would have imagined for photography. Don’t get me wrong. I still have made some great shots, but some of my primary objectives for night time work have still been elusive. The skies have been quite cloudy so far on this venture. Its been either that or light pollution has been problematic when I need total darkness. I’m currently on the north end of Lake Atitlan facing south which is exactly where I need to be positioned to shoot the Milky Way. However, there is so much mist and cloud cover, I can’t even see the volcanoes on the other side of the lake.

But no worries. Chances are, El Salvador will be a bit better for photo work in terms of what I need. And it will be later in the season so I expect the skies to clear up. Other than being here, I’m not sure there are any books, or reference materials that could have prepared me for that. There aren’t any “best time of year to shoot Central America” books out there, that I know of and even if there were, it will still depend on what conditions you need for a specific purpose or subject. There’s not anything I ever read that said this time of year would be cloudy and misty in this region of the world. But thankfully, I’m not even close to half way though this trip! So I definitely have time to make up what I’ve missed thus far. So I’m not worried. For the time being, I’m planning different shots and working with what I have. Mistakes…? Well aside from not being able to anticipate the environmental aspects that have hindered me, I think the only think I’d have wished to change would be NOT forgetting sensor cleaning kits and here’s why:

Me and Art Model, Covenant, Tobacco Caye, Belize Copyright 2015 Terrell Neasley

As you already know, I’ve switched from DSLR to full mirrorless systems, namely the Sony A7s and the newer A7MarkII. Excellent cameras to be sure and I’m getting great stuff with them. Granted, I’ve somehow cracked the LCD screen on the MKII somehow, but its minor. Nonetheless, these systems, speaking with reference to Mirrorless, not just Sony Mirrorless, operate from an open shutter. This means that when you take the lens off, you are staring at the sensor. There is no mirror in front of it, nor a closed shutter to protect it as you change lenses. So switching lenses in the open air can lead to crap getting on the sensor fairly easily. So basically, you just have to be extra careful when making a lens change. Where it still factors in with me is that I spent a lot of time on the Caribbean coastline. Sea salt is in the air! And of course salt is NEVER a friend to an image sensor. So yeah, I’m wishing I hadn’t forgotten to pick up a sensor cleaning kit, just to be safe.

Misty day at Atitlan Copyright 2015 Terrell Neasley

One thing I’m glad I did pick up were extra batteries! Good grief! These cameras will suck some juice! But when you consider that EVERYTHING on this camera is electronic and no matter what you do, it requires a block of energy, its no wonder that this will be a trade-off. I have 3 batteries per camera and I picked up an extra charger for the A7MarkII. The A7s came with an external charger already, plus an extra battery. Thanks Sony for that foresight. All in all, the duplicity of travel is that yes…I’m glad I still have 3 or 4 more months left. But at the same time, I suuuure want to get back and edit!!