Southern Highlands, NSW, Australia

Monday, January 19, 2015


When we were in New Orleans with friends, Kathy and Rob, we booked up with American Photo Safari for some photography lessons on location. We had to meet out side the cathedral at the gate of Jackson Square. Bill and I caught a taxi there as a three hour safari and the walk from the B&B was a bit daunting for Bill. Jackson Square is a historic park in the French Quarter. It was designed after "Place des Vosges" in Paris. In 1815 it was named after the victorious General Andrew Jackson. In the centre of the park stands an equestrian statue of Jackson by Clark Mills. It was erected in 1856.
We met our tutor, Natasha, there. We were pleased to hear that the four of us were her only students that morning. She gave us a great introductory talk about photography in general and established at what level we were. She also gave us a good little info card on photography.

I had just bought a new little compact Sony Cyber Shot DSC HX60V before I left Brisbane because I didn't want to carry my big DSLR overseas when light luggage is easier to manage. However, I didn't know much about this camera when I arrived for this lesson. Natasha was great at helping us all learn about settings on our cameras. Then she took us on a tour of the French Quarter and pointed out historic subjects, good angles and compositions as well as reminding us that a good photograph tells a story.

1.First up she showed us how to use the morning sun to create a silhouette with a halo.
2.Then she explained metering and how to use it to show the detail of the sculpture when the sun is behind it.
3. We walked around the statue to shoot with the sun behind us, much easier but we had to move around to escape distracting background. Even though she suggested getting some tree tops into the shot to give context to it, I preferred none.

 Just outside the park gates is the Cathedral-Basilica of St Louis King of France founded in 1718.
The tutor suggested finding different angles and including foreground or tree framing to give context and depth to the photo. Then we went inside where we learnt about ISO settings for inside shots. I was getting frustrated by now with my little camera wishing that I had my DSLR but I'm glad I persevered to try and get the foreground and background all in focus without camera shake.

 When I emerged from the Cathedral I found Bill jamming it up with a busking group of jazz musicians. He was in his element but wished he had his trumpet with him. (He played trumpet in younger days)

1. Natasha said lane ways  are common in New Orleans and are good subjects for photos. She suggested getting down low rather than shooting from chest level all the time. That is not so easy at 72 when the old knees are creaky.
2. Natasha pointed out that lines and shapes of the lamp post and arch make good shots. I took one and thought it looked a bit bland. A bit later I saw Rob leaning on the lamp post waiting for us and I snapped. I liked it better with a person in it.Then I turned it in B&W and maybe it looks even better.

1.Natasha explained how this lamp light took on the colour of the shutters of the adjacent building. The glass was plain but here it looks green, Natasha suggested this angle but there is something that I don't like about it.
2. I took the second shot just as a couple walked by. The light is still green but the shot has more action and a story to it. I like it better. What about you?

1.In The French Quarter you find these horses on the edge of the sidewalk. They were originally to tie your horse to, there is usually a ring in the nose for this purpose but not on this one. Besides the horse the intricate air vent is also peculiar to the French Quarter so our tutor thought it would make a good shot to have both in the one frame with the vent blurred. I couldn't find her enthusiasm and I was finding it hard to make my little camera blur the background even with a big aperture.
2. I changed my position and found Rob waiting for us again. I like the shot as the horse and Rob are forming the same shape and they are both waiting. Rob isn't a photographer but his wife, Kathy, is. He came along on the safari  because he is interested in learning the history.

Natasha took us to the Cornstalk Fence Hotel where there was a fountain. It is named this from the iron fence just seen in the third photo. The fence is actually a row of steal cornstalks.
1. Natasha then explained how to freeze the water drops
2. Then how to make the water look like it is moving
3. Then how to move and use the sun to make the splashes sparkle.
Now I was really missing my DSLR. I couldn't blur the distracting background  and capture the drops properly.

1. New Orleans has many colourful courtyards tucked away behind buildings. Most are kept private with an iron gate, which can be used as a frame and foreground to give depth to the shot.
2. Some courtyards are accessible to the public like this one belonging to an Art Gallery.

Then Natasha took us to Boubon Street which was famous for its bars, jazz music and night life. It still has these attractions but now Frenchmans Street has taken over being the place to be at night and Royal St has taken over being the place to be for shopping and street entertainment. We were at the end of the street where there are more apartments and houses. 
1.Natasha suggested this shot where there is the contrast of the old town in the foreground with the new towers in the distance.
2. But I liked this angle too showing off the coloured houses, shutters and lamppost. The midday sun wasn't helpful. After many shots of this famous street Kathy and I found ourselves alone with the tutor. Where were the boys? We looked around and found them............

...sitting outside the Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar, the oldest bar in New Orleans. It  could be the oldest, still operating bar, in US. It was built before 1772. According to legend it was once owned by the pirate Jean Lafitte and a place where he plotted his illegal operations and sold contraband. It is also purported to be one of the most haunted bars in NO.

After, Natasha found a coffee shop for you know who, we continued on with our photography lesson.
1. Use reflections to get a different view of buildings.
2. get interesting angles of the cathedral and include the Mardi Gras beads hanging from the tree.
During Mardi Gras brightly coloured beads are worn and strewn throughout the city. Many trees and lampposts are adorned with strings of beads. (more in next post)

After 3 hours the lesson was over, we had all been happy with it. Kathy, Rob and I wanted to see more of the French Quarter but Bill was tired of walking so we bundled him into a bike taxi and sent him back to the B&B.


  1. Wonderful photos on the "Safari Tour".
    Loved the photo of Bill doing his "Louis Armstrong" impersonation!!!!
    More bourbon and less "Latte" and that delightful tricycle would not have been
    required, eh?? After all you are in NuOleans!
    Your legs would have worked well beyond expectations!
    PS: I loathe Bourbon - ha ha.

  2. Natasha was a very good tutor. I too had a reasonably new point and shoot camera (Lumix DMC-TZ60) which she helped me with. It was money well spent.

  3. Sounds like you have had had another wonderful trip Diane. I immediately started singing the old Herman's Hermits song "I'm leaning on the lamppost on the corner of the street" when I saw your black and white photo of Rob. That's an excellent little camera you have there. Great shots. Cheers

  4. That was so much fun. I liked the sound of yout tutor. This was a great way to learn new things, and I loved your photos.

  5. Great shots! Thanks for sharing your photos along with the tips and tricks

  6. What a great way to see a new town. I like the way you tried your own methods as well as listening to Natasha's suggestions. Some terrific photos there.

  7. That is very special to have a professional photo tour. But I agree with your own interpretations as the one with the lamppost for instance. I liked it to see the tour around the city. Brings back some sweet memories.

  8. Diane, what an awesome photo shoot... I love the shot of Bill and the musicians.. And the courtyard is pretty.. Wonderful tips and suggestions.. Thanks for sharing, have a happy day!

  9. All your photos are lovely and do tell a story - we use our imagination but sometimes it's not needed.
    I do like the black and white photos, it's the best of all......well done Diane.

  10. What a good way to get to know your new camera Diane,excellent series of images and all that experience to take home wih you.

  11. i sorely need photography lessons - on my dslr that i've had for years and don't know hardly a thing about. :) what a great idea to do it in a fine city!

  12. Fabulous to combine learning history and photo skills in one tour.... Especially in such a unique city of course.

  13. Totally agree with all of your choices. I'm betting your leader is an architectural photographer by nature based on what she was asking you to see. I think stories are usually better with people in them and you did beautiful. You honestly didn't need any of the advice as your choices are perfect....but it is still fun to go do these types of things and get your head outside of the "box"!

  14. you and your little camera did a fantastic job and i like all of them, i agree the post with the man leaning on it is better than the other and my favorite is the angel in the foreground inside the church. i love the lane and ilike the fountain on the left best.. what a great way to tour, with someone giving you pointers. i would love that but could not walk for 3 hours. we have walking photography tours here, similar, but they are always to long for me. wish they would do an hour walk.

  15. I enjoyed this post, all the photos are lovely you always take such nice photos

  16. What a great idea, to combine a photography lesson with a history and sightseeing guide! Brilliant. My favorite photo is the one of the houses with balconies framed by the trees with hanging mardi gras beads.

  17. The student knowing better than the teacher, haha. I like your black and white photo, the iron gate photo and your framing of the old houses with city buildings is much better than the wider shot. I like both green lamp photos, but as soon as you add people to a photo, they grab the eye. I hope you gave the trumpeter without an instrument a couple of bucks for his efforts.

  18. What a marvelous history and learning experience. I would love to have the opportunity to learning more about getting great photos, but the history would be just as fascinating.

  19. I'd love a tour like that with practical tips as you go along rather than reading, then trying to remember how to apply what I've read. I agree with you about the lamp post shot and also prefer the second composition of the coloured houses and the city in the background. You seem to have the hang of that new camera!!

  20. Now you are a great students Your photos are great and I agree with you that the ones with people in the photo like the couple look a lot better
    My favourites the street where you had to go down for. I will try that too Great effect
    and I love the angel in the church photo.

  21. My husband and I will be visiting New Orleans next month! We felt like taking a trip back as we enjoyed that city when he was on a business trip years ago.

    Your photo lessons look interesting! It always intrigues me how an object can look so different from different angles and using different shutter speeds. I would love to take classes one day!

    PS: Don't worry about the rodeo animals--they are well cared for and if they did not have this job they most likely would suffer a worse fate.

  22. What an interesting way so see a city. I like the low angle on the lane best.
    It must have been annoying not having your big camera. I went for a little one because of the bulk and weight but now find myself migrating back to the big one.

  23. I thought this post was really interesting ?. When I travel with my daughter and we look at all the photos we take later I always think her photos are so much more artistic than mine. I think taking things from an angle is often more interesting and reflections in windows are really great ways of capturing an image. You are a great photographer already !

  24. Totally enjoyed this post Diane. A lot of great photographic hints and advice too. As with these things, you can take what you want and also do you own thing. I agreed with most of your alternative choices. It stimulates the creative juices doesn't it! A different way to take a tour, and everyone had fun and got to sit down and relax at the end ;D)
    I loved how Bill jumped in and joined the jammers!

    1. p.s. oh yes, as you say, I can imagine how your DLSR clicking finger was itching at times though, lol!
      I still haven't come to terms with our point-and-shoot yet, must get serious about it and do some learnin' it's a good lightweight alternative. Cheers!

  25. Wow what an incredible photo safari that you took us on. I LOVE that photo of the alley!!

  26. I loved my years in New Orleans (in the '80's)... My two youngest sons enjoyed it --and even went to school each day on a streetcar!!!! MEMORIES!!!! We were there during the World's Fair in the '80's ---so we bought season tickets --and enjoyed the fair the whole time it was there... Loved it!!!!! I think that New Orleans (Nawlins) is one of the most interesting places I ever lived... Glad you got the 'tour' and got some photography lessons.


  27. I agee with orevious comments thatbthis photo safari not only was a great way to see city sights but yiu also got some very interesting and good photos, Diane. Thanks too for sharing the photo tips.

  28. I need this photo safari! What a great way to see the city and get some awesome shots! Sometimes I liked your take better than the instructor's. I just do NOT know how to use my camera and need to study the manual!