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Omani women photographers gives reason to smile

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Category : Recommended reads

Photo from omantribune.com

After remarkable social development changes in Oman, more and more Omani women are now breaking into the photography scene which was once considered purely a man’s domain. Now, looking regal in their abayas with DSLR cameras on hand, Omani women are “giving photography a new touch, insight and sensitivity” as reported by Faizul Haque on Oman Tribute.

‘Smile you’re on candid camera’ has come to mean a whole lot more than it used to in earlier times. Now the smiles are much bigger in a metaphorical sense. That’s because the people behind the camera are Omani women…

Read on here.

Affordable Christmas gift ideas for women photographers

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Category : Featured articles, Girly Gear

Shopping for a lady photographer? If you aren’t ready to shell out a lot of cash to get that latest lens or DSLR for your friend, daughter, girlfriend or wife who’s into photography, here are some fabulous and affordable gift ideas.

Under $250

re:vision lens cuffs, $219. Once you wear it, it’ll be like having a lens for an arm!

Shootsac bags by Jessica Claire, $209. A fashionable and function photography bag every girl should have.

Under $200

The Kelly Moore Bag, $159.99. Gorgeous, stylish and to die for. Available in black on Amazon here.

(see Top 4 Handbags for DSLR cameras)

Under $100

BlackRapid’s RS-W1 Camera Strap, $58.95, designed specially for women.

(more on the RS-W1 here)

Under $50

Fun and stylish camera straps from High Key, $29.95

Funky camera straps from  Zoe’s Collection, $27.99

Camera earrings, $16 from Etsy.

Under $10

Photography-themed tees from Threadless.

(see Ten cute photography-themed tops for women)

Have more suggestions to make? Drop me a comment with your Christmas wishlist!

Check out more great gift ideas from Chiq Clicks’ Shop HERE.

10 gastronomic tips from a foodie photog

Category : Featured articles, How to, Top 10 Tips

Your mother might have told you that, “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”. What she forgot to add is, “your stunning photos of your cooking would steal a great many more hearts!”

Food is an excellent photography subject. Good food usually looks appetizing and for most types of food, it stays still long enough for you to set up the photo.

Chiq Clicks is happy to bring you Haniela’s top 10 tips on taking better photos of food. Haniela’s an excellent baker and photographer (of course!) and like many of us, found her passion for photography through Flickr.

Whether you’re a foodie warrior out to snap a photo of every meal you take to share on Facebook, or a serious chef/baker wanting to document your creations, Haniela’s simple tips below will turn your nice photos into stunning ones.

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1. CAMERA  – LENS

Camera
With camera you basically have  2 options :

  • Point and shoot
    It was around Valentine’s day 2008 when I first started taking pictures of food, I made some cookies took the pictures and then I found Flickr and I was hooked. I first started with Sony Cyber Shot 5.Megapixels (SONY DSC-V1) but I have overgrown it really fast and was ready for another adventure…a DSLR.
  • DSLR (Digital single-lens reflex camera)
    Since 2009 I’ve been using Nikon DSLRs. I’m not going into which is better, Canon or Nikon, as I have only been using Nikon and I have no experience with Canon brand. I started out with Nikon D200 and then  I changed to Nikon D300.

Lens

Quality lens is really must. As they say glass matters the most.

Good lens doesn’t have to be expensive, Nikon 50mm 1.8 or 50mm 1.4 are really good choices to start with, they are  prime lenses (no zoom) but offer a great sharpness of the image. I know it has no zoom, but with food it really works great, and I’ve used it on some outdoor portraits as well.

I also use Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8, this one sits on my camera on most days. It offers excellent optics and sharpness is great throughout out the range. I just love it.

I also work with Nikon 105mm f/2.8 AF Micro, it is a beauty.

It really comes down to what you are the most comfortable with and what you can afford.

2. TRIPOD

Tripod is a very important part of your gear. Personally I can’t do without a tripod, it is must for me. Tripods are made from variety of materials, from the cheapest: plastic aluminum, basalt, and carbon fiber are the most expensive ones. Depending on your budget and your needs get a tripod that will be able hold your camera.

I’ve tried few brands, I like Manfrotto brand and most days I use the Gitzo, that is an expensive carbon fiber tripod. But if you do nature  and wildlife photography where lots of hiking is involved, you better get yourself something that is light. I’ll never forget that 6 hours hike I took with a super heavy tripod on my shoulder which gave me a bruises and blisters. That heavy tripod was sold and replaced with a carbon one and I’ve never looked back.

If you are using point and shoot, you must definitely use a tripod when taking  food photos.

3. LIGHT AND LIGHTING

I’ve been using mainly natural light when taking food photos, though I’ve tried studio lights as well. I’m still on a learning curve about these. I would love to try a strobe sometime soon as well.

Usually I try to shoot in the middle of the day or early afternoon. Pay attention to the strength of the light as it changes throughout the day. For example, early afternoon light can deliver a nice bright light but it also can be very strong producing harsh shadows in your photos.

When taking photos indoors I recommend to test the light in your house during different times of the day. The best place is by a large window or opening, with the light coming in diffused by a white curtain, or you can use a white bed sheet. I use a white diffuser.

I also have 2 skylights in my kitchen, so when I need it I have light coming from above.

I actually prefer sunny days over cloudy ones, as with sunny days I get to play more with the light as it has more direction and casts shadows. Of course there are times, when there is just too much light.

4. REFLECTORS

I love reflectors, they are vital to food photography and they are so much fun.

I bought a kit of reflectors, with gold, black, 2 white diffusers, silver and a lightly golden one. You can make simply table reflectors by using card stocks from a craft store. Use silver or if you want warm it up a little use a gold one.

In the shot above (donuts in the cage), I used mirrors and aluminium foil pieces placed on the table and ran the mirror from the left through a glass jar.

  • Mirror - you have to be careful with it as it gives you a very directional light and can cast weird rectangle shapes, but I still like it as it is great to get the light where you want it.
  • Aluminium foil – it has so many uses. You can make little balls with the  shiny part up and place them around the table. If in a hurry you could also get a silver windshield protector and use that as a reflector.

Get Inspired. I have a lot of magazines with food photos and I try to understand how each shot was taken, where was the main light, etc. I love Arthur King Flour’s catalogue, it is full of great photos which I try to pick up on the lighting tricks from. Even though they are using all studio lights and I’m doing all natural lighting, I think it applies to both, just the way you get there is a little different.

Example 1: I directed a reflector to run the light just across the top of the white part to make it really shine.

Example 2: A very simple demonstration of how white diffusers works (I have to say even though my cake threw a very harsh shadow it was a pretty impressive one too).

Example  3: We just picked winter squash and before I cooked it I wanted to snap a picture. Well it seems I can’t just go and snap a picture anymore!

Originally I wanted to shoot it on the table, but then my eye spotted the bench and I thought, hmm, that could be interesting and it certainly was. You don’t see what preceded this shot, but the squash collapsed several times before I was finally able to secure each one of them. At the end I was praying so it would stay like that for at least a minute or so, so I could take some pictures. As you see I positioned the smallest ones in the front and I tried to arrange leaves there too so it wouldn’t look so bare.

5. CAMERA SETTINGS

The settings I normally use are:

  • ISO – Manualy set to minimum to eliminate noise in pictures.
  • EXPOSURE -I preferably shoot Manual or Aperture priority when taking food photos
  • APERTURE & Depth of field (DOF) -  When I first  started taking photos with my point and shoot, I was so desperate to understand how to take pictures with blurred background. I think I read about aperture setting more than about anything else. In short, your aperture settings effect your depth of field (DOF). You probably heard this term someway along the way – it is defined as the portion of a scene that appears acceptably sharp in the image and increasing the DOF increases the sharpness of an image. To increase DOF, you can use a small aperture setting (read more on Aperture from Wikipedia here). With my lenses I have  the largest  apperture/fstop/ at 1.8 with my 50mm and 17-55 mm, and 2.8 with the macro. I usually play with different aperture settings to achieve the desired effect.

  • WHITE BALANCE – Depending of the light, but mostly it is set on daylight or auto.
  • EXPOSURE COMPENSATION (EV +/-) – This is a very useful  feature on the camera that allows you to adjust the exposure measured by its light meter. It helps you to control the amount of light that enters the lens. I use this feature when light is very bright and there is high contrast in a scene. It is also useful when subjects are back lit where sometimes the camera is fooled by the light behind the subject and as a result the subject appears too dark.

  • FOCUS – Manual

  • SELF-TIMER – I use self-timer set for 10 seconds. Using a self-timer gives me the freedom of using both of my hands to hold a reflector or a mirror if needed. It also eliminates shaking which will be captured in the photo.

6. PROPS – BACKGROUNDS – STYLING

When using a fabric, I try to keep it simple. Solid colors seems to work the best and then you can add little color with your props or a small napkin. I bought a lot of small fabric pieces to accent my photos at a fabric store, or you can find really nice kitchen towels at a dollar store too. I always look for props.

I don’t really have a preference of what color I like best. Obviously white looks great but when I take photos I usually try different backgrounds until I find one that fits the best for the subject. I’m still growing my fabric collection.

As for the props, Ikea has a wonderful selection of different bowl, jars etc. I love my weekend visits to garage sales. Especially now in the Fall there are so many of them. You can find really unexpected things there. Just keep your eyes open for little things that can add character to your photo. I love how food looks on a white plate but since nothing is set in stone I try different colors as well. Again, look at magazine food shots, or cookbooks. I find styling to be challenging, I learned that less is more.

  • Don’t clutter your shot with a lot of different props. Simple napkin, fork or knife will do just fine.
  • Test different backgrounds, either solid, or patterned. Scrapbooking papers are great too. Make sure that fabric or paper will cover the area of view
  • Experiment with different plates, bowls, silverware, ribbons, etc. Ingredients can be part of the set up as well.
  • Use only the best samples you have available to you (perhaps you made 12 cupcakes, so pick only the best of the bunch)

Example 1: Use of a simple prop. Knife bought at a flea market ($2)

Example 2: Flower matching the napkin color adds a nice touch.

Example 3: I used a cut out parchment heart and a ribbon to make it more interesting. Background is satin red fabric. Perfect for Valentine’s Day.

Example 4: I lined the smallest box I could find ( I think it used to be  a small jewelery box) with pink tissue paper (Victoria Secret).

Example 5: I had this shot in my head for a while, I planted some grass into a pretty green container and voila, it made a perfect Easter Egg Photo prop.

7. PREPARATION AND MY LITTLE HELPERS

I usually set my table before I have food ready and I test the light so I know what to expect later. I usually  iron few backdrops just to have a few choices.

My tools include tweezers, paper towels, cotton swabs, glycerin, vinegar – it does magic on plates, I use it make them really shiny and spotless, spring clamps, painter’s brush to remove crumbs, sometime I use  tape to pick up crumbs if I can’t get there with the brush. I use all kind of little helpers.

Example 1 (right): Aluminium foil & glass pebblesThe cookies wouldn’t stand on its own even after trying aluminium foil balls, little tubes, etc. So what I did was I placed few glass pebbles inside of the alluminum foil and made shapes, don’t ask what shapes they were just some shapes, in such fashion so they wouldn’t be showing through when shot at table level, but they would hold the cookie up. I balanced each cookie and this is the photo that came out.

I really wanted Flying Halloween Witches….and I think I got them. ;-)

Example 2 (below): Paper towels – I love them, I use them to support cookies on a plate as cookies – they just keep sliding and sliding, it is nearly impossible to place them on the plate without some kind of support.

I used few paper towel pieces in these shots to keep the cookies from sliding into the dish.

Example 3: Parchment paper – I used parchment paper pieces in these Raisin Bread photos. The reason why I decided to use parchment pieces was very simple,  I used a fabric background with a very natural feel and since I knew I’d be moving the bread around a lot.

I didn’t want the fabric to get all dirty from the raisins that were all over this delicious bread, they’re very soft and they would definitely dirty the fabric. I cut out rectangle pieces of parchment paper and placed them underneath of the breads. It worked wonderfully.

I photographed this bread for my friend Bread Artisan Maker Rachel from Mangez Brioche, she entered her bread into a Bread Contest, and her bread based on photos and her formula was chosen to go into the final round and she will be attending a bake off in Kansas.

Addition of a simple prop as stalks of dried wheat made it look more interesting.

I was very pleased with how I was able style this shot. I love the DOF here.

8. SHOOTING STYLE

Practice Practice Practice

I like to do a little research, study food photos in magazines and in cook books. Then when I’m ready to shoot I always try different angles, but generally the closer you can get better.  Shoot the whole set up from from above, at standing level, at table level and don’t be afraid of exploring and have fun with it. Get closer with a macro lens, or wide lens.

Example 1: Here I shot the whole set up from an angled position from above and the second shot is a close up.

Example 2: Using the same prop, a gorgeous antique scale, two different angles can give you totally different perspectives.

Example 3: From above.

Example 4: Shot at table level.

Example 5: Get Close.

9. ERASING AND FORMATTING MEMORY CARD

I do the both. I shoot a lot and it seems like memory cards need a little boost after they’ve been all filled up. Once you download your pictures to the computer, back them up and then format your memory card in your camera not in the computer.

I didn’t believe it, but I did a little test, I deleted all my images on the memory card and I checked what is the available number of photos I can take, and it was a rather small number so I formatted the card and voila, number jumped up.

Formatting improves the performance of the memory card.

10. FILE FORMAT AND EDITING

I shoot in raw and my online photos are mainly PNG.

I use Capture NX for  editing and converting photos and then Corel Paint Shop Pro for adding watermarks, text and such.

The beauty of Raw format is that in the software application you are able to work with the photo like you would in a darkroom, you can still go in and adjust exposure, correct the white balance etc.

I keep my editing to a minimum, usually it involves adjusting the contrast, boost of color and if needed, color control point.

Article originally posted here.

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If Haniela is not outdoors hiking to waterfalls, the self-taught photographer can be found baking and sharing her delicious recipes and delectable photos on her blog. Keep up with her on her:

Blog – www.hanielas.blogspot.com/
Flickr – www.flickr.com/photos/haniela/
Facebook –  www.facebook.com/pages/Hanielas/

Women of War

Category : Recommended reads

Time.com salutes women soldiers from all around the world with a strong photo essay that shows rarely seen images of women soldiers on duty, some of which taken by amazing women photographers such as freelance photojournalist Alissa Everett and the inspirational Lynsey Addario.

A female soldier carried her infant on her back (Mushake, Congo) (©Alissa Everett)

No longer relegated to the home front, women like Chief Warrant Officer Jesse Russell of the U.S., above, now serve in critical combat situations (Helmand Province, Afghanistan) (©Lynsey Addario)

Check out the photo essay here.

*photos from Time.com

30 under 30 women photographers

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Category : Recommended reads

© Diana Bodea

The work of 30 superbly talented women under the age of 30 is featured in the online 30 under 30 women photographers exhibition. Their work celebrates femininity, innocence and gives viewers a blast of youthful energy in this often, male-dominated field of photography.

“30 Under 30 goes against the current vision of the photography, based on the dictat of the men and the most experimented and exceeds it. It is obvious that its initiative, more innovative, more altruistic, younger and more feminine can be only voluntary. It will nevertheless become inescapable because it answers a more and more strong request of the expert and / or amateur society which needs a new breath of youth and sensualism” -30 under 30-

© Miss Aniela

The featured photographers includes the likes of Natalie Dybisz aka Miss Aniela‘s artistic self-portraiture work, Selina De Maeyer‘s soulful portraits as well as illusive wilderness shots by Mylene Bressan.

© Selina De Maeyer

The diversity of style and subject in the exhibition opens up a myriad of questions and debates on women in photography and further embellishes women’s growing significant contribution to photography and art.

“…see it as you will, but sustain an open mind, take your time in relishing the imagery and bearing in mind the different experience of every artist involved”
-Miss Aniela-

© Katie Shapiro (left) © Snjezana Josipovic (right)

© Magdalena Pardo

© Meryem Yildiz

The exhibition is a collaboration between PHOTO BOITE, PORTFOLIO2 and The Artbox. Check out the 30 under 30 women photographers online exhibition here.

INTERVIEW with boudoir photographer, Emma Jones

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Category : Featured articles, Interviews

Chiq Clicks greets September in sexy boudoir style with an exclusive interview with Emma Jones from Miss Boudoir.

With many A-list celebrities such as Lady Gaga, Christina Aguilera and Kathy Perry rocking the vintage glamor look, many are opting for boudoir style portraits over regular portraits. While not many photographers are able to fully master this style of photography, Emma picked it up quickly.

In 4 short years, Emma has made a profession out of turning regular women into divas from the past through her photographic creations.  From vintage glamour to pin-up & retro style photos, Emma does not hold back in bringing what she has to, to make the shot.

Take a peak to see what goes on behind the curtains as we find out from Emma, how and what it takes to make boudoir photography work.

1. How would you describe yourself in 1 sentence.
Bubbly, loving and enthusiastic with a mind that is constantly thinking/creating.

2. In your opinion, what is the essence of boudoir photography?
In short it’s sexy, romantic, fun, energized, beautiful, loving and tasteful. To me boudoir photography is a very personal portrait of a woman showing her sensual side, whether that is feminine, raunchy or playful. Everybody is different and one doesn’t fit all.

Some say boudoir is or should be a soft, romantic side of glamour photography but for me, it’s whatever the client wants it to be interpreted as to the viewer.

3. How did you start Miss Boudoir and how long has it been running?
I started Miss Boudoir® in March 2007 when I opened my first specialist boudoir studio. I’d been self-employed as a photographer since leaving college in June 2003 and was undertaking weddings, portraits, model folios, headshots, music photography and product photography.

I longed to follow my passion for a more exciting area of portrait photography that I could combine with my love for vintage styles. The boudoir just seemed to happen after people started asking for burlesque and a classic yet tasteful style of lingerie photography.

4. Can you make any woman look sexy?
I don’t make people look sexy, I believe all women are sexy and beautiful in their own way, myself and the stylists simply highlight their natural allure thus make it more apparent.

5. Who are your most common clients?
We have a lot of brides-to-be wanting albums for their grooms, wives and girlfriends wanting sexy photo gifts for their loved ones and ladies wanting photos to send over to their partners in the forces. All of which are fantastic ideas and ways to celebrate or spice up a relationship.

Other common shoot reasons are clients requiring a confidence boost, others want to satisfy their curiosity of what a boudoir shoot entails and then we have clients needing saucy and classy images for their websites.

In the past year we’ve had a number of pro photographers opting for a boudoir shoot with us, simply to get a feel of the experience from a client’s point of view, see what goes on and like the majority of women, they want some nice photos of themselves to look back on.

6. Boudoir photography can be a bit of a taboo for the more conservative people. How do you deal with the critiques?
I’ve not had any so far but if I did, I’d simply say look the other way if you aren’t happy to see a woman celebrate her figure and femininity.

7. What is the best thing a happy client has ever said to you?
Oh gosh this is hard. We have so many nice comments, guest book entries, tears of joy and cards from our clients that it really is hard to single out just one comment.

One of my recent clients had been ill and bedridden for a long time. She hated being in front of the camera but really wanted to be able to have her hair and make-up styled and undertake a vintage shoot after waiting 13 years to be well enough. She was fabulous, enjoyed it thoroughly and her partner was astonished at the album presented to him and that she’d actually managed to do all this without him knowing.

Her feedback of the entire experience has been many emails long and I feel we made an impression on each other with what we achieved that day and what it has enabled her to go on to achieve. It’s not just one comment but a catalogue of feedback that I am overwhelmed by and deeply proud of.

8. What is the most outrageous shoot you’ve ever done?
I’m fairly boring in this sense, I’ve not done anything truly wacky as of yet. By request I’ve photographed one client on the boudoir sets in a hunting jacket and muddy wellies, another tied to a chair in a saucy pilot wartime scenario and requests for cross dressing boudoir shoots.

9. What is your biggest challenge in this field of photography?
Mainly reinventing my photography so it stays fresh and keeping my style unique so that it’s recognisable from the masses. Another is having unique sets, furniture and backdrops.

My main challenge with my clients is the age difference between us. Of late my average client is about 40-55 and I am 27 but look 22! I can tell when they arrive they expect me to be much older. In my head I imagine they’re thinking I am young enough to be their daughter and a lot of people have the opinion that you have to have 20 years experience to be good in your field.

So it’s a challenge I have with myself, being too conscious of what people may think even though they probably aren’t.

After we’ve had a coffee, good chat, giggle and got to know each other, the ice is broken and I can feel the trust gained and placed with me to deliver the results required.

10. What is your top 5 tips for portraiture photographers wanting to try a boudoir style shoot for the first time?

  1. Plan and prepare like there is no tomorrow. Make sure your client knows what to bring, how to arrive ready for styling, etc. The better prepared they are the better their photos will be.
  2. It is very important that you listen to what your client wants, ideas, requirements, what they want to get across in their photos and you have to do everything possible to deliver that.
  3. Gain as much practice at posing people of different body sizes and shapes as possible. For examples look on the net, clothing and lingerie catalogues and even paintings.
  4. Work towards a unique style; don’t just offer the same as someone else. Get a niche, yes it will be replicated after a while but be the best at it and keep refreshing your style to stay on top and be recognised.
  5. I think it’s very important not to undersell yourself. Some will complain that your service is overpriced, some don’t even think you should charge and that you should be honored to photograph them, others will pay willingly. Charge your worth and you will get quality, respecting clients.

11. Can you show us a photo which was the hardest for you to create, and explain why?
I’ve not had many hard shots to create but the most intricate was a pin-up scene for a sailor/beach look.

I didn’t just want someone on a blue background with a ring and sporting a sailor suit or bikini. I knew exactly how I wanted it, sand, sea, shells, foliage, nets, etc. The problems were sea and sand. I can’t have water as I don’t have the facilities in a boudoir studio and sand is just way too messy to whip away quickly ready for the next scene.

So I bought look-alike water and had a sandy colored dustsheet that I draped over boxes and cushions to make sand banks. I then added my other props and it looked better than I could ever have hoped for.

To create a sun style lighting would just be too harsh for the look I wanted plus harsh lighting isn’t the most flattering. So I used 2 soft boxes for the background, 2 for the model and then a huge beauty dish as my sun.

All together it gave me the softness I wanted and the beauty dish added that extra crisp edge and highlight to the skin. In Photoshop I added a few clouds to the blue background and softened the sandy dustsheet resulting in a set of shots I was very happy with.

12. What gear do you use?
I use Canon cameras, my main a 5D Mark II with 5D backup and a very old 10D as an emergency spare. Lens most used for boudoir is my Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L. I have Sigma 20mm f2.8 which I adore; it offers the most beautiful quality. A few more Canons and a Tokina from the old days stay in the bag.

In my studio I use Bowens lights and modifiers. My office has a mix of Macs for image work and pc’s for other things; I like to stay up to date with both systems.

13. Who are the other women boudoir photographers who inspire you?
I don’t really follow any other photographers and don’t know any to mix with; I’m a bit of a loner when it comes to togs. I’m one for being inspired by my experiences, movies, music videos, books, history and emotions.

I don’t like the idea of looking at someone’s image and thinking, “that’s good, I’ll try that”. I want everything I do to be as unique as possible. I want to discover for myself, create from my own mind and life. I can then be proud of my creations.

Check out more of Emma Jones‘ work at Miss Boudoir and keep up with her on her:

Blog: http://www.missboudoir.blogspot.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/Miss_Boudoir
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Miss-BoudoirR-Boudoir-Photography/

Interview with landscape photographer, Jessy C. Eykendorp

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Category : Featured articles, Interviews

Ijen Crater is a nature reserve Ijen Park is located between Banyuwangi and Bondowoso District, East Java, Indonesia (© Jessy C. Eykendorp)

You’ve not seen Indonesia until you’ve seen it through Jessy C Eykendorp‘s lens. Better known as tropicalLiving on Flickr, Jessy’s photostream is filled with dreamy landscape photos that make postcards look bad.

ChiqClicks caught up with this Bali lass in an exclusive interview where she shares her secrets in creating stunning landscape photos.

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Pura Batu Bolong is a small shrine located just a stone's throw from the famous Tanah Lot temple (© Jessy C. Eykendorp)

1.How would you describe yourself in one sentence?
I’m the sort of person that just tries my best to enjoy life and keep things as simple as possible.

2. What’s your usual routine when setting up for a landscape shot?
I start by researching the location as much as possible before even getting there. Once I reach a location, I usually move around with my camera off of my tripod, and try to find a composition that will work best for me. After I find my composition, I setup my tripod and position any filters if necessary, tune my focus, set my white balance, and then hope that the good light appears.

3. How/why did you pick up landscape photography?
I started with macro photography, but living in Bali Indonesia, I was quickly moved by the great landscapes that exist all around me. While undergoing some personal problems, photography became my therapy, and became my one true freedom that helps me to relax, and get my mind straight.

4. Any preference for sunrise or sunset, and if yes why?
I like both, but for me, nothing beats the calmness and freshness in the mornings. Usually the lakes are calmer, making for perfect reflections, and often times, there is low lying fog or mist in the mornings. I love to listen to the birds waking up in the early morning too…

Photo taken at Pererenan Beach, Canggu, Bali. Pererenan beach is another surfing spot with a selection of villas close by (© Jessy C. Eykendorp)

5. Looking at the sun can be dangerous. What precautionary methods do you take?
I don’t do anything special for this except try not to look directly into the sun. I haven’t had a huge problem with it so far, but who knows, maybe I will be blind by the time I’m 40.. hahah

(© Jessy C. Eykendorp)

6. How much post-editing do you do?
I really don’t do a lot of post-editing. I sit in front of the computer a lot for my work, and prefer to get things as close as possible in the camera with the use of filters etc. I will usually make some selective contrast adjustments, some minor saturation, and some dodging/burning if necessary. After that I will sharpen it and that’s pretty much all I do…

7. To you, what is the biggest challenge when it comes to landscape photography?
For me, the biggest challenge isn’t the technical part, but just learning to be patient, and understanding that the good light and conditions don’t happen every single time you go out to make photos. Sometimes, I have to go to a location several times before everything comes together properly.

8. Can you give an example of a photo which you’ve invested a lot of time getting?

Picturesque Kawah Ijen is the world's largest highly acidic lake and is the site of a labor-intensive sulfur mining operation in which sulfur-laden baskets are hand-carried from the crater floor. Think you have a tough job? Try carrying 100 kilos through a cloud of sulfur down the side of a volcano (© Jessy C. Eykendorp)

9. Can you give 5 tips for newbies trying out landscape photography?

  • Learn to be patient. Landscape photography is not like other types of photography where the conditions are always the same (portrait, macro, etc). Several things can affect your landscape photographs, and conditions will often times not be ideal.
  • Always watch your histogram to ensure that you are not blowing out the highlights or any of the color channels. Try to expose to the right of the histogram as much as possible so that you can catch the most detail in your files.
  • Shoot in RAW, and learn to use a RAW editor.
  • Get to your location early, so that you have plenty of time to find a good composition. Nothing worse than getting to a location at the last minute when the sunset is amazing, and not being able to come up with a good composition.
  • Just have fun and enjoy wherever it is that you chose to be at the time. You won’t always get a good photo, but I think it’s also important to just enjoy being out there as much as possible.

Kedisan is a small rural village on the edge of Lake Batur, under the shadow of the magnificent active volcano Mt Batur (© Jessy C. Eykendorp)

10. What do you pack in your bag when you go out to photograph landscapes?
I personally love the super wide angle sweeping landscapes, so I never leave home without my wide angle lens. I usually also cary a 70-300mm lens for zooming in and capturing the more intimate pieces of the landscapes. I rely heavily on the use of Neutral Density, and Graduated Neutral Density filters, and have an assortment of these in my bag at all times, along with a filter holder.

11. How has using Flickr as a photo sharing site, helped you grow as a photographer?
Flickr has been a great for researching particular locations, and getting feedback on my photos. I have met some really great people through flickr, and also learned a lot by just looking at the EXIF information of other photographers.

12. Who are the other women photographers that inspire you?
I love the work of Hillary Younger. She’s a great landscape photographer and she is also a wonderful person. Please check out her photostream here.

Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park (© Jessy C. Eykendorp)

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Follow Jessy @ tropicalLiving on Flickr here.


Is ’round-the-world’ photography right for you?

2

Category : Featured articles, How to

Hmong tribe girls look longingly at balloons in Sapa, Vietnam (© Aloha Lavina)

Find yourself wanting to ride a boat through the colorful floating market in Thailand one weekend and visiting the Swayambhu temple in Kathmandu the next? Round-the-world’ (RTW) travelling might be just the thing for you.

Aloha Lavina, a teacher by profession and an RTW traveler by heart, shares the amazing images she captures on her travels and helps you determine whether RTW is right for you, in this guest post below.

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Rajasthani girl hides her mouth and smiles with her eyes, India (© Aloha Lavina)

Sometimes when I completely fall in love with a place, I want to stay indefinitely.

Standing in the Sunday market in Bac Ha, Vietnam, my senses are overwhelmed by the colors. My camera is on overdrive. I am in heaven.

But I spend exactly one day in Bac Ha, leave the North of Vietnam, fly back to Hanoi then Bangkok, bringing back some images and the intention of going back.

I’ve only been to Luang Prabang a total of five days. My first time in Bali, I spent five days there. First time in Myanmar, seven days. The Rajasthan in India, a week. But each time, I was able to bring back some wonderful images and a sense of the place. I didn’t have to stay indefinitely.

I know people who quit their jobs and became travelers full time. One of the most famous of these is Jodi, also known as Legalnomads. Another is Matt, known to everyone as NomadicMatt. They both quit corporate type jobs to do RTWs, or round-the-world trips. There are a lot of full-time RTW travelers: on Twitter alone, @solotraveler, @BKKMichael, and even an entire family, @GotPassport, who have sold everything they owned and relocated to Chiang Mai, Thailand just over three weeks ago.

Buddhist monks walking for alms, Luang Prabang Laos (© Aloha Lavina)

Sometimes, when I completely fall in love with a place, which happened in Burma last month, I wish for a moment I too could just make like Gauguin and run back to the place I was from the place I am.

But is RTW the right answer for everyone? Does short travel make you less of a traveler? I’ve thought about these questions a lot lately. Here are some thoughts.

1. Short travel is OK if you are already an expat.

I’ve lived in Thailand and other countries. I haven’t been in what most people would consider “home,” really, since I was sixteen years old. Wherever I am at present is “home” to me. So I am a full-time expat. What I love about being an expat in Bangkok is that I am able to use all the conveniences I would have back home, and (seriously) there is a direct flight to five continents from this city. So when I have the time, I can fly somewhere with my camera and notebook, and then fly back home. In 2007, for instance, my busiest year thus far, I flew 47 different times to 17 different places and was back on Monday for my full time job.

Woman giggles at photographer’s strange Vietnamese accent, Can Tho (© Aloha Lavina)

2. You have a job you love.

The people I know who quit their job to travel did not really enjoy what they did as much as they enjoyed travel. Shamelessly, I can talk about my profession for a whole day and never tire. I teach high school English and design curriculum, and I love it. I love the possibility that is in each life of each child I teach; I love the light that happens in their eyes when they understand something, when they learn. And I love that at the end of the school year, I am able to look back and appreciate that my hard work has made someone love learning.

A Buddhist monk looks through his laundry in Luang Prabang, Laos (© Aloha Lavina)

I thought about quitting teaching to engage in my other job, freelance commercial photographer and journalist. But in all these years of being busy both Monday to Friday with school and Saturdays and evenings with photography and writing, I honestly cannot say I would be happy without either. So I am both.

3. Your travel needs you to lug heavy equipment around.

I travel so I can create images. The lightest equipment I take somewhere includes a DSLR, at least two lenses, four camera batteries, a storage viewer which can hold up to 160 GB of photos, a notebook (paper based tool I can carry in my pocket to record snatches of thought).

I also budget my reading when I travel, because when it’s too dark to take photos, I usually don’t ‘go out’ in the conventional sense, so I read. On a recent eight-day trip to Bali, I read the three books I brought in five days, and I had to buy Eat Pray Love and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest for the three days left plus the plane ride.

A rickshaw driver looks through the awning of his rickshaw, Kathmandu Nepal (© Aloha Lavina)

And, sometimes I have to carry a tripod and a laptop.

If I had to lug this equipment around on my back for a whole year on an RTW, I think one of a few things would happen:

  • I will run out of storage space for new photos. On an average day on a photo trip, from pre-sunrise to sundown, I take around 24 GB of photos. Do the math—even if I delete the mediocre ones nightly, I would still end up with at least some 12 GB of photos a day. That makes 160 GB last for an average of 13.33 days, nowhere close to a year. Of course, I could bring more than one storage device, thereby sentencing myself to a lifetime of back problems. (All this equipment on my back every day weighs 16 kilograms which I carry while chasing images.)
  • I will spend lots of money on books.
  • All of the above.

4. You want easier budgets to handle.

A family walks in moonlight carrying an offering, Bali (© Aloha Lavina)

I generally like nicer hotels. And because I often travel more than 200 kilometers a day from the sunrise location to the sunset, I have to hire a car. When traveling, a nice room and a reliable car often are my two biggest expenses.

5. You want action-filled days.

Tom Swick of World Hum wrote that traveling is “creative hanging around.” For me, that doesn’t mean sitting. As a rule, I am constantly in motion when I travel. On my feet at a location, I can explore ways to make better images than if I sit somewhere and wait for a shot to walk by.

Of course, I also do hang around. I have to make friends before I make photos—that’s another of my rules. So a lot of time is spent socializing with the locals, eating with them, visiting their families, and a lot of time is spent working with the camera. The rest of the time is slow eating and sipping good coffee while writing down my thoughts. Days and days of this, then I go home and process both the photos and my thoughts.

I like being able to live episodically when I travel. It demands that I pay attention to the present, every single minute of every single day.

And it works for me. How about you? Is RTW right for you?

Originally posted here.

Pa O tribe man looks out a temple window, Myanmar (© Aloha Lavina)

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Aloha Lavina has been in Asia since she was 16. Traveling from her base in Bangkok, Aloha has been stuck in an ash cloud in France, trapped in a flash flood in the Philippines, caught in seven coups d’etat in Thailand, and spent a week not talking at a Benedictine Abbey in Jamberoo, Australia.

Her writing and photographs have been featured extensively in publications such as UTATA Tribal Photography Magazine (USA) and  Danse Avec la Terre, a photography book for Haiti published in France.

Keep up with Aloha on:
Her blog: www.pointofutterance.com
Her website:
www.alohal.com
Twitter:
www.twitter.com/alohalavina


Palestinian women photojournalists

1

Category : Featured articles, General

“Palestinian women started taking photographs of families and holy places, ceremonies and weddings, but ended up taking pictures of bodies of killed young children, shelled schools ruined homes, and lots of blood”
Iqbal Tamimi, exiled Palestinian photojournalist,

In many developed parts of the world, the camera is a welcomed technology that’s a personal must have – be it a digital SLR or having the camera function in our mobile phones and laptops. In some parts of the world, the camera is as powerful as a gun and reason for prosecution.

Iqbal Tamimi, an exiled Palestinian journalist who is currently the director for Arab Women Media Watch in the UK, discusses the reality of the situation for Palestinian women photojournalists in her powerful research paper below (reposted with permission).

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Palestinian women photojournalists: from taking photos of holy places to documenting burned babies

© Karimeh Abbud (1896-1955)

Introduction

The difficult circumstances in Palestine facing journalists in the occupied West Bank and Gaza forced many media establishments to choose employing local journalists who know the nature of the area, besides minimizing the amount of risks reporters and photojournalists face when covering clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in the Gaza.

This Essay will focus on Palestinian women photojournalists working within the Palestinian territories; thus excluding hundreds of Palestinian women journalists who are working all over the world after their families became refugees, or forced to exile.

Early photography in Palestine

Kulthum Odeh (1892 -1965) the first woman to hold the professor title in the Arab world and establish an institute in Russia

Photojournalism started after photography was introduced to Palestine in the late-nineteenth century by the British who undertook the first archaeological excavations in the Holy Land and tried to document their findings and the areas they investigated by pictures as Rachel Hallote reported (2007 pp 26-41). The British were followed by the Germans, and eventually by the Americans. Photography was introduced by people who came searching for evidence about biblical subjects and connections. Some elder Palestinians claimed that these excavations were part of a planned agenda to pave the way for the Jews to occupy Palestine well ahead the Nazi’s aggression on the European Jews. Americans were deeply involved in the archaeological photography in Palestine, but the British Palestine Exploration Fund dominated the photography activities in Palestine since the 1860s.

Photojournalism in Palestine is considered a male dominated profession as is the case in almost all Middle Eastern countries, but Palestine has always been the first country within the Arab world to offer women the opportunity to be in the lead to break old social moulds when it comes to pioneering work and education for women. As an example the first Arab woman to hold an academic title as a professor and to establish an institute in a western country was the Palestinian Kulthum Odeh (1892 -1965) as Tamimi (2008) reported.

Hand-colored postcard of the River Jordan, by Karimeh Abbud

During the same period another woman from the same city of Nazerath named Karimeh Abbud (1896-1955) was the first Palestinian woman to become a professional photographer. Karimeh lived and worked in Palestine in the first half of the twentieth century, research shows that she might have been the first female professional photographer not just in Palestine but in the entire East. Karima had her education in Nazareth, and at the Schmidt Girls School in Jerusalem, and the American University of Beirut in Lebanon.

© Karimeh Abbud (1896-1955)

Ahmed Mrowat (2007 p 72-78) reported that Abbud started photography in 1913 in Bethlehem after receiving a camera from her father as a gift for her 17th birthday. Her first photos were of family, friends and the landscape in Bethlehem. Her first signed picture available at present is dated October 1919. She started by setting up a home studio, earning money by taking photos of women, children, weddings and other ceremonies. She also took numerous photos of public spaces in Haifa, Nazareth, Bethlehem and Tiberias. When local Nazareth photographer Fadil Saba moved to Haifa 1930, Karimeh’s studio work was in high demand. The work she produced in that period was stamped in Arabic and English with the words: “Karimeh Abbud – Lady Photographer. She took photos of areas that have religious significance like Kafr Kanna in the Galilee associated with the Cana village where Jesus biblical stories claimed he turned water into wine. This village flourished in the 16th century, as it lay on the trade route between Egypt and Syria. Karimeh also took pictures of Mary’s Well near Nazareth or “The spring of the Virgin Mary”) which is reputed to be located at the site where the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and announced that she would bear a son. The well was positioned over an underground spring that served for centuries as a local watering hole for the Arab villagers.

In the mid-1930s, she began offering hand-painted copies of studio photographs. In a 1941 letter to her cousins, she expresses her desire to prepare a publicly printed album for her photographic work. According to Mrowat (2007) Karimeh ultimately returned to Nazareth, where she died in 1955. Original copies of her extensive portfolio have been collected together by Ahmed Mrowat, Director of the Nazareth Archives Project. In 2006, Boki Boazz, an Israeli antiquities collector, discovered over 400 original prints of Abbud’s in a home in the Qatamon quarter of Jerusalem that had been abandoned by its owners in 1948. Mrowat has expanded his collection by purchasing the photos from Boazz, many of which are signed by the artist.

© Karimeh Abbud (1896-1955)

While Palestinian male photojournalists started few years earlier than Karimeh as Nassar reported (2006 pp. 139-155) it was Yessayi Garabedian the leader of the Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem who started the first photographic workshop in Palestine. One of Garabedian’s pupils was the famous Garabed Krikorian as Ankori (2006 p36) reported that he established his photographic studio in the Old City of Jerusalem and worked in it from 1885 until 1948. Krikorian was entrusted to prepare the famous Sultan Abdul Hamid Albums on Palestine and later became the official photographer of Kaiser Wilhelm II during his visit to Palestine in 1899. Krikorian worked in his workshop for over forty years. His son Johannes travelled to Cologne in Germany to further his photographic training and came back after years of study and training to become the preeminent studio photographer in Jerusalem.

Another of Garabed’s students was Khalil Raad who opened his studio in 1890, across the street from the Krikorian studio, leading to intense competition between the two pioneering photographers. Peace was found when Raad’s niece, Najla Raad was betrothed to Johannes Krikorian and she became known as the peace bride. But unfortunately the historic photographic studio was tragically destroyed in 1948 by the Jews during their attacks on the city.

Palestinian women photojournalists now

"Some of them end up in jail like Isra’a el-Amarna the photojournalist from Dheisheh refugee camp who has been detained by the Israeli occupation authorities." -Iqbal Tamini-

I requested some information from The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics in the Palestinian Authorities for (2008) regarding the percentage of female Palestinian photojournalists registered officially, the Palestinian authorities statistics built its findings on ownership documents of photography studios showing that there are 201 Palestinian female photographers in the West Bank of a total of 984 photographers, 783 are males. This statistic was obtained from officially registered studios excluding the number of photographers in Gaza where it is difficult to obtain statistics by the Palestinian Authorities, besides there is a number of journalists who are not registered officially. A female photojournalist in Gaza Eman Mohammed explained to me the amount of social difficulty she faced for stepping in a male’s territory, she also expressed her determination to overcome obstacles as she said “going to take photos at invasions, airstrikes, violent demonstrations, and hot zones seemed like the only way to prove to everyone that I can handle this job, but I could never go there without getting verbally offended or harassed”.

Eman mentioned violent demonstrations, invasions, and airstrikes for her subjects unlike the subjects documented by Karimeh, because she had no other choices for such subjects are part of everyday life in Palestine. Should she had another choice maybe she would choose to take photos of fashion shows or festivals, art galleries or anything that is not related to death and destruction, but this is her city and this was the hard reality she had to face.

© Karimeh Abbud (1896-1955)

During the Visa pour l’image international photojournalism festival in Perpignan, France, from August 29 to September 11, 2005 Jack Crager (2005 p10, 15) reported that the exhibitions featured reflected individual photographers’ efforts to highlight major trends, during the exhibition all three participating Palestinian photographers’ images were of funerals in the Gaza Strip. Burgess (1994 p20-22) also reported that during the 1994 World Press Photo annual awards in Amsterdam, the top award went to Larry Towell’s image of Palestinian boys playing with guns for the camera. Palestinian photojournalists do not only witness and document attacks, they become sometimes part of such bigger picture. Smyth (2005 p12-14) wrote a feature article about three Palestinian photojournalists and brothers based in the Gaza strip who are employed by Reuters. Smyth reported that their work regularly takes them to scenes of chaos and destruction in which they are sometimes, inevitably, involved and face the possibilities of injury, she wrote of Jadallah one of the three Palestinian brothers photographers being injured four times through his work, and she reported on the more tragically still, funerals they have to cover that is often involve friends and relatives. Smyth argues that their intimate knowledge of Gaza that allowed the brothers to take photographs different to those of Western photographers based in the area. Sure if you are part of a place you would see things differently because you are not only doing your job, you are affected by what you are trying to capture from another angle, you are not totally independent of your emotions.

© Karimeh Abbud (1896-1955)

Eman like almost all other Palestinian photojournalists could not get official training so she was trained as an individual by several photojournalists, and she had to convince her community that photography was only ‘just a hobby, not a lifetime career’ to escape more scrutiny. She had worked for different agencies for free just to have her pictures published.

Unlike Eman, Enas Mraih another Palestinian female photojournalist she was lucky to work with Alhadath newspaper published in Palestinian territories occupied 1948 called now ‘Israel’. She was invited to Denmark to participate in a workshop with 28 other journalists from 6 countries: Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Occupied Palestinian territories of 1967, Besides Israel and the country host. Enas was even chosen to be on the cover of ‘Crossing Borders’ a magazine published in Denmark and circulated in the Arab world. Enas was accompanied by another two Palestinian women photojournalists; they were Kholoud Masalhah, and Qamar Thaher. Enas was more fortunate than other female Palestinian photojournalists in being able to participate few times in conferences to discuss the Palestinian Israeli conflict, and the struggle of Palestinians fighting for the right to be treated equally like Jewish citizens living in the same state holding the same Citizenship, but still suffer racial discrimination by the Israeli government for being Israeli Arabs.

© Karimeh Abbud (1896-1955)

Laila Abu Odeh is another female photojournalist working in Rafah who was a victim of aggression by Israeli forces; she was shot in her thigh by the Israeli soldiers while filming the destruction caused by the Israeli shelling of The Rafah Camp near Salah Eddin Gate on the 20th of April 2001.

Palestinian women started taking pictures of families and holy places, ceremonies and weddings because this was part of every day life, but ended up taking pictures of bodies of killed young children, shelled schools and homes, and lots of blood including their own for the same reason. Having been living in an area where everything is disputed including the rights of journalists, there are no institutions those women can request assistance from for training or protection. They are women armed with cameras chasing the truth no matter what the consequences are. Some of them end up in jail like Isra’a el-Amarna the photojournalist from Dheisheh refugee camp who has been detained by the Israeli occupation authorities. Isra’a was working in photography to support her poor family when the Israeli occupation authorities arrested her on accusation of membership to Qassam Brigades, and that she had the intention to carry out a martyrdom operation. A camera is as powerful as a gun but those who use cameras are not the coward ones.

Originally published in Palestinian Mothers on Feb 2009. Reposted with permission.

Bibliography

Burgess, N. (1994) Going Dutch British Journal of Photography v. 141 (June 8 1994) p. 20-2

Crager, J. (2005) See it now American Photo v. 16 no. 5 (September/October 2005) p. 10, 12

Hallote, R. (2007) Photography The American Contribution To Early Biblical Archaeology 1870-1920. Near Eastern Archaeology 70 no1 pp 26-41

Katz, Lee M. (2000) Life, limb, & a deadline to meet Editor & Publisher 11/20/2000, Vol. 133 Issue 47, p14

Mohammed, E. (2008) Proud with no pride of the “me” I choose to be Voices from the Frontline. Available online at: http://www.peacexpeace.org/content/en/yourstory/write?memoir=148&am… accessed 20/1/2009

Mrowat. A (2007) Karimeh Abbud: Early Woman Photographer (1896-1955) Jerusalem Quarterly (Institute of Jerusalem Studies) Issue 31: p. 72-78

Mrowat, A (2007) Photography As Ethnographic History. Depiction of Israeli-Palestinian Conflict since 1948, The Institute of Jerusalem Studies.

Nassar, I. (2006) Familial Snapshots: Representing Palestine in the Work of the First Local Photographers History & Memory – Volume 18, Number 2, Fall/Winter 2006, pp. 139-155 Indiana University Press.

Ankori. G. (2006) Palestinian Art Reaction Books, London P36

Smyth, D. (2005) Funeral days British Journal of Photography v. 152 (September 7 2005) p. 12-14

Tamimi, I. (2008) The Palestinian Kulthum Odeh (1892 -1965) the first woman to hold the professor title in the Arab world, London Progressive Journal. Issue 41 October 2008

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Iqbal Tamimi, an exiled photojournalist, is the director for Arab Women Media Watch in the UK. With a strong passion for human rights and research, she is also the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Palestinian Mothers – an online human rights network. Follow more of her work at the following network sites:

Journomania Online  - http://journomania.ning.com/
Twitter – http://twitter.com/IqbalTamimi


Tribute to Paul the Octopus

Category : Flickr Photo of the Week

This week’s Flickr Photo of the Week samples some great photos of octopuses from fellow flickrettes, in tribute to Paul the Octopus.

Paul the Octopus is a psychic octopus that has accurately predicted the results for all 6 of Germany’s matches for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

“There are always people who want to eat our octopus but he is not shy and we are here to protect him as well. He will survive.”
Oliver Walenciak (Paul’s keeper) via wikipedia

Eat him? Keep him? What is certain is that Paul has made octopuses cool again.

Day 298/365: Miss O. Donning an Octopus by olga_sgr!.

Day 298/365: Miss O. Donning an Octopus by olga_sgr! on Flickr

octopus

octopus by Gálago on Flickr

CAN-CAN de Los CALAMARES by magda.indigo.

CAN-CAN de Los CALAMARES by magda.indigo on Flickr

Mr. Octopus, I love you! by (Christine).

Mr. Octopus, I love you! by (Christine) on Flickr

Octopus Wrist Pincushion 3

Octopus Wrist Pincushion 3 by Crafty Intentions on Flickr

Octopus vulgaris by lintsu.

Octopus vulgaris by lintsu on Flickr

octopus!!!! by wacky doodler.

octopus!!!! by wacky doodler on Flickr

Nothing to see here folks!

Nothing to see here folks! by kathrynivy.com on Flickr

Octopus Inside A Bottle by julesnene.

Octopus Inside A Bottle by julesnene on Flickr

octopus cupcake

octopus cupcake by two parts sugar on Flickr

octopus by Sabinche.

octopus by Sabinche on Flickr

Octopus by *pippyzz*.

Octopus by *pippyzz* on Flickr