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It’s been a long time coming but it’s finally released! My new book “Portraits of Asia” is a collection of my best and most compelling work from my recent journey around South East Asia. From the hillside villages and farms of Nothern Vietnam to the Orang Asli of Malaysia this book contains colourful, quirky and captivating photos I am very proud of.
You can order your copy online here and check out the first 15 pages of the book in the preview below.
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Shy child As all of my blogs recently have been image centric I thought I’d take the time out to write a little more and update you on how things are going.

Firstly I can’t emphasise enough how right this adventure is to embark on. Already I’ve produced not only work I’m very proud of but work that has so much substance and meaning. My Photography has compelled my wife and I to push ourselves just that little bit further. Taking longer treks, more missions into the unknown and saying ‘yes’ to a lot more offers. It’s been well worth it as you’ve probably seen!

Sunset Palms Equipment wise I love my choice of camera and lenses all the more so and it’s been well worth dragging them everywhere with me. Trekking trough thick Thai jungle, teetering over rivers on bamboo bridges to hiking up into the hills of Vietnam with the temperature always above 30 degrees.

My Tamrac Adventure 9 bag was without doubt a fantastic purchase and I’ve been able to very comfortably carry all my gear where ever I’ve needed it.

The only casualty has been my speedlight flash. Knocked by a fellow trekker it broke off my camera leaving the hot shoe connector behind while rest fell to the rocky floor half way up a mountain. If vietnam taught me anything it’s that you can always get things fixed on the streets. Sure enough a guy Watch outthat rebuild mobile phones from the parts or dead phones had no problem fixing it with a steady hand and a healthy amount of super glue.

One steep learning curve has been handling the massive amount of work I’m producing on a near daily basis. With my trusty Macbook Pro with me I’ve been able to keep on top of it. Editing has been quick and dare I say fun while making sure my backup regime is strictly adhered to has been all important should the worst happen.

angkor wat Traveling for an extended period of time while simultaneously working has been both a challenge and something i can be very proud of. With over a month left before we settle in Sydney, Australia for a while there’s still a lot more to see and do. I’ll keep you all posted whenever i have Internet access.

As ever your thoughts and comments are very welcome. It would be great to hear from you while I’m ‘on the road’.

Canon 5D MkIIMy Canon 5D Mark II is one impressive camera! The ability to record full 1080p HD video through SLR spec lenses really opens up the uses too but it’s automatic aperture controls meant it’s full potential wasn’t being realised.

Thankfully today it was announced that the 5D Mark II will be getting a firmware upgrade from June 2nd 2009. With full manual controls of aperture, shutter speed and ISO in video mode. This means you can now set the depth of field to your choice, not the camera’s, allowing much greater creative use.

There were a few dodgy workarounds before. Twisting the lens so it’s not locked to the camera was one rather dangerous idea that i did try on occasion. Another was using Nikon lenses with an adapter.

Many people have thanked Canon for “Listening to the people” on this one. I think that’s a bit short sighted personally. Canon have no doubt been working on the software for the 5D Mark II for some time. Adding new features to a pro camera is what keeps it fresh and stops the need for expensive development of new products. No doubt Canon were always going to add this feature once the software had been fully tested.

I’m looking forward to seeing a whole lot more video from the 5D Mark II now. I for one will be shooting a lot more that’s for sure!

Find out more on Matt Preston Photography

Photos from this camera are now featured on the Travel Blog Community.

This photo has been knocking around in my collection for a while now but always draws me back to it to enjoy it.

Sea-read
Sea Read – Matt Preston

Some of my best work has come when my mind has suddenly latched on to a composition. When i saw this man reading in a up-turned converted boat, the way he was sat, the symmetry of it all, I was so glad I had my camera that day!

The subject matter and bold lines work so much better in black and white. Colour would never do this photo justice.

As ever your thoughts and comments are welcome.

I saw these guys during a Busking Festival, a very simple image that offers so much in the way of narrative and comedy.

Will dance for food
Will Dance For Food – Matt Preston

I think this photo speaks for itself in terms of artist merit yet asks so much in terms of subject matter!

As ever your thoughts and comments are welcome.

As you may or may not be aware. I’m currently planning a rather adventures travel through South East Asia in September. Not only have I been busy putting together an itinerary, I’ve also been upgrading my camera equipment.

Tamrac Adventure 9 camera bagWith travel in mind (and lots of it) my choice of camera bag was very important to me. This isn’t just a bag to keep my camera safe, it needed to be something I could happily carry for hours every day in 30C heat. Something that could accommodate everything I’d want to take with me whilst being comfortable.

After a fair bit of review reading and scouting around I decided upon the Tamrac Adventure 9 camera bag.

Ruck Sack Style

I chose a ruck sack rather than a shoulder bag because i want to evenly distribute the weight across my shoulders. Having the weight of a camera plus lenses, etc on one shoulder for hours a day is not a good idea. It can seriously effect your general posture, cause back and shoulder pains. It would also mean a smaller bag so I would be limited to what I could fit in.

Compartment Size

One very important thing for me was being able to fit all my gear in. There’s a wide range of ruck sack style camera bags out there and the size of each compartment varies massively. The Tamrac Adventure 9 has ample space for my 5d Mark II, my 70-200mm F4 and my 24-105 F4. It also has a slot against the back for a 15″ laptop and another compartment for cables, snacks, whatever else you need for the day.

It also has a large number of pouches, zip up areas, and slots to put all manner of accessories in. Memory cards, filters, spare batteries, etc. All of which can fit in the main camera compartment which flips open easily to allow access to everything quickly.

Tamrac Adventure 9 camera bagWeather Proof

While I’ve not tested it in Monsoon like conditions, I’m pretty confident it’ll keep all my gear dry even in big downpours. All the zips are waterproofed including the more exposed laptop slot zip. Other zips have fold over flaps and the camera compartment has 3 extra straps for tightly fastening down the flap to stop wind lifting it or rain getting in. To be on the safe side I plan to purchase some resealable plastic bags to put my gear in. I’ll no doubt report more on it’s performance once I’m in Vietnam!

Attaching Extra Gear

The Tamrac Adventure 9 has a whole bunch of straps and fasteners on the outside so if you want to quickly attach something to it for easy access, you can. It also has two net style pouches on either side, perfect for a drinks bottle or a flash if you need easy access. I’ve even put a monopod in there and it’s held it in place no problem.

The bag also has 2 slots underneath it. I purchased some attachment straps and now strap my lightweight tripod to the bottom of my bag easily. Having it horizontally underneath helps spread the weight evenly which is best when carrying.

Very Happy

All in all I’m very happy with my bag. It wasn’t cheap but it’s very comprehensive in it’s features and abilities. It’s always comfortable to wear. It Does a great job of evenly distributing weight. Has easy access compartments and the extra straps give it more flexibility. I feel confident it will serve me well as i trek through Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia.

Worth reading

Check out this great blog on how to pack your camera bag! very important!

Your experience

As ever your thoughts and comments are welcome. What bag do you own and why?

This is still one of my favourite photos. Partly the composition and partly the subject matter.

Forgotten door
Forgotten Door – Matt Preston

I rarely walk past this door as it’s very hidden out of the way in an uninviting area of town. In fact hardly anyone would go there.  The door would lead underneath roads and buildings so what it’s actually for I don’t know. Nor do I ever want to know. It’s the non-descript nature of this door that draws me to it.

Rusting, unmaintained, unloved, does anyone still use it? Where does it go? Maybe it hasn’t been used for a hundred years (its possible). Why is it painted bright red!?

The darkening of the edges of the image help spotlight the door, making it all the more magical. Funny how such a flat, 2 dimensional object can create so many questions.

As ever your thoughts and comments are welcome.

This was taken a few months ago. It’s still surprisingly compelling to look at. So simple to create too. When viewing a shadow in 3D some of it’s appeal is lost. But transfer it to a 2 dimensional media and it takes on a whole new life.

Daddy long legs
Daddy Long Legs – Matt Preston

Everyone should have a go at this. Just wait untill sunset, stand still and take a photo. High contrasting images like this often work better in black and white or sepia. Your camera maybe able to do these effects but if you know how to it’s always better to add these effects later with a photo editing programme like iPhoto, Lightroom or Photoshop.

As ever your thoughts and comments are always welcome.

A book of the following “Big adventure” has been released entitled “Portraits of Asia”. You can preview the first 15 pages here and order your copy online today.

Check out our new travel blog site travelwithamate.com for lots more information on the “Big Adventure” below.

Find out more on our Facebook Fan Page too!

Airbus A380

Our plans for the “Big Adventure” are coming together and picking up pace.

For those of you that don’t know, my wife and I are planning to travel extensively through South-East Asia for around 3 months before moving to Sydney, Australia for a while. This is part of my drive to become a full time professional photographer and gives me a goal or deadline to work towards, you’d be surprised how motivational that is!

So here’s a rough itinerary, I’ll spare you the impressively in-depth version my wife has created. In 3 months travelling there’s hardly a day when we’re not booked to do something or travel somewhere!

Singapore F1 Grand PrixSeptember

20th – Fly from Heathrow, England to Changi, Singapore

27th – Watch the Singapore F1 Grand Prix with friends

October

Halong Bay, VietnamFly to Hanoi, Vietnam and spend a few days there as well as 3 days in Sa pa, treking & home stay and 3 days at Halong Bay.

Vist Hue City, Da nang and market town of Hoi An. Also the costal town of Nha Trang where there’s amazing beaches and sea corals.

On to Ho Chi Ming City, visit the famous Tay Ninh and Cu Chi tunnels. Cai Be on the Mekong Delta for a home stay.

Cambodia

Angkor Wat, Cambodia21st  – Boat and bus to Phnom Penh for a few days

Visit Kampot and Bokor Mountain National Park. Then to Battambang for a village home stay.

A boat to Siem Reap for Angkor Wat. Hopefully be there for sunset one day and revisit for sunrise the next day.

November

Chiang Mai, Thailand1st – Bus and train to Bangkok, Thailand

A few days in Bangkok before we go to Ayutthaya and then on to Chiang Mai visiting the sticky rice factory and do a bicycle tour.

On to Chiang Rai and possible home stay before a hill-tribe trek.

An overnight train back to Bangkok before heading on to Kanchanaburi. Visit the Bridge over the River Kwai.

December

kuala-lumpur-petronasOn to Ko Tao for a few days before hoping over to the islands of Phuket and Phi Phi for a week or two.

On to Krabi and Hat Yai before crossing the border into Malaysia

Visit Penang and Butterworth then train to Kuala Lumpur.

Train back to Singapore then fly on to Sydney, Australia around the 19th. Spend a couple of weeks enjoying Christmas while looking for a more permanent accommodation.

Flexible plans

Obviously these plans might change. That’s the wonderful thing about backpacking and traveling for extended periods of time. You can be flexible with your plans and get a chance to go off the beaten path. I’m really looking forward to the home stays and visiting a few sites and towns you wouldn’t normally go to. The flights are booked as are the Grand Prix tickets so it’ll be a fantastic start to the journey!

I will as ever be blogging throughout our travels and beyond. I’ll also be meeting up with locals from each country, doing photo shoots with local models and also meeting local photographers. Some of which I shall interview for blogs. The main point of our travels is to build up an extensive portfolio and hopefully do some networking with local photographic agencies and publications.

More progress reports on our plans as they are confirmed. If you have been to any of these countries please do leave a comment. I’d love to hear any recommendations on places to go, hidden gems, etc.

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Spending time with family is always a great opportunity to not only improve your photography skills but also give your family a surprise gift!

I’m lucky enough to have 2 beautiful nieces with another on the way! So there’s no end of family days out.

Outstanding in her field

Outstanding in her field – Matt Preston

This is one of my favourite photos. I’d prefer it if there wasn’t a fence in the background but you could argue that it adds a bit of texture and background to the image.

Pretty dress

Pretty Dress – Matt Preston

The great thing about kids is they have very little fear of cameras. It’s usually when adults get involved that they’re told to “say cheese” or smile unnaturally. Most of the time they’re happy to run around as though you’re not there. Of course if they do know what you’re doing it’s usually pretty easy to make them laugh, bringing out a great smile and compelling image.

Shy Smile

Shy Smile – Matt Preston

I recommend having a play around with settings in your photo editing software. You may find your photo becomes a lot more compelling if you up the contrast, reduce the saturation, etc. Family portraits often work well in black & white or even this de-saturated “aged photo” look.

Don’t be shy with your camera even when you’re at the park with lots of other kids around. While some people say “Make sure you don’t get any other kids in the shot” for fear of being shouted at by a protective parent one thing you’ll notice is that every parent has a digital camera in their hand these days, eager to snap more pics of their sons and daughters.

For more photos check out my Flickr Photostream.

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