Wherever BawBaw goes, expect to see camera flashes in her wake. IgoUgo’s snap-happy Photographer of the Year shares her passion, and her tips, for travel photography.
IgoUgo: You’ve been voted IgoUgo’s Photographer of the Year and have shared nearly 6,000 photos on the site—photos most of us only wish we could take. What are your secrets for snapping top-notch travel photos? Do you use a certain type of equipment or take special measures?
BawBaw: My vision is significantly impaired. My uncorrected vision in the left eye has been estimated by my ophthalmologist at 20/1600. So photography, for me, has become another way of seeing. It allows me to focus my limited field of vision in a manner that helps me to take in more of what is before me. It also lets me bring my experiences home, where I can view them more closely. I don’t really have a secret, unless it is that my limited vision forces me to "look" more carefully than I might otherwise do. Even when the photos are less than wonderful, they tell me a story and show me a world that I would otherwise miss.
Between us, we (Himself and Yours Truly) carry a number of cameras when we travel, both digital and traditional 35mm types. My workhorse is a Canon PowerShot A640. Most of my photos are taken on the automatic setting, though I use the other options, including filters and zoom lenses, when necessary.
IgoUgo: Which of the 126 destinations that you’ve photographed for IgoUgo is your favorite place—to photograph or to visit?
BawBaw: In many respects, my favorite place is where I am at any given moment, though I admit to a special love of desert places and places where I can commune with “the stones”—places touched by deep human emotion over time. These include the standing stones of Britain, the great cathedrals of Europe, the Kotel (or Western Wall) in Jerusalem, and the Anasazi sites of the Southwest.
IgoUgo: Your most recent travel journal chronicles the culture of your area in West Virginia. What is it about your home state that you most love to share with others?
BawBaw: West Virginia is my husband’s home state, but I must admit that though I live here and admire its beauty, it is not home to me. Home in the geographical sense is the American Southwest. As a longtime visitor in West Virginia, I love its heartiness, its strength, the down-to-earth quality of its people, and its resilience.
IgoUgo: We especially love your photos and writing from New Mexico; the hot-air balloons are gorgeous. How did your fascination with the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta begin? Are you a balloonist or a spectator?
BawBaw: Albuquerque is my hometown, no matter how far I stray or for how long. When I return, I escape into high-desert places with great zeal. I am the most amateur of balloonists, working on chase crews during Fiesta and enjoying a place in the gondola only a few times. My younger daughter and her husband are members of ballooning teams based in New Mexico, and they provide much of the motivation for my limited involvement. Still, one cannot be in Albuquerque during Fiesta without being a bit bitten by the bug. When the balloons fill the sky in their numbers and with their many shapes and colors, it’s truly a magnificent sight. There are simply no words that are adequate.
IgoUgo: Do you have any trips in mind for 2008 that we can look forward to seeing on IgoUgo?
BawBaw: Trips for 2008 are in the planning stage:
In February, we’re tentatively planning a couple of weeks on one of North Carolina’s coastal islands. Mother wants to experience the beach and the waves in winter. There’s symbolism there, but it’s good symbolism.
In April, we will take our eldest grandchild to Britain for a 2-week grand tour, introducing him to London, Lincolnshire, Derbyshire, Edinburgh, the Great Glen, and other places we know and love.
In August, we’re planning a 2-week trip to Scotland, this one organized around a handful of the country’s most famous golf courses and the Edinburgh Tattoo.
In October, Fiesta in Albuquerque is a likely possibility.
We also have a number of daytrips and short overnights in the works, but the list is very fluid. One thing for sure, we’re likely to stay on the move as much as possible.