When I stumbled upon the superb reviews of Cozumel Photo Tour on Trip Advisor, I thought, BINGO! This is exactly the type of activity tour that I have been searching for in our island travels. As a photo enthusiast and admitted digital camera junkie (don’t ask… I’ve stopped counting…), I have previously looked for a photo class that takes you around the scenic spots in the island and provides you with pointers on how to improve your photography skills. Alas, I haven’t had much luck in finding such a tour in the other islands, so I was really really stoked when I saw this tour offered in Cozumel.
Even though we would only be on the island for a precious few days and it meant I would have to give up some beach limin’ and snorkeling time, I knew I just had to take this tour. HAD TO! Even if I had to arrange for a private tour, I was not going to miss this chance. I convinced Hook that he should take the tour with me. With a bit of sweet-talking and an old-fashioned bribe of lunch after the class, he agreed. ;-)
It was suggested by one of the reviewers on Trip Advisor to take the tour earlier during your vacation rather than at the end of it. The logic being, you can learn the photo tips and apply them to the rest of your vacation photos. What a brilliant idea!
On a bright, sunny, perfect Saturday morning, Hook and I met with Tati, our photography instructor and tour guide. We started at the replica of a Mayan temple, with Tati guiding us to the best settings to use on our cameras, letting us take photos, reviewing them and giving us hints on the angles and spots that would make the photo more interesting. Too bad the sun at that time of the day was on the wrong side of the temple so the photos were not oustanding. But, we still gained valuable tips on setting up the shots.
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First photo attempt …notice the cable lines on the side and in the back
Replica of a Mayan Temple
Next attempt … a better angle, no cable lines
A closer look
Right behind the Mayan temple replica is a replica of a Mayan god. Tati used this to instruct us on how to make the true colors of the photo subject come out. Wow! What a difference!
Now the true colors show on the pic...
Walking along the Malecon (the street that fronts the ocean), we stopped and took some photos along some interesting stonework and statues. First a “Moosie moment”… The previous day while riding the Collectivo (shared van ride) from the airport to our hotel, we passed by this very same spot. I was taking in all the new sites when something caught the corner of my eye as the Collectivo stopped briefly at the intersection. In one of the cluster of statues, I saw a figure next to another statue. I did a double-take and for a split second thought to myself “Dang! That’s weird! Why do they have a statue that is wearing a red Speedo next to a Mayan warrior??” Then I noticed Speedo man move, and saw his buddy with a camera in hand. Duh! It was some guy, probably from a cruise ship that was in port, posing in his bright red Speedo for a photo. Thank goodness it was not a banana hammock he was wearing! Just a regular swim style. Ok, I digress…
Here’s one of the interesting photo that I took from this area.
We also stopped and took photos at the Museum in town. It was a nice way to get a break from the sun and heat. This is the most memorable and useful lesson for me. Tati taught us how to take photos in low light situations. OMG! The results are friggin amazing!! This part of the tour really improved my skills.
Using the built in flash on my camera in a very dark room…
Double B - - Bland and Blurry
Now hold on to your seats, because the difference is going to blow you away!
Using NO flash at all
The colors POP!
Just to show that I actually retained what I learned in class… Take a look at the photo that I took of the town square clock tower the first night we were on the island (pre-photo class tour) compared to one that I took a few nights after Tati’s photo class.
Prior to photo tour using external flash
After the photo tour using NO flash
Ok back to the Cozumel museum… Some sample photos inside the replica of a traditional Mayan home
Let’s play what looks odd in this photo…
Bet you didn't know Mayans had Stuart Weitzman sandals back then! ;-)
A lesson on taking photos of splashing water… I didn’t have much success in capturing the perfect shot, but this one shows some good details of each splash of water.
One of the highlights of our class was that we just happened to meet a family (mom and 2 kids) playing on the beach. Tati explained to the mom what we were doing and got the mom’s permission to let us take photos of her and the kids. This was really cool, and in looking at the photos that I took afterwards, it was really neat to see the pure joy in a kid’s face as he splashed about the waves.
Mom and kids
Anticipating the next wave
What a cutie
Aaaahhh... to be young and carefree
Remember how I said earlier that I had to twist Hook’s arm (errrm, I meant sweet-talk!) and bribe him with lunch so he would join the photo tour class with me? Well it turns out he is a budding photographer! Who knew?! He really enjoyed the class so much that he hogged the smaller camera the rest of the trip and was seen taking photos ANY chance he could. The only time I could pry that camera away from him was when I had to use it while snorkeling. Sheesh. This, from the guy who initially said he was just going to take his Ipod Touch and just use that to take photos during the class because he did not want to be seen with my girly-colored (teal) camera (it’s a Canon Powershot D10 — takes great underwater pics if you are looking for an uw camera). “Are you kidding me?”, I said. “No way you are going on a photo class with an Ipod Touch as your camera!” Well, now Hook is hooked! (pun totally intended ;-) )
I have to admit, Hook is a natural at seeing the artistic side of things. The angles and composition of his shots are commendable. But God help my pockets if I have to finance another digital camera addict in this household! Gee, thanks a lot Tati! LOL.
Some sample photos taken by Hook…
Perfect timing for this shot
Notice the sailboat mast perfectly under the spear
Lines lead to the clock tower
Artistic photo at Playa Azul Hotel
Heck, he even took what turned out to be a nice photo of this street, even though he was not aiming to take an artistic shot. He was just taking a photo of the Sabores restaurant sign so we could remember its location for next time.
We really enjoyed the Cozumel Photo Tour and would highly recommend it to anyone, no matter what level of photography skill you have. Tati is an AWESOME instructor and guide! Very personable and easy-going. She explains the concepts in simple terms that anyone can understand. I learned so much more and was able to apply and retain what I learned in the 3 hours with her than the full day photography class that I took at home from which I remember nada! Not only is she a great photographer and instructor, she is also very knowledgeable about the island and its history and culture, so we learned about that as well. Absolutely worth it!! We look forward to our next trip to Cozumel and taking another photo tour with her — maybe wildlife and scenic ones next time.
For those interested in this tour, you can find more info at http://cozumelphototour.blogspot.com/
Be sure to take the tour at the start of your vacation. Your photos will be so much better!
PS: If you take Tati’s photo tour, ask her to introduce you to some Obleas de Cajeta – a popular local candy. …Of course I had to work in the food aspect here you know ;-)