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The Digital Trekker

by Matt Brandon

Matt Brandon is a Malaysia based humanitarian and travel photographer, who collaborates with NGOs to tell their stories and to train their field staff to do the same. He writes his only popular blog on photography, travel and culture; thedigitaltrekker. Well known as a photographer and international workshop instructor, Matt’s images have been used by clients such as Partner Aid International, NeighborWorks, the BBC, Honda Motor Corporation, and Bombadier Transport Corporation, Asian Geographic and others. His photographic pursuits have taken...

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Photography: What’s real, what’s not and does it matter?

Is there such a thing as integrity in a photograph?

By Matt Brandon | May 09, 2012

I got some flack on Facebook about a past post on my blog . I received a comment from a reader or two stating they felt that what they saw in the produced images was not real. Meaning, after running through my workflow in Lightroom the images no longer represented reality. I have gotten this kind of feedback many times in the past. I think people are rather shocked at seeing a photo "undressed". It's a bit like seeing a high-fashion model on the streets without any makeup, it can be scary. Read More


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Phottix’ New Odin Off-Camera E-TTL Wireless Trigger

Off-Camera Flash Made Easy By Phottix

By Matt Brandon | October 16, 2011

Let me set the record straight right here; I am not a strobist. Ninety five percent of the time I shoot with available light, the other five percent I shoot with my flash set to rear curtain sync (It's fun. You should try it!) I really don't like the ugly flat light that on-camera flashes give a subject. Off-camera lighting is wonderful, but until recently with a Canon you only got E-TTL metering by using the short irritating OC-E3 cable. Read More


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Is Fear Your Art Director?

Don't let your fears call the shots in your photography.

By Matt Brandon | October 12, 2011

Portico of worship.

This will be a short post. It's really just a reminder to take advantage of the moment. This morning I went to Georgetown (Penang, Malaysia) scouting out some locations for an upcoming photo walk. As I was walking through Little India, I stopped and went inside a Hindu temple. These temples have always been inviting and friendly and I thought I might take some photos. I was quickly told by the very stern and very grumpy temple curator, I could not take photos in his temple. Read More


A lite lesson in Light

A lite lesson in Light

Light: The Good, The Bad and The Right

By Matt Brandon | July 25, 2011

Light is used to create a mood. There is no bad light. Just the wrong light.

Light is a funny thing. To be more precise, the photographers perception of light is a funny thing. I've noticed recently, many photographers look on light in terms that are very black and white (pun not intended). By that, I mean they describe light in terms of "good" or "bad" light. OK... I'll admit that I've also found myself describing light in these terms. But, that's doing light a disservice. Because light is neither good, nor bad it just is. A photographer's job or maybe better still, a photographers responsibility is to learn what light is appropriate for a given subject. What light is needed to fulfill the vision he or she has for the photograph they are making. Read More


A Black Box

A Black Box

Do you need a DSLR to be creative? This 14 year old didn't.

By Matt Brandon | May 17, 2011

All photos in this post taken by Jessie Brandon. © Jessie Brandon, 2011

The debate over what is the best camera, best format of camera or even what is the best lens has been going on long before digital media ever was even conceived. I really had no plan to address this issue especially since David duChemin did such a fine job just this week. Certainly my words are no match for his. But then something happened last night. Read More


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A Classic Bag Upgraded

Think Tank Photo to Release Redesigned Bags in New Speed Convertible Series

By Matt Brandon | May 17, 2011

Think Tank Photo has announced a completely redesigned their Speed System shoulder bag/belt packs. In June, Think Tank Photo will release its redesigned Speed Demon™ V2.0, Speed Freak V2.0™, and Speed Racer™ V2.0 as shoulder bags in its new Speed Convertible Series. Each Speed Convertible bag features a "disappearing" belt that tucks away into the sides of the bag, significantly reducing bulkiness. Within seconds, the shoulder bags seamlessly convert into belt packs once the integrated belts are deployed. Read More


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Packing…method or madness?

A look at my bags and what is inside them and how I organize.

By Matt Brandon | April 19, 2011

I've had a lot of people comment on the use of Packing Pro, the iPhone app that I gave away last week. Many people couldn't believe that I would be capable of getting all the items on the list in my bags and under the allotted weight limit. While I can guarantee you everything got in the bags. I can't guarantee to you it is under weight. In fact, my carry-on is probably twice the weight it's supposed to be. Read More


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A Developed Instinct

A rule can feel binding but can bring liberty when it has to do with composition.

By Matt Brandon | March 31, 2011

Henri Cartier-Bresson said "In photography, visual organization can stem only from a developed instinct." I think what he meant here by visual organization is basic design principles and composition. These are things that can definitely be developed over time and yet he still uses that word "instinct". Read More


Pricing Your Work

Pricing Your Work

So what do you take into account when pricing your work and is there some help out there?

By Matt Brandon | March 10, 2011

Every now and then I receive e-mails from people asking how I price my work. Then just today, I was having a Skype conversation with my mother and she asked the same thing about the crafts she makes. Why is this so hard? Read More


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A few iPhone Offline Maps Apps

A look at three helpful offline maps for the traveling photographer and their iPhone.

By Matt Brandon | February 21, 2011

Often when I travel I find myself without cellphone coverage, for a myriad of reasons. Sometimes I am so remote there is just is no coverage. Sometimes there is coverage but I don't have a local sim and I don't want to spend the bucks on roaming. Then there are times like my last trip to Ladakh. In Ladakh the government, for reasons of security, have permitted only local sims to work in the region and has created so many hoops that getting a local sim is next to impossible. When this happens I relax and enjoy my solitude. But wait! What if I want to use the nifty GPS on my iPhone? After all, I am so remote I might get lost. OK, maybe not lost, but I might want to see how far the next town is from my current location. With no cell or data coverage I would need offline maps for my GPS to use. Read More


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Aristotle, Excellence and the Photographe

Photographic excellence is not an accident or a fluke it is a habit developed.

By Matt Brandon | February 16, 2011

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit."~Aristotle

Some time back I met with some friends of mine for coffee. One of my buddies tossed out this quote he'd recently read in a runner's magazine of all places. He thought it might spur some challenging conversation. We were discussing this more from a spiritual bent and how this effect our life, work and art. So, now I offer you the same. Read More


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Visual Auto Pilot

Are you falling back to what you know? Are you taking it safe? Maybe it is time to turn off the auto pilot and do a barrel roll!

By Matt Brandon | February 15, 2011

Maybe you're like me when you find yourself rushing to complete a project or maybe you're frustrated. The Muse is lost and you feel scared. The pressure increases and you fall back into a visual auto pilot of sorts. Visual auto pilot might be best explained as falling back to something you do well or even great. It is living in the safe zone and not pushing yourself and your vision to new levels. This is really easy to do but it can be a really bad habit. I confess; I have done it more than I should. But then, doing it once is more than you should. Read More


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Ziv Koren - More Than 1000 Words

A look at the work of photojournalist Ziv Koren and the technology they used to make More Than 1000 Words.

By Matt Brandon | February 11, 2011

Ziv Koren is an Israeli photojournalist that lives in the mist of conflict on a daily basis. I have always had something of a fascination with war photography. For thirteen years I lived in Kashmir, often a war zone. But being married and with a young daughter, I choose not to put myself in harms way if possible. I choose a different type of photography, but I have the utmost respect for photographers like James Nachtwey, Robert Capa, Ziv Koren and others. Read More


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Depth of Field: Deanne Fitzmaurice

Matt Brandon talks with Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Deanne Fitzmaurice about her work in still and multimedia.

By Matt Brandon | February 09, 2011

In this interview I speak with Deanne Fitzmaurice about her long career in photojournalism and her new love multimedia. She shared with me how she creates her award-winning multimedia projects, and the back story how Think Tank camera bags was founded. Read More


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Mastering the 85mm f/1.2? Not quite.

This beast is untamable, but at least you can learn it's tricks.

By Matt Brandon | February 09, 2011

One of my blog readers, asked if I would write about how I use the 85mm 1.2. He seems to think I have "mastered it". Let me put that thought to rest right now. No way have I master the 85 1.2. This little lady is just plain tough to use. But there are some things to be aware of. First, remember that between 1.8 and 1.2 your depth of field is very, very shallow. Read More


Can a Photograph Bring Peace?

Can a Photograph Bring Peace?

The International Guild of Visual Peacemakers: Shooting for Peace!

By Matt Brandon | February 07, 2011

Christians protecting Muslims during their prayers in Tahrir Square. Photo by Nevine Zaki

I have had people come up to me or write to me and say something like, "Wow! Visual Peacemaking - that's so cool…what is it?" It's as if there is a ring of truth in the term "visual peacemaking" but they can't quite see how it might work. I've got news for you; I think that's kinda where many of us are so let me help. Read More


Chinese New Year Wallpaper

Chinese New Year Wallpaper

Free desktop wallpaper from Matt Brandon and PPC to celebrate Chinese New Year.

By Matt Brandon | February 05, 2011


You may not know it, but Malaysia has a significant Chinese population. However, the only majority Chinese populationis in the state of Penang, where I live. As a result, Chinese New Year is a huge deal for us here. We have dragon dances, red banners and of course red lanterns hung everywhere. So, to celebrate this new year here for your desktop enjoyment is a red lantern! Read More


Review: Think Tank Photos Multimedia Wired Up 20

Review: Think Tank Photos Multimedia Wired Up 20

Meant for multimedia use, this little guy comes in handy as a handbag for travel with surprising space.

By Matt Brandon | February 04, 2011

Photo by Marco Ryan

I've wanted to do a review of the Think Tank Photo Multimedia Wired Up 20 bag for some time. It's been out for a while and I've been using it since it was released. Before I was using the Wired Up 20 bag, I was using their bag called the Change Up. You can find a complete review of that bag HERE. You can tell from the review of the Change Up that I really liked it, but the Wired Up 20 has pretty much replaced it for me. Read More


Can The Right Photo Be No Photo?

Can The Right Photo Be No Photo?

A look at ways to photograph people different than ourselves.

By Matt Brandon | January 31, 2011

Photo by Lesley Fisher

Last Friday I did a blog post that drew a considerable response. The post titled "What is your Un-Suck Filter?" asked what things photographers do to savage an image, but ended in a deep conversation on the ethics of shooting images in cultures other than our own.One reader made this comment with respect to cultural or travel photography: "How many people understand that their (or especially their children's) photo will be used to promote a photographers professional reputation? Do they get asked if their image can be reproduced whether they agree with the context or not? Are Westerners the only people predominantly doing this?" I would like to expound on this and maybe try to bring some balance. Read More


Kind of a Drag

Kind of a Drag

Using a second curtain shutter sync to capture movement.

By Matt Brandon | January 27, 2011

It's not every day you are able to attend a strange ritualistic ceremony like the Hindu celebration of Thaipusam, which happens mainly in Singapore and Malaysia. Hindus celebrate the god Muruga vanquishing his enemies with a spear or "vel." They do this by walking in a long procession that ends at a special Hindu Temple. Along the way devotees carry large containers of milk on their heads or small ones attached to their bodies with wire pierced through their skin. They also take needles and sometimes even large rods and stick them through their cheeks or tongues. It's a graphic celebration that is visually compelling. Read More