Travel Photography Story: Creating the Around the World Quilt in 180 Days

Our Anna Smith served as the Around the World Quilt co-coordinator for this first time and amazing creative fabric arts project. Here is her photo story….

Around the World (ATW) quilters aboard the Oceania Insignia 2016 World Cruise have reason to celebrate. Their ATW quilt creation is a stunning work of fabric arts and has just been completed! 35 ATW guests and entertainment staff from beginners who have never sewed before to expert quilters contributed a total of 72 8×8 in. blocks depicting ports of call and activities during the 180 day around the world cruise adventure on Insignia. Each block was uniquely created on board using a wide variety of fabric arts techniques from simple embroidery sewing, elaborate fabric painting, needlepoint, photo transfer to crazy quilting, chain and applique stitching. ATW quilters gathered each sea day in the Horizons lounge where natural light, peaceful background music and a welcoming ambiance enabled block creation, quilt design and story telling creative juices to flow. The 4pm high tea awaiting the quilters was an added bonus.

Around the World Quilters with their finished quillt

Around the World Quilters with their finished quilt



At the beginning of the voyage fabric artist and frequent Oceania Artist In Residence Anna Smith coordinated the design, production and assembly of the ATW Quilt and aided by AWT Hostess Trica Walsh. Anna taught beginners embroidery and various quilting and stitchery techniques and offered suggestions on fabrics and materials to obtain during ports of call visits. Each quilter shopped for, designed and assembled their blocks with anticipation and excitement. The multicolored ATW quilt backing purchased by Anna in Luanda Angola contributed to the quilting frenzy on board. Teamwork, a sense of pride and creativity was abound. When Anna left for home in Capetown she stated “I shall return – with sewing machine, quilt borders colored to match the guest’ block colors and needed quilting supplies” and she did just that in Tahiti. Using a self standing design wall, the quilters carefully laid out each block and carefully experimented with the quilt design until ready for final assembly.

Guest Sukey created a map of the final quilt showing the name of guest who made that block. The team busily stitched borders to each block. Anna’s sewing machine and guest Joan’s sewing machines worked overtime to add sashings, piping, borders and bindings and final quilting of the ATW quilt. A fun quilting bee atmosphere was shared in what is affectionately known as “It takes a Village” while the team stitched the quilt batts and quilt back to the quilt front in a huge circle while the quilters shared travel stories and fun times.

When Insignia General Manager Victor Conceicao initiated the ATW quilt project with Anna Smith at the beginning of the World cruise in January 2016, no one expected the high number of participants, number of blocks created and especially the creativity, passion, pride and teamwork that ensued. The first public showing of the completed quilt at an ATW reception near the end of the World Cruise was packed. The quilt will be on public display on board and ATW quilt raffle proceeds of over $4500 will go the to Insignia crew welfare fund.

Anna and husband David Smith (travel photography guest lecturer) just published a digital photo story book about the ATW quilt project and here it is!  You can browse the pages by clicking the front cover of the book below


The book is available as a high quality Blurb hard cover book or an instantly downloadable eBook. Order your copy by selecting the appropriate link below:

ATW Quilt Book on Amazon (available about July25) : $59.00 plus shipping:
ATW Quilt eBook (available now) $9.99:

Anna Smith resides in West Vancouver, BC where she instructs fabric arts, quilting and photo transfer classes at art galleries and quilting guilds. She has served as a fabric Artist in Residence on the Insignia, Marina and Riviera ships and has lectured on exotic fabrics of the World on cruise ships worldwide. Her works have been have exhibited in art galleries, offices, stores and museums. Her husband David Smith is a frequent cruise ship guest lecturer and workshop leader on travel photography. For more information contact Anna Smith via their web site

About the Authors. David and Anna Smith are World travel & fine art photographers, Bloggers, photography and fabric arts workshop leaders, key note speakers and cruise ship guest lecturers, Their world image archive: Interface Images and Celebrate the World fine art gallery.  David has just published a brand new series of online travel and general photography courses, visit their blog Travel Photography Tips & Adventures for more. Please share our Blog posts on your social networks.  

Travel Photo Adventure: French Polynesia is a Winner!

The Beauty of French Polynesia

The Beauty of French Polynesia


French Polynesia is a winner! We love to photograph ethnic cultures and peoples all over the world and with 125 countries notched on our belts, we have seen many many of them on six continents. Many have simply friendly people who are happy, proud and welcoming to all. The French Polynesians have a culture that is near the top of our list of being just that. Our 5th visit, this time to Tahiti, Huahine, Rangiroa and Nuku Hiva (in the Marquesas) brings us even closer to the beautiful smiling people that are uber nice to visitors. 

While enjoying a cold beer in a local bar next to the fresh market in Papeete the locals happily translated the melodic Polynesian words to the tiny impromtu band’s love songs. While swimming in the idyllic lagoons of tiny Huahine, a local family invited us into the surf to enjoy snacks and refreshments (more beer!) with them on Mother’s Day.

Just chatting with a lone fisherman in the super narrow ringed atoll of Rangirora, we ended up getting a ride and tour of the nearby island with his tres jolie girl friend from France. The people of French Polynesia makes it a top 10 World destination for us and when you add in the idyllic blue lagoons, cerulean blue waters and French/Tahitian cuisine (poisson cru with raw tuna and coconut milk is yum yum) you have a winner. Please enjoy some of the photos from our travel photo adventures in French Polynesia. 

About the Authors. David and Anna Smith are World travel & fine art photographers, Bloggers, photography and fabric arts workshop leaders, key note speakers and cruise ship guest lecturers, Their world image archive: Interface Images and Celebrate the World fine art gallery.  David has just published a brand new series of online travel and general photography courses, visit their blog Travel Photography Tips & Adventures for more. Please share our Blog posts on your social networks. 


Travel Photography Image Brief – Easy Camera Settings to Capture Stunning Sunsets

On a recent visit to the Greek Islands (happiness is a scooter, sandals and a bathing suit!) we watched an amazing sunset being created from our hotel balcony in Rhythmno on the north western coast of Crete. This sunset was visible all over Crete and the locals still talk about it weeks later. Casual travel photographers rarely capture sunset sunsets properly since the camera light meter gets confused by the combination of bright bright sun and dark clouds. One needs to underexpose sunset photographs to create a dramatic sky, better exposed sun and bright highlights and increased color saturation. In the film camera days, good photographs would set exposure to the sky behind the sunset and then set cameras settings in manual to -2 stops. With digital cameras its easy, just set your exposure value (UV) to – 2.0 but you have to be off automatic mode on most digital cameras to be able to change your EV settings.

Use -2.0 EV setting on your camera

Use -2.0 EV setting on your camera – Fine Art Prints Available


A 2012 post about capturing sunsets is repeated below, kind of a cool travel photography story.

Istanbul Sunset

Istanbul Sunset – A Call to Prayer

When Captain Ressa moved Oceania Cruise Lines new Marina cruise ship from the pier in Istanbul, he could not have picked better timing. As she swung about to slip by the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and the Topkapi Palace, an intense vivid red sunset was punctuated by a Muslim call to prayer echoing among the minarets. On deck, some tears were shed, cameras clicked furiously and it was all over in a few minutes as dusk faded into night and the ship moved southwards down the Bosphorus. Being the start of a Oceania Cruises “Myths and Monuments” voyage to Turkey and Greece is this lifetime memorable event a sign of more to come?

Travel Photo Tip with David Smith: Capturing better sunset images

I cringed as I saw most cameras capturing this lifetime moment with just a few shots in automatic mode. Light meters, even in today’s sophisticated digital cameras, can’t handle the complexity of both the intense bright spots around the sun lit clouds and the dark moods of the burnt ember colored sky. In automatic mode the inability of a camera’s sensor to capture both bright and darks
at the same time results in a rather flat looking image with blown out bright areas and not so colorful clouds. To capturing better sunsets with your camera you must underexpose the shot to reduce blown out brights and increase the saturation of the brilliant colors..

The magic elixir that makes this happen without having to know anything about shutter speeds and f-stops is the Exposure Value (EV) button. Often a plus/minus symbol with a diagonal line or a menu setting control in almost all digital cameras have this control, sometimes enabled only when you are NOT in automatic or scene modes.

EV control button

To underexpose your shot set the EV control to a negative number. The default setting is EV=0.0 so take a shot at the auto or default setting, then move the EV setting to -1.0 take a shot, then move it to -2.0 take a shot, etc. Better cameras have EV setting ranges of up to + or – 5.0 so go lower than EV=-2.0 if you can. An EV of -2.0 is the same as underexposing by 2 stops in the old film camera world. You can see the results instantly on your camera’s LCD. By bracketing you can can select the best shot to show later. This sequence of photos of the same scene shows the dramatic difference to sunsets by underexposing the shot in 1 EV increments. IMHO, the most dramatic images is the -2 EV shot.


Underexposing sunset shots increases color saturation and adds drama






NOW – to really Jazz up the shot!

To create an even more dramatic image as shown in the top of this post, I selected the -2.0 EV shot and performed a 1 mouse click adjustment of the image by using an amazing image enhancement plug-in called Topaz Adjust 5.0 from Topaz Labs.  I used my favorite “Spicify” preset from the dozens of presets available.  This preset gives the image a dramatic textured effect ideal for travel photos .Other plug-ins for image noise, simplify, black and white effects and others are also available from Topaz Labs.  These plug-ins work with Photoshop Elements, Photoshop CSx, iPhoto, free Irvanfu and many other photo editing software products and all are user friendly and no not require “Photoshop” skills. They even offer free and live training webinars.

Readers can order fine art canvas, prints, acrylic and cards of this Istanbul sunset image and other world fine art images from our Fine Art America web site.  Images there can also be that can also be downloaded for print publication and Blogs.

David  Smith is a professional travel photographer, guest lecturer and photo workshop leader on cruise ships, photo conferences and corporate events. He is published worldwide and his web site is Interface Images 

A Photo and Video Story – A Tiny Village in Togo

Collage of a visit to Akato Village in Togo

Collage of a visit to Akato Village in Togo. Click for prints


We recently visited the tiny village of Akato Viepe in the Aka Valley in Togo in west Africa. This village is about an hours drive from the main port of Lomé,  As a youth I collected stamps from all over the World, not realizing that I would actually be visiting most of those locations during my life time. Togo on the west coast of Africa is one of those countries.

From my 1960’s era stamp collection:

Togolese Natives Cooking

Togo Stamp:Togolese Natives Cooking circa 1960s

Celebrating the Young Olympics LA 1960

Togo Stamp: Celebrating the Young Olympics LA 1960


Anna and I were both escorting Oceania Cruise Lines shore excursions tours to this village. Instead of waiting on the benches with guests and before the start of the official ceremonies, I decided to wander the village with my usual serendipitous style with my camera and I was rewarded handsomely.  At the back of the village were several rustic huts with no one around (they were all at the ceremony in the village center) except for a very proud looking woman leaning against her front door. As always I approached her and asked permission to take her photo.I covered the subject of how to photograph people you don’t know in a previous post.  Without answering she whispered in broken English voice “come inside I have babies!” and she held my arm and we both went into her modest hut.  With a sweep of her hand she parted the mosquito netting and laid bare very tiny sleeping twins obviously born just a few days ago. With natural light flowing in from the open door I quickly grabbed two shots, mom with her twins and a closeup of the sleeping beauties. We both tiptoed back to the front door where I captured a simple portrait of this beautiful mother. She wanted nothing in return but I gave her some bills anyway “for her babies”. We smiled at each other while I said ” bella bambinos and thank you” as I shamefully did not know a word of her local ewe language but she knew what I meant. Striking a photo op gold medal I hadn’t even seen the ceremonies awaiting me as I strolled back to the village square with a joyful tear in my eye and the distinct feeling that I must be the luckiest photographer alive.

A Togolese mother with her twin babies

A Togolese mother with her twin babies



Enjoy the excited school children, colorful ethnic costumed villagers and a royal welcome ceremony with the village chief, his royal family and and west African drummers in this colorful 4 minute video:


Simple Objects Can Change the Viewer’s perception of a Scene

Sometimes the presence of a simple object will change the viewer’s perception of what an image is about. While visiting this village and during an amazing welcome ceremony by the Village Chief (actually a King), his royal family and the villagers  I came across what appeared to be a father and daughter leaning against a mud wall and wearing beautiful and colorful African fabrics. Having asked permission (see prior Blog post on How to Photograph People you do not know) I photographed the both of them and then a close-up of the young daughter. To get a good composition of the two I had to include an unusual object at the same wall- an empty gin bottle! I photo journalist would likely be fired for removing the gin bottle while a fine art photographer would likely remove it for aesthetic reason. Here are both versions of the scene and each conveys a totally different message – what would you do? Please comment below. The gin bottle can be easily removed in a few seconds with the often used clone stamp tool. I used some of the photographs from this village visit in my last post on Travel Photography Tip – Border Patrol and the section with those images is repeated below,

Compare the Two Images: With or without Gin Bottle? Click on Image for my Choice

Compare the two Images: With or without Gin Bottle? What would you choose? Click on the image for my choice

This is one of my favorite portraits. This image shows how the colors of the young girl’s fabric wrap dress match the colors of the earth in the mud wall exactly. The vivid blue in her wrap compliments the dominant orange-brown tones of this scene  and her beautiful white eyes shine like a beacon towards the viewer against her smooth silky dark face.  Do you get the sense that I love this image?

We also visited the local school where the children went ballistic with excitement as very few visitors come to their school. If you every get depressed just hang out with these wonderful kids, you will be uplifted forever. Watch the video in this post to see what I mean.  This was our second visit to this village and we hope to return soon.

Young girl in Akoto Village, Togo

Young girl in Akoto Village, Togo  Available as a fine art print. Click to view.


About the Author. David Smith of Vancouver, BC is a World travel & fine art photographer and is published worldwide. As a Blogger, photography workshop leader, key note speaker and cruise ship guest lecturer, he and his wife Anna have visited over 120 countries on 6 continents. They just returned from assignments in Africa and South America and will be visiting the South Pacific, Mexico and Central America next. Their motto: Capturing the World one smiling face at a time!  

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Selfies Around the World – a 2 minute hilarious video

The selfie phenomenon increases to expand across the world and across different cultures.  Having recently completed major worldwide trips to Asia, South America, North America, Africa and Europe  David and Anna have captured people doing selfies and photobombs worldwide. You might even find a few shots of the themselves doing selfies.David recently covered the subject of selfies and photobombs for travel photographers and how to up your selfie game in a recent post in this Blog.

Here is a fun 2 minute video of candid moments of people doing selfies around the world.  Please share this post on your social networks. Enjoy

Easy Panorama Travel Images – Part 1

Shooting the Panorama

I always wanted to take this shot…. and I did on my last trip to New York City. This is a 360 degree panorama of the interior of the Grand Central Station. How did I avoid the same moving people getting into different sections of this image? The first with the correct answer by posting in the comments below this post gets a free lifetime access to my new online Travel Photography Amazing Tips & Techniques or Easy Photography Tips for Cruise Ships & Ports course .

This post – Part 1 will cover shooting the panorama with your camera. My next post as Part 2 will cover software stitching, enhancing and printing your panoramas.





Digital cameras and recent software updates make the creation of quality panorama images of your travels very easy. Travelers frequently come across truly amazing photo ops with sweeping landscapes, buildings with unique architecture and beautiful lobbies or pastoral scenes or sunsets that a single wide angle lens setting simply misses the total grandeur of the scene. Cruise ships frequently visit ports of call where panorama techniques will better  capture the scene as you arrive, leave the port, or tour around. Visit a prior post Photo Tips for Tours & Shore Excursions

Some new digital cameras enable the creation of excellent panorama images in camera with one shutter click using a horizontal video mode where you pan across the scene with your camera. The camera automatically coverts the horizontal video to one wide panorama image in camera. However, this post will feature how to stitch and merge a sequence of individual photos taken with a traditional digital camera and later with computer software.

Here are the steps for creating panoramic images.

1. Planning your shots before photographing the sequence of shots to be stitched and merged later is important. If the scene is quite narrow (eg.
long distance shot of a city skyline) you will want to shot with the camera held horizontally and if the important elements in the scene are more
tall than wide (eg. close to city buildings, scenes with an important foreground) shoot with camera vertically or turned 90 degrees. When I have
time, a shoot a set of shots horizontally and vertically to cover all my bases. Most are not aware that photo merge features not only merge a
photo sequence in one line but also sequences in multiple lines (meaning you can shot the side of a building, say shooting floors 1 -4, then
shootings floors 5-8, etc. thereby eliminating the need for an expensive super wide angle/fish eye lens)

2. If you have a polarized filter on your lens consider removing it since the angle of the camera to the sun changes as you move the camera
across the scene thereby varying the degree of polarization in each shot. Some software products with a photo merge feature sometimes reveal
significant banding in the final panorama images due to the tonal changes from the different levels of polarization in each shot. However
Photoshop Element Version 6 and up and Photoshop CS3 and up use photo merge solutions that solve this banding issue quite well so removing the
polarized filter may not be required.





3. Shoot the first shot of a panorama sequence with your arm in the shot (then shoot the same shot without the arm) so when I look at tons of
thumbnail images in my editing browser I can quickly spot the first of a  panorama sequence by looking for my arm in a shot. Shoot slowly holding the camera
steady, feet apart and elbow to your chest and be sure to overlap each image by at least 30% when shooting. Use a horizon line, road edge or
building feature to ensure you panning shots are lined up. Ideally a tripod should be used but I never carry one anymore while travelling.

4. Use good composition and avoid centering the horizon line. For example if the foreground is exciting (a blue lagoon) and the sky is boring,
place the horizon in the upper 2/3 of the shot. If it is a dynamic sunset scene place the horizon in the bottom 1/3 of the scene. Sunset shots are dramatically improved by underexposing by at  least -1  or -2 EV.  See a previous post on capturing dramatic sunsets.





5. If you scene is close to you (eg. in a small room, objects within about 50 feet) you will get panorama distortion effects arsing from the fact
that the optical center of your camera (the nodal point) is never the same as the tripod screw position or hand held pivot point of the camera.
This is called parallax error but is not an issue for most travel panoramas since most of your panorama features will be far away.

In the next post, Easy Panorama Travel images – Part 2 I will cover the common steps on using panorama stitching features of several software
products, how to enhance your final panoramas with stunning color and black and white effects and where and how to get your stunning panoramas
printed. In the meantime, feel free to post comments and online links to your own panorama creations and please share this post on your social

Readers are welcome to order fine art prints of my panorama images with worldwide shipping  for their own enjoyment. They will look great in an office, board room, over a fireplace, in a rec room or a hallway. Click on any of the images in this post for  printing options and prices. Visit our fine art image collection at Fine Art America. Enjoy!  Watch for the next quiz: Where’s David & Anna? for prizes.

David Smith is a world travel and event photographer, travel writer, Blogger, keynote public speaker and cruise ship guest lecturer.  Visit his online photo gallery Interface Images, “like” his Facebook Page , subcribe to his Blog Images-Connecting the World and order museum quality art prints at his Fine Art America print gallery.  He has also recently published two online photography courses Travel Photography-Amazing Tips & Techniques and Easy Photography Tips for Cruise Ships and Ports.  These fun, informational and  inspirational online courses include live online video, comprehensive handouts and more and can be downloaded to computers, tablets and smart phones. Each course is only $39 and are sponsored by Udemy the leader in online education where all courses have a 100% money back guarantee.  Blog subscribers can take use the coupon code $10FF at checkout

Amazing Tips & Techniques

Amazing Tips & Techniques


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