Each month, Bluedot Living will feature a photo essay by Yasmin Namini, a former Chief Consumer Officer at the New York Times, who is now traveling the world taking photographs. At Bluedot, we believe that celebrating the Earth’s most enchanting creatures, cultures, and landscapes will inspire us to help preserve them.
Bluedot Living: How many countries have you traveled to in this quest to document the world with your camera?
Yasmin Namini: Fifty-five!
BDL: Any advice for someone pursuing this dream — leaving a career and starting something like this?
YN: Make the time to pursue your passion while you are working and building your career. Take in-person and virtual classes to improve your skills. Invest in yourself. It's so much easier to make the transition when the timing is right for you if you already have that head start.
BDL: Do you pack light so you can carry more equipment or … ?
YN: It depends on where I'm going and what the weight restrictions are. I try to pack as light as possible because I want to make sure I take all the camera gear I think I'll need. There's nothing worse than saying, I wish I had brought that lens with me or my ND [neutral density] filters or my tripod. So I usually take more camera gear than I need. Warm climates are easier to pack for than cold climates.
BDL: And what equipment DO you typically carry?
YN: Two camera bodies, assuming I have the room and no weight limits. I typically take a 100-500mm, 24-105mm, 70-200mm, and 15-35mm lenses, again assuming I have the room and no weight limits. For very special birding and wildlife trips, I also take a 600mm prime lens. I also carry a variety of ND filters with me for long exposure landscape photography. And, of course, a tripod.
BDL: Do you find that there's a certain time of day when you get the shot you want?
YN: Light is extremely important, so when I'm shooting landscapes — sunrise and sunset, of course. But when I'm shooting wildlife and birds, I can't order them to be in a certain location during a specific time of day. So, my rule is to be out before the sun comes up and stay out until the sun goes down. You have to be where the action is if you want to get the shot.
BDL: Do you have stories of bonding with someone because you took their photo or wanted to?
YN: I love photographing children in remote parts of the world. They are so curious and inquisitive and love to see their images on the back of the camera. It's also fun to photograph people in countries like India and Nepal. They love to have their pictures taken and then they want a selfie with me. I always get a kick out of posing with strangers for their selfies.
BDL: What's the best piece of photo advice you can offer for people wanting to photograph wildlife?
YN: Patience! When it comes to photographing wildlife you must be patient and wait for the action to come to you. Find a good spot and stay there for a while. You can capture those special wildlife moments with just a bit of patience.
BDL: Where’s your next trip?
YN: I'm off to Zimanga Private Game Reserve in Mkuze, South Africa later this month. I've been to South Africa many times, but this is a relatively new conservation-oriented and photography-focused destination. I'm most excited about their photography hides which enables us to take unique night photos of the wildlife, assuming they come around. An amazing array of bird species too. Check out their photo gallery.
Curious Fossa, Madagascar.
“In the wilds of Madagascar, our journey led us to the enigmatic fossa, a captivating creature that seems to embody the traits of a cat, a weasel, and a monkey, complete with its long, graceful tail. I snapped this photo, as one of these elusive fossas comes nose to nose with my friend’s camera lens. Its curiosity piqued, the fearless fossa boldly investigates, while its companion watches intently. Meeting these inquisitive creatures up close reminds us of the untamed beauty and unique wildlife native only to Madagascar.”
Equipment, settings: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV; 1/400 second; f/5; ISO 1250
Deadvlai at sunrise, Namibia.
“Behold the captivating Deadvlei in Namibia, where a mesmerizing tableau of colors and contrasts unfold at sunrise. Beneath the baby blue sky, the sand dunes paint a breathtaking canvas of amber and orange. Shadows cast upon the ground create a textured layer of tan and gray. Amidst this symphony of hues, stand 1,000-year-old tree skeletons. It's a sight I won't soon forget, where nature's artistry and a photographer's dream blend seamlessly.”
Equipment, settings: Canon EOS R5; 1/40 second; f/16; ISO 100
“A massive iceberg reigns over the most stunning aqua-blue waters one can imagine. Penguins grace its icy expanse, adding charm to the frozen landscape. I was completely mesmerized by Antarctica’s serene hues and pristine beauty. A breathtaking masterpiece crafted by Mother Nature herself.”
Equipment, settings: Canon EOS 5D Mark III; 1/1000 second; f/14; ISO 200
Lilac-breasted Roller, Botswana.
“Behold the enchanting Lilac-breasted Roller, gracing the landscapes of Botswana with its splendid beauty. Its plumage is like a vibrant painting, bursting with brilliant colors. While these birds are quite common in this part of Africa, they are stunning none-the-less. A powerful reminder that true beauty can be found anywhere, even in the most familiar sights in nature.”
Equipment, settings: Canon EOS 5D Mark II; 1/1000 second; f/8; ISO 200
Bald Eagle fish fight, Conowingo Dam, Maryland.
“I witnessed nature's drama at Maryland's Conowingo Dam as an adult Bald Eagle triumphantly seized a fish, only to be challenged by two daring juveniles determined to steal their share. Talons gripping and wings flapping, it was an intense battle. In the end, the fish slipped away, leaving everyone empty-handed. Talk about an epic display of aerial skill and survival instincts.”
Equipment, settings: Canon EOS R5; 1/4000 second; f/4; ISO 200
Baboon Love, Tanzania.
“A mother baboon nurses her baby while another little one watches with fascination, even reaching out to touch. It is a beautiful example of the deep bond and nurturing love found in the wild. Nature's compassion extends to even the tiniest inhabitants, reminding us of the incredible connections that exist in the animal kingdom.”
Equipment, settings: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV; 1/1000 second; f/5.6; ISO 800
All photographs copyright Yasmin Namini.