Author Archive

Some Basic Cultural Considerations for China and Thailand

In Thailand, women should never touch a monk. When handing someone something, like money to a cashier or anything else, you should use your right hand. It’s impolite to use your left hand (and the left hand is used for wiping your behind). 

In Thailand, do not eat and walk at the same time. 

In China, people do not go Dutch. You should offer to pay, even argue or fight over the check, but if you want to give someone face, ultimately let them win and pay.  In Thailand, the older, more senior person should always pay.

In China, when drinking, you should always drink with the other people at the table and touch your glasses together in a toast. It’s not to each his/drink at your own pace. Everyone drinks together, i.e. takes sips or does a “gan bei” (bottoms up) together. When touching glasses, the younger/inferior person’s should be lower than the older/superior person.

In China, when eating family style, don’t take the last piece of a dish, e.g. don’t take the last dumpling from the plate. Always leave the last piece.

In China, 4 is an unlucky number and 8 (and 6) are lucky numbers. Applies to multiples as well.  So, for example, if you were giving a tip or red envelop gift, you wouldn’t give 40 or 400, you would give 80 or 800.

If you do a web search, you will find more, e.g.:

Ten Taboos in Thailand

• Never touch a person’s head. …

• Don’t point the soles of your feet at another person. …

• Never step on money when you drop it by accident. …

• Don’t move or pick up objects with your feet. …

• Criticizing the royal family. …

• Dressing inappropriately when visiting a temple. …

• Touching holy relics. …

• Touching a monk.

Basically, remember that, in Thailand, there is a “hierarchy” to the body. The head is the reverential and the feet are the lowest/dirtiest. The left hand is dirty.

Good Resources:  Lonely Planet’s  Cultural Shock and Cultural Smart Books

Flashback Article – Racetrack in Death Valley

Take a look at this article that Singh-Ray Filter created talking about our experience visiting the Racetrack in Death Valley in 2013.

Susan’s ABC 7 Interview

Susan being interviewed by Chelsea Edwards of ABC 7 out of Los Angeles

Death Valley Photo Workshop – Spring 2016

We just completed our photography workshop in Death Valley National Park and the Alabama Hills. What a beautiful time of year to visit. The desert floor was in “super bloom” which hasn’t happened in over 10 Years. We had a blast with our students (see below) and look forward to coming back here again.

Group shot in The Alabama Hills

Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park

“Great workshops, both full of color changes and no big storms had come in to drop the leaves—we had great timing. The weather went from 19 degrees to 78 degrees in one day. We were able to capture some nice portraits of some of the participants utilizing the Ice Light, which gave nice skin tones and yet balanced out the ambient light so that the mood lighting of dusk was captured too. A quick and easy solution for portraits in really difficult lighting situations; and no one had that dreaded “flash fired” look. The animals were out and about and of course photogenic. As we left Yellowstone, many of the Lodges shut their seasonal doors on “our way out”.

Workshop Images from Student Steve Kaplan

Arches & Canyonlands Photo Workshop

Attendees from our Arches & Canyonlands Workshop

Our Arches National Park Workshop

Silvermans Photo Workshop Utah 2014 from Chris Clemens on Vimeo.

Dead Horse State Park

“Photo credit to Russ Lawry who stacked over 9 shots of this tree at Dead Horse State Park to get this beautiful image with sharp focus throughout–a great eye for seeing these oftentimes challenging scenes and knowing how to make a great result”

“Marrying” Lenses and Cameras

Recently on a workshop, one of the participants had a recurring, but not consistent “error” message on their camera.  They had a relatively new camera and a relatively new lens and they had used them for quite a while before the workshop with no problems.  However, they were not the same brand and it really brought home the thought that when  you have that kind of an inconsistent problem, and two different brands, it is really not going to be easy to diagnose.  If both were the same brand, you could return it to the repair service of the camera with the lens and ask them to trouble shoot; but with a different brand lens, they will most likely not be able to trace the origin of the problem.  Just a thought; we know that so often some good substantial savings come in with buying a lens that is not the same brand as the camera body (and most of these are really good lenses and sometimes good buys); but keep in mind that in the future if there is a problem, it could be hard to solve.

Iceland Trip Continues

We are still traveling in Iceland and posting some photos from our Journey.  Here are some pictures taken from our iPhone.  We will post some better images once we return and have a chance to edit them all.

Black Rock Wall


Geyser Area


Moss Covered Lava Rock

Travel Tip: Do you get confused with all the batteries in your camera bag–especially when traveling? Try and keep a stack of rubber bands by your charger and then put a rubber band around a freshly charged battery (signifies that the battery is full of power). Then there will be no confusion when you have to quickly grab a new battery in your bag and you are not sure if it is a fresh one or needs a charge.

Summertime in Iceland

We are on a personal trip to Iceland and the scenery is as magnificent as one thinks it is.  Some new “things”  we have learned–at least new to us–how friendly and sincere the people are; they are not jaded from their burgeoning tourism. It’s clean and organized without feeling over structured.

Here are some pictures taken from our iPhone. We will post some better images once we return and have a chance to edit them all.

Sculptured Art

Wedding Photographer & Director

This time of year we have not yet witnessed darkness. Neil saw the most beautiful light and sky on Monday at 3 am…who can say if it was sunset or sunrise.

A lot of greenhouses have heat provided by the many thermals and mini geysers. This time of year has plenty of daylight to grow the veggies.

Greenhouse in the Fog


Someone had problems with their camera giving an error message and we suggested taking the battery out for a minimum of fifteen minutes to reset the computer internally in the camera and so far it has solved the problem.

Graffiti Art Panorama

Coupeville and Whidbey Island

We just finished up our workshop in Coupeville at the Pacific Northwest Art School on Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound. This is a beautiful place with great photo ops. Our “focus” was on people photography and the wonderful landscapes on the island.

Roster Portrait

This bird was definitely in charge of the hen house


Eggs in a gloved hand

The birds on this farm are very happy and have a good life

One cool bit of information that we learned: Since it’s a small town the banker at the Wells Fargo spent quite a bit of time with us and recommended setting up an independent banking account and ATM for times when we travel.  He said that if we were to be hacked (dread the thought); it would be only that separate account that we would fund with limited money for our travels. There would not be any access to our other major account accounts. This was a great tip. We would never hear anything like that from our busy busy local branch. He was a great guy and came to the Farmers Market on Coupeville so we could photograph him and his daughter.

Father and Daughter playing

Higher Daddy

Everyone had a great time in a computer repair shop (of all places). We had been walking in town and saw the beautiful light and beautiful musical instruments in his window.  The owner is a character and a cellist and we photographed him with his cello. He had stories to tell that never ended.

We also got some great shots of a bike rider who was riding through Ebey’s Landing (over and over for us–up the hill, down the hill, up the hill, down the hill) and always a great sport about it. We also met a wonderful family and did a family portrait session that where everyone learned a lot. We photographed their family riding horses in an arena and then our grand finale was on a local farm photographing the landscape, animals, guinea hens, beautiful vistas, etc.

Young Boy's portrait

What a smile

We had truffles and champagne at the Compass Rose where Jan and Marshall Bronson entertained us with stories of their journeys traveling the world. It was really a rich workshop, full of local people many of whom we met as we pre-scouted for this particular workshop. The island is full of beauty and gracious “Whidbeyites”. It was a short, but packed full workshop with a lot of good photo ops and each has a memory to go with it.

Spring in The Palouse from Steptoe Butte

Really a beautiful green spring in The Palouse. This is a great view from Steptoe Butte State Park.

Palouse, WA – May 2013

We are in The Palouse working out of Pullman, WA this year and staying at the newly renovated Hilltop Inn which is really slick. It’s really nice place to stay and run our workshop from. They have done a nice job on the remodeling.

The weather is all over the map “sun and rain”; however, the hills are really really green and plush; much earlier than usual, hardly any brown bare ground around.  A bull moose, cow and calf have been reported at the base of Steptoe Butte, but we have not as yet spotted them.  Steptoe Butte now has a small sign designating it as a State Park requiring the Discover Pass for the entrance, although there is no gate.  (This pass can be purchased online or at the Chevron station in Colfax).  Reportedly Steptoe Butte may be partially closed for several months in the upcoming future as they are going to revise the towers at the top.

Speaking of man-made objects, the Wind Turbines “of the future” have come into view in the horizon from the top of Steptoe Butte.  Although they do not as yet impede on the magnificence of the landscape, we are sure they will become more and more prevalent.  Some of our images from years gone by are now “classic” without the turbines in the horizon.  Oh well, life changes and probably they will become a design element for the  many photographers.

Yosemite May 2013

Just completed our Yosemite Workshop, the water was wonderful; the Dogwood flowers were past their prime, but the grasses were green, soft and really lovely as was the light.  The falls were full and even though the snow has melted, the falls did not seem to be impeded.  We met a great gentleman named Tom who watches and photographs the climbers; he also tells great stories of the history of climbing in Yosemite.  We saw one bear, plenty of deer and one coyote.

Our group was a great bunch, fun to be with and they all got some wonderful images.  Yosemite in the spring cannot be beat!!!  We worked with filters with everyone, especially neutral density filters, to slow and soften the images of the water; always carry your filters when around any kind of moving water.  We used a Singh Ray Vari-N-Duo filter for the water falls in the valley.

Waterfall in Yosemite

The water was given the softening effect with the use of a neutral density filter.

Wine Country Workshop Last year (2012)


I’ve been testing the GigaPan with my DSLR and this product is incredible. Check it out at


Some Great Vendors To Work With:

We suggest is a great company for wonderful photo packaging, very nice people, professional and a real varied selection of nice packaging materials, etc.  Scott Rice is the owner and a true gentleman.

All About Us

Susan and Neil forever seek “the Image, the Light and the Moment” through their camera lens. Together they teach workshops, photograph a multitude of subject matter: people, nature, landscape, weddings, travel, commercial and industrial sites.

Their work is represented by stock agencies both national and international and has appeared in a variety of publications including the cover of Outdoor Photography,, Elle Magazine, Sierra Club, Microsoft, Pacific Rim Magazine, Cure Magazine, der Spiegel, Tamrac International Catalogue Cover, Nikon World, The Wooden boat, Sierra Club, Nikon International Catalogue, and Proceedings among many others.