Travel blogger, photographer and local teacher Greg Collier gives Focus a look at life through his lens, revealing a fascinating world awaiting discovery.
> Where did the passion for travel begin, and what was your first adventure like?
As a teenager I used to travel the east coast of Australia on surfing safaris to such iconic surf breaks as Crescent Head, Angourie and Noosa. The accommodation was pretty rough (usually sleeping in the car) but the memories of unspoiled locations and perfect surf stay with me to this day.
My first overseas adventure was a diving trip to the Solomon Islands. I went with a group of mates and we stayed in a native village and dived on WW2 wrecks of planes and ships. We visited remote islands and encountered locals who had very little contact with Westerners. I took lots of photos, above and below the water, and loved the whole experience.
> List the top five places you have visited, and why you loved them so.
Japan: The ancient city of Kyoto is rich in cultural history. You can explore buildings and shrines dating back to the Shogun era. Geishas and Maikos (trainee Geishas) can be seen in the Gion district. Standing in Hiroshima where the atomic bomb was detonated was an extremely emotional experience. The Hokkaido ski resort of Niseko sits under the impressive volcano of Mt Yotei and boasts some of the deepest powder skiing on the planet. The people are really polite and helpful, and the food is oishi (delicious).
Canada: The Rocky Mountains are breathtaking. I have been there in winter, on ski trips to places such as Banff, Whistler, Fernie, Big White and Silver Star. The stunning scenery, on-snow accommodation and fantastic skiing will have me returning on a regular basis.
Italy: The historic city of Florence where you can soak up the atmosphere in the piazzas and see incredible artworks such as the statue of David by Michelangelo. The coastal town of Portofino has many great photographic opportunities, interesting locals and great restaurants.
Vanuatu: Diving on the wreck of the President Coolidge off the coast of Espiritu Santo. This 200 metre ship is an exciting dive, with a diversity of marine life now occupying the ghostly remains of a luxury cruiser converted to a transport ship during WW2.
Thredbo: This is the place I return to most frequently. The alpine area of Australia is exposed to extreme weather conditions. The sunrises here are spectacular and the unique snowgums with their colourful trunks and gnarled branches are very impressive.
> You are embarking on a tour to Africa to teach people about the region and how to document their experience. What drew you to Africa? And what programs will you run?
Africa has always been on my list of destinations to visit. Being able to show people some of the best and most unique and diverse locations in Namibia, Botswana and Zambia could only be accomplished in conjunction with the two accredited African wildlife guides and professional photographic instructors, who will be accompanying us for entire time on the African continent.
I will be assisting group members in digital editing of their photos with Photoshop. Preparing images for printing, slideshows and DVD presentations and uploading to photo sharing websites such as Flickr. I will also be encouraging photographers to set up a travel blog to record their adventures, which can be followed by family and friends.
> You are also a teacher at Gloucester High School. Tell us about that chapter of your life, and how you intertwine travel?
I teach a variety of computing subjects that include multimedia and software design. I involve students in current technology such as creating wikis, blogs, podcasts and web sites. Students often use travel destinations as stimulus for their projects. Of course, I show off my travel blogs to demonstrate the possibilities of net-based recording of experiences.
> Do you encourage your students to see the world also when they are older?
I have always believed that education is a life long process and extends way beyond the classroom. The experiences of immersing yourself in other cultures and seeing architecture, people, wildlife and landscapes from many parts of the planet sure beats reading about it in text books.
> Finish this sentence … people need to travel …
… simply because the experiences gained will give them a better appreciation of the rich diversity of the world we live in. You will have memories that last forever and great stories to tell your grandkids. Oh, and it’s really good fun.
> What are your top five tips for travelling photographers?
1. Do lots of research on your destination. Search the internet and read publications such as Lonely Planet. Learn a few basic phrases in the local language.
2. Know how to use your equipment in a variety of conditions. Compact digital cameras are lightweight but digital SLR and a couple of zoom lenses will give better results. Shooting in RAW format will increase editing possibilities.
3. Get the correct international power adaptors for recharging your batteries.
4. Take plenty of memory cards and spare camera batteries.
5. Back up your photos. It would be a shame to lose that once in a lifetime shot. A small laptop computer is good for this and for uploading your daily blog posts.
> Thank you Greg.
To read Greg’s blogs and see his travel photos, visit www.greg-collier.com