Where does a National Geographic photographer go on vacation?

Flip and Linda Nicklin

Photograph by Flip Nicklin

Flip Nicklin (NG)
National Geographic photographer and naturalist, Flip Nicklin, is one of the true pioneers of whale and undersea research. He was born into a family of divers, both his father and grandfather were professional divers and now in his third 'retirement', he continues to travel the world for National Geographic with his wife, Linda, an ecological anthropologist and naturalist.

When you've already travelled to many of the world's most exotic locations on assignment for NationalGeographic, living and working with some of the most famous names in the business and experiencing events most of us can only dream about, where would Flip and Linda go for holidays?

I had the unique pleasure of chatting with Flip and Linda aboard the swank National Geographic Orion as we sailed out toward the remote South Pacific and I had the chance to ask them that very question. The answer might surprise you. It certainly surprised me.

Blogger 101: Adding a caption to an image

Here is a 'quick-and-dirty' method for adding captions to images in your Blogger post.

The thing to remember is that by invoking 'Add Caption' to your image, you are placing an old-fashioned HTML table around the image. This will also allow you to resize to some preset sizes and align the image more easily with the text. You can see these extra options in the pop-up menu in Fig 2.

Fig. 1: Here is an image already uploaded. Can be from any source
eg 'From URL' or 'From Computer'

Fig 2: Click on the image itself and a pop-up menu will appear. One of the options is 'Add Caption'

Fig 3: Some placement text will appear and just place the cursor and type over


Fig 4: et  voilĂ  - you have your own caption.


Sir John Franklin and the lost expedition: A Fate as Terrible as the Imagination Can Conceive

The story of Franklin in the Northwest Passage is the stuff of legend. In fact, the entire expedition of 129 men and two ships simply vanished in 1845. It was the MH370 of its time and dominated the newspaper headlines and coffee shop scuttlebutt for years.

Just this week we have heard that a Canadian team - a partnership between Parks Canada, the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, the Arctic Research Foundation, the Canadian Coast Guard, the Royal Canadian Navy and the government of Nunavut - have discovered one of the two ships.

Approximate route of Franklin's 1845 expedition
But what about the backstory? How did they end up in such a plight and to what lengths were the men prepared to go to survive?

One of the many search parties discovered some remains and sent a report back to the Admiralty in 1854 describing "A Fate as Terrible as the Imagination Can Conceive."

So terrible was this report that Lady Franklin and the Admiralty - point blank - refused to accept it.

Just what was it that so enraged the sensibilities of Victorian England?

Travel writer and photographer, Roderick Eime, travelled to the Canadian Arctic in 2012 (and followed up with a second voyage in 2016) aboard the ice-strengthened ship, Akademik Ioffe, to retrace part of the route likely used by Franklin more than 160 years ago. What did he find?

Stories are available to commission with original, historic and PR-sourced images.


EagleRider 3-day NSW Harley-Davidson ride with Best Western

Sometimes things just fall into place like pieces of a jig-saw puzzle.

Years ago, I used to organise road trips as media opportunities for local tourism authorities, automotive brands and hospitality providers. These were mainly cross-country voyages for single 4WDs and included Nullarbor Plain, Oodnadatta Track, Stuart Highway, Cape York and even a truck convoy to Darwin.

This time the synergies were obvious and the trip nearly organised itself. Deb Dickson Smith took charge of social media, David Reeves joined the route dots, EagleRider provided the Harley-Davidsons, Best Western put us up, Destination NSW fed us and invited media (like all-star, Keith Austin) covered the ride for Fairfax.

Stories will now be appearing across many platforms. Stay tuned.

How to search Facebook group messages

Hidden in the top right corner is a little magnifying glass

Click and search the message contents for previous discussions and topics

Media Case Study: G Adventures

With the route along the West Coast of Africa becoming more popular with serious adventure cruisers, I sensed a rare story opportunity.

I outlined a media plan to Silversea, Lindblad and G Adventures who were then promoting the itinerary between Cape Town and West Africa.

G Adventures international PR agency, Mulberry Marketing Communications, responded in March 2012 and offered me a confirmed spot on the March 2013 departure based solely on my publication history.

The following publication results have been achieved so far:

  • ABC Nightlife (national) 15 mins. with Tony Delroy (air date: 20 Oct 2013)

Tips for DIY press photography (or how not to)

Hey PRs, you want your client portrayed in the best light possible (pun intended) so take a few seconds to think about that pic you are going to send to the world's media.

The image below is exactly how I received it to go with an important media release. But they're all important right?

here is the original image as received
click to enlarge any image
After a quick-and-dirty five minute post-production fix.
But which of your journo friends will be bothered?
Even if you're in a rush, try and find time to tick these boxes.

[] Find even, filtered light ie shade. This may even be inside. Use fill flash if you must.
[] Avoid distracting backgrounds. Compose.
[] Is it a group of four - or two couples? (Or opposition parties?) Make the group.
[] Use best available camera. This was shot on an iPhone 4. Meh.

Then don't send 4MB files to everyone as an unsolicited attachment.

How to search your Facebook timeline

Here's a useful tip for searching your Facebook timeline that I haven't been able to find on any of the forums.

Frustrating isn't it? Trying to find that post you made about cinnamon scones back in 2012. Well, in the absence of a search facility for personal pages, use Google. Just know how to form the right query.

In the Google search box, type the following:

site:facebook.com/username "cinnamon scones"

This should bring up all the posts about this bakery item from your timeline. It's not 100%, because it will only work with 'public' posts indexed by Google, but go ahead, try it. You might be surprised.

Capri: where antiquity and hedonism collide

The marina at Capri where thousands of tourists arrive every day during summer (Wikipedia)
The famed island of Capri (pronounced CAR-pri) less than an hour by ferry from Naples, is every bit the playground of the rich and famous.

The tiny, narrow streets are lined with every premium luxury brand you can name, and a few more. Superyachts pack the little harbour and thousands of day trippers make the short journey every day during summer, filling the tight alleyways with avid window shoppers and well-heeled celebrities alike.

The frantic summer season is brutal with traders making hay while the sun shines. A glass of beer can cost 8 euro at a street cafe and an ordinary wine at a fancy hotel or restaurant is 15 euro for starters. But come winter the little 10 square kilometre outcrop shuts down and reverts to a virtual ghost town.

Of the 15,000 or so permanent residents, many take off on their own off-season holidays while the ritzy boutiques close and the hotels run on skeleton staff, if the stay open at all.

The economy of Capri is all but 100 per cent tourism, with most visitors coming to enjoy the parade of beautiful people and all their trappings. There are some remains of Roman buildings, beautiful gardens, a chairlift to the 500m peak, Monte Solero, and boat rides to the famous Blue Grotto. The local produce is lemons and it's used for everything from the zesty limoncello liquor, cuisine and even perfume.

The island of Capri, with its overt hedonistic personality, is full of contrasts, contradictions and dichotomies. Ancient, mythical and spiritual on one hand, capitalist, superficial and ruthless on the other.

Rod travelled to Capri with Tauck Tours and offers stories to commission.

Whoops! I didn't mean to say that


Everyone does it. You make a glaring typo then hit 'Post'. But that doesn't have to be the last word on the matter. Don't risk a friendship by allowing your editorial mishap to persist, or add another comment with an inane follow up like "oh sorry, meant to say .... lol ". Go in and fix it. Here's how.

 You hit 'Post' before engaging brain. Don't worry we all do it.

There's a secret menu in the top right hand corner

Quickly apply corrections before embarrassment sets in.
And/or apply any of the other handy fixes.

Face saved. Close shave.

Detroit - the city that won't quit

The super-modern Renaissance Center
(also known as the GM Renaissance Center and nicknamed the RenCen)
Photo: Roderick Eime
Detroit is a city that just won't quit.

Born in an exuberant Jazz-age burst in the 1920s, elegant downtown Detroit grew rapidly in line with the fast paced fortunes of the motor industry. Ford, General Motors, Chrysler and others fuelled this glorious period when magnificent Art Deco skyscrapers shot up like sunflowers in tandem with the sprawling industrial complexes like Ford's enormous Rouge plant.

The Great Depression of the '30s hit hard, but the Second World War revived its industrial might, earning Detroit the mantle: The Arsenal of Democracy.

From a peak population of almost two million in the '50s, Detroit has shrunk to around 700,000 today as a result of the changing fortunes of the auto industry and the introduction of automation to the existing facilities.

Greenfield Village is part of The Henry Ford's fascinating interpretive experience. (Supplied)
But Detroit won't be deterred. A massive urban rejuvenation and reinvention program is in place, readjusting the city to the needs of the 21st century. Visionary entrepreneurs like Dan Gilbert are adding their shoulder to the wheel to make Detroit relevant and vibrant in these challenging times.

Cars, American culture, gaming, music and sports are all part of this formula. Join Rod as he investigates this resilient metropolis and its plans for a bright new American future.

Ten ways to be a good guest on a travel media famil

Travel trade famil group hosted by Qantas (source: etbnews)
Let’s face it. It’s all about the travel. Why else would we work for pittance (or less) if it weren’t for the degustation menus and limousine transfers? But don’t blow it by being the [undesirable person]. You want to be invited again, right?

I feel completely qualified to write this article based on the fact that I have committed almost every travesty on this list or seen it done at close quarters. Of course, there will be many more items you can think of, so feel free to comment.

Famils (familiarisation trips) come in all shapes and sizes from simple twos and threes to massive ‘megafams’ where guests arrive in waves by coach. Even when you are travelling solo and being ‘comped’ (receiving complimentary services) - it counts.

Firstly, always remember that you are there, not because you are the coolest, but because your host(s) expect ROI (return on investment). I have written a separate item on delivering ROI here.
  1. Be on time. Whether you are in a group of journalists or grafted into a regular group trip, don’t be the one everyone is always waiting for. We all know these people and we don’t like them.
  2. Don’t be pushy. Don’t throw your weight around trying to get an upgrade or gain extra favours. Usually the host has already comped you to the extent of their budget, so grinding your chaperone will only make them want to leave you at the next gas station.
  3. Dress nicely. Dress appropriately. Please don’t turn up at Business Class check-in in last night’s T-shirt and flip-flop sandals. Brush your hair even if you don’t have any. Same for dinners and inspections. Look sharp.
  4. Don’t be a smartarse or loudmouth. I’ve caught myself out here more than once. Don’t turn your hotel review into a Shakespearean soliloquy or try to one-up the next writer with your better-than-heaven spa experience. It’s okay to share notes and experiences, encouraged even, but don’t try and make yourself out to be the expert on everything. Please tell me if I am.
  5. Be nice. Cab drivers, check-in staff and waiters don’t care who you are even if you think you’re someone. Be gracious, patient, clear and a little bit forgiving. Tip. Don’t ever (EVER) dress down staff or hosts in front of the group. If you have a genuine issue, wait for (or make) a private moment to discuss with your host. Be objective and don’t make it all about you.
  6. Give your colleagues some space. If someone wants to chase a unique angle, photograph or side-story, let them. Don’t read notes over their shoulder, photo-bomb their subject or ask them about their idea. It’s our personal take on things that give us our commercial edge. Go find your own ideas.
  7. Don’t stalk editors. Oh my, I see this all the time. If one of the guests is a commissioning editor for a magazine or newspaper, don’t latch onto them like a limpet, hounding them with pitches. Be subtle and intelligent with your strategy. Sure, you want them to remember you, but not as ‘that jerk’.
  8. Behave. We’ve all seen it. Sometimes there’s a bit of chemistry between travellers and romance is one of the joys of travel, but don’t force unwanted advances onto someone. Usually this is men, but I’ve seen some ladies get a bit forward too, especially after a couple of gins. Don’t be ‘the creep’.
  9. Thank people. Don’t get all gushy, but make sure your hosts know you are grateful for the opportunity and respect the work they have done to put the whole thing together. Sure they get paid to do it, but big trips are often a lot of work and sleepless nights. Sound familiar? Empathise.
  10. When you get home, send clippings and web links to your host. This is the best ‘thank you’ ever.
More from the ASTW: Guidelines for hosted media

Just a waypoint on the bumpy path of life

1982: A starry-eyed 20-y-o sets out to take on the world.
My dear mother breathing a sigh of relief no doubt.
I try and resist the temptation to get all gooey and nostalgic at this time of year, but a little enforced relaxation brings home a few truths. Travelling the world as we do offers some perspective – or jolly-well should – and gives us pause to be grateful for what we have as we grapple with our daunting First World problems like crappy 4G coverage, petrol price cycles and ever-looming deadlines. Oh, poor us.

Thanks to the inescapable pervasiveness of Facebook, Twitter and Blogger, those nearest and dearest to us are always in our thoughts, whether we want them or not. Visiting my dear octogenarian mother (who's never touched a computer keyboard) at my childhood home in Stonyfell, is a refreshing dose of conventional one-on-one communion. Rummaging through old photos and trinkets invariably revives memories from the failing crevices of my mind. In my case, it reminds me of the precarious sliver of a family line that I am maintaining.

Yet for all the intrusive, privacy-shattering effects of social media, it has enabled me to keep in touch and reacquaint with faces from the past. Many of them disturbingly unruffled by the passage of time. Wish I could say the same about myself. (Insert recurring New Year resolution).

In all seriousness, I have a list (in no particular order) of 'reasons to be cheerful'. I won't mention names, but if you've read this far, chances are you're on at least one of these lists.
  • Friends who, despite my innately annoying and forgetful nature, remain friends and shame me with their thoughtfulness and kindness.
  • Editors who continue to commission and pay me so that I can fulfil my obligations to bank, landlord and needy offspring.
  • Old friends, who take the trouble to look me up and share some obscure moment in time that has left a mark (or a dent) on their own life's timeline.
  • My tiny family's love that sustains me during dark periods and the long, lonely passages of travel that is part-and-parcel of my chosen path.
  • Everyone, no matter how seemingly innocuous, who has strengthened my character and helped me get this far. I hope I have reciprocated in some small way at least.
I'm not a particularly religious person, but I do believe that you get back (often with interest) on what you give out. Yes, this works both ways, so don't go feeling too sorry for me.

Happy New Year to all and may 2014 be a rewarding forward sector on your journey to wherever.

Look who's talking

12 Do's and Don'ts of Pitching Freelance Travel Journalists

 This is something I've been meaning to write myself, but this blogger has done a fine job, so I'll share it here instead.  Lavanya’...