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Asia Institute’s “Korea Peace March” This Sunday, May 14th In Seoul

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The Asia Institute is a Seoul-based think tank that addresses global issues with a focus on Asia, committed to presenting a balanced perspective that takes into account the concerns of the entire region for current trends in technology, international relations, the economy & the environment. Korea FM reporter Chance Dorland has covered several of their talks & lectures over the last few years & recently spoke with Asia Institute Director & Kyung Hee University professor Emanuel Pastreich about their upcoming “Korea Peace March” this Sunday, May 14th in the Gwanghwamun area of Seoul. Find more info on the march at https://www.facebook.com/events/123090044918802/.

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April 16 - 19, 2017We moved from Ubud, Bali to Gili Air by van +...

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April 16 - 19, 2017

We moved from Ubud, Bali to Gili Air by van + speed boat for RP500K one-way. You can reach Gili Air from Padangan Bay using a fast boat from Company Eka Jaya, who will pick you up from any location in Bali by mini bus and put you on a fast and safe boat. The price depends on the season but should be around RP500K one-way or RP650K for a round-trip. You can contact Komang from Eka Jaya by phone or WhatsApp at +62 812-3632-7327 –if you are calling from a local number you can take out +62 and add a 0 before the 8. Please specify to him that you wish to use Eka Jaya and that you are a friend of Andrea, so he will give you this price, or otherwise the price for tourists is almost double in high season. Reviews for Wahana Gili Ocean Fast Boat are mixed but you can buy boat tickets for RP450K from Padangbai.

Regardless of what you pay for the trip over, the Gilis are A-Ok! We spent 3 nights in Andrea’s shared house for $79, which was just a short walk to the beach. 

This archipelago in the Indian Ocean consists of three islands nestled between Bali and Lombok. Unlike Bali, the Gilis are Muslim, so no pork, you’ll see women wearing headscarfs, and hear the Muezzin call from a Minaret several times a day. You don’t have to worry about dressing too conservatively; shorts and a t-shirt or even a dress are fine.

Gili Trawangan (‘Gili T’) is the largest and sometimes described as the “party island” because it’s the most developed, but on the north side of the island you’ll find quiet bungalows. It is known for drugs as well, but you can find those on the other islands too. Gili Meno is the opposite as the smallest island with the least development. Gili Air is somewhere in the middle, as it’s not as busy at Gili T but has more going on than Gili Meno. The distance between the islands is so short that you can always see the other ones and can reach them pretty quickly with a boat. Never try swimming between the islands, though.

No cars or motorcycles, and you can walk the perimeter in 1-2 hours. You can rent a bicycle anywhere for RP30K a day, but some roads are sandy and difficult to peddle on. There are horse-drawn carriages (Cidomos) on the islands for a RP60K flat rate but I would feel bad having a horse carry me by carriage.

Gili Air was perfect for me and I fell in love with it. Beautiful white-sand beaches, laid-back beach bars and restaurants with friendly cats and the nicest people, and excellent snorkeling + diving. 

I liked having drinks at Legend Bar and Chill Out Restaurant, both right on the beach. You’ll likely find the best pizza in Asia during dinner at Classico.

Inside the village and scattered around the beach are local warungs, the cheapest and best places to eat on the island, serving typical Indonesian food. Gado Gado is steamed veggies with boiled egg and peanut sauce, Urap Urap is steamed veggies with grated coconut, Nasi Goreng or Mie Goreng are fried rice or fried noodles with egg and vegetables, and Olah Olah is a coconut stew with veggies and your meat of choice. My favorite places to eat were Warung Bambu and Warung Padang. 

I had a fun and safe dive with Ady at Gili Air Divers (RP490K a dive, up to an hour a dive). If you dive 5 times with them, you get a discount. All the dive shops seem to be on the same page for pricing. I dived Manta Point (Gili T) and Bounty Wreck (Gili Meno). Saw lots of turtles and small fish, but the coolest thing I saw was a giant moray eel.

Gili Air is a tough place to leave but a few days was perfect for me. 


About 

Hi, I'm Stacy. I'm from Portland, Oregon, USA, and am currently living in Busan, South Korea. Check me out on: Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, Lastfm, and Flickr.

 


South Korea’s Finest Hour: Lessons from the Impeachment of Park Geun-Hye

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This is a local re-post of an essay I wrote for the Lowy Institute in the wake of the impeachment. My thoughts on the Moon election will come shortly. That is Park behind bars in the photo.

I agree with this analyst from the Washington Post who says South Korea just showed the world how to do democracy. That’s a great way to put it and quite correct. And this is all the more impressive as Western democracy embarrasses itself by veering towards illiberalism and norm-breaking.

Koreans always tell me how great Korea is because of hallyu or hansik, but that’s just fluff talking points. This is what really matters. Well done, South Korea. Now tackle the corruption problem for real so that this doesn’t keep happening.

The full essay follows the jump.

 

South Korean president Park Geun-Hye was removed from office in March. She was originally impeached by the legislature, the National Assembly, in December. The country’s highest court, the Constitutional Court, is required to ratify such a motion for presidential removal. It did. Park is now regular citizen. Crucially, she lost her presidential immunity from criminal prosecution upon judicial completion of impeachment. She now face charges. South Korean opinion, but for a few holdouts who battled police briefly on the day of the court ruling, seems to broadly support prosecution. Park may well be imprisoned by the end of the year.

The scandal which felled Park has been covered extensively elsewhere. Rather here are a three larger political science lessons:

Corruption is now the single most important issue in South Korean domestic politics.

I have argued before for the Lowy Institute that North Korea is the most important issue in South Korean foreign policy, but at home it is now undoubtedly the graft that so scars the upper reaches of Korean politics and business. Outside analysts, most importantly the International Monetary Fund, have argued for years that South Korea needed to be cleaner. Transparency International ranks South Korea at a 52 out of 176 countries scored, a surprisingly high, and obviously disappointing, score for the world’s thirteenth largest economy. In previous years this reached into the 40s, but the sheer scare of ‘Choi-gate’ – named after Park’s grossly corrupt confidante who ignited the scandal – likely worsened the most recent number.

The 1997 crisis that nearly felled the Korean economy was caused by the ‘moral hazard’ of Korean businesses over-borrowing on the (correct) expectation that their buddies in politics would bail them out. Numerous regulatory problems, most prominently the poor safety enforcement which lead to the heart-rending Sewol ferry sinking, are blamed on regulators too cozy with business. So severe has public intolerance of graft become that the government rolled out an extremely strict anti-corruption law – ironically just as Choi-gate was breaking. And now of course, corruption reached so high it brought down the president herself.

To their credit, South Koreans seem increasingly less tolerant of this. One former president after another has been investigated. Conglomerate elites are frequently investigated, and the head of no less than sacred cow Samsung has been swept up in Choi-gate. Remediation is better than nothing, but prevention is the real way to pull down that TI score, and some Korean president soon will have to tackle this root-and-branch.

South Korea needs a vice-president rather than a constitutionally weak, fall-guy prime minister.

One obvious constitutional reason for the uncertainty Choi-gate generated is the curious South Korean prime ministerial position. South Korea is basically a presidential democracy, patterned off the long-standing US ally. That is, it has two separate election cycles, one for the executive, another for the legislature. Yet South Korea also includes an element from parliamentary systems – a prime minister – suggesting that South Korea is actually a ‘semi-presidential system.’ This PM, however, does not have the powers that normal semi-presidential PMs have. S/he requires the president’s approval to stay in office and does not lead a parliamentary majority independent of the president, even though there are separate legislative and presidential elections.

This suggest that this person actually functions like the US vice-president. But even here, the position fails, because the PM only becomes the acting president if the sitting president is removed or dies in office. The constitution requires that a new election be held within 60 days (which will happen under this current acting president on May 9). In practice then, the Korean PM has evolved into a fall-guy role – someone on whom the president can blame screw-ups and fire to sate public demands for accountability. Korean presidents routinely burn through several PMs during their tenure for these political reasons. An obvious solution to this weird, not-really-PM, not-really-vice-president position would be elevate the role to a full-blooded vice president on the US model. This VP could then have stepped into Park’s role and finished her term without the uncertainty of yet another election and the re-setting of the entire constitutional clock. Korean elections have hitherto been held in November. If the next president is to serve the same five-year term as all previous presidents, future presidential elections must now take place in May.

South Korea just gave democracies an exemplar of impeachment.

Full-blown, completed impeachments are rare in democracies. This is almost certainly proper. Impeachment overturns the popular will of an election to the land’s highest office and should be done only in extreme circumstances. Impeachments are purposefully hard to complete; the barriers are intentionally high and constitutional machinery frequently complicated. Often impeachment is threatened or pursued for political purposes and they fail, such as the uncompleted impeachments of US President Bill Clinton or previous South Korean president, Roh Moo-Hyun.

This rarity, although important for democratic stability, also means that there are few exemplars of a completed, legally proper impeachment. Even in the best-known impeachment model to date, that of US President Richard Nixon, the process did not finish. Nixon resigned first.

South Korea has therefore given us in the democracies something very valuable – a model of how to complete a forced presidential removal by rule of law. It is notable that the demonstrations for months against President Park never turned violent. No one died; there was almost no property damage; the protestors even picked up their trash. At the protests’ peak, an astonishing four percent of the national population was on the streets, yet nothing happened. The police presence never had to be supplemented by the military. Anarchists, militants, and other miscreants were not able to latch onto the marches to create political mischief. At no point did this evolve into a ‘color revolution’ or Arab Spring, targeting the state itself.

And the state behaved with commendable legality. The National Assembly followed the constitutional procedure, as did the Constitutional Court. In both bodies, the votes were overwhelming, 256-34 and 8-0, providing overwhelming legitimacy to the impeachment. When the Court read the final verdict, it spoke for nearly an hour, explaining its decision as the whole nation watched. This was an astonishing national civics lesson at the highest level, an education in constitutionalism and rule of law for an entire nation. This sort of moment almost never takes place in modern democracies and illustrated in brilliant detail the vast moral superiority of South Korea over the North. The acting president then gave a similar speech defining South Korea a liberal democratic constitutional state bound by rule of law, and that afternoon, the party which supported Park admitted its mistake after the Court’s final verdict, accepting the judgment and committing itself to work for rule of law and democracy. The only thing really missing was a statement from Park herself. She has yet to fully and publicly admit the legitimacy of her removal, continuing to insist she did nothing wrong.

In short, almost all actors behaved with commendable constitutional responsibility. At time when the president of the world’s oldest democracy lies continuously and populist nastiness is sweeping the West, this was a sobering display of political seriousness and maturity. All democracies have scandals. The question is how they deal with them. South Koreans just gave the world a model performance. In the nine years I have lived in South Korea, I have never been prouder to be here. This was their finest hour.


Filed under: Domestic Politics, Korea (South), Park Geun Hye, Scandal

Robert E Kelly
Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science & Diplomacy
Pusan National University

@Robert_E_Kelly

 

 


April 11 - 16, 2017Five nights in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia in the...

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Love Shack






Atman Kafe


Kecak






Nungnung Waterfall


Bebek Bengil


Bali Bohemia

April 11 - 16, 2017

Five nights in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia in the Love Shack at the Onion Collective was $115. This was my second time staying there and I’m a big fan of the restaurant/homestay/co-working space. The location is central, the people are kind, and the accommodations are fun + comfortable. The room I stayed in this time didn’t have a/c but was comfortable with a fan, and it was noisy because it was by the kitchen. Other rooms I’ve stayed in there were cooler and quieter.  

I’ll admit that I read and watched Eat, Pray, Love and I see the influence of Ubud on the book. I can only imagine that it’s had a reverse effect as well, as it’s easy to meet many visitors there enlightened by the yoga, spirituality, and healthy food. Bali is packed with tourists but I still love it, whether I’m having a “touristy” experience or trying to connect with the local culture. The Balinese people I’ve met are very genuine and open. They are very proud of their culture and happy to share if you show interest or ask questions. 

I suggest that you discover the local warungs (restaurants), but also treat/spoil yourself with the popular restaurants and a massage (or two or three…).

  • I recommend a massage or beauty treatment at Sang Spa or Taksu
  • Some friends talked me into getting reiki healing for the first time. Reiki healing is a transfer of energy from the universe and to the seven chakras in your body. Karsa Spa is highly recommended but you have to book early. I went to Yeh Spa for Reiki and shaman healing. Shaman healing is also a transfer of energy to the chakras but a translator will allow you to have a conversation with a local healer (fachmiati_nurani@yahoo.com) to work on specific problems or personal conflicts with energy. I want to believe in chakras and energy but I honestly don’t know much about it. I paid RP500K per healing and was also up-sold into buying an agate bracelet (RP184K), Varash oil (RP250K), and genitri bracelet (RP50K). The fruit genitri or rudaksa is believed by those who embrace the Hindu faith as a sacred fruit because it is believed that the fruit is formed by the tears of Lord Shiva.
  • I also visited the Liyer House (which the writer of Eat, Pray, Love went to) where you can get Wiweka Healing (extraordinary Balinese healing). You can book a private session online for $75 or schedule a free healing a month prior.
  • There are so many healthy cafes to go to but I especially like Atman Kafe. I love the juices, dessert balls, and continuous brew kombucha.
  • 9 Angels was a fun place to disconnect. No booze, no wifi. Get time in the hammock or swing if you can. Food and beverages are self-serve, pay in jars at the table, and wash your own dishes. They also accept clothes donations 9 am to 10 pm. 
  • I watched the Kecak Fire & Trance Dance (RP75K). It’s a Balinese dance that is performed primarily by men, but was formed into a drama by Walter Spies (German painter and musician) in the 1930s, intended for Western tourist audiences. The setting is evocative and the dance is pretty mesmerizing. What I found especially cool was that the accompanying “music” is a chorus of human voices. Do you know of the movie, The Fall?
  • I rented crap scooters from Erlangga because they were conveniently located. The man working there charged me RP100K/day last year, but I talked him down to RP55K/day this year. I still feel like he overcharged me. Those scooters are really old and in terrible condition! (I’m also too lazy to go somewhere else.)
  • Our friend, Nik Wood, led our pack of scooters to the Sangeh Monkey Park (RP15K a person). This place is worth the trip. The guides are helpful and the monkeys relatively chill. Don’t pet them and feed them with your palms open. Then, we continued to Nungnung Waterfall, which is apparently the best waterfall in the area to swim around. Well worth the scooter ride and stairs down-and-up!
  • I never expected my favorite meal in Ubud to be at a vegan buffet, but so it is. I really enjoyed Sawobali, a delicious buffet that doubles as a bakery and triples as a museum. No garlic or onions. Price is RP50K a person.

President Moon

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Good morning,
 
Moon Jae-in of the liberal Democratic Party was elected as Korea’s 19th president with 41.1% of the votes in a snap election following President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment in March, beating a conservative runner-up with 24.0%.  Moon’s election is expected to make a dramatic shift from government polices formed in the past 9 year under conservative Lee Myung-bak and Park Geun-hye leadership.  Born in 1953 to parents who had fled from North Korea to South Korea during the Korean War in 1950, Moon fought against dictatorship as a law student in the 70's, against Park’s own father, and worked as a human rights lawyer in Busan in the 80’s.   He served as a chief of staff under ex-president Roh Moo-hyun who killed himself in a scandal in retirement in 2009.  Moon ran for presidency in 2012, but was narrowly defeated by Park Geun-hye.  From his ideology and political path, it is likely Moon will show his warm heart to North Korea, and reveal sharp teeth towards the U.S. and Japan.
 
 
 
While many South Koreans are happy to see beaming Moon shine in dark nights, Korean business communities are not.  Moon is sympathetic to union, but hostile against conglomerates. Moon wants to lower unemployment rate by hiring more government workers, and  spend big money on social welfare programs, but plans to fund the money through raising corporate taxes and income tax.  Just hope Moon doesn't go too extreme, otherwise  South Koreans will be soon riding on Moon's bullet train to Venezuela. 
 
 
 
Regards,
H.S.

April 6 - 11, 2017After I flew from Tokyo to Bali one-way...

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April 6 - 11, 2017

After I flew from Tokyo to Bali one-way for $307.50 on Malaysia Airlines, my first thought was that the increase in temperature was a welcome change. Then, along with the warm weather, it was just days of good food and happy people. We started our trip in Canggu at Agung Homestay ($146 for five nights). They picked us up at the airport for 300K Indonesian Rupiah and the host, Mark (cangguguesthouse@gmail.com), was super helpful.

There were lots of festivities and the local kids were off of school. Galungan is when Balinese Hindus commemorate the legendary battle of good versus evil, or the triumph of the spread of Hinduism in Bali. Households decorate curved bamboo poles with elements of harvests and natural produce, such as rice, fruit, coconuts, and leaves. These ’penjor’ poles symbolize blessings by Mother Nature. These ornamental bamboo poles lined every road throughout Bali. We were in Bali for the full moon and Kuningan Day, which caused a lot of businesses to be closed as offerings and prayers are conducted at temples and shrines before noon.

I didn’t swim in the oceans here as the black sands are not my favorite, but I still loved being by the beach. Whether you want a homey homestay or luxurious resort, hidden rice-paddy location or an epic party on the beach, Canggu has it. I highly recommend renting a scooter (RP 50K a day is a good price) to get around, whether it’s just to the beach (where parking is RP 2K a scooter) or a bit further of a drive to Tanah Lot Temple.

In Canggu, I loved eating and drinking at Deus Ex Machina, Old Man’s, Monggo, Moana, Black Shores, and Captain Catch. Ride your scooter on the shortcut to Berawa to eat at Milk and Madu. Also, some great places to practice yoga in Canggu include Samadi, Serenity, and Desa Seni. If you want a professional massage, go to Therapy on Echo Beach, or if you want something cheaper, go to Amy’s Spa in Batu Bolong.

Jaya is the person to go to for private surf lessons. A 2-hour one-on-one lesson is RP 350K. He’s a genuinely kind person and excellent teacher.

My friend, Agung, drove us from Canggu to Ubud for RP 300K. If you can get Grab or Uber to work, it’ll be a third of the price but then you won’t have the great company of Agung for an hour.

We returned to Canggu for a night for the Pharcyde show on Saturday, April 15 (RP 150K a ticket) to see Bootie Brown and Imani rock the stage to Old Man’s. Probably one of the highlights of our trip! Also present were DJs Dubwill, Scratchy Conik, Michaelis + special guest Living Legends (Sunspot Jonz and the Grouch).


North Korea Embraces Changing Economy: Choson Exchange in the DPRK

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Listen to "North Korea Embraces Changing Economy: Choson Exchange in the DPRK" on Spreaker.

Choson Exchange is bringing capitalism to the DPRK. 

Since 2009, the Singapore-based non-profit has facilitated training workshops for everyday North Koreans in Economics, Entrepreneurship and Urban Planning in metropolitan Pyongyang and elsewhere around the country.

In this conversation, Choson Exchange Associate Director of Research Dr. Andray Abrahamian discusses how the introduction of some aspects of a free market economy under the Kim Jong-eun regime is changing the way North Koreans look at capitalism. We’ll also talk about the prospects for further change in North Korean society and discuss how initiatives like Chosun Exchange could impact how the United States, South Korea and other countries approach North Korea policy. 

Also: how can political leadership in the United States and the Koreas move past saber-rattling and militaristic rhetoric? How will South Korean policy towards the North change in the post-Park Geun-hye era? And what's it like to fly Air Koryo?

Music on this episode is 'Great Comrade Kim Jong-eun, We Know Nobody But You' from KCTV State Television:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLbWjwIwKrI

This episode was produced in collaboration with the University of Michigan’s Nam Center for Korean Studies. 

To see Andray Abrahamian’s full Nam Center Undergraduate Fellows lecture, look for “Social Changes You See When Working in North Korea” on Youtube. Subscribe to Nam Center lecture series at 'umichncks'.



    The Korea File
      http://www.spreaker.com/show/korea_moments


President Trump “Seriously Undermining” South Korea-U.S. Alliance

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column recently appeared on NKNews.org that directly made light of how US President Donald Trump has influenced what’s going on here on the Korean Peninsula, & it didn’t paint the new president in a very good light. Under the title “How Donald Trump is seriously undermining the South Korea-U.S. alliance”, the article begins with a description of how things generally operate here regarding North Korea, noting that “As long as North Korea is able to make life a living hell for whoever attempts to engage in regime change or regime collapse… it will always have that assurance that they will not be pushed too hard,” & for that reasons, “the United States & South Korea (& Japan to a certain extent) have coordinated closely over the years to deter North Korea as much as possible.” However, the article is quick to note that things have now changed, & that after Donald Trump’s electoral victory, it has been “nothing but one bumbling fiasco after another.”

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Photography Learning Resources

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We live in a great age where we have access to millions of courses to help us learn just about everything. Courses are easy to produce and even easier to consume. Which is why I have a hard time when I hear photographers say that they can’t use photoshop or don’t know how to set something. At any rate, the world of photography education is growing and it is hard to narrow down the choices. So here are a few that I have chosen to help give you the best start or help you brush up on some skills.  Click the titles to check out the websites!

Learn.JasonTeale.com

I know what you are thinking “that’s a shameless self plug” and to that I say “yup! It’s my blog” LOL With that being said, I have produced a few courses that help you learn the basics of lightroom and cinemagraph pro. I am not going to exotic locations and I am not riding around Europe in a tour bus. I am just like you but I have been studying photography for over a decade now. So with that in mind and coupled with the fact that I am a teacher with a masters in education, I have created courses that are designed to help you learn in the best way possible.

5 Day Deal

I love these guys and every year they put out one heck of a sale. Every year I also see some photographers doing the internet version of “tire-kicking” when it comes to this sale. Then when the 5 days are up and the sale is over and I am raving about how awesome the deals were, they kick themselves! Here is the thing, you have to invest in yourself. This sale not only gives you ebooks, presets, programs and more it pushes you to get interested into improving your photography. You get thousands of dollars worth of stuff designed to help you improve every aspect of your photography and not to mention make a huge donation to charity.

Creative Live 

This is one of my favourite places to pick up new skills from. The reason being that it is not just about photography but every aspect of the creative pursuit. There are courses on finance, marketing, photography (of course), and life. Not to mention that it is primarily free. There are no premium plans or limits. You just go to the site and check out whats on for the day. You can RSVP upcoming courses and watch them when they air live and not to mention get access to a lot of free resources. If you have their app you get a free course of your choosing everyday. So now you can see why I like these guys so much. There is a lot of content on a wide range of topics for free. Not to mention that you can take it with you wherever you go.

Kelby One

Kelby One is a great place for a real course-like class. Their courses are top-notch and designed to really teach you almost every aspect of photography. While a membership is not cheap the courses are extremely well put together and they offer a lot if you are into the photoshop world type stuff. That means there are discounts and coupons for equipment as well as a subscription to Photoshop User Magazine. While this is one of the more expensive options here, it is also one of the best produced sites. The video tutorials are visually stunning and very well organized. The instructors are amazing and have a clear plan for their lesson.

Shutter Evolve

Jimmy McIntyre is a good friend of mine and has a lot of resources on his site. His Raya Pro plugin is awesome and so are all of his tutorials. Not to mention that his down-to-earth approach is what you need when mastering a new skill. Jimmy offers a lot of great free content too. He is truly a master when it comes to editing amazing images.


YouTube Channels

As I said there are a lot of great courses out there and many are free resources on Youtube. Here are a few that are great channels that deserve a few moments of your time.

Peter McKinnon – A fellow Canadian, his videos are not only helpful but hilariously entertaining as well. He has gone full-time vlogger so he uploads videos regularly.

Serge Ramelli – I really like his videos and he puts together some great content. I became a fan after getting some of his material in a 5 Day Deal purchase.

Thomas Heaton – Another photographer that has a really great channel. He posts more of a vlogging style but is one of the few dedicated landscape photographers with a solid following.

The Art of Photography – A large channel with some solid tutorials on photography. There are also some great in depth reviews on cameras and gear as well.

Flixel Photos – For all things related to cinemagraph pro and cinemagraphs. The have quite a few tutorials and inspiring examples of cinemagraphs made with their software.

Fstoppers – While their premium tutorials are insanely expensive, their channel is full of great tips and tricks.

Jason Teale – The most amazing YouTube Channel out there! Not really but please subscribe…. please… don’t make me beg….


So there you have it. You now have all the best places to get great material for basically nothing. The next step is to actually use it. I have made a goal recently to read all of the ebooks on that hard drive. Given the fact that I have been collecting a lot since finding out about 5 Day Deal, I have my work cut out for me. The key here is to read, write, use and review. If you fail, no worries! Just keep learning and experimenting. Eventually something will stick and you will (through the process) learn so much more than a dude who thinks that they just press a button and magically they get better.

The post Photography Learning Resources appeared first on The Sajin.


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