Global Digital Explorer
Photographer Jeff Hall infuses his travel photography with context and story
Hall was preparing for a trip to Nepal in 2000 when he noticed a twitching in his fingers. It seemed minor, more an irritant, but he thought it better to visit his doctor.
"He wasn't sure what it was," says Hall. "But he gave me some medication that slowed down my metabolism, which didn't work out too great for preparing for a trek to Nepal, so I stopped taking it."
The problem got worse and, when he returned from his trip, his doctor referred him to a neurologist who identified the problem very quickly. At only 45 years old, Hall was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, a neurodegenerative disorder commonly associated with tremors that keep a person from performing some of life's common activities. For a photographer who depends on his hands to control and carefully compose a photograph, such a disease can prove both challenging and frustrating. But for Hall, the disease hasn't dampened his passion for photography.
Hall now shoots using digital cameras and has found that the latest technologies in cameras and lenses offer him the tools to minimize the adverse effects of the disease on his photography.
"I have to be very aware of what I'm doing with every shot that I take," he says. "I need to make sure that my shutter speed is fast enough if I'm handholding the camera or use a tripod, which I'm using now more than ever."
Hall also appreciates the instant feedback provided by the camera's LCD for confirming exposure and composition. He especially enjoys the ability to make exposure corrections quickly and easily.
"The immediate feedback is priceless," Hall says. "The ability to look at the display with the histogram and to confirm that I've got the exposure right is indispensable. I also like being able to go back to where I'm staying and download the images around people I'm traveling with. It provides a great social environment."
Hall has especially benefited from the Image Stabilizer (IS) technology found in several Canon lenses, which he uses with his EOS 20D. The lenses counter unwanted camera movement and help to deliver sharp images in situations that could result in a soft photograph. Whether it's a relatively slow shutter speed or, as in Hall's case, tremors caused by the disease, the IS lenses help ensure that his images remain sharp.
"Those lenses with the image stabilization have really come in handy," he says. "Since there are times when a tripod just isn't practical, I have to depend on my IS lenses, as well as make sure that I'm using a fast enough shutter speed."