Gallivanting Around Grenada

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Photographer Don Mammoser heads to the southern Caribbean with his Tamron 17-35mm f/2.8 Di wide-angle lens.

When Don Mammoser and his wife decided to head to Grenada for a 17-day vacation with their 10-month-old daughter, Don decided to pose a challenge for himself: Because he often takes his travel photos with longer lenses, this time around he decided to try to capture the bulk of his images with the Tamron 17-35mm f/2.8 Di wide-angle lens. “I wanted to see what I could come up with if I just left that one lens on my camera most of the time,” he says. “I loved capturing the landscapes and island scenery, as well as some of the local flavor, with just the 17-35. Plus, because of its light weight and compact size, I was able to do much of my shooting handheld, which was really convenient when my wife, daughter, and I were just walking around playing tourist.”

Read on for the backstory on each of the photos here that Don captured in this tropical multi-island paradise in the southern Caribbean:

This photo was taken at Hillsborough Beach, on the island of Carriacou. We were staying at a resort just across the road, and we’d walk over to the beach every night when it was getting close to sunset. There are many people known as yachtees who own sailboats and cruise the Caribbean, and you’ll often spot boats hanging out offshore from many of these beaches.

On this evening I was looking directly west, where the sun was going down behind those peaks and lighting up the clouds. I stopped down to 1/12th of a second, just to show a bit of the wave action. I also lined the image up so that I could capture the diagonal line of the surf meeting the shore heading up into those hills. Of course, to get that perspective, I had to get down on the ground and into the water a little—but the water was warm, I was wearing shorts and sandals, and my camera stayed dry, so it was all good.

My wife, daughter, and I were taking a stroll along the beach at sunset, and I spotted this one well-positioned palm tree. I knew I wanted to make this a silhouette shot, but I decided to add a human element to it. I told my wife to stand out there and play with my daughter. They were just out there having fun, my daughter giggling the entire time.

I underexposed the photo a bit and shot at a fast shutter speed of 1/1000th of a second, because obviously they’re both in motion a little as my wife lifts her up. I lined it up to make sure the tree had its own space and my family had their own space, so they didn’t go up into the branches of the tree with their silhouettes.

Levera Beach in Levera National Park is on the main island of Grenada, and the claim to fame for this beach is the population of leatherback sea turtles that converge here during nesting season, usually from April through August (unfortunately not when we were there). It’s said to be one of the most productive beaches for leatherbacks in the world: Sometimes 30 to 40 turtles will come up onto the beach at night to dig their nests and lay their eggs. I want to go back to Grenada specifically to see this phenomenon.

Even though there were no turtles, that palm tree shadow caught my eye. If I’d shown the tree itself, I would’ve had to have included some other elements I didn’t really want, like bushes. So instead I aimed the camera up a bit and zoomed in to 28mm to get rid of everything I didn’t want in the shot. I got the shadow of the tree, plus Sugar Loaf Island off in the distance, which is a visually interesting land mass. Grenada has all of these tiny islands populated with hills, and this one looks especially neat.

La Sagesse Beach is also on the main island, and it’s a little hard to find, which is probably why there weren’t so many people there that evening. There were a couple of folks that you can’t see, over to the left of the frame, but just these two people walking in the image itself. I shot this at 17mm, as wide as I could, because I wanted to capture as much of those two trees in the photo as I could. The fact that they’re leaning quite a bit lends a real tropical look to the image. If you look at the palm fronds in the upper left, you can see how sharp that 17-35 is and how much detail it offers—and I found that was the case at all of the various focal lengths. 

This is Big Sky Lodge, one of the places where we stayed, near the town of Crochu. They have four of these tiny cabins that overlook the ocean, which you can get to by foot in 15 minutes. The owner has all kinds of fruit trees on the property—grapefruits, oranges, bananas, starfruits, limes, papayas—and she encourages guests to wander around and pick whatever fruit is ripe for eating. She also really loves babies and knitted a little hat with the colors of Grenada for my daughter.

We were at the lodge for three sunrises. During the first one I was photographing birds, for the second one I don’t remember what I was doing, and for the third, I decided I wanted to try to capture a sunburst. This was the only shot of the bunch that I took on a tripod. I had to stand on a flat rock that elevated me a little, and I specifically lined everything up so the sun was positioned peeking out from under the roof’s eaves.

This guy’s name is Charlie, and he’s a fisherman in St. George’s, Grenada’s capital. My family and I were walking along the oceanfront promenade there when I saw him with his boat and went over to talk to him. His family lives on the island of Carriacou, in a town called Windward that has a long tradition of building wooden boats by hand. His boat is named “Killermanjaro,” a play on “Kilimanjaro.” He was slapping a coat of paint on it and was happy to talk to me and give me some pointers on places to eat and things to do in town. 

This photo is a great example of the versatility of this 17-35 lens. With a wide-angle lens, many people automatically think of taking photos of sweeping landscapes and other “big picture” scenes. And as you can see in this collection, I definitely did a lot of that. But it’s also perfect for capturing little vignettes of local life and people. It’s compact enough so it’s not obtrusive and intimidating. My camera was hanging off my shoulder the entire time I was chatting with Charlie, and at the end of the conversation I simply asked, “Hey, do you mind if I snap a shot?” He just grabbed his paintbrush and can of paint and I got my photo, no elaborate setup required. 

This final photo was taken at Magazine Beach, also known as “the world’s most beautiful departure lounge.” That’s because it’s a one-minute drive away from Grenada’s international airport, so what many tourists do is make a stop here and hang out for a bit before they have to check in for their departing flight. Grenada has it all figured out in terms of having people relax right up till the time when they have to leave. 

This picture totally surprised me, because I took it in the middle of the day, around noon or so—right when many photographers would say it’s bad lighting for taking pictures. But we were there, the clouds were looking good, and I figured, “Let’s get one final picture in Grenada before we get on the plane.” In a way, it was the perfect time to take the picture, with such high contrast and that shadow under the tree. It was a terrific way to close out our trip.

Written by Jenn Gidman. Images copyright Don Mammoser. Check out the full Tamron lineup on our website.

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