Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Tokyo - Here I come!

After a year and a half of postponements and uncertainty in regards to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, the day has come. I received my Olympic credentials to cover the Games, which start exactly one month from today.


I am really excited to cover my seventh Olympics and to share the experience with all of you. This Olympics is going to be very different from any in the past (and hopefully any in the future). With this in mind, my goal is to not only share images of the athletes and games, but also behind the scenes. Nobody knows what it will be like to be in Tokyo covering the Olympics during this pandemic. I look forward to sharing the challenges, the differences, and hopefully the successes with you all. 

As in many previous Summer Olympics, I will be covering all the water polo games for the men and women of Team USA as well as many other sports. 

Now that I know that this is a "GO", there is a lot of preparation to be done. I need to start thinking about the packing process and determine the camera equipment that I will take this time around, Will I use the Canon 1DX MKIII or shoot all mirrorless? Will I rely heavily on the Canon 200-400mm lens or use some of the newer lenses instead? Since Canon USA will not be present at these Games, will I have to bring all the gear with me this time? Lots to work out in the next 3 1/2 weeks.

For those of you reading the blog and not having subscribed, you can enter your email address in the top right of this blog and you will get each blog entry emailed to you as I post from Tokyo. And people always ask me if it OK to pass this info on to friends, and the answer is "yes". The more people sharing along, the better.

For all of you who have been hoping for another Olympic adventure, I am super excited to have you join me this time around.

Oh - one more thing... I know that many of you are thinking (and have posted in the past) that I don't look very happy in my credential photo. Just like a passport, we are not allowed to smile in these photos. But trust me, my smile is bigger than would fit on that piece of paper. 😀


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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

My Olympic work featured in local magazines

It is always an honor to be written up in a magazine or newspaper, and I am really excited about this new article since it highlights my Olympic work. This was published last week in numerous magazines in the area. The writer did a really nice job of capturing my story. I hope you enjoy it!






Behind the scenes with Jeff Cable, independent photographer for Team USA

BY MARIA GRUSAUSKAS

 

When asked what his favorite sport is to photograph, Jeff Cable, Olympic Team USA’s only

independent photographer, answered within a shutter speed’s thousandth of a second: “Anything different.”

Cable is a rare breed of photographer whose niche is that he doesn't have one. Beyond the Olympics, there are lizards in Tanzania to capture, exotic tree frogs in Costa Rica, Bay Area bar mitzvahs and events, portraiture for corporate clients like YouTube and Facebook, and so much more—and he loves shooting it all.

“I don’t give a [hoot] what I’m shooting, as long as I’m doing it right,” says Cable, who grew up in San Francisco and is currently

based in Saratoga. “For me, it’s just a general overall passion for photography.”

He’ll never forget the first time he shot bobsledding, for instance. “It was incredible," Cable says. "And so much fun to challenge myself and figure out how to shoot it.”

At the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Cable shot 26 different sports. Yet he still has fun shooting water polo or ice hockey again and again, the primary sports he has been photographing at the Olympics since 2008.

“I like to challenge myself to shoot everything differently than I did in previous years. Whether it’s the technology getting better, or me getting better at shooting, taking more risks to get a shot, that’s what

drives me. I want to push myself. I don’t want to get stagnant,” he says via Zoom on the 100-day countdown to the pandemic- delayed 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo— his seventh as a photographer.

“To be around some of the best athletes in the world, it’s just such an honor,” says Cable.

As the team photographer he’s in the unique position of being, well, a member of the team. “As a photographer, you’re really a historian,” he says of his approach to his work. “Whether it’s a bar mitzvah or the Olympics.”

Capturing history at the Olympics may be a lot of fun, but it’s also “a ton of work.” While all of us at home get to relax on the couch, Cable gets texts from his friends and family, “I’m watching you on TV!”

as he works from 9am to 3am for three weeks straight, on 14-minute deadlines.

“So if I shoot a game and I’ve got 1,000 images, I have 14 minutes to find the best ones, retouch and resize them and get them back to the U.S. They want it fast. But I relish the challenge,” says Cable, who is sponsored by Canon, and has access to the highest-tech equipment and fastest memory cards around today. He also takes his Olympics-paced work ethic and seriousness with him to all of his jobs, usually getting clients their photo galleries by noon the next day.

In the little downtime that he has, Cable blogs from the Olympics on his website, showing hundreds of thousands of his followers behind- the-scenes snapshots and well- written stories about unforgettable Olympic moments, like seeing the U.S. women’s hockey team win a gold medal against Canada in Pyeongchang—an event he reveals as his number-one bucket list item since he began photographing the Olympics.

“Those girls were out there celebrating until the lights were turned off,” Cable, who celebrated out on the ice with them, recalls.

“I’m one of those lucky people," says Cable. "I just love what I do."


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Thursday, June 10, 2021

Tokyo Olympics: The story changes every day

The last blog post talked about the challenges of the upcoming Summer Olympics in Tokyo, and since then I have heard from many of you. Most people seem to be hoping that the Olympics can go on, and do so in a safe fashion. Other people are scared that this could become the next big super spreader event, and feel that having these Games is irresponsible. 

I still hope that the Olympics happen and that the athletes get a chance to show their skills that they have practiced for the last 5 years. With that said, I also want to make sure that all the visitors and the Japanese people stay safe and healthy.

In the last week, many things have occurred in regards to the Olympic planning:

It appears that the Olympics will indeed happen. The Olympics machine is rolling ahead and I honestly don't see any way that it will stop.  

Just today I got an email from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) asking for me to provide my vaccination status to them. This is the first time that the IOC has asked this question of the media, and it is about time. I am happy that they are collecting this data. I wish that they would just require vaccination for anyone setting foot in the Olympic park. Remember, there are more than 11,000 athletes and many more support staff. In total, there will likely be 80,000 people who will be traveling to Japan for the Games.

Japan has doubled their vaccination rate from 2% to 4% (19.4 million doses given) in the last few weeks.

The city of Tokyo started closing roads this week, and final preparations are under way.

We have been asked to download a smartphone app which will be required to be turned on when we enter the country. This app will track our locations at all time (mostly for contact tracing purposes).

We are expecting another version of the media playbook in the coming week, which will undoubtedly answer some questions and raise more.

This past week on the Kelly Clarkson show, she interviewed USA Water Polo goal tender, Ashleigh Johnson, in advance of the upcoming Olympics. They featured many of my images of Ashleigh and the team in their piece. You can check it out here or by clicking on the image below.


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If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
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Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Cuba, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours. 

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Thursday, June 3, 2021

Even more questions about the Summer Olympics in Tokyo

We are now only 50 days away from Opening Ceremony of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo and the uncertainty continues. Just like many of you, I am reading numerous news reports saying that the Olympics will be cancelled, but at the same time I am now getting multiple emails per day from Tokyo confirming that everything is a go. 

At this point, until I get on a plane and head to Tokyo with my credentials in hand, I will not be 100% certain of anything. But, with so little time remaining, I can not imagine that the IOC would pull the plug on the Games. Putting on the Olympics is a monumental task with tens of thousands of people involved. And athletes all over the world are training and competing to have their one shot at making their mark in the sports world. Being so late in the game, it seems almost impossible to stop it.

This morning, there is news that 10,000 Olympic volunteers have chosen to opt out of their jobs due to Covid concerns. Sure, there are more than 80,000 volunteers signed up, but this is still a significant number. We rely on those volunteers for so much throughout the 3 weeks that we are in their country.

I am tracking the vaccination and Covid rates in Japan on a daily basis, and the good news is that the country is trending in the right direction. The big questions are: How many more Japanese people will be vaccinated in 50 days? Are they going to concentrate the vaccinations to the Tokyo area and the people directly involved with the Olympics? And will the Japanese people feel more comfortable having us in their country at that time?


I have been to Japan before and have always found the people to be friendly, helpful and very respectful. But I still wonder how I will be received when I am there to cover the Olympic Games, and obviously someone who is not from Japan.

I recently heard from my friends at Canon USA that they will not be sending any of their people to the Olympics this year. This was sad to hear on many levels. These people are friends of mine whom I was looking forward to seeing over there, and they are incredibly helpful to me during the stressful days. I have no doubt that the Canon Japan people will take care of me as well, but it just isn't the same as having a friendly and familiar face behind the counter. If you are wondering why Canon USA is not sending anyone to Japan, the reason is that those people would be required to quarantine in a small hotel room for 14 days. And when they say quarantine, they mean no leaving the room for any reason, not even to walk down the hallway. Canon would have to have a separate staff of people to bring food to those employees at their door. I know for a fact that I could not hole up in a tiny room for 2 weeks without going stir crazy. This is a lot to ask of anyone.

Even NBC is scaling back how many people they are sending to the Games. Pierre McGuire (Sports Analyst and commentator for NBC) and I have worked many Olympics together. I was watching the NHL playoffs the other day and he was doing the broadcasting. I texted him and asked him if he is going to Tokyo, assuming that he would be there. To my surprise (and his), NBC is not sending him to cover Water Polo, instead choosing to do the commentating from Connecticut. Another friendly face I will not see in Tokyo.

Well...I guess I will sign off for now and reply to all the emails from the Tokyo Organizing Committee regarding transportation, housing, and activity plans. Stay tuned!


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If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
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Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Cuba, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours. 

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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Tokyo Olympics or no Tokyo Olympics - that is the question!

We are about 10 weeks out from the start of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, and the question I keep getting from everyone is "Will the Tokyo Olympics happen or not?"

And just like everything that we have been dealing with over the last 16 months, there is nothing that is 100% certain during these times. For the last month, I have received countless email messages from the Tokyo Organizing Committee signaling that everything is a "go". There have been messages regarding housing, entry protocol, Covid testing, social restrictions and more. Covid cases have been pretty low in the country, but just the other day, the president of the IOC cancelled his trip to Japan due to a surge in Covid 19 cases. I also read that only 2% of the Japanese population has been vaccinated. I hope that this changes quickly so that the Games can go on. 

Last week the IOC released the second version of the media playbook which gives us more details of what we are likely to be dealing with if everything goes as planned. And as I see it, all of these new Covid restrictions are going to make an already challenging month even tougher. But would I opt out? Heck no!



I think that the most challenging aspects of the new guidelines are:

* We are either going to be required to use press buses only, or highly encouraged to do so. This could restrict my movement from one venue to another.

* Access to venues may be restricted, and so my normal freedom to move from one sport to another may be limited.

* Due to physical distancing between photographers at the venues, there will be a significant reduction in capacities for us, so it may be difficult to photograph the most popular events. 

* I will likely have to create a 14 day activity plan in advance of the Olympics and make reservations to be in certain venues. This is very difficult since I don't always know how much time I will have day-to-day. It has not been uncommon at past Olympics to squeeze in some unplanned shooting when I finished a contractual shoot early. And sometimes the opposite happened, when I planned on shooting a certain sport only to realize that I didn't have time to fit that in the schedule. 

* Shooting with a mask on is not only uncomfortable,  I find that it fogs up my eye-piece.

Along with periodic Covid testing, anyone going to the Olympics will be required to have a smart phone with them, with a special app called COCOA (which stands for Contact Confirming Application). This will help the officials know our whereabout for contact tracing purposes. 

I have been fully vaccinated and feel confident that I could go to the Olympics, do my job and it would be safe for myself and the people of Japan. Now it is another waiting game to determine if this really happens or not. Stay tuned!


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Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
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If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
__________________________________________________________________________
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Cuba, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours. 

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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Thank goodness - we have sports to photograph again!

It is crazy to think that it has been well over a year since I photographed any sports, but of course, with the pandemic all sports have been shut down for that long. At least, that is the case here in California. But now things are starting to open up a little and I could finally get out and shoot local sports and get warmed up for the upcoming Olympic Games. Just like the athletes themselves, us photographers have to get back into practice as well, honing our skills and trying new gear.

I have had many people ask me how the new Canon R6 works when shooting sports, and up until now I really did not have a good answer for them. But I recently photographed a field hockey game here in my home town and gave the Canon R6 a try. 


I mounted the Canon R6 to my Canon 200-400mm lens and used a Gitzo monopod to support the weight of all that. I put the camera into aperture priority mode and set the ISO to 320 which gave me plenty of shutter speed to freeze the action. 


My absolute favorite feature of the new Canon mirrorless cameras is the eye detection and I rely on that for all my portraits and event photography. I started with the camera in eye detection mode but quickly found that it was not reliable locking onto my intended subject. There were times when the intended subject would face away from the camera for an extended period of time (and the camera then searches for another face) or it would lock onto another athlete that was not my primary subject.  With all of this said, I did not take this as a fault of the camera, but the wrong mode for shooting this type of sport where people are constantly changing directions. So...I changed the camera to IO Servo focus mode using only the center point. 

I am VERY curious to see if this changes with the upcoming Canon R3. I will keep you posted when I can share that information with you.


Once I was back in center point focus I found it much easier to lock focus on my subject. I was shooting in the Electronic 1st-curtain mode at a fast frame rate and the camera worked flawlessly.


After shooting the field hockey game for over an hour I felt totally comfortable using the Canon R6. The controls were easy to get to, and making slight changes to the camera settings (ISO, aperture...) really thoughtless.


To really put the autofocus to test, I decided to shoot through the goal net, to see if the camera would lock onto the subject and not be "distracted" by the net. and sure enough, it did a great job.


I am a pretty trusting guy huh? People often ask me how heavy this setup is, so I let our friend Lauren give it a try. 

Next up was a chance to photograph baseball at another local high school. This time around I decided to shoot with my Canon 1DX MKIII. It is not because the Canon R6 did not perform well, there were three things that I used based my decision on:

1. I figured that, since I was not using the eye detection mode and this camera that the Canon 1DX MKIII would focus even faster in center point Servo mode.

2. The Canon 1DX MKIII captures to CFexpress cards which are much faster for buffer clear and downloading (although I never really had any lag with the R6). 

3. I had not used the bigger camera in a while and I kinda missed it. :)


Even though I had a lot of sunlight, when photographing the batters, I set the camera to an ISO of 400 and an aperture at f/4, which gave me a shutter speed close to 1/4000 sec. 


This really fast shutter speed helped me get the ball sharp without too much motion blur. 


I took a lot of photos of the kids at bat, but found the background a bit distracting, and I also had a ton of photos of them swinging and it was time to capture something else.


I really have not photographed a lot of baseball, so I found the biggest challenge not the camera, but predicting the play and capturing the best action.



Like I do with any sport, I try to capture images of every athlete. At this time, I was focusing specifically on the catcher.


It was late in the afternoon and I saw the sunlight hitting the pitcher straight into his face. I got down low on the ground and shot this photo of him mid pitch.


Using the fast shutter speed, I was able to catch moments like these...




I saw this guy on second base, and looking like he was going to steal a base. I focused on the third baseman and hoped he would run. He did, and I was ready for the shot. As he approached third base, he flipped around to try and avoid the tag and I got this awkward photo. As you can tell, he was safe, since the ball got away from the infielder. 


I decided to take a selfie of me in action. This is how I look best (in shadow).


As many of you know, I will be shooting a lot of water polo at the upcoming Summer Olympics in Tokyo, so it was great to finally get some practice shooting this sport. 


Obviously, the backgrounds at the Olympics will be better than shooting at a local high school, but the action is still great.


Once again, I chose to use the Canon 1DX MKIII and Canon 200-400mm lens. This particular lens lets me shoot from 200mm all the way to 560mm (using the built-in teleconverter) and is really ideal for this sport. 


The next time I shoot water polo, I am planning on using the Canon mirrorless camera since most of the athletes are facing me, and the face tracking may doing really well.



I am really curious to see how eye tracking would work in situations like this, where an eye is barely visible and also behind a lot of splashing water. Stay tuned!

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If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
__________________________________________________________________________
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Cuba, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours. 

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Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Out of Chicago conference this weekend

This weekend is the Out of Chicago Live! conference and I will doing a brand new presentation on Sunday at 2pm (noon here on the West Coast). I was on a conference call with the conference organizers last month and we were talking about potential topics. One of the organizers threw out the idea of comparing my Olympic photography to my wildlife photography and how the one helps me capture the other. I loved the idea and have created a presentation along those lines.

Before that presentation, I will also be doing some photo critiques.

If you want to be a part of this, and have a whole weekend of photography inspiration, check out the following website and sign up.

https://www.outofchicago.com/

I hope to see you there!


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Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
__________________________________________________________________________
If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
__________________________________________________________________________
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Cuba, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours. 

__________________________________________________________________________ 

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Senior portraits in San Francisco - Adding and subtracting light

Last Thursday I was up in San Francisco to take senior portraits for Hannah. The last time I photographed her was when she was 13, and she has grown up a lot since those days. She asked me if we could do the photo shoot in the city and using the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. Knowing the area really well, I was happy to take her portraits there, but also well aware of the challenges that awaited us. The weather at this location is always unpredictable, and the lighting can be really difficult for portraits.

The day before the shoot, I told them that I was coming up with a plan A, plan B, and plan C in case things were not cooperating with us. I even woke up at 4:30am thinking about the challenges of this shoot.

I thought I would take you all through my photo shoot to tell you what I did to get the shots. Let's get started...

First of all, here is the equipment I used:

* Canon R6 camera

* Canon 70-200mm 2.8 lens

* Canon RF 24-105mm lens

* Canon 600 EX-RT flashes (2) and Canon ST-ET-RT transmitter

* Pro Grade Digital memory cards

* Powerex AA rechargeable batteries

* MagShoe and MagRing


We arrived in San Francisco around 3:30pm and headed straight to the Lands End area of the city. The sun was still pretty high in the sky, so there were very few places to place Hannah without having harsh sunlight in her face. I found this one location we had a good clear view of the bridge in the background, but also where she would be shaded by a tree. I set the camera to expose for the background (ISO 400, f/20, 1/250 sec) and then asked Hannah's mother if she would hold a couple of remote flash units to my right to light her daughter. 


After fighting the light for a little bit to get the above shot, I decided that our next location would be the Legion of Honor museum, which was 2 minutes from our first location. 


Due to the pandemic, the museum was closed, but I still used the columns of the building exterior and the shade to get some nice portraits.  


Since we were in a shaded area, the light was much easier to control. I took these photos at ISO 100, f/4.5 with a shutter speed of 1/160 sec. 



We were walking back towards the parking lot when I saw this wall, also overlooking the bridge. A portion of the wall was in shadow, so I decided to try some portraits here. To try something different, I asked Hannah to hop up on the wall, and I asked her mother to hold the flashes to my left.


Our next stop was over to some really cool tiled stairs (which were also 2 minutes away). We timed it perfectly, since the sun was low enough to not spill any light on the stairs, but still backlight Hannah's hair. Now I just needed to add light to Hannah.


Her mom was being a good sport, being my VAL (Voice activated Lightstand). As you can see here, I mounted two Canon 600 EX-RT flashes to a Magmod mount. I also added two CTO gels to help match the color of the sunlight. This mounting system made it easier for her to hold the lights. 


After taking a bunch of portraits on the stairs, we climbed to the top of the staircase and I had Hannah sit against this tiled wall for some more photos. I sat on the same ledge and took photos of her straight on. 


Then I stood on the ledge, asked her to look up at me, and took some photos looking down at her. All of the above images were taken with the Canon R6 and the Canon 70-200mm lens.


Our next stop was down to the base of the Golden Gate Bridge, at Fort Point. This is one of my favorite photo locations in San Francisco. I decided to shoot these images with the wider Canon RF24-105mm lens to include more of the background.


Hannah decided to change into a dress for these photos. I posted one of these photos on my social media and people were commenting on how lucky we were to have the golden sunlight on her face. But as you probably guessed, this was not the sun, this was the two gelled flash units that her mother was holding to my left.


You may be wondering why I was using two remote flash units instead of one. The answer is this: I knew that I would be competing with the ambient daylight, and needed to add a fair amount of light on Hannah to bring her out of the shadows.


 Without those two flash units firing, the image would look like this. Not nearly as pleasing is it?


We went over to the Palace of Fine Arts and took some photos there, but the light was a little too flat and I was feeling underwhelmed. 


Our last portrait location was Baker Beach. This is the location that Hannah had requested in the months prior to our shoot. We got their at 6pm, knowing that the sunset was at 6:15pm and we would have golden hour light. Hannah was a good sport because it was REALLY cold at the beach. She was able to withstand the frigid temperature and pose for me a couple more times. For this shot, I asked her to look out towards the sunset and think about her future life as a college student. 

We were just about to pack it up and call it a day when I saw this post and asked Hannah to lean against it. The golden hour light was so perfect that I just had to get one more photo to highlight her eyes. I set the camera to f/7.1 so that Hannah's eyes would in perfect focus but also allow the bridge to be visible in the background. It I had taken this photo at f/2.8 or f/4, the bridge would have been so out of focus that it might not have been recognizable. It was the perfect last shot of the day.


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Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
__________________________________________________________________________
If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
__________________________________________________________________________
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Cuba, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours. 

__________________________________________________________________________