Showing posts with label travel photography. Show all posts
Showing posts with label travel photography. Show all posts

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Photographers, if they do it correctly, don't go on vacation.  They go on expedition.  While not part of the official dictionary definition, we must plan ahead for having adequate equipment, batteries, cards, chargers, laptops and backup drives.  Now think about packing the basic cameras, strobes and lenses.  Add to this, the additional equipment if you are an underwater photographer.  

If you are a pro, vacation was never in the picture. You need to think shot list, additional opportunities for marketing images, review what has been done before, plus think openly about new approaches, destination client and publisher expectations.

Then to deal with the gauntlet of our wonderful friends, the airlines. What fun the post 9/11 world has become.  Don't you wish you could go back to being a tourist carrying a point and shoot so gleefully and unrealistically described in the Airline ticket folders?  Devotees and Pros do not exist in their eyes.  Even the TSA is frequently taken aback by what we carry.

So packing is a challenge.  Taking stock of inventory and distributing weight is the order of the day.  A small camping scale with a max capacity of 50 lbs is a great help to travel with you for rebalancing when needed.

Backup equipment is recommended for everything.  You first learn something doesn’t work when you are USING it.  It depends on your budget, insistence on perfection, and personal neuroses for how you handle this.  Respectfully, you may be going to places where electricity is novel or different voltages.  Digital photography is electric intensive.

Digital backup capacity
Important consideration for not running short.  Think about how much you will shoot, and plan cards, hard drive capacity to last the trip.  It is not hard now to shoot 8 – 16 GB per day even with Point and Shoots and movie files.  Do the math and plan accordingly.  Plan on bringing back files on two devices or two media for safety.  Example is a Laptop Hard Drive and an external Hard Drive.  Relying on just one is risky.  PACK THESE SEPERATELY in case one bag is lost!

SLEEP NOTE: If you are diligent, the External Hard Drive will easily allow you to do backups each day due to the speed of the drive, especially if you use firewire.  If you are doing DVD, the discipline required at bedtime may cause you to skip the backups.  Buy more Cards as an alternative to the chore.

Ancillary items that complement the checklist:
o   Equipment Serial Number list for Customs and Insurance.  One for passport wallet, one in each major piece of luggage.
o   Camping Scale to balance out luggage - 50 pound capacity min.

Personalize the checklist
It is only of value if you ADD / DELETE / MODIFY items as they apply or don’t.

If you are an Underwater Photographer, I have two lists posted on Dive PhotoGuide:
Click here for the DSLR list.

Click here for the Point & Shoot list.

COMPREHENSIVE LIST (For Customization)

o   Backup SLR BODY
o   Point and shoot Camera
o   SLR batteries (3 minimum)
o   Point & Shoot Batteries
o   SLR battery chargers
o   Point & Shoot Charger

o   Carry on bag
o   Camera Manual

o   Wide Angles
o   Fisheye
o   Macro 1  (50 – 60?)
o   Macro 2   (100mm)
o   Normal fast (50 1.4)
o   General Purpose Zoom(s) for land  (eg. 18 – 200)
o   Wildlife Zoom(s) for Land (eg. 100 – 500 )

o   Strobe (s)
o   Strobe Batteries and spares
o   Sync Cord(s)?
o   Strobe charger(s)
o   Strobe Manual

o   Lens paper
o   Screwdriver with multiple tips
o   Duct tape, maybe three feet rolled up as a neat roll (just standard procedure- improvisation)
o   Electrical ties (just standard procedure - improvisation)
o   Multi-tool like a Leatherman or small vice grip
o   Sensor Blower bulb / kit

OPTION A:  LAPTOP & External Hard Drive - Best option
o   Laptop
o   Card Reader & CABLE
o   USB / Firewire Cable for Hard Drive
o   External Hard Drive
o   Laptop charger
o   International Voltage Transformer (If needed)
o   International Plug adapters (If needed)
o   Power Strip / Surge protector
o   Three prong grounding adapter.
o   Combo Camera & Laptop bag (carry on in camera bag like Lowepro Laptop & Camera backpack)

OPTION B – Laptop & DVDS
o   Laptop
o   Card Reader
o   USB Cable
o   Laptop charger
o   International Voltage Transformer (If needed)
o   International Plug adapters (If needed)
o   Blank Disks
o   Container for burned discs or disc pages
o   Power Strip / Surge protector
o   Three prong grounding adapter.
o   Combo Camera & Laptop bag (carry on in camera bag like Lowepro Laptop & Camera backpack)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Photographing La Paz, Mexico

Photographing La Paz, Mexico on the Sea of Cortez, is a photographers delight. Almost as many subjects in the air as in the sea. Birds are plentiful, such as Pelicans, Boobies (Gannets), and Frigate birds.

We were based at Club Cantamar for SCUBA diving. In addition to underwater photography equipment, you should bring your long "Bird Lens." To shoot close Pelicans, you probably need at least a 400mm Zoom lens with image stabilization (IS) set for following them in flight. 300mm will mostly keep you on the edge of frustration with our winged friends. Some IS lenses let you switch IS modes to compensate either for camera shake for a still subject or a moving subject you are following while panning. The image below was captured near sunset in mid flight.

La Paz is known for its colony of 400 California Sea Lions living on the island of Los Islotes. You can shoot them on the surface or of course, from underwater using SCUBA or just snorkelling. I think this is the world's best shallow dive. You can spend over an hour in six to eight feet of water. The Sea Lions here are very used to people and are mostly friendly and love to play.

Reasonable caution and common sense should rule the day, particularly during breeding season around March. You really don't want to get between a 600 pound Bull and its potential mate. Other than that, the guides will advise you on their behavior and you should have a blast. October and November are great months to visit as the pups are now big enough for the "parents" to let thm go out to play without too much attention. More on the Sea Lions, Whale Sharks and other marine life in other posts. Click here to see more from La Paz. Click here to see more birds.