Yesterday’s Topic: Why You Might Want A Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter
It’s another post with no pictures! But the bonus is, I’m writing this one in an airport to make it more authentic. (And because of that travel, this post is a day late. My apologies for those biting their nails.) The next post tomorrow will have suggestions of gear and pictures and links and there will be joy.
Until then, this post is to be packed full of tips and suggestions for traveling with photography gear. Some of it is common sense stuff which I have found is often good to repeat. Let’s do it in bullet form.
- Carry on all that you dare. If you have spent more than $200 on your gear, bring it into the cabin with you and don’t trust it to the baggage handlers. Unless, that is, you have a hardsided, well-padded case.
- Consider using a bag that is not a traditional camera bag. Some people suggest using a black permanent marker to cover over the brand logo on a camera bag as well. Be as low key with your gear as you can.
- Lock your gear up when leaving it before heading out for a meal or to the pool. Use an in-room safe or a hotel/hostel safe when available. And along those lines, be sure to inventory your equipment (with serial numbers) before leaving home.
- Bring multiple small cards instead of one large card and have a system for keeping track of them. Realistically it won’t matter which order images are shot as most software for viewing images will organize by capture time.
- Consider a backup device. These handy units don’t require a computer and will copy each card to a single harddrive and are typically smaller than a paperback novel.
- Use a buddy system while shooting if traveling with others. Have someone casually keeping an eye on things, especially bags, while the other shoots.
- If traveling solo, use the reflection of the LCD to help scan behind you while holding the camera up to your eye.
- Use an off-brand camera strap that doesn’t scream CANON CAMERA, PROBABLY EXPENSIVE. Sure people can tell you have a camera even without the strap but the default straps that come with cameras have the camera model on them. Handy for advertising for the camera company and trying to impress strangers, but horrible for travel. Imagine a professional thief sees three people standing at a typical tourist photo stop. He sees, on the backs of their necks thanks to the camera straps, Canon 5D Mark II, Nikon D3100 and a simple black strap. Guess who he’s going to mark as a potential target. Likely not the person with the black strap.
- Beat up your bag. Make it it look not so new and shiny, especially if it is. Shiny is attractive and says “I’m new and don’t travel much” and it makes the bag and you a more likely target.
- Charge your batteries nightly, if you can. If not nightly, every opportunity you can. Your two week trip to Europe is not going to suddenly cause your batteries to have a short term memory problem and it will insure fresh batteries to start every day.
- Along those same lines, bring a backup battery. If it is just going to be a back up (as opposed to a second battery) then go with the cheaper off-brand companies. I know it sucks to pay $30 for a camera battery, so go cheap on the backup. (In my experience, the knockoff Canon batteries don’t perform well and are not something I want to trust when traveling away from camera shops.)
- Bring a power strip. I’ll highlight an easy travel brand in the next post. These make it handy to charge not only your batteries, but the dozen other gadgets you couldn’t leave home without.
- Bring a circular polarizer. Always.
- Travel is tough on your lenses so attaching a protective filter, while often debated, is a good idea. Just remember you are adding another piece of glass to the light going to your sensor, which means it should be high quality. This filter is there to protect your main lens. If you have a kit lens, retailing for $200 or less, this is probably not a worthwhile addition.
- Consider purchasing a single zoom lens for travel. Something like an 18-200mm can work wonders and reduce weight.
- If your camera is damaged or drops in water while traveling, don’t freak out! Chances are the photos on the memory card are still ok. Removed the card and batteries from your camera (especially if it was in water) and set them aside until you get home and can recover the images.
- Bring your library card.
- Consider using the Photographer’s Ephemeris tool, available for iPhones, and laptops. It will tell you the direction of sun and moon rise and set for any location and date on earth. Handy for pre-trip planning of shoots.
- Know the rules before you go. Different countries have different restrictions on what you can take a photo of. Don’t assume your country’s regulations will work in another country. “I didn’t know” is a silly reason when you have the opportunity to inform yourself before hand.
- Practice before you go. Use your gear and get to know to it before heading out to far off lands. It stinks to have to bring along an instruction manual, or wish you had, because the camera is not behaving properly. Often manufacturers will host a “Get to know your gear” seminar in major cities and this might be a good, cheap way to get some instruction. Oh yeah, I also will be glad to help you learn if you’re in my area. :)
- If photography is not your profession and you own a home, you can often add a rider to your home insurance policy to cover camera gear. Some people have stated it can be as little as $4/mo and will cover theft or accidental damage.
- Want to make sure you brought all the vital gear? Make a list and have it all packed 3 days before you leave. I’ve gone on enough trips to make a habit of what I need to pack but I still make a list…and am still thankful that I did as the panic of an approaching flight starts to turn my sane brain to mush.
- Know your battery life. Remember when I told you to charge your batteries every night? Let’s pretend you can’t. It’s important to know how long your camera will last on one good battery. Test this out before you leave in real life situations, not what the manufacturer tells you.
- To save power when batteries are getting low, turn off the review feature and the LCD altogether. Also consider switching to manual focus and turn off image stabilizing lenses if you find you rally don’t need it.
- Running out of space on your memory card with no back up and no store to be found (or you don’t wish to pay 5x as much for a card as you do back home)? Think about how you will use the images you are shooting. If you don’t plan to blow things up past 8×10, then the medium setting on your camera will suffice, instead of large. Quick snapshots of friends for viewing on computer? Small will work. These are JPEG settings, by the way. Go to a smaller size before worse compression (that super fine, fine, standard stuff discussed here). Some cameras have different RAW sizes as well and this may help.
Do you have questions or advice you would like to pass on? I’d be happy to hear about it in the comments section below. And sorry for the one day delay (there’s a whole other lesson to be learned!).
31+ Days To Better Photography is a series written by professional photographer Peter West Carey on The Carey Adventures.Com. The series is designed to unravel the mysteries of photography so you can take better pictures. Subscribe here to receive all the updates and bonus material. Your comments are always welcome.