Photography

Our approach…

We’ve had a lot of interest around some of our photos – questions about what kit we use, what settings, how we carry it, etc, etc.

So this page is here to provide a quick overview of our approach, the kit we use, supporting software & websites, and how we live with our cameras and photos on the road…

(Another page will follow shortly with a full gallery of our best full-sized shots, growing over the course of our travels)

Technical photographers we are NOT, but a lot of thought did go into what kit we should take on an extended trip, which includes some epic destinations indeed.  We agonised over whether we should take the SLR or not (coz it hadn’t historically got a lot of action on our smaller holidays), or to bring it and invest in additional lenses and if so which ones, how many, for what kinds of photos… Did we really want to be carrying such a beast through some questionable destinations, with a big “steal me I’m worth thousands” bag full of canon… Because let’s face it, 90% of the time, a  modern 16MP+ point and shoot with 5x zoom will do the job good enough for most folks to be happy.

In the end, the answer for us was yes, bring the SLR, yes buy the right lens(es?)… and it has absolutely been worth it; by  taking it and actually using it, the SLR has given us some extra-special memories and in a way having it, and knowing enough about how to use it in various conditions, motivates us to get out there on days when (evidenced by the lack of people) most tourists stay away.

Our rationale

We are real middle-of-the-line photographers… but it turns out we like to work up close or far away, with not a lot concern for things in the middle.  So our choice of kit was heavily influenced by this.

Type of Photo Our Impressions
Landscapes Awesome!
Portraits Meh.
Macro Oooh, shiny.
Telescopic Hell yes!
Day Obviously.
Night Mebbe.
Moving/Action Shots Awesome!
Stills Absolutely.

Or to put it in non-geek speak we needed gear which could do (in order of priority):

  1. Wide-angles for massive landscapes (think norway and fjords, or switzerland and mountains); Example 
  2. Wide-angle and macro for getting up close to small and large objects (think bugs & art, and architectural/building shots);
  3. Zoom for things we can’t get to (think Africa on safari, monkeys in japan, or features on distant mountains); 
  4. Quick fire for moving things (think birds in flight, running animals or moving landscapes from trains); 
  5. Everything else;

Click the images below for links to the full-size jobbies.

Norway - 10mm wide-angle for truly massive landscapes
Norway – 10mm wide-angle for truly massive landscapes
Norway - 10mm wide-angle for truly massive landscapes
Norway – 10mm wide-angle for truly massive landscapes
Finland - Savonlinna, up close amongst the trees at 10mm
Finland – Savonlinna, up close amongst the trees at 10mm
Liechtenstein - your average 10mm wide-angle landscape shot
Liechtenstein – your average 10mm wide-angle landscape shot
Liechtenstein - Up close with a wide-angle lens
Liechtenstein – Up close with a wide-angle lens; this one is actually two photos with different exposures overlayed to give the fuller set of colours and textures (google HDR if interested)
Iceland - Up close with a wide-angle lens at 10mm
Iceland – Up close with a wide-angle lens at 10mm – don’t be fooled, that thing’s massive – look for the people underneath…
Japan, 250mm from 100m away, with single-point focus
Japan, 250mm from 100m away, with single-point focus
Japan, 250mm from 50m away, with single-point focus
Japan, 250mm from 50m away, with single-point focus
Switzerland, Montreux - 90mm aimed 10km away
Switzerland, Montreux – 90mm aimed 10km away
Iceland - 65mm whilst roaring along at 130km/hr - no blur...
Iceland – 65mm whilst roaring along at 130km/hr – no blur…
Switzerland - a double stitch job at 10mm
Switzerland – a double stitch job at 10mm – note the polarizing filter meaning you can see through the water?

The gear – Overview

  1. The Workhorse – Canon EOS 500D with a Canon 10-22mm ultra-wide (NOT fisheye) and a Canon 55-250mm zoom, plus circular polarizing filters for each lens
    • The 10-22 is on the body most of the time, as for trekking and touring where we can get up close, or the landscapes are large enough, this is just brilliant.  It’s also the guy we use for most of our panorama/stitched shots
    • The 55-250 isn’t used as much as you might think; mostly for wild-life and ‘out of train/car window’ shots, as on the average day, zooming in on a mountain from 25km away just get’s you a hazy image
    • The circular polarizers ($150 a pop) are worth every penny – the deep blues, the ability to shoot towards the sun, the ability to peer through water, etc are all due to this guy
  2. The PointAndShoot – Canon IXUS 210
    • The battery lasts forever, it does an admirable job in cloudy or sunny conditions with the light beside you or behind you
    • Always in the pocket as our point and shoot buddy for “memory shots” – we take literally hundreds of photos a day with this thing knowing we’ll get a dozen or so keepers
  3. The Backup & the Ninja- iPhone 5
    • Useful as it geotags our photos, so we often take at least one snap in each location with this for later use
    • Basically rubbish in any kind of ‘non-perfect’ conditions – too variable, too prone to shake/blur, sucks in low light
    • The Video has been great for ‘train days’ where there’s lots of things in the way and moving fast as we can just snap out the frame we want
    • Always in the pocket as a backup (dead batteries on the other cams, whatever)
    • Good for sneaky shots where you aren’t supposed to take photos (or you’re too tight to pay)- no clicks, no whirrs, and hands free sneaky snaps
  4. Software: Google Plus, Picasa desktop software & “Hugin” for stitching multiple pics together
    • Google Pls and Picasa – Cataloguing photos, lightening dark photos, cropping photos, creating albums, hosting albums (at 1600 x 1200 px) online for free
    • Hugin is a freebie that takes multiple photos and stitches them together
  5. Dropbox
    • Full-size backup in cloud-land; all original photos, after being imported into picassa, are pushed up into our 100GB dropbox
Point and shoot camera for "Memory Shots" - Canon IXUS 210
Point and shoot camera for “Memory Shots” – Canon IXUS 210
Canon EOS 500d - shown with the stand lens we DIDN'T take...
Canon EOS 500d – shown with the stand lens we DIDN’T take…
Canon 55-250 lens - for our zoom and action shots
Canon 55-250 lens – for our zoom and action shots
Canon 10-22 lens - for the majority of the 'wow' shots, this guy is responsible...
Canon 10-22 lens – for the majority of the ‘wow’ shots, this guy is responsible…

2 thoughts on “Photography

  1. Your “wow” shots have been “wowing” me for ages – to the extent that I eventually gave up dreaming about it and bought the Canon 10-22 lens. It is stunning. Thank you for pointing me in the direction of that particular lens.

    1. Nice one – you’ll love the lens… Don’t be shy with the wide-angle – landscapes are only half the fun. Some of our fave shots are 10mm and about 1.5m from, say, the waterfall or the building and often off-centre.

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