I just picked up a tiny travel tripod instead of lugging my large carbon fiber Gitzo. It will easily fit into any size luggage and it expands to a few feet tall. It weighs 2 pounds, and is sturdy enough for most cameras and lenses. Check it out here.
In 1958, the great photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson was asked to talk about some technical aspects of photography. His response is still valid today, over 60 years later...
"We don’t need very big equipment. Practically I work all the time with a 50 mm, a very wide open lens, because I never know if I’m going to be in a dark room taking a picture in this moment and outside in full bright sun the next moment."
As I prepare lessons for our studio time, I’m building slides that focus on the creative mental aspects of photography rather than the technical parts. Sure I’ll have some details about fstops, shutter speeds, and ISO. Still, great photography is about so much more than what camera settings you choose. These keynote presentations will also be available as PDFs that you can download and save. I find it helps to revisit these notes after you’ve returned home.
Of course there is no substitute for actually doing it. As such, we’ll be applying these methods during our time in the field. I can’t wait to share with each of you.
Some of the lessons I’ve created include:
•The 14 Secrets of Great Photography
•How to Create Pictures that Tell Stories
•Travel Photography Tips the Tour Guide Won’t Tell You
•The Photography Rules and How to Break Them
I’ve been researching how to minimize the effects of jet lag since it’s about a 24 hour flight from NYC. I found one well traveled gentlemen who wrote:
“One trick that works for me is to set my watch to destination time as soon as I board the first plane and I start to think in terms of what time it is "there" as the trip progresses. That way my mind is already acclimated to the local situation when I arrive and it assists in convincing my body into believing the same!!!
I've also found it psychologically less stressful to approach the US East Coast to NZ trip in generic terms, rather than by counting the hours (or calendar days). As in: leave JFK in the afternoon, take off from LAX in the evening, fly overnight, and land in AKL early the next morning. Sounds simple, doesn't it? A lot better than thinking hard about 18+ flying hours, + 2 days!!! Look at it this way - when you come back - it'll hardly take any time!!!”
Other tips that sounded reasonable were:
Gradually adjust your schedule before you leave
Instead of sleeping pills, bring herbal tea bags like Sleepytime
For more on how to best handle a long flight, check this article.
OK, so it wasn’t in New Zealand, but the emotion behind it is just the same. The fact is, Van Gogh was truly inspired by these beautiful trees. He even wrote to his brother (Theo) about them. “If I remain here I wouldn’t try to paint a Christ in the Garden of Olives, but in fact the olive picking as it’s still seen today and then giving the correct proportions of the human figure in it, that would perhaps make people think of it all the same.”
As author Ted Snell point out, “Van Gogh became enthralled by the gnarled, scarred olive trees that were just beginning to bear fruit. In the next six months, he painted this grove of olive trees on 18 separate occasions.”
For more on Van Gogh’s fascination with Olive Trees, check out this excellent article.
I pack everything in one small leather holster. My criteria is simple, if it doesn’t fit in the bag, it doesn’t come.
Olympus Pen F (2 bodies)
Olympus 45mm f1.8 - for portraits, medium telephoto scenics
Panasonic 20mm f1.7 - for architecture, wider scenics, street photography
Olympus 40-150mm f2.8 - for the Gannet bird colony
Olympus 1.4x tele-extender - for the Gannet bird colony
Grad ND filters 0.6, 0.9, 1.2 - for sunrise and sunset opportunities
Circular polarizing filters - for mid afternoon shooting when the sun is high in the sky
Lexar 64 GB memory cards - reliable and hold thousands of shots
Gitzo tripod and Kirk ball head - for long exposures, especially at dawn and dusk
Electrical adapters for New Zealand
Minus the tripod, this all weighs about 10 pounds, making it easy to travel and shoot with. This of course is in stark contrast to my former DSLR set up which rang in at a hefty 30 pounds. Ironically I find that the current stripped down kit is more capable. Someone once told me, “there’s a fine line between having enough gear, and lugging too much.” By limiting myself to the bare essentials, it forces me to engage creatively, think outside of the box, and work to create unique shots.
As you prepare for our journey, you may feel like your camera skills are a bit rusty. It’s OK, it happens to all of us. One of the quickest ways to strengthen your eye is to simply carry a camera at all times. Just having it by your side will make you more aware of the potential photos around you. Each day, your senses will grow sharper, and things that once seemed ordinary will take on new meaning. Eventually, you'll develop the ability to absorb life in slow motion, anticipating the next move, and capturing it all through your lens.
I’m picking up a couple of these adapters which conveniently have two USB ports along with the outlet portion. This makes it perfect for charging your camera battery, phone, and tablet simultaneously. Check it out here.
As I gear up for this adventure, I downloaded a copy of a terrific memoir titled, An Olive Grove at the Edge of the World. It’s about two Americans who move to New Zealand, and discover the beauty and challenges of farm life. Definitely a great read that I highly recommend.