My travel photography lessons

People on photography forums always seem very keen to hear about what to do when they travel, so here's a very quick run-down of the things I learnt from my recent 6 week cruise.

Shoot in RAW+

Shooting in RAW+JPG makes processing much quicker when you're on the move, especially if you're using a netbook. I fiddled around with the jpg settings for in-camera processing and ended up with something that was good enough most of the time. Certainly good enough for periodically uploading to flickr/picasaweb/facebook during the trip. In a way it means you're using your SLR somewhat like a glorified point and shoot, but hey - if you're on holidays that's sort of the truth. At least you have RAWs to process when you get home, if you want to.

Memory

I took about 60GB of flash memory with me, which was way over the top. I had only intended on taking 2 8GB and a few smaller old cards, but just before I left I grabbed a couple of 16GB cards in the hope they'd help with a video issue I was having. In reality, the two 16s plus a spare would have been plenty. Note, however, that I had the eeePC's 120GB drive and a 320GB external drive to dump the cards onto/backup.

Lenses

I could almost have gotten away with just the new Pentax 18-55WR kit lens. I bought and took it mostly with the intention of using it in rougher conditions (salt spray on the deck, at the beach etc) but ended up leaving it on the camera most of the time. The reason was simple, but not what I had expected: quick shift focusing is a godsend when you're switching from still to video. The 18-55WR held up surprisingly well in terms of quality, at least for holiday pics. I used the 50mm/1.4 quite a bit in doors, and on a couple of occasions I used the 14mm/2.8 and 70-300/4-5.6. I'm glad I took the full kit, but I could have done with less.

Camera body

On the 'making do with less' theme, if I'm honest I probably could have done the whole trip with a decent point and shoot, like the LX-3 or G-11. Sometimes dealing with the size of the K-7 was a bit of a pain, especially given how I was using it. But the weather sealing certainly was handy, as was the ability to change lenses. Maybe if I was backpacking I'd consider leaving the SLR at home, but overall I'm glad I took it.

One of the great things about the K-7 that I discovered on the trip is that 'green' mode resets virtually everything, including the custom AF settings. Because I have AF decoupled from the shutter button, handing the camera to someone else has always involved diving through menus or trying to explain the AF setup to them. Green mode meant that I could hand the K-7 to anyone after just turning the mode dial, and know they'd have a half decent chance of figuring it out.

I'm also glad that I took my old *istDS as a backup body. Of course the K-7 was flawless, but my 3 year old son got the photography bug and it was really neat to be able to give him the second body and go shooting together.

Video

Having video in a still camera really is convenient when you're traveling. I would have shot almost no video if I had had to take a dedicated camera with me. Mind you, I'm still not sure what I'm going to do with all the video I did take.

PC

Having a netbook on the trip was invaluable. Not only because I could dump images and videos off my SD cards and back them up, but because I could rank and tag the jpgs, as well as write blog posts, and upload every few weeks. There's no way I would have been able to remember what to write about and/or sort through 5,000 images once I'd gotten home.

Random asides

Old age is scary - people seem to become amorphous asexual bags of flesh. Surprisingly, tattoos age better than I'd imagined. But silicon implants... don't.

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