Many of us have spent the past 18 months wishing we could travel again. Now the borders are finally opening. Are you ready? Really?
Here are some tips to ensure a wonderful and safe journey, especially if you like to take photos. Remember to start your preparation early. The time to figure out what is out of date, broken, or just plain lost is now, not when you’re about to leave the house!
Take stock of your camera equipment before you travel again.
- Pull your camera out of the camera bag and turn it on. Is the battery charged? Do you even remember where the battery charger is? 😉 Take some time to charge all your camera batteries.
- Check the clock on your camera. Is it set to the current time? This is my downfall. Somehow, I always remember after I’ve already starting shooting. If your camera has GPS, it may set the time automatically, but you may have to turn that option on. Otherwise, it’s up to you to change the time when you travel to different time zones or even when Daylight Savings Time ends.
More Camera Equipment to Check
- Check your lens. Does it need to be cleaned? This is a real problem for people who shoot with their iPhones, but dust and grime can land on your DSLR or mirrorless lens, too. Brush off the lint and wipe away those annoying fingerprints.
- Is your lens hood attached correctly? It won’t do any good if it’s on your camera backwards. (See my confession below…)
- Do you have a lens filter on your lens? Which one? I always have a Protector filter on my lens, but I might have left a polarizing or neutral density filter on after shooting the previous time. It’s a good idea to check.
- What are the settings on your camera? Can I see a show of hands of how many of you have forgotten to turn off the timer when you used it? If you’ve ever done that, you will be grimacing right now. 😩
- Is the Exposure Compensation set to increase or decrease exposure? Set it back to zero.
- What mode is the camera set to? Be sure to return it to the mode you usually use.
- Do you remember how to set your focus point? If you focus on something, does it look in focus in your viewfinder? Otherwise, you may need to reset your diopter.
- Do you need a new camera strap or camera bag? (See my confession below…)
Take stock of your wires, chargers, card readers and travel backup disks before you travel again.
- Just when you think you have a travel bag with all the correct wires organized, you replace your camera or iPhone or iPad with one that requires a different cable. Now is the perfect time to pull out all your travel wires and identify which device they fit. Pair them up on a table. This will help you find the orphans, those extra wires that don’t fit anything anymore. (Firewire anyone?) And be sure that all of your devices have cables!
- Do you travel with your laptop and a card reader to download your photos? Why not invest in a new card reader that is just for your travel bag? This might also be the time to be sure your card reader will read your cards. Some new memory cards require special card readers.
- When you are assembling your wires and chargers, don’t forget to include a charger for any additional camera equipment, like a GoPro or Theta 360-degree camera.
- Is travel in a rental car in your future? Be sure to include a car charger and the specific wires you need to keep your mobile phone operational while you are using GPS.
Practice before you travel again.
This is the fun part. Grab the equipment that you’re planning to take. It’s time to make believe that you are on a trip.
Choose a location nearby and give yourself an assignment. To get you started, here are some suggestions:
- Take a walk in a park with your dog. Imagine that you are in a famous park in Paris. Practice shooting photos of your dog from different angles. Shoot down like you are a drone. Then, get down on the ground and shoot at the level of your beloved pet’s nose or tail. Be mindful of the background and the light as you shoot.
- Do you have a GoPro or iPhone? Why not include some video in your practice?
- Now, mix it up and imagine that your dog is a wild animal, and you are on safari. Try capturing movement. Or panning motion.
- Use your imagination and see how you can imitate and practice the photos you hope to take on your upcoming trip before you even leave home to travel again.
Take the word of Jeff Cable, a pro photographer who is an official Canon photographer for the Olympics. He’s shot the Olympics since 2010, and I can’t recommend his blog highly enough. I’ve followed him for years. I’ve included a link below to his post about practicing for the Olympics by shooting high school sports.
Finally, confession is good for the soul
Better known as I really do enjoy laughing at myself.
My father had the most obnoxious saying that he used whenever we caught him doing something he told us not to do. “Do as I say and not as I do.” Well, in the interest of complete honesty, here’s what spurred me to write the blog post:
Why is my lens cover lying on the pavement next to broken glass? That glass was my filter. Here’s the totally embarrassing story:
In June, we traveled across the country on Amtrak. It was our first big trip in over a year. I used my camera on the train with no problem.
On our first full day in southern California, we went to La Jolla for lunch with our son and daughter-in-law. Getting ready, I quickly grabbed my camera out of my wonderful Think Tank roll-aboard camera bag in the hotel room. The lens hood was on backward to use less room in the bag. The drive up the coast from San Diego was fascinating and everyone was talking, trying to catch up on each other’s news. I was not paying any attention to my camera.
Then, we were suddenly in front of the restaurant and needed to jump out of the car. I figured I would turn the lens hood around when we reached our table. I quickly put my older Black Rapid camera strap around my neck and let go of my camera. Crash! The carabiner on the strap had somehow opened and the camera dropped from the strap.
I always teach my students that there are two things that will help protect your camera and lens. One is a lens hood and the other is a clear filter. In this case, if the lens hood had been on correctly, the camera would have bounced. But it wasn’t. So, the filter made the sacrifice. Without it, my lens would have broken.
There’s another saying that I heard a lot growing up: Penny wise and pound foolish.
See the two camera straps in this photo? The rolled-up one is my brand new Black Rapid strap. See the difference in the design of the carabiner? The new one is much more secure. I’d thought about replacing mine a while back but didn’t. The new strap cost me $18.13 less than the new filter I had to buy to replace the broken one. 😩
Ready to read some more?
Here are two apps that I use all the time when I travel:
TripIt: You forward your travel reservations to TripIt and they build an itinerary for you. I love this app!
AroundMe: I use this app to find places to eat, etc. Here’s a true story of the first time I used it. I was in Cape Town, South Africa for a stock photography workshop. We had spent the first afternoon in Camps Bay, shooting models at sunset. When we were done, we discovered that we were all hungry and thirsty! People were talking about where to find a restaurant when I chimed in that there was a great seafood restaurant, the Codfather Seafood and Sushi, in Camps Bay, but I wasn’t exactly sure how to find it. Then I remembered that I had just downloaded a new app-AroundMe. I launched it and immediately found the restaurant. It was less than a five-minute walk away!
Jeff Cable’s blog is well worth following! He gives great photography advice and training and is just an all-around good guy! http://blog.jeffcable.com/2021/04/thank-goodness-we-have-sports-to.html
If you’re lucky enough to be in Cape Town, be sure to head over to Camps Bay for dinner at the Codfather Seafood and Sushi. https://www.codfather.co.za/
And for tips on going on safari, check out this post.
You can learn more about capturing your dog in motion in this post.
To learn more about panning, check out my online Panning Technique Mini-Workshop.
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