Friday, January 14, 2011


My Tevas are turning 10 years old this year. Here they are on a NZ beach back in November.

Back in Dublin for a week now, time to give a quick account on photography. Just some thoughts, without particular order.

Context: on this blog, all pics are done by our Nexus One phones, but of course I had a normal DSLR with me too, and used it every day. This post intends to cover this.

1. Learning. I know a lot more about photography and about my camera compared to before the trip.
  • I read some from a book from Galen Rowell with the title 'Inner game of Outdoor Photography' which I can heartily recommend. It brought me some great revelations about what makes good photos, composition, approaching themes, communicating stories.
  • I am playing around a lot with my D90. Two things I am trying intensively first on this trip are creating bracketed bursts for later HDR experiments, and long exposure shots both at night and in low light day setting. I found Ken Rockwell's 'D90 Guide' for Android useful too - it finally made me learn about the various functions of my camera, something that I should have done a long time ago.

2. Storage. With no laptop around, I chose to bring abundant SD cards for storing photos. This worked well. I also altered my shooting habits somewhat - taking much less photos of the same subject, but with greater care. This sould help with photo selection and sorting as well, which I am not too fond of anyway. All in all, I took 80 GB storage with me, on 5 SD cards, and it was just about enough to cover the 3 months. I shot in raw+jpeg, and ended up with ~4600 photos.

3. Equipment. I was generally happy with what I took with me. Some thoughts:
  • The BlackRapid strap I bought before trip is fantastic... Can't imagine how I lived without it before... I carry my gear in comfort and have lightning quick access.
  • I have 3 lenses with me. In the first half of the trip, I used my new Tokina 11-16mm, 2.8f wide angle the most, about 70% of the time. It was new for me, and I really enjoy it, but now thinking about it, I probably overused it slightly. The Nikon 18-200 DX comes second, in the second half of the trip especially, it was on about 80% of the time. After I got and tried the Tokina, I thought that maybe I shouldn't even bring this big zoom with me - I'll never use it. Now I see, it would have been a huge mistake to come without it - they complement nicely. My third, and least used lens was the Nikon 50mm, 1.8f. It is a fine lens, and I usually use it much more, but somehow on this trip I barely had it on.
  • The D90 Nikon is a great camera, I love shooting with it. Its light weight, smaller body is well suited for travels, and its video function is something I would miss. It cope well with the heat and salty breezes of the Cook Islands, the humid and windy Tonga, the sulphuric fumes of volcanic New Zealand, the crazy nonstop rains in Australia, and all the above in Singapore and Vietnam.
  • I took no regular tripod with me, only a GorillaPod. It serves well for the long expo shots, and I would have missed it if I left it at home. I wish I bought the GorillaPod with the head joint tough...

4. Travel photography - some tips I found true.

  • Never, ever, leave a shot behind. When you see one, take it right there and then. Even if you plan to come back later (better lights.. in a rush.. etc..), still make the stop and take it. I left some (possibly) great shots untaken because of not keeping this rule in the beginning of the trip.
  • Always have your camera with you, and ready to shoot if possible. Having the camera dangling by my side (on the BlackRapid), with whatever lens on, invited me to take much more shots. It just somehow alters the way I look at my surroundings, and it takes almost no effort to grab the camera and click. When I had my camera in the bag, I missed shots, due to simple laziness.
  • Shoot less, use your vision more. On this trip, I tried to force myself to visualize the picture I want to take, before actually looking through my viewfinder. After practicing this for a while, I found that thinking about the composition, the photo I wanted to take, before lifting my camera, led to better shots, more memorable images. Having less photos saves time and pain at home too, selecting the best shots.
  • Make time to just walk around with no aim, but to observe and shoot. Dedicating time to photography, especially in the morning or in the evening light, I found greatly rewarding. Some of my best shots come from these walks, where there are no planned routes, no distractions, just listening to and following the instinct of the photographer.

Preparing for this trip, with regards to photography, Mr. NoPlanes' post on his trip and experiences was a great inspiration - Thanks for that my Friend! :)



  1. Wow, I did not suspect you were that much into photography.

  2. Btw, are your Tevas Terra Fi 3?
    10 Years ? I want that too!

  3. @Karolis, re:Teva: It is not a Terra Fi 3, but I am not sure what it is really. I am now trying to find out the exact model name (just contacted Teva about this)... Here is an other picture, where it is even better seen:

    Also, I just thought it through again, and it is only 9 years old this year. I must have bought it in 2002. Still, a great pair :) We have been to 5 continents already together..

  4. @Karolis, re:Photography:
    Well, I am not sure how much I am into photography at the end. I always wanted one of them big fancy cameras, and when I got my first, I really enjoyed it. And I still do, I love taking pictures, wondering around with a camera at hand. But on the other hand, I was very lazy in picking up theory basics, and I also don't invest enough time in dealing with the outcome (selecting, touch-up, sharing, etc..).

  5. Really glad my post helped. I look forward to a drink with you for a debrief of your trip. It was great following you through this blog!!!

  6. Hey Francois! Yes, we need to meet and talk all this through! You have some stories to share, that I am sure of! :)

  7. Was this the last of your posts on this blog ?