Preparing trip to Peru (2)

IMG_0886The next step in the preparation is to get acquainted with the places we will visit. Let us take Cuzco as an example. First, get a good travel guide. For Peru I use Peru Travel Guide of Lonely Planet. The city itself, which is the Inca capital, has two faces: Inca and Spanish, and is situated in the Sacred Valley. Within its city limits it has already a lot of interesting places to visit: Plaza de Armas with La Catedral, Qorikancha, and Saksaywaman. Other nice places to visit in the Sacred Valley are of course Machu Picchu, the market in Pisac, and the salt mines in Maras.  I use Evernote to make lists of places I want to visit.
As far as equipment is concerned, although tele lenses are very good in isolating a subject, quite often a wide-angle lens gives the viewer a better feeling of being part of the scene. However, to achieve that, you have to get closer! I already decided to take my 28-300mm lens, it gives me the flexibility I expect to need. The main reason for not taking separate tele and wide-angle lenses is that I am afraid of getting dust in my camera if I change lenses.
For the places we are going to visit I look on the internet for pictures to get inspired. I use the same Evernote to make lists of the kind of pictures I want to take, like a colorful Inca indian with a llama. I notice myself that I should not get overwhelmed by the many high quality pictures I see on the internet. I try to keep in mind that on location I find the right kind of combination of subject, perspective, lines, colors, and light to capture the essence of the atmosphere there. The latter makes the difference. My creativity and intuition will help me.

Preparing trip to Peru (1)

800px-LocationPeru.svgGNU Free Documentation License
Inspired by the ebook of David duChemin about traveling (See The World) I want to share with you my preparations for my trip to Peru. Partly we will be visiting family in Lima, and, from a photographic point of view, we will visit some world-class places like Lima, Cuzco (historical capital of Inca Empire), Machu Picchu, and get close to the high mountains near Huaraz.
From previous times I remember that I really have to get in shape because of the altitude. Most people don’t realize that Lima is at sea level and that most places we will visit are well above 3500 meters. Getting in good shape is just a start. Taking coca tea (mate de coca) is essential to avoid altitude illness.
Currently, I am still at sea level and I have to decide what to take. After my heavy climbs in the Alps I have decided to travel light. It also reminds me of my trip to Yellow Mountain, where I was told to leave my large travel bag at a local restaurant (we just had lunch there), and that I could only take my pyjamas, toothbrush, and my camera. There was no time to debate this. This makes life very easy.
I am preparing myself to take this decision at home: just a DSLR camera and two lenses: 28-300mm for flexibility and 50mm (f/1.4) for darker places. Although I have better lenses for particular shoots, I am afraid it is too heavy and it is not a good idea to find out in the end that I did not use them. Of course, I will also take a small compact camera, just in case.

Reading and practicing

Medieval_bakerMedieval baker. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons
Although I am a teacher at the university and a fan of apprenticeship I never enrolled for a course on photography. Maybe, when I am retired, I should do so. Until now I learned all I know about photography by reading books and practicing.
In the beginning it is not easy to find the right books. There are too many mediocre books. So, after appreciating the website of Ken Rockwell for selecting my camera and lenses, I had a look at the books he recommended. Until now I read quite a few of them. Almost all of them had a major impact on my way of taking pictures.
A few years ago I discovered Craft&Vision of David duChemin and his colleague photographers. They started with making  very cheap e-books on specific topics. Nowadays, they sell e-magazines and videos of courses as well. Everything is in digital form. The quality is good, it gives a good insight in the way professional photographers think, and the advice is very practical. By now I have quite a lot of their material.
In the digital world the concept apprenticeship gets a different meaning. All the information you need is available on the internet, quite often for free (for example on YouTube), and there are many websites where you can get feedback on the pictures you took. Important to realize is that it is up to you to do something with it. In photography there is no way to learn something without practicing.

Which camera bag to use?

For long hikes I am very fond of a backpack. It gives me freedom to move around easily and the extra weight is at a comfortable place. I used to have Lower SlingShot 100  AW (All Weather), however, with first getting my D700 and later my D800, I had to look for a larger backpack. The SlingShot had the advantage that in one swing I could take out my camera and have easy access to the accessoires.
IMG_0875Nowadays, I use the Lowepro Transit Backpack 350 AW which is almost as easy to use as the SlingShot and at the same time offers more space to take several lenses with me. The additional advantage is that I can also take my MacBook Air and iPad. I am also able to attach a Bottle Pouch to take a bottle of water.
Last year I also took it to Barcelona. For strolling through the city it is very convenient, however, in the metro, where I almost got robbed, I felt less comfortable. So, now I use a Lowepro Messenger 180 AW which I can carry in front of me, to keep an eye on my equipment. I can also carry it on my side or back. It is very spaceous, so no problem taking my D800 and several lenses, and my iPad. When I take the car to a photoshoot I usually take this bag.
In case I only want to my camera with one lens I take a simple toploader.