Reflecting on trip to Andalusia

Nasrid Palaces and Palace Charles V during sunset, Alhambra, Granada

Being back from Andalusía, having processed all my pictures (750+), having 100+ pictures accepted at Dreamstime, and having already 4 sales, it is time to reflect on the trip and on the decisions I took about what to take with me.

First of all, it was a wonderful trip, for several reasons: it was the first major trip with my wife after my retirement, it was slightly off season (so, reasonable temperatures), plenty of time to visit various tourist attractions, and last but not least the mystic mixture of Christianity and Islam expressed in the architecture, the food, and the way of living. Secondly, my wife had made this trip before, so she had already made up her mind which attractions to visit to take pictures. It made life much easier for me.

Below my packing list before I left together with my comments:

  • Nikon D800 and iPhone I was pretty happy that next to the D800 I had taken my iPhone X. It was nice to put some pictures immediately, without extensive processing, on for example Instagram. Also, in the caves near Nerja the iPhone X did much better than the D800 by automatically taking several pictures at once and combining them into one perfectly exposed picture.
  • Nikon 28-300 mm lens  and Nikon 16-35 mm lens The combination of the two lenses was perfect, I used both of them  intensively. 
  • Small tripod In Sevilla, Cordoba, and Granada I used the small tripod to take pictures in the evening. The pictures on Plaza de España in Sevilla and the Roman Bridge together with Mezquita (see below) look very good. The ones of Alhambra in Granada show a slight tremble. This may have been caused by the crowd surrounding me at Mirador San Nicolás or by the long exposures (10 seconds). On my next trip I will definitely take my small tripod with me. 
    Mezquita and Roman bridge in Cordoba by night
    © Peter Apers | Dreamstime Stock Photos
  • Colorspace UDMA 2 The external storage to off load the pictures from the storage cards in my camera was very helpful. It remains on my packing list for longer trips.
  • Peak Design Capture I carried the D800 on the shoulder strap of my backpack quite often. I could grap the camera quite fast. However, putting it back was slightly more difficult. I will certainly continue using it during my hikes.
  • Peak Design Field pouch It is easy to carry smaller stuff like a polaroid filter in my backpack.
  • Peak Design Range pouch On the website of Alhambra it mentioned that we were not allowed to take large backpack into Nasrid Palace. So, I decided not take my backpack and only take my general-purpose zoom lens. So, I used the Range pouch for carrying a water bottle.
  • Peak Design straps During our visit to the Nasrid Palace I used the straps to carry my camera.
  • Arsenal I got frustrated with Arsenal, the smart camera assistant. I was going to use it for the night shots at Plaza de España. When I turned it on I was confronted with a firmware update in a 3G environment and I could not skip it. So, I put it back in my backpack again. Next time it stays home.
  • Peak Design Everyday Backpack 20L I am very pleased with my Peak Design Everyday Backpack 20L. I used it every day. It wears very comfortably and gives easy access to all the equipment. The shoulder straps are fixed to the backpack in a rotating way. Because I am not broadly shouldered the straps tend to fall off my shoulders. Therefore, I always used the sternum strap to hold the shoulder straps tight. Also, if the backpack is fully loaded it tends to tilt. Therefore, I recommend to use the waist straps as well. I am also happy with the 20L version. For a bigger load I use the 45L Travel Backpack.

Below are the first sales at Dreamstime:



Here are all the pictures of Andalusía accepted by Dreamstime.

Stock Images

Preparing for trip to Andalusia

My wife visited Andalusia, together with members of the family, several times. When she came back from her last visit, she told me that she had decided that we should go together so I could take the pictures she had in mind, but could not take. So, we decided to make a roundtrip: MalagaSevillaCordobaGranada – Nerja – Malaga. In total, almost three weeks, so we had sufficient time to visit all the tourist attractions in that area.

 

We spent two days deciding on the dates, booking the hotels/apartments, and making reservations for important attractions, such as Alhambra. I used Sygic Travel, both app and webservice, to schedule everything, including our daily trips. To register the GPS locations while taking pictures I will use Komoot. Furthermore, we decided to take the Alsa busses from city to city. Very convenient. Within the cities we would either walk or take a taxi.

In the meantime, I started to read more about the region and about the Moresque influences in Spain in general and in Andalusia in particular. I first read a book about a Moor that copied important books in Cordoba (De Kopiist by Hanny Alders, in Dutch), followed by The Hand of Fatima by Ildefonso Falcones. Both books give a good impression of the ruling of the Arabs in Spain, and the influences on culture and architecture, and the fights between the Roman Catholic and Islam religions.

From a photography perspective I had to decide what to take. Because we traveled by airplane and busses, it means we have to travel light. The topic of my pictures would be buildings, both indoor and outdoor, details, like tiles or plants, aerial view of cities, night shots.

So I decided to take:

  • Nikon D800 and iPhone (!) as cameras (iPhone X is doing a pretty good job and weights almost nothing)
  • Nikon 28-300 mm lens, general-purpose lens
  • Nikon 16-35 mm lens, for architectural pictures
  • A small tripod, for night shots
  • Colorspace UDMA 2, to store pictures
  • Peak Design Capture, to carry the D800 on the strap of my backpack
  • Peak Design Field pouch, to carry smaller stuff like a polaroid filter
  • Peak Design Range pouch, to carry an extra lens on my belt in case I am not allowed to take my backpack inside a tourist attraction (like Alhambra)
  • Peak Design straps, to carry my camera or Range pouch
  • Arsenal, the smart camera assistant, to help me with difficult pictures
  • Peak Design Everyday Backpack 20L, to carry all of the above.

In the upcoming posts I will keep you up-to-date about my photography trip to Andalusia (see roundtrip at the top of this post). Here a reflection on the above decisions what to take.

Preparing for first corporate photoshoot at Highstreet Mobile

Already some years ago my oldest son together with his business partner started a software company. They are a SaaS company and their product focuses on fashion brands. Fashion brands will get a mobile shopping app that works both on iOS and Android. They focus heavily on making the consumer experience great. The shopping app is fully branded, integrated with existing e-commerce systems and it gets better all the time. Their initial focus was on the iPad, however, now the apps also work for the iPhone and for Android devices. The company is called Highstreet Mobile, and is located in Utrecht.

A month ago he asked me whether I could do a photoshoot for his company: team members, the office etc. I am quite honoured to do this, at the same time it will be the first time that I will do this type of photoshoot, so it is also a challenge. First, the three of us (my son, his business partner, and I) had a telco to make sure what kind of pictures were required. Basically it comes down to: head-shoulder pictures of each team member, a group picture (likely to be taken outside in a nearby park), pictures of group activities, and pictures of the office environment. Themes that characterise the company are: innovative, informal, and passion.

Based on this I decided that I needed three flashes for the head-shoulder pictures: one from the left, one from the right and one from the top (using a snoot). In the past I bought three PocketWizard FlexTT5, one was used as transmitter on the camera, and the other two for two flashes (receivers). Now I needed three receivers, so I decided to buy a second-hand PocketWizard MiniTT1, which is a transmitter, to put on my camera. I also had a look at a good tutorial about the Zone Controller PocketWizard AC3 to make sure I knew how everything worked. Another advantage of having three flashes, and having full controle over them, is the easy way of lightening the office.

So, besides the flashes and the PocketWizards I need two umbrellas, one snoot, and three light stands with brackets. Furthermore, I had to make sure that all the batteries were fully charged. Besides the general-purpose lens 28-300mm I will take the 70-200mm for the head-shoulder pictures, and the 16-35mm for the office pictures. I will also take the battery grip. It makes taking the portrait pictures (vertical) easier. 

The day before I went to Foto Konijnenberg to clean the sensor and to buy the Peak Design Everyday Backpack 20L. In the evening I went through my checklist and packed everything.

Fully packed

[to be continued]

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.