Traveling with Cameras

For some people, the whole point of going on a trip is to take pictures.  Their itinerary is based on this fact.  Where they're going to be at what time of day to get what images.  In fact there is a whole cottage industry built around organizing these trips.  I used to be more like that than I am now. I've become divided on the issue. One part of me thinks that I take pictures all the time, so when on vacation I should put the camera down.  That it may be the only time when I'm not connected to staring at a screen for hours or trying to figure out lighting scenarios.  The problem is that I'm  a location traveller which means I don't go sit on a beach (I'd rather stay home and work), but instead go places where I can see things. Be it a city, or art, or mountains. Many of these things are gorgeous and then I kick myself for not bringing a good camera.

Last year I was out west at Zion, Bryce Canyon, and the Grand Canyon National Parks and brought a G10 I borrowed from my friend Meg, as well as my 5D with a 24-105/4 zoom on it.  The pictures disappointed me overall, especially the G10 jpegs which were blown-out and ugly.  I know, I should have shot RAW with it, but using a little camera was all about not thinking too much about the pictures.  Kinda bit me in the ass.

I've tried to head all this off at the pass a couple of times by simplifying what I bring down to almost nothing.  One film camera, one lens, a bunch of film. Hasselblad in Japan last year and Leica in Puerto Rico this past spring. This is a cool way to work, but expensive. Film and processing alone for the Japan trip was about $500 for only about 30 rolls. Then there were the days of scanning the frames that I liked, just to get me to the point where digital would have gotten me right off.  I kinda wish I had the best of both worlds in say a Leica M9.  Small, fast, simple, great image quality.  But unfortunately I can't spend another ten grand on a camera.

Tomorrow I'm heading out west again to Yosemite and Death Valley., both of which I've been to twice already. This complicates things because I've taken a lot of pictures there.  I've recreated the Ansel Adams shots that all of us have done.  But what's the point? Ansel's were better than mine will ever be (see mine above).  Plus we got stuck in a sand storm last time which ruined my 28mm prime in short order.  Had to have the thing rebuilt by Canon for a couple hundred bucks.

So in the end I'm going to pack a small digital kit.  Probably 28mm, and 50mm, primes.  The lighter, cheaper ones, and maybe the 35mm for good measure since it's so nice and sharp.  5D Mark 2 body.  A couple of big CF cards and a battery charger.  In comparison to what I know some of you bring with you, this is a small day pack for a hike, but I'm pretty minimal.  I don't want the camera to get in the way of experiencing taking the picture, or get in the way of the trip for that matter.  The one thing I can't decide on is whether to bring a tripod.  Not that I need it for most of my stuff, but maybe for panoramas or night photography of star fields and such?  Ya, I think I just talked myself into it.

Now if I can just get a video of the stones moving at Racetrack Playa, then I'll be in business.