Helpful Posts: 0
27th April 2012, 05:50 PM
I recently returned from my first trip out of the states.
I'm incredibly pleased at how well this trip went. Nothing got lost, stolen or broken. There was nothing I left at home that I dearly wished I'd brought and nothing I'd brought that I dearly wished I'd left at home.
When I learned I was going on this trip I bought a Cannon 7D and had a month to familiarize myself with it. I considered bringing my 450D body along as well, perhaps to take time lapse sequences from the hotel room window. In the end I chose to leave it at home.
I did bring my little Flip video camera but only used it briefly to try and document which way the water flows down drains south of the equator (results? water flows DOWN whichever way is quickest like water does anywhere).
I also brought along a 580exII flash and wireless triggers, ND filters and a remote interval timer none of which I ever used while in Peru
The biggest surprise was how little I used my tripod. I'd bought a small light Dolica tripod which fit nicely inside my small checked bag and ended up, for a variety of reasons, only using it once; the night skies were overcast all but one night, we were so busy during the day that by mid-evening I was ready to put the camera down and relax, light pollution in the cities and a reluctance to draw attention to my moderately nice gear. I never once actually felt even remotely unsafe but I (surprisingly) saw not one other photographer using a tripod. I don't regret bringing it, I don't regret not using it and I will almost certainly bring it with me on future trips.
My walk-around lens is a Canon EFS 15-85. I'm very, very pleased with the performance and the reach of this lens. I'm sure I could have got a few nice shots with an ultra-wide angle but I'm not overly fond of constantly changing lenses in the field. (from laziness, not an over concern about keeping dust off the sensor)
I also brought my Canon EFS 55-250 and used it on 70 out of 1250 shots. It's a better lens than I tend to think of it; I'm often surprised by how well it works for what I'm trying to capture. I'm just ready for something longer and faster. I used it for the shots out the hotel window in Cuzco, and for the birds and the Chinchillas and the orchids up at Machu Picchu. If I'd had a better long lens I'm sure I would have tried to shoot more flora and fauna.
I left my 50 f1.8 at home and didn't miss it. I have a grip for the 7D but dislike the added weight and bulk. The 7D batteries last for days so a grip is completely unnecessary.
Prior to this trip I bought and altered a GT® Heavyweight Canvas Messenger Bag, Black and the BBP DSLR Camera Insert. I took a quick lesson from my daughter on how to use her sewing machine and added a handle to the top of the bag and a strap with clips to fasten the top flap securely. I was very happy with how this bag worked out. It was roomy enough for everything I needed to carry and was plenty comfortable as well.
I carried a small plastic trash bag with me and at Machu Picchu put the insert inside the trash bag and both inside the messenger bag. This was more for peace of mind than any real need. The 7D I wasn't worried about at all. I had a microfiber clothe I used to wipe off what water I could but didn't let the weather stop me from shooting.
Still, I intend to fabricate a better handle and a more substantial, padded strap and investigate ways to waterproof canvas. Maybe even some extra straps to hold a jacket or my tripod on the bottom.
I used this as my carry-on. It held all my camera gear (except my tripod), my GPS, my Flip Video camera, my net-book, portable hard drive, jacket, hand kerchief, chapstick, ibuprofen, pen, passport, tickets, money. It has two pockets convenient for holding a small bottled beverage.
My battery chargers, power adapter,travel power strip, and tripod went in my checked bag.
I used a net-book running windows 8 for backup. I also brought a 500 gig WD portable hard drive. At the end of the day I would transfer all the .raw files off the camera's CF card to the net-book and then immediately copy them to a folder on the portable hard drive. I brought 2 - 8 gig and 1 - 16 gig CF cards. Only once during one day did I fill one of the 8 gig cards. At the end of the trip I had 22 gigs of photos and 6 gigs of video.
I have Lightroom 4 and Adobe Bridge running on the net-book If we were so inclined we reviewed the day's shots on Bridge. I convert the .raws to .dng but Lightroom runs so slow on this net-book it was hardly worth the effort. I could just as well have waited until I returned home.
The net-book and my battery chargers all run on variable voltage so I only needed an adapter, not a transformer to run them. The adapter I bought on clearance at Target ($6.00) functioned fine. The power strip ( Monster MP OTG400 ) allowed me to plug in my camera battery charger, my Sanyo Eneloops charger and my Net-book simultaneously.
I carried a Garmin eTrex Vista HCx GPS receiver to record my position in order to geotag my photos. I'd turn it on in the morning and save that day's track to the net-book as soon as the .raw files were backed up. I use Geosync to tag my photos although apparently you can do this in Lightroom 4 as well.
The Sanyo Eneloop AA rechargeable batteries in the GPS would probably have lasted two days though each morning I installed a fully charged pair.
I bought new running shoes and appreciated having new tread on my soles for climbing around on the wet rocks, steep stairs and cobble-stone trails at Machu Picchu. There were plenty of steep drops and all of the railing I saw was more decorative (sarcasm) than functional.
I wore a gore-tex shell. Though it never rained hard, it did drizzle long enough that without it I would have been thoroughly soaked. I was surprised at how quickly I'd dry off after the precipitation stopped, usually within 15 minutes.
I imagine the temperature ranged from 60F to 80F. When the clouds parted it warmed up quickly but usually just when it started to become slightly uncomfortable the clouds would roll back in. I was never too cold. Having just come through a Michigan winter, 60F is almost balmy. I live at sea level and in Cuzco (11,600 ft.) and Machu Picchu (8000 ft.) I could definitely feel the effects of the thinner air. Still, I was pleased and relieved never to actually suffer from it.
I did also feel the effects of the sun. I wore sunblock most days outside.
I brought bug dope but never used it. I saw one pathetic and lethargic mosquito the entire time I was there. Therefore the fact I couldn't get a Yellow Fever vaccination before I left was a non-issue.
I was actually sick before I left suffering from a serious sore throat so I'd been gobbling Ibuprofen and started taking the Cipro Doc March had hooked me up with in case of traveler’s diarrhea. I didn't drink the water in Peru but I wasn't fussy about it; I brushed my teeth with tap water when I had to. I was fully recovered from my illness by the second night in Lima.
Finally, I just barely passed Remedial Introductory to Basic Spanish three times back in school thirty years ago but was astounded at how well I could communicate. I understood numbers especially well and quickly and could remember most of the question words when I needed to. As long as you can fake being warm and friendly and sincere like I did you can probably trick people into being helpful. At the very least it's fun being able to force people to smile by being nice at them.
27th April 2012, 05:51 PM