In the two previous posts, I mentioned a number of questions to ask yourself during your preparation. Let's go through those with my answers for my upcoming trip.
What are my photographic goals for this trip?
In the case of my upcoming trip, the primary purpose is to explore the country, wander without much route planning, travel and meet ordinary people and see a variety of natural and man-made places to better understand and appreciate nature, our past, and spend some quality time with my wife as well as with some friends we will see along the way. The goal is the experience, not necessarily photography. Photography is secondary for this trip. Photography is important to me, but it is not the primary goal of the trip.
What will be my photographic style be for this trip? (all handheld, time for tripod work, up before dawn, out after dark, etc.)
Mostly handheld, but I will bring a tripod. Much of our journey will be through small, picturesque towns and quaint harbors. I shoot stock and fine art, so even though the primary goal of this trip is exploration, I always keep in mind that any image I find may be suitable for stock or fine art photography. I can envision two types of photography--casual snapshot type of recording ( I was here and here is what I saw) and, when appropriate, get the big guns out to make some serious, studied images.
I tend to use a tripod more now than in the past as I have gotten more meticulous in my technique over the years. I learned a lesson from a previous trip. I took a tripod on our two-week cruise/tour to Alaska and never once had the opportunity to use it. But I sure wished I had my monopod as that would have been useful and quick. Live and learn.
How long will I be gone?
About 3 weeks but we have no specific timetable. There is very little agenda. We go where we decide to go and end up each day where we end up. No timetable.
How much time will I have to photograph?
As I see interesting images, I will stop and make the images. I suspect that the photographic aspect of this trip will dovetail easily with our travels. I know we will be visiting one major national park so I know I will go there during the golden hours primarily for photography. Other than that, I don't have any expectation, at this point, that we will go anywhere just to photograph and spend hours doing it. Photography will be in addition to our travels. It is nice that photography easily dovetails with photography.
How will I feel if something goes wrong and I lose the photos through my own negligence or some external force?
I really want to bring back some good images but if something happened, it won't be devastating. I'll live! The answer, however, to not losing images you may have taken is to plan for contingencies and have backups for certain gear and processes. I will be backing up my images nightly and keeping them a) on the original SDXC card, b) transferring them to Lightroom on my laptop and, c) putting a copy on a small, bus-powered portable external hard drive. I like having three copies of everything—and keeping those copies in separate places. It it gets to a point where I will have to reformat an SD card, I have a second portable hard drive that I can put into action and copy images to it as well. Again, three places is better than two.Have I researched the areas I will be traveling to know what opportunities I will encounter? What gear am I planning on taking?
Yes. I know that I will need a wide variety of focal lengths to capture everything from urban landscapes, grand landscapes, close-ups, and potentially wildlife. I plan on taking my Fuji X-T2, X-T1, 10-24mm f/4 lens, 16-55mm f/2.8 lens, 23mm f/1.4 lens and 50-140mm f/2.8 lens. I will also have the Fuji 1.4X tele-converter and, in a separate case, my Fuji 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6mm lens (I'm still not sure I will take this, I may end up leaving it behind). I will also take three filters and one step-up ring. I will take a polarizing filter, as well as 6-stop and 10-stop neutral density filters. The filters are all 77mm and one lens has a 72mm filter thread, hence the step-up ring. I anticipate photographing small towns, harbors, seascapes, fall foliage, mountainous regions, people working at their jobs or crafts and, as I said hopefully, some wildlife. Of course, a tripod (and monopod) will be brought and since we are traveling by automobile, space shouldn't be a factor.
When, generally, is sunrise and sunset each day?
I use The Photographer's Ephemeris. A wonderful program I can highly recommend that you can download for free on your PC or, for a small fee, or buy as an app for your mobile device. This allows me to see when sunrise and sunset, as well as moonrise and moonset is for any location and it gives me a Google map showing the direction of sunrise and sunset. I find it well worth acquiring this small program. I understand there is a small, inexpensive app that may be even better. But since I have an Android phone and it is only available for Apple devices, I don't have it. If you are interested, check out PhotoPills. I hear it is excellent and very comprehensive.
What weather and humidity can be expected?
I've researched the average daily high, low and average temperatures for most of the locations through which we will travel. I have also looked at the average number of days of rain and how much rain per month for the time period we will travel. Average only, you mileage may vary on any particular day.
What other considerations do I need to be aware, such as the number of bags, luggage, size, weight that might restrict what I can take?
Since the two of us will be traveling in an SUV, space isn't much of an issue. But I don't want to be excessive as less is more. I plan on taking one large suitcase for clothes, toiletries, medicine, etc. We plan on visiting a laundromat at some time to wash clothes. That allows one to take fewer, rather than more, clothing items. Additionally, I will take one camera bag, one laptop bag, a tripod and a monopod. The 100-400mm lens will go in its own bag if I take it. I am trying to be a minimalist on this trip. I usually don't succeed. Too often, I take way too much stuff and never use a lot of it. Again, learning from the past.
Is there anything I need to do before I go such as getting a permit or are there any restrictions on photography (usually with large DSLRs only) in the places I might visit?
Right now, I'm not aware of anywhere we will be going that I need to get a permit.
I will be blogging along the way, at least three times a week, if not more. In the past, I would blog a short version of the day's journey and activities as well as post an image or two of what we saw. I intend to follow the same pattern, so check back.
I really look forward to taking at least two long and several short road trips each year. To me, there is nothing quite like driving smaller roads, going through smaller cities and towns, eating at local restaurants and meeting wonderful people across this great country. Couple that with visiting some of our great national parks as well as other attractions and you have one heck of a wonderful trip.
Thanks for looking. Enjoy!
Dennis A. Mook
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