Here’s a phenomenon I’m encountering more and more often these days on photo trips and workshops.
A well-heeled photo enthusiast (usually a middle-aged guy, not unlike myself—except, um, for the “well-heeled” part) shows up with tip top photo gear (i.e. two D3’s, 14-24mm, 24-70mm, 70-200mm zooms, all the big f/2.8s, maybe a macro or fast prime or two, possibly a flash).
Before every stop on the tour or venture out of the workshop, he asks me, “what gear will I need today?”
When I gently point out that “clairvoyancy” does not appear anywhere in my resume, and stress the need to be prepared for anything, I get the lament “that’s too bad because I don’t want to carry the (fill in the blanks) if we’re not going to need them.” And something always gets left behind, and whatever you leave behind is what you’re gonna need. Yes, folks, it’s a drag to carry your whole kit if you’re not going to need it.
It also stinks not to know when the stock market will spike or tumble, which tollbooth line will move the fastest, or whether or not the Knicks will cover the spread in tomorrow’s game (well, okay, that last one is pretty much a slam dunk “nope”).
The point is, you can’t know in advance what you’ll see in most travel situations. So the question you have to ask yourself is this: which photo gear is better? The heavy “pro” outfit, half of which you tend to leave behind, or the smaller “amateur” outfit that is light enough to take with you and have ready at all times?
This photo below, for instance, would never have been made if I had a D3 instead of a D90 with me on Ibo Island in Mozambique. For the reason why, hit the jump.
We were aboard the National Geographic Explorer and we put in for a few hours at the remote island of Ibo in Mozambique. Wandering the dusty streets, being greeted warmly by the people, I was struck by the “ghost town” feel of this place that has virtually stood still since the revolution in the 70’s.
I was getting shots, but nothing special. Taking a break from the heat to “chimp” in the shade, I started fooling around with the “Retouch” menu on the D90. This is a very “amateur” feature that allows you to make modified copies of your pictures in-camera after applying different effects. They don’t put it on the more serious cameras, because no pro would ever do this….er, well, one might. Especially if it was really hot, and the pro in question is easily amused and likes to push buttons…
Anyway, I ran a shot or two through the Monochrome>Sepia process, and “bam,” I had a revelation. Now all the fading architecture, the abandoned buildings, and the melancholy street scenes suddenly made sense. I stopped looking for “color” and started seeing in Sepia, and it made a difference in the pictures I sought out and shot for the rest of the visit.
It was only a 3-hour stop, but the amateur Retouch menu helped me hone in on a bit of a theme for the destination. I’ll eventually run these through Photoshop to make my monochrome interpretations, but it was the Retouch menu provided the inspiration.
Plus, I was able to carry my two bodies, three lenses, and all the other chatchkes with me despite the near 100 degree F/100% humidity and blazing sun without any flagging of energy. It’s something to consider if you’re a serious photographer who’s reached a point in life where your liquidity may be more robust than your mobility! You know how the saying goes, “A D90 in the hand is worth two D3’s back in the hotel room.”
Here are a couple of other shots from this very interesting island. I hope to get back there one day.