I like to travel. I like to come home with photographs. In recent years I’ve used my iPhone. For a point and shoot camera it’s not too shabby at all. But when I found myself, iPhone in hand, stalking a butterfly near Kanchanburi, I knew my phone camera days were coming to an end.
Nevertheless, I dithered. You see, there’s a down side to travel. It involves sweaty money belts and sodden passports – yes, on my most recent trip I forgot all about slipping that precious document inside a plastic bag. It involves travel sickness and scanning every public place for a toilet and giving thanks when you don’t have to squat. And then there’s the endless fumbling through the handbag, day pack, and every single pocket on your person for the Panadol, Werther’s Originals, tissues, hand sanitiser, and room keys.
After the fact, back in my “real” life I remember such trials with a certain fondness. But there have been times I’ve fantasied about going “au naturale”. I’m not talking shedding clothing! That’s not my style. And besides, despite all those hours in the gym, gravity being what it is, it wouldn’t be a pretty sight. (Note: You know you’re old when your trainer says you’re in good shape … for your age!)
I’m talking travel without bags. It’s not so much the luggage. That usually gets stowed somewhere out of sight. Although trudging from Penn Station to our hotel in New York, pulling my suitcase behind me was not one of my best travel moments. And dragging that same case along our Soi to Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok wasn’t my favourite thing either. But those are one offs, short-lived.
It’s the day pack and the handbag and the money belt that, at some point in every trip, spark abandonment fantasies. On those days I dream of simply getting off the bus and leaving those extra bags all alone on the seat for some other traveller. Butterflies or not, the thought of another item hanging from my shoulder was, and still is, off-putting. While I dithered I checked out some blogs, I admired their photos. I wished mine were as good. I coveted a zoom lens, and variable shutter speed. Christopher over at Something for Pok, said: “Don’t think of the camera as a gadget. Think of it as a capturer of light and memories. And without it you will rue the missed opportunities to see things through the eye of a lens.” I knew he was right.
The time came to take the plunge. I purchased the real deal . A camera that met my specifications: small, light weight (top priorities because of the abandonment risk), quick auto focus, and best lens quality for the money invested. One that, if I get really, really keen, can handle an even bigger zoom lens. In short a camera that’s a good entry point for a novice like me – I hope.
It came with a manual which states on the cover: “Read and understand contents before using.” It is 127 pages long. There are eleven, yes eleven, pages of warnings. My favourite: “Do not use camera while walking or driving. This can result in you falling down or being involved in a traffic accident.” One family member, a photographer of some considerable ability and repute, told me he never reads the manual. But taking photos like these he doesn’t need to, does he!
By page twenty I had a headache.The sort that kills off brain-cells; something which, at my age, isn’t to be encouraged. There was only one other option. I took DiverDick’s advice. I abandoned the manual. I charged the battery, inserted the memory card, and took a photo. Which all sounds a lot easier than it actually was! There’s a total of seventeen buttons on this camera. Some of them with more than one function. I haven’t found a self-destruct button, yet, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there …. waiting.
Eventually, in spite of those warnings, I got brave enough to take my camera for a walk. News flash: There was no falling down. I didn’t see a traffic accident. No one died!
I took some photos. Actually, I took a lot of photos. I had fun despite all the fumbling while I worked out what went where. I have a long way to go. I might know that a variable shutter speed is highly desirable but I haven’t a clue how to work it. Maybe that manual is a good thing, after all. Eventually, I might produce an image I’m happy with. One where I manage the focal point, the light and to keep my foot out of it! One which might convince me , even on a bad day, that going “au naturale” isn’t so attractive after all.
What about you? Do you have any photography tips to help me along the way to achieving that perfect shot?
Or, do you have suggestions on how to cope with all that travel related gear?
Categories: Off-shore Adventures