After all those flight deals and travel destinations, today's blog post will revolve around one of my biggest hobbies – photography.
Just like everyone, who call themselves travel-mad, I simply love capturing my adventures on camera and even more sharing those photographs with my environment – whether they like it or not ;)
But vacations photos can be so much more than “just” a nice memory. They can become a beautiful canvas, providing your living room with a summery atmosphere, neat photos also represent a great present or, just like in my case, they provide better insight in my blog posts and are a great accompaniment.
Therefore, I'm going to supply you with some insight around my camera gear, which always has to be on tour with me and I'm going to hook you up with some tips and tricks, how you're probably already divine vacation photos may become even better.
My first camera is not an essential for everyone but I'm quite happy with it and has been with me during my travels for a considerably amount of time – my Canon EOS 500D with the fitting Canon EF-S 18-135mm lens.
I started working with a single-lens reflex camera fairly early. My first one was still an analog SLR camera, also Canon. Yes, you needed a photographic film for those and you never knew, if they were good until the photos were developed ;)
Digital single lens reflex cameras are booting, of course. Admittedly, the photos don't look as vintage anymore, which can be quite charming, but according to which SD memory card your using, you can start shooting without remorse and if you need five attempts to get THE shot, well, it doesn't matter neither 'cause you can either delete them right away or keep thousands of pictures in a digital format.
I'm not a huge fan of data and all other boring informations, telling me how I'm supposed to adjust everything. I know what I have to do for night photography and I know what I have to focus on, if I have to react fast but other than that I'm more of a “bit hitter” than dwelling on technical data for too long. But I still don't want to keep it covered from you.
Technical data camera:
- sensor resolution: 15,1 megapixels
- visual field crop factor: 1,6
- integrated sensor for dust reduction
- 9 focus points
- camera formats: JPEG, RAW, RAW+JPEG
- AV-interfaces: composite video/audio, HDMI
- photosensitivity: ISO6400, ISO 100-3200, automatic ISO & ISO12800
- exposure measuring zones: 35
- access scheme: horizontal format, high size, close-up, night portrait, sports mode
- special effects: neutral, true to original, monochrome, horizontal format, portrait
- max. shutter speed: 1/400 sec.
- min. shutter speed: 30 sec.
- flash: pop-up flash
- continuous recording speed: 3,4 photos per second
- self-timer: 10 sec, 2 sec.
- Display: 2,9'' LCD-display
- weight: 1,1 lbs
Technical data lens:
- upscale and multifaceted 7,5-times EF-S-zoom lens with 1''-8,5'' focus range as per KB-format
- optical image stabilizer for a one to four levels longer shutter speed
- Automatic pan shot and tripod operation recognition
- close focusing of 17,7''
- UD and aspheric lenses
- super-spectra compensation
- circular aperture with six lamellae
I could delivery you even more data but those are the important ones in my opinion.
What I like:
The camera is sturdy and delivers when I need it to. I enjoy taking photos of the ocean movements and there is no second chance to capture the waves in that one perfect moment. Same goes for working with my dogs. The Canon displays colors lifelike and vibrantly and in combination with the lens, it has a great zoom. I also like the easy shifting between automatic focusing and manual focusing on top of the lens.
What I don't like:
The camera is rather heavy with its 1,1lbs and close-ups aren't a strong point. The camera is able to capture some great exposures but only up to a certain point, after than you need a different lens.
The second camera, I wouldn't want to hand over anymore since Christmas 2015 is my GoProHero4 silver. I know, GoPros divide the minds. Some say, they're overpriced and you're only paying for the name. Others think that currently there isn't any better action cam available on the market. I'm numbered among group two. Why? Because the GoPro has never failed me so far.
But technical data first:
- sensor resolution: 12 megapixels
- weight: 0,2lbs
- max. shot resolution: 4.000 x 3.000 pixels
- automatic white balance
- manual white balance
- burst mode
- continuous shooting
- features: superview-function, pro tune, night photo, night-lapse, simultaneously photo+video
- 1,8'' touch display
- free smartphone app (including camera control)
- free processing program
- 170° picture angle
- video resolutions: 4K, 2,7K, 1440, 1080, 1080 superview, 960, 720, 720 superview & WVGA
- frames per second: 60, 48, 30 & 24
Basic data for starters. I actually worked my way into the several GoPro features more than with my Canon.
What I like:
The handling is easy and you know what you're doing rather quickly. Photos, as well as videos, got a superb resolution. You're able to capture and film from every angle and position and the night shots are also beautiful. Regardless of whether you're shooting city lights by night or the starry sky, everything works perfectly fine with the GoPro. Besides, the camera is small and light-weight and easily fits in every jacket- or even pants pocket and your handbag or backpack.
I got the protective cover with replaceable display protective (open, waterproof in shallow water and waterproof up to 1575'' depth) as well as the floating handle bar, a small tripod, two tackifying mountings, the dog harness and the rods mount, perfect for biking for example.
What I don't like:
There isn't much to complain. Maybe the option of choosing a even longer shutter time and a higher ISO for night shots. Furthermore, you have to keep an eye on the protective cover if you're shooting in the water or the snow, so no drops will cover up the lens, other than that, I'm absolutely happy.
Last but not least: my smartphone camera. Yes, that one saved my ass quite a few times when I quickly needed a camera and didn't have any other with me and today's smartphone cameras are able to keep up. I own a Huawei P8 lite.
Technical camera data:
- main camera sensor resolution: 13 megapixels
- auto focus
- max. photo resolution main camera: 4160 x 2336 pixels
- front camera sensor resolution: 5 megapixels
- max. photo resolution front camera: 3264 x 2448 pixels
- features: fast motion, watermark, all-focus, various filters
- flash: LED-flash, video light
What I like:
The P8 lite camera has a surprisingly good zoom. The image detail may look blurred but the end result is quite sharp. Colors are getting displayed lifelike and the panorama mode produces great photos. Sunsets are captured in good quality as well.
What I don't like:
The camera has a big problem with lightning conditions while shooting portraits. When I'm taking a picture of my black dog Peanut, for example, his face is hardly recognizable and I have to rework with an image editing program. Asides from that, the camera is nearly useless for night shots, as most smartphone cameras still are.
When do I use which camera?
I prefer the Canon for shooting people, waves, general water movements or sunsets.
The GoPro is naturally perfect for shooting under water and the wide-angle mode is great for capturing great squares in cities. Moreover, the GoPro is my fav for different perspectives and night shots. The Canon would also work perfectly fine for night shots, even better with a higher ISO and shutter time, but I neither own a tripod nor a remote which is necessary for that, of which more later.
My smartphone camera is always on the spot, if I have to take a photo very spontaneously.
Tips & tricks for great images
Portraits & close-ups
Your depth of focus is your most important stylistic device shooting portraits. Depending on how you're setting the depth of focus, so much more or less you'll be able to recognize the backdrop. Best is to just see the backdrop blurred when shooting portraits. Focus on the eye closest to you. Same goes for close-ups with animals and flora. Set your focus on either the animals eye, if it's a bigger one or on its whole body or the whole flower, now zoom in to get a close-up. Everything around the animal/flower will blur and you got your great close-up shot. I prefer using my Canon for shots like this.
Movements & sunsets
All photos involving fast movements need a high shutter speed in order to provide a short exposure time for a sharp image. GoPro and Canon both work great therefor but I prefer the Canon for wave photos based on its zoom. Unfortunately, you cannot zoom in with a GoPro.
Same goes for sunsets. Both cameras work perfectly fine but I also prefer my Canon due to its zoom. Most important thing: never focus on the sun or else your lens will get destroyed by the light. I'm focusing on a point next to the sun, making sure my surroundings are not blurred. This is how you get wonderful photos, especially while capturing the reflection on the ocean's surface, if you're shooting at the beach. Usually, the water turns into liquid gold.
Night shots - city lights & stars
Three important rules: You will need a tripod and a remote or an app in order to trigger your camera, otherwise your image will blur based on the longer shutter time. If you want to shoot lights in the city or get that special car trail effect, you should set your shutter time between 20 and 30 seconds and your ISO should be 100. If you want to shoot the stars, you should look for a place with a minimum light radiation and the moon shouldn't be there either, otherwise it'll get too bright. Set your shutter time to 30 seconds and your ISO to 800. Depending on how you set your white balance, the colors of the image will look warmer or colder. All of those informations apply for GoPro.
The right perspective
The GoPro is absolutely predestined for this purpose. I like to put the camera right on the ground or into the sand. For example, if Peanut is digging in the sand, I like to put the GoPro right into the hole he's digging, so the camera will photograph him from below. Position your camera on a tree, in a shelf or between bridge piers, everything that will make your angle look unique is great.
Give the zoom of your DSLR-camera a try, if you're shooting movements. Great effects can originate with this.
If you're GoPro and dog owner, let your dog be your cameraman/-woman. The GoPro dog harness is comfortable, padded and suitable for dogs in a weight category between 15lbs and 119lbs. You're able to mount the GoPro either at your dogs chest or on top of his back. I prefer the back mount since you'll see more of your dog's surroundings and what he's focusing on.
And that's it. My brief and crisp tips how you're vacation photos will soon become even more unforgettable. I don't want to detain you any longer, have fun shooting ;)
Until then, happy traveling.