We are enjoying a ridiculous one month whirlwind tour of Italy, savoring the mid-winter no-tourist vibe. Weather-wise it mostly like pleasant spring weather at home. Genoa was a one-day stop on the way to Nice, but turned out to be packed with surprises, and it’s been marked as “next time and stay longer” on the imaginary travel planner.
After a busy day wandering through the quite fab aquarium and history of the sea museum my husband, ex-navy and with a marine biology degree was in high degrees of happy place (and okay, I was pretty happy too). On the way back to our accommodation we happened to pass a former palace now a museum (as you do in Italy), an hour or so before closing. The art was excellent, the galleries pleasingly empty, but just as we were about to head down stairs a guard suggested there was just time to take the lift to the roof. So, amazing unexpected views across the roofs of Genoa, at about 4.45pm.
Lesson for next time: must remember to put the pocket tripod in ones pocket, just in case.
As corny and as scenic and nearly as crowded as I had feared and hoped and feared. I can’t imagine how tourist-crushed it is at peak season, but it looked darn pretty in the wintery frost haze.
(Infrared modified camera)
I spent last weekend in Christchurch, a city justly famous for it’s blossom-tree filled parks. Thinks look just a little different in the near infrared: branches about to burst with buds are glowing already, and sometimes colours sharply different in daylight aren’t (magnolias for egs, the dark dark purple kind and the white kind, both look the same).
Duck Lake, closeup blossom and a Field of not-golden daffodils, all with the 35mm lightweight macro lens which has become my go-to holiday lens choice.
The Huka Falls are a 10 minute drive away from Lake Taupo township, and a road-side tourist photo trap of epic proportions. But the place is not quite as exciting as it was when I was a small child. Way back then the bridge over the most squeezed part of the gorge was just a narrow swing bridge, and my darling brothers would usually jump up and down to make it bounce. It was quite slippery with spray most of the time as well.
- Looking upstream, from the bridge
These with the IR mod camera, 35mm lens and a 590nm filter. Colour swapped.
As scenic as any scenery you’ll ever see: the ruins of Dunnottar Castle near Aberdeen, Scotland. If I was a different kind of photographing tourist, the kind who researches carefully, and arises several hours before dawn to get to places by sunrise, I’d have really amazing photos of this place. I confess that this trip had much more of a “oh, lets sleep in, then stop for a delicious brunch” travel style, interspersed with “hey, look, there’s a thing let’s visit it” moments. But heck, this castle is an amazing place to wander around and imagine the everyday lives of long-ago people who lived here, and the waves of invading armies that they fought off – until they didn’t.
With the IR modified camera.
With the IR modified camera, f/6.3, 1/200, 55mm
I found it pretty easy to pack my suitcase for my big trip this year: five pairs of identical black yoga pants, six interchangeable t-shirts, something for cold days, something for the occasional flash restaurant, walking shoes and casual shoes, toothbrush and sunscreen and done. But choosing which camera and which camera lenses to take is difficult. Trading off considerations such as “what if I see X, and I don’t have xyz”, against the weight of good lenses and a laptop. And security: travel insurance doesn’t cover you if electronics is stolen from your car, and expensive, visibly expensive gear is going to make you a target for thievery in general. Also, my husband was taking a camera and was going to be standing beside me so . . . I didn’t want to be taking too-similar photos.
So, this time: not my best camera, not my best lenses, which are either expensive or heavy. No laptop. Instead, I took my IR camera (which is a modified A6000), with just basic lenses, a pancake 16mm for landscapes, and 55-200mm zoom for the rest. My husband’s camera is an unmodified A6000, so we could share spare batteries and the charger. I also took a small but very good compact (an RX100iv) for ‘normal’ photographs and collecting images in museums (ie, stock to use in future projects), and for days when the weather was clearly not going to work for IR. I used an android tablet for some basic processing of images to share on Facebook during the trip, using the jpgs that Sony creates when you use their app to transfer photos for uploading and Snapseed to tweak ’em. I took an usb harddrive and a Filehub so we could back up our SD cards. One exceedingly useful gadget was a $30 5 port travel USB charger that came with adapters for the UK and Europe and Australia, and high powered slots for phones and tablets, so that we could charge our ridiculous number of electronic devices (fitbits and camera batteries and phones and all). And, as just a small backpack’s worth of gear this setup worked together pretty well.
Except of course, now I’m home. And I have . . . a lot of files to process. So many castles. And amazing landscapes. And wild stormscapes rushing up dramatic cliffs. And all the rest. Expect this blog to groan under the weight of some ancient European monuments in the next week or two.