1. Don’t pack so much stuff. Both in camera gear, and clothing. I packed enough shirts, shorts, flip-flops to last me the full-ten days. Guess what? I didn’t use them. For three days I was wearing a bathing suit — all day long as I was on an island. No need for more clothing than that. I also packed all my lenses and didn’t use them all either.
2. Wear sunscreen. I had SPF100 and being a Cuban, and easily tanned, I’m very, very dark. And that’s cool. I’m ok with tanning but parts of me did burn.
3. Don’t pack so much photography gear. I’m not talking about the camera and lenses here; what I’m talking about is all the other incidentals which quite frankly never got used. I packed extra step-up rings, extra filters, extra tripod plates, you name it, I had it. Except for those I “really” needed! (see #4)
4. Do pack duplicates of those items you can’t do without. For example: On Day 1, yes. Day 1 at dawn no less I was photographing the Ponce Leon Lighthouse with my X-T1 on a tripod and my RR-90 Fuji remote. Well, I had a “hissy” fit and yanked the remote as it was stuck on what I thought was one of the tripod legs, and wound up breaking it off at the camera. Had to dig that out later that morning once I could see what I was doing. That was my only remote. I wish I had packed a cheaper backup. So lesson learned here: 1. Don’t throw a hissy fit. 2. Pack an extra of whatever you think is critical if you are prone to hissy fits.
5. Lenscaps. Oh my… Lenscaps. I only lost one among all the lenses I used. However, finding them was a b*tch when I needed them in a hurry.. I would put them in pockets, throw them back in the camera bag, lay them on the car seat, etc. etc. Many times I wound up putting the lenses away without a lens cap — which to me is a big no-no. My most used lens the Fuji 18-55 uses 58mm lens caps unless I have a 77mm step up ring attached; I did take extra lens caps with me as I buy them four or five at a time on fleabay. Unfortunately I spent about 8-days without lens caps on a some lenses as it wasn’t until I got home and literally dumped the contents of both my camera bag, and a small backpack on my living room floor, that I found the missing caps. Luckily for me, other than sand I did no damage to the lens as I was very careful where and how I placed it in the camera bag.
6. Wear a hat. All. The. Time. I did, and I was still miserable at times. I had three different hats. That big glowing ball of fire in the sky? It felt like it was hovering 10 feet over my head. Yeah. It was hot. I could deal with the heat (92 degrees plus), the humidity and rain, but that sun. Oh my.
7. Get into better shape. Exercise, walk, whatever you need to do to get in better shape. I was not in shape. Unfortunately day one and part of day two I was physically ill around mid-day due to the sun and the heat. I arrived at a particular location i wanted to photograph on day one, mid-afternoon and I honestly could not photograph as I was dizzy and felt like I was going to pass out. And yes, I took TWO coolers full of water, and Gatorade. I drank in ten days two cases of water, plus about 15 Gatorades. At other times I was so physically wasted at the end of the day due to the heat and blazing sun that I didn’t bother cleaning my gear of sand, grit and salt water when I knew I should. I just showered, ate some dinner and went to bed.
8. Sample the local foods and drinks. I did. Being a Cuban, born and bred, I sought out. No. I HUNTED out Cuban eateries. And I’m so glad that I did!!!
9. No more laptop. This is something I’m going to try next time I do this type of road trip. Why? It’s just something else to worry about! I packed my Macbook Air, instead of my Pro’s and a couple of 1TB external drives. I worried about the laptop frying in the trunk of the car during the day while I was either driving, or out shooting. For the three days I left my car parked in a public parking area while I was away in the Dry Tortugas My laptop and the externals sat in the car. Luckily, I had the car parked in a covered garage and was actually cool as I picked a spot on the 2nd floor, towards the center so there was a nice cross-breeze, and no sun hitting the car.
As I travel with a multitude of SD cards for my Fuji X-T1, I can take over 9800 jpeg + raw images before I fill up all my cards. Keep in mind, SD cards can be purchased just about anywhere – albeit at a slightly higher price, but they are available just about anywhere. Will I miss the laptop? Yes and No. Yes, because in the evenings it’s always nice to load up Lightroom and look at the images you took and backup the cards. No, because it is just another possession that can be lost, stolen or damaged. Heck, I worry enough about missing lens caps, I certainly don’t want to concern myself wondering if my computer is frying itself in a hot car or in the hands of a thief. When I was traveling with my Nikon gear and the 36 megapixel D800 I “needed” the laptop in many instances as the files were so huge. I could only record about 360 jpeg +raw on a single sd card. With the X-T1, I can cram 796 on the same size card – more than double the capacity! During this road trip I returned with about 5800 images so I had plenty of SD cards that came home unused.
10. In following #9, going forward I am only taking my SD cards plus my iPad. With the iPad I can use the Fuji Remote app, or a new piece of software I purchased for the iPad called “Shuttersnitch”. This software connects to the Fuji camera — without the Fuji remote app. If I want I can transfer images over to the iPad from the camera in order to post online, or to send them via email. The Shuttersnitch software creates it’s own Wi-Fi connection to the camera and it contains built-in extensions that allow it to connect to my Smugmug, or Flickr accounts. I think what I like most is the fact you can change the settings so the app will only import a jpeg, not the associated raw file. I find the Fuji remote app doesn’t do that… I also have the Google Snapseed app on the iPad in case I need to make any adjustments to an image before posting.
Next summer I’ll be doing two weeks in Alaska, and a few days in Olympic National Park in Washington State. I plan on following my 10-step plan above with just some minor changes – such as not having cuban food, but local specialties, etc. As I mentioned I can record over 9800 jpeg + Raw images on my existing cards. I may just keep an eye out for sales and pick up a few more SD cards just in case. I may be able to control my OCD, but I can’t eliminate it all together and I like being prepared so I’ll probably add some more cards to my inventory.
So, in closing these were my lessons learned. Hope this helps you plan a better, more enjoyable trip.
Well I’m now back from 10+ days down in the Florida Keys, Key West, and the Dry Tortugas. In a previous post I promised to record some stats with regards to what lenses I used and how many images were taken with each one. Here we are:
Grand total images: 5,860
Fuji 18-55: 3,190
Fuji 16mm 1.4: 1,776
Fuji 55-200: 560
Zeiss Touit 12mm 2.8: 240
Fuji 23mm 1.4: 94
Fuji 35mm 1.4: Zero. Nada. Zip
As i expected the 18-55 just rocks! Images are amazing. Solid, clear and sharp. The 18-55 is just so darn versatile! The images below was taken with the 18-55 in case you were wondering. To start, and end each day, the 18-55 was on the X-T1. No questions asked. From there, depending on the situation, I would switch to another lens if warranted. In my opinion it is truly a classic! I love it! In all honesty I was a bit concerned; I even thought about buying or renting the 18-135 which is weather resistant as I wasn’t 100% positive about the 18-55 surviving all the sand, salt water and torrential rains. I’m glad I kept the faith and just used my 18-55. On the other hand I’ve heard from quite a few folks that their copy isn’t sharp. That’s a darn shame because it is an extremely versatile lens no matter what.
Keep in mind, I was in and around sand and salt water 90% of the time I was down there– and for three full days I was on a small island, with four other individuals after the boat dropped us off, and in sand all. day. long. My biggest fear was damaging one of the lenses as the only one that I own that is weather resistant is the 16mm. In future posts (as i just started reviewing images) I will show photos where I’m literally laying at the waters edge, with the camera on the sand. Now of course my hands are coated in wet sand and salt water — but ALL the lenses performed great and are still working! The only slight issue I had was with the X-T1 body. I got some sand stuck under the on/off button and it was a bear to turn on or off. That’s it. Eventually it cleaned itself out because all is well. Each and every lens was used in sand, and salt water. I was at the shoreline, or physically in the water (see two images below) when photographing certain scenes for stock use. I had props that I had to place and organize, and when I was doing that, the camera was sitting on the wet sand. That was my biggest fear – that I would mess up one of the lenses but I feared for no reason whatsoever.
Today I took my grandson to my office to “help Poppop”. We went out to lunch to an Irish Pub down the street from my office (sssshhh don’t tell his mom).
We had a great lunch. My grandson used my X-T1 to snap a few images of me sitting across the table from him and I gotta say this kid has some skills! Damn…
If he continues down this path who knows where it’ll lead. But anyway, this is ALL ABOUT ME! Me! Me! Me!
By the time I was ready to pay the check I noticed the afternoon light had changed directions and was now coming in high through this window. The warmth was so inviting, and colorful plus those old kettles and coffee pots just glowed. I snapped two images. This was the better of the two. Enjoy!