Photo tours and courses are not for people who walk around with a phone at the end of a pole!
Lets talk serious photography here. In Istanbul recently they were selling the poles everywhere for €1 a piece and the perpetrators were getting in my way! My aim when I visit somewhere is to take home photos that show the actual ‘guts’ of the place I am in. I want some pictures of the local people going about their daily lives as well as the landscapes.
It isn’t essential to have the latest camera and all the accessories to take the kind of photos that bring home the essence of a place you visit or to join professional photographers on a workshop. Sure, if you really love photography and have the equipment then better still, but it isn’t necessary to develop a style. As for lenses, for shooting pictures around a city the equivalent of a SLR 24-105 zoom will give you most of what you want.
When you are walking around taking pictures, it is great to have a small light camera that gives great results. Although I use canon 5D's on most proffesional assignments I always carry a Fuji XE2 and it's basic 18-55 zoom, equivalent to a 28-85 SLR. It is this camera that I used mostly in Istanbul last month and in New York more recently.
In New York in November like much of Europe it starts to get dark around 4.30pm so being able to hand hold a camera and shoot at slow shutter speeds is very handy. I like it so that things that move, blur, but the stationary stays sharp. Mirrorless cameras like mine have that advantage over SLR' as there is no mirror that causes extra mouvement. In the late afternoon I went to the Rockefeller Centre where the Christmas lights had just been put up and spent a while overlooking the skating rink. I pumped up the ISO to 1600, set the shutter speed to 1/8th and 1/15th second and shot pictures of the skaters. This enabled me to have a certain depth of field but show some blur. I even went down to 1/4 by sitting the camera on my camera bag
In Istanbul I spent ages on the Galata Bridge. Rows of men fishing in the Bosphorus, mosques in the background, and countless people of all sorts crossing the bridge on foot. I found myself using the XE2 most of the time, using a lot of the easy options it offers to obtain different pictures. When it got dark, also surprisingly early, I was able to hand hold the camera and take some lovely shots across the river of the city lighting up. My favourite time of day is probably twilight. Even on a crummy day you can get some deep colours. For the bustling markets of Istanbul, again the smaller camera was easier to handle. I felt it was more of an extension of myself infact.
For all Photo workshops I bring both canon and Fujifilm cameras and a tripod. These are country tours not just city tours. Although in some situations a big camera can be intimidating, especially photographing people in close proximity, it is better when using longer focal lengths, for taking candid shots at a distance or for blurring out background for portraits or zooming in. If you come to one of my workshops I probably won’t shoot that much as I’m usually watching, teaching and making sure that everyone else has their needs met and that they don’t miss anything. The best street pictures of Myanmar and Vietnam were taken with the XE2 although I have to admit that for such diversity as Myanmar offers and especially in Bagan I did take more pictures with the 5D. This doesn’t mean that you need a 35mm SLR to go on a photo tour .On the last Burma workshop two of the students had Bridge cameras and their results were great.
More and more professional photographers are using smaller, lighter cameras with interchangeable lenses and obtaining phenomenal results. It isn’t so much the camera but the way you use it that counts and the lenses that you choose. When booking a trip abroad this winter bring back those vivid colours and get to the heart and soul of where you are.