My second summer as a photographer: an Italian vacation – Part III

Recap

This is the story of my latest Italian (and French) vacations. This is part 3 of 6:

Lenses

I brought only two lenses, my Nikkor 18-200 VR II, my tried and true travel lens, and the Sigma 8-16 HSM, an ultra wide angle. This UWA was recently reviewed here. I did not think that I would use it that much, but I did. All those churches, outside and inside (domes especially). But also all those piazza, the public places that are so wide.

Voyage Italie-France Mai 2011- 899.jpg

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And do not forget all those Tuscany landscapes as well. A great lens and an almost absolute must for travel photo.

Lens changing is always a challenge. I won’t complain otherwise I would be told by all of you to go back to a point and shoot. Changing lenses requires that I take one out of the bottom section of my Kata DR-467i bag, half unscrew its rear cover, remove the first lens from my camera body, deposit the lens that I just took out onto a flat surface, take the rear cap off the lens that I want to use on the one that I am replacing, insert the new lens into the body, and, finally, store the first lens.

Believe me, all this work is worth to do. Just do it.

One tip I can share: wear Gap classic style shorts (not stretchy cotton ones)! I found that when I did, I could keep one lens in my shorts. It was easier to get to. Even more so when I would hook my neck strap onto my shoulder straps. By the way, if you do not have neck strap that you can hook on your camera bag, you should go for this set-up.

Last quick note about changing lenses. Because you get to manipulate your camera’s body and the lens quite a bit during the process, make sure that your settings are back to where you expect them. I often had my camera set to manual and the lens’ VR turned off by mistake.

Like I said before, the Sigma 8-16 is a good travel lens. Much more useful then I had imagined. Great for large monuments like churches and ruins (read Roma’s Coliseum), great also for indoors, not only for church windows, but also for statues, if you can get close to them.

UWA lenses distort perspective. Learn to play with it, don’t fight it. Instead of aligning horizontals horizontally, align one side then another. It will help create a much more dramatic effect.

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Another technique to use when shooting wide is to frame with one object close to the lens while taking the background you want. I call this the “front-back” approach. A statue, a well, a cross are some objects that I use.

Voyage Italie-France Mai 2011- 853.jpg

Apparently my friends were impressed by some shots that were without tourists! To take those shots in crowded places without tourists I used three tricks:

1) Position yourself to hide people, for example by using a well or a fountain

2) Wait for the right moment (and you may have to wait but it is worth it)

3) Frame above the crowd (this works better for large monuments)

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Next post: Composition Part I.

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13 Responses to My second summer as a photographer: an Italian vacation – Part III

  1. Pingback: My second summer as a photographer: an Italian vacation – Part II | MaxPhotoBlog.net

  2. Pingback: Part III: My second summer as a photographer: an Italian vacation

  3. PMarques says:

    I hate to pick up someone with enough guts to post his images, but….

    What you call “dramatic,” I find unsettling, and not in a good way. Having level horizons in landscape shots is a cliche and rule of thumb, but for a reason. Even the shot of the Louvre, which should be level, isn’t. The Coliseum is a though shot with a very wide angle, but you have to shoot it so the floor on which you are standing doesn’t look like it slopes.

    The other shots with opposing buildings are the same – while you have chosen to set some line plumb, I think you have done so at the expense of comfort for the viewer – in one shot, the buildings on one side of the street seem to be falling onto the other side.

    Feel free to delete the post – i really intended these as personal tips, rather than complaints.

  4. PMarques says:

    I hate to pick on someone with enough guts to post his images, but….

    What you call “dramatic,” I find unsettling, and not in a good way. Having level horizons in landscape shots is a cliche and rule of thumb, but for a reason. Even the shot of the Louvre, which should be level, isn’t. The Coliseum is a though shot with a very wide angle, but you have to shoot it so the floor on which you are standing doesn’t look like it slopes.

    The other shots with opposing buildings are the same – while you have chosen to set some line plumb, I think you have done so at the expense of comfort for the viewer – in one shot, the buildings on one side of the street seem to be falling onto the other side.

    Feel free to delete the post – i really intended these as personal tips, rather than complaints.

  5. maximegousse says:

    Hey PMarques, thank you for your honest comments. I do not fear criticism, to the contrary, I am looking for it, otherwise I would not post. Right? Practice can only make perfect. So I will continue to practice.

  6. Pingback: My second summer as a photographer: an Italian vacation – Part IV | MaxPhotoBlog.net

  7. Pingback: My second summer as a photographer: an Italian vacation | MaxPhotoBlog.net

  8. Pingback: My second summer as a photographer: an Italian vacation – Part V | MaxPhotoBlog.net

  9. Pingback: My second summer as a photographer: an Italian vacation – Part VI | MaxPhotoBlog.net

  10. Pingback: My Italian vacation: a photographer’s recap | MaxPhotoBlog.net

  11. Pingback: 7 Musts of Great Composition in Photography | MaxPhotoBlog.net

  12. Pingback: Shooting the Illuminated Crowd | MaxPhotoBlog.net

  13. Pingback: Capturing History in Washington DC: Gear Preparation (2 of 12) | MaxPhotoBlog.net

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