A Cruising Couple | February 22, 2016 11:00 PM ET
A Travel Photographer’s Essential Packing List
Photos by A Cruising Couple unless otherwise indicated
Dan here to talk about traveling with photography gear. There are two crucial things to take into account when packing this type of equipment: space and weight. Toting around a five and a half pound piece of glass and a bulky tripod in the hot and humid jungle of a foreign country is likely to put a damper on your mood.
Here are the essentials I carry with me on my travels to keep myself light, but also confident that I have everything I need to capture the shots I want.
I find that almost all of my travel photography needs can be covered using two lenses: an 18-300mm zoom lens and a fixed 50mm f/1.8 lens. For general shooting, the 18-300mm takes care of virtually any situation. I love the wide angle for large landscapes and group shots. The ultra high power zoom allows me to capture detailed images of far off objects like wildlife without needing to move around a lot or get too close.
Tip: Be aware that as you zoom your aperture will be forced to close slightly and you will regain some depth of field. This will cause you to lose some light, so you’ll need to change your shutter speed or ISO to compensate.
READ MORE: 7 Simple Tips For Better Travel Photography
The fixed 50mm f/1.8 really challenges you to look for the details and unique angles. Since you can’t zoom you’ll have to move your feet and get creative, which can lead to some really fun and unexpected photos.
The 1.8 aperture allows you to get really nice and crisp images exactly on your focal point while adding a nice soft blur to the rest of the shot. Under the right conditions, this lens also creates beautiful bokeh effect.
Photo via Flickr/Sage Solar
I love tripods, especially in low light situations, but when traveling they can be a real pain. When we ventured to a wilderness cabin in the heart of Swedish Lapland to try to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, I knew it wasn’t something I could capture handheld. I also didn’t want to cross-country ski with a big bulky tripod strapped to my back out in the frozen forest. Enter the portable tripod.
There are many popular models of mini-tripods with flexible legs like the GorillaPod that you can stand on the ground or wrap the legs around light poles, railings or even trees. It’s a great way to save space without sacrificing the stability of a tripod.
Traveling is dirty. Dust, sand and humidity can all wreak havoc on your camera and negatively impact your photos. A small cleaning kit with a simple lens cloth and dust blower can be a lifesaver on the road. Using a t-shirt or other material to clean your lens can leave microscopic scratches that will degrade your image quality over time. Using a soft, microfiber lens cloth will help keep your lens clean from oil and dust and your images nice and crisp.
Dust can not only accumulate on the outside of your camera body, but also inside. The electronic sensor inside your camera actually holds a slight static charge that will attract dust and other particles. There are special air canisters you can pack in a checked bag with you to give your sensor a quick puff to blow the particles off, or bring a simple rubber bulb dust blower.
Photo via Flickr/Nadar
Travel brings about all sorts of weather and lighting conditions. A cheap UV filter will help not only cut back on low level ultraviolet light, but protect the front element of your lens from bumps and scratches that so commonly occur when constantly on the move. A polarized filter will help dramatically with outdoor and landscape shots to add vividness and contrast while reducing atmospheric haze and reflections.
What travel photography essentials do you never leave home without?
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