Photographic Lessons From My Non-Photographic Vacation


“This is a job for a company of Rangers…or it’s a job for one or two men…Right now we’re too many…an’ not enough…” – Reverend Clayton

That bit of dialogue from 1956’s The Searchers (filmed in Monument Valley) sums up how I feel about my camera choices for last week’s trip through Northern Arizona and Southern Utah: I brought too much and I didn’t bring enough.  But I know what I will do next time.

Here’s what I brought:

Nikon D7000 body, 17-55mm f/2.8, 11-16mm f/2.8, 24mm f/2.8, and 105mm f/2.8.

I used all of the lenses, and my iPhone to boot, but wished I had also brought a second camera body, my 70-200mm f/2.8, 1.7x teleconverter, and SB800 flash. Bringing all that gear would have made certain things easier, and everything more difficult.

This was shot with my iPhone, and compares favorably with most of my snapshots.

This was shot with my iPhone, and compares favorably with most of my snapshots.

I should have left all of it at home. I intended to take snapshots, not make photographs, but loaded myself up for something in-between. This meant hauling and storing/securing gear in a wide variety of locations and weather conditions.

I’m happy with many of my photos from this trip (see previous seven posts), but nearly all of them could have been made with a pocket camera like the Sony RX100m2, which fits in a shirt pocket.

Advantages of the pocket camera: easier to carry on hikes, always available for grab shots, easier to protect from sudden inclement weather, no lens-changing gymnastics in the field, no worrying about gear left in the car or motel room. Disadvantage: Cost, low light performance and fill-flash capability (which I use so often I should change my name to Phil Flash).

Advantages of the DSLR system: More aerobic exercise lugging that gear around at high altitudes, more ballast in the car when driving on wet roads, decent fill with built-in flash (except when using wide angle lenses with hoods, which was usually the case), better low-light results (although never good enough).

In The Searchers, Ethan and Martin decide to search for Debbie on their own, and eventually rescue her (it’s not a spoiler when you’ve had over fifty years to see the film). I believe I will eventually invest in a high quality pocket camera for daily use, and reserve my DSLRs for more serious work that demands their special capabilities. I’m glad I figured this out before next year’s walking tour of the Amalfi Coast.

An iPhone photo that might have benefited from fill-flash.

An iPhone photo that might have benefited from fill-flash.

1 Comment

Filed under Camera Gear, Personal, Travel and Vacation

One response to “Photographic Lessons From My Non-Photographic Vacation

  1. Myrna Cambianica

    i foresee a future with small SLR’s … give them a bit of time to evolve … carried tripod and NIkon D 90 plus three lenses all the way to Jasper, Canada … used tripod very infrequently … and long lens a couple of times … i await smaller DSLR’s! to tote as i age!

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