Vivid Sydney 2017 photo genius photography courses

Paul from Photo Genius shares some thoughts about packing photography gear and offers some useful tips for the travelling photographer.

As well as being expensive, photography equipment can be bulky and heavy and not particularly travel friendly.  My last overseas trip was to New York and for that I packed 4 cameras; a Nikon D300, Fujifilm x100s, GoPro and my iPhone. Now whilst some may read this and argue that the iPhone is not a camera, my view is that if it can be used to record stills or video then it’s a camera!  My kit was considered very carefully prior to travel and everything had to earn it’s place during the trip.  The Nikon D300 has been my go-to DSLR for a number of years, it’s getting old now and I’m considering replacement but am still amazed by the images it produces. The Fujifilm x100s is light and compact, has amazing low light capabilities and is my “grab and go” camera that perfectly suited the bustling New York streets. The GoPro is about the size of a matchbox, takes up minimal room in the camera bag and was ideal for video clips and time lapses and was put to good use in the snow as we explored Central Park. Finally the iPhone, the camera that is always in my pocket and constantly surprises me with capturing great images, candid moments and fun videos took the most pictures, second was the Fujifilm, followed by the Nikon and finally the GoPro.

This week I had the opportunity to travel to the Vivid Light, Music and Ideas festival in Sydney, and with limited hand luggage allowance I once again had to carefully choose what I would need, what I could actually take and what I had to leave behind. Since New York I’ve started venturing into video as well as still photography so my kit has expanded to include another two DSLR’s as well as microphones and other accessories. The Canon 80D was the first item to earn a place in the bag along with a Rode videomic pro and a couple of lenses. The trusty D300 was next with a telephoto and standard lens, all the usual (but necessary) leads, batteries, chargers etc. All this kit fitted neatly into my hand luggage (Airport essentials backpack by Think Tank) which is an awesome backpack specifically designed for air travelling photographers and complies with most domestic and international airlines carry-on requirements. Another essential piece of kit is off course a tripod and I opted to bring along the Manfrotto BeFree travel tripod which I’ve recently reviewed on the Photo Genius YouTube channel, it’s compact and extremely lightweight so I wrapped it in some clothes and slipped it into my suitcase.

I’d been watching the constant feed of images on Instagram and Facebook so was really excited about visiting Vivid, and I’m pleased to say that it lived up to my expectations. Although I only had one free evening to explore I managed to make the most often time and capture  some shots I’m more than happy with. The Nikon performed well as usual teamed with the 18-55mm f2.8 lens and my beloved 70-200mm f2.8 telephoto which I very nearly left behind due to weight! The telephoto got me in nice and close for some shots of the iconic Sydney opera house looking across Circular Quay whilst I also grabbed some wider shots with the Canon 80D and 18-55mm kit lens as well as some great video.

Pro tip 1 : If you’re shooting long exposures with a DSLR, considering switching the camera to live view, this will lock the mirror in the up position and help reduce unwanted camera shake.

Pro tip 2 : Avoid unwanted camera shake by using a remote, if you don’t have one then use the self timer which can usually be set to 2 or 10 seconds.

Vivid Sydney 2017

Camera settings
Nikon D300 + 17-55mm lens
ISO 400, f2.8, 0.4 seconds

Vivid Sydney 2017

Camera settings
Canon EOS 80D + 18-55mm lens
ISO 100, f14, 30 seconds

Vivid Sydney 2017

Camera settings
Nikon D3400 + 17-55mm lens
ISO 400, f2.8, 0.4 seconds

Vivid Sydney 2017

Camera info
Canon EOS80D + 18-55mm lens
Panoramic constructed from 8 images
ISO3200, f5, 0.5 seconds

5 Tips for travelling photographers

  • Choose your kit wisely
    Think carefully about where you are going, what you are want to capture and only take what you will use and are prepared to carry.
  • Travel adaptor / spare batteries
    Flat batteries = no photos, pick up a travel adaptor from the airport and a spare battery or two wouldn’t be a bad idea too.
  • Log your gear serial numbers
    Make sure you have a log of everything you are travelling with including serial numbers which would almost certainly be required if you have to make an insurance claim. is definitely worth checking out.
  • Talk to the locals
    Walking around looking for great locations may be fun (or not), but talking to the locals could save you a lot of time, effort and they may be able to recommend some great locations or subjects that get missed by the average traveller.
  • Take a tripod
    OK we get it, tripods are not fun to carry – but they are absolutely essential! There are plenty of lightweight travel tripods available, our favourites are the Manfrotto BeFree for the larger cameras and the Manfrotto PIXI for smaller cameras or smartphone photographers.

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