Selfie Sticks – A Time And A Place?

A great article about selfie sticks in the theme parks, made me think a little more about ‘what is acceptable behavior’ when taking a travel picture.
I don’t own a selfie stick myself, but that’s mainly due to the fact that I am uncomfortable whenever I see a picture of myself.  Can I really look that old/large lol?

Also, I do realize that selfie sticks carry a little stigma right now.  Perhaps I suffer from self esteem issues based on these opening words, but I kind of keep a professional, but low profile while I work.  An essential asset for any good travel or documentary photographer.
I will step up when I need to, but I don’t want to change the landscape by affecting the scene I am trying to shoot.  As photo journalists know; you must record the news, not be a part of the news!

Selfie sticks stand out too much, especially when surrounded by a team of family and friends all waving, cheering and falsely posing and pouting in self admiration hehe!

I do sympathize with the owners of these ‘extended arms’.  Who wouldn’t want a better picture if you can get one?  If a telescopic tube of lightweight steel can achieve that, then why not?  A magic moment at the Magic Kingdom would be worth the glares and stares as you block the walkways surely?  It’s not as though we will ever meet those angry people again is it?

There’s an old piece of wisdom though; “if it does not seem right, it probably isn’t”

Taking this a little further, which of these two scenarios works for you in terms of acceptable behavior?

  1. It’s Easter weekend at Epcot and the busy theme park has been very crowded.  Your last chance to grab a great memento is by turning your back on the illuminations fireworks and reaching up over the heads of the people behind you as they crane their necks to see the show as your selfie sticked iPhone grabs the perfect shot.
  2. You are out on a trail on Tom Sawyer’s Island at the Magic Kingdom and you wait hatting until there’s no-one around before you take a quick but very well composed picture of you and your kids by those rolling rocks?
  3. You stop by your favorite photo point at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and politely ask a passer by if they’d be kind enough to take your group’s picture?

The 3 scenarios above might offer you an obvious answer, but not everyone will feel the same I guess.  We are all different, with different values, different needs and entirely different considerations for what we must do on vacation.

In case you are wondering?  Scenario 3 is my preference.  Disney guests are so much fun, and they love to offer their support towards your family’s vacation!
I usually ask them where they are from and have they had a great time, and maybe ask them where they’d recommend for a snack/meal today.
It’s all part of the Disney Magic for me.  Selfie Stick or not.



The Digital LOMO Camera – Sort of!

As any photography degree student will confirm, there’s no such thing as a bad camera!

Each camera has it’s own unique way of recording an image, and non more so than those film cameras that have almost vanished from trace!
The variable build quality, different types of film, matched with an inability to check the image as you shot, all created an exciting world of variation as you pressed that shutter release!
Film processing and paper selection all added to the wonderful serendipity of what is now called ‘analogue imaging’ (film).

Today, I stumbled across an article by Erin Foster on the TouringPlans Blog, and I instantly associated her ‘tie pin’ style camera images with the Lomography that excited and inspired us all at University.

The 5Mp Narrative Camera Clip takes an image every 2 mins and looks set to become a modern day Digital Lomo Camera, and although a fabulous piece of digital wizardry that deserves your dollars, it still possesses a respectable amount of image uniqueness that I truly adore!

It’s a cool $225 dollars, but definitely worth it to camera fans!

Recent Acquisitions

Harry Lim's Photography Blog

Vide gear

In a recent blog post I mentioned that I recently invested in quite a bit of gear to start doing more real estate videos. I really want to increase the production value and make the videos cinematic. Here is some of the equipment I’ll be using:

1.) Westcott Spiderlite TD 6 Continuous Lighting Kit

2.)Manfrotto  535 Carbon Fiber Tripod with 502 Video Head

3.) Tether Tools Wallee iPad Connect

4.) Cinevate Atlas FLT 26 inch slider with vertical kit and counterbalance

5.) Manfrotto 494 mini ball head

6.) Rode Smart Lav

7.) Canon TC-80N3 Timer Remote

I plan to review each piece to let you know how it works and why I use it. So stay tuned for that.

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Are FishEye Lenses a Gimmick?

To answer that question, fully, you’d be surprised to see that we haven’t included a single Fisheye image in this post!
Instead, we thought we’d leave it to Tom Bricker over at the disneytouristblog to show you the way!

In this post, he reviews the Rokinon 8mm Fisheye.  I will let you decide if this is something you’d like to keep in your bag, the next time you head to Orlando!

My view?  Well, to be honest I tend to despise the things, but somehow Tom manages to use them to great effect.

Choosing the Best Travel Camera for A Vacation

Long gone are the days when you simply asked how many pixels a camera had to decide if it was a good one!  Now, just about any camera sensor is just about good enough to get by on a vacation in daylight!

So there we have it, our first clue as to what makes a great vacation camera, let’s take daylight as being pretty much sorted.  All modern cameras should be able to make a reasonable job out of that!


Night time and low light is the real test of a good camera!

Just about every compact camera has a flash hasn’t it?  So were are sorted right?
If you read this Top 10 Vacation Photo Tips article, turning the flash OFF can give you the shot that your eyes can see!  Flash is one of the best ways to ruin a lovely night scene.
All we see is the subject, perfectly lit a few metres away and a totally dark and murky background!

To get a really good shot, you need a camera that can work well WITHOUT the help of a flash.
Now here’s the bad news!  There aren’t many compact cameras that are up to this amazing task!
to jhelp you out we’ve posted a few links here to review articles:


The Choices that we would personally pick out are:

  • The Sony Cybershot DSC-RX100
  • Nikon 1
  • Canon S95
  • Panasonic LX7
  • Canon SD4000
  • Canon Powershot D20 (weatherproof and waterproof_

A Good Lens deserves lots of care, but not a UV filter!

After manufacturers like Canon spend several millions developing a lens to a level of eye watering sharpness, why do we add a piece of inferior glass of our own?

That’s what we do when we add a UV filter to protect a lens form scratches and dust!
Yes, those lenses cost hundreds, if not thousands, but why would a serious photographer risk refractions and aberrations?

If you ever wanted to be convinced that minor lens damage is harmless check this amazing article out!

Even crazy ‘damage’ like this didn’t do too much to an image in Kurt Munger’s amazing test!

OK, so that’ is a lot of stuff on the lens and admittedly some minor stuff was showing on the images, but hey, it does kind of make a point!

UV filters?  Hmm, rather trust Canon than a filter manufacturer thank you, a new front element fitted by an authorised Canon dealer isn’t the end of the world if you gouge a lens either!
(About the cost of two Pro UV filters!)

If you really want to improve image quality and protect your front element, always, always use the lens hood that was supplied with your lens every single time you shoot, indoor or out!
They dramatically imporve image contrast when shooting in cross light, and offer rugged and basic protection should anything head into the path of your precious glass!

Seek Inspiration Before you Shoot!

There are loads of reasons why a pro photographer takes great travel pics.
But it isn’t all down to technique and equipment!

Most graduates are all too familiar with the term ‘research’ and photography is no different!
There are two types of research that we will discuss today;

  1. Seek advice on technique
  2. Get inspiration!

Technique is key!

Taking great vacation snaps involves an few key techniques to be mastered.  Without understanding how to make the most of your camera, the results will be little more than ‘luck’.  The more you learn, the less you will rely upon that luck and the better the shots become.
It is unrealistic to expect great results just off a few days of research, but over the course of the time between booking your vacation and actually getting there, you will have plenty of time!

By setting yourself some tasks, while you are at home, work and play, you will quickly come on!   Try shooting indoors and improve on your previous images.  Shoot in low light and shoot with very slow shutter speeds to see what can be achieved and how those images turn out!

Check out some great websites by searching in Google for Vacation Photo Tips it seems obvious, so have a go yourself!

Inspiration will make your shots look professional

Looking at other photographer’s work might seem like cheating at first, but the practice is an important part of your education as a great vacation snapper!
Ask any pro shooter and they will tell you which great photographers inspire them most!

Check out this top100 travel photographer list for some wonderful ideas and examples of what can be achieved if you put your mind to it!

From a personal perspective, I like love looking at the work of British Photographer Martin Parr before I head out on a Travel Shoot.  I appreciate the ability that Martin has to capture people in their environments, which is of course, the whole purpose of a family vacation snap!

Great Photography takes time, research and practice!

Whatever happens, don’t expect too much overnight, but practice & learn every single day in some way!
It’s hard work, but like everything in life, the more you practice, the luckier you get!