Saturday, March 23, 2013

6 Tips for an Efficient Trip

Can you feel the excitement? I can! Yes, I'm going to Yosemite in just a few weeks. Actually I will be visiting Yosemite as well as the California coast between Monterey and Los Angles. It feels a little odd, I normally put some sort of photo at the top of my blog posts. But I've never been to Yosemite or anywhere in California, so I don't have any photos to use. Well, I'll have to change that won't I.

That's right, new content is coming soon. I'm spending two nights in Yosemite, one night in Monterey and a couple more in LA. Many of you may be able to relate with this scenario... This is a vacation/photography trip. The vacation part is where the photography gets limited. Many of us that don't get to travel as much as we'd like, so we end up splitting time between photography and spending time with our family. This is where it becomes extremely important to be efficient with your time. Here is a short list of things you can do to prepare for an efficient trip.

  1. is not just a website with beautiful images. It can also be an excellent source to give you an idea of what people are shooting in a specific area. As with all photography communities you'll see a lot of similar images from the popular locations. This is fine, and if it's the first time you've been there, you'll want to hit the hot spots. There is usually other helpful information as well. Much of the images metadata is shown which can often tell you what focal lengths are used and what time of the year it was shot at.
  2. Google Drive. Wait what? Yes, Word documents, Dropbox, Evernote, or any other note taking method will work. I have created a document which has names of locations, maps, hiking trails and travel times. There are links to 500px for reference photos and other websites which may be helpful. Many of these note taking services have apps on your phone so you can reference it in the field.
  3. Google+ Community feature is another excellent place to go for information. There are many passionate photographers who are eager to help others and share information. There may be a community that focuses on the particular area where you are traveling. Any questions you may have or tips you can gather will be invaluable on the trip. This strategy can be extended to other online communities.
  4. Google Maps and Google Earth. No really, this isn't a google advertisement. This may be obvious but checking drive times to various locations is very important. You can also get a pretty good lay of the land by familiarizing yourself with the area. You'll want which way is north and more importantly which way the sun will be rising and setting.
  5. The Photographer's Ephemeris along with Maps, this will really help you get a handle of where the sun will be rising and setting. TPE is a iOS and Android App which will show the sun and moon angles from any given location and time. So with this app, you'll know exactly how to get that sunrise shot as efficiently as possible.
  6. Stellarium is a free open source planetarium that can be downloaded on your Windows PC, Mac or Linux. You might wonder why this is important. Well, I'm very excited to try some night photography while in Yosemite. With the night shots I want to include both the beautiful scenery as well as the beautiful glow of the stars and Milky Way. With this program, similar to TPE, I can type my location and time and it will show me where the stars will be located in the night sky. If I want to get the Milky Way in the shot, I will know when the best times will be. Similarly, it will show me the exact position of the moon at various times of the night. The moon can be helpful or an obstruction depending on what type of shot you want. This tool will take some of the guess work out.
This has been my workflow for the past month or so. With our busy schedules, efficiency one of the most important aspects of a successful trip. A good research and planning process becomes key. I hope this list helps make your trip a successful one.