Going to the Galapagos! Any tips?

Started Jan 31, 2012 | Discussions thread
javieralcivar
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Re: Going to the Galapagos! Any tips?
In reply to turnstyle, Feb 1, 2012

I live in Ecuador, here is all about fun, top priority so this is my primer that Ive posted before after all my bad experiences during trips and some especific ones for Galapagos, I´m sorry if this gets out of the photographic side on the end.:

I´ll would advice you to carry your camera with a neck strap ALWAYS rather than a hand strap since youll be using your hands a lot to keep balance.

Batteries: At least 3-4 rather than more lenses or gimmicks, and 2 chargers. You dont want to have to decide to shoot video or not in such an amazing location to save battery. Its a hot dry place so batteries last aprox 20% less.

Memory: a least 5, 8-16GB Class 10 SD or Mem Stick Pro II duo mark II, most shots are lost during filled up buffer and review if you shoot RAW so dont settle for Class 4. Get a laptop and backup daily. Plan for 200-500 shots a day, lots of birds pass so use your 7fps without guilt.

LCD: VCL-ECU1 for the win, or http://www.amazon.com/Viewfinder-Extender-SONY-NEX-3-NEX-5/dp/B00587T5NI/ref=pd_cp_p_0 its magnetic and never stays on so use epoxide or a rubber to keep it on, otherwise since youll be using sunglasses it will be a pain to compose under sunlight.

Camera Bag: Small, bandolier type, the one that cross your chest, a back pack will make you stop a lot and while amateurs open their bags you´ll be shooting like a pro.

Filters: Yes unlike what some photoshoppers believe physical ND filters are a must, youll value having them in this high contrast scenarios. Cheap UVfilter to protect the lens and your expensive ND filter, Always, especially near water or sand. This allow you to clean with out fear any specle or water and image IQ wont be afected by using to filters.

LCD skin: Always, sand on your fingers makes a regretable mess.

Lens hoods: always.

Tripod or monopod: first the head, ball type, thing are happening all around you so a fixed panning tripod will be limiting your creativity, I would advice a mono pod since youll be moving a lot and none wants to wait 2 min for you to set your shot. I must be light and small, not longer than a feet. Gorilla pod, the biggest one will be your best friend, but always double check the center of gravity.

Settings:

NEX cameras always over expose, so under sunlight, only believe the histogram and set DRO to 5. Also shot on default scene mode not vivid, but set it to sharpness +1.

The LCD has a sunlight setting which ultrasaturates and ultra exposes, but allows you to compose.

Skies are easy to fix in post but volcanic land not, so expose giving the shadows a bit more advantage.

the NEX use contrast detect AF so it will always give priority to dark land rather than animals or skin tones, so use manual focus assist to fix on the fly and always use spot focus and spot metering.

RAW: Shot RAW, the less you worry about white balance and exposure the better and since its a high contrast land (Blue sky-very dark land) RAW will allow you to save some bad photos.

Water: A plastic bag opened on both sides for boat trips since there are cross currents that make the boat splash a lot.

As it been said here, your best photos will be underwater, any plastic underwater bag will work, since you will dive at max 20feet. If you can afford it, get a cheap waterproof camera so you can enjoy without tension, is already hard enough to get used to the breathing system and get tired with the cross currents to fiddle with settings; also, there are amazing 10-30 feet cliffs were you can jump to inner canals, like this:

You wont be eager to jump with a nex and a 18-200 or a Zeiss 24mm, so any decent P&S or the nex 16mm wil get your shot. Underwater dont pixel peep so go high iso and aim for color rather than extreme sharpness, is a plancton rich area so theres already lots of blur. Difusse sunlight will be your only aid and most people will look dark with light shafts behind them. Also read this:

http://www.uwphotographyguide.com/underwater-photography-creative-shooting

Lenses: Most shots are in the day, its a volcanic area so the terrain is really treacherous to walk and at least one time youll loose your balance, thats why tours dont go out at night so you wont rely on ISO or a fast prime, your 18-200.

Most animals, like any living subject give better portraits if not disturbed, so a 200mm will give you plenty of zoom to be at 10feet and get a full frame face shot of an Iguana (lizard), anything closer, will disturb the animal and it will move or become tense. I suggest the 18-200 since youll be happier with a versatile lens than big camera bag. The 16mm wont be needed unless you use it for underwater with plastic bag.

The Zeiss will be your sharpness and microcontrast submachine so enjoy it.

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Here to help, always.

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Sony Alpha NEX-3
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