Clean: I have to disagree with the author on one point. The price of storage is plummeting. I just read an article on the NYT site that said it will soon be practical for governments to record peoples entire digital lives and store them indefinitely but I digress. As storage becomes less and less expensive there is no reason to throw anything away. I can't tell you the number of times that shots that I thought were junk the first several times I went through the results of a trip on review years later turned out to be gems. Seriously, things I have gone on to print and have people say, "wow, that's amazing. Different from your usual stuff. I like it a lot." I think it's how we grow as photographers. What we see as "good" at one point may be limited. The luxury of not having to toss things is that we can go back and see what we were missing in our own work.
@Clean, I don't believe that this invalidates my editing point - but it does mean that you have to be more careful in the editing process not to throw away images that are potential keepers!
As regards storage - if you throw away half of your pictures, you cut your storage costs in half. Now if you are maintaining three copies that can be significant, depending on what storage media you are using.
Also, I find that I save a lot of time when I am selecting and reselecting images - either to go to a client or for a second batch of RAW processing. I know that any of the images I have edited can be used, as they have no technical flaws - even if they aren't great shots.
Also I am often talking about picking the clear best of, say, three versions of a shot, and throwing away the two that are not as good. In the old days of film, a photographer would keep the other two as a back-up if the client lost or damaged the best shot. Now there is no need to keep them.
Lorenzo_N1: I used a 300 w (nominal real w was less) inverter in a recent tour of parks inSouth Africa, it used the 12 v plug of the 4 wheeler. You'll need a good battery in the car (mine had 2 heavy duty batteries).With it I could recharge also my 17" MacBook Pro that is quite power hungry at recharge.
I tend to only use an invertor when the car is in motion. This seems to charge a 13" laptop and a Nikon charger without issues. It probably would do pretty bad things to the battery if the vehcle was stationary!
MiraShootsNikon: I don't mean to be too critical, but this article reads to me like "slow news day at DPReview."
Was I reading the headline wrong to expect some interesting insight on "editing while on the road?" Because what Steve writes, here, is just basic affirmation of editing, in general. "Look at your shots after you take them." "Pick sharp ones." "Learn from your mistakes."
Why not help us understand the unique challenges of doing those things while actually on assignment? (I.e., what the article's title suggested it'd do.) How do you manage power? How do you pack or care for your laptop? How do you edit in varied ambient lighting? How do you calibrate your screen? How do you maintain connectivity with your agent / client? I mean, there are so many interesting things to talk about getting the job done on the road; and instead, this article just phones it in with "edit and backup your shots."
C'mon, DPReview. You can deliver better content than this.
Mira, I didn't cover sending/filing pictures, as the vast majority of people reading the story simply won't have the need or even desire to do this UNLESS they are in a wifi or GSM zone. What is the point in me talking about satphone link ups and carry heavy external laptop batteries on a site like DP Review? If you read a significant majority of the comments below, many people don't even want to carry a laptop - some don't even want to carry a DSLR! That would have just made this article pointlessly elitist, and irrelevant for the vast majority of readers.
When I am on a road trip in Ladakh, and power is scarce then I would not edit images as this would be too much of a power drain. All I would attempt is to back up the images, and then edit when I am back on a power grid. If I were hiking for a couple of days I wouldn't take a laptop, so it wouldn't be an issue.
Do you carry a laptop on treks and file pictures with a satphone? Maybe you should write an article about it?
I weighed up the options when writing this story and decided that the vast majority of readers wouldn't share your obvious need to be constantly in touch with an agency whilst shooting in areas completely devoid of power and GSM signals, so decided not to include this information. I could have waxed lyrical on the task of tethering a laptop to a mobile phone (Android rules over IOS btw) and the intricacies of securing mobile phone accounts in places like India and Burma, then configuring them on a data plan but in truth this would only be of use to those in your unique position.
The simple fact is that most people will seldom be away from power for more than a day or so, and of those, many will be in a vehicle and able to charge laptops with a simple invertor.
Similarly, most people won't need to 'wire' images any more than the occasional posting to an image sharing site, and in those instances they will usually be within reach of wifi.
Reading some of these comments, there seems to be some confusion over editing and post-production. I am not advocating RAW processing on the road on a laptop - unless you really have to. I am just talking about editing: throwing away the dross and working out which pictures to keep.
Here is another tip that some might disagree with. If you are shooting RAW always turn sharpening ON in-camera. Many will tell you not to, but the in camera settings on a RAW will only affect the JPEG preview, and not the actual image. Settings like contrast, saturation and crucially sharpening are just tagged as serving suggestions that will be over-ruled by your RAW software defaults.
Having a sharpened preview will make editing easier in simple software that doesn't create it's own preview, and will allow you to zoom in closer further camera to check focus.
acidic: Vacations - I don't bother with much gear. I'd rather enjoy myself.
1 week working trip - I don't bother with a laptop, unless I plan on doing a lot of correspondence (which is no fun on a smartphone or tablet), or I have a short turnaround time to deliver photos to client. I just bring a lot of CF cards, and edit in-camera during downtime (i.e. waiting for flights, buses, evenings, etc).
2 week working trip - I bring a laptop to store, cull, and annotate photos, as well as several flash drives as secondary backups.
4 week working trip - Laptop, external HD, as well as several flash drives which get mailed home periodically.
Back in the day, I would bring along a few dozen blank DVD-Rs, which I'd burn on the road and mail home every few days. My first "large" CF card was 1GB, and cost almost $300. Crazy how far we've come. Regardless, it all beats traveling with 100s of rolls of film. Having to find hotels with refrigerators, dealing with airport security, labeling rolls of film...
Know what you mean about the film! Those were the days. I used to get all of my E6 souped up in Asia. Could save a fortune on UK prices, and get to periodically check results. Of course it meant that I had to carry & look after it all too. Used to get uncut strips in sleeves so I could run it through a mounter when I got back home.
garyknrd: I live an photograph in Asia most of the time now. I have seen tours like this come in. I am not a tour operator. But I know all the wildlife local tour operators.
An incredible wast of money, but people pay for organized tours. Amazing.As for the equipment. Just buy a cheap laptop with USB 3. Only if you need a new one. And a cheap backup drive. There is nothing in this article that even remotely touches on the way to travel to get and save the best photos. Except go on the tour?
Last year I lead a trip to Ladakh in India. One of the people who came with me was an Irish woman in her sixties from a small village. She had never been anywhere remotely like India before. Previously she had only been to a couple of places in Europe and once visiting her son in Australia. Her husband never even wanted to leave the village they were both born in, so she had to travel on her own. Although the trip is quite rough and includes camping and the Leh-Manali Highway she loved the trip and everyone she met loved her. Back home she sent me an email saying she thought of me as someone who helped people live their dreams.
She is the sort of person I run these tours for - not people like yourself.
@garyknrd - you seem to know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. Cheap laptop. Cheap back-up drive. Cheap travel. I wouldn't trust my pictures to a cheap back-up drive (any more than I would trust a cheap spell-checker).
People go on any tour for a lot of reasons. Some lack your obvious self-confidence; others like travelling with other people and making new friends; others could travel on their own but want to see the most in the short amount of time that they have off work. Others still would like to learn something from someone with a little more experience and knowledge than them.
Jan2009: Great Article. One concern though is the laptop HD, maybe it is not a bad idea to save on two external hard drive instead of just one in the Laptop HD, as this may tend to slow down the laptop when editing.
Once I have done the days editing, I back up the laptop drive to the external. I use the Apple Time Machine software as it allows me to back up everything on the laptop, and even restore from the back-up when on the road.
MichaelJC: No mention of how poor a typical netbook or laptop screen is. I find editing on one is only worthwhile if you really need the image right now, and you should expect to re-edit again when you have access to a quality screen.
I was talking about editing - ie checking focus/composition/depth of field/camera shake etc ready to decide which pics to keep and which to bin. I wouldn't recommend doing RAW processing and colour work on the road unless you have a very good laptop!
Don Douglas: Hi Steve,Good piece, given the brevity, and I'm looking forward to seeing more. One thing I'm asked for is more people shots, which doesn't come so naturally to me. Now I find myself waiting for people to drift into a shot rather than drift out of it, and the process has taught me to see scenes differently. Some comments on how you approach inclusion of people in travel photography, when to ask and when to just go ahead and shoot, etc., would be interesting.Cheers,Don
Hi Don, A couple of articles on travel portraits are already in progress - watch this space!
jerome_munich: I understand that a professional photographer (i.e. one who derives his or her income from selling photographs) has an interest in this procedure.
But I am not a pro, I don't sell pictures. Why would I go through the expense of hiring an attorney to stop publication of my pictures? Why would I even invest time and money to look for copyright violations? I will never get any of that effort back.
It is also worth mentioning that legal enforcement might not cost you anything. There is at least one legal company offering no-win no-fee IP representation. I can't believe that there aren't dozens of companies in the US just salivating to take matters further for you!
This s a very useful feature. Well written and concise. Many people who feel powerless to do anything about infringements of their work will benefit from reading this feature whether they decide to act on it or not.
Thanks for the article Les.
Jerome, I agree with you in part, amateurs should not be expected to take up legal cases to protect pros, but I can see a number of times when an amateur might need some of the information in this feature.
Firstly a DMCA takedown request is easy in the initial stages, and most will not be challenged, as this can lead the infringer open to greater penalties. Your photographs are your IP and you should be prepared to protect it.
Imagine if a company lifts a picture of your family and uses it to promote their product. I have heard of at least one case where a personal picture lifted from Flickr was used on an adult DVD cover! You might then be more prepared to take action, and this feature gives you all of the information that you might need. How far down the process you are prepared to take this would depend on the nature of the infringement and your own character.
DaveMarx: Tripod, monopod, etc.? Oversight in cataloging, or something you simply haven't found sufficiently useful?
I did on-location concert recordings (classical and jazz) for 15 years. Gear had to fit in the trunk of a car and be carried by a team of one or two. No rehearsal, one performance. As much as a gear list may seem boring or beside the point, its importance is driven home the first time something goes wrong with no way to recover. Packed correctly, the job will succeed 99% of the time. What you carry determines everything you can or can't do in the field. Selecting your kit is part of previsualization, as defined by Adams. If you aren't thinking about the job well before you arrive on the scene, you won't be ready for the money shot. Anyone can click a shutter. Not everyone will be ready to click.
The gear list is not a recipe. But there's usually something to be gleaned from someone who's doing the job successfully, even if it's just one obscure ingredient.
Oversight. Manfrotto Carbon fibre, but with standard steel head for stability.
Thanks for the understanding about the equipment list. Yes, someone could cover most of my entire range with a 10-20 and an 18-200mm on a crop sensor. I carry so many lenses for quality and back-up.
From the sound of it, you will also understand that the preparation and protection of the gear is a vital part of the job.
Cy Cheze: People dream of being NBA champs, PGA masters, Formula 1 aces, astronauts, Oscar winners, or even travel photographers. We know the aura, or can fantasize the daily routine, but is any realiable "how-to" feasible?
The article says, "So much of travel photography revolves around getting to your destination with the equipment you need." That's about like saying that becoming an air pilot is mainly about getting to the airport and having a 767 or F-16.
Goodness, isn't the key question how to get the money? Or to devise a way to earn enough return on the money, to make the venture "fly"? To gain entry, skill-wise, can't be simply to buy the camera (or golf clubs, or plane) and procees from there.
Cy - you obviously travel far more luxuriously than I do given these costs. I headed to Pentecoste shooting a book commission for the BBC. I flew out of Australia. Reckon you could get to Australia from the USA for about the same as the UK - around $1400 on a good carrier. Flights to Port Vila from Oz cost about $600 - $800. From Vila to Pentecost about $120 return. Room in Village $25. Actual land-diving $35. Jumps happen most weekends in a two to three month season. Total cost is much lower than you state, although some conditions can be a little basic.
Also, getting there isn't just about making it pay. I did, but then that is my job. If, like me, you have always wanted to see this, then a shade over $2k isn't so much to achieve a dream!
elefteriadis alexandros: Huh only digital, no film, what a waist.. digital its for commercial work not for art!! the picture is like a fake, i wonder how more bad they look in real paper without the tonality and dynamic range of film.
Pst - want to know a secret - as an introductory article to my work over the past twenty or so years three out of four of these pictures are scanned film! Answers on a postcard please...
cfh25: "Land diving" photo could have been improved by a portrait aspect showing the top of the tower - in my humble opinion. Like the remainder
On one level I agree with your point, but the tower was almost 60ft high. To get the top of the tower in the frame, would have made the jumper much too small. I thought about shooting near the landing point with a wide lens tilted upwards to get close up of the jumper and the full tower in the background. Discussing this with the chief of the village I realised that it would be too dangerous to put a camera in the landing zone, and also too unpredictable where they land.
penguinman: It was disappointing to find out that the recommended camera pack, Lowe-Pro AWII is not available anymore.
Hi Penguinman - my apologies. Had a brainstorm... that was my old bag. Recently replaced with the Pro Trekker 400 AW. This is a great improvement. Same great harness, but much better organisation of everything - including accessories. There is even a pocket for a hydration system, which fits a 400mm lens at a pinch!