Travelling light and taking a break
I was offline for much of last week as I was travelling for a few days across Europe with my wife for both business and a vacation. We started in Germany and then took the train to Brussels, before spending a few days off in Amsterdam for the weekend. I normally try to minimise the amount of gear I travel with when not specifically going for photography, and this time I decided to cut it right down.
For cameras, I only brought my little Canon G7XII and my iPhone. That’s it. I didn’t even bring my X-Pro 2. The reason for this is that I wanted to cut it down to the absolute minimum. If I had some telephoto lenses for my iPhone I’d probably have just relied on that. It wasn't a trip to take photos and so I didn’t want to be lugging an extra bag around. I didn’t even take than many photos in the end and I enjoyed that fact very much.
As a photographer sometimes I feel like there is an expectation to be always “on”. When you’re travelling somewhere or are in certain situations you sometimes feel that you should be taking photos, even if you’re not in the mood. You almost feel like you’re betraying the art or the community if you don’t. However, sometimes, there is something to be said for taking time off.
While I love photography, and I love capturing beautiful scenes and beautiful light, sometimes its a joy just to experience something while you’re there. To enjoy the fleeting moment, in the moment, rather than to be preoccupied with capturing it, and not actually pay attention to it while you’re there.
Nowhere is this more relevant than in a museum.
For the life of me I can’t understand why people insist on going through a museum with their head buried in their smartphones or cameras. If you want a picture of something, buy a guide book. It will probably be better than what you will take anyway. When we were in Amsterdam, we went to see the Van Gogh museum and the Rijksmuseum. Even though photography is banned in the Van Gogh museum, people still tried to take photos. Not only that but there seems to be a new trend of trying to get selfies in front of the art, which is really annoying for others.
Last year when I was visiting the London Museum, I stood and watched some tourists as they went around looking at everything through their phone’s cameras, and they were constantly taking pictures. They almost never looked up, instead choosing to see the works of art and history through the tiny lens of their phone instead of in real life, which was right in front of them. I have to wonder why you would bother going at all if you’re not going to actually stop and look at the exhibits properly. You could just visit the museum website for the same experience as being glued to your phone. My mind is still trying to wrap itself around that one. I saw the same thing again in Amsterdam. I really don’t get it.
Aside from the museums, it was still nice to just wander the canals of Amsterdam and enjoy the sights without having to worry about getting a perfect shot. I did take some photos - because of course I would have to take some :-) , but this was an exception rather than the rule. For the most part we just enjoyed the time to reflect, relax and enjoy the city in real life rather than worry about capturing it for later.
I'm not saying that this should be the way to travel all the time. I am still a photographer at heart, but I do think it's important to strike a balance, and on occasion, leave the camera at home and be there in the moment, or at the very least, don’t be always behind the lens.
For the few photos I did take, I shot with the G7X2 and my iPhone XR - about 50/50 of each. I also shot some video on my iPhone - although not enough to do anything with - except for a nice landing sequence which I put together...
I shot some time-lapses and stills on my little pocket Canon. I’m actually really impressed with the G7XII. I originally bought it to use mostly for vlogging and it’s been great for that. However, it takes pretty descent pictures too, especially for the price. I would like a longer zoom range, but for that I would need to step up to something bigger. As it is, I can just bring my small laptop bag, and throw it in there. The only issue that I have with it is that it is sometimes a little hard to see the screen, and you can think an image isn’t going to work, when it actually turns out fine in the end.
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