Photography While Traveling For Business

I recently took a trip to western Pennsylvania for work. It is a beautiful area, and I wanted to get some photography in. I was able to bring along enough photography gear to get out a couple of mornings and evenings to get some great photographs. Here are some things to keep in mind while taking a non-photography trip to get the most out of your opportunity.

An Important Disclaimer

If you are traveling for business, someone is paying for you to do it. It is more than reasonable to use your non-working time to do other things, like photography, but you need to make sure it is not impinging on your primary reason for traveling. If you are not, you may find yourself traveling a lot less, and if it is really bad, you may lose a job. So use the opportunity, don’t abuse it. If you add significant costs, such as an extra day of hotel or rental car expenses, make sure you disclose it, and cover the extra expenses.

Research

Researching the area you will be in thoroughly allows for the best use of your time. There are a number of good ways to research the area you are going, including a Google image search, or searching sites like 500px.com (are you following me there yet? I would really appreciate it if you did.) On Google, I found the Walter Dick Memorial Park, where I took this image

Photograph of the river at Walter Dick Memorial Park, Brookville, PA.

Using 500px, I found Freedom Falls, about 20 minutes from my hotel.

Freedom Falls in western Pennsylvania

Without the searches, I would never have found the falls.

Some of the research was done during the trip, however, it is always best to have your ideas researched before hand if possible. For some more ideas check out this post on Digital Scouting, which discusses more ideas for scouting, as well as apps and other resources.

Minimize Hotel Time

I resolved a while ago to spend as little time as possible in hotel rooms, choosing instead to use the time for sight seeing, photography, and other opportunities that travel provides.

Try to avoid just going back to your hotel room. Get out as much as possible.

Travel Planning

If you reasonably have the option, plan your flights and driving to allow for a little more time. Flying in a few hours earlier or out a little later can give you some extra time.

Be reasonable about this, and don’t cost your clients or company money or time to fit your schedule.

Traveling with gear.

One of the challenges I had is that my primary reason for traveling was business, and I had requirements to bring equipment for work, so a dedicated camera bag was not an option. I also tend to travel carry on only, which limits the gear allowance more. The following is the equipment I took, and why.

Bag

I carry a computer backpack which did not have dividers or anything for a camera, so I got a Tenba BYOB 10 (Amazon – This and following are affiliate links, you will not be charged any more, but I get a small commission for sending them business.) insert, which carries my camera, lenses, and some accessories quite well. The BYOB in a backpack is not really a good replacement for a dedicated camera bag, but it works quite well to stretch the functionality of another bag.

Camera and Lenses

I was carrying my Nikon D610, a 24mm PC-E, 60mm Macro, and 70-300 zoom. All of these fit in the BYOB, so long as the 24mm was attached.

Filters

I carry a couple filters and adapter rings (I love the Breakthrough Photography rings – Amazon Affiliate).

I use 82mm filters and a step-up ring so that I only have to carry a few filters. I had a six-stop ND, and a circular polarizer, as well as an 82mm lens cap so I can leave them mounted while moving around.

To carry the filters, I have a MindShift Filter Nest Mini (Amazon Affiliate), which will carry up to four filters. Using the step-up rings, this is all I need.

Tripod

I recently got a 3-Legged Thing Travis (Amazon Affiliate) for traveling, and it fits perfectly in my roller carry-on. 3LT also makes a number of tripods that fold up even smaller, but Travis is as compact as I need, with fewer leg locks.

Other

I use an IR remote rather than a wired cable release, since they are cheap, crazy small, and do not require anything to touch the camera or tripod. While I tend to stay with Nikon original stuff for most of my gear, the Amazon Basics remote (affiliate link) works just fine, is less expensive, and I think actually feels better.

A pile-o-cards, in ThinkTank Pixel Pocket Rocket (Amazon affiliate)

Add a couple microfiber lens cloths, and I had a pretty good traveling setup.

In Conclusion

Business travel can be a great option to photograph in new places if you are able to do it. A little prep will go a long way in terms of getting the most out of your travels. Remember, though, that you are there primarily for business, so don’t do anything to get  yourself  fired.

Have any tips to share? Please leave them in the comments below.

Capture One – Comparing Perpetual License vs. Subscription

More software is going to a subscription model, which offers the benefits of a smaller up front cost and distributing the cost over multiple lower payments. The downsides are that there is a constant cost, and in most cases the cost of the subscription will overtake the cost of perpetual license and upgrades.

So, which is a better deal for Capture One users? Let’s look at the costs. These are current as of February 2017, and are taken from phaseone.com, and  are subject to change at any time.

Perpetual license: $300

Upgrades: $100, released approximately once a year.

Subscription: $15/Month ($180/year) with a one year commitment

So in 2 years, a license + 1 upgrade would cost $400, and a subscription would cost around $360,  so at about 2 years and 3 months the cost crosses over, and the subscription becomes more expensive. This may change a bit depending on when in the release cycle you buy the licenses, but it is safe to say that between two and three years in the cost of the subscription exceeds the cost of the perpetual license and upgrades.

You can also choose to skip upgrades if it does not look like the upgrade is worthwhile. I haven’t run into that yet. If you choose to do this, Phase One usually only allows for upgrades of the last 2 versions (you can upgrade to version 10 from versions 8 and 9), so you do not want to skip more than a single upgrade. Again, there is no guarantee that this will remain the case.

If you are able to get a promo code for a 10% discount (like mine, AMBPETERH), usable only on perpetual licenses, the cost changes to $360 for the same license + 1 upgrade in 2 years, so the crossover point is at 2 years even. After that, the cost is basically double every year ($90 for a discounted upgrade, $180 for the subscription)

If you think you are going to use  Capture One for two years or less, or you are not able to afford the initial license, you are probably better off with the subscription, after that the perpetual license becomes a much better deal.

There is a chance that Phase One will go to a subscription only model in the future, and if that happens before you pay off the initial cost, you could end up paying a little more. Once you hit the crossover, there would be no difference.

If you already own a license eligible for upgrade, the perpetual license upgrade is a the clear way to go, costing $100 (or $90)/year vs $180/year for the subscription.

Disclaimer: I am a Phase One Ambassador, and just like you can get a discount only on perpetual licenses, I get a commission on sales of the perpetual license. So although I have a motive to promote the perpetual license, I am providing all of the math here to help you make the best decision for your specific circumstances.

Four Edit Friday 6 – Motel

Episode 6 of Four Edit Friday, an abandoned motel.

Edit One, Standard color

Edit 2, Day to night

Edit 3, Black and White

Edit 4, split tone black and white

2-4 have too much clarity, but I didn’t feel like refilming the edits. The problem is more obvious when the images are viewed smaller, so I should probably preview the image at a smaller size.

Which do you prefer? What would you do differently?

Digital Scouting

Want to waste less money, time, and effort in your outdoor shooting? Going places that don’t have the right views, wrong light, or the wrong angle of the light and you can wind up with sub-par shots, or missing them entirely. With this post, I will show you how to use some websites and apps to better plan location shoots, so you can better use your time and resources. Let’s take a look at the tools I used to plan this shot weeks before I actually took it.

This is the Cana Island Lighthouse in Door County, WI. I thought of trying to get this shot, and then started doing the research to see if it was possible.

Looking at Google Maps/Google Earth, (web, iOS) there was a road that followed the shoreline closely, and it looked like it would be a good vantage point.

Step one was to look at Google Street View, and see if I had a clear shot from anywhere on the shore, and if the lighthouse was still reasonably visible over the trees. Google Earth showed that both of these were good, so on to the next steps.

When planning sunrise, sunset, or moon pictures, The Photographer’s Ephemeris (TPE) (Web, iOS, Android) is an invaluable tool. Placing the pin on your vantage point, the lines show the angle of the sun and moon rise and set. Sunrise is indicated by the yellow line, sunset by the orange line, moon rise and set by the light and dark blue lines, respectively. Times for astronomic, nautical, and civil dawn and dusk, and sunrise/sunset are also indicated.

TPE showed that on the week we would be in the area, the sun should be rising over the island, just as I was hoping.

For an additional quarterly charge, you can subscribe to SkyFire, which gives an estimate of the likelihood of good sky colors over the next few days. This is only an estimate, but it can be helpful.

PhotoPills also provides the sunrise/sunset time and angle planning, as well as guides for the Milky Way, both in map form and augmented reality.

A final check was done with one of my apps, Lens Planner (iOS), to verify that the lenses I had would get me a good angle of view on the island and lighthouse. The 300mm on the long end of my 70-300 would be fine for this shot, so I was good to go.

With all of these, and checks of drive time and the weather, I was able to get to the spot in good time, and take the photograph I was looking for.

Of course, you can never guarantee light and weather, but by carefully using the available tools you greatly increase your chances of success. It is also a good idea to plan multiple options, so that if you don’t have the weather on your side you can fall back to a plan B that works without it.

What tools do you use to plan and execute shots? Please leave recommendations for the community in the comments.

Four Edit Friday 5 – Boat Light

In this episode, we work on a picture I took at Cave Point County Park, in Door County, WI. As usual, the edits are done in Capture One Pro 10.

The initial edit is a standard edit

This is warmed up, but needed some work on the greens:

This is selectively darkened

And a Black and White edit.

Which do you prefer?

Which do you prefer, or what would you have done differently? Please leave a comment below.

Four Edit Friday 4 – Cave Point

In this episode, we work on a picture I took at Cave Point County Park, in Door County, WI. As usual, the edits are done in Capture One Pro 10.

The initial edit is a standard edit

The second edit has exaggerated color and clarity.

Black and white. This is a higher contrast edit, which I prefer for this image.

Selective reduced clarity for a soft focus effect. The picture takes on a more dreamy quality with the softer focus and muted colors.

Which do you prefer? I think on this one I like the second photo. I would probably not use the soft focus effect much, but it is something interesting to play with.

Which do you prefer, or what would you have done differently? Please leave a comment below.