My Number 1 Travel Photography Tip

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.netI am not a photographer. I don’t claim any special knowledge. In fact, I have a whole collection of uninspiring holiday snaps and headless portraits. On this trip I do hope to do some study (okay, maybe not study, that sounds like alot of work) and improve my photography skills. I recently purchased the Getting out of Auto ebook by the guys over at Bears & Beans and a shiny new-to-me Panasonic Lunix TZ8, so all I need now is something to photograph! Therefore, my number 1 photography tip has nothing to do with aperture, or composition or lighting. It actually has more to do with one of my favourite topics – organisation & administration!

A picture is worth a thousand words and I personally enjoy nothing more than opening up a trip’s photos and going through them by date. It’s almost like being back in the destination again. So, my number 1 travel photography tip is:
Don’t forget to change the time/date settings on your camera to reflect your current location!

Now, maybe everybody else already knows this. Maybe I’m the only idiot with 3 camera’s worth of Japan photos that jump from train station to hotel to a different city and then back to trains again! It was a hard lesson, learned trying to organise 10 days worth of photos that had three different time stamps. Sure, software can do almost anything these days, and I did find something that let me “+8” to all my out-of-sync shots. But to this day there are still a few stubborn misfits littered throughout my slideshows.

Many cameras have travel settings, including my TZ8. A quick glance at the manual revealed some home/destination/world clock features, but I have to be honest and admit I zoned out after about 5 seconds. I’ve also recently discovered the whole camera/gps thing that alot of new models have going on. Sometimes though, the old ways are the best ways and a quick reset on the time menu every time I hit a new time zone is more than advanced enough for me!

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Netbook vs Tablet

Image: Suvro Datta / FreeDigitalPhotos.netActually, that title is probably a little misleading, as I never considered a tablet for more than about 10 seconds. Call me old-fashioned, but I like the clickety clack of keys when I’m typing and I find touch screen browsing irritating over long periods.

My main concerns when picking a netbook for my trip were (in order of importance):

  1. Long battery life
  2. Light weight
  3. Low cost so I won’t be heartbroken if it’s stolen/dropped
  4. Storage space for a stock of films/music/pics
  5. Webcam for skyping
  6. Card reader for backing up my pics

After a bit, but not alot, of research (let’s face it, they’re all pretty much the same and I have more important things to research – like the entire contents of Lonely Planet) I opted for the Samsung N145 Plus. Ordered it yesterday on Amazon, for under €200, second hand. By all accounts I’ll need to order up an additional 1GB of RAM, but I’m waiting to get my hands on it first before I buy that.

Edit: 01 Aug
The netbook has arrived. First impressions – it’s heavier than I was expecting. But after picking it up a few times I’m more comfortable with it now. It doesn’t operate at lightening speed, but I’ve found no huge differences to my own laptop so far. I’ve done some general browsing and worked on a couple of Excel documents with no issues. So far the battery life seems to be pretty good and the plug is very small & lightweight.

One thing I had read about Windows 7 Starter is the inability to change the desktop wallpaper, which IMHO is a really stupid limitation of an OS in 2011. But happily you can download software in about 30 seconds that lets you do this. Obviously, this isn’t a dealbreaker in a netbook purchase, kind of like dodgy wallpaper isn’t a reason not to purchase a house! It’s just a minor irritant because it makes no sense as a limitation! I have no intentions of upgrading to the regular Windows 7 though I have a copy, as so far the starter edition is working out fine for me. I plan to keep the netbook relatively crap-free to keep it running smoothly, so the essential software I have added thus far includes:

  • Skype
  • Evernote
  • VLC Media Player
  • Media Monkey
  • iTunes

I will update further on battery life, screen use in varying lights, video performance, etc. as I go.

Edit: 17 Aug
New RAM arrived and with the help of a youtube video, I had the whole thing upgraded in about 3 minutes. The system is definitely running faster now, but in terms of actual speeds I couldn’t possibly tell you. I just know I don’t want to throw it out a window.

I’m finding it a little hard to get used to the small screen (but I’m not a fan of even the ipad for long browsing sessions, I prefer my large-screen laptop over anything else) and the keys are a little fumbly. However, I’ve not done any extensive typing so I imagine I’ll get used to that pretty quickly. My pet peeve is backspace buttons that aren’t larger than the other keys and unfortunately the N145 does suffer from this.

A great benefit of this netbook is that the screen orientation can be changed with the keyboard, you don’t need to install anything. So, having installed Calibre and Kindle for PC and given how lightweight it is, I now essentially also own an ereader! 

Image: Suvro Datta / FreeDigitalPhotos.net