On the Road Again!

On the Road Again!

By: Kevin Allen Pepper

As your family vacations are looming right around the corner, I wanted to write about my recent vacation to Florida with the hopes that I can offer you some tips on how to take some great photographs, yet still spend quality time with your family and friends.

As a photographer I always find it hard to balance the joy of taking the kind of photos I want to take with maximizing my time with the people I am with…  you know, those loved ones that do not share my enthusiasm for taking photos. 😉

So this trip I decided to try and use the functions of the camera, add in some creativity of skills I have learned to achieve interesting photos, all while I was maximizing the enjoyment of spending time everyone I was with on my recent trip.

So… lets look at the gear…

Panasonic LUMIX GH4 and GX8 packed into my messenger bag… check

Leica and LUMIX Lenses: 100-400 mm f4.0-f6.3 Leica Lens, 35-100mm F2.8 Lumix lens, 12-35mm F2.8 Lumix lens, 15mm F1.7 Leica lens, 7-14mm f4.0 Lumix lens all packed away into my messenger bag… check

The Manfrotto 294 Carbon Fiber Tripod, the Manfrotto XPRO Ball Head in magnesium with Top Lock…check

Four batteries for each camera, 2 – 64gig memory cards and 2-32gig memory cards packed into my Messenger bag… check

Laptop and external WD My Passport 2TB hard drive put into my laptop bag… check

And the Messenger bag was the Manfrotto NX messenger bag…

Now… lets stop right there for a second. If I had packed all the equivalent Nikon and Sigma and Nikkor gear I would have had to packed it all into my large Manfrotto roller bag… And I was going to Disney and walking through Savannah Georgia and spending time on the beach at Amelia Island. I couldn’t have imagined trekking with that roller bag on the 40km (24Miles) I walked last week.

Score one for micro 4/3rds on saving space!!!

Our first stop was Savannah, Georgia. A town I have always wanted to visit.

With the Messenger Bag tossed over my shoulder, we headed out to the Historical District to wander through the old buildings and live oaks, soak in the streetscapes, and look at the locations from one of my favourite movies, the 1997 drama, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” directed by Clint Eastwood and starred Kevin Spacey and John Cusack.

LUMIX Gx8 and LUMIX G VARIO 35-100/F2.8. Settings were 0.3 sec; f/22; ISO 100

I had seen this fountain and decided to try something different. All the photos I had seen were of the whole fountain. But when I approach a scene like this, here is what I do.

I take wide angle photos to capture the whole setting. Then I start taking photos of segments of the scene. I will throw on a lens with a larger zoom and start to capture smaller images like the one above.

Next stop was Amelia Island in Florida. I have watched my good friend Lea Gallardo post photos every day for the last three years of the sunrises and sunsets… and I was looking forward to going out with her on her home turf to photograph the sunrises and sunsets.

Getting up while everyone slept allowed me the opportunity to spend some time with Lea on the beach that I have admired from afar for years. Our morning photo shoots allowed me to be back before the world woke up and some great photos from sunrise on the memory cards.

LUMIX GX8, LEICA DG 100-400/F4.0-6.3. Settings were 1/1000 sec; f/11; ISO 800

While we went to the beach to photograph the Royal Terns, I never forget to look behind me when I am out somewhere… that morning was no exception. While waiting for the sun to rise in the sky I took the time with my 100-400 to photograph the golden sun over the sand dunes.

Then it was off to Disney… where even this 48-year-old is allowed to act like a big kid…

And here is the challenge. As photographers we are taught that early morning and late in the day are the best time to take photos because of the mid day harsh light… but we can’t expect our kids to spend 14 hours at Disney just so we can take great golden hour photographs.

So we have to use the functions of the cameras and learn how polarizer filters can reduce the harsh light and produce great vacation photos while at the same time create images that can satisfy our inner photographer.

I decided to focus on the people around the different rides and evoke movement to see how far I could push the in camera stabilization on the LUMIX GX8.

I took this photo of a little girl watching the people on the ride she was in line for. I slowed the shutter speed down so the ride would be moving and the girl was in focus.

LUMIX GX8 and Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f/2.8. Settings were 1/6 sec; f/16; ISO 100

It took no time to take and did not interrupt the family fun we were having… a quick shot by adjusting the settings to take this photo without a tripod.

Then back to Amelia Island to spend some more time with Lea. Another sunrise and a day trip to the Alligator Farm to see a location that is the quintessential tourist location.

As we walked through the bird section, my plan was to focus on taking photos of a few birds that were positioned in an easy to photograph location. Snowy egrets were everywhere, and all I did was wait for one to stand or fly in a photogenic setting.

I took this photo of the egret standing on top of a tree top and just waited till I caught the bird in good light.

LUMIX GX8 and LEICA DG 100-400/F4.0-6.3. Settings were 1/3200 sec; f/7.1; ISO 400

As we headed home, it was one more stop in Savannah to see the rest of the city that we missed on the way down, and my time to do some photography at the Wormsloe Plantation, the Bonaventure Cemetery and some night photography in and around Forsyth Park.

This photo were all done by pre planning. I looked at images online from both locations before we went. I knew exactly what I wanted to take and just waited for the right time to snap the photos while we wandered through the areas.

LUMIX GX8 and LUMIX G VARIO 35-100/F2.8. Settings were 1/100 sec; f/7.1; ISO 400

When you are going on a family holiday and want to get out and take photos without taking time away from your family, here are my suggestions…

1) plan your photos by doing some research before you get to a location… that way you can get the photo you want to take without interrupting the family fun.

2) know the limitations of your cameras so you can get creating like I did at Disney. I knew the stabilization of the GX8 would allow me to hand hold the camera for a longer exposure and capture the ride I’m motion.

3) get up and take some photos in the morning golden hour while everyone is still in bed or having breakfast.

4) set some time aside for you and tell your family you will be taking photos on your own time. They can plan to do something else while you go take your images.

Enjoy your holidays this summer with your family.