Despite being a professional photographer, I often suck at documenting my own life in pictures. It’s the multitasking that I struggle with. I’m either full-bore photogrpaher mode, or focusing on fully experiencing and being present. There’s no easy in-between for me. On my latest trip – this time a road trip to Portland & Vancouver with my fiancé for our 5th anniversary – I endeavoured to have the best of both worlds. Below is a photo essay of sorts, some thoughst on traveling to Portland, and some more thoughts and tips on personal travel as a photographer.
The people of Portland are some of the most social creatures that I’ve every experienced in a bigger city! Jessica and I were looking through one of the countless interesting stores that line the Mississippi/Williams Ave area of Portland, when this young guy starts talking to me out of the blue. “Hey man! You’ve got to check it out .*shows me this photo from a book he was looking at* Look at how cool this Van is. It’s got doors like the DeLorean!” It did indeed have those, and it was pretty cool. I was just so surprised, I didn’t know what to say beside,”Yeah!” As friendly as Canada is, people don’t really approach you with random things.
While Jessica was shopping in this place called Gypsy Chic I got to talking to Karly, who works there. She was so excited about Portland and shared a whole bunch of other places to go see, and talked a bit about her journey going from being Las Vegas born-and-raised to Portlander just in the past year. Something about the city just attracts people who are really into community, eccentricity, and genuine excitement for pretty much anything and everything.
I was able to ask Karly to do a quick portrait because I was prepared. It didn’t dig much into time that I could have spent with Jessica because it wasn’t a big ordeal. I used a laptop sized softbox that folds flat and fits in my messenger bag, and it just pops onto a regular speedlight with velcro. I’m able to handhold it with my left arm while I do the shot (slightly easier feat with my long arms, but doable for anyone). With the X10 you can actually sync your flash to 1/4000th of a second or something ridiculous like that, so you could really overpower the sun which I’ll play with in the future.
Thomas and I will be doing an upcoming post several options for travel gear for photographers looking to do high-quality portraits. There we will expand on this kit, and also talk about what Thomas brought with him to Uganda a couple months ago, and more! So stay tuned for that.
Hey what about some technical stuff?
I’ll cover here what some pixelpeepers might care about, and also nail home my thoughts on what travel photography and your kit and habits should really work towards.
Yes, with the Fuji X10 things can sometimes get a bit noisy with difficult light conditions like in this one above, but I don’t really care. I wouldn’t shoot a commercial job with this camera, but for the size and price of this camera (especially since I got it used for only $350 a couple years back) it’s awesome. I can take it all kinds of places I wouldn’t previously dream of, and when I bring it, I don’t really feel like I’m there just to photograph things like I do when I bring out the bigger kits.
I can just enjoy things, and if something crazy, super interesting, or just worth documenting comes along I don’t have to groan because I decided not to bring my camera. It’s the exact same principle that make iPhonography so powerful. And what’s more, at 12mp and with the unique sensor array which gives a better kind of noise pattern, you could conceivably submit photos from this camera to microstock, or print for yourself or for sale at a good size if that’s what your after. Biggest takeaway from using this camera is that the easiest way to improve your images is to get more interesting things in front of it. So find a reasonable way to bring your camera with you when things might happen, whatever camera you think that should be.
since that last shot was processed with VSCOcam, I’ll also mention that all the Fuji and Nikon images were processed in Adobe LR with some VSCO preset from either pack 2 or 4 as a starting point. Such great software.
I’ve talked more than enough, so for the rest of the article I’ll let the images say what they need to say. Portland is an incredibly vibrant and eclectic city and the 2 days we spent there was not near enough. I’ll be going back very soon.
“the easiest way to improve your images is to get more interesting things in front of it”