Friday, May 25, 2018

Ireland: What To Bring...?

As a photographer,I'm always thinking about what equipment I'll want on hand for whatever shoot is coming up next. You see, a concert shoot requires different lenses than a real estate shoot which, in turn, requires different lenses than a portrait shoot. The trick here is going to be choosing what to bring so I'm prepared for the majority of the photos I'll have the opportunity to take while we're in Ireland.

Camera body? That's a no brainer. I'll be taking the Canon 6D MKII. I could take the 6D, as well, but I'm not convinced I'll need a back-up. The 6D MKII has proven to be a pretty robust unit, so I don't suspect I'll have any problems. Besides, that extra camera body is a lot of extra weight and it takes up room I can use for something else. With this type of traveling, space and weight considerations are important, regardless how insignificant they may seem.

So, the 6D MKII will get the nod for this trip. The nice thing about this over the 6D is the articulating LCD screen. I didn't think I'd fine much use for it, but it actually comes in handy from time to time, especially when shooting in tight quarters.

The Canon 6D MKII in all of its 26.2 megapixel glory...

The Canon 6D MKII with the articulating LCD pulled out...

I've been looking at a lot of photos these past couple weeks, taken all over Ireland, and many of the photos I seem to like the most are night time shots. Of course, the only way to get a night time shot, in Ireland or anywhere else, is to use a tripod. This presents a bit of a problem, considering I don't want to lug my big, honkin' Manfrotto across the pond with me.

Enter the Slik Mini Pro.

The Slik Mini Pro is a very compact tripod which, with legs and center column full extended, measures only about nine inches. Of course, the most common issue with small "travel" tripods is that they're seldom sturdy enough to hold anything but the smallest of point and shoot cameras. Not so with the Mini Pro. It's a strong and sturdy option that comes in under thirty bucks, and it handles the 6D MKII with a lens perfectly:

This is the set-up I'll probably using the most for night time shots in Ireland.This is the 6D MKII with the Canon 17-40mm f/4L attached; 2.61 pounds...

Of course, I can't imagine making a trip like this with only one lens, so I'm not even going to attempt that. The 17-40mm will probably be the workhorse for this trip. But I know there are some places, such as the Cliffs of Moher, where I'll want a longer lens to get a bit more compression. I'm also going to want to have a nice portrait lens. Let's face it, we're probably never coming back here, so why not have nice pictures of us taken of us here?

So, I think I've settled on a four lens line-up which will get me through a week in Ireland. With the exception of the 17-40mm, I'm going to be bringing only prime (non-zoom) lenses. In addition to the 17-40mm f/4L, I'll have the 100mm f/2.8 Macro (for photos where I need a bit more reach), the 85mm f/1.8 (a superior portrait lens in my opinion) and the 50mm f/1.4 (which is a solid, all-around good, low light lens):

The 17-40mm (mounted on the camera), then the 100mm, the 50mm (in the middle) and the 85mm...

What's pictured above will constitute the majority of the photo gear I'll be carrying with me to Ireland. Additionally, I'll have a remote release batteries, chargers, memory cards (216gb worth), etc; basically those necessary little accessories I'll want along the way. I haven't decided if I'm going to bring a flash but, if I do, it'll be the Canon 580 EXII. If I bring that, though, I also have to bring batteries for that, as well as the chargers for those batteries. At present, I'm leaning towards leaving it at home.

All of this will be neatly packed into my Tamrac CyberPro Express, which is what I'll be using as my carry-on. It will also have my laptop, chargers (camera batteries, phone), power cords and whatever else I feel I won't be able to live without or don't want to check. I did a lot of traveling when I worked for Taylor Guitars, and this bag became my go-to carry-on for every single trip I made after getting it:

The Tamrac CyberPro Express...(photo courtesy of Tamrac)

So, the questions of what gear I'm bringing to Ireland have been answered. I think the equipment I'm bringing will allow me to be as prepared as reasonably possible to capture the vast majority of what I want to. The hard reality is that I simply can't bring everything, so I think I've got this rig dialed in nicely...

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Family Trip: Prologue

So, we're going to take a family trip.

My Mom decided that she wanted to go to Ireland for her birthday. She's talked about it for a couple years now and, initially, I think she had the idea that it would be for a milestone birthday; the 85th or the 90th. But, frankly, I think she's considered the health of some of her friends that are her age (or even younger) and figured that, since she's healthy now and able now, that now was the right time to do it. So, it's Ireland for Mom's 84th birthday.

In order to do this, of course, we'd need a plan. We would need a plan and someone to coordinate it. We would need a plan and someone to coordinate it who had extensive knowledge of booking flights and hotels and various yadayadayada for more than one person. It appears as though that person would be me.

I did some extensive searches once the decision was made. I looked at hotels all over Dublin and the outskirts (what's the Gaelic word for "suburbs"?) and became mind-numb at the number of choices we were being offered. Out of sheer necessity I became a ninja at the ways of Travelocity. Somehow, I managed to plan a trip for three to Ireland.

Ireland is actually pretty small. We'll be staying in Dublin, but Belfast (which, as it's in Northern Ireland, is actually part of the UK) is only two hours away. Ideally, we were hoping to stay at one of those quaint little castle-type inns you see on the Travel Channel, but that didn't pan out. First, those quaint little castle-type inns you see on the Travel Channel can be really expensive. In some cases, a week's stay in one could easily cost three or four times as much as a larger chain. Also, we'll be getting two rooms, and all of the quaint little castle-type inns you see on the Travel Channel offered rooms with only one bed. Mom is going to have her own room and Greg and I will be sharing another. I love my brother, and I look forward to embarking on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure with him, but I sure as Hell don't want to sleep in the same bed with him. So, given all of that, we selected the Crowne Plaza. In another life I traveled pretty extensively for business, and I found that Crowne Plaza properties were remarkably consistent.

We've ditched the idea of getting a rental car. First, they're all right-hand drive over there. Now, I drove a right-side drive car when I was in Australia in 1984. It really doesn't take too long before you're used to it. The wild card, though, would be that all of the renal cars are manual transmission. That's just a recipe for failure that could only end in tears.

Suffice it to say, there are more than enough things to do while we're in Ireland. Of course, we'll take in the Cliffs of Moher and many of the castles which have stood since the Middle Ages. But we're also going to spend a couple of days just cruising around Dublin. There's no shortage of churches and cathedrals there and, of course, those are great photo subjects. Christ Church Cathedral, which was founded around the year 1030 is absolutely magnificent, inside and out. Needless to say, my photography jones is starting to go into overdrive.

Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin. Its more formal name is the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity(or Trinidad Cathedral) was founded in Ireland in the year 1028...
Inside Christ Church Cathedral...

So, now that I've successfully worn the Travel Agent hat, it's time to put on my Tour Guide hat. Over the next several weeks, I'll be researching what there is to see and do not only in Dublin, but also in Belfast, Howth, Moher and a hundred points in between. And, surely we can't ignore the fact that both the Guinness Storehouse and Jameson Distillery are located here.

I welcome any input anyone has on where to go, what to do, where to eat, etc. Just send me an e-mail at or make a comment here...


(Exterior photo of Christ Church Cathedral courtesy of
(Interior photo of Christ Church Cathedral courtesy of

Wrapping Up Another Year...

I'm finding it a bit difficult to believe that's it's been six months since I've posted anything. It seems as though, as soo...