Back from Paris-some comments in general

Joined
Feb 7, 2005
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Since I'm known as the 'meandering moderator' I thought I'd recount some experiences along with presenting a selection of images from the 'City of Light.' This first post contains some observations, experiences, what worked, what didn't, what gear I used and what I did not use. My choice of equipment reflects the type of shooting I anticipated doping...YMMV.

Carolyn, my wife of 46 years and I have been traveling overseas yearly since 1994 so we've had plenty of experience and made more than our share of mistakes, both logistically and photographically. I thought it might help a few of you planning overseas trips. I readily acknowledge others may disagree with some of my observations. We offer them only as experiences and opinions.

First of all we booked with Air France using credit card miles with USAA. This airline was probably the least unpleasant, or let me say the most enjoyable flight we've ever made across the Atlantic. Luggage is now 50# for one bag per passenger and 10 kilo's for cabin carry aboard. I still am not sure about whether or not a camera, purse or computer all count towards the 22.5#. Keep in mind you have to be prepared for strict interpretation of the rules. An extra bag costs $50.00. We were dropped off at Dulles and it was a madhouse. Our 7:00 pm takeoff was delayed to 11:00 pm because of the unpronounceable volcano. A gentleman returning to Africa next to us had to pay $300 extra for his bags.

We were next in line to check in and the pair in front of us were asked to put their roll aboards on the scale.:Shocked: I knew my Lowepro was over 35#. I planned ahead and brought my photographer's jacket with all the pockets (I never wear it over seas..it looks really tacky and obviously touristy). I ripped the bag open and threw the beast in a pocket and handed my D90 and D700 to Carolyn who put it in her purse and we took a deep breath and stepped up. My checked bag was 22.99 Kilos (Carolyn's 5# less) ..whew! The check-in clerk then compassionately asked us to put both roll aboards on the scale...we were under 20 Kilos.:373:

The ground crew at Dulles was lazy and let forward coach people in before the rear crew and generally didn't mind the seating scenario. When we got to our assigned seats they were occupied by foreign speaking people who played dumb and the rear passengers stuffed their carry aboard bags in our overhead compartments so I had to store my camera equipment away from my control. :370: Wanting to avoid a hassle the hostess got us two acceptable seats together. NEVER AGAIN. On the return flight I was set on raising the issue to the purser and even the captain for our seats. Remember...when you're screwed out of your seat you're inconvenienced. If you've taken the effort to reserve a seat let the usurpers be the ones inconvenienced....not you. Come early and get to front of the check-in line for your own protection.

One interesting thing I like is they now charge you extra for the exit row seats and bulkhead seats. Remember in the old days the slick fliers always seemed to somehow get those seats. Well now for an extra $100 you can at least get a shot at them. Your choice.

The rumors about Parisians are completely wrong; wonderfully friendly and courteous people. The metro is close to the street surface so there are few if any escalators though. We purchased and used 76 trip tickets meaning 38 rides on the metro and RER train. That makes climbing and descending an 8 story building's worth of stairs every day. We had running knee, thigh and ankle soreness the entire trip. The Dude (Patrick) who accompanied us on the trip is like the Energizer Bunny...he keeps on going and going and going.

The girls are lovely, but smoke perhaps 3-4 times as much as the men. Very few of the ladies we saw had tattoos. Everyone is in a hurry and rushes about, although a bump or brush will always yield a 'pardon.' Lots of gypsy beggars...many little girls will never get a chance to go to school and improve their lives.

What I used. Lens hoods and lens caps..way too much of a hassle. I guess I'll go to using clear filters just to protect the lenses. The Think Tank Urban Disguise 40 was a disaster. I swear by top loaders, but the weight of the bag and the murderous stiff zipper really pounded my lenses and camera bodies swapping lenses, etc. These soft bags tend to squish the ends together as well. Patrick let me borrow the Crumpler $6 million bag which provided better room but pulled together from the weight plus the flap opens the wrong way. It should open outwards so you can reach/see your gear, otherwise the top keeps falling down over the opening. My F64 would have been a better choice.

I used the 28-70 the most, then the 70-300VR and then the 16-35. Remember this is a city with Cathedrals. The 16-35 wasn't wide enough for many church and architectural shots. I should have brought the 14-24.

Never used. 50mm. You have to keep backing up into people and the streets (risking life and limb...all Parisian drivers must perceive themselves F1 drivers at heart). I never used the monopod with shoulder brace and the micro tripod. My 8 gb CF cards were too small for city shooting. I finally went to using the D90 with the 70-300VR and the D700 with the beast and swapped with the 16-35 when necessary (not often). I never used my magenta filters and only used the Circular polarizer only once. Never used my GPS or the remote release.

Absolutely essential. MacBook Pro (or any notebook) two USB external drives combination CF and SD card reader. Contrary to some discussions here I have no interest in the fastest possible reader; whats the point? In the evening while watching TV (absolutely horrible) I just copied them to the three drives. Rocket blower. I got into the habit of blowing everything out frequently during the day; still I got some shots with dust (piece of cake with Lightroom). Twelve foot US three prong extension cord with a Europe-US plug converter. All my equipment works on both 120/60 and 240/50 power. We never carry power converters. My razor lasts 16 days and every hotel and B&B carry hair dryers.

I won't go into Paris specifics but would be happy to answer specific questions by PM and emails.

What I should have brought: Those little straps which piggyback your roll aboard onto your large suitcase. I assuned (you know they spell assume?) they were in the bags. I should have brought an extra laptop powerpack for the flights to kill time; I can't sleep on planes. Larger CF/SD cards, my F64 bag instead of the UD40.
 
Joined
Sep 17, 2006
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12,773
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Ashburton , New Zealand
Since I'm known as the 'meandering moderator' I thought I'd recount some experiences along with presenting a selection of images from the 'City of Light.' This first post contains some observations, experiences, what worked, what didn't, what gear I used and what I did not use.

I think everyone is keen to get some tips after seeing the pictures of you with all those young ladies :smile:
 
Joined
May 11, 2006
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CHARLOTTE
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Randy
great info Rich, thx for the post
I have not used anything but my 16-35 on the d700 and love it.
The d300, 50 & 85 1.4 not used. I would not have used a 70-300 if i had one. My streetwalker was the perfect backpack as was the sb400.
 
Joined
Oct 4, 2005
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Louisville, KY
Welcome back -- good info. It's a wonderful city (but I prefer Provence).

We were in Paris last year and my wife's case was 3 kilos over -- the bags had already gone thru security -- unable to reopen them. The price tag --$146.00!!

Surprised that 14mm would work when 16mm wouldn't -- didn't realize that made a big difference.

Let's see some shots!

paulC
 
Joined
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Los Angeles, USA
Talk about a hassle to travel with all the weight restrictions. I usually travel with a regular backpack and stuff all my clothes inside an airplane, cabin-friendly pelican case. Also surprised the 16-35 wasn't wide enough on FX!
 
Joined
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Baltimore
Talk about a hassle to travel with all the weight restrictions. I usually travel with a regular backpack and stuff all my clothes inside an airplane, cabin-friendly pelican case. Also surprised the 16-35 wasn't wide enough on FX!

yes that surprised me as well. The 16-35mm was more than wide enough for me in Italy which has also has a few cathedrals and architectural sites

Having owned the 14-24mm at one time, the difference between 14 and 16mm was not much of a difference to me. I'd rather have the advantage of VR in those dark churches. :smile:
 
Joined
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Virginia Beach, Virginia
Welcome back Rich!

I have no desire to go to Paris but would love to go to England and then up to Scotland. However, I am finding the prices are sky high and their hotels do not offer two double beds so that means when I take the 2 or 3 kids with me, I would have to pay for two rooms and that is plain crazy. Whoever heard of a hotel not putting two double beds in a room??? Oh well. It is something I have to really think about. I might just go back to Israel. I loved it when I visited it and Egypt in 2000. Greece is an option too. I just want to take an overseas trip for a change.
 
Joined
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Welcome back Rich!

I have no desire to go to Paris but would love to go to England and then up to Scotland. However, I am finding the prices are sky high and their hotels do not offer two double beds so that means when I take the 2 or 3 kids with me, I would have to pay for two rooms and that is plain crazy.

The wife and I've been to the British Isles seven times since 1997. This includes Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Wales and, especially Scotland. What you've described is not the case. We've both driven a rental car and taken trains. If one's idea of visiting a foreign country (especially the UK) involves staying in hotels, yes it's outrageously expensive. We stay in Bed & Breakfasts exclusively. The generally charge about 30 Euros/GBP per person per night and in virtually every case include a large breakfast. In London we stay at the Rushmore Hotel near Earls Court for about 90 GBP and it includes breakfast. For lunch we buy rolls, ham, butter and cheese and buy sodas from a local neighborhood grocery store. For example last week, in Paris, we bought a package of 15 Cokes for 5 Euros at a chain supermart, Monoprix. If you go to a street side restaurant you pay about 4 Euros for one Coke. :eek: Each evening we eat at a local neighborhood restaurant for about 50 Euros/GBP if we want to splurge.

We have a list of excellent B&Bs all over Britain, Scotland and Ireland. PM or email me if you wish and I'll be happy to send them to you. Our B&B in Edinburgh has a suite which can hold 4-5 people and is a short bus ride from the Royal Mile.
 
Joined
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Informative, thanks for sharing. I am interested in your reference to the F64 (I haven't heard of that bag before---is it www.f64camerabag.com??) Which bag do you have?

Thanks again.

It's so old and beat up I don't know the model. It's 9.5" x 13" x 5.5" outside if that helps. Right now it's holding a D700 with a 28-70, a D90 with a 70-300VR and a separate 14-24 between them. I just checked the site http://www.f64camerabag.com/designer_series.html I think it's the "large designer case." It's made from water resistant cotton and it's faded and beat up like stuff you get from a war surplus store, and the material is really rugged.

473997430_N8iuZ-L.jpg
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Here it is with a D3 and some foam I experimented with (didn't work), but you can see it's shape and construction. The D700 and D90 drop in perfectly. I have two dividers which keep the bodies + lens towards the outsides which permit room for a third lens.
 
Joined
Mar 7, 2006
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Burleson Texas
Howdy Rich,

Welcome Home,

Thanks very much for all this info, it was very interesting and especially helpful about the plane restrictions and some helpful hints on how to get your gear in and out<G>.

We love to travel, and I really liked the F64 and how it holds your equipment from rubbing against each other. I usually just use an old backpack, and can really load it up, which is a bad thing for my back<G>.

Look forward to seeing your images from the Trip.

Thanks again!!!
 
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Australia
Excellent post Rich and I agree with everything you've had to say about your trip to Paris - Ive mostly shot wide the few times Ive been, but its always handy having a bit of reach if trying to pick out some detail like a gargoyle atop a cathedral :)
 
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A hard lesson

As I mentioned I took a D700 and a D90 for backup. I swapped the three lenses on the D700 and found to my dismay when I got back that this can really bite you.
879668735_DFoc7-XL.jpg
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My favorite shooting overseas is architecture so from now on I'll take two cameras but keep the lenses in place (70-300VR on the D90 and 28-70 on the D700) and carefully blow out the body when swapping. The blower is my NEW friend.:redface: Luckily Lightroom permit mass spot removing pastes. However it would be better not to have to do that.
 
Joined
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Tripping the light fantastic
As I mentioned I took a D700 and a D90 for backup. I swapped the three lenses on the D700 and found to my dismay when I got back that this can really bite you.

My favorite shooting overseas is architecture so from now on I'll take two cameras but keep the lenses in place (70-300VR on the D90 and 28-70 on the D700) and carefully blow out the body when swapping. The blower is my NEW friend.:redface: Luckily Lightroom permit mass spot removing pastes. However it would be better not to have to do that.

Now you know why I carry two camera and two lenses... one on each camera body, the trick is to minimize lens swapping and ... here is the kicker... if you had shot that image at f/5.6 or f/4 you'd have had plenty of depth of field with way less dust bunnies...

I try ... against a blue sky - to open my aperture as much as I can this in turns minimize the appearance of sensor dust - now you know why I carry the 200/2 with me some of the times I go shooting, I may have sensor dust but you wouldn't be able to tell - I shoot as wide as I can depending on what I want to achieve image wise, I seldom go above f/11 and for great sharpness in regards to architecture I found f/7.1 to be plenty sufficient in 99% of images captured.

At what aperture what this image taken? Do a couple of test shots, pic a street lamp and shoot it at your widest possible aperture and then f/7.1 .... f/11, f/16 and f/22 with the 70-300 zoom then find a faster zoom lens and do the same at f/2.8 and f/4 ... with the blue sky in the background then you'll notice huge differences in how visible the dust on your sensor is visible at the different apertures.
 

Rob Zijlstra

A Koffie Drinker
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Nov 5, 2008
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Netherlands
Good to see that your trip has gone good Rich. I suppose you'll mention it when you finished up the photo's on your own site?
And it's the truth about prices: you can make it as expensive as you want. I know a restaurant in the center of Amsterdam (Red Light district) where you can eat the finest oriental food you can imagine. Don't look at the interior, it looks like a dump. But people are friendly and after you've eaten too much of the good tasting food, you'll pay ... 9 Euro's.
 
M

Michael Mohrmann

Guest
As I mentioned I took a D700 and a D90 for backup. I swapped the three lenses on the D700 and found to my dismay when I got back that this can really bite you.
http://richgibson.smugmug.com/Other/Miscellaneous/This-n-that/2010-05-20-0123/879668735_DFoc7-XL.jpg
Sorry to hear that. In my early SLR days I used to capture a lot of coastal landscapes/seascapes. No matter how hard I tried I would invariably get gunk in my camera. The happiest moment of my film SLR shooting days was when I picked up a second body.

And now that my wife and I are talking about visiting the coast more often, including this summer, I am now faced with this issue again. Unfortunately, having two digital FX bodies is not a cheap solution.
 
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Glad you enjoyed the trip Rich. My wife and I enjoyed the time we had in Paris a couple of years ago on our tour of Europe...we hope to do it again soon.
 
Joined
Oct 22, 2006
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Tripping the light fantastic
It was Patrick throwing dirt on my camera all the time. :smile:

Har har har funny
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