2 Weeks in England / Scotland

Discussion in 'Travel' started by rafaeldelgado, Aug 7, 2011.

  1. Hello Everyone! I'm off to England and Scotland next month for a 2 week trip with a couple of friends. I'm not a professional photographer but a serious amateur who needs some advice on WHAT equipment to take and HOW to take it. I've begun researching some things on this site but haven't found too much information. (at least not in the same place) I'm hoping anyone who has taken this trip or a similar one can help me out with some real-world experience / guidance.
    To give you some idea I like shooting a variety of things, especially when I have an opportunity like this. (landscapes, architecture, street, people, etc.) I plan on spending time in London, Stonehenge, Greenwich, Edinburgh, the Cotswolds, and possibly Bath or Stratford-Upon-Avon. I know it ultimately comes down to how much weight i'm willing to burden myself with. However, maybe someone with more experience can help me filter out what might not be as necessary.
    I'm taking my 5DMkII and will choose from the following lenses/equipment:
    Canon 16-35mm. 2.8L II
    Canon 24-70mm. 2.8L
    Canon 70-200mm. 2.8L II
    Canon 100mm. Macro 2.8L (doubt this is necessary)
    580EX II Flash
    Manfrotto Carbon Fiber Tripod (055CXPro4) - ***BIG QUESTION on whether I should take this or not.***
    I have a Kata Bumblebee-220PL backpack which seems to be a bit bigger than what is allowed as a carry-on for international flights. I know that both Kata and Think Tank have at least one or two options to get around this but I DO NOT believe they can be used as backpacks which is what I would prefer once there. I will also be flying from London to Edinburgh and need to worry about those carry-on luggage limitations too.
    Anyhow, sorry for the long post. I'm sure some, if not all, of these questions have been answered in threads across the site. I'm just hoping you guys can help me consolidate those answers here. I'm really looking forward to the trip and want to make sure i'm prepared so that I do not come back with any regrets. Thank you and I look forward to your suggestions.
    - Rafael
  2. Hi Rafael, sounds like a great trip coming up.
    The only thing for sure is that at some point during your trip, you'll wish you had whatever it is you choose to leave behind!
    I'd suggest taking as little as possible. Based on your list of available lenses, I'd probably opt for just the 16-35 and leave the rest at home. None of your lenses are light and weight can become a really big deal when you're travelling.
    As I don't have the 16-35, I recently took just the 24-70 (with a 5DmkII) to Tokyo and I was happy with that. I would have loved my 70-200 at times, but not often enough to warrant the extra weight. Maybe the 24-70 would be appropriate for you. I suppose it depends on how much landscape versus people shots you think you might take.
    Anyway... packing light is my best advice. I'd even leave the flash at home.
    The tripod would be great to have, but you can get by without it. That depends on your style i suppose. You could always hire one for a day or two if you have a place in mind that you'd want to have it.
    Although it is great to have all of your available arsenal with you, it can be great to work with only one lens.
    I would also suggest to spend more time in Scotland than England, but I am Scottish ;-)
    All the best for your trip.
  3. As far as the bag goes - it's 13.4 X 11 X 20.5. The key dimensions for getting into an overhead are the 13.4 X 11; and that should not be a problem. I use a Kata Owl 272 DL which is the same size except for the length (17.5 instead of 20.4) and that three inches is in the height which should be OK. I have not had an issue on any international flights. The regional jets have been a challenge but I doubt you'll be on one of those. I would pack it so that it is a little "squishable" just in case - I often take my laptop out of mine once on board and that makes a difference.
  4. I'm really looking forward to the trip and want to make sure i'm prepared so that I do not come back with any regrets.​
    The biggest threat of regrets, photographically speaking, is not which lens is chosen but, whether your friends are going to to cooperate with you in spending time shooting at key locations at odd times for differing durations and under different circumstances. Indeed, this factor exponentially outweighs the never ending "what lenses do I bring on my trip to XXXX" questions. Unfortunately it is a social issue where our help is limited and mixed with your individual logistical realities.
    Manfrotto Carbon Fiber Tripod (055CXPro4) - ***BIG QUESTION on whether I should take this or not.***​
    If you are actually going to use it with some frequency under lighting conditions where it will be useful/needed during this unique opportunity of photographic splendor, then yes.. If not, it will be a ball and chain you will be dragging around wherever you go, The answer of which one applies depends on the the factor mentioned in the response above.
    I obtained a smaller tripod for compromises of utility and mobility on trips and now use it for everything so that may be a middle ground solution.
    In any event, the bottom line on how much to scale down or not depends on what you will actually be able to do. Are you on a social trip with friends who will feel bogged down when your photography of a location is longer than the 15 seconds that a point and shooter needs, a photo expedition or something in between.
  5. Looking at your trip, the one thing I would advise, is to give Stonehenge a miss. It may be of great archeological value and an iconic structure, but it's rather on the "so what" side when you actually get there, especially if the A303 is in it's normal traffic state (a car park). It's also rather a long way from anywhere else.
  6. Scotland! Well, England, too. Considering what you have, the 16-35 and 24-70 are absolutely necessary. While any version of Canon's 70-200 L lenses is great and there may be a shot or two that justify having a long lens. You might be better of borrowing, renting or buying one of the lighter 70-300 IS zooms to take with you. Leave the tripod and flash at home, but do get a sturdy monopod and use it as a hiking pole when you don't have the camera on it.
    Lastly you will need extra memory. Flash cards, image bank, notebook, spare hard drive--something to allow you to offload your images safely and allow you to keep shooting.
  7. I couldn't agree more with John about the challenge of travelling with others, and working to integrate photography into the trip. If they aren't "into it" two weeks can become a long time together. One approach is to not try to do everything together - meeting up at the end of a day where you've focused on photography, and they have done what they want to do can be a very nice way of not getting in each other's plans in a negative way.
  8. Leave the tripod and flash at home​
    Certain types of shooting require one of these items. Leave the bouce or powerful flash at home and one can kiss many of those higher quality shots of the freinds goodbye. A point and shoot may be a better choice rather than lugging the rest of the gear. Scenics? Really good ones on a rare opportunity like this? Substantially limited to brighter situations without the stable support. A smaller camera can cover that. Leave both home? Some adaquate photography can be done of course but then its time to ask oneself if it worth it to bring any big gear at all.
    If I had moderate flexibility, I would bring the body, two lenses covering a decent range, bounce/off camera flash and smallest lightest tripod available. Scant flexibility, an adanced all in one camera. Very high control over my time, all than can be securely carried on the go.
  9. Thing is, I did carry a substantial amount of equipment on several trips. with rare exceptions like the shot above, the longer lenses and tripod were barely used and with the high ISO capability of cameras like the 5D2, the flash becomes so much dead weight.
    Below, 5D2, no flash, ISO 3200, no tri- or monopod, 16-35mm L at 35mm, so no IS. 1/50s @ f3.5.
    I'd say the OP hasn't indicated how serious his shooting requirements may be, so my advice is based on my experience. It's really his choice. Besides, in many places where flash might come in handy, you might not be allowed to use flash.
  10. Wow, what great answers so far!
    Scott: I'll see what I can do about skewing our time towards Scotland. hahaha! Yeah, I know weight is the big issue here. I've read some of the other responses and although the 70-200mm. is probably my favorite lens it's also the least practical. I'll probably end up leaving this one behind because as you said the number of times I would use it probably does not justify the added weight.
    David: I'm flying Virgin Atlantic and their site has a limitation of 9x14x22 for carry-on luggage so my backpack is a couple of inches too tall (9" vs. 11"). Maybe they won't be as strict on the international flight but i'm afraid the flight to Scotland will be a challenge. I'm thinking if I leave the 70-200mm behind I can get a smaller backpack just for the trip.
    John: You've brought up a good point. I've actually discussed this with my friends and they said it wouldn't be a problem with them. And that if it becomes a problem I can always 'catch up' with them later in the day. I'm going to have to balance time between them and those photographs I will not want to miss. And about the tripod, you're right...I might get a monopod for the trip or just buy a smaller tripod once I get there. As much as i'd like to take mine it will most likely end up being a liability.
    Peter: You know, i've heard that before about Stonehenge but my friends are pretty set on going. They're actually making reservations so we get to go into the 'inner circle'. Hopefully I can get a few good images there to make the trip more interesting.
    Charles: Great image! You're not making my decision to leave the 70-200mm. behind any easier. I think you're right about the other 2 lenses too. I plan on taking both the 16-35 and 24-70 and possibly purchasing a monopod. That will be much easier to get into my suitcase below and to travel with. Carbon fiber can be lighter but it is still bulky. Is there a particular monopod you would recommend?
    Thanks for the answers so far guys...
  11. I prefer the Gitzo5561T which is an expensive monopod, but I have an inexpensive Manfrotto in Aluminum that also works well but not as short for packing or as light. I have used a Slik CF monopod and the legs wobble within the locking rings. Since only the 70-200 L has a tripod foot, you might want a tilting monopod head. There is a cheap but effective one from Manf/giotti and an expensive but very sturdy one from Really Right Stuff that works well with QR plates and clamps or as a screwmount.
    While it is true that Stone Henge is close to busy roads, it is an iconic site and if you watch carefully, you can get a shot clear of tourists (if it is a lousy day there won't be so many). My shot is not so hot because of the weather, but no tourists in the shot. You will be 21 to 25 miles from Avebury, which has an older stone circle whose stones you may touch, you can walk freely among them but you do need to watch the sheep droppings.
  12. Charles: Very nice! I know it has to be a rare moment to get an image there without any people in it. I believe we are going on a Monday so hopefully that will help. I'll go ahead and check out those monopods. I know Gitzo is an expensive option but they usually have the best reviews. I have an Acratech GP ballhead on my Manfrotto tripod so I'll see if that is compatible with the Gitzo or the other options you've listed.
    As far as sheep droppings go, they probably wouldn't stand in my way of getting a decent pic. : - ) I'll go ahead and mention Avebury to my friends. Thanks!
  13. Like I said it is a short distance away, about 40 to 50 minutes (two routes) if you drive the speed limit. It has a nice little museum, much friendlier hosts than the ones at Stonehenge. The circle is much larger, but the stones are smaller and more roughly cut or, perhaps, they were just picked for their shape at random. Here's a view of that.
    This is a sheep pasture, whereas I don't think they have them within the tourist area at Stonehenge.
  14. And you are flying to Scotland. I took the train in 2009 from London's Euston station by Virgin Trains to Edinburgh, just a few hours and very pleasant scenery along the way.
    Pack a sweater and jacket or pick up a good sweater while you are there. This was at the height of summer and you'll note snow up on the high points.
  15. Charles: Excellent images. I love the Avebury one especially. Those are the exact greens i'm longing to see. I'll make sure to pack warm stuff for Scotland. I was looking at a flight because they seem to be a lot less expensive than the train fares. It is about $150.00 compared to about $450.00 if I remember correctly. I imagine you went to Edinburgh. Can I ask how many nights you stayed there? We are planning a 2 night trip only. We figure we'll see the castle and royal mile on one day and the national museum on the last day.
  16. A quick look showed 57.35 Pounds or 93.37 dollars one way from London Euston to Glasgow. It shows a first class to Edinburgh at 207 pounds, but I can't see whether that is one way or roundtrip.
    In any event, the thing to do is, if you know your date of travel, get advance tickets by going online to Virgintrains.co.uk. I think they have better rates if you get the tickets early. Whether you save money or not--a far more pleasant experience than any aircraft anywhere.
    It doesn't hurt to check all carriers, I did see rates to Edinburgh for advanced tickets that were around 60 pounds.
    Scotland is one of my favorite destinations. We were there for a total of 8 days in 2007. Four days in '09 and attended the Tattoo and fringe festival in 2010 for a week. The castle takes about 2 hours at most. While there are interesting real shops along the mile, like a bagpipe maker, a real kilt maker and some museums for different things and a few nice tea shops, the majority of shops are tourist traps. Geoffery (Tailor) is the authentic Kilt maker should you be interested, but it ain't cheap and customs mailing one back to the states is a bear. There are other kilt makers and shops offering quality goods all over outside the tourist area, but you have to search and keep your eye open. There is a lovely park in the gulley between the old town and a nice promenade along Princess street. Behind Princess street is Rose street, with more shops and eateries.
    Going the other way through the old town on George IV Bridge (which appears to be an elevated street, takes you by many interesting things like Grayfriars Bobby pub and the Elephant coffee shop where some of the first Harry Potter book was written. Down below is Grassmarket and it has several nice places to eat.
  17. I knew I was writting this thread for a reason. Thanks for all of the great info. I actually think the 2 days we are planning to stay in Edinburgh is very little. But my two friends are coming back after only 10 days while i'm staying for a week longer. So naturally they want to get the most in while they can.
    I'll definitely look for a rail ticket then. I originally looked at britrail.com but i'll try the site you suggested. I would also agree that a train is the way to go as you get to take much more of your trip in. I'll start convincing my two friends tomorrow.
    I'm not sure about a kilt but since you mentioned the coffee shop where some of the first Harry Potter book was written, i'll definitely take a look at that. My sister would go absolutely crazy if I brought a pic of that back for her to see. Thanks again for all your help.
  18. Bring a helmet, and a few Marines.
  19. Train tickets vary a lot in price depending on time of day, direction of travel etc. For cheap bus and train tickets see Megabus and Megatrain websites.Hiring a car would be my choice though probably more expensive.
    As to kit I this is the order I would also ditch your gear :flash, tripod, 100mm Macro. After that it gets tricky. I would probably bring all three lenses and then select two for each day depending on where I was going. My own kit is a similar but lighter all round : 17-40 f4, 24-105 f4, 70-300 f4-5.6. I tend to select two lenses for each day depending on where I am going. I have also just bought a Canon G12 for times when I want a small, light and handy gear. (Worth thinking about?)
    My top suggestion is to plan everything together as much as possible in advance and go for what you all agree you want to see. By all means draw their attention to Avebury but if they have set their hearts on Stonehenge then go to Stonehenge. Peace and harmony among you will be much more important than where you end up goiung. In a 2 week trip you are only going to scratch the surface of the place. If you have a bit of time to yourself at the end then you can indulge your self a bit more then.
    Have a great trip!
  20. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    A few points.
    • Landscapes seemed important to you and yet the only place on your list to shoot landscapes is the Cotswolds. The Cotswolds are a pleasant area to spend time, no doubt , but aren't terribly easy to photograph well. The Cotswolds aren't the best place in the UK for landscape photography.
    • I don't see any mention of cars in your posts. Does that mean that you're going to rely entirely on public transport? If so then I'd be inclined to concentrate your trip in the cities . Its difficult to get to good landscape sites without a car. Its especially difficult to get to good landscape locations at the right times of day without a car.
    • It might well be cheaper to rent a car for your time outside London than to use trains and planes for three people. Most lower price rail tickets depend on buying your ticket some time in advance which requires a fixed forward plan. The daily variation in flight prices to Edinburgh from London is huge depending on whether the time of day is considered peak time for business travel. Its likely that the best air deals are very early in the morning and quite late in the evening.
    • For me, the flexibility and cost of travel for three people (outside the London area) lean in favour of a car, but the real purpose of all of this is the advisability of making sure that your destinations and intentions link with the methods of transport you choose. Don't fool yourselves into thinking that a rail journey to Edinburgh will expose you to glorious countryside. Don't fool yourselves into thinking that a rail journey to Cirencester means that you've seen the Cotswolds. Don't fool yourself into thinking that because you're staying in a hotel in a Cotswold town that you'll be on hand to take glorious landcapes at dawn or sunset unless you've got there by car. On the other hand don't assume that its any easier or cheaper to drive and park a car in major cities in the UK than it is anywhere else.
    • Its perfectly possible to have a great two or three week trip to the UK without hiring a car. The easiest way to do that is to see the cities , large and small, Another way of doing it is to book onto a coach trip with a specific itinerary. If you're going to have a city-based trip then I think the itinerary looks a bit thin. Greenwich is easily accessible from central London. Its a day trip not a destination . I much prefer Bath to Stratford unless you plan to go to the theatre a lot- which you can do in London.
    • If you're determined to follow the public transport strategy you might want to think about Oxford or Cambridge as a scenic (in the urban sense) day trip from London, and Richmond and Windsor which are accessible by local transport as with Greenwich.
    Equipment? Well most USA people coming to Europe preach the benefits of travelling light and bringing mostly wide angle lenses. I don't really subscribe to either of those in an extreme form but I must say that having all your zooms at f2.8 doesn't make life easy. My travelling kit of 17-40L, 24-105L, 70-200 f4 L would be ideal for you and not too heavy to carry all day, but then I'm never carrying my trip bags all day and don't photograph or sightsee whilst carrying anything other than cameras. I always take a tripod which goes with me in a car or otherwise stays in the hotel room unless I know I'm going to need it. A tripod in cities and towns can be a pain if you have to carry it all day.
  21. The last couple of replies are very good. And the 17-40, 24-105, 70-300 with full frame camera is an excellent compromise, unless you have to go buy all that. The lightest I have gone was with an XTi, 10-22, 17-85 IS and 70- 300 IS. Full frame lightest kit was 16-35 L 24-105 L IS and 70-200 L F4 IS with a set of teleconverters. Despite it being a white lens the 70-200 L F4 is very sharp and takes TCs well as witness that shot of the Wallace memorial.
    In 07 I rented a Mini with diesel engine and drove from Edinburgh to Falmouth and back to Glasgow in 2 weeks. Best fun I ever had in a rental car. Got yelled at a number of times for passing slower moving Brits in the fast lane on the left. But they hog the fast lane just like Americans. You do have to watch the speedometer, though, I found that I could do 110 mph all too easily. Managed to avoid a ticket, as far as know. Or they may be looking for me yet.
  22. my recommendation would be the 24-70 and the 70-200 (although that one is a beast to carry). With full frame a 24mm lens ought to be wide enough - 16-35 is okay for artsy fartsy shots . take the flash too. Leave the tripod behind.
    Don't forget to be realistic about what you will be able to cover in 2 weeks - unless you have a 'spotter' who can tell you where to stand and what to take..
  23. Don't forget an umbrella or two...
  24. Yeah, Artsy fartsy shots are always so boring. Earlier I meant to say that despite being a white lens the 70-200 L F4 IS was light weight.
  25. Hello all,
    No joke! Now i'm actually thinking of ditching the tripod for a large baton. Hopefully things will be in order once we get there next month.
    Colin: Thank you for your advice and good wishes! In regards to the lenses, you're right...that set up would work out very well for this trip. However, I don't have the choice of a lighter load. What might work is dealing with the heavy load just to get all 3 lenses there and then to lock one away in the safe while i'm out and about with the other two. (given that the safe is big enough for the 70-200) Most people seem to think it's not that good of an idea to take that lens though.
    As far as planning goes, we've actually agreed on a pretty good itinerary together. This way there will be no complaints or disappointments once we are there. We are a pretty light hearted group so i'm thinking the only decisions we will be struggling with is which bitters to order at the pub. : - )
    David: Thank you for your informative post. I mentioned landscapes because it's part of what I like shooting here. You're right though, we are planning more of a city trip. I will be alone the second week and am seriously considering Cambridge or Oxford and will look into your advice on Bath. As far as transportation goes i'm going to try and take a train most everywhere, including Edinburgh. I've researched some fares and they seem reasonable enough. We actually figured that out last night. Who wants to deal with the whole airport bit a few days after arriving there. I'm also thinking of taking the rail option to these other cities. Since, again, I will be alone for half of the trip it seems like an easier option. It feels trickier for me to drive alone all week especially in a place where 'everyone drives on the wrong side of the road'. ; - )
    Pascal: My umbrella is waiting for me in the closet! Thanks.
    Charles: Another great shot! Even if I do decide to take the larger lens I will take the 16-35 as it really doesn't add that much more weight. So, ultimately, the decision is whether to take the 70-200 or not. Either way, can't wait to see London atop of the 'Eye'.
  26. Things are a bit strange in London right now, I'd be thinking less rather than more.
  27. Here's an option. The inner bag comes out and can be locked to any solid pipe, like that to a radiator. I left what I didn't want to carry on a given day in my room and never lost anything that way.
    The outer bag serves as a day pack and has a number of anti-theft features.
  28. A good sturdy monopod serves the same purpose as a baton, especially with a ball head. Failing that, a sturdy piece of sycamore root pretending to be a walking cane works even better.
  29. Things are a bit strange in London right now, I'd be thinking less rather than more.​
    There's a lot more to England than London. Or LondonEngland as many Americans say it!
  30. I would also agree that a train is the way to go as you get to take much more of your trip in.​
    Look for National Express coaches too. Most trips take a bit longer than the train but are generally half the price. Sometimes you can get a trip for £5 or even £1.
  31. The Eye is always a big success with everyone I know who went on it. I like walking the South Bank of the River Thames from Tower Bridge up to Westminster Bridge. This takes in the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, City Hall, Tate Modern, The Millennium Footbridge, a nice view of St Paul's, the South Bank concert halls and the entertainers / booksellers etc and finally The Eye. You can then cross Westminster Bridge to get to the Houses of Parliament.

    Oxford and Cambridge : Oxford is the bigger town and there is a fair amount of nice old university buildings there. However for my money I prefer Cambridge. To my mind the stone is a nicer colour, the architecture more interesting and the river more appealing :
    Cambridge also has a lively market square. In both cases the university areas are the interesting bits. Google them and make up your own mind which looks the more attractive to your eye.
  32. Hi, Rafael, my two-week trip to Scotland last summer was wonderful! I took trains, buses,
    ferries, and good walking shoes, all of which worked well.

    I planned extensively before going, purchased all lodging, train, ferry, and bus tickets on-line
    before going. The hard part was deciding in advance where to go. The planning paid off,
    though, everything went extremely smoothly.

    As for equipment, I took my trusty Hasselblad with three lenses, tripod, and plenty of film. I'm
    now so enchanted by standing stones, having seen the Callanais stones (Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides), that I'm planning a trip to Ireland in a few months.

    Have a good trip, post pictures upon your return. --Sally
  33. An easier stone circle to get to then Callanish, (aren't they all easier than Callanish?) is Castlerigg near Keswick, Cumbria. Much of the appeal of these ancient monuments is the setting. They are usually in places which by themselves feel 'special' and the ring of stones adds to the feeling of mankind connecting to the landscape. I often feel a sense of peace and consolation when visiting them and can see they would have worked well as places of spiritual and physical healing. Here is a shot of the Stenness Stones on Orkney.
  34. I like walking the South Bank of the River Thames from Tower Bridge up to Westminster Bridge.​

    Along that route somewhere is the OXO building. If you go to the top and go through the café (or is it a restaurant?!) you will get to their observation deck with some nice views across the Thames.
  35. Now, you guys are making me want to go back--if you locate me a sunny day.
  36. What about getting off the beaten track a bit? If you want amazing landscape, go to Shropshire and visit the Long Mynd. Why not visit the Ridgeway near Uffington for historic sites (the White Horse is ace, and Wayland's Smithy is an ancient burial mound)? For a good church, go to Salisbury, or Lincoln, or Durham (all three are top notch). In short - why not come to the UK and not take a single picture of anything anyone expects you to take. What ever you do, though, have fun. (And if you're dead set on Scotland, and the weather's good, try the East Neuk of Fife between Anstruther and Kingsbarns)
  37. Hey Steve, thanks for that. I must have walked past it a few times. I will have a look next time I am there.
    William, I agree that off the beaten track is the best idea. But I suspect you probably need to have walked the beaten track before you can appreciate what is off it. ...and yes, the Vale of the White Horse is a beautiful area. Horribly difficult to photograph though. The white horse itself can hardly be made out from the ground.
  38. Here is an ear from the White Horse to show what I mean :
  39. Hi, Colin, thanks for postingthe photo of the Stenness Stones (Orkney). That's on my list of places I'd like to visit. And, yes, the Callanais Stones are difficult to reach but worth it! There are several other "standing stones" sites within walking distance. Hey, Charles: I found a sunny day when I was in Scotland last year. --Sally
  40. Sally, Callanish has been on my list to visit since my university days when my Physics lecturer was Dr Thom who with his father, Prof Thom spent ages measuring Callanish and other sites developing theories about neolithic measuring systems :
    Callanish (I use the English spelling out of old habit) has remained a place 'to see one day' ever since. I would also like to add St Kilda to that but that may not be practical these days.Anyway thanks for the shot of Callanish which has re-awakened my desire to go there. I just need to persuade my wife now.
    Here is a shot of Waylands Smithy (Oxfordshire) on the Ridgeway as mentioned above.
  41. In 2009 we were very lucky and had several nice days in Scotland. This was above Glasgow on the way to see Loch Ness.
  42. Colin, Steve, Charles, William, and Sally: Thank you for the added replies and tips...and some great images too! I'm sad to say but for now my trip is officially 'on hold'. One of my friends is really tripping out about the events unfolding there and is actually calling Virgin-Atlantic to see what we can possibly do about a refund or credit for another destination. I personally do not think things will be a problem in a month but then again things don't look too good on t.v. now either. I'm thinking maybe all this will result in is just less-expensive hotel rooms. Who knows, I might end up there with two weeks for myself.
    As far as the tips go, we each purchased a Rick Steves travel book for both Great Britain and London and plan to follow some of his 'walks' in the city. For the first day we plan on following his 'Westminster Walk' and going to the British Museum. The second day we will try his 'City Walk' and end up at the British Library. There's also a 'Tower of London Walk' that he suggests.
    What I might also try to incorporate now is some of these 'less-travelled' suggestions you guys are giving me. I know from experience it's by spending time in the less touristy spots that can you really take in what a country and its people has to offer.
    Anyhow, i'll keep you guys posted as things develop. Thanks and I hope you all enjoy your day.
  43. You should still come here but keep clear of the cities. Personally, I would avoid them anyway!
  44. I went through the same thing this past fall, planning a January trip to India with two old friends. Events in the Arab world had them concerned that it would spread to the Moslems of India and it took some reassuring that the conditions were different and that where we would be going would be in areas less populated by Moslems. We did go through parts that were majority Moslem, but we had a completely safe trip except for me getting the Delhi Belly (in Agra).
  45. Rafael, I can understand your friend's concern. It looks pretty grim on the TV though in reality the affected areas are quite localised and probably not the sort of places you would be visiting anyway. London was quiet last night (Tuesday) and is quiet again so far tonight. I don't want to speak too soon but I think the worst is over now as the police seem to have got a grip of the problems. So I agree with you that in a month the riots will be history and suggest you might want to wait a couple of days and see how things go.
    But wherever you end up - have a great trip.
  46. Charles: I can't even image what the Delhi Belly is. hahahah Care to explain?

    Colin: I'm thinking the same thing. I'm sticking to my guns and making it there. I'm pretty psyched about the trip already and didn't start this thread for nothing. : ) Besides, it looks like it will be a perfect excuse to buy and fly with a new Kata bag for my gear. I'll definitely let you guys know what I end up taking. You guys have been a ton of help.
  47. Could also call it the India Two-Step--you don't get two steps from the toilet. I''m prone to it. My travel buddies were immune.
  48. Hi, Colin, there are many reasons a trip to St. Kilda Island may not be practical, but, boy, did I enjoy my day trip there! It was a long day involving a three-hour boat ride each way but just to be there. . . There are a few companies that offer trips from various places either from the mainland or other islands. Doesn't sound like it would fit Rafael's plans. . . --Sally
  49. If I were taking this trip with a group of non photographers, and I have done such things in Europe, here is what I would do, as a Nikon shooter with a cropped sensor body, a D 300:
    one main lens, a low profile one--16-85mm f3.5-5.6 VR that I would use for 80% of my shots;
    one fast prime, focal length of your choice, 20mm, 35mm or 50mm;
    tripod, for use early in the morning before breakfast or late in the afternoon when the group is resting, asleep, etc;
    pocket tripod, for use in churches, bridge rails, etc when a regular tripod is not feasible;
    backpack to get equipoment to Europe;
    possibly smaller bag to get equipment on planes intra Europe where size restrictions are more restrictive;
    triple backup for all images taken--hyperdrives, laptop, etc;
    light weight 70-300mm or 200mm only if you know you are going to need and use it;
    no flash;
    windbreaker to hide your camera and lens when walking around and keep it dry and hide it from museum guards. The windbreaker pocket is where you store your prime lens.
    Joe Smith
  50. Rafael, sorry to hear you are thinking of putting your trip on hold.
    London is a very safe city. As Colin says the trouble was very localised in some of the poorer urban areas on the fringe, and I very much doubt we'll see much more (if any) trouble. I was in Central London all day on Monday doing the tourist routine with my children DSLR in hand the whole time. The place was buzzing with tourists and commuters just as normal.
    If you do come, and want to go off the beaten track for landscapes; why not try one of our National Parks? http://www.nationalparks.gov.uk/ I'm fortunate to live a few hundred yards from the South Downs National Park (about an hour on the train from London), and most of my landscape photos are taken there.
    Here's one I took on Monday from the London Eye.....
    Hope you do decide to visit England. You'd be very welcome.
  51. Joe: That is quite a load! Actually with that set up i'm sure I wouldn't miss a thing. I'm debating taking the 70-200 still but i'm not sure it would be that big of a deal if I did. I might be able to sneak this other small Kata bag I have over for daily walkabout use while I keep the gear i'm not using in the hotel room. We will see.
    Chris: Great Pic! And you're right. No riots in sight! hehehehe My trip to England / Scotland is actually on again. I'm booking hotels tomorrow as well as the train reservation up to Edinburgh. I really can't wait. I'll be sure to keep you guys posted on what I ultimately take and i'll be sure to post pics when I get back. What lens did you use for this London Eye pic if I can ask?
  52. That's great Rafael!
    Pic was taken with the 18-105mm kit lens for my D90 (@ 28mm). Light weight, VR, decent IQ and zoom range - all I need when exploring!
  53. You got some good advice here!
    I'd recommend it's worth bringing your tripod, even if its for a few shots! As David suggested, you can leave it in the hotel when you don't need it. I do a bit of 'urban landscape', as I like to call it and you definitely need a tripod for shots like this!
    Btw, London's perfectly safe now!
  54. Btw, London's perfectly safe now!​
    I would rephrase that as 'London is a safe as it used to be before the recent short-lived outbreak of extreme shopping'.
  55. I just came back from a trip a couple of days ago, which was half work and second half for taking pictures for myself. I took with me:
    Nikon D700 with 20mm, 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 105mm, and 185mm
    Mamiya 7 with 65mm and 43mm.
    Gitzo carbon tripod.
    Two sets of lights - tungsten and a Quantum flash system.
    Laptop and iPad.
    I needed to take a fair amount of this for the job that I was doing. However the second part of the trip I was taking pictures for myself, and I decided that next time it would be much the most effective photographically speaking to leave most of it. After the job was over, the Nikon didn't get used at all. So I decided the optimum kit for me if I were photographing for my own purposes would be:
    Mamiya 7 and 65mm lens, the tripod, and the iPad, and nothing else. In fact, one my job was over, that's all I used anyway.
    I carried the Nikon around with me but only because I was scared of having it nicked if I left it with the hotel, I didn't use it at all. All pictures were taken only with the Mamiya and 65mm. Taking too much gear is just a worry from the security point of view, and exhausting to carry.
    Clearly, that's not directly relevant as you have different gear, but, depending how you work, I'd recommend leaving everything except one standard lens. And enjoy yourself. The pictures will be better for it.
  56. Hello again everyone.
    Anish: Wow, that is one beautiful image. I can see how taking a tripod would be worth it even if I only got a couple of shots like yours. Given the weight though and the other activities I will be engaged in i'm deciding to leave it at home. However, I am debating buying a Joby Gorillapod. Their SLR Zoom model is just sturdy enough for my camera and a 70-200mm 2.8 lens. (It holds a maximum of 6.5 lbs) It is under 10 inches I will have a much easier time dealing with it than with a much larger tripod. Does anyone have any experience shooting with this Gorillapod?
    Simon: So you're saying less is more. I can definitely relate to that. What did the job consist of if I can ask? That is quite a bit of equipment to take.
    Update: Yesterday I went out and purchased a Thinktank Airport International V 2.0 rolling bag. I am highly impressed by both its design and build. I am now considering taking all of my lenses because of this bag. Basically I would leave behind my tripod, flash, and macro lens but take all the rest. I would also take a Kata shoulder bag to use for my daily exploring. It is small enough to pass through the airline as a 'handbag' so I shouldn't have a problem with that. The Thinktank roller bag has cable and lock system so I would feel much more comfortable locking it to to say the bed in the hotel room and then locking the contents as well. Whatever equipment stayed behind for the day should be safe enough. I feel that is a decent solution for both the weight and my equipment's safety. Any opinions on this? Thanks!

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