going to europe and would like to hear from experience...

Discussion in 'Travel' started by alain_martinez, Jul 18, 2005.

  1. Hello,

    I'm going to some parts of Europe in September and I would like to
    hear some of your experiences both technical and non-technical. I'm
    actually going to shoot a wedding in Siena, but before I'll be going
    to prague, brussels, venice, florence, and then siena the last stop.
    I want to take breathless scenery images in all of these sites. So
    your help with the following questions would be greatly appreciated.
    My gooddie bag is pretty loaded, I'm taking canon 20Ds with 70-200L
    2.8, 16-35L 2.8, 28-135IS, plus every other little thing we need
    (remote triger, flashes, tripods, etc)

    Are they any books out there that talk about photography in these places?

    Any advise on Aperture to use for landscapes, technique, etc?

    Has anybody had any problems traveling with a Pelican case loaded with
    expensive stuff.

    Any general advise?

    Thank you
  2. There are interesting things in Brussels, but it might be a little difficult. It's neither overly historic looking nor strikingly modern. The Grote Markt is nice, but always crowded. If you can find the time, Brugge is very nice and only an hour away.

    As far as aperture, use the one closest to f/8.0 that achieves the DOF that you want. I made this table to help me chose apertures for landscapes (I almost always want focus to extend to infinity). The second page is compact chart you can print and take with you. Don't forget to input the correct COF.
  3. Hello Alain,

    I've been shooting in all those cities you have listed. You're in for a nice trip! :)

    Your list of bodies and lenses appears to be pretty complete. Maybe over kill. When I shoot in Europe, I use mostly wider than longer lenses. About a 90/10 split. If I could, I would carry only one body, and leave the 28-135.

    One word of advice, try to travel as LIGHT AS POSSIBLE. This is for a few reasons. First, its just a hassle to physicallly haul a ton of gear around. Europe is not famous for being "wheel friendly". Very few (if any) sloped curbs and escalators/elevators. LOTS of cobblestone streets and stairs!!! And if you're carrying the stuff (vs. wheeled carriers)you will walk a LOT, so it can get very tiresome.

    But more importantly, unless you're travelling with someone who can watch your gear 24/7, someone's going to try to pinch it from you. If you carry everything, it'll be hard to hide the fact you're carrying lots of expensive gear. You'll be a huge target for everyone to see. They will try ANYTHING ANYTIME; when you're shooting that great scene, when you're eating at that nice cafe, or just walking down the road. I caught on guy sneaking into my room while we were sleeping on the train! They are very agressive and, unfortunately, very good at what they do. Be especially careful in Prague, Florence and Venice. LOADS of pickpockets.

    Bottom line, take as little with you as possible, in a camera-bag that may not LOOK like a camera bag. Have fun, but be concious of your surroundings. And insure your gear!!!

    And if it were me...I would NOT want to check-in a Pelican case with ANY airline. Try to pack it into a carry-on. That's what I do now.

    Good luck and have a great trip. If you have any specific questions, please feel free to email me.

  4. heheh I shot a wedding in Hawaii and what did I carry around for my own use? A p/s, that's what.<BR><BR>
    I got a lot more photos that way.<BR><BR>
    Here's a freebie -- go look at or buy, postcards of the city you're visiting. Copy the shots, they're most likely the best ones.<BR>
  5. both previous responders have very good advice.

    As a Fleming, I was born in Brugge, and I have lived there and in the region for close to thirty years, before moving to Brussels where I have been living until I came to Toronto, Canada close to 10 years ago.

    Brussels has tons of interesting buildings, but I think you will not be particulary happy. Brussels is a badly maintained, dirty, gloomy-looking city with a year-round dense smog in many streets, and the more interesting buildings besides the obvious Grote Markt, Royal Palace and Beenhouwerstraat are not easy to find.

    On the other hand, Brugge is one of the most conservative reactionary cities of the country. The advantage of that is that it is without a doubt one of the best preserved mediaeval cities of Western Europe. It is a lot cleaner than Brussels, its buildings are far better preserved, the views can be spectacular, and because tourism is their main industry, they are a lot more responsive to the (well-paying) tourist.

    You may find that taking pictures is a lot easier than in North America. Although people will often duck, wait, or run around when you point a camera in their direction, it is because they think that they are in the way, and they don't want to destroy your picture.

    In North America, on the contrary, one gets often yelled and screamed at by people who seem somehow convinced that you are taking a picture of them. I usually explain that I was only waiting for them to get out of the way, because I don't want them in my pictures. That satisfies some, but makes others yell and scream even louder. I have as yet to find the solution. Any sugestions are apreciated!

    On the other hand, In North America, streets are usually very wide and bright, the sidewalks are flat and comfortable, they have slopes to make it easier to cross the streets, all of which is quite helpful to a photographer. In Europe, and especially so in Belgium, streets are very narrow (and therefore quite dark - which often makes for very uncomfortable contrasts if the sky is bright), sidewalks are narrow, there are lots of cobblestones (make sure you carry everything, or if you use wheels, make sure you use some serious padding), no slopes (being physically challenged in Europe is a genuine challenge), and there are lots of people on the sidewalks, and that turns taking pictures into a challenge.

    Also, you will probably find that taking pictures in museums is usually not allowed. Do not try to circumvent that. The police system is very different from the North American one, and you will profoundly regret it if they call for them.

    Depending on how long you plan to stay in Europe, and Belgium in particular, there are some other places you'll want to go to. Also, you may want to consider the Netherlands as well.

    These are just some of the things I think of, but if you have any questions, I'll be glad to answer them!
  6. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    A couple of points. First I agree strongly with the point on Bruges vs Brussels. Brussels is not an exciting city photographically and Bruges is much more fun, medieval, compact, walkable, safe, good beer and decent food.

    Second I very often travel with a checked Pelicase full of gear, and do so wthout incident so far. I wouldn't have thought that you could guarantee to get a decent sized Pelicase on as carry on all the time- and it looks like you will be catching a lot of flights and European airports are fussier about carry-on than in the Americas in my view. On the other hand I don't know why what you've described won't fit in a bag that you could take on a plane provided you send the tripod in your checked bags. My own strategy would be to take one camera bag that will hold everything and one to hold a subset for tramping round cities all day, leaving the rest at the hotel.

    Last , there's more to photograph in Venice and Prague (and Bruges) than there is in Florence and Siena, neither of which could keep me occupied for more than a couple of days, and you hopefully you have reflected that in your schedule. However around both cities there are interesting places to travel to, and in particular the "Crete" region south of Siena and bounded by Asciano, Montepulciano, Radicofani, and Montalcino is a delight, both in the countryside and in towns such as Pienza and San Quirico. You'd need a car for this though.
  7. Alain,

    I went to Venice, Rome, & Florence in May. I would say your 16-35L will be the lens you use the most. Venice and Florence (Europe in general) are "wide-angle" places. The 28-135 might be more than you need. The 17-85 USM would probably go really good with the 70-200. You will probably be good with the 16-35 and 70-200. Maybe a Canon 50mm 1.8 would fill in the range.

    This may depend on your style, but I agree with the above posts that advise you to travel light. And use a camera bag that does not look like a camera bag.

    Safe journey,

  8. Legions of very skilful and patient photographers have preceded you in taking breathtaking townscapes of all those cities. They waited till the light was just right, they used lens movements -- all in all they did a much better job than you can hope to do. And collections of their works are available easily and cheaply. Buy their books and post them home.
    What they didn't photograph are the odd things that strike you, the ephemera, those old men sitting there, that girl standing there, your wife sipping a cool beer, etc. Take those photos; you'll be glad you did.
    Generations of photographers have managed to do this sort of thing with a single lens of a fixed focal length. If you prefer a zoom, one will surely be enough.
    All the places you mention are packed with things of interest. As for the advice above about Brugge (Bruges) versus Brussel(s) (Bruxelles), I beg to disagree: the latter has a lot of fascination, whereas the former struck me as a sort of mausoleum of nineteenth-century bogus medievalry. On the other hand Brugge has a superb art gallery and anywhere in Belgium has superb beer, as long as you skip the most lavishly advertised choices (which are mildly pleasant but uninteresting).
  9. It's funny how people characterize Europe as being a maze of tiny cobblestoned streets. You can find them if you look, but mostly it's not like that. Re gear for travel, three heavy zooms seems like overkill to me. With that camera I suggest the 16-35 zoom and a 100mm prime. If you are taking a lot of pictures you need to have the image storage situation covered - I suggest some kind of portable hard drive.
  10. The only one I can comment on is Prague ( Venice is in the plans) and all I can say is that it is a truly great city for all reasons including photography - try and spend as much time there as possible and if necessary plan for 18 hour days. You will not be disappointed.
  11. Wow! So many posts, so many good advises. Thank you all.

    The only reason I'm going to brussels is because it's the hub for Europe By Air. I have high expectations for Prague and Italy. The reason for all the equipment is because I'm shooting a wedding, and I don't know what I will or will not need. I will definatelly try to get me a travel bag vs. the pelican case. That thing can get really heavy.

    I'll research on bags right now. I've got the storage taken care of. I bought a 40Gig FlashTrax. Now I just need to pray that nothing happens to that.

    Thanks to all for your responses. Keep the good suggestions coming.
  12. Well, of course you will want to take a few of the same old shots everyone else gets, but I often find that shots including people are some of the most interesting from my travels. You will have a wealth of opportunities in Prague and the Italian cities. I have been to all you mentioned but Siena. Squares offer great opportunities in Italy. In Florence, make sure to take a trip up to Piazzale Michelangelo, which overlooks the city. You can get magnificent shots of the city below and a few good people shots. Don't miss the church on the hill. It has a very photogenic cemetery. As for Venice, I love the backstreets and little squares that pop up here and there. Cannaregio is one of my favorite slightly less traveled parts of Venice (though the part close to the train station is very touristy). In Prague, Old Town Square and Charles Bridge offer more chances to get lots of people photos. I completely agree about the lens choices. With the 20D (which I also own), you shouldn't need the 70-200 very much, but I can certainly see some occasions when you might "want" but not "need" it.
  13. In Europe - travel light (as the others said!). There's not much space to move in the back alleys in Venice, or Florence. Lens-wise, I find a wide angle 20mm (FF), plus a short tele eg 85mm to be most useful. Long teles are almost useless in European town centres. When in Venice, make sure you make the trip out to Burano - very pretty, brightly coloured little fishing village about 45 mins by vaporetto from Venice itself.
  14. In Prague, Old Town Square and Charles Bridge offer more chances to get lots of people photos.
    NB the people here will be predominantly non-Czech tourists, and (often non-Czech) touts, etc. Yes, you should see both of these places, but for [Czech] people photos look even slightly off this very thoroughly beaten track.
    An additional problem with Prague is the appeal it holds for the beer-drinking, whore-ogling yoof of Europe. I hadn't encountered the species "obnoxious Italian overseas" until I went to Prague: these were actually singing en masse as they crossed the Charles Bridge. Still, they were amiable enough: I suppose their British equivalent would have been beating people up. And they were hugely outnumbered by the very civilized and polite Italians I've seen in other countries over the years.
  15. Alain,
    enjoy what you see, be sure that you are able to enjoy it (i.e. do not overload yourself) and do not be disappointed that there are already thousands of shots better than the ones you might get of the sceneries you want to take pictures of. Read a Baedekers travel guide instead and take pictures of what you think is interesting. The 20d, the WA zoom and a fast prime (50 or 85) is enough to carry, then a small bag would be sufficient. If you are doing so, you do not have to fear anything, there are millions of tourists at the places you are going to visit doing similar things.
    There are lots of books on landscape photography, maybe drop into a bookstore, they tend to have nice coffe table books of the Tuscany and Prague all over Europe. For landscape photography be sure to take some ND filters (or do it via photoshop later, but this takes time) as well as a polarizing filter and lots of time during sunrise and sunset - maybe you will get a good shot then. Usually there is nothing as time consuming as landscape photography since you do not have a possibility to influence the landscape, weather and light.
  16. I was in most of places where you want to go (afterall it's just 2.5h drive from here to Venice and about 7 or 8h drive to Prague so it's quite close for US standards :), but from all those Venice and Prague are best for me. You will do just fine with lenses which you mentioned, although I would go just with 70-200 and with 16-35 which you will use 80% of time anyway.<br>
    For both Prague and Venice this might not be really best time to visit. But on other side it's always wrong time to visit when it comes to amount of people in those cities. For my taste Prague is even nicer then Venice and much more photogenics. But you will see even more tourists in Prague then in Venice. There are few must go locations both in Prague and in Venice. For Venice get day ticket for Vaporeto (water bus) which is around 10euros (10.5eur if I remember right) and take water bus first on Canal Grande and then walk through most beautiful part of Venice to other side to Fundamente Nuovo and take water bus to Burano. Murano, which is island on way to Burano, has bunch of glass stores selling all that rubish glass products so for me there's nothing to do. Burano on other hand is completely different. It has bunch of small fishermans houses painted in vivid colors and build on side of water canals. So for photography this place is even better then Venice itself. At least in my opinion.<br>
    In Prague you have castle on Hradcany from where you also have great view on most of Prague and especially on old part of town. When you walk from Hradcany to old town you go over Karl's bridge which is pretty much on every photo of Prague, and then you have quite big old part of town to explore.<br>
    Problems with security? I don't know. I guess you have those problems everywhere. I usually carry my stuff around in Lowepro backpack which looks huge and it looks like there's quite something in it. And until now I never had problems. I was scared to have problems now when I was in USA (all those films do their job :) but it was fine. I was carrying 1d (with different lenses attached to it) hanging on my shoulder all over Prague, Venice and now San Francisco, Vegas and LA and noone bothered to even look. So I don't know. Maybe I'm just lucky, but I still think it's not really that bad. Maybe if you wander to wrong part of city then yes, but those touristic places are not that bad that someone would put gun on your back and steal your equipment. But if you leave it laying around then I belive you will be soon without it.<br>
    Hopefully this will help at least a bit. Have nice trip.
  17. Speaking only of Prague again, I agree with Primoz - we felt pretty safe and secure there. But as always you must use "tourists common sense" and draw as little attention to yourself as possible and not leave anything laying around or easily accessible.
  18. I am going to europe for fun in month. Well i will take a lot of my photo stuff with me, but
    concidering two infants that i have my bag will have to be lighter then yours. With all the
    items you mention i would take a film camera. With a lot of B/W rolls of film, you will see
    once you get there. I have been to many of the places you are going to visit, and even
    more that you will unfortunately have to skip this time.

    My best suggestion would be 1 D-EOS camera, and maybe 2 lenses at the time. Have your
    16-35L attached (what no 17-40L?), keep your 70-200L in the backpack. And remember,
    lot of walking, no a/c, actually when you get back to Miami you will find climate to be, well
    comfortable lol.

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