Words of Wisdom for my first big European Trip

Discussion in 'Travel' started by george_harris|3, Jun 10, 2012.

  1. Hi guys,

    Well I am embarking on my first trip to Europe in 2 weeks and and I am looking for any advice or words of wisdom so I can come home
    with many, many good shots.

    I have a 5D but I have made the executive decision to leave it at home and I am taking my new Canon G1x which I love...

    Anyway I'd love some advice regarding anything you may seem pertinent. Composition, equipment, safety, locations or techniques. I am
    soo excited yet getting scared I'm on a once in a lifetime trip and want to maximize the oportunities.

    Thanks in advance guys. George.
     
  2. Europe encompasses dozens of different countries and a wide range of climates, cultures, and terrains. Also, your interests will have a huge effect on what would be "good" recommendations.
     
  3. I've never been to Europe but there seems to be a lot less tolerance for shooting in public (this is a street photography forum so I presume this is what you are referring to) then in the US where I also presume you are from. Some people seem not to have a problem, but many others have posted about being hassled by police; particular in places like London. I would worry less about what camera you chose to bring and more about your inter-personal skills that may get put to the test in Europe.
     
  4. I have been to a few countries in Europe, and I encountered no problems at all shooting in public.
    many others have posted about being hassled by police
    Could you provide more specifics? I recall various links to news stories about people being hassled by police; I recall very few first-person accounts of that happening.
     
  5. Thanks guys. I realize it's a very open question but guess I am curious about others experiences etc.

    I did post in Street and Doc as I imagine most of my shooting will be on streets.
     
  6. No problems at all shooting street in Barcelona--I much prefer it to the USA. In many major European cities, at least in the popular areas, so many tourists are carrying cameras that noone cares what you shoot (for the most part...never been to London), Keep your eye on your gear...petty theft is probably the most likely possible crime (as in any big city). You will have a blast!
     
  7. Mike, I just seem to recall some people who had personal accounts while others simply posted links to articles concerning others, and these go back a number of years so no, I do not have specifics (I'm lucky to remember when to return my library books). Overall, the impression I got from all of this was that it was getting more difficult to shoot in public in numerous parts in Europe. When the OP returns, lets hope he shares his experiences.
     
  8. Overall, the impression I got from all of this was that it was getting more difficult to shoot in public in numerous parts in Europe.​

    You hear about a few cases of harassment out of millions of photographs taken every year. You are more likely to win the jackpot on the national lottery than have a problem taking photographs in public.
     
  9. Theft is one of my biggest concerns... How do travellers manage their storage?
    I have 7 16gb SD cards and I was going to cycle through them every so often. I wasnt going to fill them up and then hide them in my main pack. I figure if my camera gets stolen it wont be all bad as I want lose any photos.
    It seems most street photography is done in BW so any tips?
    Is there any sure fire compositions for laneways etc that you can help me with. PLEASE I understand that is so open but I just would love advice. Or any mistake you have made technically and things I should be on the look out for?
    Cheers.
     
  10. I have 7 16gb SD cards and I was going to cycle through them every so often. I wasnt going to fill them up and then hide them in my main pack. I figure if my camera gets stolen it wont be all bad as I want lose any photos.​
    Seven 16g cards for two weeks, really? You must be really trigger happy and a bit paranoid...
     
  11. Going for a month...and very paranoid!!!!
     
  12. Well, I think you have more than enough memory cards even for one month. The best bet is still getting a small net book and transfer your files on a nightly basis imo. A cheap netbook is no more than $300 and you can surf the web using the hotel's wifi...If you are really paranoid, you can make CD or DVD copies and send it home, say, every 4 or 5 days...
     
  13. Thanks Leslie. I was thinking of getting a netbook but thought a tablet maybe better. I guess it depends on price.
     
  14. Shoot early or late if your time permits. Make an effort to get up early or be free to shoot at the end of the day. You will get better lighting and fewer people.
     
  15. It's your trip, they'll be your experiences. Take photos of what interests you. Ten years from now you might end up wishing you'd taken different photos because your interests might change. Doesn't matter, you can't know that now.
    You're excited and full of anticipation about the trip, just take that excitement and anticipation with you and let that guide your shutter finger. It's too common a trap to fall into asking other people what you should photograph. Churches?, museums?, festivals?, waiters?, urban?, rural? Who can tell you? The only thing you can be sure of is there will be plenty of opportunities for memorable photographs. Take your own, somebody else may well make a better job of capturing/documenting the trip but just be happy with what you do.
    "Composition, equipment, safety, locations or techniques."

    Composition - You're going in two weeks, take with you what you know about it and look for inspiration from the subjects you encounter, there isn't a sub 2 week crash course.
    Equipment - You're taking the G1X, be sure you know it, understand it and are aware of any of its limitations. I'd add a tripod for the more staged shots, your carrying capacity will have to dictate if that's possible. And take something you can back up your flash cards to - your choice of device.
    Safety - Allow the excitement and anticipation to occupy most of your brain and keep a little bit of it attuned to where you are, what you're doing and what might happen next. It could also help with seeing your next photo opportunity. 99% of tripsters come back safe and sound.
    Locations - How about Europe :) Wow
    Techniques - As per composition above.
    Have a good trip, keep your seat belt fastened whilst seated on the plane.
     
  16. Where are you going and what do you want to see? Europe stretches from the Arctic in the North to the warmer climes of Southern Italy and from a potentially damp Ireland to a rather warm Ukraine. There are the northern states, the southern states and the old eastern states. I would guess that you are including London, Paris, Venice, Rome. There is no more hassle than you will find in New York and Europe is no different for street crime; go to a tourist area with bags and cameras and you take the same precautions as you would at any tourist spot. The language varies but so many speak English now that you won't have a problem. There are wide and wonderful food variations but if this doesn't appeal you can get universal tourist food everywhere. Never eat in the middle of a tourist spot or square - wander away for a street or two and you will probably get better food at a lower price with less of a tourist overtone. The further north you go at this time of year the longer are the days and you get some magnificent light in the Nordic countries. From now on there will be tourists everywhere but you can still get great pictures. If you want to go a bit more off the beaten track consider Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey. Some of the Roman remains in Turkey (which straddles Europe and Asia) are not seen by many American tourists. You can buy SD and CF cards in Europe of course if you run out but be aware most things are more expensive in Europe. For getting about we tend to uses buses and trains. These are cheap in Italy to very expensive in Britain so look at the various train packages you can purchase ahead. I've always found TripAdvisor to be quite a good guide regarding hotels, restaurants and attractions.
    A European
     
  17. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    There is a constant exhortation to "travel light". Myself, I could not contemplate travelling without the best equipment I have for the opportunities I'll face. I guess it depends on how important photography is to you. Oh, and I'd take the G1X as well because I don't go on any major trio without two bodies and a tripod. If I don't feel I can use my best equipment for a major trip, then maybe I should just put it on eBay right now.
    You still don't seem to realise that you can't simply come on here and say "Europe" and get meaningful help. Do you have an itinerary, and if so what is it? Are you in charge of the itinerary, can you flex it, or are you on a trip arranged by an agency or others? What sort of places are you staying in- matters quite a bit from a security angle.
    It is unlikely that you'll use the cards you've got. Card corruption isn't very common, but a netbook may be an idea - cheaper than tablets and more versatile for what I'd want to do anyway. One way to limit your space needed is to review your shots at night and lose the ones that just don't work - I do this on the camera's screen. Also among the things that puzzle the **** out of me when I see other photographers in action is just how many people are firing in bursts for every shot. I don't bracket at all- I can tell from the histogram whether I've got it or not and unless the shot is very important I'll take as many as I need to get the exposure I want and then just keep one that works. Habits formed from the days when pressing the button on a MF film camera cost me almost a dollar I guess. Irrespective , we do sell cards over here , and they're not hard to find in any town, or via mail order with delivery tomorrow.
    Finally think hard about how you're going to carry your gear. Carrying it whilst moving between centres is different from carrying on a walk round a city where you might want to do photograph every few minutes and where you might need to act quickly. Irrespective of the means I'd employ to the means I use to carry equipment on a flight, I would't use a backpack as a camera bag. As well as being clumsy and slow to access your gear, police here suggest that they are more commonly stolen from
     
  18. >>> I have a 5D but I have made the executive decision to leave it at home and I am taking my new
    Canon G1x which I love...

    Excellent decision.

    Two months ago I went on a 1,400 mile road trip through the Mohave Desert, Death Valley, and in and out
    through Nevada heading back up Hwy 395. My 5DII stayed in the trunk the whole trip. And I thoroughly
    enjoyed the trip just using a Canon Elph 100 and my iPhone.
     
  19. I am embarking on my first trip to Europe​
    Like Mike said, you got to narrow that down a bit if you want some specific advice.
    All in all most cities are the same in at least one respect the world over. Use some basic common sense and chances are you stay out of trouble. Most European cities are quite safe if you don't act dumb. Most natives will go out of their way to help you despite language barriers. Outside of Great Britain and the Netherlands however you'll find that most people don't speak English very well (if at all). That however is not a practical problem. I've been to many places where I didn't speak the native language and I never had any real trouble getting around. It's part of the fun actually.
    yet getting scared​
    no need for it. Just enjoy it.
    but there seems to be a lot less tolerance for shooting in public​
    I shoot all over Europe and this is absolutely not true in my experience
    but many others have posted about being hassled by police; particular in places like London​
    yes, it's true about these posts but many, like me, have pointed out that these were mere incidents. In London, like in most other places I found the police to be polite and helpfull time and again and I don't consider myself the typical tourist, far from it.
     
  20. Outside of Great Britain and the Netherlands however you'll find that most people don't speak English very well (if at all).​
    I agree with most of what Ton writes, but my experience travelling throughout Europe is that most, especially younger people can understand and communicate in English. They all have learned it in school.
    I would add one advice to you making street photography. Mix with people and try not to dress and behave too much as an obviously lost tourist.
     
  21. Take a pocket tripod, gorilla pod or some sort of camera support. Personally, I'd take both cameras if it's the 'trip of a lifetime.'
    have fun.
     
  22. >>> I have a 5D but I have made the executive decision to leave it at home and I am taking my new Canon G1x which I love...
    Brad - "Excellent decision."
    I agree with Brad on this. After years of taking the kitchen sink, I changed long ago, in the film era. Traveling light works for me.
    On the storage thing, I use a netbook.
     
  23. I would recommend Rick Steves book as he covers all the subjects you are asking about. Especially security. He mentions that some cities have a lot of pickpockets and he recommends a money belt. Here is a link to his website. My experience traveling with a Swedish friend was that you need to be as security minded as you would be in the U.S. when in the larger cities. In Sweden and Norway there are a lot of English speakers and most tours we took were conducted in English. Its a little harder to find English speakers in the back country of Norway but if its a tourist destination it shouldn't be a problem. I stopped at a Post Office in a small town in Norway which is also the bank, to get money and there was one English speaking employee working there.
     
  24. It is right, that you should be aware of pickpockets in all bigger cities in Europe, but mainly in the tourist areas, major railway stations and subways. Keep an eye open and surely moneybelts are helpful. They love cameras and smartphones and they have an eye for people looking like tourists !
     
  25. "If you travel light, you freeze at night"---my Platoon Sargent
    I don't do Europe, but I go just about everywhere else. I still use film, usually medium format. For a one month trip, you've got 7-16 bit gizmos for your Canon...but only one Cannon. There's your weak link.
    George, you have to think "What if?" I'll help: What if you happen to meet Maria Sharapova in one of those quaint little sidewalk cafe's in the Old Country. She desperately wants to pose nude for a photographer of your stature, BUT, lo and behold...your GX1 thing suddenly falls from your nervously trembling fingers, shatters into a dozen pieces right in front of her dainty toes, and you miss the opportunity of a lifetime....always have a back up my friend. Even if it's 'just' an iphone or decent point and shoot.
     
  26. I don't see a need to have numerous cards for the camera since you should I hope be returning to a building most nights where you can download the day's shoot onto your notebook and then make a back-up on a storage SD card to keep safe .
    I learnt a long time ago the value of a neck strap ... I doubt if your head will driop off in the situation E Short portrays :) The only problem maybe if you get so hot and bothered and you go to remove your pullover and forget the neck strap is around your neck and both pullover and camera come off together ... yes it happened to me :-(
     
  27. Shoot in the blue-zone, after sunset, but before total darkness, when the night skies and light levels on the ground balance out. Use a bean-bag under the camera, placed on walls, fence-posts etc, to steady camera in those low light situations. Also use the self timer to trip the shutter.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/sherryli/3451870094/
    00aUbm-473501584.jpg
     
  28. You'll have a great time. Europe is fun - it's full of Europeans - you know the ones - those folks who gave you the New World, the leaning tower of pizza, and german beer and oompah bands in the Hill Country of Texas. Oh and crepes and paella too. You'll love it. Oh and I forgot smorgasbord, shepherds pie, fish and chips, haggis and whisky, brown ale, morris dancing, morris minors, cricket, rugby - the game for men with funny shaped balls, caber tossing, belgian chocolates, red phone boxes and double decker buses, punks, Stonehenge and the Queen. But there's more than that if you look really carefully. 7 x 16 gigglebytes should about do you I'd guess.
    This message was brought to you live from Europe (well from the forgotten bit just above England).
     
  29. Hi Guys, Some really helpful information.
    My itinerary: Perth (Australia) - Hong Kong - London - Liverpool - London - Bruge - Paris - Reims - Lucerne - Zurich - Venice - Rome - Positano - Amalfi Coast - Rome - Home :-( travelling soley by train (Well a plane from Australia)
    My partner has spent months backpacking Europe so I feel confident we have taken enough safety precautions. I do have a money belt and other safety devices.
    We have arranged all of our own travel and have booked most legs so there isnt a massive amount of freedom to change the itinerary too much.
    I figure what ever I do I am going to look like a tourist lugging a big backpack with me so I will try to be prepared rather than camouflaged.
    I have a mini tripod. I travelled to Chile and the US in April with one of those little flexible ones like a Gorilla Pod and hated it. Ive since bought a little metal expandable Tripod that goes to 80cm tall.
    I wont have a backup to take but my partner will have her camera. It is just a PS but at least I can photograph Maria Sharapova in the nude with it! So my gear is: G1X, 7 SD cards, Tripod, Spare Battery and Lens cleaning kit. I am spending the next 2 weeks learning it even better with my eyes shut.
    I have an old-style leather case and wear my camera around my neck so its always at the ready. Those fitted cases are fantastic. The Camera is ready to shoot in about a second.
    I have been pouring through the WNW street posts to get ideas for composition as its too late to learn anything new.
    As I eluded to earlier it seems a lot of the scenes I will encounter will look fantastic in BW yet the G1X seems to take washed out old Grey scale. I need to play with those settings. I also like the intentionally noisy photographs so I am going to have that nailed before I go.
    Thanks for the great responses. Looking forward to more words of Wisdom!
     
  30. Don't bother about composition ... you either have it deep inside you already or you will never have it ... Composition are merely rules that people have invented to critique others work .... take the photos that appeal to you of things you might want to remember and inflict on others when you return home. If you belong to a camera club you could explore the possibility of concentrating on one aspect .. perhaps a cathedral or castle that moves you and shoot enough to compile an AV show when you return home.
     
  31. I wouldn't rely on the camera to do your black and white conversions. Shoot in color then convert to B&W when you get home. You should go to Scandinavia for Midsummer. Its amazing. I saw balloon flights taking off at Eleven o'clock at night in the Stockholm twilight, a farmer in Norway mowing his hay at the same hour and his neighbors having a barbecue. I was there for two weeks and it never got dark.
     
  32. it

    it

    good shoes
     
  33. Absolutely take your most comfortable shoes..
    Travel light but have adequate protection with clothes.

    Personally, I'd bring another small camera as a back-up even if my partner had one, and leave the tripod
    at home.
     
  34. Nice itinerary. Cannot understand why anybody would want to visit Liverpool - a post industrial city that has had money thrown at it but underneath it's still a city seeking a new identity and purpose - all that is left of the Beatles, Merseybeats and Gerry and the Pacemakers are re-creations. Your other cities are among the best in the world with no security problems. If you have the time between Venice and Rome add in Florence, home of the Renaissance, the Medicis, Banking and Accountancy - an extraordinary mix that enabled the city to act as a beacon for the development of European civilization. Walk along the roof of the Cathedral and think yourself back 500 years. In Rome get the popular tourist scenes out of the way and then stand on almost any street where you will have a wealth of photographic opportunities. If it were me I wouldn't bother with a tripod, take instead your 5D, exploit the high ISO and use any nearby solid object for steadiness. Those little advantages of the 5D will expand your possibilities for many more pictures. As everybody says travel light, really, really light - consider one set of clothes to wear and a change and just do overnight washing. In all of those cities you will have no language problems except perhaps for poor old Liverpool.
     
  35. Years ago I spent seven months backpacking through Europe. What I discovered is that it's really important to spend a
    little bit of time in a place, rather than just pass through it. I got to where I would stay at least a week wherever I went. If
    you have too ambitious an itinerary, you end up covering a lot of miles, but not ever really seeing – or experiencing –
    anything. Just three years ago, I spent two weeks in Paris and then two weeks in London. The substantial time spent in
    each place was very rewarding. I got to see the same scenes more than once. Light always changes, and the same
    scene looks different from day to day and from hour to hour. So I would be cautious about setting too ambitious an
    itinerary. It also seems that you have more than enough cards for the trip. On the seven-month trip I took through Europe,
    I think I shot approximately 20 rolls of film at 36 exposures per roll. By being careful I ended up with a high proportion of
    keepers. Being judicious with your shooting forces you to really look. Spraying away tends mainly to exercise your shutter
    finger.

    Although I didn't try this, the last time I was in Europe, I talked to some Australians who reported good luck with going to
    cybercafes to burn DVDs of their CF cards. So if your 102 GB of storage begins to run a bit short, you might try that
    approach.
     
  36. I meant to say something similar to what Barry says here. In traveling I found a long time ago that I liked
    to stay- at least in the larger more interesting cities- 5 or 6 days. That way you get to know the place and
    it begins to feel like home, or like a friend. That to me is a much more rewarding experience than
    breezing through and moving on somewhere else right away. If you don't get to every place on your list
    there will be other times and other trips.
     
  37. My itinerary: Perth (Australia) - Hong Kong - London - Liverpool - London - Bruge - Paris - Reims - Lucerne - Zurich - Venice - Rome - Positano - Amalfi Coast - Rome - Home :-( travelling soley by train​
    Looks fantastic, but wonder why you goo to Liverpool and Reims. The Beatles and the Cathedral ? or family reasons.
    If you go to Bruges, which is surely worth a visit (especially in dim light in the evenings!), you are almost doomed to pass by Brussels, which is worth at least half a day to taste the beer and visit the Grand Place.
    The lake of Lucern is just beautiful with the mountains in the background (get up ver early).
    Venice is a dream, but get, as mentioned outside the tourist areas as rapidly as possible and walk in the small streets. Jump on the Venice's water buses (Vaporetto) - not all transport can be done in trains - to get a good view of the city. I agree you should definitely visit Florence and also Sienna, before going on to Rome (you are passing by train !!).

    And then, concerning Paris, get over with the tourist attractions in one day (all a must: Louvre, L'Opera, Champs-Elysées, Tour Eiffel, Notre-Dame etc etc) and use what ever you have got more of time to go to the different areas of the city by bus (so that you see the street life or the metro which is faster) : Latin quarter with the university and the many cafées and restaurants, on the left bank of the river (metro station Odeon) and visit the Luxembourg garden and Saint-Germain-des-Prés; walk around in the Marais, on the right bank, and visit Place des Vosges (Metro station St Paul); be sure to find time to walk by the river in the evening from Saint-Michel to the Concorde square and back !

    I agree that it is a pity that you seem not to go to Scandinavia (the midnight summer dreams) and extremely friendly people that all speek English for sure, and neither Southern France (Aix en Provence, Marseille, Avignon...), not to mention Spain, Portugal and Greece or the many interesting places in Eastern Europe.
    I'm sure you will plan for a second trip to Europe after having seen, what you are already planning.
    Take care of night-trains ! Pickpockets don't sleep !
    Don't forget to eat the local food from the markets and the small restaurants and cafées, and shun all thoughts about junkfood.
     
  38. Cannot understand why anybody would want to visit Liverpool​
    I don't understand why people book extensive tours and only visit large cities and towns!
     
  39. cjk

    cjk

    +1 Florence
    -1 Reims:
    No disrespect to the "Rémois" (my wife is one) but you're better off spending more time in Paris, visiting Versailles or getting some extra days to visit Florence. Reims' Cathedral is nice but unless you're a real history buff, you'll get enough Cathedral-seing in Paris already. Unless of course you want to visit some Champagne makers (outside of Reims)
     
  40. cjk

    cjk

    Re. backup:
    I always wondered if taking a small USB hard drive AND a 64GB USB flash drives to use as a back up for 1 or 2 SD cards wouldn't work?
    I never tried it but I imagine you can find easy access to computers (hotels, cybercafés) where you can plug your camera's USB cable as well as one of the USB drives and do your transfers every evening or so. I personally would hate to spend any $ on a netbook (just my personal opinion).
    As for the equipment back-up for the Sharapova shoot (!): in a pinch you can also buy SD cards or a good camera in any one of the cities you're visiting! VAT-free, it might end up cheaper than Australia (home?)
     
  41. My my questions ended up sparking more debate on where to visit!

    Liverpool because my partner has work there and in Bruge also. I have 5 nights in Bruge while she is at a conference so I
    have plenty of day trips including Brussels.

    It all comes down to budget and time and things I have always wanted to see. I could spend years there but I have work
    and a budget! Ireland, Spain, Sweden, Prague, turkey, greece, croatia, Germany.....there is so much to see but
    unfortunately I can't. Now I all sad...
     
  42. Don't worry about (not) getting around with English, I haven't been to Italy myself but even there you'll probably find a lot of english speakers, and you should have no problem at all in any of the other cities on your itinerary. Except for the fact that genuine English can be very hard to understand if spoken by genuine locals in some UK cities :)
    When in Bruges, set aside a day to visit Gent (although the main station there is an unholy construction site and has been so for a decade now) and take Tram nr 1 to the historic city center & back. As a formerly industrial city it's less quaint than Bruges but more boysterous and walkable than Brussels. July 14-23 will be "Gentse Feesten" which means the whole city eats and drinks itself to oblivion 24/7 for ten days straight, with lots of street performances while almost every non-entertaining kind of business remains closed shut for the duration of the rolling good times.
    When looking for food, check out the small restaurants with just a few tables before considering the big places (even if those have loads of people) - the food is likely to be better+fresher and the service less slow in the smaller places. Take note also that service will be slow even if it's fast - by local standards. Except maybe in Zurich where you'll want to try a german-style "Brauhaus" with everybody sitting shoulder to shoulder at 100 or more tables, and beer+food supply running on the basis of efficiency rather than the chef's gastronomic/artistic whim & fancy.
    Don't bother with hotel breakfasts but ask around about the best local fresh bakeries and go eat there, in many cities there's one on almost every corner. Also ask locals (eg in the bakery) about the best money changers, the ones recommended by hotels and/or at transportation hubs almost always have the worst rates. Shop on fridays and on saturday mornings for weekend supplies, closing hours differ from shop to shop and place to place but grocery/commodity shops often close surprisingly early on weekdays and all day sunday (or monday!)
    Note also that quite often you'll need to enter the pin code of any bank cards you plan on using there, in many places your signature and/or ID will not be considered sufficient to authorize credit card payments (and I do mean credit cards as well as any debit/cash cards you might bring). Don't forget to tell your bank(s) that you'll be using your card(s) abroad, or they might block it after the first time you use it.
    Be prepared to contend with tiny restrooms & highly dubious plumbing in many local bars & restaurants. I'm writing this as a belgian who got used to american standards of sanitary spaciousness and dependability & now has an even harder time fitting into the miniature cubicles back home. And yes, do watch out for pickpockets & con artists, especially in trains, subways and their respective stations - and especially when traveling with backpacks or luggage. For road trips in US deserts I definitely bring and use my biggest cameras and lenses, but in european cities a good p&s is far easier to carry along all day, and much less targetable by muggers whenever you're using public transportation or exploring on foot.
     
  43. it

    it

    "Cannot understand why anybody would want to visit Liverpool"
    In general I find places off the tourist trail are much more interesting than the places on it, but I travel to meet people, so to each his or her own. I was born in Liverpool but left when I was zero and have never been back. It's on my list for next year.
     
  44. Hey thanks guys. Loving the advice.
    Can you see any flaws in the list of equipment I am taking? I know I can purchase everything there but I like to be prepared. I do like the netbook idea but I also loke the idea of having a NEtbook also...Hmmm
     
  45. Nothing to add on equipment George except that if you start to run out of cards, you can always buy more. A short train ride from Brugges is Knokke, an upmarket, Belgian seaside town. It's the North Sea, not the Med or the Gulf but I have got a lot of good pictures there. Regarding Brussels, while it is the capital of Belgium, it is possibly the most drab and boring capital in Europe. Instead visit Antwerp, about 30 minutes on the train and a vibrant, picturesque centre of commerce and entrepreneurship. If you have more time, which you probably don't have, visit Luxembourg City and the Grund where you will use up a whole card and then drop down to the Mosel, one of the prettiest rivers in Europe, hire a bike and cycle along the cycle way.
     
  46. Regarding Brussels, while it is the capital of Belgium, it is possibly the most drab and boring capital in Europe.​
    Robert, I don't know how you got that impression. For others it is animated and cosmopolitan. Go to the Luxembourg Square after five and during the evenings, go to Sablon for the cafées, go to the Grand Place, Rue Boucher and the Galerie de la Reine for the restaurants and medieval buildings - and the tourists, walk around in the quarter around Place Saint Catherine for the fish restaurants - and you will find not only animation but innumerable occasions of shooting.
    That is not to say that Anvers, Gent or Knokke-Heist are not highly recommendable destinations, especially, if you are staying nearby in Brugge and reach them by train. Surely the city of Luxembourg is worth a visit too, but difficult to reach from Brugge.
     
  47. I've been to Europe many times. Here are some general things I've learned over the years
    • Many cities have an old section of the city - but that depends - London got got wiped out by fire, others were destroyed by WW2 bombing. The oldest sections of the cities generally great locations for shooting pics. If not the major city, ask around sometime an outlying city you can reach by train. For example - London doesn't have a trully old section, but a quick train ride to Canterbury and you have a large section of the city that dates back to the 1400's. Prague was virtually untouched by the bombing during WW2.
    • Make sure you take a tripod, gorillapod, something that will allow you to take night shots
    • Either have some method to offload your memory cards (laptop with external HD) or bring lots of extra memory cards. You will shoot way more pics than you thought you would
    • Each city has the well known tourist destinations - Parliment, Eiffel Tower, Coliseum, etc. They are always crowded, hoards of people taking photos, etc. Either research before, or ask locals, where the 2nd tier, 3rd tier places are. Just as picturesque, lots less people.
    • Don't forget to take pictures of the "mundane" - people, simple architecture, street musicians, doors (each city/country can have a unique style).
    • Most cities have an area where the buskers (street performers) hang out. It's a great opportunity for taking pics of people.
    • City/Village Markets are great for taking photos - lots of characters, bold colors, etc.
    • In terms of safety, theft, etc. It varies by city, areas within the city, etc. (just like any place in the US). Ask around in terms of what places you should avoid.
    Examples:
    • People : http://www.flickr.com/photos/tudorapmadoc/sets/72157629845415087/
    • Doors : http://www.flickr.com/photos/tudorapmadoc/sets/72157629675405755/
    • Buskers : http://www.flickr.com/photos/tudorapmadoc/sets/72157629309279714/
    • Barcelona : http://www.flickr.com/photos/tudorapmadoc/sets/72157630048815558/
     
  48. 'Robert, I don't know how you got that impression. For others it is animated and cosmopolitan.'
    Anders, It's interesting how one sees different slices of places that one visits. I used to class Stockholm in this category; I had visited many times on business but of course I trod quite a narrow path of hotel, office, restaurant. It was only when I went as a tourist and visited some Swedish people that I knew, that i got a completely different and enjoyable slice of the city.
    Perhaps I made too many business visits to Brussels. Agreed Lux is a bit far from Brugges and while it is only 200 kms from Brussels the train still takes an awfully long time. Today, by the way, I was in Arlon, for the market.
     
  49. You are right. I have visited many, many cities in the same way as you, on business trips.
    Arlon is a surely worthwhile. Have you been to Mechelen too, for the market and the Cathedral ?
     
  50. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    Just a few points, which like all others reflect the writer's taste rather than attempting to predict yours.
    In Belgium, here's another vote for Brussels as boring. Bruges is worth about two/three days as a first time visitor- its really very nice and rather photogenic but the centre is walkably small. So you'll need somewhere else to go. Ghent is a thought but only for the day since the old part is not very big. Antwerp is another candidate.
    It is absolutely possible to see the best of Switzerland by train but visiting Zurich and Lucerne is not IMO the way to do it. They are pleasant enough cities but they aren't close to the best mountains. Meanwhile staying in Interlaken (if not Grindelwald and/or Lauterbrunnen, all accessible by train), gets you right onto the mountain railroads (BOB) and the excellent network of lifts up and down the Bernese Alps. If you only see one thing in Switzerland, the Bernese Oberland should be it IMO.
    I live close to London and regard it as my city. I like living here and the general restaurant/bar/theatre/gallery scene and there are some great walks along the river in particular. But I don't photograph in London( well not unless I'm getting paid to do so) and it doesn't do it for me the way that say Hong Kong , NYC and Paris do. There's plenty of opportunity for street work though, albeit that in the tourist centre you'll be photographing tourists. But for me, if I were coming all that way and wanted to get lots of photographs, I'd be looking at day trips to outside the very centre. Locally, Richmond and its river and park, Hampstead and the Heath, Greenwich, make a lot of sense and not so far away that they eat up your day travelling. Within Central London IMO spend time on the streets of Soho, in the little lanes of Chelsea, and visit Borough Market and the area around. As mentioned above there is no medieval quarter in London.
    One final point-if you said when this trip is happening I missed it and I hope its not during or around the Olympics.
     
  51. Go light.
     
  52. Mechelen et al
    Anders, no I've only passed through Mechelen on the train. Living only a few kms from the Belgian border, even on local trips I often loop through Belgium on the way. Having reached a certain age I can travel at very low rates on Belgian Rail and I plan to make the best of this. One of these is to visit Brussels by train, with dog and camera, to the stand up fish cafe to have lunch with a nice glass of wine. Belgium is a bit of a forgotten country and not flat, at least in this area, as many people think. It is always welcoming and friendly, has an important historical past and is also extremely photogenic. I guess I should build up a Belgian portfolio.
     
  53. Belgium is a bit of a forgotten country​
    LOL ! Maybe especially by the Flemish extreme right !
     
  54. Don't forget to watch the movie In Bruges before you go.
     
  55. Except for the fact that genuine English can be very hard to understand if spoken by genuine locals in some UK cities​

    We understand it perfectly! It's the strange mangled version of English which Americans speak which causes problems!
     
  56. Speak English like foreigners and you will be sharing a languages as spoken by the majority of English speaking people in the world - that of those who speak English as their second or third language.
    Have you ever enjoyed videos on the "Crazy English" movement in China ?? Try it !
     
  57. Well I am very appreciative of the advice.


    I received my new tripod form eBay today. It's a little folding tripod and I'm pretty happy with it. I have decided against a netbook as I have
    a server I use for work that I can upload to. It might take a lot of time but I figure I can go to a Internet cafe and download the keepers for
    safety.


    I have done loads of research regarding good black and whites. I have spent every night with my camera getting more accustomed to it.
    I'm in a good place and getting ridiculously excited.


    I just check the movie In Bruge's trailer and it looks like a pretty good movie.


    I've just got 4 more days at work to try and be productive without day dreaming too much.


    Any tips on black and white shooting?
     
  58. I was last in Rome back in 2006 and had no trouble shooting in public or in the train stations or on the trains, whereas in the NYC area you attract a great deal of unwanted attention if you take pictures of trains or in and around stations. The Italian police paid absolutely no attention to anyone taking pictures in the Termini in Rome.
     
  59. BTW, I'd take the least amount of gear possible. Nothing worse than being weighted down with gear. Go minimalist, your back will thank you!
     
  60. I've not had a chance to read every response yet, so hopefully I'm not repeating anything (I did get as far as the Maria Sharapova one though - good advice there).
    When I get to a new city (wherever it is) I like to get an overview - literally - by getting to a high point to look down. In many European cities that would be the bell tower of one of the larger churches, many of which are open to climb.
    Other ideas:
    - Don't be paranoid, but don't be oblivious either.
    - Early morning and early evening (blue hours) are great.
    - Don't be afraid to experiment with shots. Storage is cheap. Shoot first, ask questions later.
    - Have a great time.
     
  61. IMHO all questions about equipment, security etc. are subordinated to the first and capital question: what is the purpose of your trip? Are you coming this side of the pond to see things, met people, experience different cultures and this sort of stuff, anf of course you want to take photos (possibly nice ones) to document the whole - or are you primarily motivated by photography? In other words: will you be taking photo because you are on a nice trip, or will you be on that trip because you want to take photos?
    These two interests are not necessarily in contradiction with each other, but they cannot be fully reconcilied. Say, if you have even a passing interest for arts, you will tend to spend quite some time inside museums, rather that searching for photo opportunities outside. If you want to see churches, castels, ruins etc. you will have to do so when they are opened to visitors, which is not guaranteed to be the best part of the day to also photography them. You seem to have a rather thight schedule - would it feasible for you to came back in the evening to a certain spot or monument you already visited in the morning, simply because you realise the light will be better? Or at the minimum - figure yourself in front of the Coliseum. Would you just take some shots while joining the queue to the entrance, or would you be prepared to invest an additional 30-45 min. to climb to the nearby Colle Oppio, which offers a much better view?
    If you are mostly a treveller, go light is the golden rule. Forget the heavy and cumbersome equipment, because you will be very seldom , if ever able to use it to the full extent of its capabilities. But if you are, or perceive yourself foremost as a photographer, it is a different matter altogether.
     

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