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Author Topic: Trip to South Africa  (Read 3433 times)
Gogyoo Setsu
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« on: March 16, 2007, 04:59:33 AM »
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Hi everyone! First post.

This July I will be for 3 weeks in South Africa, photografying mainly landscapes obviously, and since I only had a Kodak Easyshare 3Mp, I thought I would need something more serious to capture the beauty of this country.

So, after getting myself very recently a dSLR, a copy of Michael Freeman's The dSLR Handbook and Bryan Peterson's Understanding Exposure to try and get a bit of the theory stuff, here's a list of what I have, and items I still need. What I ask you is to feel free to comment on any (missing?) items on this list. On the Want list, which ones I cannot afford not to buy?

Have

K10D + 18-55mm basic lens
Laptop to transfer frames on
DVD-RW to increase my storage capacity
2x SDHC Sandisk Ultra II 4 Gb
Various cables and adapters

Want

Manfrotto kit 190XPRO+486 RC2, approx. 220$ on ebay (can't afford more)
Lowepro Compuday backpack, approx. 100$ on ebay, as cabin luggage (can I attach the tripod to it?)
A telephoto lens (the DA* from Pentax might not come out till then. What should I buy?)
Spare battery (one or two?)
Filters : I know nothing about it. I thought about a kit from Lee's, but please help me direct my choice
Bulb blower
Duck tape

Thanks in advance.  
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Gogyoo Setsu
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« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2007, 11:58:50 AM »
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Sorry for bumping, but I would like a few answer
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:Ollivr
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« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2007, 03:05:17 PM »
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Depending on your shooting I'd suggest you get a better wide lens...

YOu will have tons of great photo opportunities in South Africa!
But watch your stuff in the big cities. Dont walk downtown with your camera (except for Cape Town during daytime or when in a bigger group). Bring the Kodak for such stunts...

O.
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Colorado David
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« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2007, 11:07:09 PM »
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Put your name on everything no matter how small.  If you have equipment stolen, you have a greater chance of recovering it if you make the thiefs job harder.  Having your name on everything makes it more likely that a crook would abandon your stuff rather than get caught with it.

Be sure to visit a U.S. Customs office to register your gear.  You can make up a manifest before you get there.  List each piece of equipment by name, model number and serial number.  Your customs agent can stamp your document with the embosser and will draw around your list in red pen to prevent adding anything.  It will be attached to the official Customs form and will be good for as long as you own the gear.  This will help when you re-enter the U.S. from another country.  If you can't prove you took stuff with you, you could be liable for duty.  My equipment list changes often enough that my customs agent asks me where I'm going and what I'll be shooting now.

Keep a hand on your gear all the time and don't look like a victim.  Have a good time and shoot a lot.
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Gogyoo Setsu
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« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2007, 04:34:23 PM »
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I will be careful, thank you.

What about the gear? Any thought?
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n1r0t
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« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2007, 05:26:43 PM »
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I'd suggest an Arctic Butterfly for on location sensor cleaning... (I'm assuming that's why the bulb blower is on the list?)

http://www.visibledust.com/products.php?PGID=2

Lots of reviews floating around. (http://luminous-landscape.com/reviews/accessories/arctic-butterfly.shtml)

I have one and love it... Well worth the $$$.
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Craig Arnold
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« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2007, 02:34:00 AM »
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The horrible advice first:

Try to split your backup gear into a separate bag, one that you could survive with(photographically) if all your main gear was taken. Include a backup wallet with a credit card, etc. Keep that backup bag locked up in a safe place in the hotel/lodge but make sure it stays in a physically separate location to you. This applies to checked luggage too.

Make sure your insurance is up to date.

Don't be tempted to fight if someone does try to take your stuff, it's just stuff after all and there's no point in photos if you're dead.

For street stuff - take the advice of a local guide. If you are on a tour of Soweto for example you will probably be fine even with really expensive gear. There are other places where you would be lucky to escape with your life regardless of whether you were carrying anything of value at all.

Check out these guys for an awesome day if you are able to spare one in Johannesburg:

http://www.soweto.co.za/html/t_soweto.htm


A sturdy camera bag with Pentax or Tamrac or similar emblazoned on the side is the same as a big sign saying MUG ME. One technique I have often used in place that were pretty dangerous is to simply bring along a plastic bag that is black and completely opaque and quite strong. The kind of thing you often get from book stores. It will be strong enough to carry a decent sized SLR with lens and you will not look like you are carrying anything expensive in it. Doubling/tripling-up with simple supermarket plastic bags (use local ones) will work well and will work well even with fairly heavy cameras. Then you take out your camera, get the shot and put it back in the bag.

If you are inside a lodge/reserve then you will most likely be safe.

If you are hiring a car, be careful on the roads until you adjust to the local driving style. I like to think of them not as public highways, but rather one giant race track where Ferraris race with Porches, race with long-haul transports, race with taxis, race with clapped out 1957 Nissans. Everyone goes as fast as they can. Takes a while to get used to and you are probably more in danger from a car accident than from criminals.

If you are going into malaria areas then make sure you take the tablets - and you usually have to start some days/weeks before your trip. They can be nasty, but not nearly as nasty as malaria. If you are in a malaria area and feel like you are coming down with the flu seek medical advice immediately. Take lots of deet with you.

Finally, don't get too freaked out by the danger side. Take all sensible precautions then just try to forget about it and enjoy yourself.

Now for the good stuff:

South Africa is beautiful. Quite simply breathtaking in so many ways, with amazing photo opportunities everywhere.

If the DA* isn't out then the Sigma 100-300 f4 is a very high class lens for your telephoto choice. The Sigma 80-400 isn't too bad either, and of course there is the 50-500 Bigma.

The "Golden Hour" is more like 20 minutes in the north of the country, but those 20 minutes can be amazing. You are very close to the tropics and the sun sets quickly. So getting the right light can be difficult. Many of the best local photographers work WITH the harsh midday light though instead of avoiding it. A levels adjustment in post will often change a picture that looks very washed out into a super-saturated shot that has lots of opportunities. And an adjustment the other way - i.e. making things even more faded and washed out can be very interesting and evocative too.

Think about and practice how you will deal with extremely high-contrast sun/shade situations. Because you won't always be able to be there when the light is conducive to perfect landscape photography. Some of those shots will convert naturally into interesting monochrome shots.

Plan to do lots of chimping until you get used to the light. On the plus side, there is so much light that fast lenses are often not needed.

Take lots of storage with you, there are a lot of pictures out there.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2007, 02:38:29 AM by peripatetic » Logged

HiltonP
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« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2007, 04:55:37 AM »
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SA's photo opportunities vary from inland landscapes, big city scapes, small town scapes, sea scapes, wildlife, people candids, etc, etc. In short, something for everyones tastes. The bushveld/wildlife opportunities are generally "cleaner" (more sanitised) than the Kenya's, Tanzania's, etc, i.e. dust is not as much of an issue. For this one trip I really don't think you need to carry too much cleaning/protective equipment with you, as long as you use due caution when changing lenses.

If landscapes, cityscapes, seascapes are your thing then I would get the very best lens you can afford in the 17-xx range (or even a bit wider if possible).

If you plan on doing wildlife as well then you will need something capable of at least 300mm at the long end, preferably 400mm. If wildlife isn't a big deal to you then one of the budget 75-300-odd zooms might well do. If wildlife is important then you need to consider something better such as Sigma's 100-300mm f4, or 70-200mm f2.8 plus a 1.4x t/c.

Coming straight from a p&s camera I would hazard a guess and say that you will be looking to shoot JPGs and not RAW files?  If so I would be tempted to leave the laptop and DVDs behind (less cables, less photo bag, less stuff) and buy a half dozen memory cards instead. The laptop will be a mission to carry around, and keep secure, and it will turn your photo bag into a ball & chain. You need to be able to travel light during the day.

Filters . . . if you cannot afford the best then don't waste your money, use the lens hood, and lens caps to protect your lenses. Cheap filters just degrade your images.

Take one spare battery . . . you're never going to be very far from a power point in SA!  It's not exactly Darkest Africa!

P.S. . . . July is mid-winter, plan for rain and cold.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2007, 05:02:28 AM by HiltonP » Logged

Regards, HILTON
Craig Arnold
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« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2007, 02:43:56 AM »
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Quote
P.S. . . . July is mid-winter, plan for rain and cold.
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Well that rather depends on where you are going. There are 2 oceans and a high-altitude plateau, each has quite different weather in both summer and winter.

On the highveld it [almost] never rains in winter. A high pressure cell sets in and sits there for around 4 months. So days are generally very sunny.

Nighttime temperatures drop below freezing but daytime can be a comfy 20C even in July & August.

Coastal weather is far more variable, and Cape Town weather in particular is poor in winter. The east coast is quite nice in winter, but is generally more cloudy than in summer.

Highveld conditions: [a href=\"http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/world/city_guides/results.shtml?tt=TT000620]http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/world/city_gu...tml?tt=TT000620[/url]

Cape Town:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/world/city_gu...tml?tt=TT000580

Durban (East Coast):
http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/world/city_gu...tml?tt=TT000590

Look at the average number of hours of sunshine.  
« Last Edit: April 18, 2007, 02:47:52 AM by peripatetic » Logged

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