It goes without saying that a holiday away from home is an alluring opportunity to photograph something new; a blank canvas so to speak – a chance to capture something new, or maybe perfect new and different techniques. For me, it is mostly about capturing a family event for future posterity – a pictorial record that helps preserve memories not only for me, but the rest of the family. It is a time when I get carried away with the craft in an effort to create something meaningful to us…a personal souvenir.
In the weeks leading up to a holiday I am always faced with the debate of what gear to take with me and what to leave behind. When I started out in photography this was never a problem as I only had one camera and two lenses, so it was easy to add it all to hand luggage. As the years slipped by my gear collection, like my waistline, has esoterically expanded whereby I am now faced with making hand-wringing choices.
One thing I never have any problems deciding on is the format I will use. For me these occasions demand the use of 35mm slide film as projecting the results is almost like returning to the destination, especially when viewing them on a cold winter’s day. And this year’s trip to Sicily has proved no exception. My Wife and Son take digital cameras with them, so between us we get a good spread of images by combining both analogue and digital technologies.
Due to past altercations and skirmishes with airport check-in staff, I have introduced a rule whereby the maximum camera bodies I take is two. These are backed up with three or four lenses, the amount depending on which ones I decide to take. As my analogue system is built from the expansive and excellent OM System, most items are smaller and lighter than counterparts from other systems. This years’ holiday kit consisted of;
- OM4Ti body
- OM1n body
- Zuiko 21mm f2 lens
- Zuiko 35mm f2 lens
- Zuiko 50mm f1.2 lens
- Zuiko 100mm f2.8 lens
Up until recently, I would occasionally substitute the 100mm for something longer, such as a 180mm f2.8 or 200mm f4. However as I rarely use anything longer that 135mm now, I disposed of all telephoto lenses beyond the 135mm focal length. If nothing else it makes my choice somewhat simpler.
This is supplemented by my small but very useful Velbon Ultra Maxi-Mini tripod, and a couple of C-POL and UV filters.
All fit neatly into a Tamrac Adventure 7 backpack that also holds travel documents, film, phone, mp3 player, kindle etc. The Tamrac is small enough to be accepted as carry-on luggage with all airlines I have travelled with.
Ethan uses a similar Tamrac bag, the Aero Speedpack 75 containing his growing Pentax system, presently comprising of;
- K-5 body
- Pentax 20-40 f2.8-4 Limited Zoom
- Pentax 15mm f4 Limited Wide Angle
- Pentax 100mm f2.8 Macro lens
- C-POL and UV Filters
- Surface Pro 2
- Cables and Connectors
His tripod is larger, so travels as hold luggage. The Surface Pro is a superb tool for backing up and previewing images on and is large enough for us all to gather around at the end of the day, reviewing images. The K-5 is a beautifully well-engineered camera reminiscent of the Olympus E series. As it is fully weather sealed, there is no problem using it in harsh environments, such as recently on Etna’s extremely dusty slopes, or in heavy rain during visits to high altitude mountain villages. My Wife uses a Leica D-Lux 3, a beautiful compact camera, and stores it in her hand luggage with no problems. Its output is very good and it also gives us the ability to shoot a few movies. Having a collection of digital images to review counterbalances the delay waiting for slides to be processed.
Given the amount of photographic gear we take on holiday, there is little excuse for returning home with poor results and we are usually overwhelmed with images. The beauty of this is that they are three unique perspectives of the same event.
But there is a storm on the horizon as far as my own preferences are concerned. I have always enjoyed using Kodak transparency film…particularly on holiday. Having tried other brands I was never satisfied with the colour palette, particularly blues and reds. Now we have reached a time whereby all Kodak slide film has been discontinued, and Sicily saw my last frozen block used. It is with sad regret that this summer’s holiday saw me shoot the last of a long line of beautiful film stock. And now it has gone there is a real possibility that I will retire my film cameras from the decades of holiday duties already performed, and embrace the digital age.