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Rugged Travel with Digital Camera and Laptop

 
 
idalake@gmail.com
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      12-28-2004
Hello,

I recently spent 6 months in Guatemala with a 35mm manual SLR. I plan
to return in several months but this time with a Nikon D70 and my 12"
laptop. I am pretty new to digital photography. I need ideas on:

1. Discrete bags to carry my equipment
2. Insurance
3. General 'extreme condition' travel advice for digital photography

I will be focusing on people more than nature photography. I will be
going off the beaten path, traveling in chicken buses, and staying in
places where I am the only white person. What kind of unforeseen
problems might I run into with my camera and do you have any creative
solutions for them?

I realize that my question is pretty open ended, but I would like to
hear back from anyone with experience doing this kind of photography on
any information and ideas that they might feel pertinent to someone
starting off with this.

Many thanks,
Ida

 
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C J Campbell
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      12-28-2004
Your biggest problems will be personal security, hygiene, and then your
photo equipment.

For your camera, waist and fanny packs work well. See Lowepro's Street and
Field series for examples. Be sure to scuff it up so that it does not scream
"expensive camera equipment in here!" If you have a lot of equipment, a
battered looking backpack. The computer can be carried in a canvas portfolio
wrapped in garbage sacks. Keep all your equipment in garbage bags when
stored. Use clear plastic bags, like Zip-Loc, to protect your camera when it
is raining -- just shoot through the plastic.

Take along extra batteries. Several memory cards of 256 or 512 megs are
better than carrying around a one or two gigabyte sized cards.

Use a money belt and clothing with secret pockets for valuables. Scan your
passport and keep copies scattered around your possessions.

Pay your models -- don't be a cheapskate, and they will take care of you in
turn.


 
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paul
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      12-28-2004
I had my wife make a soft bag out of black velvet inside out with a
semi-rigid rubber handle attached with small carabiners to carry the
camera. It's small enough to wadd up in my pocket when I'm shooting &
very discrete with the camera in it. It carries like a small woman's
purse in my hand but looks more like a lunch bag or something. It can be
clipped to my belt loop for climbing if I need both hands. The velvet
provides a bit of protection from banging & absorbs dust & light rain
adequately. You could make a similar bag for the laptop to keep it dirt
free in a small day pack.
 
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Phil Stripling
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      12-28-2004
http://www.velocityreviews.com/forums/(E-Mail Removed) writes:

> 1. Discrete bags to carry my equipment


I'll bet you want discreet bags. :-> One of my friends uses a diaper
bag. It has an insulated compartment for such fluids as babies are wont to
spit, er, drink, and which he uses for padding. It has a diaper changing
shelf which he uses for changing film and lenses when otherwise he'd be on
the ground. He's confident that no one has have stolen a diaper bag.

I use khaki-colored Domke bags and a Lowe Pro backpack, which don't scream
photo gear. Many less well off persons travel with all their clothes in
backpacks, and no one seems to notice my pack has camera stuff in it. At
this stage in its career, its worn and scuffed and dirty on the outside.

> 2. Insurance


Check your home owner's insurance if you have any. That company can likely
provide adequate coverage at the best rate, since they already have your
business. Otherwise, I'd check photo.net and pdnonline.com for
recommendations.

> 3. General 'extreme condition' travel advice for digital photography


High humidity can be an issue. I don't know how well-sealed the D-70
is. Bring plastic bags to put over your gear that will be out in the
rain. If you stay in an airconditioned room, get everything out and open up
stuff to the extent possible to let the AC dehumidify your gear.

Bring lens cleaning stuff, brushes, lens tissue, lens fluid.

Find out voltages and socket sizes so you can bring plug converters --
voltage converters _generally_ aren't necessary, as most appliances will
take 110 and 220, but check your bricks and confirm this. See
http://www.cieux.com/fwiConnection.html
for links to resources for converters, telephone adapters, voltges, and
such (it's near the middle of the page -- just scroll down past the French
West Indies stuff) for the section "Staying Online Abroad."

http://www.cieux.com/portal.html
has links to an online calendar, currency conversions, how to place an
international call from any location, flight status, Zotophoto (upload a
digital photo via the web from where ever you are, and have it mailed as a
postcard in the US -- not free, but cheap), weather (just enter the city),
and more.

http://www.cieux.com/adventureKits.html
for links to first aid kits, overseas medical insurance (including
medivac), trip insurance, and war, health, and disease reports. Emergency
telephone numbers which can be used where you're traveling. Oh, yeah -- and
training in first aid.

>
> I will be focusing on people more than nature photography. I will be
> going off the beaten path, traveling in chicken buses, and staying in
> places where I am the only white person.


sigh With that perspective, you're going to cause yourself more problems
than you know. When I look up Ugly American in my dictionary, is that your
photo there? You _are_ American, right?

> What kind of unforeseen
> problems might I run into with my camera and do you have any creative
> solutions for them?


It's not your camera that's going to get you into trouble, hon. And I have
no creative solutions for your real problem.

--
Phil Stripling | email to the replyto address is presumed
The Civilized Explorer | spam and read later. email from this URL
http://www.cieux.com/ | http://www.civex.com/ is read daily.
 
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idalake@gmail.com
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      12-28-2004
The diaper bag option is a unique idea, I will keep that in mind.

Thanks for the concern you noted for my personal safety, but I am
familiar with Guatemala and I have an idea of what I am getting into.
I have been to all the places I am going to and have local friends in
many of them. I said that I was going to be doing rugged travel to
avoid lots of comments about sticking to tourist spots and general
travel advice.

Yes, I'm from the States.

 
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Ken Weitzel
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      12-28-2004


(E-Mail Removed) wrote:

<snip>

> 1. Discrete bags to carry my equipment


Let me share with you my "accident", perhaps you
or others might like to duplicate it on purpose.

Went shopping at a superstore, big camera dept. Just
off the camera area a large display of bags, low priced,
just 4 dollars and change canadian each.

Beautiful. Hand strap, shoulder strap, and a solid
clip to attach it to your belt loop or another
piece of luggage. Two zippered compartments,
one perfect for the camera, another perfect for
big glass, or battery charger, etc. Several stretchy
cargo nets - ideal for spare batteries, cards, what have
you. Well padded. Just what I needed, cheap, assorted
colors. Bought many of them, thinking that each member
of the family would like one (we're all into photography)

Had to wait for eldest grand daughter to come home from
school to ask why I'd bought so many lunch bags

Still perfect. And I submit that a good side benefit
is that if we were to leave it on a car seat, we'd be
much less likely to lose what others think is a lunch
bag than we would an expensive camera bag. Or you, should
you nod off on a "chicken train"

In fact given the price, in your case I might even
scruff one up a bit, add a couple of mustard or
ketchup stains, leave a crumpled napkin or bit of
wax paper stuck in the zipper

Just my 2 cents worth. If I haven't described it well
enough email me and I'll be happy to send you a picture.

Take care.

Ken

 
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idalake@gmail.com
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      12-28-2004
Thanks for the reassurance that the computer doesn't need a fancy case.
I was thinking of wrapping up more or less as you have suggested. I
don't have enough stuff to warrant a back pack with space for three
bodies and five lenses and a laptop.

Shoot through the plastic - brilliant and affordable.

I had good experiences photographing people during my last trip. I
think I will put a better effort toward paying models this time around.
I can't remember who told me that you can't steal a portrait. I found
that to not only be true photographically, but the people deserve more
than that anyway.

Thanks for all the good ideas.

 
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C J Campbell
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      12-28-2004

<(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed) ups.com...
> Thanks for the reassurance that the computer doesn't need a fancy case.
> I was thinking of wrapping up more or less as you have suggested. I
> don't have enough stuff to warrant a back pack with space for three
> bodies and five lenses and a laptop.
>
> Shoot through the plastic - brilliant and affordable.


Well, don't use freezer bags -- they are a little foggy, not as clear as
regular sandwich bags.


 
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C J Campbell
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      12-28-2004

"Phil Stripling" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed)...
> (E-Mail Removed) writes:
>


>
> High humidity can be an issue. I don't know how well-sealed the D-70
> is. Bring plastic bags to put over your gear that will be out in the
> rain. If you stay in an airconditioned room, get everything out and open

up
> stuff to the extent possible to let the AC dehumidify your gear.
>


That all worked for me very well in Belize a couple months ago. The D-70
worked like a champ the whole time, but the Minolta Dimage A1 hiccupped a
couple times.

>
> It's not your camera that's going to get you into trouble, hon. And I have
> no creative solutions for your real problem.


The only solution to that problem is to travel -- a lot. But I doubt the OP
meant to be tactless. After all, it is just as tactless to assume that the
OP is an American; I have found Europeans can be even worse.


 
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Phil Stripling
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      12-28-2004
"C J Campbell" <(E-Mail Removed)> writes:

> The only solution to that problem is to travel -- a lot. But I doubt the OP
> meant to be tactless. After all, it is just as tactless to assume that the
> OP is an American; I have found Europeans can be even worse.


Oh, _I_ didn't mean to be tactless! So no problem, right?

Uh, "even worse" in what way, CJ? Tact?

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