traveling with a camera

Traveling with a Camera by Natalie Parker

I’ve been mulling a lot about traveling with a camera.

I’ve had my DSLR for a bit now and have taken it on a few trips.  It’s been on short trips in and out of the country as well as one long trip to Antarctica.  I’m starting to wonder whether I need another camera to add to my arsenal.

I used to carry around a pretty cheap point and shoot.  We upgraded to the DSLR because Mr. P was tired of seeing me attempting artsy shots with a cheap camera.  The DSLR takes beautiful photos.

However, the DSLR is also a lug to carry around.  Getting it out of my bag when we’re traveling makes me think twice about whether it’s worth getting a shot (which is no bueno in my mind).  I loved being able to whip out the point and shoot to get a shot that was quick and unobtrusive.  I also loved the option of carrying a smaller bag.  One of my worst fears in life is schlepping.*

Handling the camera with cold weather gear was challenging in Antarctica.  Despite the photo below (wherein Mr. P told me I couldn’t possibly use the DSLR when wearing 2 layers of gloves), I handed off camera duties for most of the trip.

Traveling with a Camera by Natalie Parker

In my trip to Oregon recently, I left the camera at home and used my phone.  That was great for a quick weekend, but not doable for a longer trip.

Perhaps a higher quality point and shoot is needed to fill this void?  I’m leaning that way.  But I fear having that option will make me eschew the DSLR and since I bought the damn thing, I’m determined to get my money’s worth.

Somewhere there has to be a balance between quality and the schlep factor.

Your thoughts?  What camera do you use to travel?

*If you ask me what worries me about parenthood, I will always (naively, because I don’t know what’s coming to me) say that I don’t want to have to carry around a ton of stuff in order to leave the house.


Instagram Photos by Natalie Parker

It’s official, you can find me on Instagram at @natmariep.

I wondered why I needed another social media account.  Then I realized what I used to love most about Facebook is sharing photos and see others’ photos.  I don’t post much to Facebook anymore and find that there’s too much clutter.

I love the simplicity of Instagram.  All pictures, all the time.  I’ve started taking more phone pictures as a result.  Mr. P isn’t happy about having to wait to grab his drink/dessert/you name it.

Photo Walk: Saturday in Oakland

Oakland Photo Walk by Natalie Parker

Our Saturday mornings are always the same.  I took my DSLR this past weekend so you could join me on our walk.  Welcome to my fair city!

Our morning begins with breakfast, sometimes made at home, sometimes at the Farmer’s Market.  Mr. P made muffins this morning so we ate before heading the market.

We grab our bag and start walking — it’s uphill both ways actually.  The best part is turning the corner and the Lake comes into view.

Oakland Photo Walk by Natalie Parker

Every day I think how lucky we are to live near Lake Merritt.  This morning, the Lake is already teeming with people.  Walkers, runners, strollers, skateboards, bikes, training wheels, geese, dogs.

Oakland Photo Walk by Natalie Parker

We walk up along Lakeshore Avenue and enjoy the sun.  It’s a beautiful walk even in the cold months.  Our Farmer’s Market is 52 weeks a year so our mode of dress may change but the walk doesn’t.

Oakland Photo Walk by Natalie Parker

Up near the northern edge of the Lake, looks like there’s some sort of charity walk going.  Pretty sure there’s one every other weekend for some cause or other.

Oakland Photo Walk by Natalie Parker

Just beyond the Lake, we make a pit stop at our little branch of the Oakland Public Library so I can get a book.  There’s a children’s event going on inside and thus there’s a stroller parking lot that reminds me of Disneyland.

Oakland Photo Walk by Natalie Parker

Book in hand, we continue up Lakeshore toward the freeway.

Oakland Photo Walk by Natalie Parker

We have to walk under the freeway — the market is on the other side.  In some places, a freeway cutting through the middle of the neighborhood might harm the feel.  Here it doesn’t.  The neighborhood just . . . is.

Oakland Photo Walk by Natalie Parker

Here we go, almost shoulder to shoulder.  Where I’m standing is where in December they will add a Christmas tree lot.

Oakland Photo Walk by Natalie Parker

First stop of the day.  These are going into homemade ice cream later this afternoon.

Oakland Photo Walk by Natalie Parker

Next, to our mushroom guy to get mushrooms for our salads.

Oakland Photo Walk by Natalie Parker

Then to the blueberry couple.  They appear every year for a few weeks while blueberries are in season.  That’s all they sell.  In just a short while, they’ll be gone and we’ll wonder if we’ll see them next year.

Oakland Photo Walk by Natalie Parker

Mr. P pays for the blueberries and points out that fresh corn has finally arrived at the market.  I get really excited and dash off to buy some.

Oakland Photo Walk by Natalie Parker

English peas.  Fresh English peas.  There’s only one stand that has them and I’ll keep buying them until they go away.  Later, I’ll sit on the couch with a bowl and shell them all so they’re ready for weeknights.

Oakland Photo Walk by Natalie Parker

We let the farmer’s daughter upsell us into a bunch of purslane.  It tastes lemony and we’ll add it to our salads this week.

Oakland Photo Walk by Natalie Parker

One last thing — a bunch of radishes to go in the salads as well.

Oakland Photo Walk by Natalie Parker

Time to head home.  Back under the freeway to the other side.  There’s a parking lot under the freeway with a constant traffic jam of cars coming from far and wide to visit our market.  We feel lucky again that we live close enough to walk.

Oakland Photo Walk by Natalie Parker

Cross Mac Boulevard and walk back toward the Lake.  Out little library is in the background and the playground in front of it is jumping.  Not far out of the frame an outdoor yoga class is starting.

Oakland Photo Walk by Natalie Parker

Back along Lakeshore.  The Canada Geese that inhabit the area have migrated to our side of the Lake again.

Oakland Photo Walk by Natalie Parker

Back up the hill with our spoils — uphill both ways, did I mention that?

Oakland Photo Walk by Natalie Parker

We’ll need to bring a second bag next time.

Oakland Photo Walk by Natalie Parker

Fixing the Collage Frame

Collage Frame by Natalie Parker

I made these collage frames a few years ago for the home office.  They have not stood the test of time.

I used wire and hot glue.  Slowly, some of the wire broke away from the hot glue and I was left with this:

Collage Frame by Natalie Parker

Being the lazy person I am, I left it like this for at least a year.  Maybe two.  I finally got a bee in my bonnet a couple of weeks ago and took them all apart and put them back together again.

I swapped the wire for twine.  I modeled the new frames after a Christmas card holder my talented sister-in-law made for me.  Starting at the top, I wound the twine around the outside of the frame.  This method leaves some unused rows of twine in the back of the frame.  I thought it was neat and added some visual interest.

Collage Frame by Natalie Parker

This redo wasn’t without disaster.  I was halfway through the first one and realized I wasn’t winding tight enough.  If I added the pictures, they’d just drag down the twine.  Do over.  Naturally, the second time I wound it as tight as I could.  I forgot I was using cheapo Ikea frames.  Putting that much pressure on the frame almost broke it.  Do over.  The third time, I kept it at medium tightness and it worked!

Collage Frame by Natalie Parker

Some of the photos have faded a bit.  I picked out some new ones to bump up the color and display more recent stuff.

Collage Frame by Natalie Parker

All done!  After this tuneup, I hope it holds up for another couple years!

Collage Frame by Natalie Parker

Collage Frame by Natalie Parker

Taking the “Right” Amount of Photos on Vacation

Paris Vacation Photos by Natalie Parker

I was chatting with a friend this week about how to take the “right” amount of pictures on a vacation.  I could totally say “do what works for you,” but that’s not really helpful, is it?  If you’re someone who will later use your vacation photos for an album or scrapbook, here’s what I think.

If you take too few photos: you may find later that you don’t have much to work with album-wise (whether it’s a scrapbook, photo book or something else).  Don’t feel like you have to take pictures all the time, but maybe make sure you snap a few per day or per location and don’t forget to get at least one picture of yourself and travel companions together.

If you take too many photos: memory card space is cheap and it’s really tempting to snap away and figure it out later.  Mr. P used the multiple exposure setting in Antarctica.  When we got home, I had 2-3 shots of each photo.  A huge amount of photos can be very very overwhelming when you want to make an album and may make you avoid starting it.  If you end up with a ton of photos, make sure you sit down within one week of getting home to do a first cull.  Delete anything that’s blurry or bad.  If you have 2-3 of a shot, make a quick decision and keep one.  This way your set will be a bit tidier when you want to make an album.  It’s very hard to find the time and desire to go through photos right after vacation but trust me, if you have a ton, you should do it!  You won’t regret it!

How do you find that Goldilocks amount?  (as in, “just right”)  Practice, practice, practice.  I’ve had vacations with too few and too many photos.  When I do that initial cull right after I get back, I think about what worked and what didn’t.  I’m getting a lot better at getting the shots I want to get and knowing how to frame them.  I’ll take fewer but better ones.  I don’t think I’ll ever be perfect at it!

A Photographic Estate

Old Camera

When someone passes away, tough choices are everywhere.  Including what to do with photos.  That is not the toughest choice in the grand scheme of things, but one that still needs to be made.

Someone has left us recently and I was chatting with family members about what to do with their photos.

There are boxes and boxes of photos saved but the majority of them aren’t described or don’t have notes about who is in them.  They made the decision if they don’t know any of the people in the photo, they are tossing it.

They will save the photos that are important to them.  I’m not necessarily opposed to that because what other option is there?  Are photos ephemeral?  Have they served their primary use during the lifetime of their original owners?

Have you had to go through someone else’s photo collection before?

Image from Cyler Parent via Creative Commons license.

Thoughts on Scrapbooking a Vacation

Scrapbooking Vacations by Natalie ParkerI’ve scrapbooked two big vacations now, so I’m taking the time to reflect on the experience.

I didn’t take that many photos back then.  When Mr. P and I went to China last year, we took over 2000 photos.  For the honeymoon, I had less than 200 to work with.  Granted, it was only a week and the China trip was much longer, but I think it’s an interesting look at my changing ways.  Sometimes less is more – I need to keep that in mind for my next trip.

I only took “big time” photos.  I only took big scenery pictures and not much else.  No food.  I repeat: no food!  I also didn’t get many other details.  Big scenery pictures are great, but it’s very useful to have other bits to break up the pages and to show other people things you saw.

I mean, I didn’t even get a picture of the boat we took on our Na Pali Coast tour in Hawaii!  Or the speakeasy we ate at in New York that has since closed down and is trying to reopen!

I need to do a better job telling the stories.  Vacation layouts are hard.  There’s so much to include and I don’t want to do a mega-scrapbook for each one.  I do have vacation photobooks, but I still want the scrapbook layouts to have a lot of pictures.  That doesn’t leave a lot of room for the smaller interesting stories.

I showed Central Park but didn’t add the detail that it was windy and all the couples in rowboats were getting blown into the bushes (it was really funny).

Does the story about our crazy bus ride across rural China and being accosted by cab drivers deserve its own space?  Is it better to leave some stories to oral tradition?  I’m still debating about the right balance here.

I can’t capture everything in my scrapbook, I’ve long accepted that.  But I want to capture the “right” things but I’m not 100% sure what those are.

Have you scrapbooked big vacations before?  What have you learned?

Photos from Antarctica

Iceberg Alley near Port Charcot, Antarctica by Natalie Parker

I’m wading through all the photos from our trip, deep in my post-vacation organization process.  Mr. P handled the camera for a lot of the time and used the continuous shutter release feature (not wanting to miss any penguin moments), so when he pushed down the button it took 2-3 shots.  I’m carefully choosing the best of each.

First up:  create a slideshow on a DVD for visiting relatives.  Next:  put together a photobook.  Eventually, eventually, I’ll figure out a way how to scrapbook this all.  We had 2 days at sea, 5 days of landings with 2 locations a day, then 2 days back.  Let’s not even start on our time in South America, I’m barely through those photos.

And of course, one of my priorities is picking out some favorites to share with you!  Enjoy!

Antarctica by Natalie Parker 2Antarctica by Natalie Parker 3Antarctica by Natalie Parker 4Antarctica by Natalie Parker 5Antarctica by Natalie Parker 6Antarctica by Natalie Parker 7Antarctica by Natalie Parker 8Antarctica by Natalie Parker 9Antarctica by Natalie Parker 10Antarctica by Natalie Parker 11Antarctica by Natalie Parker 12Antarctica by Natalie Parker 13

Taking Photos in Museums

On taking photos in museums by Natalie ParkerI’ve been showing you my New York vacation scrapbook pages, a lot of which feature some bad museum pictures.  It’s been 8 years since that trip and I’ve visited many more museums with my camera.  Here is what I learned:

Take Just a Few Photos: No one wants to see photos of what I saw in a museum unless it’s a rare circumstance.  I take a few photos to convey the experience, not to document exactly what I’m seeing.

What do I mean by that?  I didn’t try and get the best picture of Monet’s waterlilies at the Orangerie.  Instead, I snapped a couple photos of Mr. P contemplating them.  I can show how the visit felt, the curvature of the room, and it helps me remember the time Mr. P spent taking in the paintings.

On taking photos in museums by Natalie ParkerI’ll snap a few photos of objects or paintings just to use in my scrapbook later.  If I can, I’ll try and get the sign outside the museum.  Other than that, I’m at the museum to enjoy it, not document the heck out of it.

I’ve learned not to ever use a flash in a museum.  If I can’t get a good photo without it, I don’t get one.

Follow the Rules: This always bugs me so listen up!  If you are carrying a camera it is your responsibility to know the photography rules of the place you are visiting, period.  Some museums allow photographs, some don’t.  Most don’t allow flash photography.  If you don’t know how to turn off your flash, don’t take the picture.  If photography is not allowed, then no pictures, not even with your phone.

When Mr. P and I visited the Valley of the Kings, we couldn’t bring cameras inside the gates.  I was bummed because I at least wanted to get pictures outside the tombs in the Valley.  Our guide told us flash photography really damages the paintings inside the tombs and too many people used their flashes, claiming that it was an accident or they didn’t know how to turn it off.  Result? No cameras for anyone in the Valley of the Kings, not even outside the tombs.

The photo at the beginning of this post is of the Mona Lisa in the Louvre.  I snapped a couple pictures of the painting when we got there, then went back right before lunch to capture the melee.

A Wedding with My Cell Phone

Wedding with Cell Phone by Natalie ParkerI went to a wedding recently and decided to take only my cell phone.  The truth is I didn’t want to carry a big purse for the DSLR, I wanted to carry a small clutch.

I see tons of people get great phone pictures and figured, what the hell, phone pictures it is!

The verdict?  Meh.  I got a couple of good photos but a bunch of them weren’t great quality as the phone doesn’t shoot well in low light.  Still, I don’t want to be that-person-who-isn’t-the-wedding-photographer running around to get pictures.  I also only really need/like a handful of pictures, not the jillion I’d take with a DSLR.  It makes me wonder whether I should carry a point-and-shoot to these things?

Ha, I can only imagine the look Mr. P would give me if I said I needed another camera.  I may have to carry around my old one.  Now to go see if it fits in my clutch . . .