Travel Photography and the D7000

Well, I just spent 2 weeks cruising the Mediterranean coastline on a P&O cruise ship called Oceana. Wonderful time & visited the most amazing places! We stopped at Barcelona (Spain), Cannes (France), Civitavecchia (Italy), Naples (Italy), Ajaccio (Corsica), Praia da Rocha (Portugal) and Gibraltar.

Stopping in each port, sometimes we simply walked and explored the local vicinity, other times we took a P&O tour and saw such sights as The Colluseum and The Forum (Rome), Pompeii and Sorento. So much history – in such a short time.

I should point out that I had decided to go “lightweight” and only took my Nikon 18-200VR. Which incidentally had won “best travel lens” in a recent article in Digital Camera Magazine. I only have the Mark1 though – which suffers from zoom creep quite frequently, and they reviewed the Mark2. Knowing I’d frequently be in very strong sunlight, I fitted a Hoya Pro Polarizer.

I thought I’d blog on my experience trying to take photos on such tours……

The tours mostly set out by coach or mini-bus, show you some sights while you are still sitting on the bus, or you stop & get out for 5 minutes, or you’re on a guided walking tour of a particular site e.g. Colosseum. In most cases you are whisked around the sites and have very little time to listen to everything being said about the history and take photos.

I found that in most cases I’d actually want to go back to the place, spending more time walking about, taking in the atmosphere, reading all the plaques/boards etc, and more time getting the photos right.

On these types of walks you get a few seconds really to take each shot. Not enough time to decide on composure, white balance, aperture, ISO and time (shutter speed). (WAIT – I use that all the time as my checklist). I realized this was probably going to be the case before I went, so I loaded my “Travel” settings into U1, and my “Portrait” settings into U2 (re-saving both after loading to permanently save to U1/U2. If your not sure about this – have a read of my Advanced Setup page).

However, what I found was that we were whisked into and out of shadow, very strong sunlight, into buildings with some natural/strong-artificial/low-artificial light etc, and it was simply not possible to compose, determine aperture, check minimum shutter speed (inverse of focal length), and then bump up the ISO if needed. I guess I could have walked off and not listened to the guide, but I wanted to learn the history as well as take photos. In each case the guide talked, then immediately walked – there was simply too much to see in each place.

After the first walk I decided to change my settings for this type of “Guided-walk-photography”. So I set Auto ISO sensitivity control (SHOOTING MENU) to ON, Maximum sensitivity to 3200 and Minimum shutter speed to 1/125. The 18-200 has VR – which gives a few stops and hence no need to set it to 1/200. Auto-White balance was already set on U1.

These settings enabled me to concentrate on 2 things; composure and aperture. What did I want in the photo? And what did I want in focus?

So, for anyone travelling, facing very little time to take each photo, and facing very variable lighting conditions, I’d recommend taking this approach. I updated my U1 and U2 settings “in-place”, then re-saved the settings to U1/U2 – to ensure that if I switched to another mode then I didn’t lose these new settings. I didn’t save them to card though – since I wanted to keep my “Travel” and “Portrait” settings as I’d previously decided.

To update and save U1:
1. Set mode to U1
2. Configure Auto-ISO settings
3. Save settings via SETUP MENU – Save settings – U1

Here’s just a couple of the shots I took, I’ll post more later…

I’ve tried to show the D7000 handling different lighting conditions. Look at the details in the shadows and highlights. There is a significant difference between strong shadow and strong sunlight in a few, yet the detail is retained. All shot in RAW.

Rome Coliseum - outside (f11 1/125 ISO1800 18-200VRmk1@44mm)

Rome Coliseum - inside (f11 1/125 ISO320 18-200mk1@18mm)

Gibraltars apes - mother and child (f5 1/160 ISO100 18-200VRmk1@70mm)

Rome Forum (f18.0 1/125 ISO1400 18-200VRmk1@22mm)

Pompeii (f18 1/125 ISO560 18-200VRmk1@70mm)Rome Forum (f11 1/125 ISO280 18-200VRmk1@95mm)

Pompeii - inside (f5.6 1/30 ISO3200 18-200VRmk1@20mm)

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