European Trip Photo Mistakes and Correct Decisions

European Trip Photo Mistakes and Correct Decisions

I took my first trip to Europe, June 2014.  We traveled to Amsterdam, Germany and Austria.  The Germany and Austria part of the trip was with Trafalgar Tours.  I really was looking forward to taking a lot of pictures and short movies.  Being my first trip to Europe, I had no clue what to do and not to do with a whole lot of issues.  Here is my good and bad list:

Correct Decisions

  • I decided to buy a new Nikon camera body, D5300, instead of using my Nikon D3000 or buying a D7100.  The D5300, for me was a perfect vacation camera.  The pixel resolution blew the socks off of the D3000.  It also was perfect for quickly switching between still and motion picture.  The one problem I did have was that in motion picture mode, I learned that I had to t use still image to focus and then switch over to motion picture, otherwise, shots were out of focus.
  • I agonized over whether to take a telephoto lens.  My daughter and a friend recommended not taking one because if I shoot high resolution images I can very often crop which results in a zoom in with Lightroom.  This was a perfect decision because I found very few times that I really wanted to use a telephoto and the Lightroom crop seemed to work most of the time.
  • Taking a 64 GB SD card and never deleting any images off that card was really smart.  I also had a 32 GB SD card that I had to use because I shot over three thousand images in two weeks.  I also took a Macbook Air with an external 1 TB hard drive.  I downloaded all my images to both computer and hard drive so I would have three copies of each photo image.
  • The GPS feature supplied with the Nikon D5300 really attracted me because I just love new technology.  For some of my photo shoot I did turn GPS on.  It really drains the battery.  I now wished I had turned it on all the time.  The reason is that I am using Lightroom Photoshop 5.  This program has a Map tab which shows you approximate location for each of your images.  I took over three thousand photographs.  Let me tell you that I had a real mess on my hands trying to figure out where each image was taken.  The Map feature really speeds up the catalog process.

For Your Consideration

  • I purchased a SD card wallet and never used it.  If you decide to take a bunch of SD cards with you that are small in memory size, this might be necessary.  I put my backup SD card in my travel wallet.  An Australian friend that was on the trip with us had the view that you use small SD cards in case one goes bad, you are not out a lot of images.  I just did not want to deal with managing different SD cards so i went with 32 and 64 GB cards.
  • I had just purchased a Tamron 17-50mm F2.8 lens from a friend for a very good price.  This lens was for a full frame chip so it had a slight magnification factor.  This meant that it was not as wide angle as you would suspect.  The lens was faster than my kit lenses and a bit wider angle which really helps.  I really recommend that you take a wide angle lens that is fast, meaning it lets in a lot of light.  During any tour, you most likely will be in some dark places and most museums will not allow flash.


  • Turning on the date and time was a huge mistake on my Nikon D5300.  Make darn sure you set the time zone and set the correct time when you arrive in the country that you are visiting if you use date time stamp or not.  You really want the metadata to be accurate.  Then double check the time that appears in a test image with the local time.  If you need to turn date time on for some reason, really understand where the date time stamp will appear in your images and you can not easily remove it,  Seriously consider widen out your shots enough so this information is below peoples feet, below statues base, below the bottom of buildings enough so when you go into Lightroom, you can crop the date time stamp out of any shot.  My daughter found a Photoshop solution for removing the date and time stamp and she plowed through most of my images removing that flaw.
  • Not checking my images and movies at the end of the day was a serious mistake.  When shooting movies I held my lens cap with the same hand as the one cradling my lens.  The cap made a ticking noise when it hit the side of the lens.  I also had the tendency to not hold my camera level.  A good example of this can be seen here:

The above video was shot full wide angle and I did not use the tilt screen but shot totally wild, meaning that I used NO viewfinders.  What was nice about this method  is most everyone that saw me with the camera did not know I was doing a video .
  • Not realizing that my Tamron 17-50mm F/2.8 lens would not easily and smoothly zoom in and out during filming was a real disappointment.
  • Not taking pictures of each person on the tour and identifying them during the trip really added hours of research time when I got home.  When I got back, it took me days of looking at my images and blowing them up to read the name tags.   I still have not identified all the people on the tour.
  • Leaving my second camera battery at home was really stupid.  I had to buy a new backup battery in Germany.  Because I turned on GPS, shot a lot of images and took a lot of movies, a single battery was not enough.
  • I tried to take pictures of all the people taking our tour with us but some individuals really did not appear in most of my shots.  I really need to improve upon this in any future tour.
  • For some reason, I failed to understand the name of some of the places we visited.  I later found out that our tour itinerary did not adequately identify some of the places we stopped at.  I really recommend that you use GPS and shoot images of building names and street corner signs when possible.  My wife took really terrific notes and this helped to identify some of the places we visited and particular shots taken inside museums.
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