Documenting your Travels

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We are constantly reminded, whilst taking for granted, how lucky we are with modern technologies. This particularly applies to photography, if you have a mobile phone (made in the last 10 years) then you are, in a literal sense, a photographer. Almost anytime and anyplace you can take a picture – it’s a photojournalist revolution. This is wonderful for the consumers of reportage news, though it may have cost a few proffessional jobs along the way. However, from an individuals perspective, I think the medium is a treasure for documenting your travels – you can visually record, with ease, all the great places you’ve been. This is extremely valuable, but lately I’ve felt a prisoner to the vast overusage of people practicing and sharing photography (with all their might). I feel as though the effortless access to the medium for a novice photographer has perhaps created a slur of ‘dumbed’ down images – ones that could easily be considered unnecessary practice. For example, the plentiful pictures of drunk nights out and other blundering images that soar the internet are filtering are daily senses with trash.

Anyway, I’m ranting a little off topic here. My main point I’m actually trying to get across is that you should always relish in the opportunity to visually document your travels. You never know what you might come across, be it a wondrous hidden landscape or a strange artifact, you should always have your smartphone (or ideally a ‘real’ camera) at the ready. Alternatively, documenting where you go with footage is another great way to reminisce and make the most out of what you’re doing. I’ve found from capturing video snippets whilst travelling, I’ve been able to compile many videos and, ultimately, create pieces of work I can actually be proud of and watch time and time again.

So, in other words, don’t be that tourist who is afraid to hang a camera around their neck. You may get one too many sneering looks (if abroad), but oh well, our lives are made up of infiltrating documentation, so why not add to it? At least, photography is something we all find fun and get pleasure out of viewing (even if the photo is disturbing, it still calls for intrigue – more pleasing than a dull photo, in my opinion).

Also, my best pictures (personal preference), ones I’d never planned out to be portfolio shots, happened whilst on the road. I can also think of times, I’ve missed the perfect shot whilst on the road. It sums up the fact that being in the right place at the right time is hugely important. For this to work, one must constantly be photographically equiped and engaged with their ‘eye for photography’.

In this blog post, I want to share with you some of the videos I’ve created whilst travelling to and from various places. I try to create narratives, but ultimately their just video clips thrown together, as I hardly ever plan out the shots before hand.

Footage from this summer in Crete (p.s. I am not stalking the girl in the dress and hat, she is my girlfriend):

 

Footage from France, also this summer (I got lucky!):

 

Trip back down to Devon in Easter break:

 

Visiting London:

 

Visiting Cambridge (I was able to use this footage for a music video for The Two Busketeers who happily abliged):

 

All of this stuff was shot off the cuff and without a tripod. The more you shoot, the more you can edit and experiment, and the more videos you can produce! Of course, the overall aesthetic of the productions are relatively low, but it’s nevertheless good practice, good fun and good for the motivation.

Thanks for watching.

No Tripod!

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It’s 11 at night and I’m writing my list of things to remember for the 6am start tomorrow. At the top of this list, I write, in block capitals, TRIPOD. I then position my tripod next to my packed bag. This tripod is not getting left behind!

The alarm sounds, a moment of dread envelopes my mind upon the realization of the early hour, but, shortly after, excitement kicks in and I’m up in no time (at least a few minutes). I run through my routinely morning procedures in a flash, grab my bag and head out of the door as my family are waiting impatiently in the car. What happened to the list you might be wondering? Absolutely nothing.

It’s too late to turn around, we’re five minutes from the ferry port when it dawns on me, like a virus apocalypse inside my head. My blood boils, I panic, how could I possibly capture a weeks photography and video without a tripod?

Thinking cap time. My father had continually told me from day one: ‘always think positively about bad situations’. I was struggling with this one. Finally, I came to the conclusion that without my tripod my cinematography skills would have to find new and inventive ways of capturing image and, ultimately, advance. This may be true, but I’d certainly choose a tripod over duck taping a tabletop pod to a broom pole and waving this unreliable invention around in the air.

A – it was awfully time consuming and tedious to operate. B – you put £2000 at risk of falling ‘down the drain’. C – It frankly looks ridiculous.

I purchased the tabletop pod (as it’s labeled on the packet) at a local photographic print store named ‘phox’ – whether this meant ‘x’ rated photos or ‘phoxy’ ones being sold, I’m not sure. Somehow, this small village seemed to be the only remotely inhabited place we came by on our 3-hour drive to my parents boat. It was, consequently, a minor miracle when a old, stereotypical French lady (she just looked really French, okay!?) replied “Un magasin de photographie? Oui, oui..” followed by some directions I couldn’t recite for the life of me. Good job the shop was just around the corner!

The male shop tender thought he saw an alien when I walked in, his jaw dropped to the floor. A customer, a customer with a camera in his hand, a customer with a strong intensive look on purchasing something! The man had business. I pointed at my camera before making a buffoon like attempt to draw a tripod below the latter with my hand. The man was sharp on his toes and quickly conjured up a neat little package containing the fore mentioned ‘tabletop pod’. The device was no more than a centimeter wide and a few inches tall. I looked down at the canon 7d hanging around my neck and then at the pod that stood elegantly on the counter below. You’ve got to be joking. It was an Arnold Schwarzenegger versus Predators moment – I can tackle this.

“You’ve not got anything a little bigger?” I asked, whilst using some sort of great hand gesture to get the point across. “Ahh, no,” he sounded in a deep French accent, of course. The man then explained that the nearest ‘real’ tripod was at a store over 100 kilometers away. So, I decided to tackle the miniature device (which fortunately didn’t have night vision). It was a desperate moment. Upon attachment, my SLR instantly flopped forward, hopeless. Seconds later, “I’ll take it.”

7.90 – an extreme rip-off for 3 tiny prongs of plastic.

However, I take my hat off to the shopkeeper. What a great little device – it even fits in my pocket! By the end of the week, I’d mastered the use of it and managed to get some very steady shots – I was soon over the depression stirred by my maddening ability to simply forget.

So, the long overdue message of this post is really to put emphasis on how important using a tripod is, but, that if you forget it, there’s always a way to get the shot you want (if you intend on going for a handheld look, then sshhh). In the past, I’ve stacked my whole shelf of books upon one another to place my camera steady at the height I want it. Try new things and you’ll soon get over leaving your tripod behind.

However, carrying a tripod is always worth the hassle (just remember it). In the case of my situation in France, thank you Mr. Phoxy!

A Week in France: My French Experience

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I’m back and it’s definitely been a week full of excitement, apprehension and intrigue! These all sound like conflicting feelings I know, so, read on..

It was a week full of delicious baguettes, pain aux chocolats and crepes. However, my stomach had soon had enough and, to be honest, I quickly developed an aversion to the sea. Don’t get me wrong, the sea is one of the most beautiful and wondrous elements of this earth, but it certainly doesn’t stay still!

I was met by two very distinctive cultures in France. Of course, there was the very French: the baguette overloaded, snail and shrimp infested, modest but nosey, wine drinking, not to be seen at lunchtime type, and the sailor: a rusty, outward growing, enveloped by fascination kind of guy. One lifestyle is certainly much easier than the other to encounter. I have to admit, after a week, one begins to discover the true hardships of a sailor’s lifestyle: constant head banging, overgrown facial hair, eating chips with jam, obtaining spells of sun stroke and ‘chundering’ overboard. All of these, naturally, I did not fail to endure.

When ashore, it was nice to plant a steady foot. Though, one’s senses would soon be riddled with the smell of baking, fish and crepes, and their vision blinded by signs for patisserie’s or creperie’s. Another common sight would be the old lady wondering down the street with an oversized baguette protruding from her handbag. My mum was responsive to this.. (captured below – though I’m sure she’d much rather be classed as middle-aged rather than the commonly averted term, old).

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The smell of fish is a very niche desire, I would say. But, in France, it would seem a mass accession. They were jumping at the opportunity to scan a market row stacked with fresh kill. Through the crowds, I managed to obtain the shot below. The enthralling photography opportunities allowed me to keep my cool and not flee to the hills (or the ocean) in search of fresh air.

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Where all these fish come from, I’m not so sure. The fishermen appear to sit at the end of a pier all day long, happily content with hours upon hours of nil activity. Fishing must be one of those passions were optimism frequently outweighs achievement. However, we did eat fish one night, and it was rather tasty. It helped that I thought it was chicken pieces until halfway through the meal when it was cautiously revealed to me.

It’s unfair to generalise the whole French population, so I won’t. However, to say the least, a handful of people we crossed paths with, frankly, had something wedged up their backside (sorry to be crude). My conclusion: too many Parisians were on holiday. But, more likely, these people were pissed off with the whole day they’d spent staring down a fishing line! “Bonjour! Merci! Au revoir!” (hello, thank you, goodbye) a man shouted at me as I exited the toilet. The guy was clearly pissed off that I’d just entered his bar to use the toilet. However, after walking a mile clenching my bladder, I really couldn’t care less. “Ah oui,” I replied. There was a strong tone of narcissistic sarcasm in the man’s voice. I believe this, and the glare, could only stem from a pure hatred of British tourists.

On the topic of toilets – I was surprised to find no locks on the public toilets, and on occasion, no loo seats (though this would seem a godsend in comparison with the bare hole in the ground used by many European outlets). Before entering the loo, I felt deemed for an awkward reality. And, so it was, I managed to score 3 out of 3 for walking in on ‘old’ ladies literally pulling their pants up. A crude affair, but all part of my somewhat uncouth French experience.

The sailing, however, was blissful. The sea was an astonishing bright blue, and yellow sparkles reflected buoyantly across its surface. The air was immanently fresh and uplifting. Due to this wonderful distraction, it can be easy to forget all about the scorching sun shining directly down upon me and, thus, I now sit here writing with red raw shoulders. Though, the rest of my body is the brownest it’s ever been (that means a lot when you’re paler than a polar bear)!

Below, is an oddity worth mentioning: “The Cat Named Awry.”

I woke to delicate footsteps trawling the roof of our cabin. Only did my sense come alive when I saw a strange shadow flash by the open roof hatch. It was German expressionism playing out before my very own eyes. Luckily, the footsteps soon disappeared along with the shadows. My tension parted and I began to fall asleep…SCREAMS! My girlfriend sees the shadow. Her nails dig into my sunburnt shoulders…PAIN! We’re harbored in a marina with restricted access. What on earth could this be? A fish with legs (an octopus)? Ah, I heard the patter of paws once more…it had to be a cat. But, how? Cats are known to be mischievous creatures. We decide not to pursue this mystery creature and eventually nod off. The next day we find out that it, indeed, was a cat. The cat belonged to the owner of the boat opposite. Sailing with a cat! Let alone the madness of it, cats don’t even like water! That day, I found myself looking up the French translation for “Keep your cat on a bloody leash!”

Despite all this, it really was a great trip. My girlfriend, Helena, and me would like to thank the anonymous (well they have their backs turned above) for inviting us out for a stay on their boat!

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Finally, below is a little video I put together from the trip:

Off to France!

 

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At 8:15 tomorrow morning my senses will be interrogated by the big screen, yet this is no ordinary big screen, it is one located on a ferry. “A cinema on a ferry! That’s just awesome” I blurted on discovery. France won’t seem so far away at all.

Where is the ferry heading? Yes, France. I’ll be spending a week on my stepdad’s boat with my girlfriend on the west coast of Brittany – I’m getting the feeling that blogging may become more restricted than normal! (hence the departing blog post). Nevertheless it will be a productive week of beautiful photography alongside plenty of reading and writing and walking with my girlfriend – I’ve discovered this to be a real great combination!

See you at the internet cafe.