Saturday, 30 July 2011

travelling light experiment with my Panasonic Lumix

bunchberry © caroline fraser 2011
I have just returned from Western Canada on a trip from Vancouver Island across the coastal ranges that include the Rockies, to Calgary. We were 11 in a far too small minibus, and had been advised to keep our luggage to less that 14kg, as it was to be carried on the roof of the van. I duly obeyed the instructions ( and was glad that I had, as we had to lift our luggage up high on an almost daily basis as we moved from one location to the next). Normally I travel with my Canon 40D plus several lenses, and my Panasonic Lumix for back up/hiking up mountains. On this trip I was challenged to cut back on weight, and in the style of Charlie Waite's dvd 'Travelling Light' decided to travel light with my trusty Panasonic Lumix only; with no extra lenses, tripods, extra hard drives or external flash.

I have fallen in love with my Panasonic, and my only concern was the lack of zoom; as we were on a tour there would be no time to get a tripod out, or fiddle about with lots of lenses.

So how did it go..........?

Firstly, I have no regrets about my decision; every time we stopped the bus to get out and see something I was relieved not to have to decide what kit I needed, and in the tight space of the bus there was nowhere to put all my usual equipment without using up space for someone else's arm/leg or bottom. I kept my camera around my neck, and therefore was always ready to grab a shot.

The Lumix is brilliant for landscapes providing the light is reasonable and you don't need a tripod. I am not that interested in capturing sunsets and sunrises, so that was not a problem. When hiking, it sits around my neck, and I was able to take shots while others were worried about getting their cameras out in the rain or from their back packs when climbing up mountains. My first love is capturing the intimate landscapes below my feet, and for this it is perfect, coping best when the weather is dull or just after rain when the foliage is fresh. The one thing a landscape photographer doesn't really need is harsh sunshine, and we  had little of that. Shadows are a problem in intimate and larger landscapes;  a lesson I learnt from the talented landscape photographer Joe Cornish whilst at Inversnaid in Scotland a few years ago.

The down side of the Lumix came to light when capturing wildlife; it really isn't suitable for wildlife photography, as the following images show.

wild life photography with a Lumix
This is a wildlife image of a Pica; a small Canadian animal a bit like a guinea pig. You may be wondering where it is.........


You may also be wondering what is looks like..........

as you can see, it is kinda cute
Final verdict is that it is totally not suitable for wildlife photography, and because of that ( and the prospect of 3 hours feeling sick) I skipped the whale watching tour, and went for a wonderful walk in the rainforest instead, where I had a  chance to capture a very large slug at close range ( not very well, as it's head is out of focus and it's tail is missing). My excuse for this transgression is that I was all alone and worried I might meet a bear!

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