Vacation Candids….how I did without a pro camera for 7 days….{Northern Virginia Professional Photographer}

So…when the husband proposed a trip to Italy for our family of four, we didn’t exactly all jump at the chance. I know…it sounds spoiled, right? Well…I’m not exactly a great traveler and of course, I over think it all. So all I could think about were the tiny details…how would I get email? How would I do on a 9 hour flight? What would I do on a 9 hour flight? And of course…how would I carry my camera? (Yes, the thought of a new bag came into mind…but come on, I AM A GIRL!)

So as the plans were made, and the stories of how to travel were being read and digested, it became clear that we wanted this trip to be focused on experiences we would have – not necessarily professional images we could capture. We wanted pictures, of course, but we really wanted to spend time with our kids. With Matt graduating from college in May we know our time as a family “unit” is dwindling…and in the very near future the dynamics of it all could rapidly change. We had our rough spots in recent years and wanted to do something that brought the whole family together for memories…and if that meant (I took a long time coming to this conclusion) leaving the professional camera home, so be it.

Wow. LEAVE THE CAMERA HOME? TAKE A POINT AND SHOOT? I have NEVER taken a decent image with a point and shoot camera! I’m a point and shoot idiot -yes, yes I am. I can admit it. I don’t know why I can navigate all the buttons and dials and options of a professional camera body and full photoshop but I am unable to take a decent picture with small inexpensive simple camera on auto. There. I admitted it.

So we weighed our options. A small camera meant I could leave the laptop home- which would result in a lighter bag for carry on and less stress of worrying about it’s safety too. So off I went to figure our the world of point and shoot cameras.

And I found the solution! Mirror-less cameras – some are called 4/3 cameras – are small, compact cameras with changeable lenses and user friendly – or rather, dummy proof, setting options. I navigated through the ones available and settled on – SURPRISE! – the Nikon 1 system. I did seriously look at other cameras, though…I REALLY DID!

The Nikon 1 model I purchased is the V1. It came with a 10-30 and a 30-110 lens, and I also purchased the body grip and accessory speed light as this model does not have a built in flash. The J1 model has the built in flash and comes in some cool colors – but I liked the styling of the V1, the better resolution of the LCD monitor and the accessory flash for it’s ability to tilt and even swivel 360 degrees. So I found a small bag, a comfortable strap and set out to learn how to use a hybrid – not quite a pro camera, but not necessarily a point and shoot.

It was easier than I thought. A few learning curves – how the camera reacts etc. And of course, figuring out a workflow that included downloading all images to my iPad to allow me to sort and edit images – even upload when we had a wifi connection (which wasn’t as easy to find as you’d think in a foreign country..but I digress).

I used the Snapfish app for iPad from NIK software (which is suite of products I also use in full photoshop), and I also used the app called PhotoGene. Both apps provided interesting options for edits, and I found I was able to pretty easily manipulate all I wanted and/or needed to with the images using that workflow.

Coming home, all I had to do was import the images into Lightroom and now I have them on my main computer too. (they don’t seem to want to leave the iPad yet, but I’ll figure out why they are still there sooner or later). In the end, I took 1542 photographs and yes…we had LOTS of family moments. Carrying the smaller camera and iPad gave me exactly what I needed – flexibility and a lighter “workflow” – and allowed me to look beyond the viewfinder for a change at what was actually happening – instead of seeing it all in a download later and missing the real moments as they happened.

So I have crooked images, even some (GASP!) over exposed images! But am I ok with it? You bet. I can fix over exposure tomorrow – I can’t get the time back with my family that I had last week.

Here are a few of the images for you to enjoy – but keep in mind – snapshots were the goal!

Duomo, Florence

Florence, Italy

Florence by night




Proof I did actually go...

Ancient Rome

Ancient City

If you follow me on Facebook, you might have seen some of these already and I do apologize. Just thought you might like a sampling of what NIK software’s Snapseed app can do with even MY point and shoot images!!

So in the end, I am still NOT a great traveler. Not willing to admit I’ll ever travel so far from home again just yet…but I will say I LOVED being with my “boys”.

And yes, I’m very happy to be home and back to work!

  1. This could have been written by me! I took my daughter to Alaska last summer. Took my Canon G12 along with an entire bag of other gear but used the point and shoot almost the entire time for the exact same reason. My daughter is the most camera shy of my kids and she just wanted me to enjoy the views without looking through a viewfinder the entire time. It was an awesome trip and we made great memories. My pictures sucked b/c I too am point and shoot challenged! Your pics are much better than most of mine came out.

  2. Patty says:

    Seriously, Elaine…NIK’s Snapseed is wonderful! So easy to use and even the presets were fun…normally I like “clean” images and don’t use a lot of textures or color variations. But they work in Snapseed so easily, and adjust so quickly to taste.

    So the D300 is now sold…I was only using it for primarily backup and travel, etc. The Nikon 1 will take it’s place for that and I’ll get the D800 when it’s out here shortly (leaving the D3s, D700, D800 and Nikon 1). Still a good lineup, and with the simplified workflow for quick trips I might actually GET candids of the family again…haven’t done that in YEARS, LOL!

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