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Heading to Peru in a few days... advice?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by ecaggiani, Aug 31, 2013.

  1. ecaggiani

    ecaggiani TalkEmount Regular

    155
    Jun 19, 2013
    San Jose, CA
    Ed Caggiani
    Hey all,

    My wife and I are heading to Peru this coming Thursday, Sep. 5th for a much-needed vacation. This trip is the reason I got back into photography and purchased my NEX-3N a couple of months ago. Since then I've been reading and watching all I can on photography techniques, exposure control, good composition, etc. I've also amassed a small collection of legacy Minolta lenses and have been practicing when I could.

    Now, as the trip approaches, I am getting excited and also a little nervous that I have all my ducks in a row. So I am asking for any photographic advice for making the most out of my vacation.

    Here's a list of my current lenses, and how I plan to utilize them. Do these make sense?

    • Sony E 16-50mm kit lens: General vacation snapshots. Also for times when I want something small and easy.

    • Minolta MD 50mm f/2.0: Some street photography when I want to get a little closer. Perhaps some portraiture.

    • Minolta MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm f/2.8: Street photography, especially during the Mistura Food Festival in Lima

    • Minolta Maxxum AF 100-200mm f/4.5-22: Coupled with the LA-EA2 adapter, this lens has great auto-focus. I plan to use it in Machu Picchu for closer landscape shots. Also potentially for some street photography sniping :)

    • Sony E 16mm f/2.8 "pancake" (borrowed from a friend): Wide angle landscape shots in Machu Picchu, other wide shots. I might experiment with this for some street photography, maybe like "environmental portraits".

    By the way, the Mistura Food Festival is a 10-day event where Peruvian food is showcased, from street vendors to the world's top chefs. They expect over a million people this year. It will be a party-filled atmosphere in the streets of Lima with many sights, sounds, smells, and tastes to enjoy. This is where I hope to cut my teeth on street photography.

    The Machu Picchu ruins will be where I hope to practice my landscape shots. I'm bringing a tripod to make sure I get sharp photos here.

    Anyway, I hope all you seasoned photographers can offer some good tips to maximize my first real photography "assignment" :)

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. TonyTurley

    TonyTurley TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Apr 24, 2013
    West Virginia, USA
    Is there room in your suitcase for a large-ish stowaway? :D
     
  3. ecaggiani

    ecaggiani TalkEmount Regular

    155
    Jun 19, 2013
    San Jose, CA
    Ed Caggiani
    Hahaha, unfortunately no ;)
     
  4. Biro

    Biro TalkEmount Rookie

    22
    Oct 21, 2012
    Too many lenses for a vacation IMHO. I suggest paring that list down to three lenses at most.
     
  5. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    I'd say dump the 16 f/2.8 and the Minolta 100-300 plus adapter. IMO there are next to no shooting opportunities at Machu Picchu where the telephoto will be a better choice than the 50mm Minolta. Unless you want to climb up to the top of Huayna Picchu (highly recommended :evilsmile: ) there simply aren't any long-distance vantage points up there. And you can't see the ruins from down in the Urubamba valley. You're going to want to go wide-angle for most of your shots, and whatever details you want to record will be covered by the 50mm up close.

    And even if you overnight up at the lodge, you won't have access to the ruins in anything but daylight, so the 16-50 will be just as good as the 16, and more versatile.

    Go light, go far, go fast!

    My $0.02, and worth every penny. ;)

    Edit: Leave the tripod at home. Really.

    Edit 2: Drink several Pisco Sours a day. What's the worst that could happen? :D
     
  6. ecaggiani

    ecaggiani TalkEmount Regular

    155
    Jun 19, 2013
    San Jose, CA
    Ed Caggiani
    What would you recommend if you were to leave some home? I can see uses for all of them so it's hard for me to decide.

    Luckily, they all fit nicely in my small Domke shoulder bag. :)
     
  7. ecaggiani

    ecaggiani TalkEmount Regular

    155
    Jun 19, 2013
    San Jose, CA
    Ed Caggiani
    Wow, thanks for all the advice Dave! It's hard for me to leave so much stuff at home, though. Hmm, I'll have to think about it, but a lot of what you say makes sense.


     
  8. jai

    jai TalkEmount Top Veteran

    589
    Feb 4, 2013
    I did a trip to Peru last month, and walked the Inca trail.

    I don't know how much chance you will get to set up a tripod and get great shots at Machu Picchu, it is super crowded and hectic when you are there. At the very least you will have to be creative, because the "classic" shots of Machu Picchu are made by people literally lining up for their turn to take it. By the time i got there i was so tired and pretty much out of battery (I had been trekking for 4 days) and well... I only took a couple of photos.

    Make sure you book the ticket to climb Huayna Picchu, you have to organise it in advance. It is a not an easy climb up but worth it for the view. If you can't get that, walk up to the Sun Gate, that is where we trekkers saw Machu Picchu for the first time and the view from there is also amazing.

    I agree you should probably take fewer lenses? I have a bunch of Rokkors but left them at home because they are too heavy. I had the sony 35mm f1.8, kit lens and the 55-210 zoom. If you are interested you can check my photos:

    Tinted Wine & Water with Gas
     
  9. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    A few more thoughts for you, Ed. I don't know if you're able to book this so late in your planning, but staying at the lodge near the ruins allows you access to them before the tourist train, and the crowds Jai mentions, arrives around 10am. Not luxury accommodations, but well worth it for the photo ops.

    I found Cuzco a much better place for street photography than Lima, which is a a pit of a city, IMO. A few days there would be time well spent.

    But give yourself a day to acclimate to the altitude in Cuzco. Going from sea level to above 11,000 ft. can be difficult. Prepare yourselves for shortness of breath and a raging headache your first night in town.
     
  10. ecaggiani

    ecaggiani TalkEmount Regular

    155
    Jun 19, 2013
    San Jose, CA
    Ed Caggiani
    Jai, your picutres are outstanding! So we are not doing the Inca trail. I'm in no shape for such a hike! We're doing the train up to Machu Picchu like everyone else.

    Dave, I agree that Cuzco looks like a better street shooting opportunity than Lima, however the Mistura food festival promises to be quite an event. In any case, we're going to both places. We will be in Cuzco for a full day before we head to Machu Picchu so hopefully we can acclimate to the altitude. Unfortunately we will not have time to stay at the lodge.

    Since I'm new to all this I think I will still bring all my gear with me to Peru, but maybe just bring the lenses I need for the day and leave the rest in the hotel (in a safe if available). We're in Lima first, then a full day in Cuzco, so I will have some time to feel out my lens needs before heading to the ruins. The cool thing about the NEX is just how small and light all my gear is. :)

    Thanks again for all your advice everyone! I'll try to do my best and we'll see how it all turns out. Nothing like learning while in the thick of things!
     
  11. gio

    gio TalkEmount Veteran

    382
    Sep 12, 2012
    Manchester, uk
    my advice is not photography related,
    go to the sacred valley and Machu Pichu first, go directly from Cusco, as they are not as high as Cusco and this will give you a better chance to acclimatise to the altitude, some absolutely fantastic photo opportunities await you, as for the tripod I would not bother there is plenty light and plenty of stones/rocks etc to steady the camera on, just enjoy the experience, in aqua calientes the train runs down the main street, a brilliant opportunty to get photos of fellow travellers crossing in front of it, so get ahead of them quickly before the disappear, unfortunately Lima would not be in my list of places I must visit again, Cusco is a dream for photographers,a s is the whole journey
     
  12. jai

    jai TalkEmount Top Veteran

    589
    Feb 4, 2013
    Yep, go for it then! I packed light cause I had to carry it all on my back.

    Also, check out the pre-Colombian art museum in Cusco, really cool stuff in there. Like this guy:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaiphone/9528218259/" title="DSC05000 by Jai Sbr, on Flickr">"531" height="800" alt="DSC05000"></a>
     
  13. ecaggiani

    ecaggiani TalkEmount Regular

    155
    Jun 19, 2013
    San Jose, CA
    Ed Caggiani
    Well, you guys were all right about the tripod at Machu Picchu. Never used it. I did, however, use my 28mm, 16mm, 100-200mm, and even the 16-50mm kit. I'm getting pretty good at changing lenses quickly in the field!

    Cusco is an amazing place for street photography! I wish I had planned to stay longer here but we did manage to go walking around the first night and take lots of great shots. Today we fly back to Lima for one more night, then head home. I'll post pics as soon as I have time to process them :)