Awestruck Wander

PHOTOGRAPHY HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH CAMERAS

~ Lucas Gentry

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We had been up since before dawn, walking through Yosemite valley to the trail head by the light of our headlamps. Climbing up the steep sides of the granite hills, the planning and effort was rewarded with commanding views of the valley below us, and spectacular formations of the high country, Half Dome, and Yosemite Falls. Before moving on, we paused to take a picture. We wanted to remember this moment, its beauty, and share it with others. We lined up the shot, making sure to capture everyone's faces without blocking the incredible scale of the surrounding landmarks. Not five feet away from us was another family doing the same, except they were facing the wrong way. Their orientation meant that their picture would capture their family, yes, but in the background would be the dark green and gray hillside, completely missing the beauty all around them.

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I share this story for a few reasons. First, it has perplexed me ever since. If someone can explain what, if any, logic there is in taking a picture of family and friends overlooking a world famous site and not including any of the famous landmark, please do. Second, this isn't the only time I've experienced this. You know what I'm about to say. You finally find someone you've judged looks nice enough based solely on outward appearance that you trust them enough to hand them your camera and ask if they could take your picture. You get in position, they fumble around and ask if the camera is turned on, then awkwardly take a few pictures and hand the camera back asking "is it ok?" You knew instantly based on where they were standing and pointing the camera that they didn't frame the picture right, nor use the right settings to avoid washing out the entire picture, but you smile and say it looks great because it isn't worth the hassle to try to explain how to take good pictures. Again, I quote, "photography has nothing to do with cameras." ~ Lucas Gentry

THE BEST CAMERA TO TRAVEL WITH

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The debate around which camera is the best camera is a fierce one, and also one that most people don't actually need to entertain. A camera is simply a tool that removes the restrictions keeping you from capturing the image you want. The part that so many people fail to realize is that it is up to them to find that image, and that is more than half of the battle. If you are a professional photographer, or aspiring to be one, actively seeking the ideal shots, there are a plethora of resources out there for you to consume until your head spins to try to discover the setup that fits you best. And you'll need a plethora of your own resources in order to acquire them. All of that is good and worth pursuing if you are passionate about it, but that doesn't answer the question for the majority of us: what is the best camera to travel with?

The perspective in which you approach this question makes all of the difference in how you answer it. Do you want the camera that takes the best photos, the camera that is the easiest to use, or the camera that won't break your back carrying it around all day? What is the subject you will be photographing, and what lighting will you have? We haven't even begun to discuss aperture, ISO, or bokeh. Is your head spinning yet? 

Of course, simply put, we want the best of everything, but there's a reason the photography industry has so many accessories and good photographers are hard to come by: they specialize. In our opinion, the best camera to travel with is the one that isn't in the way when you're traveling, but when you do need to capture that special moment or gorgeous sunset it performs exceptionally well in more than the majority of circumstances. For us, that camera has been the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100.

The Sony RX100 squeezes the latest technology into a form that fits in your pocket, meaning you don't need to lug a large camera around you neck along with a separate bag full of lenses, batteries, memory cards, and a tripod. It also has nearly every feature the amateur photographer needs, and even those they don't know about yet. With a 20MP, 1in. sensor, and available full manual controls, it has been the camera that I have with me all of the time, and has even made me think twice about whether to take a larger DSLR along. It also isn't cheap, but Sony has produced multiple annual versions of this camera, each with incremental features but similar sensors and lenses so you can expect similar image quality even with the first generation compared to the latest and greatest (and priciest). You'll hear photographer's tell you that it doesn't compare to DSLR or mirrorless cameras, and they're right, but it also is the camera that I won't be caught without.