Preparations for my Photo-Round-Trip 2016 in Germany

Adobe Spark (3)

So, we finally reached the time of the year where the light is nice and the chances for long, sunny days is big… well, at least theoretically. This year the north of Germany (and I guess the whole northern hemisphere) has not been granted with a lot of sunny days. We´ve had many, many rainy days and a rarely sunny ones. This is, of course, not very beneficial for stock-photography, specially travel related photography. But, you cannot just keep on waiting and waiting for good weather… in some weeks the summertime will be gone and autumn will come.

I decided to take the risk and plan a round-trip to some of the major german cities in the north and center, which will be

  • Hannover
  • Düsseldorf
  • Köln
  • Frankfurt
  • Leipzig
  • Dresden

Allthough Berlin was on my list, I will leave it for a later trip this year. I already did a photo-trip to Berlin some time ago and I just missed some night-shots, which I will catch-back some time later this year. Luckily travelling from Hamburg to Berlin is easy and fast.

I am planing to stay round about 2 days in every city of the list in order to catch the morning light and the blue hour late in the evening. This time I haven´t booked the hotels and trains forehand (which I would normally do), but with the unstable weather this year I have to stay flexibel and if needed book an extra day, if the days are rainy. There´s no point on going out to shoot travel-stock photos when the light-god is against you 🙂

Preparations

As I have mentioned before a good preparation is half of the bill when going out to shoot travel-stock images. I´ve done my researches about where are the most important POIs (Point Of Interest) for tourism in the listed cities and have marked them on single Google-Maps. Where do you check this? Well, most of the bigger cities have an own website and they present their touristic atracctions and landmarks very prominently. Also, check sites like Lonely Planet, Marco Polo, Tripadvisor and some of the other travel sites. You will soon realize that the POIs mentioned are mostly the same. Another way of getting to know what motivs are going to be the most important to shoot are watching some videos of the city. Many times locals post very good videos about the city they live in, showing corners and places you would probably miss. Get involved with the story of the place, read a bit about the history of the city and try to understand why people long ago decided to settle down there.

Try to understand the typical magic of every city, the past and the planned future… your images will show if you understood the city or not.

Afterwards you can pin the locations on your Google Map and this way you will have a very handy overview of the route you will have to travel in every city. Here is for example my map of Düsseldorf:

As I will have a slight time constraint I have to visit them in a certain order. So after checking the POIs I also ordered them in a priority list, with the most important beeing at the top. After this I checked which should be the best time of the day to shoot them: some landmarks just look the best when you take an image of them at a certain time. Mostly you can say, that the best time for good and interesting light is in the early morning or the late evening, including the golden and blue hour. Some time ago I wrote a review for an app which can be very handy to time-organize your trip according to the light, check it here. The time between morning and evening is for… well, resting and eating the local dishes 🙂

Allthough this time I will travel very flexible and not book anything beforehand, I also have made a list of the hotels that are within the area where I want to shoot. Always try to find a place near your area, so you can react fast if something does not work the way you planned it (i.e. RAIN). If your hotel is too far away you will loose precious time. Don´t try to save some pennies booking a place too far away! At the end it makes no sense saving some Euros and perhaps loosing some great shots!

For booking the hotels and the trains I will this time rely totally on some apps on my smartphone. No printed documents, everything digital. I wonder if all will work out as I am planning 🙂

By the way, if you are going to rely solely on your smartphone, too… get yourself a battery-pack! There are many different ones and they all work quite good, just check that the capacity is large enough. Nothing more scary or frustrating (when doing all digitally) than beeing out there walking… and not beeing able to turn your smartphone on.

Next thing to check is your equipment. As many other photographers I, too, have too many technical gadgets, lenses and all the other bits that make my heart happy 🙂 … but in order to travel light I have to make some decisions about who´s going to come along with me and who´s staying at home. Every gramm too much could translate into pain on your back when you´re going to walk many kilometers every day. So, the main items I´m gonna take with me are:

  • my go-to-travel-camera Olympus OMD EM-1 and the Samsung Gear360 (for 360° imaging)
  • the “holy trinity” of lenses: 7-14, 14-50 and 50-150 mm, 2.8 Olympus Pro
  • 2 batteries for the body
  • Samyang Fish-eye lense
  • Olympus 45 mm 1.8
  • ND and Polarizer Filters
  • light-weighted tripod
  • battery pack for smartphone
  • bunch of SD cards

This (and a bottle of water) are going to be the only technical items I will carry around while walking through the cities. The whole pack weights light and is packed in a handy backpack which just looks like any other backpack out there. Nothing special.

So, 2 more days to go… it´s gonna be fun! 🙂

I´ll be posting images as they happen on my Instagram stream and on Facebook. If you´d like to, check them out!

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