Dave's Sketch Journal

Drawing is taking a line for a walk. - Paul Klee

Is Travel Photography without a Notebook Computer Really Possible?

I just got back from a month of travel through Korea, as well as eastern and southern China. It was truly a rewarding experience. Some of the photos you see here are the result.

But what I'd like to share with you is my new "lighter" travel photography workflow.

First, here's the equipment, hardware and software I carry:

What no MacBook? You're kidding me, right?

I have to admit I was a little anxious this time around not bringing the MacBook. I have HDR software (Photomatix) as well as watermark software that I often use on a shoot. Could I do without these tools? (Actually I really don't have to as there are many HDR and watermark solutions for the iPad.)

Anyway, I made the jump and left the MacBook and cables behind, about six pounds of stuff.

But I can truthfully say that using just the iPad and my Logitech K760 solar keyboard is the way to go. It's a big weight off my shoulders, literally.

For one thing, I never have to remove the iPad when going through security. Unlike the MacBook that always got special treatment, I just leave the iPad zipped up in the carry-on and go right on through. It's never an issue. (Your mileage may vary as some airports treat the iPad as a computer that needs to be run through the X-ray separately.)

Another advantage is that when I'm traveling back from a shoot I hook up the iPad camera connection kit, slide in my DSLR SD card, upload what I want, and start editing with Snapseed. No need to spend hours into the night back at the hotel loading the images into iPhoto on my MacBook. Besides I have hooked up all my iOS streams. So all the photos will automatically sync up when I get back home.

Of course, someone else was driving me back to the hotel which was a great luxury for me. You may not always have a private driver. However when you do, you can do editing in transit. When we got back to the hotel some 30-40 minutes later my images were already off the SD card, loaded into the iPad AND edited. It was a breeze. Now I just need to back them up.

No WIFI? No problem.

I was disappointed that the hotel didn't have WIFI. They only had a cable hook-up to the Internet. That's a drag. I had halfway considered lugging an extra router on my travels but instead came up with a better solution.

I turned on hotspot on my iPhone, connected the iPad to the hotspot and uploaded my images up to flickr.com. Chinch. Since I can do this anywhere, rather than go back to the hotel I went out to dinner. Now I can have a beer and ribs at a local restaurant during the upload. I consider this my backup strategy. (For $25 a year I have unlimited storage up at flickr.com.)

An added advantage was that I was less tired at the end of the day. Since I carry less stuff and don't have to stay up into the wee hours of the morning editing, uploading, and backing up, I have much more energy for shooting, which is what I like to do most.

I hope my "lighter" workflow makes sense to other photographers out there. After all, the objective is to shoot more and better images. Traveling lighter can make that possible.

Happy shooting.

Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler. -Albert Einstein

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