Santorini photography tips – what I have learned – Part 2


Sorry – where was I? Oh yes.

I was telling you what I had learned – this is part two of my Santorini photography tips post – too long for a single post!

Camera bag

I use a Peak Design Everyday Backpack. This is on a day-to-day basis in the UK and also when travelling. When travelling I empty my bag completely, and split the stuff I need to take with me into stuff that goes in my checked luggage and stuff that goes in my camera bag, which is my hand luggage.

Here it is with a bottle of Prosecco in the tripod holder! Such a versatile bag!

A bottle of Prosecco in my Peak Design Everyday Backpack

And here it is on top of the caldera.

Peak Design Everyday Backpack on the <a href=
Santorini caldera” width=”790″ height=”593″ /> Peak Design Everyday Backpack on the Santorini caldera

I only take the stuff I need on a trip, and only take the one bag which easily carries all the gear that I need. I don’t want to be weighed down with loads of stuff – I am on my feet for hours and hours every day after all.

And I am quite old.

And I hate taking gear with me which I don’t get round to using.

I like to travel light and agile.

Data management

OK this is one of those things that I think I can improve on. I take all my blank, freshly formatted memory cards, which are stored in a secure, durable, hard waterproof case with yellow trims.

At the end of a days shooting I take any cards that I have used and put them in an identical case but with a red trim. This stays in the hotel room. If I drop my bag off a cliff the next day, which is a possibility lets be honest, all I have lost is the images I took that day. Forget my gear – that is insured.

I can’t replace the images that I have taken so reduce the risk by doing this. I don’t take a PC with me on trips anymore, just my iPad. I am thinking that I need to buy a device to give me an additional back up, some way of getting the stuff I have taken onto the cloud.

This is something I am seriously considering at the moment. I have not lost any data to date, but this is not a reason to not improve on what I am doing at the moment.

And thinking even more I did not backup my iPhone to the cloud – another thing that I need to think about.

Shoes

Yes shoes. I took these shoes to Santorini. Red Moshulu pumps.

I was travelling light after all. So light I did not give this a seconds thought. Until I got there that is. And it was fine on day 1. Well my feet were a bit achy but ok. Day 2 they were a bit fragile in the morning, and by day 5 there were physically sore from the constant daily pounding on the hard surfaces I was walking up and down.

I keep on writing about this to make sure I never forget to take proper walking shoes – these aren’t exactly heavy after all.

And I do have a pair of walking shoes, some lightweight grippy soled wonders made by Salomon which I have had for years now and enable me to clamber all over the place like a nimble mountain goat.

Well sort of.

Do not forget proper shoes.

Hats

It is cold at 4am in Santorini in April. And I have very little hair. So I need a hat. When you are sat there for a an hour on the top of the caldera before sunrise with the wind blowing it can get cold.

Me, Rick McEvoy on Santorini at sunrise

And then when the sun comes up it gets warmer but on this occasion it was still not hot until mid-morning so I need two hats – a thick woolly one and a thinner lighter one.

I happen to have two red North Face hats, which you can often see me wearing on those rare photos that I am actually in.

No jacket required

I checked the rainfall stats and decided to wing it with a fleece. That would deal with the light rain no problem, and if it really hammered it down I would be diving into shelter anyway.

That was the plan.

The reality is that where I was there was no shelter, so if it had rained I would have been well and truly done for. And with wet feet as well. Thankfully my camera bag is waterproof.

So, next time I am going to have a lightweight windproof shower proof top that will give me the protection I need – lightweight layers is the way forward.

Obviously in the UK I have a range of cold and wet weather clothing permanently in my car.

Snacks

Snacks are important. And I didn’t take any. So I had to just buy whatever I could find. This is a mistake I keep on making – I keep forgetting to get suitable snacks for 5am in the morning. I end up with things like Mars Bars, which are all good and lovely, but can be a bit messy out in the field and if not eaten melt and get squashed.

I need to come up with the best snacks for photography – now that I have written this I have reminded myself that I need to sort this before I leave for my next trip, and not wing it when I get there.

The other problem is that I tend to forget this when I am away. Sunsets merges into drinks and dinner, and when we get back to the hotel after dinner this is when I pack my bag. This is when I realise that I didn’t get any snacks. And by then it is too late to do anything – shops open at 10pm are pretty limited in Imerovigli after all!

Drinks

Really the same point as above – I normally end up with a can of Pepsi Max at 5am whilst I am sat all set up waiting for the sun to rise. Not the best drink for that time of the day.

Water and cordial concentrate are the fix to this – the problem is the quantity of water I need and how I carry it. Basically I need to be able to carry a second bottle.

Where to eat in Santorini

Well there are lots of places, but the one place that we really loved was actually a take away place in Imerovigli. I know tragic but it was that kind of busy trip.

As this is not a travel guide to Santorini I will get back to the photography stuff.

But the Chicken Gyros was completely ace!

Getting home

The worst part of any great trip is leaving. Yes we all have to do it. Going to the airport was the first time I had left the caldera in days, apart from when we walked to Oia that is.

The beauty of a small island is that the airport is never far away, if there is an airport that is.

Check out my other website Paxos Travel Guide for more on that! No there is on airport on the Greek Island of Paxos.

What is Santorini airport like?

My memories of Santorini airport are somewhat limited. I remember standing outside in the last of the sunshine before having to return back to the UK in April – that would be the last sun either of us would see in a while! And having checked in we walked into departures, which was pretty much a room with nothing other than basic WCs. And we just waited in that room for an hour before being released!

Insurance

Boring but important – make sure you are insured, and that your photography gear is insured. And if you are working commercially you will need Public Liability Insurance. And you will need general travel insurance.

Basically – be insured.

Importing into Lightroom

This is the first job when I get home. Well the first photography job that is. I need to get the images onto my PC external hard drive and also backed up to the cloud. And I also do a third backup to another external hard drive, which is stored off-site.

Only when this is done do I delete the images from my memory cards.

I always have the images in three separate places.

When I import images into Lightroom I apply develop pre-sets. These get my processing off to a start. I apply the following adjustments to every image on import.

I also add my copyright information in a metadata pre-set.

Last thing I do is put the images in a folder called Santorini 2017 – obvious and effective.

I also put the sets of three bracketed images into stacks, so only the first image is visible. This helps enormously with image selection.

I know that this slows down the importing process but I start to import from a card then go off and have a beer or do something else. Once the images have been imported from a card I put the card in a black fabric SD cardholder which lives in a drawer in my office.

Yes I really am that cautious with my memory cards.

Getting down to 20 images

Once the images are in Lightroom I then have to decide which images I want to edit. Now if I was starting afresh with this set of images, knowing how many images and what I want to do with them the process would go like this.

First pass – go through the images one by one, then hit the P key for any image I like the look of.

Once done I select the filter bar at the top, so only images which I have picked are visible.

I then go through the images again one by one, and anything I am not sure of using the U key I Unpick the image, removing the flag and removing the image from view.

I keep on doing this until I have a selection of images that I can look at in Grid View. I am now looking for the images that will make up a cohesive set. I make the images as big as possible in Grid View (getting rid of the side bars using Control Tab), and basically keep on unpicking till I am down to the number of images I want, in this case 20.

Once I have 20 images I put them in a new sub-folder called Picks. I then move the rest of the images into a new sub-folder called simply Rest.

Last thing is to add these 20 images to a Collection in Lightroom so I can view them using Lightroom Mobile on my iPad and iPhone.

Sorry last thing is to remove the flags – I don’t need them any more.

As to processing in Lightroom, that really is a subject in it’s own right.

  • I work in a logical sequence, which is this.
  • Crop/ Transform
  • White balance
  • Basic Panel
  • HSL Panel
  • Effects

And then I go to Photoshop to remove bits and clean up images.

If you want to know more about how I edit my images check out my main website and my weekly photography blog.

What about the other images?

I took over 2000 images, yet there are only 20 on this website. What am I going to do with the other images? Well there were going to be 100 images on 100 blog posts, but I realised that this would be a big mistake – I dont have the time for that much as I would like to.

I have other websites to create!

I have created a gallery titled My Big Fat Greek Photo Gallery with all the images that I have edited. There are 99 photos of Santorini in these five galleries.

I was not going to do much with the other images until I had this change of mind – I would like to make money form my photography work, so placing them on my own website was the right thing to do.

Once this is all done I am going to wait, possibly 6 – 9 months, before I add anything else to this website. I need to see if the website performs as hoped.

Lightroom metadata

Metadata on images used to be a real problem for me until I worked out one thing, which is this.

You only need to add metadata to images if you are going to put them somewhere other than on the hard drive where they live. Taking the set of photos of Santorini for example, I spent too much time trying to come up with a plan for the metadata, but in the end this is what I did.

Copyright info – this is applied on import

Filename, title, caption, keywords.

Out of all the photos I took in Santorini, I only need to worry about the metadata to the images that I am going to post to my website.

That is 20 images only.

Well 99 actually!!

I have done the work on the metadata properly for all 99 images – it didnt take too long in Lightroom and once done it is done.

There are some keywords which apply to all the images, such as

Santorini, Greek Islands, travel, tourism

I apply those to every image.

And then I add keywords relevant to each particular image – think of this as describing each image in words to a search engine.

Now I know people say that keywords are less important than they were, and maybe even irrelevant now, but I still feel this is worth doing. It took me circa 2 hours to keyword, title, file name and caption all the images on this website. And this was done in Lightroom, so only needs doing the once.

I change the filename of each image individually so the keyword relevant to that image is in the file name, and also in the title and description. The description field is a longer amount of text describing the image in more detail. I use the same text in the title as I do for the filename to be honest.

It really is that simple.

Keyword research

I use the free keyword search tool in Moz. I can do 10 keywords searches a month for free. I don’t use the Google keyword search tool any more. It is my understanding that this should be used when trying to find keywords for Adwords, ads bought via Google. Which I do not do.

The other thing that I do use is the Google search function – I see what the autocomplete does, and also other searches listed at the bottom of the page.

Things I wish I had done better

There are things that I could have done better. There are things that went just fine. And there are things that I have learnt.

All good stuff – what I want to do is develop what I have learnt and improve on certain areas, which I will write about here. These things are all relevant to helping you and I improve our photography in various ways. Photography is after all a love, a vocation and a journey.

We never stop learning.

Gear

What could I improve with my gear? I think the main thing would be the systematic photographing of it for commercial uses.

As to the gear itself it all worked perfectly, and I did not miss anything. There are a few specific things what I will write about later.

The only thing is that I would love to have a much smaller camera/ lens combo than my Canon 6D and various lenses. They were all good and lovely on this trip, but I find it too much of pain. Especially on family holidays where apart from when I go out to shoot a sunrise I have found myself sticking with my iPhone.

GPS capture

I need to make sure that the GPS is on and working as quite a few photos have the GPS data missing. And if I took iPhone photos at every location I know that I have the data there. More on this later under lessons learned.

Video capture

Basically I need to do more videos using my iPhone 7 Plus. Lots more videos

  • Behind the scenes
  • Images being taken – I love these
  • Me talking to the camera explaining something
  • Me talking whilst filming a location
  • Videos showing my photography gear
  • Video blog posts – something I have been thinking about for a log time now

Audio on video

The audio on my videos is quite dreadful I need to get a mic for my iPhone 7 Plus – I have one for my iPhone 5C but the lightning connector is now the headphone jack (thanks Apple) so my Rode Video Mic won’t plug into my iPhone 7 Plus.

That will provide a significant improvement in the quality of the videos that I produce.

More systematic approach to daytime shooting

Whilst I love wandering around and finding things to take photos of, and I don’t want to lose the spontaneity of my photography trips, I need to be a bit more systematic.

And I don’t want to pre-plan everything, and research locations to death so I am going to location A to get a shot, then location B for another shot etc.

There is a happy medium in-between the two, which is where I want to be. Have a bit of a plan, and make sure that I cover all the aspects of a location while I am there. That means not going back to places unless there is something new to be captured, and a bit more stuff in built-up parts of locations.

Lessons learned.

There are a number of things that I could do better. With everything I do I try to make improvements where I feel I need to. These are the things that I need to work on.

Backing up my photos.

I am not happy with my current plan. This has not caused me a problem, and I have not lost any images yet, but I think there are improvements that I can make here. I need to get some device that will allow me to back up my images to the cloud when I am on a trip.

Clothing

I need something that is lightweight, windproof, waterproof and small and light enough to be able to be folded away in my camera bag somewhere.

Image capture

I need to spend more time and thought on recording the image capture process – I am talking here about behind the scenes photos and videos.

Video

I need to improve the standard of my videos. I need to use my DJI Osmo Mobile. Well to use my DJI Osmo Mobile I need to take it with me. And to take it with me I need a bigger bag.

And If I get a bigger bag I will solve my coat storage problem, and also my water-carrying problem.

Getting back to the problem I need to vastly improve my video production – all I am doing at the moment is pointing my iPhone at things and hoping. Some of my more recent stuff has been much better to be fair.

I need to think more about my video capture and take it as seriously as my still image capture.

And I need to do more videos where I am talking to the camera and describing what I am filming.

Thankfully my videos are so poor improvements will be significant and easy to achieve.

More gear shots

Photos of my gear have value, and can be used in blog posts on my main website as well as on travel photography websites. These photos have a commercial value and need to be built into every shoot.

Story telling,

I need to decide what I want for a website before I go on a trip. This will be much easier having produced my first travel photography website, and work has already started on my second website.

Rather then getting back from a trip and wondering what to do with the stuff I have captured I now have a plan to take with me on trips so I am producing the content whilst I am at a location – a much more effective way of working.

And I can incorporate commercial and promotional shots into this story telling.

Daily journal.

This was the big learning point from my trip to Paxos, which was after I had started work on this website. This was the part of the realisation that I needed to approach this part of my photography business in a different way, which is what I have done. I wrote a daily journal while on holiday in Paxos, with nearly 15,000 words written on my iPad, which with refinement will end up being nearer 20,000 words with accompanying images, making about 1/3rd of the content of that website.

iPhone/ DLSR captures

This is a big one for me. I need to combine my iPhone photos and videos with the photos taken on my Canon DSLRs in a much better way.

And also take more videos on my Canon 6D.

Will this be as simple as importing all the photos and videos into Lightroom? It really could be that simple.

Time zones

I often forget to change the time on my camera. Infuriating but a mistake I really should not be making. Thankfully I can change the image capture time in Lightroom after the event.

Snacks and drinks

Yes I need to sort this. Basically I need more food and drinks when I am out and about on my feet for hours on end. And a bigger bag!

It seems that one of the main things is that I need a bigger bag!

My Santorini website

What was the end point of all of this? A brand new website called Photos of Santorini. And this is the last post on this website.

When I say last post I mean the last post for now. I might come back to this website and add more photos but for now this it.

One website, 20 blog posts about 20 photos, 99 photos in galleries, and one big post putting all the bits together. Two big posts in the end.

And that Big Fat Greek Photo Gallery – well I had to call it that!

If this proves to be a successful website it will act as the template for other travel photography websites from my travels all over this wonderful planet of yours.

Summary

I hope that you have found my round up posts titled Santorini photography tips helpful – you can get back to the first part of this post here.

And with that I will say goodbye for a while.

Oh yes – please don’t forget my other website Paxos Travel Guide which I am going to get back to work on now.

One last thing

If you want to buy an image, or want to speak to me about future collaboration email me at sales@rickmcevoyphotography.co.uk.

Rick McEvoy ABIPP – Photographer, writer, blogger

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