The Tourist

This next month I am going to be tourist in a city where I have been a number of times before – Sydney. It will be a chance to see if I am full of good advice or hot air.

The question will turn upon the use of a camera during that week. I have a specialist event to attend on the last two days that will need photo coverage, and I want the result to be good enough to publish here on my photo column as well as on my general one. As it is to be a hot rod show, I know I’ll enjoy myself during the days, but part of that enjoyment is the reporting of it later. It’s kind of like taking pictures of your dinner at a fancy restaurant but with pinstripes and mag wheels.

I’ve long advocated travelling as lightly as possible, and have invested in luggage that makes it easy to get to the plane and to the hotel. As well, since I rarely need to impress with style on an internal holiday, I can dress for comfort and can even afford to come home with less clothing than I take. I obviate the need for toting dirty linen by taking the oldest and saddest examples in the closet and simply binning them after one wear. It means that there is space in the suitcase to bring back souvenirs.

This year I am going to take one camera, two lenses, one flash, and a tiny tabletop tripod that folds up. The lenses are going to be the smallest in my stocks; an 18mm and a 27mm. The wider one is only because car shows can be too crowded to be able to stand back when you are shooting. I expect the 27mm will stay on the camera for the rest of the time and the flash will probably stay in the suitcase as well. I’m a little curious to see if a new little 25mm manual focus lens arrives in time for testing as it might prove to be good for just this sort of trip – and then I’ll only need one lens.

This whole philosophy of less is more shocks a part of me that has been selling things to people for years. In the case of customers, we always wanted them to feel that more was more. And that more expensive more was better than cheaper more. Now that I am retired I am discovering that there is less more available and more less on the horizon, so it is wise to find out how to do well with what is here now. Plus it is a pain to haul heavy cameras and lenses around in hot weather just on the off-chance of a good shot – far better to plan the shot and position yourself for it.

Sydney, taken gently, has never failed to provide some good material. I do not impose upon the people with street shots and pestering…they live their lives and I live mine…I have a picture of the harbour bridge in the daytime, and one at night, and unless they move it or paint it orange, I do not need more. Likewise Darling Harbour and a number of other tourist sights. I can now find quirky little views or details that recall the adventure for me – personal souvenirs rather than optical teatowels from a kiosk. In some instances I have brought back written work that I don’t think I would have had the time or concentration to attend to here in Perth. Distance and isolation can be a great help.

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