Living on the road, like I do, isn’t for everyone. It requires a lot of sacrifices and the willingness to accept near-constant change. When my partner and I moved into our RV, it was easy to rid ourselves of unneeded clothing and furniture, but we couldn’t leave behind the computer gear we need to do our jobs. And suddenly I was on the market for a really small printer.
After using the Canon Pixma iP110 portable inkjet printer for a few months, I feel comfortable recommending to anyone who needs a portable printer. It doesn’t have a scanner, which is fine since I can use my iPhone camera and apps like Scanner Pro, but it’s more than capable of handling the documents, photos, and envelopes I need to print from the road.
We live in an age where belief, in anything, can be difficult—especially where crowdfunded products are concerned.
I’ve been burned several times by kickstarted tech projects over the years. Mostly, the delivered goods underwhelm compared to what was promised. In some cases, a return on my investment never materialized at all. I’d all but given up on crowdfunded gear, but after using their Omnicharge’s batteries for the past few months, I want to believe that this startup is doing things right.
In my opinion, the best personal technology to travel with has a lot in common with a mullet—business in front, party out back. Take my iPad Pro, for example. Its portability and long battery life allow me to crank out articles, plan upcoming projects, talk to my editors, and invoice for my work while I’m on the road. But I can also use it to goof off when I’ve got free time…and sometimes even when I don’t.
After spending a month using it for work and play, I feel that Sony’s MP-CL1A Mobile Projector is just as deep into mullet country as my tablet is. It’s a short-throw pico projector that’s equally adept at pitching presentations in a boardroom as it as at throwing episodes of Better Call Saul up on your cottage wall to watch with friends.
Welcome to the second part of Have Gear, Will Travel’s digital photography special. In part one, I talked about the camera gear, hardware, software, and apps I use to make myself look like a semi-competent photographer. Depending on where I’m going and what I plan on doing while I’m there, the photography gear I jam into my backpack can range from dirt cheap to questionably expensive. All the tips I’m providing today, however, come at the low, low cost of free.
In order to better illustrate these techniques, tweaks, and suggestions, I spent a week in Montana this past November taking in the sights in Bozeman, Pray, Yellowstone National Park, Three Forks, Butte, the ghost town of Bannack, and all points in between. My time there was cold, the landscape was starkly beautiful, and the people I encountered were disarmingly warm. Within the space of a week, the state managed to charm its way to the top my list of favorite North American road trip destinations.
But for now, let’s talk photography. The following rules have worked well for me, and now, I pass them on, like the low-rent inheritance they are, to you.
Some photos turn out great, but most are merely okay. As anyone who has picked up a camera will tell you, everyone shoots both kinds. But let’s be honest: the majority of the photos we capture on vacation fall into the just-okay category. Thumbs make their way into shots. People and objects show up that we failed to notice when composing the shot. The sun can wash your photos out or cast harsh shadows. Not enough sun can turn what should be a beautiful moment into a grainy mess.
The good news is that, with the right hardware and software, most of these issues can either be improved upon or avoided altogether. To help you up your photographic game before your next adventure, I present a two-part travel photography special. In this first installment, I’ll cover the best hardware and software to use, and next time, I’ll focus on putting those tools to use.
These photos are from my recent trip to Montana, which I can say without hesitation is one of the most stark, beautiful places in the United States that I’ve ever had the privilege of visiting. Over the course of five days, my partner and I traveled to Bozeman, Pray, Yellowstone National Park, Three Forks, Butte, Bannack National Park, and Belgrade, with a ton of amazing stops along the way. Along with giving the state my best photographic efforts, I also took some intentionally terrible photos to show you that some of the worst pictures of your next vacation could well turn out to be a few of the best you’ve ever taken.
For most people, an iPhone is all the camera you’ll need—it’s in your pocket wherever you roam, ready to capture (or ruin, depending on who you talk to) the special moments of your life. And with the announcement of every new iPhone, its photographic credentials creep a little closer to rendering a lot of compact cameras obsolete.
However, not everyone is content with the photos their smartphone is capable of grabbing, with their wee-image sensors and software trickery. I’m one of them. As much as I rely on my iPhone SE for photos while I blunder through my daily life, I prefer to use Sony’s RX100 Mark III when I need to take my photos to a higher level—like when I’m doing product shots, a review, or I want to capture a spectacular view while I’m on the road. It offers me the opportunity to take more-detailed, life-like photos in a larger, more edit-friendly file format than my iPhone can afford.
As much as I love that my smartphone can do it all, sometimes, when you want a job done right, turning to a mission-specific tool is the best way to ensure your best work. Sony’s Cyber-shot DSC RX1R II camera is one such tool, and even though it costs (gulp) $3,900, I jumped at the chance to take it for a spin.
Even when your goal is to get away from it all, sometimes necessity requires that you stay in touch with the outside world. This can take a lot of forms: chatting with your loved ones on FaceTime, shuttling project files between your iPad Pro or MacBook and an employer’s private server on the other side of the globe, or simply taking in the latest episode of Game of Thrones so that you can blather about it later over iMessage with your friends.
Most people can conduct this kind of communication and file sharing over a cellular connection in their own home or while couch surfing at a friend’s place without fear that any of their sensitive personal information will fall into the hands of someone who isn’t supposed to have it. Streaming? Same deal—so long as you’re in the ‘States, you should be able to watch your Hulu, Netflix or HBO GO shows without a hitch, anywhere you go.
But once you connect to a wireless access point at an airport lounge or café near the hotel where you’re staying, or slip a SIM card into your MiFi device in a country where the citizenry is routinely surveilled (some would argue that happens here too, but meh,) your confidential information could quickly become less confidential. And if you’re roving outside of your home country, you may be disappointed to find that, despite paying for access, many streaming service providers will refuse to provide you with access to the latest video and music due to licensing issues. I think we can agree that this sucks.