The Secret to Finding What You Didn’t Know You Were Looking For

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I came across this accordion player while roaming my own neighborhood in Madrid. The man told me that his grandfather bought the accordion when he was a young man in Romania. “It’s 80-years old,” he told me proudly. Photo ©Mike Randolph

Earlier this year a Canadian magazine asked me to write an essay on mobile phones and travel. While working on the piece, I couldn’t help thinking that I was also writing about street photography. The similarities are clear. Street photography involves walking around and waiting (and hoping) to get lucky. That’s what makes it one of the hardest and most frustrating kinds of photography, but when it all comes together, it’s also among the most rewarding. I’m republishing it here in the hopes you find it interesting. -Mike

During a recent session of idle, aimless surfing on the internet, I was interested to discover that apparently I am what the French call a flâneur, which, it turns out coincidentally, is a person who enjoys exploring places in an idle, seemingly aimless way. There’s not much to it. Put simply, you go to some place and you stroll around. Clasping your hands behind your back is optional. Continue Reading →

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Which Pro Camera do you Really Need to Shoot Like a Pro?

Eye on Riga: A bridge in the Latvian capital glows neon indigo as boaters row back to the docks at night. Photo ©Mike Randolph

Let’s start with a little quiz. What one thing makes a pro camera a pro camera? Build quality? Weather sealing? Fast autofocus? Fast motor drive? Dual SD card slots?

Don’t think too long over the answer because it’s none of the above. Continue Reading →

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The One Camera and the One Lens You Need for Travel Photography

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A man walks down the steps of Buda Castle at night, Budapest, Hungary. Shot with a Sony Nex7 and a Zeiss Biogon M 28mm lens. (42mm equivalent.) Photo ©Mike Randolph

A reader of my recent post, How Much Gear Should You Take on Your Next Trip? left a comment, and asked a doozy of a question: “So assuming you want serious pics and are happy to carry one body and one lens which lens would you pack knowing you want a good mix of landscapes, wildlife and travel portraits?” (Thanks for the question, Ian.)

First, the camera. I would take a mirrorless camera to save space and weight. I use a Sony Nex7. The autofocus is terrible but I never use it anyway. I use mostly manual focus lenses and set the peaking to red on the ‘medium’ setting, and I also use the focus magnify feature. I’ve gotten very used to this setup and Continue Reading →

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How Much Gear Should You Take on Your Next Trip?

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The alter of St. Peter’s in Vatican City sits just below the Basilica’s spectacular dome. Photo ©Mike Randolph

A good friend of mine is a commercial photographer. Usually, he shoots in his studio, but every now and then he shoots on location. I asked him how he decides what gear to take on the road and he answered without missing a beat, “Easy. I take everything.”

When you’ve got a few assistants with dollies and a rented cube van, well yeah, that makes a lot of sense. On a commercial location shoot, with clients and art directors and talent and make-up crew all depending on you, it would be just a wee bit embarrassing if the whole production came to a halt because you hadn’t realized you’d need that third roll of gaffers tape or whatever. The few times I’ve done that kind of shoot, I followed my friend’s advice and took every last thing I owned. Every lens, every camera, every tripod. An extra set of Allen keys. Everything.

But that doesn’t work with travel photography. Continue Reading →

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Did You Know You’ve Got a Lot More Megapixels Than You Need?

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You can be forgiven for thinking that the number of megapixels your camera has actually matters. Because we’ve all been brainwashed into believing that megapixels are important, but the truth is, it stopped mattering quite a few years ago.

There was a time, for a while there, that the megapixel race appeared to be over. Sure, in the early years of digital photography, DSLRs had to prove themselves against the quality of reproduction offered by film SLRs. For a long time, photographers were resistant to the idea that digital cameras could rival the analogue status quo. Naysayers were legion. Eventually, however, Continue Reading →

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