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Travel Photography Fails Galore!

Updated on January 7, 2018
CYong74 profile image

Ced earned a bachelor's degree in communication studies in 1999. His interests include history, traveling, and mythology.

My mum, who's aged and superstitious, feels that I'm jinxed. Now at the mid-point (hopefully not end-point) of my life, I'm beginning to suspect mum has it right all along. I'm just more susceptible to misadventures compared to your average person.

A good example of this would be travel photography fails. I'm no professional. I'm more of a semi-pro or a serious hobbyist, who started gearing up after returning from Athens and going, OMG, the Acropolis looks as weary as it is old in my handphone pics! Since then, it's a long learning process, and of course plenty of travel photography fails. Some of these fails were bad enough for me to lash at the delete moment right after opening the shot on my comp.

My current camaera. A worn D7000.
My current camaera. A worn D7000. | Source

But before details, a positive note, here are two of my better travel pics. :)

The famed Beaux-Art Metropolis building of downtown Madrid.
The famed Beaux-Art Metropolis building of downtown Madrid. | Source
Matsumoto Castle of Central Japan. One of the original Japanese castles still standing till today.
Matsumoto Castle of Central Japan. One of the original Japanese castles still standing till today. | Source

Back to the topic. These are my various travel photography fails over the years. I've grouped them by their nature.

Photography Packing Fails

  1. Leaving the charger at home.
  2. Assuming one fully charged battery would last a week.
  3. Forgetting to bring the power adapter for the Japanese style charger.
  4. Bringing just one memory card.
  5. Forgetting to bring the plug adapter for the Japanese style charger (That small piece for the charger to plug into the power adapter)
  6. Bringing just one memory card, that happens to be faulty.
  7. Forgetting to bring the memory card reader to transfer the pictures to the laptop, and discovering that the memory card reader on the laptop is faulty.
  8. Forgetting to bring lens cleaning liquid and a blower brush, and assuming my breath is just as miraculous.
  9. Bringing a flash, but forgetting the associated batteries, cap, chargers, adaptors, wires, etc

Packing fails are nothing too disastrous. Just head to an electronics shop and waste both time and money buying solutions. Right? So let's get serious with the next list.

Know your lenses to avoid travel photography fails!
Know your lenses to avoid travel photography fails! | Source

Photography Gear Fails

  1. Discovering after departure that the lens is rather moldy.
  2. Bringing only a specialised lens to a destination, and discovering it is too wide or too focused.
  3. Fumbling with advanced camera controls at the destination, because I didn't read the manual in full beforehand.
  4. Bringing too many lenses, instead of one general zoom lens, and being burdened like a donkey throughout the trip.
  5. Worrying sick and getting jumpy about getting mugged thanks to (4).
  6. Bringing a cheap tripod that surrenders after just one night of use.
  7. Not understanding that unless you're a Nat Geo level kind of mythical pro, you really only need to shoot between the 24mm to 140mm range. Everything else is beyond your comprehension.

Let's move on to areas beyond my control, mostly.

Photography Environmental fails

  1. Reaching a destination and finding it besieged by other tourists and photographers.
  2. Reaching a destination and discovering the best photo-spots are monopolised by vendors. Who charge 10 dollars for one direct-flashed, unphotoshopped, inkjet printout.
  3. It's raining/snowing/hailing at the destination.
  4. Getting lost/delayed by traffic on the way there, and only reaching the destination after the ideal "blue hour."
  5. Forgetting the world has very different sunrise and sunset timings, and missing these entirely.
  6. The destination is under renovation and all covered up.
  7. The destination is closed for unstated reasons.
  8. The destination is under renovation, but still open. With half of it concealed by canvas and scaffolding.
  9. There is nothing too wrong with the destination. But it's just an overcast, insipid day with dull lightning and dull faces.

As for the crème of the crop ...

This one isn't too bad. At least MOST of the Arc is visible.
This one isn't too bad. At least MOST of the Arc is visible. | Source

Exotic Photography Fails

  1. Not cleaning the lenses immediately after an hour in the rain or snow, resulting in recurring fungus invasion.
  2. Being targeted for mugging, and using the tripod in the other way it is meant for
  3. Having the viewfinder mirror fall out not once, but twice, on the very first day of travel.
  4. Not having the nifty fingers to repair (4) properly, and making an irreversible mess when super-gluing back the viewfinder mirror.

GOOD GRIEF, as Charlie Brown would say!

D7000 damaged viewfinder after self-repair fail.
D7000 damaged viewfinder after self-repair fail. | Source

Tips for Avoiding Travel Photography Fails

  1. Rigorously check all gear before departure.
  2. Print a packing list to ensure you covered everything.
  3. Pack early. Allow yourself time to "remember" left-outs.
  4. Read blogs and forums like Tripadvisor to learn about destination conditions.
  5. Read the manuals, twice. Better still, download a soft copy into your phone.
  6. Use weather forecasts. Those that include sunrise and sunset times.
  7. Always bring spares for batteries and storage devices.
  8. Visit stock libraries like Shutterstock and Dreamstime for ideas.
  9. Google Maps gives a good if vapid indication of how a place actually looks like. As in the surroundings, not just the attraction. You'd be appalled at how awful some environs are, and how challenging it is to avoid them in your pictures.

© 2016 Ced Yong


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