Our London Vacation is done – Now a coffee table book

Book Cover – Buy the book on Blurb.com

I spent much of my weekend creating and designing a coffee table book to remember our trip to London, England this past Thanksgiving.

You see no one wants to sit at my computer going through all the photos of our trip. No one is that interested in me just taking all the photos and just projecting them and talking forever about our trip.

What people are interested in seeing is when I have taken the time to create a storyline and thought about what I want to communicate about our trip.

The exercise of creating a book will help you have something to help you remember your trip and also make it more intriguing for an audience to enjoy.

One of the page spreads

As I worked on laying out all the pages and trying to create some sense of order I had to include some text. I needed to include information that would help us remember what we saw to be sure I didn’t lose pertinent information.

When you put two or more photos together you get what we call the X-Factor. This is when the message of the combined photos communicates something totally different than the photos just by themselves.  They strengthen each other.

Adding text goes even further and helps fill in all the information that is left out in a photograph.

Funny thing about great photos is they ask questions.  Yes the best photos have your audience asking questions.  Who is that person?  The photo was strong enough to make you want to know.

Where is this place? This is what a successful travel photo will do because your audience will want to go there if it is successful.

I can picture myself in many years sitting drinking some coffee and sitting by a fireplace as I hold the book and flip through the pages to help jog my memory on such a wonderful time I had with my wife and daughter.

Call me sentimental, but I realized this might be the last time we have to do anything as a family for a while. My daughter will go off to college next year and who knows how our schedules will be going forward. I know we will do things in the future, but will we get this kind of time together?

Page spread on the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace

While you can find some bargains on books about England they are not our photos and our specific memories. The book I put together is our trip and includes all the places we went to and enjoyed as a family.

This may just be the most archival way for our family to preserve the photos and memories of our trip. CD/DVDs tend to fade over time and hard drives can fail, but the printed page tends to last much longer than all these other formats.

I encourage you to take the time to put all those photos that you took on your latest trip into a book. Marry the images with text and not only will this preserve the memories, but it allows you now to share this with family and friends.

We all have friends who want to know about our trip because they are planning their own trip. Now we have something that can help them see what we did and help them determine if they want to see what we saw or maybe add some new locations that we didn’t go to for our trip.

I recommend using Blurb.com for your book project. These are beautiful books made by you. You can turn your ideas into professional-quality books, magazines, or ebooks for iPad and Kindle.

The Fuji X-E2 is the perfect travel photography camera

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/8, 1/75

Traveling to London, England on a vacation I decided to go very light with my gear. To get photos like this of my family as we travel I wanted something more than the camera on my phone.

I wanted to zoom and keep high quality. This is one of those trips of a lifetime that we will cherish for a very long time.

Instead of just carrying 2 extra batteries I am carrying 4. This way I can just shoot away or if the cold in the air drains my batteries then I will be ready and not miss photos due to a dead battery.

The kit is what you see in the photo. Fuji X-E2, Fujinon XF 18-55mm and the Fujinon XF 55-200mm.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/3.2, 1/100

You can see the bag I used to get all my gear here to London. I put my MacBook Pro 15″ laptop, external hard drive, beat headphones, some of my medicine, cables for everything including my phone. I also have a ExpoDisc for custom white balancing. Once we got to our flat I took most everything out and just had camera gear and put some gloves in the backpack. The backpack is the Think Tank Urban Approach which is designed for mirrorless camera systems.

Keeping it simple I never once changed lenses today. Tomorrow I will use the 55-200mm when we go to Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guards.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/5.6, 1/40

I love the Fuji for the high ISO of 6400. Great for most situations like this night scene of the restaurant we visited.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/10, 1/70

I am just adjusting the aperture for increasing the depth of field or decreasing as needed for each photo. Since it is mirrorless, I am looking at the LCD and seeing the results right away without having to use a depth of field preview button.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/10, 1/75

So for both the photos here I wanted to show foreground to background as sharp. I chose to shoot at ƒ/10 because the sharpness looked good in the viewfinder.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 800, ƒ/4, 1/100

Now for shooting the pastries in the window I just used a shallow depth of field.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 2000, ƒ/4, 1/100

Now our tour guide for the Harry Potter Muggles tour looked so much like my daughter today I needed a shot of them together. The background wasn’t quite important here so shooting at ƒ/4 worked just great.

The two of them were surprised at how much they had in common. They both are actresses and have been Olivia in Twelfth Night. Taste in movies from Harry Potter, Dr. Who, and Sherlock were just a few of the things other than dressing with similar attire.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 500, ƒ/2.8, 1/100

Now since I can see what I am getting before I push the shutter release I was able to see that ƒ/2.8 was fine for capturing my wife and daughter in front of the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theater. While the background is slightly out of focus it is still enough to know where they are standing in London.

Lesson is simple, you can do a great deal with a small system. However, if you note I am thinking about what I want to capture and controlling the camera. The camera without my input would not give this good of a result.

To help you think about this, when Apple and Samsung introduce their new smartphones they hired professional photographers to show what these cameras can do. Why is that? Because it is the person holding the camera that determines if you have photos that are really impactful,

So if you are running a business and you need photos, please don’t just use your smartphone or your own camera. Be sure and hire a pro. If Apple and Samsung wouldn’t trust anyone to use their gear to sell it then why should you?

Protecting Camera from the Rain

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 12800, ƒ/11, 1/15

Tonight I got caught across town in NYC with the rain coming down. Tried to get a Taxi and couldn’t get one quick enough, so we took a Manhattan Rickshaw Taxi. It even had a plastic cover which really made for some cool pictures.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 8000, ƒ/11, 1/100

So riding in a Rickshaw through Times-Square was a lot of fun.

It was a bad weather moment and we were able to turn it into a fun moment. Our cameras all remained dry all the way to the hotel.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 1000, ƒ/4, 1/100

Now one thing I noticed was shooting a shallow depth-of-field wasn’t as good as stopping down from ƒ/4 to ƒ/11 gave me a better result for my taste.

I was also impressed with the driver. He got us in pretty quick time to our hotel passing many of the cabs.