Scott Kelby’s Worldwide Photowalk 2018 had an amazing turnout with over 900 walks worldwide and well over 15,000 walkers.

Here in Porto, José Manuel Santos, Pictury Photo Tours leader, organized the Porto Can’t Miss It! Worldwide Photowalk with more than 40 photographers. This photowalk started in Passeio das Virtudes viewpoint, crossed the romantic Jardim das Virtudes, visited the wonderful S. Pedro de Miragaia church, and goes through the very old Rua da Arménia, climb the Monte dos Judeus, saw the sunset on Palácio das Sereias belvedere and finish in the outstanding warehouse Armazém where we said goodbye until next year.

By Elizabeth Gray

If you’re like me, you’ve planned a trip, had visions of coming home with an SD card full of National Geographic images, but ended up with a hard drive full of vacation snapshots. What can you do to better prepare for a trip when you really want to spend some quality time behind your camera? Consider taking a photography tour. You will find yourself among a group of like-minded people, all of whom are excited about spending several days dedicating time to photography. A tour can be a wonderful learning environment. And if you take the time to do some research and planning, you will end up at the right spot, at the right time, and you will come home with some exceptional photographs.

Galapagos Sunset
NIKON D800 + 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm, ISO 400, 1/320, f/10.0

1) Choosing a Photography Tour

Of all the things to consider when choosing a photography tour, the first is location. Not all tours have to be to exotic, distant locations. A tour near your hometown can give you well deserved time to immerse yourself in photography. All too often the best-laid plans to spend a day shooting get interrupted by work, errands or other disruptions. On a photo tour, your time is focused (mind the pun), on photography.

Bachman's Sparrow
NIKON D7000 + 200-400mm f/4 @ 550mm, ISO 800, 1/350, f/6.7
This shot was taken only a few miles from where I was living in Houston while on a birding photography tour. Bachman’s Sparrows are very elusive. Without an experienced photography guide, I never would have found this extremely secretive sparrow which likes to hide in the underbrush.

Cost is a big factor in tour choice. Tours to the same location can vary greatly in price, which makes comparison hard. When you start searching, look closely at the tour descriptions. For most tours you will be responsible for getting yourself from your home to the tour location. However, the costs of accommodation, meals, entrance fees and transportation during the tour may or may not be included.

Another consideration is group size or student/leader ratio. One of the big advantages of a tour, compared to a self-organized trip, is that you get photography instruction. Make sure that the group size is not so big that it becomes hard to ask questions and get help from the guide(s).

No Room on Deck
Canon PowerShot S95 + 6-22.5mm @ 6mm, ISO 320, 1/1600, f/8.0 © Paul Gray
Too many photographers on a very small boat!

I classify photo tours into three categories:

  1. Workshops
  2. Educational photo ops
  3. Photo only tours

Workshops combine shooting time with dedicated classroom teaching time. You can expect some combination of lectures, instruction on post-processing techniques and supportive critiques of your images. Of course, workshops also give you plenty of opportunity to ask questions when you are out in the field.

Hasting Street Reflection
NIKON D7000 + 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm, ISO 400, 1/320, f/10.0
This shot was taken during an architectural photography workshop I participated in. We alternated shooting time with classroom lectures.

Educational photo ops do not offer separate instruction time. However, the leader is readily available in the field to answer questions about composition and camera techniques. Some may offer critiques as well.

Yellow, Red and Green
NIKON D800 + 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 340mm, ISO 200, 8/10, f/20.0
With seven of us on this fall foliage tour in New Hampshire, there was plenty of opportunity to ask questions while we were shooting.

The last type, photo only tours, simply get you to the right place at the right time. This type of tour is to be avoided! If you are paying top dollar for a photo tour, you should not be bankrolling the leader’s trip so he/she can pad their portfolio. Make sure you ask if the guide will be taking pictures too. It is one thing for them to bring a camera to show you how to compose, or how to set up. It is another for the leader to be so busy taking his/her own images that they don’t have time to answer your questions. Two years ago I was fortunate enough to take a photo tour to the Galapagos Islands. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity. However, one of the instructors seemed more interested in taking her own images than helping the paying clients. There were several instances where she asked me (or others) to move because we were in her frame! Luckily the other guide was extremely knowledgeable, and freely shared his knowledge with anyone who had questions.

Fisgard Lighthouse
NIKON D7000 + 14-24mm f/2.8 @ 15mm, ISO 200, 1/200, f/10.0
Our photography guide got us to the Fisgard Lighthouse in Victoria just as the sun was rising.

If you are a beginner or intermediate photographer, a workshop tour is a wonderful learning experience. If you are more advanced, you may find that it is not worth paying extra for classroom instruction. An educational photo op tour may be best for you. Regardless of your ability, a tour that includes group critiques is invaluable. Having an opportunity to see other photographers’ images can inspire all kinds of creative ideas. Getting your images critiqued by a professional helps you understand your photos’ strengths and weaknesses. This can elevate your photography to the next level.

Dance of the Egret
NIKON D7100 + 200-400mm f/4 @ 550mm, ISO 800, 1/2500, f/6.3

When researching tours, look for detailed itineraries, with some built in flexibility. Be wary of tours that shoot from dawn to dusk. They can be exhausting after a couple of days. Make sure that you pick one that has some down time, usually during mid-day when the light is not at its best. Use some of that down time to process some of your images. This will give you the opportunity to ask questions about composition and technique before it is too late and the tour is over.

Lastly, conduct some research on the professional leading the tour. How long have they been doing this tour or been in business? Do they have their own website? If so, check out their portfolio. Have they posted photographs from past tours? Are these the types of images that inspire you? If they are, then that leader may be a good fit for you. If not, check out some other tours. And of course, read reviews from past clients.

Spoonbill Takeoff
NIKON D7100 + 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 400mm, ISO 400, 1/2000, f/7.1

2) Gear

So you’ve selected your tour and paid your down payment. Now it’s time to figure out what gear you are going to take. Choosing the right gear is a balancing act. You want to make sure that you have enough equipment to get the shots you envision, but not too much that carrying it breaks your back. You may also be limited by airline baggage restrictions. Most airlines allow you to carry on one bag and one small personal item. Personally, I never check my camera gear, the only exception being my tripod and head. So that means my camera, lenses, hard drives, and all the bits and pieces that accompany them, must go in a camera bag small enough to fit in the overhead bin.

Choose lenses based on the type of shots you plan to take. Don’t try and take it all! When I pack for a wildlife trip I bring very different lenses than if I am packing for a landscape or street photography tour. If you will be doing a lot of hiking, you will want to travel lighter. For trips where I know the tour involves short walks, and we won’t be far from a vehicle, I may carry a larger selection of lenses. Will you have the opportunity for close-up shots? Instead of a dedicated macro lens, consider extension tubes or a close-up filter. If weight and space are at a premium, use a versatile all-purpose zoom, such as a 24-120mm or 18-300mm, instead of several lenses that cover the same range. Regardless of which lenses you take, challenge yourself with the gear you have and do not lament the gear you left at home!

Camera Bag New Hampshire
Camera and lenses taken on a recent trip to New Hampshire to shoot fall foliage.

As for cameras, I recommend taking two bodies. There is nothing worse than investing in a photo tour, only to find that your camera has malfunctioned. Even a point-and-shoot can act as second body. And, they have the added advantage of being small enough to keep in your pocket for casual shots, like in a restaurant or on the plane when you don’t want to pull out your full size DSLR. Another option is to rent a second body to take with you. A rental body is a wise investment for those once in a lifetime bucket list trips.

Besides a camera and lenses, don’t forget memory cards, your computer and an external drive(s) for backups. And if your computer does not have SD or CF drives, you will need a card reader as well. Other necessities include:

  • Batteries and charger.
  • Protective filters, circular polarizers.
  • Rain sleeves – the inexpensive plastic ones from Op/Tech work great.
  • Camera strap – I prefer a sling type strap to a neck strap.
  • Lightweight travel tripod, monopod or beanbag if you will be doing any low light shooting or long exposures.
  • Cell phone with PDF copies of all your instruction manuals.
  • Flashlight or headlamp for night shots.
  • Lens blower, lens cloth, lens pens and a microfiber cloth for cleaning your gear.

The best investment I ever made was in a $10 pair of kneepads from the hardware store. They are invaluable if you like to get down low to shoot from interesting perspectives. They are always in my camera bag!

Miscellaneous Gear
All but the tripod and head go in my camera bag.

A flash is another piece of gear that you may want to consider packing. However, today’s cameras have very good high ISO capabilities. I prefer to use natural light and bump up my ISO instead of packing a flash. This leaves me more room for another lens!

Will you have the opportunity to do any underwater shooting? Instead of investing thousands of dollars on a professional housing, use an underwater rated point-and-shoot camera or a GoPro. On our trip to the Galapagos, my husband borrowed a GoPro and I used an EWA marine bag for my DSLR. The EWA bag cost around the same as an underwater point-and-shoot, but much less than a professional housing. It worked very well and let me capture RAW files using my Nikon D7000 and Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 lens.

EWA Marine Bag
EWA Marine Bag with Nikon D7000 and Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6
Fish Crossing
NIKON D7000 + 10-20mm f/4-5.6 @ 18mm, ISO 400, 1/200, f/5.6, Housed in EWA Marine Bag
Sea Turtles
NIKON D7000 + 10-20mm f/4-5.6 @ 14mm, ISO 400, 1/80, f/6.3, Housed in EWA Marine Bag

In addition, check with your tour leader. They have had the advantage of visiting your tour location several times (at least you hope they have). Your guide will have a very good feel for what equipment you will need, and what you need to leave behind. They will gladly provide you with a suggested gear list before you go.

3) Conclusion

Taking time to research your tour options, and discerningly choosing the gear you want to take with you are the first steps to a successful photo tour. In Part II of this article, I will discuss things that can be done pre-tour and during your tour, that will improve your odds of coming home with more than just snapshots.

Panga Ride
NIKON D800 + 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 80mm, ISO 1600, 1/160, f/5.6You are excited about your upcoming photo tour and have narrowed down the equipment you want to take with you. But what should you do next? How can you load the odds in your favor so that you come home with winning images? On the previous page, I talked about how to choose and pack for your photography tour. In this section, I would like to suggest some ideas for pre-tour preparation and on-tour tips. These suggestions will help you come home with photos worthy of a place on your wall.

About Elizabeth Gray

Elizabeth grew up in Vancouver, on the beautiful West Coast of Canada. In 2012 she relocated to Houston Texas for two years and then moved to Gautier, Mississippi in July of 2014. She loves the gulf coast and all the photographic opportunities it offers. Elizabeth’s areas of interest are widespread and include street, wildlife, nature, architecture, macro and long exposures. She is particularly passionate about black and white images. You can see more of her work on her website at www.photographybyelizabethgray.com or on Instagram at photosbyelizabethgray

Worldwide Photowalk Porto Can't Miss It
Worldwide Photowalk Porto Can’t Miss It

Announcing Scott Kelby’s 11th Worldwide Photowalk®, the world’s largest Photowalk. The event is happening October 6, 2018 in thousands of cities all over the world.

I invite you to come to the one that I’ll leader in Porto city.

 

See here the details:
http://worldwidephotowalk.com/walk/porto-cant-miss-it/

One year later, during the S. João popular feast in Porto, there is the reencounter between two Josés, Santos (me) and Castelo, the man who made the “cascade” of “Ilha do Senhor Doutor”, on Rua de S. Vitor (which has the largest number of “islands” in the city). The moment is surprising, even for me, because I was not expecting to find this nice figure with such different look!

Hit-The-Streets-Porto
The 1st Hit The Streets Porto group

“Bam hajam!” (This expression so Portuguese and so little used is my favorite to thank).

I can not help but write a few words after this tour that despite the rain (and, maybe, so) went so well. All the participants maintained their good mood and joy, as if it were a radiant sun. I felt it was worth it, thank you for the generosity.
I hope you have enjoyed it and keep it as a good memory.
We are always here, available to share the best moments and the best photos that this old and worn city, but always so beautiful, provides.
Until forever.

Maria José

Of course, there can’t be only 7 reasons to visit and photograph Porto. There are so many and so good reasons that it was not possible here and now to list them all. It is, therefore, that we suggest “only” these 7 that already justify a visit that is a delight not only for photographers as for all people. But (even here there’s a “but”), you may like it so much that you risk being in the mood to come here to live. It would not be the first !!!

1 – The People
Portugal has long been recognized as a country that enjoys receiving visitors, but Porto, even more! The writer Manuel de Sousa in his book Porto D’Honra said: “… the strong neighborhood and the unserpassed hospitality.” Photographing Porto’s people are portraits for life.

Manuela-Mercearia-Porto
D. Manuela, owner of a small and old grocery store in Rua Escura

2 – The Douro River

Born in lands of Spain, it enters in Portugal through the province of Trás-os-Montes and leaves its mark on the way to the mouth of the Atlantic Ocean. He brings with him many stories of achievements and it is to looking at him that Porto was born and lives every day. It is on the banks of the Douro that extends the most characteristic and the most beautiful area of Porto, the Ribeira. Photographing the Douro River is a stream of inspiration.

Serra-do-Pilar-Gaia-Porto
Porto seen from the viewpoint of the Serra do Pilar

3 – The Bridges

There are six bridges that cross the Douro River and connect the banks of the two neighboring cities, Porto and Gaia.

Starting at the oldest, the D. Maria Pia railway bridge, designed by Eng. Gustave Eiffel (the same of the Paris tower), inaugurated in 1877, now deactivated and replaced by the S. João bridge in 1991, passing through the modern bridges of Freixo and Infante, by the fantastic and imposing bridge of the Arrábida and ending in the iconic and singular bridge Luis I with its double-deck metal arch. It is a feast for any photographer whose most difficult task is to have the courage to stop taking pictures.

maria-pia-sao-joao-bridges-porto
Cruise on the river Douro under the railway bridges of D. Maria Pia and S. João

4 – The Arquitecture

sede-Vodafone-building-Porto-Pictury-Photo-Tours

There are buildings whose architecture crosses much of the city history, from the Tower of Rua do Baixo of the thirteenth century, in Ribeira, passing through the innumerable projects by the Italian architect Nicolau Nasoni, the most emblematic without a doubt the Church and Tower of Clérigos, the S. João National Theater built at the beginning of the 20th century and designed by the Portuguese architect Marques da Silva, to the modernist House of Music, designed by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, as part of the European Capital of Culture event in 2001, and the headquarters of Vodafone, designed by the architects José António Barbosa and Pedro Guimarães, in the top 20 of the most spectacular creative offices in the world, is a journey that enchants and unveils the rich history. Making a photographic itinerary with architectural motifs is for it self a great story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vodafome headquarters building

5 – Parks and Gardens
The “Parque da Cidade”, Portugal’s largest urban park, stretches out to the sea and consists of a sophisticated landscape of lakes, varied flora and fauna, the Palacio de Cristal gardens with multiple viewpoints of the city and river, the magnificent gardens of the House and Museum of Serralves, the romantic gardens of Cordoaria and Botânico, and many others that can not be listed here. They are all pearls to be photographed.

botanical-garden-porto
Porto’s Botanic Gardens

6 – The Monuments

Porto-Cathedral-by-night

This city of Porto is also rich in monuments such as the ex-libris Torre dos Clérigos with its 75 meters of height that we can rise by its 240 steps and where you can see splendorous views of the city, the several stretches of medieval walls where there are still some of the old city gates, the imposing cathedral that dominates the city, the luxuriant S. Francisco church, the magnificent church of S. Clara, the almost unknown but fantastic church and museum of S. Pedro de Miragaia, the Palace of the Stock Exchange with its miraculous Arabic Salon, S. Bento Railway Station with its interior covered with more than 20.000 magnificent tiles that depict important episodes of Portugal’s history as well, excerpts from the 19th Century life in Portugal, and so many others that only a leisurely visit to the city will allow to know. Any of them is an attraction for any photographer who wants to add his story to the Porto´s history.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Porto’s Cathedral at night

7 – The Viewpoints

It is for many people, the most beautiful city in Europe and one of the most wonderful in the world. One of the reasons that contribute to this conviction has to do with its multiple viewpoints of the city. From the Serra do Pilar, on the south bank already in Gaia city, the perspective that is enjoyed there is splendorous, perhaps one of the most impressive images about a city that can be had. From the Vitória viewpoint you can see the all historical center, the Luis I bridge and the Serra do Pilar, and from the Virtudes Promenade, the sunset over the sea is unforgettable. And they are just some of the many who wait for you there. You may say that the beauty is so great that the cameras do not need the photographer.

Pictury Photo Tours - Jardins do Palácio de Cristal, Porto, Portugal
Viewpoint of “Palácio de Cristal” gardens

Porto, Can’t Miss It!

Photos & text:
José Manuel Santos

 

What my dearest friend and famous photographer Trey Ratcliff says about Porto… (and Pictury Photo Tours!)

Last year, our 80 Stays tour around the world took us to beautiful Porto, Portugal! My friend Jose took us all around…

Publicado por Trey Ratcliff em Quarta-feira, 2 de Maio de 2018