An Interview With World Traveler Gary Arndt - Digital Photography School
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An Interview With World Traveler Gary Arndt

Great Barrier Reef

Gary On A Glacier In New Zealand Over the past year I’ve had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with, and finally meeting in person, a long term world traveler by the name of Gary Arndt. Gary left the USA about three years ago and has been traveling the globe ever since, chronicling his adventures on his wildly popular Everything Everywhere blog.  During his travels his interest and proficiency in photography has grown, in part due to his subscription to Digital Photography School :).  With over 70 countries under his belt and always a trusty Nikon camera at his side, I wanted to find out how he melds his love of travel with his love of photography while constantly being on the road.

1. When you started your travels, was photography a big focus (pardon the pun) for you or more of an after thought?

I really didn’t know anything about photography when I started traveling. I literally didn’t know my aperture from my ISO. I purchased a Nikon D200 and a nice tripod which was way over my head considering my level of knowledge.

My initial goal was just to take enough good photos so I could cover a wall in my house with photos from my trip.

As time went on, photography became a bigger and bigger part of my blog as my skill and technique improved.

2. How long did it take you to realize the impact photography could add to your blog and communication during your travels?

Wadi Rum 9 months. I had gone through many of the small countries in the Pacific and much of East Asia when I arrived in Hong Kong and started to think hard about the future of my site and where it was going. I did an examination of travel magazines and other media and determined that I needed to put a bigger emphasis on photography. Travel is an extremely visual medium.

I began putting a putting a photo from my travels every day on my blog on November 24, 2007 and have been doing that every day since. That was a huge decision. It is content I can have up every day, but it doesn’t require the effort of writing a full blog post. Also, readers can digest it easily.

This year I also moved from 600px wide daily images to 1000px wide images like you see in Boston.com’s Big Picture section. That has also proven successful.

3. What are some of the resources you’ve used to improve your travel photography over the years?

New Zealand The main thing is a lot of trial and error. I have never taken a course and until recently I have never read a book on photography. I mainly lurked on photography forums, read blogs and listened to photography podcasts.

4. It has to be a lot of work downloading, editing and posting photos while always being on the road.  Do you have a schedule or particular time of day you prefer to work on photos or is it all off the cuff?

This has been a big problem for me in the past. I took a three month road trip in the Fall of 2009 where I drove around the western US and Canada. I was moving so much I never had time to edit photos. I’d take them off my camera, back them up and head out again to shoot the next day.  I had thousands of photos after the three months that I had to go through.

As I write this, I have over 1,400 photos from Spain on my desktop that I have to edit.

I normally get behind then spend one or more days in a row just grinding out all my editing.

5. Have you experimented much with different camera/lens/flash combinations while traveling before finding a good fit?  What works best for you on the road?

My biggest issue when traveling is weight. Unlike many pros, I’m not just jetting off to a shoot and then returning home. I’m always on the road and have to carry all my gear with me all the time. I was thinking about upgrading to a Nikon D700, but the issue of weight with the lenses had kept me from making the move so far.

BrusselsI started with the Nikon 18-200 VR lens which is sort of a good all purpose lens. If you could only carry one lens on the Nikon platform, its a good choice.

I eventually added a 12-24mm wide angle lens because I found myself doing a lot of landscape photography. Last December I added a 50mm f1.4 lens because I wanted something faster than my other lenses in low light situations.

I have also recently added a SB900 and SB600 to my bag, although I still consider myself a novice in the world of flash photography.

6. For editing and posting, what tips would you give our readers to help them not get bogged down while traveling?

1) Backup. I carry 3, 300gb USB external hard drives with me and mirror my photos on all three of them. I carry them in separate bags.  Backing up to the cloud (especially RAW files) is just not possible anywhere in the world when you are shooting multiple gigabytes each day. I archive all my RAW files and carry them with me until I can get to my parents house where I keep 2, 1 terabyte drives.

2) Schedule time for uploading. Once I’m done editing, only about 10-20% of the images I shot will be uploaded. That might be several hundred megs of data. Depending on where you are and how much you have, that may take hours. I often do batch uploads while I sleep. It is very important to have an uploading tool that is forgiving of network interruptions and will restart any uploads. I’ve had many times when I’d wake up only to find that the upload ended 10 minutes after I began and never restarted.

Four Corners 3) Carry a laptop. I’ve heard some people who plan on traveling for extended periods think they are going to edit photos at an internet cafe. If you only have a point and shoot and are uploading to Facebook, I guess that might work. If you are using Photoshop/Lightroom/Aperature then you are going to have to bring your own laptop to do editing. Obviously, if you are only traveling for a short time, you don’t need to bring a laptop.

7. Earlier this year you started offering your photos to bloggers for use in their posts (with proper credit), free of charge.  How did that decision come about and have you received much response?

I’ve gotten amazing little response actually. I think two blogs have used one photo each. That’s it. I think most people would still rather grab some generic image off of Flickr. Ideally, I’d like to see more bloggers use their own photography.

8. To those looking to improve their summer time vacation photo skills, what are the top two bits of advice you’d have them concentrate on for their next (much shorter) travels?

When you go on vacation, you are often on a schedule for sightseeing that doesn’t correspond to the best time to take photos. Many tourist attractions may not open at sunset or sunrise, or you might be a place during a time of year where the sun’s position isn’t optimal.

Petra Try to do the best with what you got. I think that is the key to vacation photography. Schedule your lunch around the time when the sun will be at its peak. Check out Google maps to figure out which direction certain buildings might be facing. Check what time sunrise and sunset is. The farther north or south you are, the more this is going to differ by time of year.

Also, be patient. If you want to minimize the number of tourists in a photo you can do Photoshop tricks or you can just wait them out. You will usually find a lull in foot traffic every few minutes. If it is really packed, then try to make the mob part of the photo.

———-

If you’d like to follow Gary on his adventures, he’s an easy guy to track down.  You can subscribe to his blog Everything Everywhere, follow him on Twitter (@everywheretrip) or ‘like’ his Facebook Page.

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Peter West Carey is a world traveling photographer who now is spending a large amount of time going back through 6 years of travel photo and processing them like he should have to start with. He is also helping others learn about photography with the free series 31+ Days Of Photography Experiments which builds off of the 31+ Days To Better Photography series on his blog.

  • http://laira.pathseek.info/ Laira

    Great idea. Thanks for nice posting…

  • http://travelresourcelist.com @AlexBerger

    Love the photos Gary!

    That’s great that you’ve opened them up for use by the travel community. I definitely hope more people start taking you up on it.

  • http://kamfamily.wordpress.com Nathan Kam

    Peter/Gary…great story and interview. Lots of good insights here for an amateur photographer like myself. It’s been fun following the both of you on Twitter and “tagging along” virtually on your adventures. Mahalo!

  • http://www.digital-scene.com Portrait photography

    A very interesting in-sight. I am amazed that with such quality images to offer other bloggers, more have not taken up the opportunity!!!!!

  • http://everything-everywhere.com Gary Arndt

    Flickr is basically a supermarket for images. It is easier for people to just grab them there. I don’t think it is an issue of quality.

  • http://photoandpictures.com/ Bengt

    I love long interviews…have written some here is one on professional photographer Jim Goldstein,,,,

  • http://photoandpictures.com/ Bengt
  • http://travelswith.zen-aida.com Zenaida des Aubris

    As a traveler-around-the-world myself, I sympathize with Gary on the “weight” of cameras issue, also on his advice to back-up, back-up, back-up. I have been following Gary on the web since early 2009 and his photos have been awesome! Thank you, Gary, for being such an inspiration.

  • http://budgettravelerssandbox.com Nancie (Ladyexpat)

    There’s a lot of fantastic photography on Flickr. You shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss it.

  • Patrick

    I also travel a lot. As Gary emhpasized, weight is a BIG issue. That is why I moved from Canon (2 cameras and lots of lenses) to the Olympus E-620 and the smaller lenses. Glad I did.

  • http://www.travel-writers-exchange.com Trisha

    Great advice, Gary – and a very nice selection of pics for this post…..I’ve always enjoyed your daily photos and have been inspired by them to really make an effort to improve my own travel photos, instead of taking the usual touristy-vacation shots. :)

  • http://thecareyadventures.com/blog Peter West Carey

    Nancie,
    He’s not dismissing the photos on Flickr. He’s always been upset, as many of us are, at the fact that unscrupulous people will steal photos off there that are clearly copyright protected and say not to.

  • http://www.beersandbeans.com Bethany

    Great interview Gary! I would say for me the toughest part of shooting on the road (or just in general) is fitting in the editing. Once you are shooting thousands of photos it becomes very difficult to manage it all. Great pointers about the uploading as well. :)

Some older comments

  • Bethany

    June 19, 2010 05:20 pm

    Great interview Gary! I would say for me the toughest part of shooting on the road (or just in general) is fitting in the editing. Once you are shooting thousands of photos it becomes very difficult to manage it all. Great pointers about the uploading as well. :)

  • Peter West Carey

    June 12, 2010 07:30 am

    Nancie,
    He's not dismissing the photos on Flickr. He's always been upset, as many of us are, at the fact that unscrupulous people will steal photos off there that are clearly copyright protected and say not to.

  • Trisha

    June 11, 2010 04:38 am

    Great advice, Gary - and a very nice selection of pics for this post.....I've always enjoyed your daily photos and have been inspired by them to really make an effort to improve my own travel photos, instead of taking the usual touristy-vacation shots. :)

  • Patrick

    June 11, 2010 01:50 am

    I also travel a lot. As Gary emhpasized, weight is a BIG issue. That is why I moved from Canon (2 cameras and lots of lenses) to the Olympus E-620 and the smaller lenses. Glad I did.

  • Nancie (Ladyexpat)

    June 10, 2010 09:24 pm

    There's a lot of fantastic photography on Flickr. You shouldn't be so quick to dismiss it.

  • Zenaida des Aubris

    June 10, 2010 06:37 pm

    As a traveler-around-the-world myself, I sympathize with Gary on the "weight" of cameras issue, also on his advice to back-up, back-up, back-up. I have been following Gary on the web since early 2009 and his photos have been awesome! Thank you, Gary, for being such an inspiration.

  • Bengt

    June 10, 2010 01:46 pm

    http://photoandpictures.com/2010/05/interview-with-jim-m-goldstein/

  • Bengt

    June 10, 2010 01:45 pm

    I love long interviews...have written some here is one on professional photographer Jim Goldstein,,,,

  • Gary Arndt

    June 10, 2010 12:52 pm

    Flickr is basically a supermarket for images. It is easier for people to just grab them there. I don't think it is an issue of quality.

  • Portrait photography

    June 10, 2010 09:33 am

    A very interesting in-sight. I am amazed that with such quality images to offer other bloggers, more have not taken up the opportunity!!!!!

  • Nathan Kam

    June 10, 2010 07:45 am

    Peter/Gary...great story and interview. Lots of good insights here for an amateur photographer like myself. It's been fun following the both of you on Twitter and "tagging along" virtually on your adventures. Mahalo!

  • @AlexBerger

    June 10, 2010 07:30 am

    Love the photos Gary!

    That's great that you've opened them up for use by the travel community. I definitely hope more people start taking you up on it.

  • Laira

    June 10, 2010 07:03 am

    Great idea. Thanks for nice posting...

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