Dave Morrow Photography: Sunset on the Jinshaling Great Wall - Travel Tips & Tricks for Photographers & Explorers

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sunset on the Jinshaling Great Wall - Travel Tips & Tricks for Photographers & Explorers

Trip planning, love it or hate it, to set yourself up for a great adventure ( at least in terms of photography ), it must be done. For me trip planning is constantly in the back of my mind, it has come to the point that I really don't even think about it anymore, my body just performs the task. Prior to going on most trips ( Not just photography, but any trip ) you jump online and do a picture search, or maybe search for some cool stuff to do in the area. Well, this becomes an overwhelming task, because suddenly you have a schedule, and there goes the entire concept of vacation.

To kick the whole last minute "To Do" list idea out of my trip planning I've gone with a year-round approach of marking locations down when I browse the web on a daily/weekly basis. For me Google Maps - My Places is the best way to do so due to the fact that it allows you to make your own maps and save locations to them as you go. Anywhere you have Internet connection you can access these maps, and with devices such as the Nexus 10 I am able to store small parts of my maps to the device's hard drive for travel when no Internet is available. Some other nice features allow you to collaborate on the maps with others, or lock the map so only you can access it ( or anyone you provide with the access link ). As you have probably noticed I still use the old school Google Maps ( online / computer and my Nexus 10). The new Google Maps seems to be a great for the social aspects of maps, but for trips, classic maps it is.

Here is a screen shot of my ever growing My Places Map of the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon, just one of the 60 or so maps from around the world that I am currently working on. Over time I've been able to put together every really cool location that I want to visit in this area and travel to them all. If I ever want to go back, well the map is waiting for me in the cloud.

Google Maps - Dave's Columbia River Gorge Travel Map

Once I have a map that is really starting to fill up and look good, I will pick a date to travel, and start doing some research on that location for that time of year. This works great for locations that are far away and require flying, or close distance and require just a weekend trip. When it's time to plan the specifics of your trip there is nothing better than Dual Maps from Mashedworld.com.

After planning the small details of my trips I take the final step of writing a travel agenda which contains everything I may possibly want to know while out traveling. For weekend trips this isn't really necessary, but when out traveling and shooting ( Sunrise - Day - Sunset - Blue Hour - Stars - Repeat ) each day for 3 or more days on end, things get confusing and this really takes the planning/thinking part out of your journey.

My agendas are designed in Microsoft Word and then saved to PDF after completion and include click-able Table of Contents which allows me to easily access any day of my trip with the click of a mouse or the touch of a screen. I also keep stuff like my flight itinerary and hotel plans in this agenda so everything is in one place. This is also click-able through my table of content for easy access. I keep this travel agenda file on my phone and my tablet device for easy access. No more scrolling through emails for lost items, hotel confirmations and travel plans it's all at your fingers with a travel agenda.
Here are some other great travel tools you may be interested in using. PS: I am switching from an iPhone to the Nexus 5 later this week, so I'll add some new apps to this list soon. Most of these you can find for iOS and Android operating systems.

Google Earth
Photo Pills - This is my go to photography planning app as of now. Worth the price tag:)
The Photographers Ephemeris - Another great planning app which I constantly use. Especially for planning star photography trips.
Dark Sky Finder - A must have for star photographers or lovers of the night sky.
Kayak Pro - Great for on the go and last minute flight & hotel reservations.
Yahoo Weather - Really nice interface and easy to use.

The Shot
The Jinshaling Great Wall was a task, why you ask? Well first of all it's nearly impossible to find a driver that will drive you all the way out there then come back a few days later and pick you up, we ended up paying double to get the guy to "promise" to return at a later day.

Our goal was to capture the Milky Way rising over the engineering marvel, this required camping, well a sleeping bag at least. The weather channel was forecasting 40 degrees Fahrenheit temps that night at the minimum. When the sun set, and the temps started dropping, and kept dropping all the way to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Without any camping mats and only 35 degree sleeping bags, let's just say there was not much sleeping in the schedule. We did on the other hand get some nice star shots which I will share later. Here is the sunset we caught before that frigid but beautiful night on the Great Wall of China.

Let me tell you, there is nothing better than seeing the Milky Way illuminate all of the little watch towers, stretching out like a snake to near infinity over the vast landscape. I had to sit back and let my mind wander for a bit, thinking about all of the things that had gone on here over the past thousands of years. What a place...

from www.DaveMorrowPhotography.com

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