Category Archives: Israel

Articles relating to travel and photography in Israel

Travel and Tripod Tales of Woe

Last week we flew into Tel Aviv via Hong Kong.

The airlines unfortunately left half the HGK-TLV flight’s luggage in Hong Kong, including all our clothes, and my tripod — a Manfrotto MT293A4 and 494RC2 travel tripod combo I had specifically bought for this trip.

The morning after we arrived, we had to go buy a new tripod, and new clothes, as we were flying to Prague the same night, and there was no way on Earth our luggage would be here by the time we needed to leave.

I bought a Vanguard VEO 235AB travel tripod at a camera shop ten minutes from here.  I’ve never used that brand before, but it is a nice little tripod which, as it turned out, handled the job well.  I will probably leave it here in Tel Aviv so that I don’t need to carry a tripod the next time we visit.

So, there we were, in Prague, at our hotel, after yet another annoying flight.  I decided to set up my tripod for the next day’s photography, so I unpacked it.

The ball head has a quick release plate, which I attempted to install, only to discover that a pin protrudes from the base of the mounting plate.  No problem, as according to the manual, the tripod included an Allen key to adjust it.  I took out the Allen key, and then discovered that the screw to adjust the pin actually takes a flat-head screwdriver, not an Allen key!

The Allen key is also used to adjust the tension on the leg hinges, but naturally, the Allen key supplied was too small.

Not only did I have the world’s most useless Allen key, but I also needed a flat-head screwdriver, which I naturally did not have.

Fortunately, despite the pin obstructing the quick release plate from sliding all the way onto the mount, there was enough space for it to be securely held, so I was able to use it after all.

Phew.

Our luggage did eventually turn up in Tel Aviv, but we were well and truly in Prague by then.

So now I have two travel tripods.

Morals of the story:

  1. Airlines do occasionally misplace/lose/delay luggage.
  2. Procure travel insurance (we did, and we will claim, as well as seek compensation from the airline).
  3. Keep multiple tripods in strategic locations (y’know, like spies do with passports, cash and pistols).
  4. When buying a new tripod, check that it is all ready to go before you have gone.
  5. Know the locations of camera shops at your destinations.

New Backpack and Tripod

It is not very often that I discuss photography gear, but given that I purchased a few new items of gear today, I figured it was worth relating the story.

Soon enough, we are heading overseas on a trip to Israel, followed by a small sojourn to the Czech Republic for a few days.

As is always the case when travelling abroad, I bring a camera rig.  While this is not specifically a photographic trip, I certainly intend to engage in some twilight cityscaping in Prague, and may even have time for the odd cityscape in Tel Aviv or Caesarea.

My go-to camera bag for most of my photography (other than wildlife, which calls for the big lenses), is my Lowepro Nova 190 AW.  It is a shoulder bag, and I have a fairly standard array of equipment permanently packed in it, which covers most of my shooting needs, and certainly the needs I will have on this upcoming trip.  This bag has travelled internationally twice now.

However, as is also always the case when travelling internationally, I take my laptop, which has its own bag.  This time we are travelling somewhat lighter, and rather than carrying my camera gear in the Nova 190 AW, and my laptop in its own carry bag, I wanted one bag in the form of a backpack which would accommodate both.

A few months ago I discovered the Lowepro Fastpack BP 250 AW II backpack when looking in a camera shop one day.  This bag seemed to fit the bill nicely.

It has a laptop compartment which will accommodate a 15″ laptop (according to the specifications), a lower compartment (with dividers) which will accommodate a large DSLR with a 70-200/2.8 mounted, plus another medium-sized lens or two; and it also has an upper compartment which will accommodate anything else, including non-photography equipment.

Today I decided to buy a Fastpack BP 250 AW II.  Now, my laptop is a 17″ MacBook Pro, but having compared its specifications with the backpack’s specifications, it fits.  I took the MacBook Pro with me to the store, and verified that it actually does fit — it does.

So, that solved a definite problem, and has given me a comfortably-sized, airline cabin-friendly backpack which will allow me to remain hands-free whilst traversing airports, fit my camera gear and laptop in one bag, and have room for other things such as a water bottle, light jacket or other day-trip equipment.  This will be perfect for walking around Prague.  Additionally, it has a tripod compartment on the side, along with a strap for keeping the tripod in place.

This brings me to my next subject: tripods.

I am rather accustomed to larger tripods, particularly as I have a few heavy lenses and both want and need the height, stability and load-bearing capability they provide.

A few years ago I toyed with the idea of buying a smaller tripod for travelling, but did not quite find something I liked, or something which gave me much confidence, as I was wary of smaller, lighter tripods.  Additionally, they were rather expensive for what they were.

After buying the Fastpack BP 250 AW II today, I browsed around the store, and found a Manfrotto combination of a 290-series set of legs (Manfrotto T293A4) and a ball head (Manfrotto 494RC2).

I played with the tripod for maybe ten or fifteen minutes as I mentally debated whether it was suitable.  While it’s certainly not as tall as my Manfrotto 055XPROB, or even my 2005-vintage Manfrotto 190D, it is tall enough, and the extension of the centre column will give sufficient extra height if necessary.  The legs have four sections and quick release clips, which is definitely desirable.

The ball head was also quite nice, and as with all my other Manfrotto heads, it accommodates the Manfrotto 200PL quick release plate.

Soon enough I decided to buy it.  The salesperson advised me that it was a discontinued model, and as it appeared to be the last unit and lacked both the quick release plate and packaging, he gave me a nice discount.

So, now I have a suitable, light-weight but sturdy tripod which can be taken on international trips, which reduces the bulk and weight of what I am carrying, and nicely attaches to the side of my newest camera backpack.  For the kinds of photography this trip will present, this rig is more than enough to suit my needs, and it will also be quite suitable for other photographic outings locally and inter-state.

Booked: Trip to Israel and the Czech Republic

Later this year we are travelling to Israel for a wedding, but since we will be within close proximity to many other destinations, it made a lot of sense to also plan a mini-holiday somewhere else nearby.

While there are some fantastic places in the world which are worth re-visiting, what is more appealing is the notion of visiting a place we have not previously visited.

Over a number of months, the main destinations we considered were Dublin (Ireland), Budapest (Hungary) and Prague (Czech Republic).

Today we decided on Prague, and while booking flights to Israel, we also booked flights to Prague.  We have both been to Europe before, but in my case, I had never been to Eastern Europe.

By all accounts, Prague is a beautiful city, so I am looking forward to not only seeing Prague, but capturing some cityscape and architectural images of the Czech Republic’s capital city.

It has been nearly 16 years since I last visited Europe, so I am looking forward to seeing it again, and hopefully landing some pleasing images.

Tel Aviv Twilight

On our last night in Tel Aviv on this most recent trip (the second to Israel in 2013), I was determined to capture an image of Tel Aviv during the evening twilight.

We headed to Yafo earlier in the evening before golden hour, where I captured a number of images in the warm light, before waiting a while longer for blue hour.

This is the image I captured of Tel Aviv at twilight:

Twl Aviv Twilight

Twl Aviv Twilight

After I finished, we headed off for a walk around the old city of Yafo (Jaffa), which I had not seen before.

Golden Tel Aviv

We’ve visited Tel Aviv twice in 2013, and I had been wanting to capture an image of the Tel Aviv skyline against the Mediterranean Sea from Yafo.

On our last visit, we ran out of time and decided to give it a try on the next, which was already being planned.

On our last full day in Israel, and after a big night of celebrations, we drove to Yafo in the early evening where I positioned myself for some golden hour and blue hour cityscape images.

Golden Tel Aviv

Golden Tel Aviv

This image is a view of Tel Aviv during the golden hour.  Later in the evening, we got to witness a beautiful sunset over the Mediterranean Sea.

Altar of the Church of the Loaves and Fishes

This image was the first of only two I captured at the Church of the Loaves and Fishes.

Altar of the Church of the Loaves and Fishes

Altar of the Church of the Loaves and Fishes

The Church of the Loaves and Fishes is located at Tabgha, on the north-western shore of the Sea of Galilee.

It is in this area where Jesus performed the miraculous feeding of 5,000 people with a bounty of loaves and fishes.

Underneath the altar is located the stone on which the miraculous meal is believed to have been laid.

Off to Israel (Again) and London Too

We’ve just booked what will be our third overseas trip in the space of eight months.

We’re heading back to Israel for a wedding, but we’ve also decided to spend four or five days in London beforehand.

It has been nearly 13 years since I was last in Old London Town, and since we’re going to be in the neighbourhood (sort of), it makes a lot of sense to see one of my favourite cities again, especially since we’re not expecting to be in that part of the world again any time soon after this latest trip.

Naturally, photography will be a big part of the trip — at least, the London part of it.  I’ll be pursuing some of the cliché images, such as the Westminster and Tower Bridges at twilight, as well as the stunning interior of the Natural History Museum.

Of course, London has so much rich history and architecture, that there will be many other images to capture, with a different quality to the images I shot there years ago before I became serious about photography.

Other than our very recent Israel trip, photography has not been a high priority for me over the past few months; but knowing that London and Israel await us, and with some specific images in my mind, I am sure I will find some motivation to shoot again.