Photography tour information

Notes to help you prepare for your tour with Len's school, Len offers his personal advice for attending a photography tour.

 

Welcome aboard...

Thanks for booking in on one of the Len's School photography tours. You are in for a treat even if I do say so myself. There a few things to tell you about before you come so we have put them all into this page to make it a bit easier for you.

Essential equipment

  1. Cameras - Bring your favorite camera. I say cameras very deliberately, as I always bring a second camera on my trips just in case one dies or I drop it. Some of my clients bring a little point and shoot as their back up, which is a great light weight option. Others bring an identical second body. For a while I used to pack my retired camera as a back up which worked very well for me. These days I pack a second system, with just one lens. If you shoot film and large format in particular please feel free to bring and use them on the tour. Len spent many years with large format camera and film and with our slow tours there is always plenty of time to use your preferred camera.
  2. Lenses - "Which lenses do I bring Len?" is probably the hardest question to answer. My first response is your favorites. If you have one lens you use all the time, then definitely pack it. I personally use a 50mm (or equivalent) for 90% of my photography, I love the focal length so much I even carry a spare lens in that focal length.  Simply I tell people to bring a wide angle, a normal and zoom range. The golden trifecta some call it. Say a 24, 50 & 100 mm (or equivalent) if you are using prime lenses. This is easily holy trio is easily replaced by a standard zoom (24 - 70 or 24 - 1o5). If you love picking out birds and animals then a longer zoom would be ideal, such as a 70 - 200. If you love wide angle shots then you should pack your wide angle lenses too. Many clients find great joy in macro photography so you will probably find it is worth while to pack your macro lens. To be honest lens choice is such a personal thing, and you should follow your instinct.
  3. Batteries & chargers - Make sure you bring enough spare batteries to get you through a heavy day of use. One is definitely not enough. Pack your charger. Throwing in a small power board so you can plug your charger in while you work on your laptop will ease stress in some accommodation venues. On some tours the rooms may only have one power point.
  4. Filters - I like to carry 10 stop and 3 stop neutral density filters so I can create soft water in the ocean and on waterfalls / creeks when we have to shoot them during the day. The other filter worth throwing in your bag is a polarizer.
  5. Tripods - I recommend you bring a good tripod to use on the tour. We will be regularly out in low light where hand holding is no longer appropriate. To judge the quality of your tripod, you extend it fully and set it up, now if you can twist the head or if your camera vibrates when you give it a bump it probably isn't strong enough for sharp photographs. There were a lot of very cheap tripods sold not that long ago and they are virtually useless. Most modern camera shops now stock solid ones.
  6. Umbrella - Pack an umbrella so you can shoot in the rain. The light in the rain is magical photographically. The larger the umbrella the better. It is one of those things worth getting a larger one for. If I can fit it in I pack a golfing umbrella, or one made for photography in the rain. Consider the colour of it, as it will add unwanted reflections into your photos, particularly if you choose a yellow or red one, I prefer a black one for this reason. I pack a very sturdy and hole free plastic bag (or a dry bag - from camping stores) that fits over my camera in the rain. I put it over the camera when I have to put my umbrella down so I can move about without removing my camera from my tripod. A tiny but indispensable accessory.
  7. Camera packs and bags - We will hopefully go on some longer walks during the tour if you are up them. For this reason I recommend a back pack or a bum bag rather than an over shoulder model. You want enough spare room to hold some snacks, a drink, a raincoat and other warm clothing. A camera pack that is comfortable and large enough is my personal priority. If it leaks (as my current one does) then a rain cover is a necessity.  In really wet conditions I pack my cameras and lens in zip lock bags in the camera bag as added protection.
  8. Len's School equipment for loan
    1. Tripods - there are a number of tripods in the studio available for your use on the tour, if yours isn't a good one why not ask us to bring one for you to use, or consider purchasing one from us and we will bring it along on the tour for you.
  9. Purchasing more - You can use the shop located here on the Len's School website to purchase filters, tripods and panoramic plates. The prices listed are recommended retail. Use the discount code 9BXRVR3 to save 20% off those prices on check out. We will bring it with us and give it to you on the tour. We will happily show you how to use it while your on the tour.

Clothing

  1. Sun protection - hat with a wide brim - and in winter and wetter trips a waterproof one. Long sleeves and long pants are important if your out in the sun all day, as is your personal sun block.
  2. Insect protection - think mosquitoes for trips in summer and leaches for trips in winter. Bushman's tropical strength insect replant seems to keep leaches at bay most of the time. In Summer a mosquito net is preferred by some rather than the lotion.
  3. Warmth - I carry a warm hat and gloves in my camera bag religiously unless I am shooting in the tropics. These with my rain coat can warm me up very quickly. For trips in Tasmania in winter a down jacket and thermal clothing are a great choice. I avoid cotton at all costs, cotton absorbs moisture which then causes a cooling effect (much like the meat safes of old). Wool, silk and modern synthetics will keep you warm even when you get wet.
  4. Wet weather & mud - On wet trips I pack my walking boots and gaiters. Well worth it in my opinion. I also pack waterproof over pants and a good rain coat that keeps the water out. Good to me means I am happy to stand in the shower with it on and expect not to get wet. Outdoor equipment shops are the best places to purchase these items. You can get away with cheaper overpants but with the rain coat it is a different matter.
  5. Packing - These days I book an extra bag with the airline so I can bring all my extra things. This may be over kill for you but is an option. Particularly once you start adding a tripod to your bag. On some tours we change our accommodation venues regularly so having your things in bags that are easy to move with are preferable.

Downloading, processing and viewing your photographs

  1. Computer or tablet - Most clients bring a laptop so they can download and process their images as they go. We will take time to look at your work during the tour, so a means to examine and develop your work while you are away is very helpful. Preferably you will have your preferred image processing software loaded and working before you come. To be honest I am not a computer technician and many computer problems I can't fix. I can help you improve your photographs though. My preferred software is Lightroom, though I am competent in Photoshop and Bridge. Some clients use the software that came with their cameras and that is obviously ok too. If you want to get the basics of Lightroom while you are on tour please install it before you come. You can trial a version for a month for free.
  2. Card reader - if your computer doesn't have a slot for your card you will need a card reader or pack the usb cable for your camera.
  3. Power cable for your laptop
  4. Sufficient memory - my laptop is decidedly short on memory, so I pack a couple of external portable hard drives to put my photographs onto and to use as back up. These always go into my hand luggage for carry on.

 

Links to Packing lists

 Packing list

  Len's winter gear list

 

 

Medical & fitness information

  1. Medications -please bring adequate supplies of your medications, either prescribed or over the counter. We are often hundreds of kilometers from a pharmacy. Len's School always carries a full wilderness first aid kit, with enough over the counter medications to get you to the doctor or hospital.  So pack your favorite creams and pain relievers.
  2. Discussing medical issues with us prior to the tour, so we know what to expect. If your anaphylactic it is better to tell us before you arrive so we can discuss and prepare with the right medications.
  3. Glasses & a spare pare
  4. Food preferences and allergies - most places we stay and eat cater for a wide range of tastes, if there is something special you need us to provide for you please ask. On tours where we provide food we will ask you to complete a questionnaire before the trip so we can determine your dietary preferences.
  5. Fitness and ability - If your worried about your ability to explore, please discuss this with us. We are very accommodating and will look after you on the tour. Occasionally this may mean missing out on a walk, but in these cases we will en-devour to park the vehicle at a photogenic location or avoid long walks.
  6. Print out and bring the completed medical and waiver forms with you on the tour. If you don't get a chance we will have blank copies for you to fill out, but I am sure you would rather be out taking photographs than filling in tedious forms.

 

Link to medical form, waiver and media release

 

Prints or files of your previous work

  1. Pack a few photos good or bad to discuss with us while your on tour
  2. Create a folder of some of your work and ask for a critique of it while you have someone with a wealth of photographic knowledge.
  3. Start a folder of images you would like to know how to fix, and I will be happy to help you with them.
  4. Prepare questions and think about what you want to get from the trip before you come. The more prepared you are for a learning experience the easier it is for us to full fill it.

Etiquette on tour

  1. When out photographing consider yourself as possible visual pollution for other photographers in the group.  Consider where you go while respecting what others are photographing.
  2. Consider your foot prints at a sandy beach. Once you walk through it others may consider it ruined for their shots.
  3. Consider sharing your discoveries in and out of camera with others on the tour. We can all learn from your images. This will help us all become better photographers and teach us how to see differently.
  4. If there are others waiting to shoot in the same spot as yourself, please make an effort to share it around.
  5. Leave your ego at home and bring an open minded sense of humor.
  6. A few drinks at the end of the day are appreciated by some on the tour. Most of us like to get to bed early and surface with the best light of the day. Please don't keep others up, and avoid drinking to excess.
  7. Be aware that many photographers don't like elements being physically moved and in National Parks it is strictly forbidden, so please consider the consequences if you do like to rearrange things.
  8. If another photography group arrives at the same place, please consider they have as much right to shoot there as we do, so the best advice here is to share the location courteously. 
  9. Refrain from making negative comments about other peoples work, their technique or equipment. Len's School prides itself on creating a supportive and encouraging environment. Concentrate on the positives, telling people what you like and admire, trying to be as specific as possible.
  10. Avoid following other photographers on the tour around. Though you are encouraged to follow your guide and tutor on the tour.
  11. Questions are encouraged at all times, as are requests for specific tuition, particularly while on location. Your tour guide is there to help you learn, rather than take their own images. While given the opportunity we will out taking photographs at every opportunity. If you need help and support make sure you ask for assistance.
  12. If your struggling with keeping up with the pace of the tour it is your responsibility to let us know so we can modify our plans.

Flexibility and itineraries

  1. You may notice that not many tours have specific itineraries, this is so that we can chase the light and the weather where ever possible. We work hard at meeting the groups current needs and desires. You will be regularly asked what time you would like to start the day, how much rest would you like now. Would you like to go back to that spot because it was so visually rich that a second visit would be worthwhile.
  2. We love to change plans at the last minute. This is because we are creatives and we should follow our hearts. So this means that on Tuesday morning on the tour we really don't know where we will be. But rest assured we will be at the best possible location that the weather and the group permits.
  3. I try hard to meet everyone's requests. The bottom line is that you come home with some fantastic new images and hopefully some more photographic skills.
  4. On many tours we are out of mobile reception. So please forward the phone numbers of the venue to your family in case you need to be contacted in an emergency. The Len's School work phone number will be forwarded to an answering service in many cases, so that a message can still get through. You will be informed prior to departure if an alternative phone number for emergencies is required.

If you haven’t had a chat to me about the tour on the phone email me your number and I will give you a call. I am always happy to talk to you about any aspect of the tour.

 

Booking terms and conditions

  1. Take out travel insurance and ambulance cover before you leave. This is a requirement of attending the tour.
  2. You have already agreed to the terms and conditions of the tour when you booked. But just in case you haven't seen them here is a link to them.
  3. Final payment. We will email you out a full invoice for the remainder of the tour. You can pay with credit card or direct deposit. On this invoice there will be final dates for payment. If for some reason you do a direct deposit please email or post us the details.

 

I am looking forward to meeting you and having a fantastic tour with you.

 

Photographically yours,

Len

Leonard Metcalf

Director & Founder, Len’s School

Oh, lastly... if ever in doubt or need some assistance please ask, I will always be pleased to help...

Phone: 1300 85 81 69 or use the contact form bellow.

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