5 Of My Favorite Travel Splurges In Orlando

Photo By Richard Rosales

When you think about vacation, it can be a daunting task, and with that comes a budget that you need to stick with. At least a budget if you are like me because you don’t want to miss out on something because it is not in your budget. Over the past few years, when I have traveled to Orlando, I have made a conscious effort to splurge a little bit each time. I have decided what I was going to splurge on and how I would justify it in the end. When you can work that into your budget, it isn’t as big of a splurge as you might think, but it sure adds to the vacation experience.

My Food Vacation

Now I know what you are thinking, well you always have to work food into the budget. This is a funny question because the answer is still yes, but have you ever budgeted for a fantastic meal every night. Well, I did, and I call it my food vacation, I was able to hit some tremendous restaurants and try some excellent food just because I worked it into my budget. Now with this said, I do try and splurge at least one night a trip on some food that I will not soon forget, but to be able to do it every night was even better. So when you are looking for something fun and tasty, then try budgeting for an amazing meal every night. You will not be disappointed. The only problem will be breaking that habit the next time you visit.

Animal Kingdom Trek

Now, this was something that I will not soon forget, and if given the opportunity, I will do it again in a heartbeat. Have you ever wanted to get up close to the Animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom? Well, this trek takes you on a walk through some pretty exclusive areas in the park. It also takes you on a fun little safari that is only you and a handful of other people. Wait, and you get some tasty cuisine that you can’t have anywhere else in the park. Well, sign me up because this is still one of my favorite adventures. If you are scared of heights, this might not be for you because you do cross a pretty high bridge and get to look down on some impressive alligators, but the whole experience is very worth it. They also give you a code to get photos from your journey so that way you can have those memories when you get home. If you love animals, then you need to work this into your next trip because it will leave a lasting memory.

Universal Express Pass

The best fast pass in the world is at Universal Studios, and I will continue to buy and use every time that I visit. I use this one and will continue to splurge on it because it gives me more time to enjoy the parks and get everything that I want to be done. They have an option for unlimited as well, and that is where I go because I don’t have to plan which rides I will use it on and get to go and walk through that express line where ever I decide to go. This is one that I suggest to everyone that goes to Universal and especially on those crowded days. I mainly use this one because I spend one day to enjoy both parks and this lets me do so without putting a time constraint on most of my activities and without having to sacrifice any attractions that I want to enjoy. So next time you have the chance and the budget give it a try because I think you will not only enjoy it but find that it is worth the expense.

Disney Event

We all hate when Disney is just too darn crowded, and one way that I help combat this is by enjoying one of the events that they have when I visit. The last one that I enjoyed was the Halloween event, and it was really cool because you get to ride Space Mountain in the dark, and they have other fun quirks like that as well. They also pass out candy at the end of the rides for you to enjoy, and you can even pick up a commemorative bag that you can use while you do it. However, the real reason that I love it so much is because it is a fun experience that allows me to enjoy the park with way fewer people. That’s right; the crowd is a lot smaller, and you can ride a bunch of popular rides and don’t have to wait an insane amount of time. So if you can work this into your budget, I would strongly suggest a Disney event because they are fun for the whole family.

Upgrade My Room

I couldn’t help but do this one because I was staying at Animal Kingdom Resort Jamba House. Now you have the option to be able to upgrade your room where your balcony overlooks animals that are out and about. The most noticeable are the giraffes, but it is so darn cool to be able to look out your window and see some amazing animals. One of my favorite things to do was to sit and have my morning coffee on the balcony so I could watch and enjoy nature. This was so fun and cool and was worth the extra money that I spent to be able to enjoy it. If you have kids, this is a must at least once because they will love to see all the animals that they have wondering around.

These are some of my favorite splurges and were worth the extra expense when I was able to do them. I strongly recommend these splurges to anyone, and I hope they have as much fun as I did. I know when I splurged on each one that it became the talk of the trip and was more excited that I did it, then worry about how much it cost. I did plan ahead and budgeted for each one, and if you do the same, then you will only be saving a little extra depending on how long you save for a vacation. The only problem is that you might want to do it again and again as I have in the past, but at the end of the day, the experiences do make the trip.

Where Should I Shoot? 5 Helpful Tips

Photo By Richard Rosales

This question always plagued me when I started out and wanted to find places to shoot. I always wanted to find the most spectacular and beautiful place that I could find so that way my photos would look better. The truth is that I have gotten some great images from places that I would not have expected to get them. When I think back on where I would want to shoot and where I thought the best place to shoot would have drastically changed over time. The most important thing to do is get out and create because if you are spending too much time trying to find the perfect spot, you will be missing out on some great places.

Stay Close To Home

A lot of times, you think that your town and surrounding area just does not have the appeal of other places. When you get down to it, that is because we see it all the time. Some of my most popular photos are not far from my home. We need to take the blinders off when it comes to the area near where we live. If you stay close to home, you can also turn a weekend from one place into multiple places because you are not spending most of your time getting to the destination. I know that there are a lot of places that I can’t wait to visit, but if you have a busy schedule, this will help get you out and about to start capturing moments.

Look For The Less Beaten Path

When I am trying to pick somewhere to shoot, I try to think of a place that people don’t go very often. Yeah, I love going places that let me capture iconic images, but in the end, I am just taking the same picture that so many before me have taken. If you love nature, follow a hiking blog in your area because that will allow you to get to places that are less traveled. We take photos to stand out, and if we are taking the same picture that everyone else is taking, then it is harder for us to stand above the crowd. Now don’t get me wrong; you should always want to shoot amazing places all I am encouraging is that you broaden the spectrum to get more out of your traveling. 

The City

When in doubt, go down to the city and walk around and try to capture some candid images. When you go down to a busy city, it is infrequent to find the same shot from two different people. The reason is that the elements that are presented in the city. The city is evolving throughout the day; it can go from calm to chaotic in a blink of an eye. That means you will have the ability to capture a ton of different images that tell a bunch of different stories. We can create a great variety from one place and take in the elements that we have around us. So when in doubt, head to the city.

Make A List

When you have downtime, it is a great idea to sit down and make a list of places that you want to travel and take photos. When you do that, then you can take a lot of the guessing out when you are ready to go. The list also can serve as an organizational tool where you can rank them by distance or favorites. Now that the list is made, all you have to do is check it off as you go, and you can always add more to the list so that way you have somewhere to go and never run out. The list can also help you plan around other trips that you have planned. Maybe a location that you want to shoot is only 20 minutes from a hotel you are staying in. So make a list and add to it often.

Be Willing To Have The Location Be A Bust

Now I will admit that you may not always find a place that you feel is worth capturing, but that should never deter you from choosing it. When you think about places that you should be going, you need to get over the chance that the site might be a dud to you. However, if we choose places to take photos on the assumption that they may be something that we don’t even want to give a chance, then you could be missing out on some really amazing places. When traveling to shoot, you have to look at everything as an adventure, and half the fun should be finding out whether or not the location is incredible. Hey, what’s the worst thing that can happen? You never go back, or you don’t get as many images as you might have thought, well that doesn’t sound so bad.

These are tips that I have put in place that allowed me to go out and shoot even when my schedule is super hectic. If you can do your prep work on areas that you would like to visit it, make the whole choosing somewhere to shoot way less daunting of a task. The truth is that we don’t want to have to worry about where we are going to shoot the night before because then you will feel rushed and find that no matter what the location is like it will never live up to your expectations. In the end, for travel photography, most of the time, the best places are close to you because not everyone knows how lucky you have it, so show them.

5 Reasons I Love Ghost Towns For Travel Photos

Photo By Richard Rosales

Some of my favorite places to take photos when I travel are ghost towns. These towns have so much to offer you when you have time to explore the area. It is always fun to see towns that are trapped in time and gives you a different perspective on how you view it. When you do some research, these become great places to capture images that will make the viewer stop and think about your image. I love them because some of them just creep me out, and it makes for a fun time finding things to shoot. Always be aware of your surroundings when you shoot in ghost towns because you don’t want to get hurt from unsafe structures.

Historic

A lot of these ghost towns have a fantastic history that can really drive how you approach taking photos of that town. When you can research the ghost town and see what it was like back in its hay day, you can come up with a great game plan on how to shoot that location. Most ghost towns have a history that you may not expect, and it is always fascinating to me to find out why a town became a ghost town. When they go from the hustle and bustle to deserted, have you ever just wondered why? Some facts you might not expect, and it helps you approach that town in a great way to capture its mystic.

Run Down

When you can take photos of areas that are not at their peak, you can find beauty in what it once was. This creates images that you might not have expected and lets you present some fascinating photos. When you approach the run down in the right way, you can make great use of the area around. Rundown doesn’t mean ugly, and it doesn’t mean that you can’t capture some truly amazing images. So next time you head over to a ghost town, approach the distressed atmosphere with a new set of eyes.

Artistic

With distressed areas, you can really take some artistic shots because it allows you to see how the past lived. It also allows you to frame and compose shots that will make the viewer invoke an emotion about the area. When you can invoke a feeling, you are creating great art. I know that is how I try to approach a ghost town when I shoot it. Although there are a great many that shoot way better photos then I do, it is a great way to approach the area. It also helps because you can see old architecture that makes for some great photos.

Inspiring

It may inspire in a good or bad way, but most ghost towns inspire you in some way, and that is always a good thing. I know that when I am inspired, I can take better photos and get better perspectives out of my work. So, when you take everything into account, you are really able to get the most out of your work. So, when you arrive at the ghost town that you want to shoot, just take it in for a moment and get inspired. Let the town direct you where to go and have fun shooting.

Haunting

It is always fun to see how life was like before it turned into what it is now. Most towns still have a little bit of a haunted vibe when you go and shoot. At least this is true with the abandoned ghost towns. You can almost feel what it was like when the town was at its peak. Walking down old streets that are no longer in use gives you an eerie vibe that makes your photos more haunting in nature. I think this really lends to how creative you can get with the shots that you take. Especially when you walk in on something and just wonder how it got that way.

Ghost towns are just plain fun, and I love to find them and shoot in them. I will be honest; some are better than others, but they all have unique qualities that make them fun to see. Next time you are on the road, check out a ghost town or two and see how the other half lived. I also suggest that you stop and visit one that is less popular because those are always the most fun to explore and learn about. When you do get out there take as many photos that you can and try to make them from a unique perspective.

6 Tips To Help Your Landscape Photography

Photo By Richard Rosales

When we go to a fresh new place, we want to capture the beautiful scenery around us, and making sure we are ready to capture it is just as important. When you are getting ready to go shoot landscape, it is essential to keep these tips in mind to help capture the moment. Don’t be afraid to experiment when you are shooting landscape, but make sure you are accounting for what’s around you to help get a better shot. I will cover some topics below that I think will help you get on your way to shooting landscape a little better so you can obtain some fantastic images.

Set Up Your Composition

Thinking of composition should be in the forefront of everyone’s mind, especially when we are trying to capture the moment. We want to take the time to set up our shot and make sure that we are using the entire frame to capture the moment. We should be looking at everything and anything to help us gain some meaningful composition and work with elements around us to enhance the shoot. If there is an interesting foreground element, let’s use it, or perhaps there is a cool lighthouse in the background. Positioning these elements correctly will help us get a final image that we are super excited about. Stay in that frame and make sure what is in the frame is what we want in the frame.

Wait For The Light

The right light will really help make your photo even more dramatic. When shooting landscape, the best time to shoot is during sunset or sunrise so we can get some pretty amazing colors in the sky. Keeping this in mind will help create a more desirable image and help us achieve a shot that we are proud of. When you look at fantastic landscape shots, you will notice that they are usually taken during these hours, and there is a reason for that because we need to capture the best light so we can be successful. If you’re an early riser, try getting out a little earlier to help you get some amazing images that you will be proud of.

Use Wide-Angle Lens

If you are not shooting landscape with a wide-angle lens, then you need to start. We love wide angles because they give us that broad view of everything and help make the shot grander in scale. If you compare a traditional lens to the wide-angle, you will see how much more you can get out of shooting with a wide-angle. When we capture landscape photography, we want to show the scene in its grandeur, and I feel that a wide-angle lens can help us do that. So, if you don’t have a wide-angle lens but want to shoot landscape photography, then I suggest that you pick one up and open up some new possibilities.

Shoot Low

When shooting landscapes, we really want to shoot in low, and what I mean by that is the settings on your camera. We want to have low shutter speeds with low ISO to capture as much detail as we can. If we aren’t trying to capture all the detail we can, then we aren’t doing the landscape that we are shooting justice. My goal when I shoot landscape is to invoke the feeling that I had when I saw the view for the first time. We want the viewer to gain every bit of detail that they can from the image.

Shoot From A Tripod

If we are shooting low, then a tripod is a must because it will help stabilize our shot. Shooting from a tripod will help us set up the shot and have it ready for when that light hits the right moment. I suggest shooting from a tripod whenever you can because you will eliminate handshake from your shot that may distort the image, and it helps you get prepared before you are ready to click the shot you have been waiting for. Also, by using a tripod, you can experiment with shutter speeds that will allow you to capture silky water or clouds, making for a more appealing image. So, get a tripod and use it whenever you can to help your landscape shots get to the next level.

Patience Is Key

When you are shooting landscapes, it is infrequent you can get that perfect image by just running up and snapping a photo. We have to be patient and let the shot come to us. When shooting landscape shots, we should not take a rushed approach because then you will get a rushed image. Think and plan out your shot and tweak as you go so you are allowing yourself to maximize your chance to get a great image. I would also suggest that you arrive at the location that you want to shoot earlier than you think you need to because then you have to let the shot come to you and not force it.

Visit Location Multiple Times

To get that perfect image, you may have to visit the same location over and over again so you can capture it. A lot of things factor into shooting landscape photography, and weather can play a significant role in how your shot turns out. So, if you want to capture a spectacular image, then don’t think that it will happen overnight because it may take visiting that same location a bunch of times before you actually get an image that you are satisfied with. Even if you are on vacation and want to capture a specific location, make time to visit that location a few times, if possible, even more. Not every day will afford us perfect shooting weather so don’t just play it by ear try and get out there a couple of times.

Landscape photography is difficult because you have to be willing to get up early and stay late at locations. This means that you may have to wake up at 2 in the morning just to make sure that you hit the perfect time of sunrise. Patience is vital whenever shooting landscape photos, so make sure you aren’t rushing your process. It helps you to know your location and plan your shot before you get there so that way, you can focus on capturing the right image and not where to get the best image. The last tip I will leave you with is to have fun. Photography is a lot of fun for me because I am always willing to make mistakes to get better. Don’t be afraid to make those mistakes and just keep shooting.

Travel Photography Packing Tips

Photo By Richard Rosales

When I began to travel with my camera gear, I must admit that I had way too much stuff, and it often came down to whether or not I would need it. When I think about what I needed and didn’t need, I usually ended up having gear that I never even touched throughout the trip, making it pointless to have with me. However, the most important thing that I did was find the bag that I wanted and started to build around that.

Find The Right bag

This will be your preference and depends on how you are traveling to your destination. If you are traveling by car, then you have the freedom to take a bigger bag or take more bags just to have because you don’t have to worry about them taking up unwanted space. What I did when I flew was to find a bag that I wanted to travel with. I found something that was low profile and would carry enough of my gear, so I wasn’t regretting taking something. However, building around a bag that you like is an excellent place to start because it will help you find out what is most important to you.

Think Of The Foot Print

When you are packing something, you have to think of the footprint that it represents in your bag. If you have something with a big footprint, will you have to lose something that may serve the same purpose and take up less room? For example, if you are thinking about taking a tripod, that is great, and I always suggest that you do, but is that tripod taking up too big of a footprint and can you get away with using something that is smaller. By using a smaller tripod, you may be able to fit more into your bag that will make the difference when you shoot. So think about the footprint that it takes up.

Ask Yourself If You Need It

This should be something that you do with all your gear when you travel because you may not need something as much as you think. When I pack my gear, I lay everything out that I want to take on my bed, and then I start filling my bag. When I fill my bag this way, I find that I am reaching for the most essential items first and leaving out the ones that I am not too sure about. When space is an issue, you want to make sure that you have what you need but not taking something that may serve a unique purpose that might not make it out of your bag. However, doing it this way has helped me reach for the items that I use more often than not, and I’m not out there questioning my decision.

Organize It

I know we may think we are organized, but have you ever thought about putting bags within bags to get the most out of your space. When you purchase little bags and start filling those bags, we can find that be a bit more organized can help us see that room that we didn’t know we had. I know I debate taking my prime lenses when I travel because they are not as versatile, but I really like having them with me. Well, organizing everything has allowed me to sneak those in my bag and not worry about having them with me because I was able to make that space by taking a little time elsewhere.

Look For Alternative Gear

This is one that I have to say has helped me immensely because it has made my travel bags weight lighter and given me more space to add in more essential gear. For example, I used to take my big laptop every time I travel, and although I love having it and its functionality, I must admit that I have moved to an iPad for shorter trips. The reason why I have is that I can do quick edits on the fly with an adapter, and it gives me a light and compact alternative to my laptop. The other great thing is when I load those photos into Lightroom, they sync to all my devices, so I have those images on my computer once I get home. 

This is how I travel with my photography gear, and it has helped me cut down my gear to the essentials. I know that when I started building around gear that makes sense for more than one purpose, it has helped relieve some of the clutter and made for a more calming experience. When you start validating why you are taking gear then you stop asking the questions on why did I bring that. Don’t be afraid to take your favorite piece of glass because it gives you images that you love but start prioritizing, and you find that you are traveling lighter and smarter.

Why I Shoot In Raw

Photo By Richard Rosales

When I shoot any photos, I love to shoot in RAW, and there are definitely some reasons why I like shooting in RAW. It is vital to get the most out of our images, and when you shoot in the RAW format, we can bring images back to life that we may not have expected. Being able to work with the photos and get the best out of them really makes shooting in RAW a no brainer for me. I think that you will see a significant difference in your image quality when you take the time to shoot in RAW.

Image Quality

When shooting in the RAW format, you gain the ability to obtain so much more detail out of your photos. When we shoot in RAW, what you see is what you get, and having all the information at your fingertips makes for a better image. When you shoot in JPEG, you lose data because your camera will process the image to an extent and cut out some of the data. If you are hoping to edit that photo later in editing software, then you will want that data to help you get the most out of the image that you took. So basically, we are getting all the information from the sensor. Being able to work with all that information helps the post-processing.

Forgiving

We have all had an image that we just plain missed on the exposure, but when you shoot in RAW, we now can save some of those photos. When you have all the information from the sensor, we can change white balance and even stops and not lose too much image quality. It makes saving those shots that are off in exposure easier to save and be able to process. We don’t want to have to throw away a bunch of images, and we don’t want to have a wasted shoot, so being able to save those images will ultimately save you a ton of time.

Easier To Edit

When we have all the information that also goes for color and detail, which means everything just gets easier to edit as a whole. We can use all the information and tweak that image into exactly what we want it to be. This means it is so much easier to edit and will allow you to get some awesome images when you are done with your processing. When I think about this, I like to think of it, like putting a puzzle together. The puzzle is a whole lot easier to assemble if you have all the pieces. Although you can construct a puzzle with fewer pieces, it will not look as good if you would have had all the pieces.

JPEG Compresses Information Out

When you shoot in JPEG, your camera and its software are actually processing the image that you are taking. It runs software that not only compresses the data but loses the information that the software thinks is unimportant. When you have compressed images, they are harder to post-process because they have already been processed once. I like to think of this in terms of cooking your food when you make your meal. You have total control of what you are doing. However, when you reheat leftovers, they might taste good, it is still not as good as when it was initially cooked.

Your Camera Is Built For It

When you think about the camera that gives you the ability to shoot in the RAW format, we have to understand that the camera was built to shoot RAW. When you do shoot in JPEG, you are actually not using your camera to the best of its ability because you are cutting down all the features that made you want to buy that camera. Although there is much debate on which format you should shoot, the fact remains that your camera performs at its best when you shoot in RAW format. Think of your phone; if you have a smartphone like I do but only make calls on it, then there is no point in having a smartphone.

I know that shooting in RAW may seem like an intimidating task to accomplish, but at the end of the day, it yields a much better product. When I started shooting in RAW, my camera offered me the option to shoot both JPEG and RAW, so I was taking twice as many images, but it allowed me to make an educated decision on what I like to shoot. I don’t remember the last time that I shot in JPEG because I don’t feel that I have the flexibility that I want to have. If you are a skeptic, I would suggest just giving it a try the worst that happens is you hate it. This is my opinion, but the one thing that you need to do is just keep shooting and keep creating.

How To Combat A Long Flight

Photo By Richard Rosales

If you are like me, then you hate to have to sit down on a long flight where it doesn’t seem like you can escape. We need to prepare for a long flight just like we prepare for our vacation because there is nothing worse than being on the plane with nothing to do. So, these are a few things that I use to combat a long flight so that way I am ready for my vacation when I get there.

Good Bag That Fits Under Seat

When you are on a long flight, it is always nice to have a nice bag that fits right under the seat. The reason why I like to have a bag that fits right under the seat is that I have everything that I need and want right at my fingertips. I don’t have to ask people to move or get trapped in the seat without what I want from my bag. I have a nice bag that has a little age on it but serves as a great bag to have when I am flying. It can hold everything that I want as well as has a nice laptop case just in case I want to get a little work done on the flight.

Phone Charger/External Charger

I never thought to have an external charger was a big deal because I always brought my phone charger. Well, that was until I was unable to find an unused outlet and was stuck not being able to use my phone or tablet because I had no way to charge my devices. Some flights do have charging on the plane, but it is no fun when you get to your seat, and the charger doesn’t work. I have experienced this before, and it happened at the wrong time. So, don’t just make sure you have your charging cables check out some external charges because they can help when you can’t plugin. Plus, you can pick one up for less than $20.00 that will serve you well, although if you travel a lot, then you may want to invest in a better external charger.

Travel Pillow

I always thought travel pillows were a waste of space, but once I tried, it does make a difference when you fly. I found that I was trying to use the blanket like a travel pillow, so I decided to just invest in one. If you are concerned with the amount of space it takes in your bag, you can always get one that you inflate to use. This will help us cut down on the room in the bag, and you don’t have to worry about it hanging off your bag and hitting things at the airport. Being able to store it in your bag makes it more sanitary cause it wasn’t rubbing up on the benches at the airport or lying on the ground when you put your bag down.

Tablet

This to me is an essential piece of carry on because this allows you so much diversity when it comes to entertaining yourself on the plane. You can read or watch movies on it, which means that you have little control over what you get to watch. Most airlines do have movies, but their screens don’t always work, or it’s just something that you don’t want to watch. Now you can have media tailored for you throughout your trip. This gives you a more comfort that will allow you to relax when you fly.

Good Head Phones

I actually like to take two pairs of headphones when I travel. I love to have my wireless headphones when I fly because they are the most comfortable to wear, and you don’t have to worry about any cords flopping about. However, I also bring a nice pair of wired headphones because you can’t always count on the wireless headphones to last the entire flight. So, what I have done was used wireless headphones when I am in the airport and move to my wired headphones when I am on the plane because I am sitting still, which means I don’t have to worry about the wire getting annoying.

Download Before You Go

A lot of flights have Wi-Fi these days, and I do take advantage when I feel it is worth the cost. The one thing that I do is download what I want to watch or read to not have to rely on the plane’s Wi-Fi. I have flown back home, and I wanted to use the Wi-Fi to watch a football game and what do you know the Wi-Fi was down on the plane. It happens more often than you think, so don’t count on the Wi-Fi to stream your content because if you don’t have something downloaded, then you might be stuck watching that in-flight movie. All the major platforms can download and view, and then when you are done with it, you can just delete it, so it isn’t taking up space on your device.

Sunglasses

I always take a good pair of sunglasses on my flight with me, and I guess who doesn’t anymore. However, have a pair of sunglasses with you can help when you arrive at your destination, especially if you fly out at night and arrive during the day. You don’t want to have to dig through your bag to find a pair of sunglasses. So, I would say that you just slam those sunglasses into a nice case and throw them in your bag where you can access them easily. Don’t think because you leave at night you don’t need them because you might need them sooner than you think.

Sleeping Mask

I think this is key if you are going to try and sleep on a flight. When you have people around that have their window open, and the light starts to creep in can make it hard to catch some shut-eye. So, having a mask that will block out that light and allow you not to be bothered by it can be essential. Sleeping masks are relatively inexpensive and but are worth every penny just to allow you to block out any unwanted light.

Comfortable Clothes

If you have the ability, then you should definitely think about flying in comfortable clothes because you are going to be in them for a while. You want something comfortable to sleep in and allows you some movement because you don’t want any circulation to be cut off. I like to travel in comfortable clothes unless I am planning to get off the flight and go somewhere right away. We need to be comfortable when we fly because it is just no fun fighting what you are wearing the whole time, and that won’t let you relax.

Phone

Although everyone has a phone and I’m sure that everyone takes them on the plane. We need to make sure that our phone is fully charged and ready to go. This will allow you to play games listen to music, and a ton of other stuff that will help make your flight time go quicker. I love playing games on my phone when I just want to do something that is a little mindless but allows those minutes to tick down super quick. If you can switch to a low power mode, do so at the start of your flight so you can help preserve that battery life for the duration of your flight.

Long flights are no fun at all, but we can combat the way we travel to make sure that they aren’t as bad as they could be. If you have these essentials or at least some of them, then it will not only help your flight time tick by but make for a more comfortable experience. Just make sure you take a little time and prepare for the flight with things that you want to do or like to do. If you love to read, bring a book, or if you love to play games, make sure your phone is charged. Just make sure you are doing your prep work to make sure you aren’t without something that you want. 

How To Take Better Travel Photos

Photo By Richard Rosales

When we think about traveling and trying to get the best photos possible, it turns out that we spend most of the time getting in our own way. We need to step out from behind the curtain and look at things a little differently to start capturing the moments. This will not be a list of all the gear that you need to have to take photos, nor will it be about settings. We all have the equipment, and you can only use what you have, so this is to help you get in the right frame of mind to start shooting better shots.

Get In The Moment

When we travel, we can overthink the process and miss out on moments because we were too busy fiddling with gear. We need to get in the moment that we are to appreciate it and present it to people. If you are in a crowded city, then get in that moment and see what you can find. People are running late for work, having lunch in the park, or even racing to catch the bus. These are all things that make the city that we are visiting tick. We can always go to the most popular place like a market place to find those moments that make for great pictures. So stop and take it in because the moments are around you and not in your camera bag.

Think Candid

When we are taking photos of people, it is always great to set up that shot and get that clean, crisp image to capture that moment. Have you ever thought of getting more candid when you are out and shooting in the world? We often mistake candid for bad because we aren’t in control of what is going on. However, it proves to give insight to the people in the area that you are visiting because it is them in the particular moment. If you are a street photographer, then you can appreciate the unscripted moments that make for a great image. Everything doesn’t always have to be perfect, and being able to capture candid moments will make you a better photographer.

Focus On The Interesting

You may think about this one and think, well, that isn’t an excellent tip. However, when we are focusing on the interesting, we open a new world of possibilities for our photography. If you are shooting a big event, it is often not the event that is most interesting. If you follow those that are participating in the event, you can find more exciting moments that will make for better shots. I’m not saying that the event is not essential, but if it is meaningful, the event will be the payoff at the end of the journey. So get out there and look for different ways to present what is going on because the final result is made up of a lot of tiny moments.

Get Some Local Input

A lot of times, if you chat up the locals, you will be able to find some hidden gems that you might not have known about. When you treat people in the area that you are visiting with respect, they will usually reward you with what they think is a great place to check out. This could be something that might not appeal to you in the long run, but getting some local input on the sites around will allow us to see the area from a different point of view. We are always trying to get the local flavor in our shots, so it just makes sense to ask for some input from those that know the area the best.

Tell A Story

When you are taking a photo, try and tell a story in it of not only what is going on but what you were feeling when you captured the photo. Think of it like you wanted someone to know exactly how you felt when you took that photo. We can do this by adding additional elements to the picture to help tell the story. We can also do this by zooming in on a subject to capture the emotion they are feeling. When you can tell a story in the photo, it will up not only your photo game but also your ability to share the location in a better way.

Shoot Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Get out of your own way and try some new things that you might not have thought would make a difference. When you get out of your comfort zone, you can find some fantastic results that you might not expect. I know that I hate shooting at night cause I don’t feel as comfortable when I go out. With that said, I try to get out much more often at night because it helps me getter better and give me more tools that I can use in the future. The best way to learn is when you are uncomfortable, so try and get out of your comfort zone and take some shots you don’t usually take.

Get Out In The Bad Weather

When you think about the weather, nobody likes to go out when it is rainy or when it’s just plain ugly outside. When you do, you can find a different side of the location that you are in. You will find a different vibe and overall feel where ever you are. When you get out in the bad weather, you will see places through different eyes, and weather makes for some dramatic photos. Weather rolling in on the city changes the whole perspective of that city, and you should be willing to get a little wet or uncomfortable to get the shot. Think about everything you are missing by staying in when you should be outside.

Treat Each Time Like It’s The Last Time

Early in my photography journey, I have made this mistake all too many times. We should treat each place like it is the last time that you are ever going to be there. We often think we can get that image the next time, but there is nothing like getting it in the moment. I wanted to take a photo of a shack on the side of the road one time, and I thought well I will just get it next time. I still regret not stopping and snapping the shot because the lighting was so good, and there was a bit of rain. All those elements would have made for a fantastic shot, but I was tired from the day and wanted to get back to the hotel. So don’t even let yourself not do what you want to do when you are in a location. The truth is that you may not ever get there again or have the same conditions again. So treat each place like you will never revisit it, and you will find that you will go out of your way to explore more.

So when you start getting out of your own way and looking at places with a different set of eyes, it will help you find better moments when you travel. Yeah, I could’ve talked about how we need to do our research and scout, but I wanted to touch on the more fundamental nature of the creative process. Sometimes when you do too much research and get out of being in the moment, you lose the ability to have that spur of the moment capture that will change the way that you view the world. So get out there and shoot. We are meant to be storytellers, so don’t let your story lack substance because you aren’t looking through fresh eyes.

What Lenses Should I Have In My Bag

Photo By Richard Rosales

When you think about a lens, it can be overwhelming on what you should be putting in your bag, when you think about focal lengths to f-stops. I will go through lenses that you should be putting in your bag to cover a broad spectrum of photos and help you get the best out of your work. I will not go into f-stops and focal lengths based off brands because that is going to be something that will have to do with how much you can spend. When you think about f-stops if you have the ability to you, want to get as low as possible, but that doesn’t me you can’t get beautiful shot with a kit lens or a bigger f-stop.

All-purpose 24-105

You need an all-purpose lens that will help you cover a broad spectrum of photos. I have a 24-105 in my bag because it was the kit lens that came with my EOS-R. Although it is a kit lens, it is one of the better kit lenses that are on the market. The reason why you need this lens in your bag because it should act as your all-around lens. You need it to be wide enough to capture a landscape but be able to zoom tight enough to get on your subject. The way that I view this lens that it will be the one that I have on my camera as much as possible.

You want to have a lens that has a good range on it because when you are shooting on the fly or don’t have time to get a subject to stop and let you change the lens. This should be the swiss army knife in your bag when it comes to being able to pull your camera out and shoot. I know that sometimes I get caught up with this lens on my camera, but it does serve its purpose well.

Wide Angle 16-35

If you are a landscape shooter, then this is a must to have in your bag. You want to capture a beautiful landscape and bring a lot of that image into the frame then you can’t go wrong with a wide-angle lens. Being a landscape shooter, I love taking shots with this lens because it helps give just to the landscape that I am shooting. I also use this lens in portrait mode to provide a photo a different perspective.

With a wide-angle lens, you need to remember that you are stretching that image because it sees so much more. So, if you are too close to a subject, you can get distortion on the outside of the image that can take away from the overall image. You want to assess the situation and make sure that you are using that wide-angle lens to the best of its ability. However, as I said before, don’t be afraid to experiment with the lens because it can give you a different feel.

Telephoto 70-200

A must to have in your bag is a big zoom lens, and that is because we cannot always count on being right in front of a subject. If you are a photographer that likes to take pics of wild animals, this should be a must in your bag. When you think about a telephoto lens, there are so many things that you can do with them that they become worth the amount you have to pay for them. This is also an excellent lens for portraits, landscapes, and everything you can think of. The main thing here is that you let your creativity flow and think outside the box.

Making sure we have a lens with long focal length is a must because it will open up a world of possibilities in capturing images. Images that you thought you wouldn’t be able to capture are now right in your wheelhouse. If you do have a long focal length lens, I challenge you to go out shooting one day and only bring a telephoto lens. This is an excellent way for you to see how creative you can get with this lens and give you a new appreciation for it.

These are the three lenses that I have in my bag in addition to a prime and macro lens. However, when you are starting and trying to build a kit that can get you the most bang for your buck, then these are must-have. You can see how the focal lengths overlap each other, and I have done that to make sure that I am not missing something in the middle. You should have a vast range with this kit and allow yourself to be creative with it. Just make sure to fill that frame and keep shooting.

5 National Parks Close To Vegas You Have To Visit

Photo By Richard Rosales

When we think about Las Vegas, we think about those big casinos that dwarf the strip, but there is some pretty great nature not too far away.

You wouldn’t think there were so many parks around, but there is a lot of outdoor activities that you can do. These National and State Parks are closer than you think and boast some fantastic nature. So, get off the strip and check out some incredible places that are drowned out by slot machines. Especially if you are an outdoor person that loves to hike and camp. There is plenty of fun for the whole family at each of these parks so make sure you check them out.

Red Rock Canyon State Park

Red Rock Canyon offers some of the most beautiful rock formations around that you will want to see more of. Nestled just minutes away from Las Vegas, you would not expect this beautiful National Park to be right in the back yard of the Las Vegas Strip. If you are looking just for a day getaway from Las Vegas, this is a great place to get your hike on. With trails that range from easy to hard, you will find one that fits the whole family. However, if you miss the strip that much, this park offers some hikes with payoff views of Las Vegas. This will give you a different perspective of the strip and is a lot of fun to wander around. Check out the Red Rocks website and start planning your stop in the beautiful red rocks.

Lake Mead Recreation Area

If water sports, hiking, and camping are your thing, then you should definitely take the time to check our Lake Mead. This one is also minutes away from the strip and offers a diverse amount of activities that will be fun for everyone. This is America’s first National Recreation Center, and it is for a reason. This could easily be a National Park with all the magnificent views and incredible rock formations. So, if you love to camp and have fun, then don’t hesitate to check out what Lake Mead has to offer. 

Death Valley National Park

The park of extremes is none other than Death Valley National Park from extreme heat to being over 282 feet below sea level. This park is definitely an extreme National Park. Just because it is the hottest National Park doesn’t mean that it is not full of some fantastic nature. If you want to see some tremendous views take an Artists Drive, and you will be amazed at what you find. Just make sure you understand in the summer how hot it can get and take plenty of water. Check out Death Valley National Park website for more information and more activities.

Zion National Park

If you have never been to Zion National Park, what are you waiting for because this place is impressive. A few hours away from Las Vegas, it still has the potential of being a fantastic day trip if you start early enough. Zion is like no other park that I have been to, and it is so spectacular to see all that it has to offer. Whether you want to hike high into the clouds on Angels Landing or wade through a river for a great pay off on The Narrows, this park is for you. Zion National Park offers impressive views and great activities for the whole family. Check out the Zion National Park website to plan your trip and see all the activities that you can do. 

Valley of Fire State Park

When you think about fantastic rock formation Valley of Fire State Park should be one that you think about. This is not the biggest park on the list but it boasts some major rock formations that you have to see to believe. A unique side note here if you are a Star Trek fan, you can take the hike White Domes Loop where Star Trek Generations used it for filming. Star Trek is not the only ones to shoot here, it makes sense because it is stunning. So, check out Valley Fire State Park website for further info and activities that will suit you.

Each of these National parks is not far from Las Vegas and makes for a great day trip to get out of the city. I love each and every park in their own way, and each offers a unique perspective on what a national park should be. Regardless of where you live and what you love doing, these parks provide great outdoor activities that will allow you to enjoy the park in your own way. Take a trip outside and enjoy the nature of our National Park system. 

What Photography Bag I Travel With (And You Should Consider)

Photo By Richard Rosales

When I started traveling, I went through more than a few bags, but I believe that I have found the one that is right for me and will stand the long haul. If you are like me you can spend hours in the photography bag aisle trying to find a bag that has everything that you want. The bag that I have found is one that I have been hunting for, for a long time. I will go through why I love it and why you might want to check it out for yourself. The ProMaster Cityscape 75 Backpack is also an affordable option compared to others in its space.

Overall Feel

The low profile of this bag helps the overall feel of this bag. I know previous bags just felt bulky on my back, and it is really annoying. You have to be aware of what is on your back and make sure you aren’t knocking into anything. I will say this feels more like a backpack for me and the weight distribution on my body makes for a nice feel. It helps me feel more comfortable when I am running around, trying to capture an image.

Surprising Amount of Space

When I first purchased this bag in the store, I justified that it was a bag that I can take on quick trips but turned out it had more than enough space for everything I wanted to bring. What does this mean? It means that I have some wasted bags sitting in my closet because I always keep this bag full and ready to roll. When I sat over it, contemplating how I was going to get all my gear in it, it turned out to be a lot easier than I expected.

Multiple Pockets

This might sound like it shouldn’t be a big deal, but it helps to be able to access items that you might need quickly. I fill these pockets with extra memory cards, some filters, and much more. When I am out running around, it helps me to be able to reach in and grab what I need with ease. This is something that helps keep you moving and shooting so we can capture the moment we are hunting for.

Lap Top Case

I know that most bags have built-in laptop cases, but I appreciate that this bag can fit my 15-inch laptop and still has some room to spare. When you think about other bags that have a laptop pocket, it seems like it is in the way. On ProMaster Cityscape 75 Backpack it is right on top of the bag that not only allows for easy access but helps with comfort because it isn’t pressing down on your back.

It’s Secure

The only way to access the camera storage area is to take off the bag. When I initially thought about it, I thought it was going to be annoying. However, I was pleasantly surprised because when I want to change lenses, I have to take the bag off anyway. The fact that no one can access my expensive camera gear without my knowledge makes me feel like I don’t have to worry about anything going on behind me and just enjoy the location.

Low Profile

I know that I touched on this a little bit above, but I wanted to expand just a bit. This bag is incredible because when you travel, it doesn’t take up much space. If you like to have your bag near you all the time it helps that it slides under an airplane seat very easily. It also takes up a small footprint when you are traveling with multiple people which allows you to make sure you have everything you need without sacrificing a lot of space to the bag.

Right now, I have been using this bag for several months, and I don’t have any complaints. If you are looking for a bag that works with you with great space and a low profile, you should check out the ProMaster Cityscape 75 Backpack. I have linked it so you can check it out on Amazon and see if it fits your needs. I know that the ProMaster Cityscape 75 Backpack will be my go-to bag when I travel because of all that it offers. I hope you take the time to check it out, especially if you are in the market for a new bag.

6 Things That You Have To Try At Harry Potter World Orlando

Photo By Richard Rosales

Every time that I visit Orlando, I make it a must-stop to see what is going on in Harry Potter World. Universal Orlando takes its attention to detail to the max when it comes to the Wizarding World. There are a few things on this list that I hope catches you by surprise and will help make the most of your journey. The only thing that you need to know is that no matter what you do in Harry Potter World, you know that you will have a great time and want to head back sooner than later.

Ollivander’s Wand Selecting Ceremony

If you are a real Harry Potter fan, then this is a must. We all know that it would be pretty cool to have a wand chosen for our wizarding journey. So take a chance and stop in at Ollivander’s wand shop to see if you are the lucky one chosen for the ceremony. Although it is no guarantee that you will be selected it is still a fun experience that you have to see. If you are selected, you won’t have to purchase the wand and wouldn’t that make for a great story to go with your souvenir. Either way, you slice it, this is an experience that will bring a little magic to your visit and make you want a bit more.

Send Mail From The Wizarding World

Have you ever wanted to get a letter from Hogwarts inviting you to start your magical journey? Well if not, then I am the only one, and I’m ok with that. However, if you stop by the Owl Post while in Hogsmeade, then you can have the next best thing. You can purchase a postcard that you can send that will be stamped with official Hogsmeade postage that will allow you to have a fun keepsake from your visit. So when you get home, you can have a little magic to meet you there. It is this fun attention to detail that makes for a memorable Harry Potter World experience.

The Rides

Right when you step into the queue, you will see just how detailed the queue is and that moves all the way into the attractions that they offer. So when walking through, take some time and look around to see what little gems have been hidden around for guests to find. Each attraction tells a fun story that you won’t soon forget and leave you wanting so much more. I recommend that you use an express pass on these rides because they can get crowded and it will allow you to enjoy the experience more than once.

Get Your Butter Beer On

The food in Harry Potter World is fantastic, and you should stop in and grab a bite if you have the time. The only thing that makes that bite more amazing is to wash it down with a nice Butter Beer. We have all seen the movies and who hasn’t wanted to try a Butter Beer in real life? Well, now you can, and I will say that you won’t be disappointed with it. I won’t spoil it for you but if you want a sweet little treat that makes you feel like part of the Wizarding World make sure you stop and get that Butter Beer.

Find Knockturn Alley

Ever want to walk in the footsteps of the most infamous wizards of all time. Well if you’re able to find Knockturn Alley, you can do just that. Stop by the dark alley if you want to shop at the historic “Borgin and Burkes.” You will also find some artifacts from the dark arts that will make the experience much more fun. We found the alley when we were looking for a bathroom, and it didn’t disappoint at all, making the experience of finding it that much more meaningful. So find it and check it out especially if you love some of the villains in the series.

Actual Magic

You know you want to do some actual magic and so do I. When we were waiting in for one of the rides to open we moved into the wand shop. We looked through dozens of wands and finally picked one out. When we did, we noticed that one was more expensive than the other one. What’s the difference? One is an interactive wand with a map to allow you to do some magic. You follow that map to stations, and if you are able to wave your wand in the precise manner, then you will be treated to a magical experience. So if you have the time, check out the wand shop and perform some real magic for yourself.

When you visit Harry Potter World, there is so much to do, and the attention to detail makes the experience that much more fun. It is an experience that any true Harry Potter fan should experience because it does more than bring the movies and books to life. It brings you into a world that you weren’t expecting to be a part of. So stop by and take a stroll through Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade for a memorable time. Just make sure when you visit Universal Orlando that Harry Potter World is part of your plans.

So You Want To Take Better Photos?

Photo By Richard Rosales

There are always little things that we can do to up our photo game. We need to start thinking outside the box to help us get better shots from unique angles. We all want to take better photos, and taking a little time to think about what we are shooting will help us take the best shot possible. I use these tips when I shoot and take multiple shots with different tips highlighted to try and capture the best image that I can. So next time you are ready to snap that pic take a second and try one of these tips to give your photo game a little boost.

Lighting

We all need to understand our location a little more when it comes to light. When we set out on the adventure, we need to take light into account, so it helps us get better photos. Taking a photo at dusk can create a much better-looking image of the same place just because we waited a little longer to make sure we captured the moment at the right time. When we scout locations, we should be looking for how the sun is traveling in the sky, and this will help us plan our shoot.

Don’t be afraid of the light we need to take it and embrace it. When we shoot with a lot of light, we need to try and use it more creatively — perhaps having that sunlight coming through an object will make a more dramatic shot. For example, if I am shooting someone in a field on a sunny day, we can find shadows that the light is casting to help make our shot more dramatic. Make the light work for you and embrace dusk and dawn for that fantastic natural lighting.

Change Your Perspective

Let’s face it shooting straight on in some situations isn’t very much fun. We should look at changing our angles to create unique perspectives that can turn the photo into something more. When we create a new perspective, you are creating more insight into the image and its story. With digital cameras and having tons of storage, we shouldn’t be afraid to try new things with the same subject. However, we should start by just changing our angles because that can change everything.
Try getting high or low so that we can change that angle. Getting close to the ground can help us introduce scale to show our foreground elements. When we get high, we can capture a subject in a way that not most people see every day, allowing us to create a positive impression through the photo. The most important things are to get out of our comfort zone and change the way we are viewing our locations. So many images that are taken from interesting angels change the way we see the image and what the image represents.

Shoot Through

When in doubt, we can shoot through an object to create exciting elements that we might not have been thinking about. Think about it terms of shooting a beautiful winding river looks excellent straight on but imagine what it would look like through the forest. The river will swoop in and out of frame behind the trees which will not only make for a good photo but add a little mystery to the photo. So shooting through something can change the way we perceive the picture and the story we are telling in that capture.

As you can see in the example shooting through something can make our photograph more interesting. We can use anything to shoot through whether that be traffic in the city to reveal someone waiting for a bus to shooting through a crowd of people to reveal our subject in the middle of the chaos. So we can see how shooting through objects can be a powerful tool that will allow us to create a fun and imaginative image.

Reflect Your Subject

Have you ever considered shooting a refection of a subject? This can be a super cool and powerful trick to have in your bag. We have all seen that super cool shot of a mountain in the reflection of a lake. Think about that for a second this shot is made more just by adding it into your foreground element. We can make photos more dramatic by adding some reflections into the image to show our subject differently.

You may not be able to use this all the time, but if we look around and see what we can use can help us find a better shot. When we scout locations, this should be something that you are looking for to help enhance your image and present a better composition. If we are shooting in the city at night, you can carry a bottle of water that you can lay down right where you want it to get the reflection that you are hoping for. Be resourceful in your shooting will help you create the vision that you are looking for.

Get Off The Beaten Path

No, let me make one thing clear you shouldn’t be doing anything super dangerous or super dumb to take a photo. With that said, we need to get away from where everyone takes the same picture over and over again. Why aren’t we moving off that path so that we can capture something at a new angle to make the photo better? Think about where you can shoot and don’t be afraid to take a look around to see what might present a better shot.

It may seem like a no brainer, but I still make that mistake today because sometimes the view is just so darn beautiful you can’t help it. When you scout the location, you should think about where a better angle might exist with fewer people around. When we think about this, we need to know that it is usually in a place that no one is thinking about. Walk around and see where you can capture an image that no one would think of. Again I say you should do this safely but also should have fun with it.

We all set off on the photography journey because we love taking photos, and it is something that makes us happy. In our journey as photographers, we should be striving to get better and just taking the time to change our perspective on what we are doing can help. Understanding that people around us take amazing photos and wanting to know why is what drives us to be better. These are tips have helped me, and I wanted to share them with you because we all need to help one another grow.

5 Crazy Things About Epcot

Photo By Richard Rosales

When we think about Epcot, we think about that beautiful Epcot ball that greets us at the entrance. However, Epcot has an interesting history even though it is one of the most visited parks that Disney has. I love Disneys Epcot park, and it is the only park that I visit the most when I make it to Disney World for vacation. I was always curious about the park, and hopefully, these crazy facts will help you appreciate Epcot just a little more.

Epcot Was The World Of Tomorrow

Walt Disney never planned for Epcot to be a theme park. That’s right, the original name for this area was the “Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.” This park was intended to be a functional city that would be for the technology of the future. This is something that you might not expect, but you can still see the original model for Epcot on the people mover attraction in the Magic Kingdom. When we consider the type of man that Walt Disney was, it makes sense that he would have envisioned a community that would build towards the future.

Room For Eight More Countries

The Worlds Fair at Epcot has a total of 11 countries that you can visit, but it only opened up with nine countries in 1982. Although they added Morocco in 1984 and Norway in 1988, there is still enough land to build eight more countries in the world fair. Those long plots of land are the spaces that they had set aside for additional countries with the original vision for 31 countries in the world fair. That is a lot of countries but makes a lot of sense that it would be envisioned to be so big.

Countries That Never Were

A few of the countries that didn’t make it actually sound quite interesting to have. Israel was going to be one of the original expansion countries in The World Fair but didn’t come to be due to the fear of bringing religion into the park. Spain was another one all set to go, but due to a government change, it ended up being omitted as well. Equatorial Africa was another that did not make it due to political issues, but you can still see some remnants with smaller booths that reside near where the country would be found. The one that I am most disappointed in not seeing is Switzerland that would have brought a Matterhorn ride to Epcot, but the country did not approve it. I don’t know if we will ever see more countries in The Worlds Fair but I will say there is plenty of room.

Epcot Ball A Bio-Sphere

Although we know that the Epcot ball is not a Bio-Sphere, we do know that it was inspired by one. The Montreal Bio-Sphere inspired it from a Montreal Expo in 1967 and the company that built that Bio-Sphere was also the company that was contracted to construct the Epcot ball. Its proper name is the geodesic sphere and is the largest freestanding sphere in the world. So the next time you take a look at that great ball take notice of the intricate beauty that it really has.

Movie Pavilion That Inspired A Park

The pavilion that inspired a theme park was the Movie Pavillion. If you didn’t know, but Hollywood Studios started as an idea for a pavilion in Epcot. The Movie Pavilion was going to be a part of Epcot that would let guests explore some iconic moments in movie history. The idea became too big for the park to handle and morphed into MGM Studios Theme Park which was ultimately changed into the Hollywood Studios that we know today. The featured attractions were going to be the Great Movie Ride which was a staple for Hollywood Studios until its recent closure.

Although Epcot doesn’t seem like the best park that Disney has to offer the one thing that is true that it has a ton of history, it has changed the way people view cultures and has inspired theme parks into existence. The Theme park started as a dream city and turned into an inspiration to so many. This park is one of my favorites to visit, and I hope the next time you visit Epcot you can soak up a little bit of that history for yourself.

6 Accessories You Need In Your Photography Travel Bag

Photo By Richard Rosales

When we think about traveling, we should make a checklist that will allow you to maximize our travel shooting. I will not cover the camera and lenses in this post because I will leave that up to you. What I will go over is gear that might get forgotten because we are just concerned about getting our camera into the bag although the camera is excellent to have it doesn’t work very well without some accessories.

External Drive

You should always have an external drive. If you are going to take a ton of photos, this is an important one because you should be planning to shoot and shoot some more. When you are done for the day data, dumping is a great way to stay organized on the fly. I use this every time I travel because it allows me to get the organization process started early. Having the ability to data dump will also allow you to keep those memory cards free for all the great stuff you will find.

Tripod

This is one that you would rather have and not need than not have and need. When you are exploring a new place, you don’t know what type of photos you are going to take. We should always have a tripod in our bag because it opens the door to long exposure shots, and it also allows you to be more flexible in your shoot. Even if you don’t want to lug around a big tripod, you should at least have a small tripod just in case the moment arises. This will help with landscape photography and get you better content.

Lens hood

Although you should always have a lens hood with you, it is so much more when you are on vacation or traveling. Sometimes you can’t shoot at the exact time that you want to so having a lens hood will allow you to block out some unwanted light and take away the glare. On sunny days you will need this, and if you don’t have it in your bag, you need to get one in your bag if you don’t know how valuable they are until you use one. So if you don’t have one, you can pick one up reasonably inexpensive on amazon.

Filters

Another one that has to do with light is filters. If you don’t use them, I strongly recommend them because it will help you combat bad light. This will be great if you want to do long exposures as well as it will help cut down that light, especially when you are working with exposures that let too much light in. So it is essential to use a filter and help cut down that light. It will also work well when you are looking at shooting landscapes because you will be able to get a clearer picture.

Extra Batteries

There is nothing worse than not having any batteries when you need them. You want to have enough power throughout your day to make sure that you are shooting as much as possible. I have never run out of battery power because I take this one very seriously and plan when it comes to making sure my camera is ready to go. There is nothing worse than being in the moment, and finding your battery is dead. So make sure you stock up on at least one or two extra this would be dependant on how much shooting you do.

Extra Memory Cards

We can fit a lot of images on a card, but that doesn’t mean that you should be without extra space. Depending on what you are shooting in and I wouldn’t imagine it would be anything but Raw images if you are going to edit later. You don’t want to be left holding the bag because you ran out of memory space. Of course, we talked about dumping your data earlier in this post but if you forget or can find the time it helps to have an insurance policy and make sure you can keep shooting without deleting images you might want later.

I’ve gone over some essential gear that will help you get the most out of your travel photos. We need to take our camera gear seriously when we pack because it usually ends up being the stuff that we are more inclined to forget. Make sure that you make a list and double-check it because it will end up helping you in the long run. Also, we don’t want to take for granted the minor things that can make a big difference.

Please Leave A Comment

Thanks for reading. However, I want to know what you guys want to hear about. So if you have a subject you want to know more about please let me know. Have a great day.

5 Reasons To Stay At A Disney Resort

Bay Lake Tower Resort By Richard Rosales

I have stayed in both Disney and none Disney resorts and when you’re going to Disney World I implore you to stay at a Disney Resort. When looking at the cost between the two, you will find that you can find a Disney Resort that is just as affordable. However, when you add in a few perks, it makes them downright amazing. You wouldn’t think that some much good can come from just staying on property, but it can make a significant difference.

Easy To Deal With Luggage

This is by far my favorite reason for staying at a Disney Resort because I don’t have to worry about my luggage. Yes, you don’t have to worry about your luggage. When you book your trip, you will receive luggage tags that you put on your bag. When you use these tags, you will be able to check your luggage with the airport and poof your bags will arrive in your room. Yes, I said in your room, and you don’t have to do anything but tag the bag. Disney has partnered with airlines to make sure your bags get from your home airport to your room. No baggage carousel, sign me up. They also have return service, so check with your Resort for more information.

Magical Express

This one seems like it isn’t such a great perk, but it is. When you think about a free shuttle ride from the airport to your Resort, and back the cost savings here adds up. The other beautiful thing is that you are already enrolled once you input flight information and the bus ride allows you to feel like you’re on vacation before you know it. Don’t snub the magical express because the journey is magical, so make sure you are on it.

Magic Hours

This should be a no brainer but more time in the park on certain days. Sign me up because that is more fun and less crowd. You can quickly lookup on the Disney Go App to find what parks are having magic hours on what day but if you are staying for a week or more then you will have your chance at every park. Usually, it is two hours, and that can get you on a popular ride before the crowd sets in. So double-check the schedule and get out there and take advantage of that extra time in the parks.

Resort Activities

Every Resort has a set of activities that if for their specific property. When you get in, you can find a whole slew of activities that you can be a part of. From movies in the park to making Mickey ears, this is a fun treat for the entire family. They also have resort specific information on the cultures that the Resort is modeled after. One of my favorite resorts to stay is the Animal Kingdom because they have a night trek where you can see nocturnal animals through night vision goggles. May not sound like much, but it is enjoyable and worth the time.

Staying In More Than One Resort Is No Problem

Have you ever thought about staying in more than one Disney Resort on one trip? Well, I have, and Disney makes it so easy to accomplish. You set up the reservation and then when the first one is up, call the bell desk and let them know you are changing resorts. You enjoy a fun day in the park and then when you get back all your bags are in your room, and your magic band is now linked to your new room. It was so easy I have done it a few times and use this when I want to stay at one of the more beautiful properties towards the end of my visit. That helps with cost on the entire trip, and you should not be deterred to give it a try.

These are why when I do Disney, I do it in a Disney Resort. The convenience and some cost savings to me make it a no brainer. Each person is different, so I won’t say you are wrong if you don’t pick the Disney Resort, but I will say that you are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t at least look into it. I know that once I did, I never went back and felt like I was enjoying more of my vacation from start to finish.

What Universal Studios Does Right

Photo Of Diagon Alley By Richard Rosales

When you compare Universal to Disney, I know that you will meet a lot of people that say that it is no competition. However, I think there are a lot of beautiful things that Universal does right, and that makes for a more pleasurable experience. Now I must admit I am a Disney fan through and through and go to Orlando quite often. With that said, I always make it a point to visit Universal Studios and often find myself thinking about how much I genuinely like visiting the parks.

Universal Express Passes

I know this one costs a little extra but talk about a feature worth having. I think Universal does this one right. When you go to other theme parks, they give you a limited number of passes, or they don’t let you take advantage of the pass until another one is up, but with Universal, you get an unlimited amount of access for one price. Every time that I have used this feature, it has allowed me to enjoy everything that the park has to offer and do everything that I wanted to do. The ability to not have to pick and choose what I am going to do or have to pick between two things that I want to do. Unlimited Express Pass is worth the expense to me, and I am happy to take advantage of this every time I go.

Theming

I believe that the theming that is done in Universal is far superior to anywhere that I have been. There are so many little features that make it just a bit better in the grand scheme of things. When you walk through the different areas of the park, you can feel the change and understand what they are trying to do. I know this might not be a popular opinion, but it is so phenomenal walking through that park and seeing the details that they put into the areas.

Rides

The attractions that Universal has been so diverse that they truly give you a little bit of everything and have something for everyone. You like thrill rides they have it. You want tame rides they have it. They intertwine the attractions with the theatre very well and make for such an enjoyable experience. For me, some of the rides don’t hit home as much as others do, but there is no denying that they have taken the time to make them fun for the whole family. One of my favorite things to ride is the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit, and that’s because you get to pick a song to ride with. Talk about so fun and surprising; this experience can truly change based on what song you select. How many times have you ridden a rollercoaster with headphones in so that you can experience it a little better? This does that and makes it more fun.

Food

Now I know this goes without saying, but the food in all parks are so great and make the adventure just a little bit better. Universal does a fantastic job of bringing you into the different areas and making your dining experience accurate to the area that you are visiting. Now you might say “well most parks do that,” but do they do it to the level of Universal is the real question. To me, the answer is no, and that is because how many parks have a seafood restaurant because you are in San Francisco or meat pies because you are in the back allies of London. This is what makes it super cool and adds another layer to your adventure.

Universal to me, is a little bit of a diamond in the rough because I don’t think they get as much credit for what they are doing as they should. Sure Harry Potter is pulling more and more people in and that is the most crowded parts of the park but next time you walk through Universal do it with an open mind and pay special attention to the details that you may have been missing. I wouldn’t go so far and say they are the best park I have ever visited, but I will say every time I visit Orlando it is a must do and that will not change because I like the atmosphere and the detail. For this, I applaud them for what they are building and will continue to enjoy their parks.

5 Tips When Visiting Disney World

Photo By Richard Rosales

Traveling in a whole can be a bit of a pain, but when you go to the happiest place on earth, your perception can really change because lets face it Disney just does it better. I have to admit that I have been to Disney World 4 times in the last 5 years and these tips are some I have learned along the way. They will help make everything a little easier so you can just start having fun.

TIP ONE: YOUR MAGIC BANDS

When you book at a Disney Resort, you will receive what is called a Magic Band in the mail before your vacation. These bands are fully customizable; you just have to make sure you jump online at My Disney Experience to activate and customize them. These will be your lifeline in the park and at your Resort. You will be able to access your room, load fast passes on the band up to 90 days in advance, not to mention load your park tickets on them, so it is just a quick scan at the gate. This is one innovation that Disney has come up with that makes for a more efficient stay which of course means less stress and more fun.

TIP TWO: MAGICAL EXPRESS

A perk for staying at a Disney Resort is the free shuttle service to the hotel, it’s called the Magical Express. Now this might seem like a no brainer, but when you stay off property, you can find yourself with a 60 dollar or more ride from the airport to your resort. Now when you think about some of Disneys’ Resorts, this is actually a great way to save a little money and get your vacation off on the right foot. I know that my rides on the Magical Express make me feel like my vacation starts just a little bit earlier.

The Magical Express can be booked when you have all your flight information and it is super easy to do. However, if you forget to book as I have in the past, a Cast Member will be happy to assist at the Magical Express entryway in the Orlando Airport. This service is also available to you as a return service when heading back to the airport.

TIP THREE: NO BAGS NO PROBLEM

One of the things I hate most about traveling is lugging my bags to and from the airport. When I was able to skip all of that the first time I never looked back. If you input all your flight information into My Disney Experience, then they will send you a pleasant little surprise when you get your Magic Bands. Disney will provides you with a luggage tag that corresponds to the Resort that you are staying. So what do you do? Well, you put it on your bag like any other luggage tag. The best part about this is that once you check your bags with this tag at your departing airport, you won’t have to worry about your bags until you get to your room. Yes, your room.

The first time that I did this, I was a little skeptical but every Cast member that I asked assured me everything would be taken care of. I hate to admit it, but our bags beat us to our room and not having to pull them off the carousel at baggage claim was pure Magic. Once again with my busy schedule, I forgot to get the tags before we left, so a good tip here is that all you have to do is see the Cast Member at the Magical Express entrance and give them your baggage claim information, you will still be able to take advantage of this awesome perk. The only disclaimer I have is you must be staying at a Disney Resort.

Unfortunately, this also works in reverse. I must say unfortunately because who wants to go home. Can’t we just vacation all day every day? All you have to do is check with the Resort for checked bag times and make sure you check them before they close and you won’t have to worry about those bags till you get home.

TIP FOUR: ROOMS READY WITH NO WAIT

Check into your room before you even get to Disney. On the My Disney Experience App, you can link your resort reservation and check in before you get to your Disney Resort. This one is awesome because there is no better feeling then when you are riding that Magical Express to your Resort and receive the message that your room is ready. They will provide you with a room number that is linked to your Magic Band so you can bypass the check-in line and go right up to your room. Um, yes, please. I do this every time I travel to Disney, and it makes me so happy to walk by that crowded front desk and just head straight up to my room. I will say that if you arrive in Orlando early your room may not be ready but flying from the west coast, I have not yet experienced a time when my room wasn’t prepared for me when I got to the Resort.

TIP FIVE: RESERVE YOUR SEAT

We touched on being able to get fast passes ahead of time, but one other thing that really helps is setting up some dinner reservations before you even get there. When you think about the most popular places to eat it could be quite trying to get a reservation, so set an alarm for the day you can set up dining and make it happen.  A side tip, if you can’t find the reservation that you want is to keep trying. Bookings become open all the time, and you can get one if you put in a little extra effort. Regardless, I know that it is tough to watch a family trying to sit down and eat at their favorite spot and they don’t have anything available.

Maybe you are a Disney vet or maybe this is your first trip to Disney. Whatever it may be it is important to find the magic in your stay as soon as possible. I know that these tips have served me well and I hope they do the same for you. Just remember to soak it in and have a magical stay.