Have DSlR, Will Travel

This past week marked my first major trip 1 with my DSLR. The extra baggage forced me to re-think my packing, as I had to check a bag. The question is, “Was it worth it?”

The trip in question took me out to Portland, Oregon for my national denomination’s Biennial Conference. It was my first time attending this conference and I was there in part to take pictures for my former boss, who is now the General-Secretary for the American Baptist Churches USA 2. I was also able to use Portland’s excellent light rail system to venture into their downtown district. This allowed me to photograph more than the various meetings of the conference.

But was it worth the extra baggage?

Oh heck yah.

I love capturing photos with my DSLR, and voyaging across the country helped me feel a tad more free to try my hand as some street photography 3. Having my DSLR along allowed me to frame photographs in ways my phone would not have permitted. I also shot in Manual mode the entire trip, which freed me up to adjust settings as I saw fit 4. I’d also have never been able to photograph the main conference events in the same manage if I’d only had my iPhone. It is possible to shoot in manual mode in most smartphones, but the process isn’t as fluid. Also, to get the photos I captured I would have had be be standing in people’s faces 5. I even brought along my flash to add to the fun 6!

Having my camera along helped me feel like the photos I was taking were mine, and not simply phone snapshots anyone can capture 7. I was able to play with depth of field and lens compression to draw different elements into frame, which added to the sense this was my eye at work in the end results. My biggest regret is I never took my 40mm lens down to Pioneer Square. It would have been a wonderful experience 8.

In the future I may figure out a way to pick up a used Mirrorless Camera for long-distance travel, because a DSLR is a lot to take along 9. But I doubt I’ll travel smartphone-only ever again. If the best camera is the one you have with you, I always want to have my Nikon on hand.


  1. “Major” in that I had to fly on an airplane to get there. 
  2. And a more horrible title I cannot imagine. I think we ought to poke fun at corporate hierarchy with our nomenclature. Instead of “General-Secretary” it should be “Senior Cat Wrangler.” Pastoring Baptists is a lot like herding cats. 
  3. People are less likely to start yelling, “I know where you live!” when you point a camera in their direction. Or, if they do, you know they aren’t telling the truth. 
  4. Shooting Manual is FUN, but I don’t manual focus, I have no feel for it. This makes me sad. 
  5. And being removed by security was not on my “to do” list. OK, it was on my “well that could be interesting but I’m not gonna” list, but not my “to do.” 
  6. Yes, flashes are fun. I’m a nerd, have you not figured this out by now? 
  7. This feeling has been mitigated the the ability to shoot RAW on my iPhone in the Lightroom app, but it’s still not as fun as working with a big old lens. 
  8. Well, that, and I didn’t ditch the conference to rent a car to visit Crater Lake. 
  9. Even when you leave three of your five lenses, and your remote router/trigger, at home. 

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