Simplifying My Travel Photography Setup

Simplifying My Travel Photography Setup

Confession- I heart photography gear. My shopping cart on Amazon is perpetually filled with camera gear I desire (and can’t afford), and DP Review is kind of like my virtual candy store.

Normally when I travel I bring an SLR, a point and shoot, a smart phone and a whole bunch of tech gear. But no longer!

These days, as smart phones are endowed with such impressive photography skills, there’s really no point in a point and shoot. This year on my big trip to Europe I’m taking along only my SLR and iPhone. (more…)


My new set-up!

One weak spot in my camera set up is that I don’t have an underwater camera- I’d love, love the GoPro HERO3+:Black Edition but can’t really justify the $400 price tag.

(Also my little brother said, “Why do you need a GoPro? You can’t even do any cool tricks.”) Ouch, little bro.

iPhone 5s


Instagrams of my snowy life in Michigan… all courtesy of my new iPhone 5S!

 I upgraded to an iPhone 5S from an iPhone 4 this Christmas and am so impressed with its photographic capabilities. Now I actually enjoy using Instagram!

Photo editing apps really amp up iPhoneography- I’m particularly a fan of Snapseed.

In Europe I’ll use my iPhone on days when I don’t feel like lugging my SLR around and for nights out.

Accessories: Case and screen cover

Favorite camera apps: Snapseed, A Beautiful Mess, Afterlight


Canon EOS Rebel T2i with Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 lens

While someday I’d love to upgrade to a full-frame SLR like the Canon EOS 5D Mark III for now I’m more than happy with my Canon EOS Rebel T2i. Plus, it’s way lighter than the Mark III.


I love my new lens’ bokeh!

And after my beloved Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 started malfunctioning in Asia (I accidentally bumped it into a tiled wall, ugh) I upgraded to its big brother, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4.

I absolutely adore this lens. It takes such crisp, quality images with the creamiest bokeh (that’s photog-speak for a blurry background)- I can’t wait to try it out in Europe. Thanks Candace Rardon for the recommendation!

The only problem is that it’s a 50mm so I can’t capture wide shots. For wider shots I use the Canon kit lens, the Canon EF-S 18-55. While I’m not a huge fan of this lens, I can’t afford an upgrade right now. Someday.

Accessories: extra battery, LCD screen protector, camera bag


BlackRapid Metro Camera Strap

I love this accessory so much I had to write a whole blurb about it. Anyone who uses an SLR NEEDS to get this strap.

While a normal camera strap goes around your neck, resulting in neck soreness and limited motion, the BlackRapid Metro Camera Strap goes across your body and allows you to access the camera in a fluid swinging motion, much like a rifle strap.

Camera Post

Me demonstrating how the strap works. Putting these pics on the internet is proof of how much I love you guys!

I will never, ever go back to a regular camera strap.


Editing Programs

Photo editing goes such a long way. Last year I invested in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 when it was on sale for $100 and I LOVE it. While the learning curve is steep, once you get the hang out it it’s a cinch. And the editing capabilities are worlds away from Picasa, the photo editing program I used for years.

And I actually do still use Picasa for organizational purposes. With Picasa I can quickly access my photos in an easy to use format (Lightroom can be confusing for organization because photos seem to “disappear” easily.)

Take a look at the magic of Lightroom:





Photo Backup

I have lost so many photos in the past because I never backed up. Don’t make that mistake!

I use Time Machine on my Mac to back up my entire computer, and I bring an external hard drive when I travel. I also have another external hard drive at home just in case I lose the other one traveling.

One thing I probably should start doing is cloud backup- though some places I travel to, like Southeast Asia, don’t usually have fast enough wifi for that.

What’s your travel photography setup like? I’d love to know!

Note: None of the companies listed paid or perked me in any way for mentioning them. And the Amazon links above are affiliate links for which I will get a small commission. Thanks for supporting Ashley Abroad!

My Top 15 Travel Photos of 2013

My Top 15 Travel Photos of 2013

Hi guys! I hope you’re all having a wonderful holiday. Mine have been nothing short of perfect- snow, siblings and all.

Seeing as the end of the year is upon us I wanted to recap 2013 with my favorite travel shots (I was inspired by The Polar Route’s absolutely beautiful photos.) (more…)

Reviewing all of these photos was a lot of fun. As many of you know I adore photography- and not just taking the photos- I also love editing and curating them. My travels in 2013 spanned 15 countries across Europe, North America and Asia, and my photos reflect that (though there is a strong preference for Bali, which was possibly the most photogenic place I visited!)

As I reviewed these photos I noticed a bit of progress as the year went on so hopefully in 2014 my photography will continue to improve! Considering my parents gifted me the wonderful Canon 50mm 1.4 lens for Christmas (thanks SO much, mom and dad!), here’s hoping it will.

So without further ado, here are some of my favorite shots from 2013… and I’d love to hear which one is your  favorite in the comments!


The view of the Eiffel Tower from Trocadéro. Paris, France.


The Hagia Sofia. Istanbul, Turkey.


A bride and groom on the Pont des Arts. Paris, France.

San Sebastian

San Sebastián at sunset. San Sebastián, Spain.


A tree-lined French road in spring. Maincy, France.

Confolens, France

A Roman bridge in a small French town. Confolens, France.


A sushi chef at work. Narita, Japan.


Chinese lanterns above the crowd. Macau.

Angkor Wat

 Angkor Wat at sunrise. Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Canyoning Vietnam

Rappelling down an 80-foot waterfall. Dalat, Vietnam.

Motorcycle Vietnam

 Motorcycling in the Vietnamese countryside. Vietnam.

Medicine Man Bali

 Meeting a ninth-generation medicine man in Bali. Ubud, Bali.

Mount Batur Bali

The summit of Mount Batur at sunrise. Mount Batur, Bali.

Mount Batur Bali

 A group of hikers and a monkey. Mount Batur, Bali.

Rice paddies Indonesia

 A verdant rice terrace. Bali, Indonesia.

Which photo is your favorite?

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A Traveler’s Confession – Camera Lust

A Traveler’s Confession – Camera Lust

I made a hard decision today – I am moving on from my beloved Nikon D40X.

The break up went a little like this – I’m sorry, it’s not me, it’s you. You’re getting old, you process things really slowly, your SD slot is broken and your LCD screen is cracked.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a great six years together. We’ve gone everywhere from Galicia to Chilean Patagonia.

Spider web
How else could I take such a cool photo of a spider web on Chiloe Island?

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral                      Or such a scary picture of the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, Spain?

My Nikon even made me money when I used to work as an event photographer in Chicago.

Tickled Pink Chicago                 My photography assistant/best buddy and I enjoying free cocktails on the job… whoops.

But I have a confession -

I want a new camera. Or to be honest, lots of new cameras.

I feel like a traitor for saying this. I feel like a vegetarian eating pulled pork. I love my Nikon D40X, I really do. But there are greener (and hopefully faster) pastures out there.

My dad gave me this Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 for my college graduation and I absolutely love it; There isn’t a better pocket-sized camera on the market. But I also really want to upgrade my dSLR.

I have my eye on the Canon EOS Rebel T2i. It has HD Video and 18 megapixels (which is a huge upgrade from the D40X’s 10). And I think it would match perfectly with the Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM UD Wide Angle Zoom Lens. After seeing Alex in Wanderland’s Hawaii photos I was sold.

My newest fantasy is that post-France I will shack up on a Thai beach to learn how to scuba dive. To take beautiful underwater photos I would need a camera with underwater housing, right? So that’s where the Canon PowerShot SD1300IS and Canon Underwater Housing come in.

Chiloe Island This is my internal dialogue on the subject: How can I go to Thailand without a wide-angle lens? That’s like, a sin! 

And truthfully some of my biggest travel regrets involve cameras. I went to Ecuador in 2006, one of the most photogenic countries on the planet, equipped with a disposable. There I was, snapping photos of crumbling Inca ruins in the middle of the majestic, windswept Andes mountains, using a throwaway camera. It’s amazing how much you forget as the years pass, and photographs to me are the best way to relive precious memories.

But this tech-lust doesn’t stop at cameras. After 22 years as a loyal PC user, I’ve decided to move on to a Mac (again, such treason!). My computer is only two years old but is a complete piece of junk that overheats after three minutes of video-watching and weighs about 10 pounds. I’ve been thinking the 13-inch Macbook Pro would be perfect. And to accompany that I will need Adobe Illustrator, naturally.

So the grand total? A whopping $2,628. And most of that is used goods on Amazon! The grand total of camera gear alone is $1,286.

Here’s the roster:

Canon Eos Rebel T2i – $465 (used on Amazon)

Canon Wide Angle Zoom Lens -$579 (used on Amazon)

Canon Powershot SD1300IS – $59 (used on Amazon)

Canon Underwater Housing – $186

13-inch Macbook Pro – $950 (used on Amazon)

Adobe Illustrator – $389 (used on Amazon)

I would LOVE any camera recommendations that you all have. Please comment or email me with suggestions, it would be much appreciated!