Taking tours has been an interesting approach to seeing things here in Vietnam. At one level, the tour can take you to a place you may not see and provide all the support and services. You get the ride there, hopefully a knowledgeable guide that can explain the history or art or city or pagoda or temple. Often you get a stop for lunch and a chance to visit with the other people on the tour.
Today I did the Cham Islands tour and my take is mixed on it. We were left at the island with no real explanation on where to go or what to see and our guide did not even explain or invite us to lunch. Kinda left to our own devices to get things done. So, I took off with this young Vietnamese girl and we walked up this hill at the island and over to the main part of the village. It took us a few hours to see the areas and also find the community market and other things. Of course, as we were leaving one location we stopped at the same exact spot. I opted to stay on the speedboat in the harbor.
It did bring up some questions on the goods and bags of the tours. The best tours I have done are those that I spent more money on and I was the only one. In Da Lat I opted to visit the waterfalls and pagodas the way I wanted. In Da Nang, I went to the Golden Bridge and Ba Nan hills plus a second pagoda at my pace. Of course all that costs more money since you are exclusive to the tour guide and the driver. Who the hell cares though when its some place you may never get again? I was able to visit the Golden Bridge not once but twice and remain as long as I wanted both times.
I have also done better arranged group tours where there are more than one guide that helps. This seems to lessen confusion. I have a few Vietnamese friends that run tours and I think larger numbers frustrate them.
I would prefer I think to have a mix of the tour. Be able to explore on my own but also be told when lunch is going to be and what is around the area. Today I was the only American or Western tourist but I sat next to this rather incredible 12 year old girl who told me just about everything about her family, her brother and cousin and how irritating yet cute her brother is :-). I remembered my own 12 year old girl and watching her let me remember just what an age that is.
So the jury is out on the tours and whether group tours actually work. I am going to talk to my friend Lily about it since she also does tours here in Vietnam and find out her thoughts.
Photography Experiment and Project
I’ve been thinking about a new project with the new camera for the travels coming up. What I’ve done in the past is capture every day on the walks pretty much. Its been a lot of fun to just capture whatever it is I see but I do end up with lots of photographs to upload to Google Photos. I also watched a photographic challenge on youtube last night where a Fuji XT2 photographer and a friend would go out and take only 24 frames of trees. Its amazing what you can see before, above, beyond and the colors that all the trees impart to lakes, hillsides, mountains, rivers. It also meant he had to carefully plan the 24 frames and capture the greatest compositions possible with the limitations.
To him, the Fuji XT2 was perfect for this since its just a workhorse camera that can do so much out of the box. You don’t need monster lens but he did use a tripod. One of the things I noticed was the disagreement he had with himself over some of the potential shots he could make. He got frustrated with the composition because it was not what he wanted. Not that it was imperfect because he noted everything was. Not over or under exposed. And not RAW files either. He shot all JPEGs which means you have to focus and look and be creative at the moment.
This brings me to the project. I’ve decide to get better I have to shoot less at the places I go which also means I have to take a better look at the composition and what I have. I will not shoot RAW files because its too much work and I lose the feeling and soul of the JPEGs out of the camera. What I will do is measure more the shots and thus hopefully have less. My goal is to only shoot between 25 and 50 photographs a day but post the best of the group to google photos. I will only post 10 photo’s a day going forward but will back everything up to the external drive. What I think this does in the project is force me to be more selective and exercise creative control over the shots. I have to learn the camera and the different film simulations and all the affiliated quality settings more. I also have less images to deal with uploading.
I will start the new project and challenge once I go to Cambodia in a few weeks. The walking and time spent seeing the sights does not change. I just want to exercise creative control over what I end up with and a smaller number of uploaded images. Maybe this will get me back on Instagram too.
Anyways, that was the day spent on the tour and then considering what I could do to make changes in the photography I do traveling. I want to try the less is more credo and see. In reality, I only really do photography for myself. I will always want to reminded of a place and then share the places with a few friends here and there the ask to see them or the albums shared out here or on social networks. Less should be easier!