What is in your photography camera bag this time is a question I get from my travel companion every trip. Our next trip is on the Carnival Horizon inaugural cruise through the Mediterranean with 13 days at sea including 9 ports of call.  So what gear should we put in our bag for the trip?  My companion(spouse) is already packed with her Iphone 7plus but she expects me to bring back lots of great shots and video for the SomedayTrips website.

Camera Gear for Mediterranean Cruise

photographer camera bag mediterranean cruise


Our objectives are to capture still photography and video during this cruise. This is also an inaugural cruise so we want to do some quick interviews so audio is also a consideration. Let's get started with the photography items in the photo above.

Travel Cameras

Canon 5D Mark III - Our main photogrpahy camera when the Sony A7 is in use for 4K video.  It is also the backup.  Someday I might just take one, but now that we capture a lot of video, that day is not yet here.  If the Sony is on the stabilizer it is just too much of a pain to swap lenses for a photo.

Sony A7r II - This is an amazing camera, providing both 4K video and 42MP imagery.  It is is also so much more compact than the Canon.  It was a tough decision to jump to another brand with our years of investment with Canon but they just couldn't provide what Sony had and we have never looked back.  If we are going to go light and not take a stabilizer then this is our main travel camera now.

Gopro 5 Black - This is so compact and takes such great action video it is easy to throw in the bag.  Great for pool shots as it is waterproof.  If you are on a cruise you should have a gopro for the splash fun and other activities.  It is also great to put on a perch and do some timelapse photography.

iPhone 7plus/6s plus - Camera phones take amazing imagery today and are fairly compact.  You can control a lot but can still do a lot so, of course, this goes in the travel camera bag on the cruise.

Polaroid Cube - This strange little cube was a gift one year that has now become a regular item in our bag.  It is limited to 1080p video but is so small you can capture a lot.  What we really love is the magnetic bottom that allows you to attached it to railings etc. on a cruise ship provided they are metal.

Our DSLR cameras for travel are on the top end when we purchased them and are not for everyone.  We have other cameras like the Canon Powershot series that can provide some amazing all-in-one zoom that is great for travel but won't deliver the same sharpness.  They will reach where a camera phone will not and is something to consider. 

Camera Travel Lenses

We are limiting ourselves to three camera lenses for this trip that provide us good zoom range and functionality.  On the Sony we will have a 35mm prime that keeps the weight for the stabilizer use in range and is a great all around video lens.  The compact size of this lens with the Sony A7r II camera provide a great lightweight travel camera combo.  The debate of having one or two additional zoom lenses is a challenge.  As of this writing we are going with our Canon 24-70L and 70-200L f2.8 lenses in the bag for the best sharpness and range but it does come with a price of weight.  Our other option is to change to one lens and use our 24-105L F4 lens which we have used as our primary lens before.  We will see if I can give up two for one but I doubt it.

There are attachment lenses that you can put on phones to widen or narrow your shot and add filters.  Our recommendation is to never buy these.  Through experience we have seen even the best quality fall apart, not be upgradable to newer phones, and just be more of a pain than needed.  Skip them and move your position instead.

valetta malta photography cruise

Other Travel Camera Gear

What else do we carry in our travel camera bag? Here is a list of the items

Gorillapod Tripod - Size weight and attachment options make this a winner for travel.  I waited a long time before trying to make this my compact dslr travel tripod.  We have the focus or 5K model to handle the camera and lens weights.

EVO Gimbal Rage Video Stabilizer -  Shaky video is no more thanks to this stabilizer and our Sony camera.  It adds a lot to our back but is great for video panos, motion, you name it.  This is for a dslr but they make them for gopro and phone cameras.  If you like taking video with you phone, you might want to consider their Shift 3 which is only about $150 and thank me later.  You can toss your selfie stick too.

Camera Cards - Lots of these and our portable hard drive to backup too. Leave these in your safe when they are full to avoid them being lost.  Backup if you can with a portable device or to a computer.  Take lots.  Also don't forget to purge or copy off most of your photo and videos on your camera phone to make room for your travel shots.

Batteries - Always have at least one backup and if you have Sony A7R II then you need more.  We also carry a portable battery to charge up usb devices while away from the ship and sometimes two because then we can charge more things in the cabin even in the safe.  You should get one with at least 10000mAh.

Filiters  - There is a small case in the photo that contains polarizers, neutral density filters and step-up rings.  You can do a lot digitally today but if you are trying to raise your DSLR shot, quality filters are important espcially for water shots and bright days.  If you buy a decent lens, then you are going to want to buy a decent filter.  Our favorite filters are Breakthrough filters with B&W, our prior choice.  They have quality glass and metal rings.  If you are starting to look at using filters for more than protection, then buy a larger filter size and then step-up rings.  We used to buy for each lens size - big mistake.

Gitzo Traveler Tripod - If you are taking a tripod on travel it needs to be compact, lightweight but still provide the sturdiness to not blow over in the wind.  This tripod with the Arcatech ball head has been our champion for years.  This is an optional last minute decision that will go on this trip or not.  We have the gorillapod that will work for most of what we will do but we are also renting a car and taking a private tour in Italy and Sardinia and I might regret not having it, but otherwise I find when on a cruise you will rarely ever have the need for a tripod.

 Zoom H5 - We love this small portable audio recorder. It works with our cameras, all our microphone types and can stand alone.  We use it for quick interviews and also when we want to just capture our thoughts at the end of the day for future articles.

Other items include our favorite gear from Peak Design including a waterproof sleeve, camera strap  and a capture clamp.  The camera straps are smooth and have no marking so you don't scream "I have a Canon, Nikon or Sony camera" to those looking to steal.  This trip will probably have some rain so the waterproof sleeves allow us to still shot even with some light rain. We also have some soft packs to organize chargers, batteries and cables.  We recently got the BagSmart travel accessories pouch that is a lot better than our ziploc bags that were always a mess. 

Travel Camera Backpack

If you have been a photographer for some time you have probably collected a number of camera bags that vary in capacity, size, function and style.  Our most recent choice for the main bag has been the Tilopa F-stop mountain series bag with 50L of capacity.  It is a stretch to say this is a carry-on bag so we pull the metal frame out and won't overpack it to get it on the plane without question.  However, we recently made the decision to shrink to a Lotus 32L bag for this trip and change the color of our bag.  These bags are a bit pricey but rugged and durable and I am hard on my bags.  This bag will stand up to rain and we carry a cover for even further protection if caught in a downpour.  They have a series of bags including smaller options.

 lotus camera bag travel photography

That is a wrap on this edition of what is in my camera bag article for a Mediterranean cruise.  Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have about your camera bag situation or new gear for a trip. 

Make your winter holiday visit to Washington D.C. special at the U.S. Botanic Garden exhibit.  The holiday season elevates this local attraction to a top thing to do in DC with it's amazing train and model exhibit.  The 2017 display features model trains traveling through an exhibit of roadside attratctions from around the country with each state represented.  Fair warning that this is a busy exhibit, typically with lines and parking in the area over the holidays is very limited.  This is a great family excursion exploring the 50 state road side attraction while trains whistle by and Thomas the tank engine chugs along its tracks.  

Plant Based Season Greetings

Tradtional Season's  Greetings includes pine trees and pine wreaths but get ready for something unique. Your visit to the Botanic Gardens will deliver you an architecutral experience of how plant materials are used to build the models of many of the Washington D.C. landmarks. There are twelve plant-based model in the 2017 exhibit that incorporate materials such as corriander seeds, willow sticks, pine cone scales and over 70 more plant materials.  It would be a great eye spy game to try and find each and every plant material used on the models.  This is painstaking work with U.S. Capitol builidng taking over 600 hours to construct but what an amazing sight.  Models on exhibit this year are include the following:

U.S. Botanic Garden Conservatory

U.S. Supreme Court

Washington Monument

White House

Albert Einstein Memorial

U.S. Capitol

Jefferson Memorial 

Library of Congress

Lincoln Memorial

National Museum of African American History and Culture

National Museum of American Indian

Smithsonian Institiute Castle



View the embedded image gallery online at:


50 State Roadside Botanic Exhibits

 There are more than 40 roadside exhibits at the U.S. Botanic Garden Conservatory this year expressing America's love for the automobile.  If you are a Route 66 enthusiast you will recognize many of the attractions.  But there is so much more like the first on the list below that honors one of the most destructive pest ever on U.S. soil.

Boll Weevil Monument Alabama
Cadillac Ranch Texas
Coffee Pot and Cup Water Towers Iowa  
Coney Island Hot Dog Stand Colorado
Corn Palace South Dakota
Dinosaur Park Dinosaurs South Dakota
Earn of Corn Water Tower Minnesota
Elwood, The World’s Tallest Concrete Gnome Iowa
Golden Driller Statue Oklahoma
Hollywood Sign California
Jimmy Carter Peanut Statue Georgia
Jolly Green Giant Statue Minnesota
Leaning Tower of Niles Illinois
Lucy the Elephant New Jersey
Mr. Potato Head Statue Rhode Island
Mt. Rushmore South Dakota
Niagara Falls and Maid of the Mist Boat New York
Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox Minnesota
Peachoid Water Tower South Carolina, Alabama
Pineapple Water Tower Hawaii
Randy’s Donuts California
Route 66 Diner New Mexico
Santa Monica Pier California
Sapp Bros. Coffee Pot Water Tower Nebraska
See Rock City Barn Tennessee
Spoonbridge and Cherry Minnesota
Teapot Dome Gas Station Washington
The Big Chair Washington, D.C.
The Big Duck New York
The Blue Whale Oklahoma
Twistee Treat Florida, Texas, New York, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois
Volkswagen Beetle Spider Iowa, Alabama, California, Nevada, Idaho, Pennsylvania
Watermelon Water Tower Texas
Wawona Tree Tunneled Sequoia California
“Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” Sign Nevada
Willis Tower (aka Sears Tower) Illinois
World’s Largest Basket Ohio
World’s Largest Bat Kentucky
World’s Largest Chili Pepper New Mexico
World’s Largest Pecan Texas
World’s Largest Pistachio New Mexico

The 11-day Windstar Tahiti cruise in French Polynesia offers a luxurious overnight romance package excursion on Bora Bora.  If an overwater bungalow experience is something you have dreamed about for years, then this might be something you consider to satisfy your wanderlust for that experience.  Cruising the islands is one of the best ways to see French Polynesia without all the hassle of island hopping by airplane, but the only option for a bungalow is to stay after or do it before the cruise.  For those that don't have the time or want a quick experience of an overwater bungalow, Le Méridien's Bora Bora resort has an option for those on Windstar cruises.

SomedayTrips is now offering free photo critiques and photo processing for their readers to take those travel photos from nice to great.  Although we can't guarantee that we can improve upon a photo, we are always happy to take a look and put our years of experience to work for our readers.  Not sure what software you should use to process your photos?  In this article we share what we use and some reasons why.  You can see some examples of the before and after photos we have processed in the gallery below.

Our creative director is here to answer any questions you may have regarding travel photography and videography.  

Some of the questions he has received in the past include:

I have a polarizer filter, when should I use it?

How can I get that smooth milky waterfall look?

25 February 2017

SomdayTrips Newsletter

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