How to get lost but not lose yourself

It’s 1pm in little fairytale-esque Bled, Slovenia.  The gentle summer rain enhancing the already magnificent greens of the landscape.  Today is the first day I haven’t seen direct sunlight to cast distractingly beautiful vistas of medieval castles and churches around the lush microenvironment, and I couldn’t be happier.
The town itself and surrounding mountains are no less beautiful, but the slightly damper hiking weather suggests it might be a good catch up day!  I’m halfway through my trip and I’m taking this opportunity to catch up on anything that’s been on my mind.  Photos, emails, staff, blogs, social media etc etc.  But on top of all that it’s time to reflect on where I’ve been, what I’ve done and most importantly, what personal growth I’ve encountered.

 

I’ve broken a few of my golden rules on this trip and I’ve payed for them.  I want to share with you what I think are really important travel tips to do with taking care of yourself both mentally and physically that you don’t often find on regular travel blogs.

 

TRAVEL TIPS

 

It’s really easy to get caught up with the action and adventure of a trip.  Constantly seeing interesting places and having drinks with new friends and then charging to the next spot to see what’s in store.  I love it, it’s amazing!  But it’s tiring and you need to keep yourself happy and healthy along the way.  Here’s a few things that work for me:

 

If you’re used to working out at home, make sure you get some work exercise in while you’re travelling.  Even if it’s a jog around your accomodation and some pushups!   It’s actually a really nice pace to take in a city/countryside and it always helps to clear the head and get the endorphins flowing.

 

Remember your diet!  For me, the enemy is processed foods, so I need to eat pretty clean.  Along my trip I’ve met a lot of travellers with a big variety of intolerances/allergies and health quirks.  Be sure you’re meeting your energy requirements for exploring new and cool places and keep in mind your dietary needs.  Maybe have a bowl of green stuff every now and then?  Be sure to take a ‘foodie’ and a ‘selfie’ to send to Mum, trust me, she still appreciates it!

 

MAKE SURE YOU GET ‘ME TIME’ IN!
I can’t stress this enough.  I love the amount and quality of people I meet on solo trips like these, but sometimes I need to get back in my own head and focus on myself.  I recommend this to anyone who is travelling for a decent amount of time.  If you usually meditate, take some time out for it. Even if it’s at the end of the day in your bed, just throw in the earplugs and get in your zone.  Keeping some sort of diary/journal is also a good plan and keeps you grounded.  If you’re a photographer, get in the habit of ingesting your pictures each day or as regularly as possible.  You’ll thank yourself at the end of your trip when all your photos are already off cards and in folders, and it’s also one less thing on your mind.  Even if you’re a hobbyist it’s a good habit to get into.  If you don’t have a computer or tablet, just reviewing the days shots gives you a good idea of your winners and keepers and it’s also a nice way to recap the day!

 

Keep in touch with your good friends and loved ones.  You know who they are so shoot them a facebook message or go for the Whatsapp call when you have wifi.  I find it keeps me grounded and I get some perspective on how grateful I am that I have the opportunity to take this trip.  Also they will really appreciate it!

 

PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS

 

CAMERA

Just a quick update on the camera itself.  I’m travelling with and shooting on the Fujifilm X70.  If you’d like to read my initial thoughts on the camera click here.

 

Overall i’m really blown away by the image quality of this little heavy hitter.  I’m pixel peeping in lightroom and I like what I see.  The sharpness and depth of field are really impressive and the colour reproduction is great.  The default colour profiles are really pleasing and draw from Fujifilms rich history in film.  The low light performance was the biggest surprise for me.  Both in its ability to find focus in dark environments as well as its high ISO noise or lack there of.

 

I’m finding the touch screen a bit more fun as I go along and the fact the screen is articulating is really great.  I use it more often than not.  Also It’s a great looking camera from all angles and gets a ton of compliments.

 

In terms of negatives I’m not finding any dealbreakers.  Sometimes I think the lens cap is a pain.  It’s only one extra step but I feel like this camera is not meant to have it and it can stop me getting some shots (back in the plus column, it’s quite a snappy camera and the touch focus is really fast and accurate so far).  I’d love to see an electric cover instead of a hood like some of the competition.
Shooting on a camera like this is pushing me to shoot differently than if I had my full kit of DSLR’s, specialty lenses and lights.  So far I’m loving the challenge!

 

For the sake of this exercise I’m only editing with the built in Fujifilm colour profiles and some minor Exposure and White Balance adjustments.  The same profiles apply to JPEGS, you just have to select the profile before you take the shot.  This process is made quite simple as the displayed colour profile is live in the viewing screen and so far, is very accurate.

 

TIPS

 

I’m using more foregrounds to force a bit more interest into my shots.  If your options are limited go back to the basics and remember to think about your foreground, subject and background.

 

 

Angles are really important when shooting on any camera but especially on a fixed angle lens.  Try to mix it up, you might surprise yourself.

 

 

I’m composing a lot with Black and White previews.  I shoot in RAW so my actual files are still in colour, but it can help to look for your subjects, Lighting (highlights/shadows) and focus without the distraction of colour.  Also a lot of my street/architecture photos are going to be finals in Black and White so it’s nice to shoot with a reliable guide of what I’ll be getting.

 

 

MACRO MOMENTS

 

People seem to be interested in my travel stories so I thought I’d share a few of my favourites.  They’re never big things or the typical sights, they’re just the moment of connection that really fuel my adventurous spirit.

 

I won’t name names, but I bet you’ll already have in your head which budget UK airline had me arriving into Barcelona 3 hours behind and forcing me to miss the last train into the city.  Lovely, old, argumentative Spanish couple to the rescue!  Not only did they help find where the night-bus stop was, but they paid for my bus fare when they realised I only had fresh Euros and no coins yet!  Hard to say if it was just them or the majority of older Spanish couples, but they seemed to have to argue every point before they agreed on every outcome!

 

Or that time when my Danish travel buddy and I headed to check out a Schnapps Distillery in the little village next to Bled in Slovenia.  Not only did we NOT find the distillery, but somehow communicated to a lovely older gentleman that we wanted a glass of Schnapps with him.  At his house.  Which we did!  It was very enjoyable, very interesting and very confusing for both parties I’m certain!  But at the end we all shook hands, took some selfies and off we went.

 

But for me I think the highlight so far has been what we now call, ‘the midnight steak incident’.  In Sienna, Italy the hostel owner taps me on the shoulder and says in a thick Italian accent, “Russ, are you hungry?”  I actually was hungry because I’d not long got back from a long day on my scooter (Demon – The Unclean) and hadn’t had a chance to get any dinner yet and checking the clock it was almost midnight.  I reply “Yeah, actually I could eat.”  Following his friendly gestures I make my way outside.  Within moments the shuttle bus driver arrives with two pizza boxes that land on the table with a thud.  Steak knives appear and before I know what’s happening two giant steaks are getting cut into pieces for the family and any guests who happened to be awake and on the terrace.  Wine flowed freely, meat and breads were consumed and all on the house as it were!  Shortly after the feast I regrettable let out a very audible belch and excuse myself immediately.  A big hand lands on my back as encouragement and Luca says, “Thank you” with a proud nod.  Turns out I had complimented the food and wine and elevated myself in the eyes of the Italians!

 


 

Thanks so much for checking out my blog!  If you like what I’m doing here and enjoy my pictures, please help support me by giving me a like and/or a share and leave me a comment below if you have any questions or have something to say!  For more frequent updates and pictures check out my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.  Links can be found in my ‘ABOUT’ tab or by simply searching Russ Benning Photography.  Thanks again for the support and I hope to see you in the next one!

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  • Heather Batrick - Nice photos- love that church scene with the flowers in front……… Interesting stories…… Like the sound of the cameraReplyCancel

  • Caz Benno - Magnificent photos!! Keep up the good work. I am enjoying the blog & the selfies. Thanks. Love U. xoReplyCancel

  • Tony Hepburn - Love it Russ, haven’t read the whole thing but those photos… you would’ve had a ball over ther 😉ReplyCancel

  • Emma Smith - Great photos Russ, as always. Interesting reading your travel tips as Dan and I venture on our second honeymoon. Hope your having an incredible time!ReplyCancel

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