Category: Pictures and Video

This Is What A 10 Hour Flight Looks Like Condensed Into 150 Seconds

One of the best features of many smartphones, particularly the iPhone 6s, is the time-lapse feature. Recently, on an Austrian Airlines flight from Vienna to Washington D.C., I had an unexpected opportunity to capture a very amateur time-lapse of the entire 10 hour flight.

The combination of an empty seat next to me, a fairly flat window opening, not to mention a conveniently located USB port to keep charged during the entire shoot made this a fun project for a long flight. In case you were wondering, here is what the ad-hoc setup looked like:

airplane flight time lapse

A boarding pass between the phone and the glass to prevent temperature warnings (and automatic shutoff), plus a vomit bag stuffed into the window for the cheapest tripod ever. Of course, this isn’t the ideal way to take a time-lapse video. Here’s how to take time-lapse videos and the best times to shoot them during your travels, plus a few examples of mine from the Taj Mahal, Tunisia’s Star Wars sets, and more.

Similar Quality, A Third Less Expensive: A Review Of The Sony a5000 Mirrorless Camera

This is a guest post by Damian Irimescu, a Romanian techie and blogger who loves to write about life experiences. In his own words, “whenever I have the chance to discover a new place, I don’t think twice.” Damian recently began focusing on photography, learning baby steps, sharing those moments captured with a Sony α5000 and Xperia Z3 on his blog, Facebook and Instagram.

sony a5000

When I wanted to buy a new camera I found myself researching online, reading countless reviews of DSLRs, but leaning especially toward mirrorless cameras. Mostly because DSLR cameras are bulky, not ideal if you travel a lot and aren’t completely focused on photography when you do. I wanted a lightweight camera I can use in one hand without scarfing the ability to change lenses yet maintaining high image quality. (So bye bye mirror.)

Since I had been using the Sony Xperia Z3 smartphone’s remarkable camera as my primary shooter up until then, I gravitated toward Sony’s mirrorless camera lineup with high hopes.

Feature Full

The Sony Alpha 5000 is a small 6.2 x 3.6 x 1.7 centimeter (2.48 x 1.42 x 4.33 inch) mirrorless camera that can fit in a single hand. In its half-pound (270 gram) body is a 20 million pixel APS-C sensor, 7.6 cm (3 inch) 460K-dot LCD screen, Wi-Fi functionality, plus BIONZ-X image processor. BIONX-Z, which is used to enhance texture in photographs, is also a feature on the high-end Sony Alpha A7 and RX10. These specs, including the all-important battery life are nearly on par with the newer Sony a6000, but a third cheaper.

Sony Alpha a5000 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 16-50mm OSS Lens (Black)

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I bought the Sony a5000 for its low price and spectacular photo quality. The a5000 feels solid in your hand and the default wide-angle 16-50 millimeter lens is nice range to get you started. Sony’s a5000 has dozens of shooting modes plus offers a lot of control with rich manual mode settings. You can see some examples of both in the photos I took below.

housecat up close

Compatible with Sony’s E-Mount lenses, digitally the a5000 has free-to-download tools like Photo Retouch as well as the $10 Time-lapse app, that will make even the first timer amateur photo-enthusiast feel like a pro. (Although admittedly, time-lapse should just be a feature of the a5000, but more on its video shortcomings later.)

baby photo sony a5000

The LCD screen is flexible for selfies and above-the-crowd shots; all of which can be posted to your smartphone, laptop, or social media accounts instantly using the Sony a5000’s wireless/NFC capability.

Video Weaknesses

Even though the a5000 has optical stabilization, it has difficultly keeping faster moving objects in focus. Not to mention because of its placement, the microphone catches the sound of the lens zooming, annoyingly so. (Unless you like rocket-ship sound effects in the background of your travel videos.) Continuous auto-focus is also sluggish, so the a5000 might not be your first choice if you plan to capture a lot of action or sports video. Video is shot in full 1080p with stereo sound.

sony a5000 example photo

A Good DSLR And a6000 Alternative

Despite its video shortcomings the a5000 is a much less expensive alternative to the a6000, which hasn’t made much strides in terms of resolving those video concerns. The photo quality however is excellent for a camera that will easily fit into most jacket pockets, taking up to 400 shots per battery charge.

If you like to capture a family occasions, holiday moments, points of interest while you travel, but want better than average image quality, the a5000 is a great low cost alternative to the newer a6000.

Thanks Damian for sharing your thoughts on the Sony a5000 with us. You can find Damian on his blog, Facebook and Instagram. If you have any questions about the camera, feel free to ask Damian in the comments below!

How To Take Time-lapse Travel Videos And The Best Times To Shoot Them

belogradchik bulgaria fort rocks

Time-lapse videos are a great way to capture the action and feeling of your best travel moments without needing the attention traditional videos or even photographs require. Most recent smartphones and digital cameras have the capability to take time-lapses but if it’s a feature you’re not using, you may be missing out on a great way to spice up your digital photo albums.

What Is A Time-lapse?

Seeing one is the best way to understand what a time-lapse video is. You probably already have, but the term might not immediately ring a bell. To give you an idea, here’s a time-lapse video I took of sunrise at the Taj Mahal with an iPhone 5s:

Essentially what the camera (or smartphone) is doing is taking a single frame at an interval of every half, one, two, etc. seconds. In other words, the camera is taking a bunch of photos spaced apart in a relatively tight sequence, then the software puts them together, allowing you to capture 30 minutes of motion in a 30 second video, for example.

Get The Right Equipment

Most Android phones made after 2014 and iPhones 5s and up support time-lapse. On Android, you can download several apps to unlock time-lapse such as Time-Lapse Video Recorder or Lapse It. iOS users, the feature is built-in to the default Camera app – open it and swipe all the way left. (Alternatively Frameographer and Hyperlapse are more powerful option for iPhones.) A host of traditional digital cameras also support time-lapse, be sure to check the feature list to confirm.

Choose Your Subjects Slowly

Good time-lapse videos require patience but very low maintenance making inspiration travel moments some of the ideal times to take them. Since time-lapse videos are a set-it-and-leave-it type of thing, you won’t have a screen in your face obscuring amazing views better seen with your eyes.

  • Set Aside Time – The first step to getting good time-lapse videos is knowing you’ll be in one spot for at least 20-30 minutes. For example, when you’re sipping coffee at one of the best cafes in the world, set up the camera to capture the flow of customers coming and going. Sunsets are also good time-lapse opportunities, especially if you can stay after darkness has set in.

star wars sunset tunisia

  • Focus Around Movement – Choose the stationary objects in your time-lapse carefully because they’ll be visible over the entire length of the video. Using our cafe example above, a nice coffee cup framing the image on the right side or using a jet bridge for leading lines are some starter ideas.

Another good time-lapse trick is to film things that normally move very slow, like snails or airline employees behind checkout desks. Remember the camera or phone must be stationary the entire shooting time and there needs to be a steady source of motion. Crowds are an easy choice but so are boats on water; so long as you give the video a significant block of time so patterns of movement become evident in the footage. Remember, good travel photography principles apply, and keep an eye out for monkeys, many of whom like stealing sweets and shiny things.

A Time-lapse Tour Around The Balkans, India, Tunisia, And Istanbul

The technology I travel with has changed quite a bit since I first started out on an endless journey with an iPod, random point-and-shoot camera, and little else. You can learn to take better travel photos with any camera, but certain device-specfic functions like time-lapse have opened up new ways for me to show you the places I’m traveling.

Here’s a look around several cities I have visited over several months in time-lapse, using two iPhones models, a 5s and 6s.

Sunrise At The Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal is one of 5 tourist destinations that won’t disappoint you, even after your third visit. Having been multiple times, I was able to take my time at sunrise, entering first by arriving in line at 5 in the morning. That’s the best time to queue up (get to Agra, India the night before) since as you can see, the Taj Mahal grounds fill up with tourists fast.

Views Of Tirana From The Top Of Dajti Mountain

Not having an cash with me at the base station of the longest cable car in the Balkans (and no ATM for kilometers around) the girl at the ticket counter negotiated a credit card payment at the Dajti Tower Hotel. One of the staff escorted me to the top, where I got a rooftop view of Albania‘s capital (above this rotating 360 degree cafe) as a bonus.

Action Outside Of Istanbul Ataturk Airport’s Gate 222

The gates numbered in the 220s of Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport in Turkey have some of the best airport watching, video, and photographic opportunities. The upper 220s give you a view of seemingly countless Turkish Airline tail wings in a row, while 222 has everything from takeoff to landing.

The Sun Setting Over Tatooine

You can see how I set up this shot here, browse through a photo essay of the vanishing Star Wars sets in northern Africa, and learn how you can visit the Star Wars sets locations in Tunisia to see for yourself.

National Palace Of Culture In Sofia, Bulgaria Lights Up

This massive building in the center of Bulgaria’s capital is where you’ll find orchestral concerts, plays, and film festivals, with cafes lining the bottom floor. A long row of fountains leads up to it in the park around NDK (the Bulgarian abbreviation) but without a tripod, you’ll need to get creative.

Takeoff From Istanbul Ataturk’s Airport

If I knew I was going to get away with it, I would have prepared my battery for the entire flight (which ideally was a short one). Unfortunately, although in airplane mode, I haven’t been able to arrange an entire flight.. yet.

Time-lapse Tips For Your Own Travel Photos

There’s a noticeable difference in the resolution between the two iPhones (can you tell which is which) and it’s preferable to shoot time-lapse with a camera rather than phone for better lighting plus resolution in general. Also, you want as much movement in the frame as you can get around a few or single stationary focal point. Vehicles (boats in especially) help give a flow to enhance a travel time-lapse as only clouds can be dull or focusing only on a small group of people distracting, as they move too quickly to establish a visible pattern.

A lot of basic photography rules apply as well. For example using stationary points as leading lines which will help you take better sunset photos when traveling not just time-lapses. Finally, play around with time-lapse and be patient, the longer you wait (especially at dawn or dusk) the more motion, thus patterns, you’ll be able to capture.

A Look Back At The Winners Of The Best City Contest: An Instagram Photo Essay

best city winners instagram foxnomad

The Best City To Visit Travel Tournament is an annual occurrence on this site, one I’ve hosted every March since 2009. It gets rolling around early February, when you begin nominating cities, with votes every week to narrow down the selected cities to one best city. Over the past few weeks on my Instagram @foxnomad, account I’ve been taking a look back as I look forward to visiting the 2016 winner, Lisbon.

Best City 2009 – Sydney, Australia

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Although The Best City To Visit Travel Tournaments began in 2009, I didn’t make it a tradition of visiting the winning city each year until 2011. However, I did make it to Sydney, which defeated Negril, Jamaica by a single vote, several years later. I still haven’t been to Zermatt, Switzerland, the 2010 winner though.

Best City 2011 – Porto, Portugal

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2011 was the year I began visiting the winning city and the Portuguese voters made my trip to Porto an incredible time. I discovered the heart of Porto beats art, got special access to Harry Potter’s birthplace, and heard the story of Eiffel’s battle of bridges.

Best City 2012 – Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

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The nomination of Sarajevo in 2012 ignited the Best City Travel Tournaments to come. Mentions on local news media, talk shows, I was touched by the passion of the people who brought me to Sarajevo. Saying a place has “a lot of history” is often overused but in such a small area, few can match Sarajevo – including the bridge where World War I bizarrely began.

Best City 2013 – Sibiu, Romania

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A massive social media campaign by Sarajevo’s supporters was thought to be insurmountable, until the Romanians showed up in numbers to the Best City tournaments. Appropriately, the surprisingly optimistic Sibiu whose Christmas market transforms the town, was the first of three Romanian back-to-back wins.

Best City 2014 – Craiova, Romania

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When Craiova, a small industrial city hoping to turn itself into a tourism hub in southwestern Romania won the Best City Travel Tournament in 2014, many who didn’t vote for it were upset. I can easily say that’s because they never made a trip to visit the people who brought me there in the first place. Here’s more of what Craiova looks like, and it may surprise you.

Best City 2015 – Targu Jiu, Romania

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Returning back to Romania was a pleasure, especially to explore a new city in the country. Targu Jiu is a tiny town that lights up during Christmas, with many good places to eat and a strong artistic heritage.

2016 – On To Lisbon

At the end of the 2015 Best City Travel Tournament, many thought the Romanian cities were unstoppable but then, a country with winning experience returned: Portugal. Ending the three-year Romanian streak Lisbon won Best City in 2016. I’m currently making plans to visit later this year to, among other things, donate $1,000 to a local charity in person.

Several things still hold true after a 7 years of best city contests: no city has ever won twice nor has any one person won more than one tournament. Sign up for my free bi-monthly newsletter so you don’t miss best city 2017 but for now, this year is all about Lisbon.

You can find and follow my travels on Instagram @foxnomad and let me know if you have any tips on things I shouldn’t miss in Lisbon in the comments below!

This Bridge In Sarajevo Is Where World War I Started And Nearly Didn’t

latin bridge sarajevo

History flows like a river but most of the time we concede we’re only privy to a small section viewed from the shore. But along the small Latin Bridge in Sarajevo over the shallow waters of the Miljacka River, history happened all at once and almost not at all.

It Begins With An Act Of Indecision

The 28th of June, 1914 began with Archduke Franz Ferdinand along with his wife Sophie, visiting the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo; then a province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Ferdinand had went to Bosnia a few days prior to observe military operations, sent by his uncle Emperor Franz Josef. Bosnia and Herzegovina was annexed from the Ottomans in 1908 by the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Ferdinand was there to wave the flag (in the face of Serbian nationalists who made claim to the territory.

The Assassination of the Archduke: Sarajevo 1914 and the Romance That Changed the WorldThe Assassination of the Archduke: Sarajevo 1914 and the Romance That Changed the World

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Ferdinand was to inaugurate the new state museum in Sarajevo, accompanied by his wife Sophie who worried for his safety. On the morning of June 28th, Ferdinand was touring the city in his motorcade. He passed Muhamed Mehmedbasic, one of several Serbian nationalist conspirators who had planned to assassinate Ferdinand. Fearful, Mehmedbasic never used the grenade in his possession. The motorcade passes unmolested until coming across Nedjelko Cabrinovic, who did toss a grenade at the Archduke’s car. Bouncing off the vehicle it exploded behind Ferdinand’s car (since the driver sped up upon seeing it) injuring several members of Ferdinand’s entourage seriously.

latin bridge sarajevo bosnia and herzegovina

One Failed Murder, One Botched Suicide

Cabrinovic tried to kill himself by jumping into the Miljacka River which is often shallow. Only centimeters deep that particular day, Cabrinovic probably thought the expired cyanide pill he swallowed would finish him. As it were, the pill only made him ill and he was arrested.

latin bridge sarajevo

So, Ferdinand is still alive, having cheated death twice and a number of Serbian nationalist assassins have time to contemplate how it all went wrong. And wrong again. Plus some. One of Cabrinovic’s co-conspirators, Gavrilo Princip, frustrated with the morning of failed killing, went to a cafe on nearby Franz Josef Street, sulking at having missed all assassination opportunity.

latin bridge sarajevo

Elsewhere in Sarajevo, after some time passes, Ferdinand decides he wants to visit Sarajevo Hospital where the injured have been taken. Military officer General Oskar Potiorek, traveling with Ferdinand, advises the caravan avoid the city center. For unclear reasons, Potiorek never told the driver that. So, Ferdinand’s convoy continues across the Latin Bridge, makes a right turn… right on to Franz Josef Street.

Serendipity In Reverse

To Princip’s surprise Ferdinand’s car rolls towards him. The driver by now has been made aware of his mistake, tries to reverse, stalling the car’s engine in the process. Car stuck and seizing the opportunity, Princip opens the door shooting Ferdinand and Sophie. Both die within an hour; mobs attack Princip, disarming him. He’s later arrested. Austria-Hungary blames Serbia for the plot, declaring war one month later. Allied nations jump in to support both sides and World War I officially begins.

ferdinand assasination spot

Today, you can walk across the Latin Bridge, built in the 1550s by the Ottoman Empire, and see the plaque noting where Ferdinand and Sophie were killed on the corner of Franz Josef Street. Their assassination story is one of my favorites from history for the sheer amount of circumstance and implication of fate. Visiting these sites during a HYH City Tour (whom I highly recommend) was one of many highlights from my visit to the city you voted best to visit in 2012.


About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutI'm the blogger and computer security engineer who writes foXnoMad while on a journey to visit every country in the world. I'll show you the tips, tricks, and tech you can use to travel smarter. Read More

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