Category: Pictures and Video

Is This The Most Boring Place In The World?

The Best City To Visit Travel Tournament I run every year on this site is often controversial for a wide variety of reasons. 2017’s winner, Granada, Spain (yay!) wasn’t a surprising result for many of you who voted but the city it beat in the final, Campina, Romania, generated passionate comments of hate and love, mainly from locals.

Each year, I visit the winning Best City. I’ll be revisiting Granada this fall – though the fact that thousands voted for Campina while at the same time others wrote comments that I might die of boredom there made me curious. I have a goal to visit every country in the world, and there are many places I’ve visited which turned out to be very pleasant surprises, despite not having large tourist attractions.

You can see the story in the video above and decide if Campina is the most boring place in Romania or if a visit to the area should be part of your Romania travel plans.

My Camera Was Stolen In Argentina 7 Years Ago, Now I Finally Have The Pictures

buenos aires casa rosada presidential palace

In 2010 I visited Argentina for the first time, taking countless photos of the tasty foods and scenic views of Buenos Aires. I left Argentina with all of those pictures but when I landed in Santiago, Chile, they were gone. Along with my camera. I wasn’t robbed in a dramatic way – no armed mugging or crafty pickpockets – but fell for a sly scam at the airport which taught me two important lessons for all the travels I’ve taken afterward.

Those pictures I missed because of a security mishap had been on my mind until finally, six years later, I returned to Buenos Aires to get those photographs. Here are some of those pictures, 6 years later, and the story, from six years prior.

Traveling back to a place after a long while is like visiting friends with children, you’re surprised by how much they’ve grown, but also how recognizable their characters have remained. Like looking at an iPhone 7 but not seeing a smartphone since the 4S, the contrast is more evident since you’re seeing two moments in time, not witnessing the evolution in between.

buenos aires colorful street

But cities often look back at you, showing it’s not just them, you’ve grown too.

buenos aires canal

Some tastes may have changed, you can like a place you once hated, and getting to know yourself better opens up more travel possibilities.

la boca art

These beans at Cumana were so good, even the small cockroach in the dish didn’t stop me from finishing the bowl.

cumana buenos aires

A second ride around town with La Bicicleta Naranja was as good, and recommendable, as the first time.

buenos aires la bicicleta naranja

Many touristic areas are popular for a reason, like the very photogenic La Boca neighborhood.

la boca selfie argentina

Although I don’t remember specifically, there was probably a guy doing just this the last time I visited La Bombonera, the Boca Juniors soccer team stadium.

la bombonera

I do though recall flipping through the photos on my camera at Ministro Pistarini International Airport in Buenos Aires, prior to checking in.

park lezama buenos aires

When I got to the check in counter of a small airline I won’t mention, I was told that all of the electronics in my carry-on would have to be put in checked luggage. It was going to be a short flight, so naively, I didn’t resist much.

buenos aires old man

After landing in Santiago, many of the electronics were gone, along with some clothes. It was apparent that someone had a short time to reach in and grab what they could. I’m convinced it was part of an organized routine happening between the check-in crew and bag handlers – mostly because of the insistence of checking the electronics – which was never actually required and the knowledge of exactly where in the bag to look.

plaza de mayo buenos aires

For a travel blogger not having pictures of a place limits how much I can share of a destination. They’re also memories which can be looked back on, gone. On the other hand, not having one can let you focus on what you can’t capture with a camera.

cumana buenos aires

The theft of my camera cultivated two habits I’ve done ever since, which I would recommend to any traveler:

  1. Backup Right Away – After a day of taking pictures or videos, when you’re back at your hotel, transfer the data over to a laptop. Doing so ensures you have copies of you photos in case something happens to your camera plus it lets you comfortably delete pictures from your SD card or phone, in case it fills up when you’re out and about. There are some automatic wireless backup options or you can go with an external hard drive if you don’t have space on your laptop. No laptop? No problem, the WD 2TB My Passport Pro has an SD card slot, USB ports, and is wireless too.
  2. Keep Your Valuables In Hand Luggage – Although it seems very obvious to me now, at the time I didn’t consider theft from checked bags to be a significant risk. (Or even a thing.) Theft from luggage is fairly common all over the world and it’s important to keep an eye on your stuff through security checks as well. With all this thievery going on, tracking your stuff digitally may be a good idea as well.

WD 2TB My Passport Wireless Pro Portable External Hard Drive  WD 2TB My Passport Wireless Pro Portable External Hard Drive

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In the end, not having the pictures from 6 years ago brought me back to a place that was both familiar as I remembered but not quite the same. Which had changed more, Buenos Aires, or me? I wasn’t quite sure I thought as I left town, adjusting my small carry-on backpack with camera securely tucked away – probably, a little of both.

Small, Ergonomic, Revolutionary? A Review Of The Penclic R3 Wireless Mouse

The Penclic R3 Wireless Mouse is a rethinking of how you should use the gadget you probably touch most during a given day. Traditional mice put your arm in an unnatural position, causing wrist, elbow, shoulder, or even back pain from using one. Frequent traveling can make the situation even worse, especially if you’re working on hotel, cafe or tray tables in cramped spaces where you have to get into contorted shapes to type.

penclic r3 wireless mouse  Penclic 3-Scroll Ambidextrous Wireless Mouse – Black

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I know the mouse isn’t the most interesting piece of technology to write about – they haven’t changed much over the past few decades. But as you can see in the video above, the Penclic R3 is really a creative design, put into a travel kit that’s small, light, and very ergonomic.

penclic r3 wireless mouse

The Penclic connects to your laptop with through a wireless USB dongle connection, has a battery life of about a month, and gives you precision hard to find in a traditional mouse. Getting used to the Penclic though will take some time but of all the ergonomic designs I’ve tried, this comes closest to real comfort in a size that’s actually practical for frequent travelers.

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.


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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