Making Do



I love to travel. I like exploring and seeing new places. But like many, I find that my real life and the things in it that make it go keep me close to home more often than not.

You know, the home that still has a mortgage and a roof that needs replacing. The home that had a 15-year-old water heater give up the ghost last weekend (ironically while I was away from home) and left wet carpeting in two rooms as it’s farewell address.  The end result being a plumber’s visit equal to another month’s mortgage payment. Flooring may or may not be salvaged.

But you  get the drift, right?  The majority of any travels for this guy, outside of this zip code, are few and far between.


So long ago, I decided if I was going to create any images worth looking at I’d better get creative. And so I used the locations and things I see everyday as my subjects.   And the challenge of making them look like they could be in one of those exotic spots I’d love to have my passport stamped, makes it fun while I fix the gate latch or wash the car.

More recently, we’ve made friends with several couples who all enjoy camping in Vintage Travel Trailers.  We do not have a “Vintage” Trailer, ourselves. But I have managed to become the “Guy Who Shoots Them” and have fallen in with these enthusiasts.

It’s a good fit. Besides the trailers and all the stuff that goes with them(and believe me, there’s more stuff than you could ever imagine). We’re all within the same Generation, or so. Most are empty-nesters or close to it. All travel without kids (if you don’t count dogs). So it’s always a good time to be had by all when we gather together.

One of the vaguely related activities most such gatherings seem generate is the need to visit as many Thrift Store and Antique Shops as can be found in the vicinity of the camp.

Now, by my count, there’s approximately 4 or 5 distinct reasons (excuses) for going to these places.  For the record, I rarely if ever go to these kind of places on my own. So I have no reasons. But my wife does and so I know most of her reasons.  But on these Vintage Trailer Safaris it’s mostly inspired by the womenfolk. The guys follow. Not that they are exempt from actually buying anything. But we tend to focus more on useable things or at least something we know we might resell at a profit.  And we can help get the larger things into the back of our trucks when needed.

The girls are more likely to be hunting for things to use in craft projects or decorating and it’s upscale friend, accessorizing and do all of those with equal zeal.

My first time doing this with this group was a couple months ago and I made it through a whole weekend and dozens of shops without buying anything.  I did get some fun shots with my phone’s camera.


So this time out I brought a real camera and found a lot of the shops with lots and lots of little still life set-ups in little niches in their shops where a consignment seller would set up their wares in interesting scenes. This time of year the universal theme is Christmas. But the idea is still the same. They go to great lengths to collect related things that go together nicely in these small scenes.  And I can shoot them for free.

A couple of tricks I’ve learned thus far is…

  1.  A Moderately wide lens will help in what often is tight quarters.  Needless to say the-faster-the-better too.  In this case I used an Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 12mm
  2. Fell free to move stuff to make the scene work for you.  Careful there big fella. “You-broke-it-you-bought-it” still applies. Pay attention to price tags and stickers. You can clone a lot of them out of the shot. But it’s so much easier to edit if they are tucked away out of the shot.
  3. If you’re using available lighting, there’s often a mix of Incandescent and Fluorescent so you may have to play with your white balance.  You also might need a tripod unless you’re willing to turn up your ISO.
  4. Go during off-peak times and days. Keeps people out of your shots.

At the very least, this gives me something to do while my wife and her gang do the serious shopping.

And that is just one of my cheap thrills and substitutes for “REAL” Travel photography.  There’s are many others and we’ll share them in upcoming posts.

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