Follow Jenny and Stephen on their Travel Adventures!

How I Blog

For those of you interested in the technical aspects of Blogging on the Camino or other epic walks

Note: I do not consider myself a photographer. I have never owned an SLR or DSLR camera but have some artistic inherited DNA

Equipment:
1 x Sony RX100 camera
1 x Apple iPad mini 64Gb Wi-Fi only
1 x Apple iPhone 5
1 x Dual USB European charger with cables (charges all devices)
1 x Mophie Powerstation 4000mAh (Added this to my kit post Camino, but wish I had this earlier! Excellent for emergency recharge!)
1 x CF card adapter for iPad
4 x 16Gb Compact Flash Cards

Apps
iPhoto app (iPad)
Pixlr Express+ app (iPad)
Wordpress app (iPad)
Notes app

The original idea was to take photos using just the iPhone, but before leaving on our trip I came to realize that the iPhone doesn’t take good photos in low light. After visiting a number of Camera stores and giving them my requirements;
1. Best lightweight compact (pocketable) camera money can buy
2. Best image quality
3. Best in low light
4. USB charging in camera

All stores pointed me towards the Sony RX100. Whilst not as good as a DSLR, at less than 300g it was an easy decision. There is plenty of info on the Internet about this Camera if interested. Note, it only has a 3.8 optical zoom, but at 20Mp there is plenty of room for tight cropping.

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iPad Mini (Now have the Retina!)
Already own an iPad2 and was hoping on a “retina” display iPad mini, but never came in time. The mini is perfect for traveling based on both weight and portability. We also use it for a number of Camino guide books that I scanned before leaving, so the weight alone is less that the 3 guidebooks that we were wanting to have with us! I purchased the largest capacity 64Gb iPad so as to load all photos from CF cards both for viewing and as a backup. I do not delete the photos from the CF cards after import so as to always have 2 copies.
I originally thought I would backup into cloud like Dropbox, but this isn’t practical given the speed and quality of Internet we experienced and sheer size needed to upload.

Blog
Well before leaving on the trip, I signed up to WordPress based solely on its popularity. I have never blogged or done much in the way of websites (but am an IT professional). I then selected a premium (you have to pay for it – $68) theme. This is like a prebuilt website or template. It can be very limiting in what you can do. But I have come to terms with this as it stops you from fiddling! The theme is called Photography so it is setup primarily around showing off your photos. There are lots of restrictions on the size of photos which can be a bit painful, but I just have to work with it. The gallery photos must be 960×540 which is based on a 16:9 ratio. I can set my camera up to shoot 16:9, but prefer the standard 3×2 As it captures the most and gives more scope in cropping down to 16:9. So as you can see, each photo must be cropped or resized from the original beforehand.

Workflow
1. Typically take up to 150 photos in a day (weather dependent)
2. Import days photos onto iPad
3. View all photos and then sort into 2 new albums. One for the actual blog. The other for the Gallery
4. I then go through the gallery photos and use the following post editing apps. iPhoto (used sometimes when finer control is needed on lighting and contrast. Also used to enhance blue sky when over exposed). It also does the best job of cropping to 16:9. Pixlr Express+ is primarily used for cropping (not as accurate as iPhoto, just more convenient) and resizing to suit WordPress. I also use the auto enhance function which squeezes out contrast/saturation. I’m cheating here a bit, but want the photos to “pop” when displayed on the blog!
5. Once photos are ready, I then create a new empty post for the gallery in WordPress. I change it to draft (as default is publish which means there is no room for reviewing your content!)
6. Photo’s are then uploaded. Now this is the beauty of resizing photos on iPad beforehand. A typical photo is now only around 200kb not over 4Mb, so upload time is good even on a slow connection (had plenty of these) taking about 10 sec a photo! Once uploaded you can resort, but is difficult so don’t bother. I then select the feature image that displays on the gallery page. Then I publish
7. I repeat process for the actual blog but is more difficult as I have to slot words in between pictures, so I have become proficient with some web code only by trial and error. I will probably drop doing this as it is time consuming and prone to stuff ups. Instead I will just put words at start of blog and photos after. A shame as it is good to describe the said photo.
8. Then publish

This entire process takes over 2 hrs. So will needed to look at ways to improve. However, most of the time is simply selecting the best photos from 150 daily photos!

If we had 2 x iPads, I could concentrate on just the photos and Jenny could do the words. That could save about 30 min or so. Otherwise, looks like I need to take less photos and publish less photos!

(Just typed up this blog on the iPhone “notes” app and was auto sync’d with iPad so I could easily post whilst Jenny was using iPad to do some emailing!)

Questions? Suggestions? Feel free to comment!

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2 Responses to “How I Blog”

  1. heavenhappens

    This is so interesting and great advice as I have been looking for a new camera. I will choose the Sony I think! By the way ~ where is number 3 on your Cotswold photos? I love it.

    Reply
    • Stephen M

      Yes the camera is excellent for travelling and takes great quality photos. I’ve had others purchase this camera based on photos posted on my Blog! I’ve recently upgraded to the Sony Rx100m3 which has a couple of nice extra features.
      The photo I think you are referring to was taken from the courtyard of a Hotel at the far end of the strip in Moreton-in-Marsh. Thanks for dropping by. We have just completed day 1 of the Coast to coast and are feeling the aches and pains after a 26km walk. cheers… Stephen

      Reply

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