Traveling to Germany, Prague. Suggestions on gear, safety, etc.

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by canyoupicturethat, Mar 16, 2006.

  1. canyoupicturethat

    canyoupicturethat Member

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    HI all,

    I am about to embark on a 10 day trip to Germany mainly, all around the country, and then a side trip to Prague, and possibly Vienna, during that same 10 days. I am looking for some advice primarily on what cameras to take and how to travel safety, not worry about theft, etc. Also, any advice otherwise on the countries, locations to shoot, prohibitions, etc. is of course welcome.

    some thoughts to clarify:
    -I shoot in all formats, carrying a nikon f100 setup, yashica mat TLR, and 4x5 Pressman.

    -I will most likely not take the pressman ad I intend to carry one pack overall.

    -I am currently considering the f100 and 1 or 2 lenses, and then the TLR.

    -I will be taking night trains, any thoughts here?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. komet

    komet Member

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    Regarding Germany, you might find that the East is more visually interesting than the West, although decaying buildings might not be to everyone's taste.

    Prag is very photogenic indeed, and the beer is ridiculously cheap unless you wander into a tourist trap.

    You shouldn't run into any trouble taking photos, including LF on a tripod, outdoors. Pickpockets are a fact of life, so keep your cameras safe. Do not put them in obvious photo bags, use an old beaten-up satchel or something. Will you be alone? I like to have someone look after my stuff if I'm hidden under a dark cloth!

    Ask for cheap rail travel at a large station in Germany. You might consider a ticket that allows you unlimited travel around Germany. I am unsure about the cost. How old are you? If you are younger than 26, ask about Interrail.

    Night trains: sleeper compartments can be locked from the inside, but may prove expensive. I never bothered with them, preferring to rely on looking scruffy and poor to fend off thieves.
     
  3. roteague

    roteague Member

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    I see no issue with your current plans, except I think that you are trying to go too many places, in too short a time.
     
  4. hal9000

    hal9000 Member

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    Hi, where will you be in Germany? If you are in Berlin I can show you some good spots. Crime here is much less than Washington, DC so don't worry so much.
     
  5. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Very ambitious plans.

    Take one camera, maybe two lenses. Or just the 120. Really.

    Really.

    TMY will be good to cover everything.

    Prague wants 10 days alone. Mute your colors, travel with far less than you think you want to take.

    Go slow, have fun. Show us the pictures.
     
  6. nyx

    nyx Member

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    In Prague, be careful in historical centre (charles bridge, prague castle, all kinds of transportation etc) - thieves are VERY active there (using your TLR in those places, you should be safe). Also, don't use taxis if you don't have to - they will try to charge you too much usually.

    one note: Some time ago, someone had really stupid idea that professional photographers shoud need some permit to shoot on charles bridge. But how do you know who is professional and who isn't? Well...professionals shoot from tripod. So it's possible, that you'll be told by some active security guard not to shoot on charles bridge from tripod.
     
  7. canyoupicturethat

    canyoupicturethat Member

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    Thanks for the advice so far.

    I am aware of the trying to cram too much in, that's why its a very flexible plan so far. :smile: I'll watch it, though.

    I will probably go the route of no tripod, though I will have a small one if really needed.

    I look forward to more responses, anyone else have insights not shared so far.

    I will try remeber to share the photos with you all upon return.

    Thanks
     
  8. roteague

    roteague Member

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    You are kidding, right? A trip like this, and only shooting B&W - what an obscenity!!! RVP50 or RVP100 is the way to go. :smile:
     
  9. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

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    I'd strongly recommend taking one of those mini tripods. If nothing else a lower viewpoint can make for more interesting photos. Vienna has a lot of sights all within short walking distances in the centre of the city. There don't seem to be many or any restrictions on photography there.
     
  10. Edwardv

    Edwardv Member

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    One of the most heard expressions I encountered when asking for directions while in Prague, "its just around the conner." Its just around the conner is 4 or more blocks away from where you are asking directions; so be prepared to walk. I took every that I could carry in my backpack. Make sure you are not boxed in by people at the counter, train station, stores, etc thieves works in threes or fours. Have a great time.
     
  11. Edwardv

    Edwardv Member

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    Correction: I took everything that I could carry in my backpack.
     
  12. Drew B.

    Drew B. Subscriber

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    Work and wander out of a rental car. Heidleberg area is great. Many historic bldgs in nearby Spire (I think that is the correct spelling), especially the very VERY old church where centuries of famous (& infamous) leaders are entombed down below. I carried an older M-645 around and film in my pockets. I only wish I had a tripod for night shots. I think 10 days will get you good photo ops for two major areas. I did germany and Belgium in 8 days. Basically Heidleberg and then Brugge.

    drew

    ps, hope it is warmer than it was for me
     
  13. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    The only reason I shoot black & white is when I think about shooting color, I can never decide... red, or blue, or green.... so, I just stick with black.
     
  14. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    Dresden is a must-see place if you can make it. You don't need more than a day or even a half day to spend there if your time is so limited. Just take a night train and get there in the early morning.

    Bring enough film with you and have fun.
     
  15. komet

    komet Member

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    Don't forget that a sturdy metal tripod is an effective defensive weapon if you are getting robbed or mugged. (Thieves in Europe do not carry guns.)

    I agree that your plans are too ambitious (classic "American in Europe" mistake). It's best to choose just a few locations and spend at least 3 days in the same place. Trains are better than cars as you can sleep while they are moving, so you gain a day if you plan carefully.
     
  16. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    Just make sure you have everything in a zippered pack with locks. For the most part Germany and Prague is very safe during the day. If yiu are alone, just watch for groups Turks, Gypsies, North Africans and street people (I'm going to get labeled for writing this). Mostly in large cities like Frankfurt and Berlin. Not so much in Munich or Hamburg.

    One favourite tactic, of which I was a recipient but not a victim, is for one of the women to approach you with a baby in hand asking for handouts while others 'swarm' you also begging. While they are begging, they will jostle you to disguise the fact they are pilfering your pack and pockets. All my packs wered zippered and locked. All my pockets had a few coins only. I got a cheap feel. This was in Rome though, where there are far more Gypsies and Romas.

    Don't be afraid to shout for the police if this happens to you. Like cockroaches, they will quickly scamble away at the slightest light on them.

    I walked everywhere when I was in Munich, Hamburg and Prague with a lot of gear. No incidents.

    Go with this.

    Trains in Europe are NOT like Amtrak. They are always on time, very clean and comfortable, staff is courteous, food is good.

    Regards, Art.
     
  17. canyoupicturethat

    canyoupicturethat Member

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    Thanks again...and...film...

    Thanks again everyone.

    Anyone have thoughts on purchasing film if it comes to that? I imagine the country that spawned Agfa (Germany, right), etc. would have some pro camera shops and such if I really ran out of something, right?

    For the tmy, color discussion, no worries, I'll have my ilford bws and my Provia and Velvia with me as well.
     
  18. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    When you don't have much time to spend, you don't wanna rush out and look for any specific kind of film you want to shoot for the rest of your trip.

    Bring enough film with you, and that will save your life.
     
  19. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    Lots of really excellent advice here already. I don' think I can add anything so, I'll just say thanks to everybody for sharing.
     
  20. roteague

    roteague Member

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    I sometimes carry a "dummy" wallet - full of paper and junk, for such occasions.
     
  21. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    I have just returned from 3 full days in Prague. Great architecture. Very compact city. You can cover everything on foot. I took some night shots in early evening by myself. It seems to be a very safe and friendly city. Try the old town square just after dark. Main buildings are all lit up. Handheld shots would be possible if braced or seated and using say 800-1600 film.I spotted a couple of guys using a tripod and no problems with security guards. Everything including food,drink and admission prices is very reasonable.

    However film prices seemed quite expensive even by U.K. standards. I'd try and carry what you need.

    pentaxuser
     
  22. Petzi

    Petzi Member

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    Where will you stay in Germany? I could give you some addresses.
     
  23. Jim_in_Kyiv

    Jim_in_Kyiv Member

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    What do you want to shoot the most? That's going to be a big factor. A lot of interesting buildings will need a wide angle lens not only because they're big, but in narrow squares - the Rathouse in Munich comes to mind (could be wrong on the name - I was hung over). People? - TLR, so you don't get stared at. And the Y-mat will make you look less like a tourist. Is versatility or enlargement more important?

    Taking the LF gear sounds great until you start thinking of the rest of the kit - holders, film boxes, etc. And since you really should try samples from a list of hundreds of world-class beers (why can't they make a good ale, though? Something like a Spitfire?) going back to the hotel and playing with sheet film isn't always fun. If you rent a car, it's a different story, and I recommend taking everything.
     
  24. Imke

    Imke Member

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    For 10 days, I'd skip the tripod and LF, and instead, have some fun.

    I'd take only portable gear and higher speed film, relax, enjoy, and talk to people. (Even to those "beggars", Turks, Gypsies and North Africans. They've all been on a long journey to get where they are now, and you might be surprised about the stories they have to share.)

    Drink lots of beer. It so good. You'll miss it when you come back. :smile:

    Trains, night trains, too, are incredibly safe. (Talking about Germany, no experience in Prague). Please don't be paranoid, and forget the zippered bags (again, no idea about Prague).

    I'd visit Hamburg and Berlin, everybody from the States always visits the South and its rivers and castle, but if you like cities, these two have lots to offer. Both have great night life, lovely countryside in the outskirts, great architecture, interesting faces .... the whole nine yards.

    Plus, both have a vibrant art scene. And again, please don't spoil your visit with being afraid about your belongings.

    If you do decide to visit bigger cities, public transportation almost always beats driving a rental car. Busses and subways are manyfold, cover the cities well and run often. Much more convenient than trying to find parking all the time. If you're travelling around between cities a lot, I'd rent a car.

    Hope this helps!

    Cheerio, looking forward to seeing your pics!
    Imke