The case for a little weight

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The best guidebooks on Europe stress traveling light as the only way to enjoy Europe. Add to that two kids in Brownian motion, and you get the 11th Commandment – thou shalt pack less in thy backpack.

Even so, I ended up packing two camera bodies (the 50D and the 6D) and a whole variety of lenses, including the metal-barreled canon (not Canon) -weight Canon L 70-200 f/2.8 and lugging it all across Italy. In the train ride from La Spezia to Manarola in Cinque Terre, only two backpacks were taken for the night stay – one full of clothes, toiletries, cosmetics; and the other packed with camera gear. But the load sharing was getting to be a problem, so reluctantly, very reluctantly, I decided to dump the 50D and the L lens back at the train station in the car in La Spezia, and proceed with (shudder) just one body. It was just one night – what could go wrong.

Murphy strikes as predictably as the unpredictable.

As we sat gazing at the fiery sunset against the cascading houses off the Manarola harbor, I heard a blunt thunck, and saw my Tamron 10-20 on the ancient stone floor. Fearing the worst, I pick it up and check for rattling parts – glass or otherwise – inside the lens. None – phew! Barely any dents or scratches on the surface too – wonderful! I slap it on the 6D, and I get a dreaded Cannot recognize lens.

Furious cleaning, shaking, resetting – nothing. Searching the entire web for possible causes, while the sun sank lower – nothing.

Resigned to my fate, I attach the 28-70, sit on the stone floor with my tabletop tripod, and snap away these normal-focal-length images of the glowing town in the deep blue colors of dusk in silence. Wishing I would have carried the second body to try out the lens on the 50D and get better, more expansive views of the sunset – but had to make do with what I got – which turned out pretty good.

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A different kind of night-life

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“India lives in several centuries at the same time” (Arundhuti Roy), and nowhere is this more evident than in larger cities such as Calcutta. Some parts of the “old” India still manage to provide the simple pleasures of life – like this roadside animal show which pulls characters and images from famous Bollywood movies and maps them to the animal counterparts. With interest in these roadside shows drifting towards the comforts of a plastic-pony-merry-go-round ride in an air-conditioned environment, it is becoming harder for such vendors to provide even basic up-keep for their bread-earning pets.