Arjun

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The Quintessence of Travel

January 25, 2016

“The traveler sees what he sees.  The tourist sees what he has come to see.” -G.K. Chesterton A question I spend far too much time thinking about, is how do I become a better traveler and avoid the pitfalls of becoming a tourist. While this topic of discussion could diverge along multiple paths, the train of thought specifically that I am talking about is, reminiscing about a particular travel in its entirety. The question, then is, what does it mean to capture the essence of a trip? Given the technology and tools at our disposal today, there are certain major shortcomings in our ability to weave a complete fabric of our travelogue. First and foremost among these is a sense of food/taste. You could argue of course, that taking pictures or videos of the food we partake in and the libations we consume, are sufficient in giving a sense of the cuisine. However, I am talking more about the actual taste of the food being captured, not just the visualizations. Perhaps, there will come a day when this will be possible. Second on the list, is a sense of smell. It has been found that smell is among the strongest senses to trigger past memories. Be it the alpine scent of the mountains or the fresh aroma of that coffee brewing in that cafe you went to, there is literally no way, at the moment, that we can capture smell for future reference. Then there is the “X-factor” of a trip. Something that cannot be described in a physical way but is more of a metaphysical sensation. It is the collusion of events that led the dominoes to fall in exactly the right sequence that made the trip as memorable as it ended up being. Being able to quantify that, lies beyond the realm of this discussion and is something that will require its own forum. The low-hanging fruits are, of course, pictures and videos. While they capture two of the senses, sight and sound, capturing the right moments in the apropos way, is no easy feat. For example, when I go on trips, I will take a slew of photos, but if I were to be objective about what I have shot, there will be no more than 10-20 “good” photos. However, there is no doubt that all the pictures in totality, provide context to where you were and what you were doing, irrespective of picture quality. One thing that I have noticed about the way I document travel is that I do not take near enough as many videos as I should. I am increasingly coming to the conclusion that videos are a lot more valuable to recreate travel memories, because re-watching them rewinds time a whole lot more effectively than pictures do. I love photography and nothing will stop me from taking crisp shots of the moments I deem important, but I will definitely attempt to overlay more videos to my collection of travel footage. The downside of taking a lot of videos is dealing with a deluge of video footage and having to sift through all of that noise to find the moments that actually matter. As with everything, moderation is key and ascertaining what needs to be captured in video is very important. Unless you don’t mind watching hours of travel footage in your video-editing software-du-jour. There are a plethora of picture/video apps out there on the iPhone and the Android, that try to serve a niche they claim to accomodate. For example, apps like Periscope and Meerkat cater to real time broadcasting of events, whereas apps like Vine cater more to the creation of repeatable gifs that make memories humorous/memorable. When we have all these implements, it makes me wonder if there is a way to use them, in their respective scenarios to come up with compelling and memorable travel footage. Disclaimer : This is a humble attempt at curating a list to document my travel. This is, by no means, a way to tell other fellow wanderlusts to capture moments of their own travel.  These opinions are purely my own and very likely will not fit your situation. Disclaimer 2 : I don’t intend to do all of these at the same time, and no I will not be the guy who has a 100 gadgets upon him trying to capture “that” moment while missing out on it as it is happening IRL.  Disclaimer 3 : I expect this to be an ever-changing list, throwing away unnecessary techniques and adding more effective ones as times go on. The only way to figure this out by testing all of these methods a posteriori. The list of applications that can be used is also not exhaustive, and I have only picked the ones that I feel are relevant to me, at the moment. Getting into the crux of this post, I tried to come up with a list of devices and applications to use for “the apt scenario”. I tried to cover a swath of possible scenarios, but I don’t believe this is the be-all and end-all. I have tried to pair a situation with the appropriate equipment to almost provide a Cliff Notes version of bottling travel time. I wanted to make a few pointers about the list given below. I currently own a Sony A6000,  but as they say, the best camera is the one you have with you. So this could be a point and shoot, DSLR or a mobile phone. When I refer to the “media” associated with a category of photos/videos, I mean just that. It is the medium or media that you want to broadcast your memories ( post-processed  or otherwise ) onto.

Photos

Scenario  -  Scenic / Picturesque / Still 

  • Device : Sony A6000
  • Media  : 500px, Instagram

Scenario - On-the-go / Spur-of-the-moment aka No time to setup

  • Device : iPhone / Android
  • Media  : Instagram

Videos

iPhone

Scenario - On-the-go video capture/Short and Impulsive/of-the-moment( Audio required )

  • App : iPhone/Android camera
  • Media  : Youtube( VLogs )

Scenario - Stitching  moments (Audio required)

  • App : Vine
  • Media : Vine / Instagram

Scenario - Creating short timelapse (No audio required)

  • App : Hyperlapse
  • Media : Instagram

Scenario - Broadcast location and activity (Audio required) 

  • App : Periscope
  • Media : Periscope

Sony A6000

Scenario - Scenic/ Still  video capture 

  • App     : Camera video
  • Media  : Youtube

Scenario - Long timelapses 

  • App : Timelapse app
  • Media : Youtube

GoPro

Scenario - Action / Motion 

  • App    : Camera video
  • Media : Youtube

Location based logging

  • Swarm
  • Moves ( Or some other motion tracking app )
  • Writing a travelogue ( Book )
  • Writing a travelogue online ( Blogging/Vlogging online )
  • Wayn ( Social networking for travellers )

Collecting memories 

  • Ticket stubs
  • Postcards
  • Magnets
  • Maps
  • Passes
  • Money
  • and on and on and on…

If you want to see what other  people, a lot more savvy than me, are doing about their travel plans, you should visit here That is all she wrote. As I mentioned before, I do not consider this an exhaustive list, by any stretch of the imagination. As I come across more useful tools/gadgets/methodologies, I will try to encapsulate the moments of my trips in the most felicitous ways possible.

Until the next time,

Happy Traveling!