Leave it behind and do without!
When opting to travel light on your holiday, there are a few skills and techniques that will make up for the lack of certain key items. There may be a quality implication at times, but that may be the sacrifice you have to make. After all, the main reason that professional photographers carry so much heavy glass, tripods, flash, reflectors and filters is to get the utmost quality, even when images from a 36Mp camera are viewed at 100%. Not all photographers need this quality, especially if images are to be viewed online, or printed to relatively small sizes. Ultimate quality in all circumstances might take time and equipment, but you can still shoot imaginative, engaging and creative pictures with the minimum of kit.
Two legs not three
The single biggest item that you can leave behind is your tripod. These have traditionally been seen as vital for night photography and even panoramas, but with a little care over your technique you can avoid the weight, and of course the time to set it up. There are some shots that you won’t be able to shoot without a tripod – star trails and super-long, water fall-blurring exposures, for example – but with the excellent high-ISO capabilities of modern cameras you should be able to photograph in even the gloomiest interior.
Work hard on your technique as well, to minimize the chance of camera shake. Use Vibration Reduction (VR) if your lens has it. Squeeze the shutter release gently, bracing yourself against a wall or pillar if you can, and take a few shots in succession, ready to pick the best one – in effect bracketing against camera shake.
The actual maximum ISO that you can use will depend on which Nikon you have, so run a few tests at home to see where you
draw the line. Remember that camera shake will ruin a shot far more than high-ISO noise, especially at smaller reproduction sizes.
If you’re shooting panoramas without a tripod, you may need to modify your technique. As it is harder for the software to line up the shots, you should shoot quite a bit wider than if you were using a tripod, and overlap each frame by at least 50%. This gives you a greater margin for error. Shoot with the camera vertical to maximize depth and minimize distortion, and take a couple of versions, so you can keep the one which works the best.
Night photography is especially popular when photographing a city break, but even this can be done without a tripod if you photograph at dusk, when there is still some light in the sky. Photographing in this so-called blue hour can render skies a deep blue, or even shades of pink and purple following the sunset. If you are handholding at a relatively slow shutter-speed then avoid using the telephoto setting as this will magnify any camera-shake. Using a higher ISO will result in slightly noisier images, but this can be minimized by applying noise reduction when postprocessing your images.
ABOVE LEFT Popping your Nikon on a balcony can enable you to use slower shutter speeds for night photography
ABOVE RIGHT Shoot during the blue hour, and there’s enough light in the sky to get away with handheld shooting