Travel to Peru and Machu Picchu

Whenever I travel, I like to take my camera along so I can record the trip experience.  My wife and I traveled to Peru September 2013.  Many wonderful memories came rushing back to me this morning as I was looking at the pictures again (March, 2014).  I write this blog to tell how I managed the process and perhaps there is something of value to another person traveling.

First, I must say that our trip was arranged by Uncharted Outpost and they did an absolutely wonderful job and we had excellent guides throughout the trip.  We flew into Lima and then on to Cusco.  We immediately traveled to the Sacred Valley via car and stayed at the Rio Sagrado.  From there we traveled by train to Machu Picchu and the town of Aquas Calientes.  From Aquas Calientes we took the Hiram Bingham train back to Cusco and then back to the States.

For those of you that just want to see the pictures, you find them on my here.  But here is a panoramic taken from the Sungate at Machu Picchu.  You can see Machu Picchu along the left 1/3 line and the peak just to the right is Wayna Picchu.  We were advised that the hike from Machu Picchu to the Sungate was easy whereas the hike to Wayna Picchu considerably more difficult.  Since we changed our plans and did not hike to Wayna Picchu, but only to the Sungate, I can not compare the relative difficulties.  Nonetheless, I believe the Sungate is the easier hike, but that does NOT mean it is easy.  It took my wife and I about and hour to 1 1/2 hours up and then about an hour down.  We were tired and our legs hurt.  IT WAS WORTH IT. 

The below picture is a composite.  It represents a combination of high dynamic range imaging (HDR) and panoramic imaging.  The camera was placed in the vertical position on the Mefoto.  I used a shutter delay of 2 seconds to minimize any shutter actuation motion.  Each panoramic view had three exposures (+1, 0, -1 EV) and there were either 3 or 4 panoramic views.  The HDR component was recombined first using Photomatix Pro and then I used Photoshop CS6 to recombine the panoramic as an example.  So the picture below represents 9 or 12 different pictures combined into one.

Sun Gate #2 HDR v2


During the 10 day trip, I took 3187 media assets: 635 were video clips and 2552 were still pictures.  In the table below, I summarize camera use

Camera       Total Pictures    Kept Pictures   Publically Displayed

Sony                 1105                 254                        74

D800 (24-70)       1409                 237                        126

GoPro                36                      5                            0

More pictures were taken with the D800, but fewer of them survived the review process (17% vs 23% for the Sony).  This number is distorted some because I use the D800 for HDR image or panoramics (both require multiple frames to achieve one final picture).  Lastly, more of the D800 pictures were publically displayed, but this is distorted by the fact that we took more personal pictures (not fit for public consumption!) with the Sony.  Overall, both cameras were extensively used and if you go to the picture gallery, you can try to guess which camera took the picture (in the upper right corner of the picture there is an info icon.


From my point of view, the Sony performs very well with adequate light and is a great walk around camera.  But if you want the best, the D800 is very hard to beat.


1. Nikon D800 with a 24-70mm f2.8

2. Sony Nex 5N with a 18-200mm f3.5-6.3

3. GoPro Hero Black

4. Nikon D800 with a 14-24mm f2.8--never touched this one during the trip

5. MacBook Pro Retina display with two 2 TB Western Digital Passport drives.  One drive was the primary storage device.  The second drive was partitioned into a bootable back up of the MacBook (about 512MB) and backup partition (1.5 TB).  I imported the pictures into a Aperture Library for each day or few days of shooting so I ended up with several Aperture Libraries.  Once imported, I would copy the most recent library over to the backup drive.

6. A Mefoto tripod.  I found the legs were ok, but the head was minimally up to the task of holding the D800 with lens.  In retrospect, I should have taken my Arca Swiss Monoball Z1 and attached that to the Mefoto base.

7. Miscellaneous: Multiple CF cards (8-128 GB), 3-4 batteries for each camera type, chargers, 2 USB 3.0 card readers and 3 cables, lens paper.

8. On the Machu Picchu segment of the trip, only the first three items, plus tripod, cards, batteries and chargers were taken as the train has an 11 pound bag limit.  No one seemed to be checking, but large bags might be challenged.

If you have questions, please feel free to email me.  Also you can see a similar analysis of my camera kit on an African Safari on my blog

A© 2011-2018 by Steven Seelig, Chicago Photographer                          630-561-6581