Notes From The Road...

by Steve Simon

I’m writing this from rural Mozambique, a small community called Machaze, where the only electricity is at the Oxfam office and is only on when the generator is humming.

So far my equipment choices have worked out well. Aperture is performing flawlessly. After each day’s shoot, I back up the managed library stored on my OWC bus-powered 200GB 7200RPM drive to a Western Digital USB2 160GB bus-powered drive.

This is working well, but you may remember from a previous post that I planned on using my Firewire bus-powered drive as a vault, which would have been much faster, but with one Firewire port on my older MacBook Pro, and no extra outlets on the drives—it can’t be done.

So as a result, it takes a couple of hours to back up my 95GB library into the vault, but I do this as I sleep so it doesn’t really slow me down.

The shoot has been going well. I’m using all the stuff that I brought, which makes me think I made the right choices. My Aperture Library is up to over 95GBs in just a week of shooting, but only now, do I have some time to go through the work and delete the un-usables.

I’ve been lucky that during this assignment we’ve always had a vehicle and driver at our disposal, as well as a secure base to leave my backpack. I was worried that I might have to lug all my belongings with me everywhere, but this has not been the case.

Working in available light meant holding steady and shooting a few frames and using the zoom and loupe features in Aperture. Home-based caregiver, Fernanda Joaquim, 30 looks out the window of her home. Photo Copyright Steve Simon

The heat and vibration from traveling to rural areas on really rough roads has loosened the rubber zoom ring cover, but the lens is still working great. If you read my previous posts, you know the list of stuff I brought with me. Some of my best choice of things to bring included the small LED flashlight that clips to my vest, which has proven invaluable during the many nights with no electricity. As have the mosquito nets, which I like to wrap myself in to keep out the many strange creatures I am cohabitating with.

The red dust or sand that blows up from the soil here have blanketed me and my equipment—but I have to say that the D2X and Fuji S5 have both worked fantastically to seal out this potential problem and both sensors have been relatively dust free. I have my Arctic Butterfly on standby, but have yet to call it into action. FYI—I have not taken the 17-55mm lens off the D2X nor the 70-200mm from the Fuji S5—two reasons perhaps for dust free sensors in dusty conditions.

Because we are shooting at all times of the day, and often not ideal lighting—I brought along my Nikon SB800 flash as well as my Quantum Turbo Battery Pack, which allows me to shoot quickly, with fast recycle times even at relatively small apertures like f8, 11 and 16 at mid-day. I have also enjoyed shooting inside the many small huts I was invited into. I rarely go over ISO 200 with my Nikons, yet I’m still able to get sharp, beautiful images at fairly slow shutter speeds—I just make sure to brace myself and shoot many frames. Later, using the loupe and Zoom features in Aperture, I’m easily able to pick out the sharpest frames.

HIV/AIDS Activist Samuel Doris Campira, 39 photographed in available light inside his home. Photo Copyright Steve Simon.


2007-09-13 08:13:22
Thanks for the great post... Fantastic images. Enjoy the trip.

Mihalis Tsoukalos
2007-09-13 10:03:05
Beautiful images!
Please post more images when you can.
2007-09-13 13:49:37
wow, that second image is really stunning! they're both good, but that one has a lot to it.