1 November, 2012

Scouting Venice Italy with the Joby UltraFit Sling Strap

Venice, Italy – Using The Joby UltraFit Sling Strap to scout and shoot one of the most beautiful (and crowded) cities in the world.

Visiting Venice, Italy as a photographer can be both an amazing and frustrating experience. While there is a wealth of color and texture at every turn, there are also huge crowds of visitors filling the narrow streets, making it somewhat difficult to move around with too much camera gear in tow.


In most European cities—Venice being a prime example of this—I try to do the bulk of my shooting during the early morning hours, well before the main crowds of the tourists hit the streets. Then, when things become too congested, I change to a lighter camera configuration to scout new locations that I return to at a later time, either to minimize crowds or catch the best lighting scenarios.

While scouting I like to use a lightweight and efficient camera configuration so I can easily maneuver through the crowds and not get stuck at a snail’s pace. Get in, find the spot, grab a few test shots, and off you go – on to the next one. Besides, the less time you spend stuck in the crowds, the more time you have to enjoy simply being in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. In Venice, I would suggest trying some of the local wine. 🙂


The Joby UltraFit Sling Strap

2012 marks my 5th photography visit to Venice and for this trip I picked up the new Joby UltraFit Sling Strap. I knew that with only 5 days to shoot this year I needed to become a super efficient scouting ninja. During my visit, I used a few different setups, depending on where (and what) I was shooting.

The Joby UltraFit Sling Strap gave me all the flexibility and comfort that I needed. It’s easy to configure and intuitive to use. The build quality is also extremely solid, including not only the strap and buckles but also the camera attachment point. It’s lightweight, compact, and very well suited for travel photography. Oh, and let’s not forget that it looks sharp too!


Photo Credit: Naomi Locardi

The UltraFit Sling Strap also helps liberate you from bulky and heavy camera bags. I find that I’m more likely to explore an area thoroughly when I’m not weighed down by my gear. Having a camera at my side with quick and intuitive access really helps me to get the job done.

For a casual scouting session, I generally use a Sony NEX-5 with a 16mm f/2.8 lens attached. This is pretty much my “take everywhere” camera no matter what I’m doing or which city I’m exploring. Attached to the sling strap, the weight is nearly invisible and with one quick motion, you can have it held up, in position and ready to shoot. Joby-strap-closeups


Scouting and planning your shots

Scouting is absolutely essential when planning early morning and blue hour photography. During these lighting scenarios, there really is no time for error. Having a location preselected helps ensure that you will get the shot. Street lights also turn off at a specific time and if you miss it, you can lose the shooting opportunity for the entire day.

Scouting can not only save time but it can also save your back. With many shooting days in a row, camera gear can get heavy fast. If you scout your locations first, you can minimize the amount of wandering around with heavy bags.

Venetian Blues | L’Isola di San Giorgio Maggiore


Scouted Shot (shown right)

One of my main objectives for this trip to Venice was to get a good shot of San Giorgio Island, so I spent a good portion of an afternoon scouting the area thoroughly and looking for a nice spot for a long exposure.

You can see that there are many areas to shoot from. I spent quite a bit of time testing various compositions until I found a spot that had the right amount of compositional balance.

Final Shot (shown below)

Thankfully it was a calm and quiet morning and since I already had this spot in mind, it was easy to set up and shoot. It’s a good thing too because just as I finished up, a large garbage barge pulled into this boat slip. Learn how this photo was created: Venetian Blues.

Before the sun rises, all alone, and overlooking San Giorgio in the timeless city of Venice.

Ponte dei Sospiri (Bridge of Sighs)

Venice-Italy-Scouted_Bridge-Of-SighsScouted Shot (shown left)

An added bonus of this trip was shooting the Bridge of Sighs, which has been covered with scaffolding every time I’ve visited Venice. I scouted the area and decided to shoot it during AM Blue Hour for the best lighting.

This vantage point is very simple but also very crowded, especially during regular daylight hours. Squeezing through with my Joby Sling Strap / NEX-5 combo made things very simple.


Final Shot (shown below)

I knew exactly where to stand and when to shoot. There were a few other photographers standing with me, side by side. Lean more about how this photo was created: Ponte dei Sospiri

A morning view of The Bridge of Sighs, one of the most famous briges in Venice.

Beyond The Rialto | The Grand Canal

Scouting locations isn’t just about selecting the right spot, it’s also about getting a feel for the environment. I find that the more time I spend walking around, the more I understand how to capture the best moment in time. Lean more about how this photo was created: Beyond The Rialto.

As the sun sets over The Grand Canal in the timeless city of Venice.

About the Author

Elia Locardi is an internationally acclaimed professional travel photographer, videographer, Fujifilm Global Ambassador, writer, public speaker, and highly skilled educator who spends his life shooting some of the most beautiful locations in the world.


As featured by Professional Photographer MagazineCNet Australia,, Wacom USA, and Fstoppers, Elia has built an engaged social media following of nearly 3 million people across FacebookGoogle+TwitterInstagramYouTube, and Snapchat. Due to the years of dedication and genuine openness with his audience, he has become one of the most followed photographers in the world.


Location independent since March of 2012, he and his wife live a 100% mobile lifestyle, perpetually traveling from country to country, continuously circling the globe. Since he began traveling full-time in 2009, he has visited more than 55 countries, flown over one million miles, and collaborated with major companies, brands, countries, and tourism agencies all over the world.


Using a combination of traditional in-camera techniques, targeted times of day, and advanced post-processing methods, Elia has developed a widely recognized and highly unique style of photography that has become well known around the world. With each photograph, his goal is to share his vision so others can see the world as he does, full of color, texture, beauty, depth and emotion. Many of his photos have been used in some of the most widely circulated publications in the world including National Geographic.


Throughout the journey, he shares the Art of Photography on many different websites including his popular blog, blamethemonkey.com, teaches post-processing workshops worldwide, speaks at major international photography conventions, and is proud to be one of the founders and leaders of Dream Photo Tours.

  • Simply a great article with such a vibrant memories captured beautifuly, keep it up my friend 🙂

  • love it Elia! these “behind the scenes” insights are interesting, thanks for sharing! great images too (but that goes without sayin’)

  • Brilliant. Now, if only getting up for the morning blue hour wasn’t such a pain… 😉

    • Well, I always hate getting up early but I’m always happy that I did. Keeping that in mind helps a lot.

  • I used a Black Rapid strap for a while. I wanted so badly to love it, because, in theory, it was awesome. I tried and tried to get used to it until I finally ran screaming back to my neck straps. I’m glad you are able to enjoy yours. Thanks for sharing the “behind the scenes” stories.

    • Thanks for the review, Elia! @Cheryl, we designed our UltraFit Sling Straps to address a lot of the annoying things we were encountering with our camera straps (camera swaying around, requiring two hands to work it all the time, too bulky, didn’t conform to where you wanted to secure your camera, etc.) So, this was our spin on how a camera strap should work. We have a female version of the strap on our site too (http://joby.com/camera-straps/ultrafit-sling-strap-for-women/). We also have a wrist strap that you might be interested in too, the 3-Way which transforms from a wrist to neck to shoulder strap (http://joby.com/camera-straps/3-way-camera-strap/) If any of you have any questions, please let us know!

      • Cool. I’ll research it a bit and maybe give it a try. Thanks for the info.

    • Cheryl, I’d give the UltraFit a try. Personally, I love mine. The only issue is that my wife always steals it from me. 😉

      • Funny. 🙂 The one thing I see on this that I didn’t like about the Black Rapid either is that it attaches to the bottom where the tripod mount would be. I like being able to slap my camera on a tripod when needed, and of course, can’t do that easily when it’s attached to the strap. Just me being picky, I suppose. 🙂

        • Cheryl, do you have an L-plate for your tripod head? I never take mine off the camera and when I use a strap, I screw it to the alternate attach point (on the L-plate.) When I want to use a tripod, it only takes a few seconds to unscrew the strap.

          • No, I don’t have and L-plate. Hadn’t thought of that. Might be a good wish-list item for Christmas. 🙂

  • Pingback: How to Scout in Crowded Cities, plus UltraFit Sling Strap Review! – Joby Blog()

  • Susana

    Elija –

    WOW! Love the photos. Thank you for the review on the Joby UltraFit. I came across it while trying to research the “perfect” bag. I’ve since abandoned the bag idea. As you’ve stated above, it’s so much easier to get around when you’re not weighed down with equipment as you scout locations. I’m looking for a local photo shop in my area so that I can actually try one out to be sure it fits etc. (I’m 5’2). I probably would have ordered it a few hours ago.


  • Ranjan Kumar Mandal

    Hi, Elia, to start with I must say that I am feeling jubiliant to watch out the above photos ! I need a help from you. I shoot events & weddings. I also love wandering in rural India on weekends to capture rural life shots. Now recently I am feeling pain on my neck due to long time hanging of the DSLR(Nikon D7100) on its kit neck strap that came with the camera. I am planning to get a Sling Strap to replace the existing neck strap. Will that be a better option? If yes, then I am a bit scared of hanging my camera with lens like 70-300mm VR on the tripod mount. Shall I get the JOBY Pro Sling Strap that comes with a camera tether for added safety? What is your experience regarding the actual difference between the BLACKRAPID Sling Straps & the JOBY ones? Please suggest.