Sicily 2003 Homepage
About Travel Writing and PhotoJournalism in Sicily
Information  for Students, Sicily 2003
Sicily 2003 Itinerary
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Student Work, Sicily 003
Links to Websites about Sicily
Faculty, Sicily 2003

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

This page will grow throughout the semester. Check back when you have question to see if the answer is already here. If not, email Rick <> I'll answer it.......and probably put it here.


What type camera should I have (or buy)?
You should have a modern (auto focus, programmed exposure,35mm camera with the ability to override the automatic settings and a 35mm to 80mm zoom lens (or similar). "Point and shoot" cameras offer too little creative control to be of any use in a photography course. Beg, borrow, or steal a contemporary 35mm single lens reflex camera. You will learn more and take better photographs (well, in theory, anyway). If you are thinking of buying a camera (or, better yet, if someone has offered to buy you one!), I think one of the best values is the Canon Rebel series of cameras (GII, K2, Ti or T2 – the newest model). They are extremely well designed, have tons of features, can be used in full manual or fully automatic mode, and are very reasonably priced (all of them are under $300 w/lens).

Why can't I use my digital camera?
Digital cameras that are affordable are still not good enough for this course for several reasons.

1. They present storage problems when traveling because of the need for expensive memory cards to record a large number of high quality images. Furthermore, digital memory cards are susceptible to catastrophic failure at the whim of an electron. This could be ruinous on the Sicily trip.

2. Digital cameras (all of them) have deficient dynamic range (the ability to record a wide range of light values) which prevents them from recording all of the values in a sunlit daytime scene on planet earth. They perform like slide film from the 1950's.

3. Film is a very data-rich, stable, archive for photographic images. There is currently no safe and permanent way to store digital images. (CDs and DVDs have very limited life expectancy. Damage to a disk can render all of the contents useless. Damage a negative and you still have the other 35 images on the roll.)


Where can I get one of those handy table-top tripods?
If I don't have any left at the "giveaway" price of $6.00, I found them on-line at B&H Photo for $17.95. I have also seen them at Hunt's in Hadley.

What kind of film and how many rolls should I take to Sicily?
I recommend either Kodak or Fuji color negative film no faster than ISO 200. You could easily shoot 10-15 rolls. Don't forget that you have have it all processed when you get back.

Do I need a flash?
Not really. Flash photography is usually quite ugly. It allows you to photograph things in bad light, but the images will rarely be anything that you would want in your portfolio. The built-in flash on most modern cameras will work for those occasions when you just want a document or a snapshot of something.


Do I need a passport?
Yes! Do so immediately. (Northampton Post Office or the Amherst Town Hall) or go to the State Department's Passport Web page. You will need a certified birth certificate.

What if I'm not a U.S. citizen?

If you are not a U.S. Citizen, you must find out if you need a visa to enter Italy. You can call the Italian embassy to find out. Do this immediately!


3000 Whitehaven Street, NW - Washington, DC 20008
Tel (202) 612-4400 - Fax (202) 518-2154

When is our payment due?
You will need to pay for your travel package($1,465.95) right away when you return from winter break. There is a form for you to fill out in the Journalism Office and the payment will be sent to Durgan Travel Service. We don't have any flexibility here. your payment to UMass ($100) is due as well but we can be a bit more flexible with that if needed.

What will the weather be like in Sicily?
Hopefully, sunny and in the 60's (sometimes 70's). It could rain, although the rainy season is November through January. We change altitude a lot. On Mt. Etna it is cold. Layers are the best choice for clothing. Long live Polar Fleece!

How much spending money will I need?
This is a tough one. We feed you most of your meals and all of your travel expenses (air, hotel, ground transportation, etc.) are part of the price. You will definitely need $30 for tip money which I will collect before we go. (Our guides depend on tips for their survival and I can't let them be short changed by students who have spent all of their funds.) Beyond that, it depends on your social life and your need for gifts and souvenirs. You could survive easily with $100 - $150. Make sure you are able to pay for film processing and printing materials when you return.

How should I carry my money?
Don't carry a lot of cash. ATM cards work in Sicily. So do credit cards. Call your bank and tell them ahead of time that you will be using the card in Europe. Otherwise, the security program may block your transactions. Make sure your PIN is a number 6 or fewer digits. Traveler's checks are secure but hard to use. You could carry a few for emergencies, but your ATM card is more convenient for day to day use.


The Course

When does the course meet?
Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6:00 to (sometimes) 9:00 in Rm. 131 or Rm. 109 Bartlett.

Is attendance mandatory?


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