Travel Photography – Some Basic Resources

I have been experimenting for a while now with travel photography, and every time I go away I take hundreds of pictures. The most I ever took on a trip were 900+ pictures on my trip last year to Spain! After that experience I realized that almost 1000 pictures was a bit much and it took me a very long time to sort out my images.

Since then I have become more discerning, and I no longer snap away at everything that moves (or everything that’s stationary as well). But I still end up with a few hundred pictures after each and every one of my getaways. Fortunately, digital photography has made taking pictures easy, and the good thing is you can snap away and if you don’t like the picture, you just erase it. (But make sure you don’t erase the whole memory card, as my husband did after a fabulous first-time exploration of Paris….)

I am not much of a technical photographer (yet), I really rely very much on my camera’s basic all-round settings. The only thing I have experimented with recently is macro (close-up) photography with the help of my brother-in-law. I try to follow some basic photography rules, such as getting closer to my subject, adding depth to landscape shots by placing people, trees or animals in the foreground, keeping the camera steady, or putting the sun behind me. Other than that I pretty much just try to frame the shot, pull the trigger and see what happens.

Last year I even tried to experiment using people as subjects for my photos. On the island of Ibiza I saw a really interesting family of Gypsies – 3 generations including grandmother, a young couple and their grandchild – and I asked in the politest Spanish that I could muster, whether I would be able to take a picture of them. What came next totally surprised me: the older woman started cursing me out and shook her fist at me. It took me a couple of seconds to realize she was serious, and ever since that time I have become quite shy when it comes to taking pictures of strangers.

That shouldn’t deter you though. To help you improve your travel photography there are a large number of great resources on the web. Discussions cover topics such as whether to use regular film or digital photography, the types of subjects you can cover (animals, people, landscapes, architecture, plants, sports, aerial shots, underwater shots, etc.), techniques, techincal jargon and many more. In the end it doesn’t much matter, as long as you get out there and have fun while you document your travel experiences.

Travel Movies Take You There on Satellite TV

Can’t swing a big vacation this year? Grounded travelers have a variety of excellent travel-related programs to choose from, thanks to some memorable movies. Investing in a high definition TV screen may be your only prerequisite.

Have you ever watched a film that literally moved you, as in got you down to the travel agency to inquire about package trips to exotic destinations? Or perhaps it had a more subtle effect, causing you to long for the comfort of a small country town or the bustle of a big city. Many films are set in recognizable environments, and some have glorified that destination forever.

Take Woody Allen films, for example. A true New Yorker, his features capture not just the scenery, but the essence of New York City. From ‘Hannah and Her Sisters’ to ‘Annie Hall’ to the aptly-titled ‘Manhattan,’ Woody Allen has distinguished himself as the authority on New York City; from the grit to the noise to the attitudes to the fashion, he has documented the city for the past several decades. A favorite setting for filmmakers, New York is also portrayed wonderfully in other classic films, from ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ to ‘When Harry Met Sally.’

The magic and romance of Paris can be seen in 1979’s ‘Romance’ and the charming French film ‘Amelie’, while Rome was forever captured through Audrey Hepburn’s eyes in ‘Roman Holiday’. ‘Lost in Translation’ took us to Tokyo, while ‘Before Sunrise’ found viewers enjoying a beautiful summer day (and night) in Vienna. ‘Out of Africa’ gives viewers a glimpse of the rich beauty of eastern Africa.

‘The Endless Summer’ is a classic travel film, shot the world over, using marvelous beaches as its backdrop. In search of the perfect wave, young surfers globe-hop from Hawaii to Africa to Southeast Asia, soaking up rays and snapping photos of the stunning white beaches, palm trees, and rocky cliffs they spot along the way. Speaking of far-off beaches, remember the island from 2000’s aptly-titled ‘The Beach’?

The New Zealand board of tourism marked a sharp increase in the number of annual visitors over the past few years, and it’s easy to see why – ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy was shot on the dramatic landscape provided by the tiny island nation, glorifying the wondrous natural beauty of the place, best seen in HD. And who can forget ‘Whale Rider,’ a glimpse into the rich culture of New Zealand indigenous peoples, the Maori?

‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ has had a similar effect. Charting the overland travels of a young Che Guevara, the film, set to hauntingly beautiful music by Argentine composer Gustavo Santaolalla, captures the imposing beauty of South America and evokes the simultaneously lively and melancholic atmosphere of the continent. From the endless Argentine pampa to the glorious Andean fjords to the stark beauty of the Altiplano, ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ will give travelers the itch to get themselves moving south for winter. This is another one that should be reserved for vivid high definition screening – the details will truly pop.

Five Tips to Improve Your Travel Photography

The world can be an overwhelming sensory experience, filled with sight, sound and aroma designed to delight all of your senses. How do you capture that experience in a photograph? Most people don’t. Instead, they show their photos with an apology – “You had to be there.” Your job as a travel photographer is to take them there through your photos. So how do you make sure you come home with a killer shot?

Keep reading to discover five tips to unlock the secrets of how to take good pictures.

1: Know Your Gear

If you’re struggling to operate your camera, then you aren’t giving all of your attention to your composition. Make sure you know how to operate your camera. Forget about using those different modes that may have come with your camera. The problem with these idiot modes is that the camera is the idiot. It doesn’t know how to make a creative shot – it just averages everything out. You can’t rely upon these modes. Learn how to use the ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed to make your own exposure decisions.

Different focal lengths can change the way your subject appears. Practice before you go on the trip. Use a foreground subject and take photos at different focal lengths to see how it changes as you change focal length. Pay attention to the background, too.

2: Make a Shot List

There are surely images you want to capture at your destination. Plan ahead. Write down the scenes you want to capture. Imagine you’re taking a dream trip to Paris. Most people will expect you to come home with a shot of the Eiffel Tower, but there’s much more to the city. Include shops on the street, a bakery, your meals, a bottle of champagne or cup of coffee. Every destination has its marquee landmarks, but the soul is often found in little details.

Prioritize your list. You may not have time to get to everything on your list, Which ones are “must have” shots?

3: Work the Scene

If there’s one concept you need to accept, it’s this one: You’re going to take some lousy shots.

Don’t worry. Everyone does. There isn’t a photographer in the world who hasn’t made a bad composition. You have to work the scene until you find composition that works.

  • Walk around your subject
  • Try different angles
  • Get low on the ground
  • Get above
  • Shoot from far away
  • Shoot up close
  • Use a foreground element in your photo
  • Change your depth of field

4: Eliminate Distractions

Have you ever come across a wonderful scene, taken a photo, and felt that your shot didn’t capture the essence of being there? Trust your instincts.

It doesn’t mean that you’ve picked a bad location. Something made you stop to look. Your job is to work until you find a photo that captures the essence of that scene.

You may have too much in the photo causing distraction. It’s too busy, there’s something ugly in the scene, or people are walking around. Start looking for things to eliminate.

There are a number of ways to remove distracting elements and get to the core of your subject. Change your angle. Get tighter on your subject to fill the frame. Change your depth of field to blur distracting backgrounds.

Photographers don’t just snap one image and walk away with a golden masterpiece. Think about what made that scene interesting to you. Was it a shape, color contrast, the way the light falls on your subject? Concentrate on the core element that makes you appreciate your subject and then get rid of the stuff you don’t need.

5: Stop! Don’t Leave Yet

OK, you found an interesting scene or subject. You’ve walked around and think you captured an interesting photo. That’s great! It’s time to go on to the next one, right?

Not so fast. Take some time to look at your photos. Evaluate what you’ve captured and consider what you’ve missed. Chances are you may not be back anytime soon, so be sure you captured everything you wanted before you leave.

Is the exposure right? Think about the shots you didn’t take. If you shot in portrait mode, look for some opportunities in landscape mode. If you shot the whole scene, ask yourself if there are some detail shots that would complement it. Explore your subject from Grand to Granular. Little details can have as much impact as the big scene.

Remember to take plenty of pictures. It helps you discover new ways to interpret your scene and go home with the best shot you can make.