Travel Tips: Photography Friday, Week 10

With summer upon us, it seemed like an appropriate time to talk about a few tips for your vacation photos.  In fact, a lot of you may take more photos while traveling than you do at any other time of the year.

First of all, a little preparation is key.  How much gear do you want to take with you?  Will you want to carry a lot with you at all times?  Will there be a place to store your gear safely without risk of theft when you don't want it with you?  Are you better off with all your lenses or one good multi-purpose lens?  Do you want to have a pocket camera with you for the moments you can't have your full size DSLR with you?  How many memory cards do you need?

Many of these questions need to be answered individually depending on your personal needs and desires for your trip.  I have a few suggestions, however, and you can decide whether my suggestions are applicable to you.

First of all, I always carry a pocket camera with me everywhere I go in addition to my "better" camera.  Second, memory cards can go bad and I always have at least one more with me than what I think I'll need.  It's often safer to split the photos you take onto multiple cards in case one goes bad.  That way you don't lose all your photos.  

If I take multiple lenses with me, they are almost always zoom lenses vs. prime lenses so I have more flexibility when shooting.

In addition, I always have a back-up, fully charged, battery.  I learned this is a necessity a long time ago and I strongly suggest you take my learnings to heart.  (Obviously you don't want to forget to bring chargers for both your DSLR and pocket camera batteries also.)  Having the necessary items to clean your lens(es) is a must also.  You never know when dust will get on your lens and ruin your photos.

Depending on how much equipment you have, there are other items you might also want.  For instance, a tripod can make the world of difference in the quality of your photos.  Reflectors, filters, flashes, etc. are all items you might want to bring also.

I'll be honest, my bum arm means I travel light.  I wish I had two working arms and could bring all my gear when I travel, but it's not something I can handle pain-wise.  Sometimes I only bring a good multi-purpose (18-200mm) lens, my external flash and not much else.  If I'm traveling with friends who are willing to help me out, I bring more.  

Here is a list of other travel photography tips for you to consider:

•  The best light of the day for shooting photos is in the early morning (sunrise) and late evening (sunset).  Low-light situations are also when you want to have a tripod with you for best results.

•  Make sure you capture the local people at your destination.  Often the very character of a city is found in the faces, clothing and jewelry of the locals.  (People also give a sense of scale to your photos of landmarks.)

•  Famous landmarks are famous for a reason – don't forget to shoot them.  If you can find an original angle/perspective that's awesome.  If not, you'll still be glad to go home with shots of the famous sights.

•  Take some shots of the local food.  Are you trying out a regional dish?  Are you wandering through a local Farmer's Market?  The local food can make for great shots.

•  Go high or go low …!  What I mean by this is, your photos will be more interesting if you aren't always shooting straight at the center of interest.  Get up above it and shoot down or try getting below it and shooting up.

•  A polarizing filter is handy for seascapes or other photos of water where reflections might be a problem.

•  So the weather's not perfect?  That can be a good thing!  Clouds, mist, fog, rainbows, etc. can make for stunning photos.  Yes, you need to protect your gear from moisture, but if you do, you just might be rewarded with some great shots.

•  Nothing ruins a camera faster than sand – be extremely careful if you take your camera to the beach.

•  Extreme temperatures are not your camera's friend.  If you're at a hot location, try to keep your camera in the shade as much as possible.  If you're at an extremely cold location, try wrapping your camera to keep it warmer.

•  Photograph signs.  Advertisements, restaurant and road signs, etc. are often unique to a location and can add a lot of interest to your photos.  (I have a photo of the sign outside a Chinese restaurant in New York which read Fu King Chinese Food.  It still makes me laugh years later.)

•  Don't be afraid to take vertical shots.  A lot of people take all their photos horizontally, but many scenes are better shot with your camera turned vertically.

•  Close ups of your travel documents, passport, airline tickets, and event tickets all make for great photos.

This list should give you a lot of beginning tips for photographing your travels this summer.  

I know I've been busy lately and a little remiss at uploading my own photos, but I hope you will continue to share yours on our Flickr account.  (I'll get caught up myself soon!)

© Twenty Four At Heart

6 Responses to “Travel Tips: Photography Friday, Week 10”

  1. WebSavvyMom

    –>Great tips! I agree that people in pictures make shots much more interesting.
    Not sure what a polarizing filter is but I am quite certain I don’t have one. ha!
    Also, I’m going to try to get some firefly pictures for you this weekend.

  2. Jan

    All marvelous tips! Which reminds me to make sure I have extra memory cards and that I need to buy a backup battery – there’s going to be lots to photograph this summer!

  3. Ginger

    Thanks for the tip, as always! I’m going on a little road trip Monday to drive the gorgeous Blue Ridge Parkway in NC, and I’ll be taking lots of photographs! (Who am I kidding? It’s ALL I’ll be doing!)
    Do you have any suggestions on how to get good photos while riding in a car? My husband (for some reason) refuses to pull over at every mile marker.

  4. Anne Gibert

    I like the idea of taking pictures of signs. I wish I had a photo of the sign on a junk yard in Florida I saw some years ago. It was, in large red letters: “EDIFICE WRECKS”.

  5. Barrie Summy

    thank you for the tips! I never thought about bringing an extra memory card. Now I’ll pack one. 🙂


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