Tips & Techniques » Tips for Shooting Personal Travel Photography
|Visiting new places, such as the Ringling Museum of Art in Florida, can provide you with a plethora of interesting shots.|
We all like to travel and experience new places, environments, people, cultures, etc. Many times we are doing these things with our family and friends, which makes it all the more enjoyable. Professional travel photography is very stimulating, but it is also a lot of work. Capturing the best features of a new location and its 'feel' can be challenging. How can you accomplish this when you travel, so that your images look wonderful and recreate the experience for you and your viewers?
I recently took my cameras on assignment to Florida; let’s review some of my imagery and consider some of the things that I feel help convey the atmosphere of my outings.
|Take a photo of the signage as a quick visual reminder of your trip.|
Location, Location, Location
First, always take photos of signage. This will not only introduce the viewer to the locale without you having to explain it, but it also will help you remember where the trip took place when you look back 25 years from now. I like to shoot the signs, the entrance, the crowds, etc., to show all the stages of my trip. Make sure to look up, down and around all sides.
Variety is Key
Make sure to shoot different types of shots. Normally your eye will scan long shots of the environment, move in for more medium shots to narrow down your focus, and finally your eye seeks detail. Just as your eye utilizes different focal lengths, so should your photos. Long shots are those from a long distance away, showing the whole location. Medium shots are a little tighter, perhaps showing the interaction of people with the location, but only a few people at a time. Close-ups have tighter framing, focusing on specific details. Once you have taken the long and medium shots, you should concentrate on the details— this is where the eye eventually ends up.
|Here's a nice shot of a friend clowning around with old circus memorabilia.|
|A more serene shot of a friend at the beach.|
Make sure to take some fun shots of friends and family. Take advantage of overviews, cut-outs and the like, to show off your kids, spouse, mates, etc. Let them enjoy being in the environment. Take some photos that are posed, and some that are casual or candid. Try to take some images of yourself with your family and friends. This can be done with a wide-angle lens, the camera set to Autofocus if needed, with your arms stretched out in front of you and the camera aimed back at you and your subjects. Another effective way to accomplish self-portraiture with family and friends is to use your self-timer. Many digital cameras have self-timers that will give you a choice of time intervals—3 seconds, 5 seconds, etc. The longest of, say 5-10 seconds, is usually workable. Part of the fun is getting everyone all set up, then triggering the shutter, and everyone yelling at you to run into the frame, telling you where to go, shoving to make room for you, etc. This is also where I have unfortunately had a few accidents, like twisting an ankle and stumbling over a fence. Try to be a little more careful than I was; but make it fun.
|You may have to get up pretty early to catch wildlife on the move, such as this Florida scrub jay.
Let’s face it, the best pictures are made with the best light. By now, we all know that the best light is in the morning, say 7-10am, and in the early evening, say 5-7pm. So for the best photos, seek the best light. Sometimes you just have to get up early for the light. What you might also find is that this is a peaceful time in a big city. Or that this is when the animals are moving out in the country.
|Sunsets always make for beautiful and dramatic backgrounds.|
When shooting at sunrise, the light takes on different colors and qualities than when it is mid-day. Take advantage of this light. A peaceful walk in the woods in evening or a slow amble in the early morning in a city can be very special moments to capture—both photographically and experientially.
When shooting during a sunset, be prepared. Most of the time, the auto exposure programs will not really capture the sunset properly. So you may want to switch to Manual and experiment with ISO and exposures. Make sure to keep reviewing the images, because as the sun sets, the ISO and exposure will likely have to change as well.
Especially at sunset, make sure to shoot in all directions. Shooting into the sun will capture the variety of colors in the darkening sky. Shooting with the sun at your back will show the wonderful reds on your subjects or other objects, such as buildings and trees. Shooting with the sun to your sides will provide wonderful color-tinged highlights and shadows. When the sun is low, deep shadows will be created, which will make for interesting elements in your images. Be sure to include them in your photos. Also, try shooting a silhouette. Place your subjects with the sun behind them, and expose for the sky, not the subjects. This will provide a striking image of dark subjects with minimal detail, and wonderful color behind them.
|This long exposure of a multicolored hula hoop with lights made for an interesting and surreal image.|
When the sun goes down and the ambient light starts to die down, try long exposures for an unusual effect. Particularly look for light objects and lights—like a Ferris wheel or street lamps. Review the exposures as you shoot, and modify and experiment with longer or shorter exposures. Sometimes these impressionistic images can more truthfully tell the story.
Special thanks to the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, VisitTampaBay, the Ringling Museum of Art, the Mote Aquarium, Big Cat Rescue, the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary, The Florida Aquarium and the Tampa Bay History Center.
Follow the light…f-stop