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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Destination Anywhere

From national parks to foreign lands, travel means new places and new sights for your camera. Here are tips on bringing home your best travel shots ever.

Big Cities
by Rob Sheppard

Big CitiesBig cities around the world offer a wealth of things to see and do. That's part of their appeal for photographers, too. Local people, architecture and night scenes make great subjects. You don't want to advertise your gear to potential thieves, however, so you have to be careful how much equipment you use at any one time.

The City Lens: Generally, a wide-angle to telephoto zoom is ideal. A single zoom in the 18-200mm range gives you a great deal of focal-length options for the digital SLR, yet keeps your gear to a minimum. If you plan to do a lot of night photography, you may need a shorter focal-length zoom range with wider maximum ƒ-stops that let you focus more easily and achieve faster shutter speeds at night.

The Compact Camera Alternative: Even some of the top pros are taking along pocket-sized digital cameras when shooting in the city. I know one National Geographic photographer who consistently travels with a pocketable, full-featured camera that takes a wide-angle accessory lens. Such cameras are less conspicuous in the street and don't look like "serious cameras," so you can often photograph in places that otherwise might be "off-limits," such as restaurants. Yet these cameras can offer excellent results.

Support: For a lot of city photography, you can shoot on the fly without extra camera supports. Just be sure you hold the camera for maximum stability—no one-handed shots or casually held, pocket-sized cameras (they get best results, too, when treated seriously).

For night shots, however, you usually need some support. A tripod is too conspicuous and hard to carry. Try a tabletop tripod braced against something solid like a bench or parking meter. Or check out THE pod, a bean bag with a tripod screw so you can attach it to your camera and easily brace it against a wall, fire hydrant or any other solid object.

Carrying Gear: When shooting in a big city, the last thing you need is a big camera bag or backpack that's hard to maneuver through crowded city walks and makes it a bit too obvious that you're a photographer. Keep the big bag locked at the hotel, then carry your gear in a black, inconspicuous shoulder bag only large enough for a minimum of gear.

City Gear

• 18-200mm zoom

• Night Zoom: 18-50mm ƒ/2.8 zoom

• Compact digital camera with wide-angle capabilities

• Tabletop tripod or bean bag with tripod screw


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