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Monday, March 26, 2007

Ultimate Travel Photography

Camera techniques to help you shoot like a pro on your next photo adventure

Ultimate Travel Photography

Beryl Markham begins West with the Night, her wonderful and enthralling book about her adventures as a bush pilot in East Africa in the mid-1930s, with the question, "How is it possible to bring order to memory?"

Well, having recently returned from coleading a weeklong photography workshop in Kenya with nature photographer and past president of the North American Nature Photography Association, Darrell Gulin, I completely understand that feeling of "bringing order." Now I have almost 2,000 more RAW files, captured on my 2 GB and 4 GB memory cards, to sort through on my hard drives. (I back up my files on hard drives in my office and in my home, and I start up those drives every few months to keep them in good working order.) Fortunately for me, as a totally digital photographer since 2001, digital technology has made it easy for me to bring order to my pictures-on site (whether local or abroad), on my laptop and at home on my desktop system.

1 Stay Organized In The Field

While in Kenya, after each morning and afternoon game drive, I powered up my Mac PowerBook G4 and used Adobe Bridge to view and sort my images. So, at the end of each day when I zipped my tent closed (to keep out curious wildlife) and was asleep before my head hit the pillow, I had already selected my "keepers," located in folders named "Day 1," "Day 2," etc., and was ready to start fresh the next morning at 5 a.m., when our group was awakened for its next adventure.

I wasn't alone. Most of the workshop's participants were downloading their files (mostly RAW files from 2 GB and 4 GB memory cards) and were checking out their pictures, too. Sitting in our "computer room," among our laptops, cameras, lenses, card readers, power strips, iPods, digital projector and chargers (using, we jokingly guessed, half of the electricity in the Maasai Mara), we all agreed that digital cameras make it easier to get good pictures on site, that digital cameras are "great teachers," thanks to the information that's available on the camera's LCD monitor, and that the digital darkroom makes it easier to sort and edit pictures just moments after a photo session.

I'd like to share with you some additional tips and techniques that I used with the workshop participants-going back and forth between technical methodology and practical camera techniques.

Note that all the images you see here started out as RAW files and were enhanced in Adobe Camera Raw and in Photoshop CS2, to some degree. Included in my enhancements is cropping. I always crop an image first, for two reasons: First, I like tight shots ("The name of the game is to fill the frame" is my favorite photo expression); and second, cropping out unwanted areas of a picture makes Levels and Curves adjustments more accurate because the software isn't evaluating the pixels you'll jettison anyway.



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