Monday, July 11, 2011
Ten Summer Vacation Photo Tips—07/11/11
How to get great pictures without ruining your family’s trip
|This Article Features Photo Zoom|
1. If you're a landscape shooter, getting up early has always been standard operating procedure. The same goes while you're on vacation. Rather than making your traveling companions wait in the car while you make midday landscapes, get up early and go do your shoot on your own time. Back in time for breakfast you'll be ready to resume the family vacation before anybody notices that you're gone.
2. There's no reason your "artistic" photos can't double as vacation photos, too. Certainly, there's a fine line between adding a few interesting shots to the mix and coming home without snapping a single picture of your kids, but the point is you don't have to fear making an artsy image. It will add to your photo album in the end, so don't worry about taking pictures like this. They add the local flavor and details that can make your photo album even more special.
3. Your vacation is supposed to be fun. For everybody. It's one thing to spend a few minutes shooting an interesting shot on your way to dinner, it's entirely another to make everyone wait forever while you try to fulfill your creative vision. Nobody wins when you turn a fun day into a stressful photo shoot. You're taking way too much time from your family, and not nearly enough to really do your shot justice. So really—keep it in perspective.
4. When doing the family photo in front of the scenic object, it helps to put a little distance between the family and the object. For example, if you're trying to get a shot of the kids at the Eiffel Tower, don't wait until you actually get to the Eiffel Tower. Then you'll have a shot of your children by a hunk of indeterminate steel. For something that large, a block away (or even more) creates a distortion of scale that actually shows the recognizable subject in the background. For smaller subjects—maybe smaller buildings, for instance—you don't have to get so far away, but the principle remains the same. A little bit of distance creates the perfect perspective to see both your family and the notable object they're standing near.
5. Strike the perfect balance of too much and not enough. Less is more, especially when it comes to traveling with photo gear. But you also want to make sure you've got everything you need. So how do you strike that ideal balance? Make sure you're not duplicating lenses (if you've got a 24-70, for instance, maybe leave the prime 50 at home), take a backup battery but not more, carry a compact camera instead of your big DSLR, and take a smaller bag rather than a big old backpack full of gear. The alternative means you'll be bogged down by stuff that might actually prevent you from getting out and taking more pictures.
7. Don't forget the lighting basics. Magic hour is still magic, so find yourself somewhere photogenic when the light is at its best. Midday is a tough time to shoot, so plan indoor shots (or nonphotographic vacation activities) when the outside light isn't cooperative. Fill flash can really help to shoot indoors too, but flash on camera is rarely awesome. Get the flash off the camera for better light and better pictures, and be ready with a fill flash for even outdoor shots. Since you may be seeing some sites in major museums, be aware that some museums frown on camera flashes. Remember you can boost your camera's ISO to get better pictures when the light isn't bright.
8. Even boring things might be great memories once you're back home, so please do shoot away. Photograph the simple things—like hotel rooms and restaurants and the mundane moments—that are as much about most vacations as exotic destinations and world history. They often make more interesting photographs, and I know they really add interest to vacation photo albums.
9. Take a tripod workaround. Nobody wants to trudge through vacation lugging a cumbersome tripod on the off chance they'll need one for one random shot. Still, you'll want to be able to steady your camera for evening shots and landscapes. How about carrying a pocket-sized tripod, or a beanbag that can steady your camera on any solid surface? If you really want to travel light, learn how to use a backpack or jacket as a rudimentary camera base. The effect is the same—sharp pictures—but the burden is entirely different.
10. Remember to set the scene with photographs. Wide-angle views may not always be the most engaging images, but they'll provide more context for your vacation memories. With a wide-angle shot you can see where your favorite spot was in relation to the rest of the location. Or maybe it's just what the people looked like on the crowded streets, or the general vibe of a place when seen with more context. There's a lot to be said for scene-setting wide-angle pictures, even if they aren't prize-winning creations. And heck, there are plenty of times when the wide angle actually is an awesome photograph too.