Adding Pizzazz to Vacation Shots
Whoever said "Getting there is half the fun" must not have been a photographer. You can bet you life he never carried two or three cameras, four or five lenses, a light meter, a tripod, and a dozen rolls of film-all while juggling a baby, diaper bag, and airplane tickets in one hand.
Ahh, but getting those once-in-a-lifetime vacation shots needn't be all that much hassle. As with most things in life, photography-on-the-go gets easier with actice. Still, there are a few tips you can follow to help make the task a little easier-and a lot more fun.
Before beginning your trip, make sure you're familiar with all of your photo equipment. Read all of the instruction manuals carefully and practice loading, unloading, and shooting. Take a roll or two before you begin your trip to assure that both you and your camera are functioning properly. Take a few electronic flash shots, too, to be certain your flash unit is functioning properly.
If it's been a year or longer since the camera battery was replace, change it. There's no sense running the risk of having your camera shut down miles from the nearest photo store. And bring along an extra set of flash batteries, to--just in case the originals decide to run low when you need them the most.
Carry a wide variety of film on your trip, too, including a few extremely fast rolls with an ISO rating of from 1,000 to 1,600 for shooting in really low light. They'll enable you to photograph at shutter speeds fast enough to eliminate the need for a tripod. Also, many photographers like to bring a second camera along with them on trips. Two cameras are better than one for a number of reasons. Should one camera malfunction or be damaged in transit, you'll always have a spare to back you up.
And you'll take more photos from more points of view if a second photographer in the family is busy shooting away at your side. No two people see a subject the same way. A second perspective will lead to fresh new insights on your subjects. And don't discount the kids, who are capable of taking some pretty good photographs of their own-especially with today's easy-to-use auto-everything cameras. You'll be ensuring your success, doubling your photographic coverage, and spreading the job of photography around by letting others in the shooting. And, finally, never send unprocessed film through airport metal detectors, which can damage or even destroy the images. Instead, carry it in a see-through plastic bag and present it to the security attendant for hand inspection.
Here are a few more tips to help you take better vacation shots. Look for unusual settings. Offbeat subjects (like a close-up of the sun sparkling off a cluster of California grapes clinging to the vine) often make intriguing and visually stimulating variations to traditional people-and-place photos. Don't be afraid to leave the well-beaten paths to the other tourists while you set out to find the back alleys and little-traveled roads that may lead to fantastic photos. Just leave a trail of bread crumbs (or carry a local map) to find your way back.
Approach common subjects from an uncommon point of view. Everyone traveling through the American Southwest stops for a photo of the giant saguaro cactus. But not many take the shot from the ground looking up. That has the makings of a truly unusual and dramatic shot. You can achieve the same results with any tall subject-the Statue of Liberty, California's giant sequoias, etc.
Vary your camera angle. That's the angle from which you photograph a scene. Instead of standing on the roadside to photograph a country meadow and babbling brook, take off your shoes and socks and go wading. Stoop down for a shot of the stream from inches above its gurgling surface. The results are sure to be a pleaser!
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