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Photo Tips

Photography Slide Show
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Although there is much information available about photography, I have found the following critical to taking good travel photographs:

  • Blurry pictures taken quickly while traveling are so disappointing.  Stabilize the camera when possible.  Tripods are good but usually awkward and slow to set up.  Try a mono pod, which can double as a walking stick.  These can be light, small and ready all the time.  Many walking sticks, or trekking poles, already have the connection on top for a camera.  A tiny mini tripod and a camera clamp can also come in handy.  The clamp can be attached to fences and trees, and the mini tripod can sit on car hoods, large boulders, tabletops, etc.  Worry about getting a sharp focus rather than a perfect composition.  The photo can always be cropped later on a computer to correct a faulty composition, but poor focus cannot be repaired.
  • If using digital, which I recommend, bring a large memory card of 1 or 2 gigabytes.  Each day you can erase the photos you don't want, and you should have more than enough room on the card for all the photos from most trips.  This way, you don't risk losing or damaging a memory card.  By the way, with digital equipment you no longer have to buy film and worry about it getting damaged by the x-ray equipment at the airport.
  • Have a small plastic bag handy to protect the camera in the rain.
  • Learn how to use your flash.  Some of my biggest photo mistakes result from not using the flash appropriately.  If subjects are back lit producing dark shadowy faces, use "fill flash" even on a sunny day to light up the faces.  You'll be surprised how this can improve people pictures.
  • If your camera offers "metering" mode options as many do, know the different modes of metering.  Metering refers to the way in which your camera averages the amount of light in a scene to adjust for the proper exposure.  Using the incorrect mode can result in photos that are too dark(underexposed) or too light(overexposed).  For example, if the subject is in a forest and their face is darker than the surrounding landscape, a typical automatic mode setting might average all the light in the scene to produce a dark picture in which the subject is lost.  Using the "spot metering mode" will adjust the settings for the object in the center of the field, giving the correct exposure for the subject.  Try it both ways and see the difference.  With wildlife photography, spot metering with a monopod is essential.
  • If using digital, don't always discard photos that are too dark or too light.  This can easily be fixed later on a computer.  Also when using digital equipment, shoot as much as you want.  You can erase what you don't want later.  I will often take around ten shots of an interesting scene and save the best few, deleting the rest.  Many times the last one taken is the best!
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