Travel Photography Tips For Amateurs

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Travel Photography Tips
For Amateurs
Lion Cub, Tanzania, Africa
The purpose of this presentation is to give the amateur
photographer, like myself, useful tips designed to help enable
anyone to come back from vacation with impressive photos.
Modern digital equipment, when used together with these simple
suggestions, will allow the novice to produce superior work.
Tip Categories
The following is a list of the major categories covered.
These are the main points I have found to be the most
critical in capturing superior travel photographs. The
show will advance automatically. Clicking anywhere on
the screen will advance manually.
Focus
Magnification
Flash
Metering
Computer Editing
Conclusion
Focus
Focus is the most critical component of a good travel
photograph. Coming home with a stack of blurry photos
is disappointing. When in an exotic location seeing
something for the first time, we often get so excited we
shoot away without taking the time to stabilize the camera
to get crisp, clear shots. The following tips might help:
Take a deep breath and hold it prior to releasing shutter.
Lean against a solid object while shooting.
Use a tripod or a mini pocket tripod to brace camera on a
solid surface.
Use a monopod which doubles as a walking stick.
This tiny baby
turtle was
photographed
on an east
coast beach in
Costa Rica
using a
monopod on
the sand.
This allowed
for the sharp
focus
capturing the
details of the
soft shell and
skin.
Green Atlantic Sea Turtle, Tortuguero, Costa Rica
Maeping Elephant Camp, Thailand
This Asian
elephant was
photographed
using a monopod.
Notice how you
can see the
wrinkles in the
skin.
Baboon, Tanzania, Africa
This baboon was photographed using a monopod
from within a vehicle. Notice the fine texture of the
fur and the piercing eyes.
Magnification
Especially when photographing wildlife, my personal
favorite, magnification can make the difference
between an impressive photo of a magnificent animal
and a small dot lost in the landscape. The following
should be taken into account:
Camera stabilization is critical as small movements
will be magnified.
Use the maximum optical magnification available
with the particular camera.
Remember; digital magnification is “empty”
magnification. It will not add to the photo. The same
effect can be accomplished by using a computer to
crop the final image.
This leopard was spotted in a
far-off tree. Getting too close
might scare it off or be
dangerous. With a monopod
and a long telephoto lens, this
photo was captured.
This is one of my favorite Zebra
photos from Tanzania, taken with a
telephoto lens on a monopod from a
vehicle.
Leopard,
Tanzania,
Africa
Owl Butterfly, Peru
These two butterflies
from Peru are good
examples of high-power
close-up imaging.
Insects are excellent
subjects for this type of
photography.
Anole, Costa Rica
Small reptiles are also good
candidates for magnification.
Poison Arrow Frog,
Tortuguero, Costa Rica
These tiny poison arrow frogs
were photographed using a
monopod to stabilize the
camera as I got close enough
to get the magnification needed
to capture the blue feet.
Flash
Even outdoors, flash can make the difference between
a dull, underexposed shot and a vibrant photo.
Using flash on a shadowy subject on a sunny day,
also called “fill” flash, can light up dark regions of the
photo. This includes facial features.
Fill flash is extremely helpful when the sun is
behind the subject, creating shadows on faces, etc.
Fill flash will often lighten objects in the foreground
without affecting distant objects.
The details on
this albino bat
were made
visible using
fill flash. The
background is
slightly
overexposed,
but the main
subject is
nicely
illuminated.
Albino Bat,
Costa Rica
Shark
Swim,
Moorea,
Tahiti
Shadows were virtually eliminated in this
underwater shot of sharks feeding with fill flash.
Stingray,
Moorea,
Tahiti
Similar to the previous photo, the surface of this stingray along with the
attached lampreys is nicely illuminated with fill flash.
Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
This is one of my favorite examples of fill flash. Without it, the faces would be
dark and filled with shadows.
Metering
Metering refers to the mode with which the camera is
set to measure the light in a scene to determine the
correct exposure for the shot.
Automatic metering modes often average out all the
light in a scene to select the correct settings. This
can be desirable for landscapes.
Spot metering is invaluable when photographing
wildlife in dense vegetation. The camera will
measure the light in the very center of the frame to
correctly expose the subject.
Seal, Icy Bay, Alaska
This seal image was captured from a sea kayak using spot metering. As you
can see, the exposure appears correct for the subject, but the foreground and
background are washed out and not in focus. In this case, this acts to
accentuate the animal.
Frigate Bird,
Galapagos
Islands,
Ecuador
This Frigate Bird was photographed with spot metering. As you can see, the
background is overexposed, but the main subject is sharp and nicely exposed.
Sea Lion, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Spot metering allowed for proper exposure on the suede-like skin of this sea lion.
The sky is overexposed, but proper exposure of the clouds would have
underexposed the animal, making for a dull photo.
Vervet
Monkey,
Tanzania,
Africa
This example shows how spot metering can be effectively used to correctly
expose the subject’s face. Without it, the photo would probably be too
dark, and the monkey would be lost in the vegetation.
Computer Editing
Computer editing is used after a photo session is
complete to enhance photos.
“Cropping” can be done to select the part of the
photo desired, discarding the rest of the scene.
Brightness and contrast can be adjusted to
render a mediocre photo acceptable.
Multiple images of the same scene can be
viewed, selecting the best of the set and discarding
the rest.
Photos can be enhanced in any number of ways,
but I prefer only to work with cropping and
brightness.
Acoma, New Mexico
On the right, the wall has been cropped out
of the photo to restore the authenticity of the
scene. This is a simple procedure best done
on the computer. This eliminates the need to
spend time composing the perfect shot onsite when the desired composition can be
accomplished at a later date.
This is an unedited
photo taken at the
ancient Pueblo village
of Acoma, Sky City in
New Mexico. The
modern stucco wall on
the right side of the
image spoils the
scene.
Bat In Flight, Costa Rica
The image
One
night in
onCosta
the right
Rica,
isIalso
noticed
a good
a bat
example
circlingofour
cabin. magnification.
empty
I timed the passes,
Digital
and
enlargement,
took randomwhether
shots in
the dark
done
on the
withcomputer
a flash ator
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byappropriate
a camera that
intervals.
boasts I
didn’t knowdigital
enormous
I had magnification,
photographed does
anything
not add
untildetail
I
lightened
to
a photo.the
A photos
small unfocussed
on the computer
imageat
becomes
home, and
a
saw this
large
unfocussed
tiny image
image,
of a bat
butinnow
flight
theon
imperfections
one of the
frames.
are
more noticeable.
Cropping produced this
image. Although not very
crisp, it is still worth
examining. Without
computer enhancement, I
never would have seen
this.
Times Square, NYC
This photo taken in Times Square has trash piled
on the left and a bus on the right.
With cropping, these distractions
are easily removed.
Conclusion
With a little thought and practice, anyone can be a
good photographer using the modern digital
equipment available today.
Steady the camera to maintain sharp focus.
Use telephoto equipment, when appropriate, to get
maximum optical magnification.
Use flash, even in bright daylight, to eliminate
troublesome shadows.
Use appropriate metering for proper exposure,
especially spot metering when shooting a dark subject.
Rely on the computer for final composition and
enhancement of photos when necessary.
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