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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A Photographer's Guide: Getting Ready To Travel

Follow these tips to help you plan your next photography trip, so you‚’ll be ready to get the shot

Layer MasksThis Article Features Photo Zoom

Umin Thonze Pagoda, Sagaing, near Mandalay, Burma (Myanmar)Grizzly Bear, Lake Clark Park, Alaska
Weather is often misunderstood when it comes to landscape photography. Rain, clouds and lightning often go hand in hand and provide some of the most exciting landscape photographs. For example, I love traveling to Botswana in November because the rains are just starting and there’s lots of lightning. Bear in mind that rain can also dramatically change the quality of light. Prior to a rain, the sky may be diffused or even hazy, providing a soft light for dramatic shots, while afterward the same scene may be lit with a harsh contrasty light.

Weather Tools. The good news is that weather information is both more plentiful and more accurate today. Most weather and astronomical planning information is readily available online.

You normally can find out the average highs, lows and rainfall for a location before you arrive and get good five- and 10-day forecasts from sites like AccuWeather.com. Yahoo Weather (http://weather.yahoo.com) provides sunrise and sunset times, and the U.S. Naval Observatory (http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/RS_OneDay.php) provides complete sun and moon data.

Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, CaliforniaYosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California
A handheld GPS or astronomy software also can give you the direction of the sunrise and moonrise, so if you have a particular tree or mountain you want to frame with the sun or moon, you can pinpoint precisely when to be there before you even visit the location. Computer software like Starry Night (www.starrynightstore.com) can show you where the sun and moon will be, and help you plan for moonless nights to photograph star trails. A rule of thumb for including the moon in a shot is that the full moon always rises at sunset. Each day after that, it rises about 55 minutes later. So capturing a beautiful moon while you still have a little light from the sun is mostly a matter of picking one of the days near a full moon.

Knowing where the sun will rise can be equally important. I wanted a shot of a baobab tree in Botswana with the sun just peeking through its trunk. I was able to use my GPS to predict where the sun would rise and be there on the perfect day just as the light hit.


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