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Planning a photo trip is always enjoyable. The anticipation of what awaits is a good motivator to make sure a complete and thorough job gets done. This is true whether your travels have you escape the cold of winter or take you on the road on a summertime family trip. Being prepared is key to getting better images. Knowing what to expect and going with some preconceived ideas will allow you to immediately start collecting photo gems. Found below are some ideas to think about with regard to your travel photography.
Use A Zoom: I carry three lenses with me most of the time: a 12-24mm wide angle zoom, a fast 70-200mm 2.8, and my do it all 18-200mm. These ranges give me plenty of versatility and the fast lens allows me to shoot in low light. Good composition is a critical factor in creating a successful image, and zoom lenses afford me the freedom to quickly and easily adjust the amount of information I want. Additionally, based on what I anticipate I'll encounter when I go on a shoot, I can often go with just two lenses easing the weight and bulk.
Get Up Early: The word “vacation” conjures thoughts of sleeping in, relaxing, kicking back and taking it easy. But when the word PHOTO precedes it, all those luxuries get tossed out the window if you want to capture images taken at the sweet light of sunrise. With the sun low on the horizon, the colors are warm, soft and last only a short time. If you miss it, you miss some of the best shooting of the day. An added bonus is there are no crowds. You'll often find that the only people you'll run into are other photographers. If it's a family trip, plan on getting out early at least a few mornings so you can capture the world in this special light.
Show 'Em The LCD: Traveling to a foreign land is a favorite on many photographer's lists. Part of the lure is photographing the native people. Portraits that reflect their culture in addition to subjects in their environment often net compelling images. Break the ice between you and potential subjects by showing them the capture on the LCD. If you promise to send your subjects a photo, be absolutely sure you follow through.
Research: Preparation is key to getting better images. Know what to expect and go with some preconceived ideas to immediately collect winners. The Internet is a great source of information. Google your destination and click on the IMAGES button to bring up sample photos to see if there's anything that strikes your fancy. Travel books are available either on line or at your bookstore. They are a great source. Visit a local camera club and ask if anyone has been where you're headed. You'll more often than not find photographers who are willing to share what they know. In the accompanying image of the yucca at dawn, I planned my trip to coincide with the full moon as I wanted to play around with double exposures and place the moon in a strategic location in the sky.
Check The Postcards: As soon as you arrive at your destination, head to a shop where postcards are sold. You'll find some great photo ideas to add to your collection. They represent the iconic images of the area and may inspire you to get creative. As these locations are photographed often, it may be hard to do something new, but the postcards give you a foundation from which to work. I encourage you to put your own spin on it to give the standard shot a new twist. You may want to make a collage out of these images ending up with a single photo. Another idea could be to stitch them into a panoramic.
Pictures of Yourself: Some of us who travel do so for the exclusive reason to get great pictures. Some travel because it's enjoyable and if a picture is sold, it's a bonus. Some travel just to gain knowledge and education and have no intention of selling a picture. Regardless of the motives, what often happens to many travelers is they come back with cherished memories and lots of images of the scenery, architecture, people, and culture, but few, if any, shots of themselves. While it's nice to relive the experiences through photos you've taken, it's also special to have a few of yourself to heighten the memory. Be sure to do this. Set the camera on a tripod, engage the self-timer and run into the picture.