As I sit here in Pisa, Italy, I’m thinking a short column on travel photography is in order.
My first recommendation for a really important piece of equipment to take along with you is a good pair of shoes so you stay comfortable during the long walks you will be taking.
As for your photographic gear, it’s all too easy to get bogged down by trying to bring too much with you.
Consider where you are going and what kind of imagery you are planning to create. Packing more than you need creates difficulty in moving around and can cause issues with baggage allowances and so on.
Travel as light as you can, bringing only one camera body and minimal number of lenses.
Add a number of memory cards and a lightweight tripod, all packed into a durable camera bag.
The style of photography you will focus on during your vacation dictates your choice in lenses. If you only have space for one lens, something like an 18-200 will give a larger range, although not as pin-sharp as primes.
Wider angle lenses are better for scenic shots while the longer focal lengths work better for wildlife and for bringing subjects closer.
I usually travel with the 18-200 in my kit bag. However, the lens that is normally attached to the body is a very sharp 17-50, my preference for travel photography being landscapes and scenery.
I capture my images in RAW format so I have all the information I will need later on to work with them. (Those of you who have both RAW and JPEG Fine can use that setting.)
Make a point of downloading to your laptop every evening so you have enough space on your cards for the day’s photography and to protect what has been captured.
Take notes while photographing different locales. Names of buildings and areas can be invaluable when researching them later on.
Note your thoughts and feelings of the scene or people you are photographing, as well. This helps bring back the memories later on.
Get out and start walking around to find the inspiration you need to create memorable digital images of your trip.
Ask locals as well as the tourist information centre what they recommend for you to go see in their area.
When you arrive at destinations, take some time to look around.
After you take a few of the standard shots of the location (so you know you have some) look for different angles and spots to do some creative imaging.
Oftentimes great images are found by using something else to frame it or lead into it.
Think outside the box: lie on the ground, climb a bank, find some branches to frame the subject. Or find something completely different to photograph.
If creating environmental portraits is what you would like to do, having the self-confidence to be able to approach people to ask their permission is important.
The worst that can happen is they say “No” when asked.
If they don’t want it done, thank them and move on.
If they agree, then take a couple of images and show them the LCD screen so they can see what you are doing and you have a chance to ensure you captured what you wanted. (If they are having a good time and seem relaxed, take a few more.)
Always be respectful of local customs and beliefs. Remain friendly and calm to help your subjects to be the same. Above all, take care of your own personal safety.
How do you want to share your images with the world? After all, that is the point of creating them in the first place, right?
You can upload them to a photo-sharing site such as Flickr, Picasso, or a number of others to share with family and friends. Read the terms and conditions carefully to ensure you are not giving up rights to your images.
How about creating a slideshow to show to members of your community along with a narrative?
Consider entering some of the better captures in photo competitions (again, read the terms to protect your rights).