Tag Archives: flickr

10 Tips For Your Next Photo Trip

8 Mar

Planning to take photos on vacation or a business trip?  Here’s a checklist of ten items that might help you on your next photo excursion.

When planning a shoot, it’s important to research and prepare your gear.

1. Check the weather forecast The forecast will tell you two things: what clothes to take and what kind of light to expect.  On a recent trip to New Mexico, I knew it was going to be cold, so I purchased a pair of REI convertible mittens that allow me to use my fingers when shooting. The predicted skies also allow me to plan for different types of light.  If it’s very sunny, I’ll avoid the mid-day hours when it’s too bright.  The best conditions for photography are partly or mostly cloudy.  On partly cloudy days, I’ll shoot landscapes, and on mostly cloudy days, I’ll look for details or take portraits because the light is diffuse and more flattering.

2. Find out the time and direction of sunrise and sunsetMost travel photographers shoot during the “Golden Hours”: the half-hour before and after sunrise and sunset.  The light at this time has a golden hue and is less harsh than at other times in the day.  Warm hues are also more captivating to our eyes.  I use various tools to let me know the time and direction of sunrise and sunset.  This allows me to plan for how the light will fall on the land.  I highly recommend downloading The Photographer’s Ephemeris App for your computer or iPhone.  I don’t go anywhere without it.

3. Visit travel guide or visitor information sites.  I always Google the location and read travel information about the area.  First, it gives me an idea of what I can expect: the local culture, places of interest, and maybe special events or festivals that maybe happening while I’m there.  Before I went to New Mexico, I found several driving tours on a travel site, and they were definitely the best part of the trip.  Second, I’m able to make an itinerary and prioritize the areas that I’d like to see the most.

4. Look at photos of the area.  Go to Flickr and Google and browse for images of the area.  This usually gives me a sense of what the area looks like, and I specifically look for interesting subjects to shoot.  Although Flickr is a good place to start, I find the most helpful part of the planning stage is visiting local photographer’s websites.  Their portfolios give me a better idea of what’s actually possible than some of the more amateur photos on Flickr.

5. Print out maps of the regionAnother helpful aid is a topographical map, especially for shooting landscapes.  I usually print out a topographical map from Google maps.  On my trip to New Mexico, the map helped me understand the terrain, which consisted of several mountain peaks.  I was able to see where the mountains were in relation to setting sun.  I also print out maps of the area for driving purposes.

6. Make shot list.  After all this research, I jot down a few ideas of photos that I’d like to take in my notebook.  For instance, I wanted to take a photo of the mountains with the moon in the background.  I also wrote down: vivid colors of the Southwest, old people, young people, religion, food, something odd or whacky, signs, skiers, a low-angle shot of old cars, night shots of the village and mountains, and bridges.

7. Charge batteries.  If you have a DSLR camera, make sure to travel with fully charged batteries.  If you use a point-and-shoot camera, make sure to take extra batteries with you.  In cold weather, batteries loose their charge at a faster rate.  I always take an extra battery and my charger with me on all trips.

8. Pack your bag Once you’ve drawn up a shot list, you will need to decide what camera accessories to take.  For landscapes, take a wide-angle lens.  For shooting details and portraits, take a telephoto lens.  I also include my cleaning kit as well as my trusty tripod.  Some other accessories to consider are: a flashlight, compass, memory card case, speedlight, mini-tripod/gorillapod, and granola bars.  (Yes, always take a snack.  Trust me.)

9. Clean camera and lenses.  Once the batteries are fully charged, you can safely clean the DSLR’s sensor.  I also wiped down my camera body and clean my lenses. (I’ll write about how to do this properly in a future post.)

10. Reformat your memory cards.  You should always have more than one memory card.  Before you trip, make sure to reformat your memory cards, so when you’re finished shooting with one, you can easily slip in another one knowing that it’s already formatted.  There’s nothing worse than putting in a new memory card and having to wait for it to format.  It’s a sure-fire way of missing the shot.

Have a great trip!!!

3 Things to do with Your New Digital Camera

22 Feb

1. Process your images.  Don’t rely solely on the image that comes directly out of the camera. Photos that come right out of the camera usually look flat and unappealing.  Ultimately, they fail to convey what the scene looked like when you took the picture.  There are tons of software programs out there that will help you improve the sharpness, brightness, color, and overall tone of the photo: iPhoto, Photoshop Elements, Picasa, Aperture, Paint Shop Pro, Photoshop, Lightroom, and many more.  While today’s digital photographers know that they can improve their images, many just aren’t willing to spend the time sitting in front of a computer.  To take your photography to the next level, you must view the digital darkroom as part of the overall process to create powerful photographic images.  Most people like the idea of becoming a photographer, but some don’t like the process.  It’s hard work.

Once I show my students the difference between a shot right out of the camera and a processed image, they start to believe that the amount of time spent improving the photograph is totally worth it.  If you love photographs, you’ll want to create the best possible image.

2. Print some of your best images.  There’s nothing better to the ego than a nice big print of something that you shot. Treat yourself to an 8×10 or larger.  If you don’t have your own printer, I recommend using Mpix.com.  It’s quick and easy.  Mpix’s slogan is “Shoot Today.  Upload Tonight. We Ship Tomorrow.”  Their prints are stunning!  If you have a Mac, you can even use iPhoto and order custom prints.  However, the quality just isn’t the same as Mpix.  Whatever print store or online store you use, just get some prints.  Having them in your hand will be worth it!

You can also learn a lot from a printed image.  Sometimes the LCD screen on the back of the camera can fool you.  After a few weeks of shooting, I ask my students to send me their two best images, and then I print them out.  We have a critique session, and the students find areas that they can improve.  Mostly they find that the object that they meant to be in focus, isn’t in focus at all.  Others see how they could’ve composed the scene more appropriately.  To become a better photographer, learn from your printed photos.

3. Share your images.  DON’T live in a creative vacuum; join a photo-sharing community. It’s essential to see what other photographers are doing creatively and receive feedback on your images.  You can even join groups who own the same camera that you do.  Two of the most popular ways to share your photos is to post them to Flickr or Facebook.

Flickr is the ultimate photo-sharing site for beginners and intermediates, where you can get immediate feedback from other photographers.  After you upload some pictures, join Flickr groups that you might interest you.  If you want instant recognition, become a member of award groups like Flicker’s Got Talent.  Here you post your image, give five other members an award, and then sit back and wait for the members to shower you with awards.  You can even post your best images to a group called National Geographic: Are You Good Enough? If you want more critical feedback, join groups like Life Thru A Lenz or Truly Constructive Criticism.  If you like landscapes, join a landscape group.  If you like portraits, join a portrait group.  From time to time, it’s also fun to meet with a group of photographers in your area.  You can even sign up with a Flickr Meetup group.  When I lived in London, I was a member of the London Flickr Meetups group that went on a night photography shoot together.  The possibilities and the fun are endless.

Facebook is another great place to share your photos.  By simply posting your photo, friends can comment or click the “Like” button.  There’s nothing better than having your friends tell you how much they love your images.

Whatever you do, don’t let your images simply exist on your camera’s memory card or sit idle on your hard drive.  You have to let your photos go out into the world.

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