Archive for Travel Photography
When it comes to landscape photography it may seem perfectly logical that you should keep your camera in a horizontal/landscape position, usually we are confronted by sweeping vistas and sometimes even the widest of lenses just doesn’t seem to be enough to fit it all in. However, turning your camera to a vertical/portrait position can be equally rewarding and in fact may help to improve your pictures in certain situations.
The strength of any picture will always be partly down to how you choose to compose the frame. I always take a few moments to have a good look at what’s in front of me, deciding what elements are available to help draw the viewers eye through the scene. Take a look at the picture below.
The last few weeks have seen a fair bit of action on the photography holidays side of my business, though none of it as I would have necessarily wished. It is though, giving me an opportunity to do things a little differently.
When my new travel partner and I first got together we put pen to paper to draw up contracts so we knew what each other’s responsibilities were and what we expected of each other which has worked well and held up. What we didn’t check into fully at the start was insurance policies and trading laws.
I had spoken to Trading Standards in the UK to find out what was expected of me as photographer running tours and what insurance cover I needed. All was well, by going in with a travel agent I was covered, however, and this is a big one, the UK has some pretty stringent consumer protection in place, and rightly so, to safeguard guests’ money. It’s not necessary for an agent to be ABTA bonded, however it is necessary for an insurance policy to be in place so that any money paid in is ring-fenced. This means if any problems arise with a company becoming insolvent, guests get their money returned to them.
It is illegal to trade in the UK without this financial insurance, however in America these consumer travel laws don’t exist, and my travel partner was based in America. I was deeply concerned about this imbalance in law between our countries and then a huge blow for my travel partner. It turns out that there are draconian state laws in place in America to prevent travel agencies trading in some states unless they pay them a large bond. This effectively limits the scope of business a travel agent can do in their own country. With all this coming to light and my concerns about financial insurance we dissolved the partnership. Read More→
For as long as I can remember I have watched “A Capitol Fourth” on PBS, every 4th of July. I love the music and the fireworks with Washington, DC and all of the monuments as a backdrop. Since I was a little girl, I dreamed of sitting on the National Mall, on the 4th of July, experiencing it all firsthand. Unfortunately, as I have gotten older (and acquired more camera equipment) my tolerance for being crammed into large crowds of people has decreased. The idea of spending a hot, July day sitting on the grass with 80,000 of my closest friends makes me hyperventilate a little. But I REALLY wanted to see those fireworks. So I started doing some research and I found a way to make it work.
My husband and I traveled to Washington, DC in July 2009. We reserved a room at the Key Bridge Marriott in Arlington, Virginia and requested a room with a view of the Washington Monument (my husband had stayed at this hotel before on business and knew it had the right view, but I was also able to find hotels with monument views via Google). Our room had floor to ceiling windows with a clear view of the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial, as well as the Key Bridge and the skyline of Georgetown. It was perfect. Read More→
In December I had the opportunity to visit Las Vegas for the first time. I had heard of Red Rock Conservation Area, just outside of Las Vegas, from friends who had visited in the past and knew that it was a priority to visit. During my pre-trip research I also read about Valley of Fire State Park. Red Rock is less than an hour’s drive west of Las Vegas and Valley of Fire is about an hour’s drive northeast of Las Vegas. Both places intrigued me, so I planned a big day trip to visit both.
One comment on TripAdvisor really caught my attention. The reviewer said that if you were going to visit both Red Rock and Valley of Fire that you should go to Red Rock first. The reviewer felt that Red Rock would be disappointing if you saw Valley of Fire first. So I planned my trip based on this recommendation and headed to Red Rock at sunrise.
There are a lot of options for visiting Red Rock, but since my trip was short and I was planning to see Red Rock and Valley of Fire in the same day I opted for the simple 13 mile scenic loop drive through the park. There are multiple points on this loop to park and get out of the car. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to venture much past the parking areas at these stops. In hindsight I should have given myself an entire day to explore the park, but driving the loop was a nice sampler to start with.
The first thing I noticed was how quiet it was. I used to consider where I live to be relatively quiet, but its amazing how much noise is in the background of every day life – traffic passing by, the hum of my computer, the air conditioner or refrigerator running. Even the background buzz of electrical wires outside. But at Red Rock it was soooo quiet. I literally stood there and heard NOTHING. Not even a bird chirp. Not even the wind rustling through the trees. Read More→
Personally, I love knowing what other photographers are carrying around with them. So in anticipation of summer travel season, I thought I would share what’s in MY bag!
First of all, my actual bag – Tamrac 3385 Aerospeed Backpack. This backpack has a padded back, holds all of my camera gear as well as my laptop. I only wish it had a chest and/or waist strap for additional stability. But it isn’t that expensive, so I don’t really have any complaints. It has the added benefit of being able to access my camera from the front or from the side. And the zippers are all waterproof and/or protected so if I get caught out in the rain I don’t get too worried.
I also added one pair of Tamrac S-113 cam-lock cinch straps so that I can lash my Sunpak 620-660PG pistol grip tripod to the bottom of the backpack. I love this tripod – its super cheap (under $60), super light (despite being aluminum instead of carbon fiber) and the pistol grip make maneuvering SO easy! It has levels, too. I will likely upgrade to the carbon fiber model soon, but for right now this serves all of my purposes for a very reasonable price.
Now, as for what is inside the bag…a 17″ MacBook Pro loaded with Apple Aperture 3. I recently upgraded to 8GB of RAM and a solid state hard drive. I ordered the hard drive and RAM from Amazon and installed them myself. I also have two external hard drives – one that is partitioned as my Time Machine backup and iTunes library and the other that stores the master files for my Aperture library. I should probably have another external drive to mirror the Aperture library for additional backup, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. Storage is so cheap there is really no excuse. I’d also like to add here that I used to store the master files for my Aperture library on the original hard drive of my laptop. I found this to be very slow when editing. So I upgraded the hard drive to a solid state drive, added the additional RAM and relocated my masters to the external drive and the increase in speed has been significant. Read More→
So now that I’ve left San Antonio, what else did I learn and what have I done (or could I do) with the images I took?
One point that Rich Wagner made was that if you live in Florida and you travel to Paris and make beautiful images, it is extremely unlikely that people in your home town are going to buy your fine art images of Paris. On the other hand, they are much more likely to purchase fine art images of your (and their) home town. So then what do you do with your Paris images?
I didn’t do a lot of shooting in San Antonio since I was there primarily to learn, but I have already submitted (and had accepted) two images from the trip to an online microstock agency.
One note here – be sure to research the rules and regulations surrounding any tourist attractions you plan to photograph. For example, the light show at the Eiffel Tower at night is copyrighted and you cannot sell images of it. Also, the Alamo is private property. While photographing one evening we were approached by security guards and and asked if we were professional photographers. We were informed that we were not allowed to take any professional photographs on the Alamo site without prior authorization. This problem was easy enough to solve – we just walked across the street and shot away. In fact, it was easier to shoot from across the street because there was a small hill we could stand on which gave a better angle. So, technically I can do whatever I please with my image because I took it from across the street. Read More→
Last week I went to San Antonio for the AWAI Ultimate Money-Making Photography Workshop. This was my fourth AWAI workshop in a year. I started last year at the same money making photography workshop, held in Nashville. Then I went to Santa Monica in August for the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop and to Delray Beach in October for the Ultimate Stock Photography workshop. I viewed this trip to San Antonio as part refresher course and part a cap on a year of education. Now I really need to apply everything I have learned and go out and make some money!
Parts of the workshop were a bit repetitive, but that was to be expected since I attended the same workshop a year ago and then also had some cross-over at the travel writer’s workshop and stock photography workshop. But it really helped to reinforce some basic principles…especially the rules of composition. I learned these rules at the first workshop, but after I got the rule of thirds I pretty much forgot the rest. The rules of composition, according to fine art photographer Rich Wagner and stock photographer Shelly Perry are:
1. Rule of thirds
2. Diagonal lines
5. Selective focus
6. Whenever possible, capture motion moving INTO the image (not out of it)
I was also reminded to take portrait and landscape versions of everything. I’m definitely guilty of forgetting I can hold my camera the other way, too! And as travel photographer Pat Stevens said…when is the last time you saw a horizontal magazine cover? Read More→
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to travel to hone your travel photography skills…you can practice right in your hometown! It may not be a lot, but there ARE people who travel TO your city and there are places to sell these photos.
Think about where you would take a visiting friend or relative from out of town. What are your favorite spots? If you can’t think of any, maybe its time to start exploring! In a previous post (which you can read here) I discussed how I prepare for a trip. There is no reason you can’t apply these same suggestions to the place where you live. The benefit of photographing your home area is that you can get shots at any time of year, any kind of weather, all different kinds of light…you aren’t limited to what you can get during a two or three day visit.
When booking a hotel for your next destination, don’t forget to consider the view. If you choose wisely, your hotel room or common areas of the building may provide a unique vantage point for photos of the city you are visiting.
I have always wanted to see the 4th of July fireworks in Washington, DC. I did not, however, want to sit outside all day on the national mall with 80,000 of my closest friends in sweltering July heat. Fortunately, my husband had traveled to DC and stayed at this particular hotel. He knew that some of the rooms had a clear view of the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial and I knew that meant we could see the fireworks. We requested (and were given) a room with a view of the monuments and were able to enjoy a quiet evening of fireworks in air conditioned comfort. If I had not known about this particular hotel, I also could have Googled “best hotels to view the 4th of July fireworks” or “hotel with view of Washington Monument. Read More→
When we last met, I shared with you how I prepare for a trip. Today I will cover what I do when I reach my location.
I always try to choose lodgings “in the city.” I look for a downtown type area with easy access to public transportation and plenty of interesting things within walking distance. When I arrive at the hotel I check out that little stand they always have that holds pamphlets and other information from local attractions. There is usually a city map, too. I grab anything that looks remotely interesting and head to my room.
Usually by the time I arrive at my hotel its too late to do much of anything. I read through all of the new literature I have obtained and start formulating plans and plotting them on the map. I get to bed early so I’m well-rested for my exploration the next day.
On my first full day, I get up early and hit the pavement. I used to drag around my backpack with all of my lenses and flash and carry my camera on a regular camera strap around my neck. This got really old, really fast…especially since I very rarely changed lenses, especially on scouting missions. Plus, it really hurt my neck! So I switched to a Black Rapid RS7 strap, which I LOVE (Note: The RS7 is the ladies strap, for men you might want to check out the Black Rapid RS4). I also stopped carrying around the backpack. I just make sure I have a fully charged battery and an extra SD card in my pocket and I’m all set. Read More→