This unseasonably warm March weather here in Michigan is the inspiration for this article. Now, obviously great photo taking tips are good year-round, but we are getting close to those warm weather vacation days!
I’ve had the “photo bug” since I was a little girl and it’s all because of the man in the picture; my Grandpa. He loved taking pictures – of everything! He and Grandma gave me my first camera – a Kodak 110. I learned to develop B&W film – I was his dark room buddy. So, I thought I’d share some of what I’ve learned about photography to help you take great pictures.
You need smarts, know-how and (lots of) patience to shoot fabulous vacation pictures – even with that fancy new digital camera you have. The digital cameras allow you to add photo effects and make them more interesting.
One of the main things you have to do – have freshly charged (or new) batteries! When you go on vacation take an extra set of batteries and that charger. There is the option of investing in a long-lasting, clip-on rechargeable Lithium Ion power pack. (it can be used with most digital cameras – make sure yours is one of them first) To help the battery charge last longer – shoot the “old-fashioned” way – use that view finder! That LCD screen eats up a LOT of power. However there are times when it’s best to use that LCD screen – those close-ups need the fine view an LCD provides. Going to a foreign country? Just like any other electrical device, you need to know what kind of power adapter you’ll need – what will work best for your battery charger.
Another biggie I can’t emphasize enough: protect your gear!! Digital cameras and water don’t mix! All that electronic circuitry has never liked water/moisture. Carry your camera/gear in a water-proof bag. Add a silica gel pack to further reduce moisture (from the air). When going through airport security, (just like film) put the memory cards in the provided plastic tray. Let the staff know what they are, you want the card to avoid x-rays, metal detectors, or anything with a magnetic field.
While I’m on the subject of memory cards – you can’t have too much memory (just like there’s no such thing as too much film). You can always get a larger capacity card, conserve space by using lower resolution for those shots you’ll only want either small prints of or email. Another thing many people forget; clear the card of previous pictures. Also remember, you can delete shots as you go. You know, did Aunt Carol blink at the wrong time? Did something blow across the scene as you were taking the picture? Delete them and re-take.
Above all, know your camera! Sound silly? Most digital cameras don’t take the picture the split second you click the shutter. (those of us who learned to take pictures on a SLR/film camera really had to learn this one) You have to be better at anticipating those action/once in a life-time shots. If you have doubts about exposure setting – err toward underexposure (too dark). Remember, with digital pictures it’s very easy to change the resolution/brightness. Take advantage of those manual settings. The faster the speed the better the stop action. However, a slow shutter speed allows for a nice blur that implies movement – like taking waterfall pictures. Then there’s always the panorama settings – these help you line up for the optimal photo.
Composition is another biggie. You want the main subject to take up the frame. There’s nothing worse than taking a picture of your honey with background and you can’t find your honey because there’s too much background. (You know, you can’t see the forest for the trees.) Also, your subject doesn’t have to be centered in the frame. Keep in mind the composition of the picture tells a story all by itself. (Yes, I took this picture.)
Timing is everything when taking your photos. Do you want awesome sunrise/sunset pictures? These work best within the half to one hour before sunrise or after sunset. The lighting is more dramatic. REMEMBER when you’re doing these types (or any) low-light shots, use a tripod. You need to keep the camera steady as you’re using slower shutter speeds. Also, are you on a foreign vacation? Do you want to take pictures of the local people? Ask them first! Most will agree, but be polite. Find out in advance about any special events in the area you’re visiting, more photo-ops!
Oh, and for the record, I love my 35mm SLR! It’s just increasingly harder to find places to develop film. My “monster” of a camera bag? It has shoulder and waist straps – yes it’s that big (I try to pare down for trips) and looks something like this one. So now the mission will be to find a digital camera that will handle all those lenses I have. Have fun on your travels, and take some wonderful pictures to save your moments.