As a long time professional photographer/artist my goal when doing travel photography—particularly of well know iconic subjects is to create something different (and ideally better) that what any other photographer has done with that subject.
So my tips are...
1) Google and research every place you’re going. Take a look at what other photographers have done—and don’t do what they have done unless you can create a much better version! I tell my students, “I don’t do photos at Scenic Turnouts!”
2) One of the most important artistic decisions you have is Lens Choice. Use that choice to show the world something different or simply a new point of view. As an artist I like to use the extreme ends of the lens spectrum: either super wide (15mm fisheye) or telephoto (200MM and up). Let the amateurs have the boring middle (I don’t even own a 50mm lens). I tell my students, regarding telephoto lenses, “Narrow your view, showing less can reveal more!”
A radical view using my fisheye lens…
Film: Ektachrome 64T. F8.0, 1 second exposure
The fisheyes I like best are the rectilinear (non-circular) lenses that have at least 180° fields of view. I always have a fisheye in my camera bag and I’ve always owned a fisheye for whatever camera system I’ve have owned dating back to 1970.
The image above was done on film and the moon was a double exposure (using a different lens to make the moon larger). That’s how we did it in the old days!
Then there’s the telephoto (narrow your view) technique…
Film: Kodachrome 64; 200mm lens
At the famous ghost town of Bodie in California, I had to do something different. Everybody does it in Black and White and they usually show too much. So, I did a lot of pieces and details. Here I used a bi-color, polarizing, filter on my 200mm lens. That’s how we did radical color before Photoshop!
3) Research your destinations for times of sunrise and sunset. Upon arrival scout important locations; where is the sun rising/setting? Determine which locations will have good light at sunrise or sunset.
4) Book your hotel near (walking distance) to your primary subjects. That makes it easy to visit and revisit subjects both at sunrise and sunset. Even with research sometimes you really don’t know if a location is best with sunrise or sunset. Case in point, when we arrived in Rome, Italy and looked down the street, from our hotel, our first impression of the iconic Roman Colosseum was underwhelming. It was so grey and bleak….
It wasn’t any better as we walked up to it—it was just bigger! Worse, were the throngs of tourists all around it—with bus loads coming and going all the time. Then there were the Italians dressed-up in Cheesy Roman soldier garb for tourist pictures. How could anyone resist that photo-op! Because of my research I knew the they did a nice job of lighting the Colosseum at night so we decided to come back at midnight…
f13.0 @ 1.5 seconds, ISO 800
Ta-da! Now we have texture and drama. This thing comes alive at night and there were NO tourists. However, when we got back to our hotel the desk clerk scolded us for going out so late with all our photography gear! He was genuinely concerned for our safety—something that never occurred to us!
5) That reminds me—bring a tripod and an umbrella. It was also raining during our time exposures at the Colosseum.
f22.0 for 4 seconds; ISO 800
This is my favorite image in Rome. This is one of the images I pre-planned—I even bought a lens just for this image—the super sharp Nikkor f2.8, 20mm lens. (Nice!)
I’ll continue with more tips new week. ’Till then…
Author: Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman, Certified
Training site: http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com
Client site: http://www.TheStorytellersUsa.com