Holiday encounters

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Don’t get your hopes up. This is not some seedy expose of past holiday romances. This is an article on how to get better photographic results from your holiday.



In all the flurry of activity when packing for the overseas trip, it is easy to forget to pack a camera (or two if you are a real enthusiast). However, everyone wants a photographic record of the trip, the event, the new experiences. After all, you saved for 11 months for this, don’t let it just become a casual conversation on your return!

Now before you add “Pack Camera” to the To Do list, there’s a little bit of photographic preparation to be done too. The first, and should be most obvious, is just to make sure the camera works. If you haven’t used the camera for some time, buy new batteries for it and check the memory card before you go away. There’s nothing worse than finding out that the camera had a problem after you get back! You should take a few shots and look at them critically to make sure it is really working properly.

Now, no matter where you go these days, someone has been there before you. And they’ve written a guide book about it too, so your next move is to actually plan some shots before you even leave home. Research your destination properly and you should know what is likely to be a significant place, monument, castle, lake, waterfall, etc., in the area you will be visiting. When you read the Lonely Planet Guide or whatever, use a highlighter pen to remind you of photo opportunities.

Thinking about and anticipating “how” you should take any landmark will produce much better results when you finally arrive to take the picture. You will not be so over-awed that you just stand there and go “click”. You will be ready to try to show this segment of your trip with some photographic flair. It works, believe me!

It is always tempting to take photographs from the plane. There is one classic shot you should always attempt on every trip. That is the aerial. Shooting out of plane windows is not really all that difficult with today’s cameras, but there are a couple of catches. Firstly, pick a porthole where you can see a little of the engine intake in the shot. Adds drama and shows how you got up there! Shoot from the side of the plane opposite from the sun. This way you won’t see the scratches on the plane window. Use a wide-angle lens if you’ve got one, set the camera on auto and get as close to the window as possible, but not touching it (otherwise you get vibrations coming through to give you fuzzy photos).

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Shooting the locals. Your research of the places you are going to will soon tell you if there are interesting “locals” which would make good photographs (such as this one pictured here). Priests, tribes folk, indigenous people, policemen in uniform and the like all make for good shots and gives the “atmosphere” of your holiday. It’s OK to shoot when they are unaware of your presence, but if you want a formal photograph, always ask. Just wave the camera and smile if you can’t speak the local lingo. It usually works. If not, wave money! That always does.

If you are going to well-known destination like London, Paris, New York, then you will always be able to buy another memory card over there, but if you are going to the Mongolian Steppes, you may need to bring your own supplies. I also suggest that the digital folk take along more than one spare memory card and download their precious images back here, where you know that everything (should) work correctly and not delete images unexpectedly.

Finally, you should think about how you are going to present the results. It is always a huge temptation to bring out folders of photos as soon as you get back. Wait! Sort them, keep the good, throw away the bad. Show only your best shots and everyone will be amazed at your superb photographs!