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I am not a professional photographer. I like to travel, and I like to photograph my travels with both still and movie camera. Later, anytime I see my pictures, I can travel again with my memories and imagination. And years later, when the travel memory has faded, the only real travels are the pictures.
But taking travel pictures is not only for future memories. In traveling with a photo camera, we learn to see light, shadow, color, and color combination. We learn to see more of the beauty of the world, We see more and enjoy more. With time, we develop our own preference in seeing the world in our pictures. We develop our own ideas for composing our pictures and our art.
Traveling with a camera will often bring us to places we normally would not see. Photographers go looking for more interesting pictures. Photographers see more of their travels.
The ideas in this book are from my 20 years experience in travel and photography in most parts of the world. Many of these ideas have been expressed in over 100 articles published in photo and film magazines. Very often they are my own ideas and you may not agree with them. You may develop your own, maybe better, ideas on travel photography.
But still, this book will be extremely helpful to traveling photographers or photographing travelers. This book will present some basic ideas for the traveling photographer who wants to more fully enjoy his travel experiences recorded on film.
HOW TO SAVE YOUR TIME
Like most travelers, you travel not only to take photographs, but to also have a "good time." You want to move around, see other cities, countries, and people, or just find some personal pleasures.
The problem is to allow enough time for your travel photography without taking too much time from your other travel pleasures.
The idea is very simple. You must be at the right place at the right time, so that you don't need to wait for the picture. You simply take the pictures and then return to your other travel activities. In the same way you had to plan your travel activities, you should also pre-plan your travel photography. But there are still a few tricks to learn.
Suppose you are going with a group on a bus tour. Try to be the first off the bus and the last to return. It will usually give you a little more time for your pictures. If you walk in a group walk behind the others. Familiarize yourself ahead of time from your guide book on the location, know exactly what you should expect, and what photographs you think would be good. You do not need to listen to the guide. Most of what he says will soon be forgotten. You can learn what he said from a guide book either before or after your tour. The idea is to be out of the crowd and to have a little time to look around for interesting and unusual photographs.
Of course you won't be able to get every picture you want because of the location, the time of day, a shadow, or some other technicality, but you may find some new ideas for pictures and compositions. Just walk around and look carefully. How do you know what pictures to take? First there are guide books that you can read at home before your travel or buy locally and read in your hotel. There are pamphlets showing the best pictures. Postcards in the hotel lobbies show some of the most famous or photogenic places. If you look and read you will develop Your own ideas of what you would like to have in your pictures.
Take some photographs of your family or traveling companions, but do not pose them in front of every scene. The photograph will look unnatural, boring to your audience back home. You may save some picture taking time by preparing your equipment ahead of time. Take the right film, the right lens, and flash or tripod. You would lose precious time by having to return to your hotel because you forgot something.
You will have to realize that your time and your possibilities are limited. You can never see everything and never will be able to photograph everything. A guide will usually bring you quite close to a particular curiosity. Even with a wide angle lens you may not get a good picture. Sometimes you might get a good interesting close picture, but it can be improved if you walk a little further to find a better composition. For example: a little lake which would reflect a temple.
On most tours the guide will bring you to some shopping place for an hour or two. If you must go, let your wife look for the souvenirs. This is a good time to walk around and look for interesting people or scenes.
Your guide may be of help for better photography. Just tell him what you want. He knows the language and the local people. He can arrange the local people for your desired pictures. Or, if you meet somebody, and he is just right for your picture, call the guide and ask for help.
If you have the time, a better method is to go the first time with your guide in a group and look around getting some ideas for your pictures. Then later return, alone and undisturbed, walking around and taking your pictures. In this way you will not need to hurry, and you will be able to wait for the sun to move for a better angle. You will know ahead of time what you are looking for, a definite advantage.
Some people do not like to read anything in advance. These people are the ones that are content to photograph what they stumble upon. But, this is a waste of time. Maybe only a block away from you was a particularly famous place that you missed. Some information is helpful. For example you should know that the fronts of most Catholic churches and Mosques face the east. So if you would like to get a picture of a beautiful Gothic church entrance. You will have to get there early in the morning when the sun is shining on the entrance. A good idea would be to study the city map. You may find a shorter way to the places you'd like to visit and photograph.
You'll save time if you are prepared ahead, know what you want and take pictures you like and need. You never will be able to get everything you want. What would you do with 400 pictures of the Istanbul Mosques? Many of them will look the same to you and your audience back home. Saving time when taking your travel pictures is a matter of being in the right place at the right time.
HOW TO SAVE YOUR TRAVEL FILM
Saving film is not only taking less pictures. It is often tragic when you present your color slide program, project your film, (or show an album of your travel pictures.) and you have to apologize or explain that there were many more beautiful places but you ran out of film. You may easily underestimate your film requirements when planning your trip. You may run out of film in places where film can't be purchased, or have to buy the film at a much higher cost, sometimes double the cost at home. Also you can't be sure that the film you buy away from home will be fresh and will give you good colors.
Have a good idea of the travel pictures you will want to take. Ask yourselves these questions-why? Where? What? When? Who? Then you will know your Picture taking habits. Some travelers are happy with 4 or 5 pictures a day, where others take 30-40 a day. But you can make an estimation. For example, you may know that you want 20 good pictures of Rome and another 20 of Paris etc. Naturally in order to have 20 good pictures you may have to take at least twice that number and then later select the best. Or you could calculate the number of rolls of film. Maybe you'd want three rolls of color 35 mm film for one city. You can pre-calculate the number of films you will need. It is not probable that the weather will be perfect all the time. It is also not sure that you will feel perfectly every day or feel like taking pictures every day. Most probably, you should have some rolls of films to spare. On the other hand, you may find some unexpected source of pictures. So it is better to bring back some extra film rather than to run short. You have probably read that a professional photographer will often take hundreds of pictures to select only a few for publication or advertisements. I read once that a Walt Disney production used over 200,000 feet of film for a movie on Samoa and the final film projected in the theaters had only 2,000 feet. He used only 1 % of the film taken. No amateur can afford to waste that much film or money. You are not a professional and your film expenses are nondeductable. (Income tax purposes) But still, in order to get better pictures you have to take more pictures than are needed for future editing and selection.
When traveling with your camera, before taking any pictures, ask yourself if this is an original picture. Would you like such a picture if someone showed it to you? Is it different from the pictures you have seen? It does not make sense to take a simple picture on a first impression, and then at a another look, take another picture at a better angle and better composition and better exposure. You save film if you only take pictures that are original or artistic. These are photographs that you will be proud of when you show them to others.
Saving film also means taking the kind of film you will need. You should know what you will need ahead of time. For example, you will need a fast film (One with a high ASA number) for pictures in a flash. It is not possible to predict all of the possibilities, but you should be prepared to have the right film for a special occasion during your travel.
Once I went to Japan to make a film of the cherry blossoms. I went at the right time of Year. The trees in the Tokyo parks were full of cherry blossoms. Only the weather was rainy and windy and dusty. There was little chance for any cherry blossom pictures. The weather was so bad that the airport was closed and we were forced to stay an extra few days and still no cherry blossom pictures. But I went to a few Tokyo theaters. Using a high speed Ekatachrome (from the small supplies I always carry.) I got beautiful pictures of many original Japanese dances. They were colorful and unique with many close face shots of the performers. Later, with the addition of music these pictures have been one of my best films. I went to Tokyo with one idea, but I brought back perhaps a better idea than that of simple cherry blossoms.
You can save film by protecting your camera and film. Your film can be partially or totally ruined from extreme humidity, heat, dust, or light. Protect your film and save it. Do not leave your camera or film inside a car on a hot sunny day. Keep your film protected from the harsh elements at all times. Your Body can recover, but your film will be permanently damaged.
Think ahead of what you would like to have on your pictures. When in Rome you surely would not want to have pictures of all 200 of Rome's churches. (Except if the audience has a special interest in only Rome's churches.) Your mixed interest audience has a mixed interest. Take what you will need. Take a little of everything, but keep in mind some idea to connect these pictures to a story line or some general simple idea. You could use old Rome, or Old Rome against new Rome. You could also just use tourist behavior in Rome, or or the beautiful Italian women of Rome. (Using always the same old Roman background.) You could show the beauty of Venice, or you could actually show how dirty the famous city is.
You will not save film if you insist on taking only one picture of a subject. Pictures without any connection, no story line, may be good for some photo competitions, but for a travelogue you do need a connection story. This connection builds some shorter or longer sequences. You may need a few pictures of the Vatican and a few from the ColOseum, to tell the audience a story.
In summary, saving film is taking enough film from your best estimate of future need during your travel. To save film you should know ahead of time what you would like to take and what your picture taking habits are. Do not take everything you see. Take only the original pictures with better compositions. Take pictures that everybody would like to see. When taking pictures, think of a future use for a story of your travel. Save film from waste, but remember that the film expenses will probably be the smallest expense of your travel and the greatest pleasure later when you return home.