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Most travel pictures are of wide open areas and large views of the country. Such scenery looks good to our eyes but later, when projected on a 4X5 feet screen, you will be disappointed. The small details of the landscape are now so small that they are hardly recognizable. This same effect is evident on a T.V. screen. You will notice that a film specially made for T.V. will avoid this type pictures and will concentrate on close or semiclose pictures. Prints, slides, or movies of travel should not be totally composed of these large area pictures. Large areas can be used successfully as a background for a more prominent foreground object or action.
During your trip you will surely see many small interesting objects. Very often you may get what another tourist will miss. You could have original pictures of your travel from small insects, flowers, stones, decorations, or even small details from a large monument may bring a better impression than the whole monument. The same is with people. It is very effective to photograph a face, or part of a face, or just a hand rather than the whole person. Sometimes you may just want to get a nose or an original ear with decorations. You may find something that the other people are missing, and get an original interesting picture. These pictures, even though small in small print size or projected on a small screen, will still look impressive.
Most cameras lenses focus to approximately two to five feet. Macro lenses focus as close as four inches. But the less expensive attachments for the front of regular lenses make the lens focus closer.
The close-up lenses are usually described in terms of dioplers which refers to the magnification and a +20 diopler will magnify a object to a full 1:1 reproduction ration. (The image on the negative will be actual life size.) These close-up lenses usually come in -I- l, -I- 2,+ 3, and + 10 sizes. Which can be combined if desired. A -I- 2 and -I- 3 will combine into a + 5. The close-up lenses are inexpensive, easy to use, light-weight, and allow the camera's internal lightmeter to function normally.
Extension tubes are another easy to use add on attachment which allows a lens to focus closer. The extension tubes are specifically made to fit between your camera body and lens. With most extension tube systems, you must manually stop down the lens diaphram in order to meter. The extension tubes may also reduce the amount of light reaching the film plane by one f-stop. Close-up lenses introduce some problems. The depth of sharpness with a very close lens may be only a few millimeters. Only a small part of the object will be sharp and the remainder of the object will be unsharp. Closing the diaphram to f 11 or f 16 will improve the depth of field but still, for close pictures a fiat object must easier to photograph.
Using a longer lens (80mm to 135mm focal length) with a close lens attachment will allow the camera to be farther from the object. This will be most important with a living object, for instance when you want to avoid putting the front of your camera lens close to an insect or animal.
In making close-up pictures a tripod will help. When the lens is close to the object, every little movement will intefere with the picture sharpness.
There are still other problems with close-up pictures. Very often when you put the lens close to the object, the object will be in the shade. The light has to come from the side. An artificial light can be manipulated, but the sun cannot be positioned. Artificial light will have the same problem; it has to be from the same side. Another problem results from artificial light. You may burn your little creature if you put the light too close. You could get a heat absorbing filter in front of the light, or use a fluorescent light, (which will shift the color balance) or use an electric flash, which will introduce problems with exposure estimation.
Close pictures will always improve your slide or movie show. They will bring you into a small and interesting world. You will see more and enjoy more or your travel. Just think of pictures or films of the small flowers of Hawaii trying to eat your finger, or the Amazon Parosol Ants carrying giant leaves on their backs, or butterflies, or jewelry. Many objects, such as jewelry or some musical objects, cannot be bought, but you still may bring them back in the form of close-up pictures.
In summary, close-up pictures are important pictures of your travel. You may get a few excellent, original pictures and you may discover a new large world of small objects.
WIDE ANGLE OR TELE?
There are many situations when the regular lens (50 mm lens on a 35mm camera) will not show the desired picture. The object may be too far away or the scene may be too large. In these cases we have to use a telephoto or wide-angle objective. For a 35mm camera the tele will be a 90mm to 150mm, for a 16mm movie camera an 80mm lens or longer. For a wide angle lens most 35mm cameras will use a 35mm or 28mm lens, but much wider lenses are available, including a "Fish Eye" lens which will show a 180 degree picture. For 8mm and super 8 movie cameras. The wide angle lens is 6mm or 8mm, and for 16mm movie cameras lOmm or less.
The "bad side" of the wide angle lens is its inclination toward "barrel distortion" in the pictures. Parallel lines on the side of the scene will not be rendered parallel, but instead will be curved on the photograph. The other bad effect is the apparent distortion of close objects. The close-up picture of a face will have a large distorted nose. The architectural pictures will be poor when the camera is tilted. The vertical lines of buildings will converge.
On the good side, the wide lens will not only give us large pictures, but will also give us large pictures when there is no place to back up. (In some buildings, churches, museums, and some narrow streets, etc. ) This is the most usable lens. A wide angle lens makes an area seem a little larger than actual and is often used in advertisements of home and car interiors. This lens is less critical of focusing errors. The depth of field is much greater when the lens is closed to F-8 and focused to ten feet, then everything will be sharp from five feet to infinity. Some very wide angle lenses are fix-focus lenses which makes everything sharp from a few inches to infinity. Such a lens is ideal with movie cameras when no tripod is used. The pictures will look more steady, especially when used with the higher filming speeds of the camera.
The wide-angle lens is ideal for filming people in foreign countries. You do not need to worry about the sharpness. The camera can be pointed without looking through the viewer and the picture may still be acceptable. With a movie camera, just put the camera on a tripod and stop down the lens according to the ambient light level. Focus the lens to five feet, then without looking through the camera, wait until the person or persons come close to the camera. Then activate the button and film without looking at the people. You will get perfect pictures of the people who never realized that they were filmed.
A wide angle lens should always be the second choice after a regular lens. I have many travel film where the wide angle lens was used for 75% or more of the pictures.
When traveling we are often confined to closed spaces in our cars, buses, trains, ships, planes, and hotel rooms. Think while walking through the narrow streets of the cities, if space is restricted, then the wide angle lens will be a lot of help.
The tele-lens has a more restricted use. First, such a lens is often long and heavy and bulky. The other problem will be, that such a lens will need more careful and precise focusing. This is often very critical. This lens should be used with a tripod or with a higher shutter speed, otherwise the picture will be blurred. It is better to use i/250 or maybe 1/500 of a second on a 35mm camera. You will notice the distortion brought on by the tele-lens. The people and the scenery will be compressed, the objects will appear to be crowded. The sharpness may be limited to only a partsicular distance or person, and the object closer or farther from the camera will not be sharp. In photographing objects at great distances atmospheric haze and air pollution will make the scenery look bluish and foggy. An ultra violet, UV, will help eliminate the bluish cast. On the good side of the tele-lens, you may get the people and objects to be large on your pictures without going closer to them. In this way you may be selective in making only one object, for instance, one person, sharp in your picture. In traveling very often it may be difficult and inconvenient to go any closer. It is the ideal lens for taking wild animal pictures. A trick can be made with the tele lens. In a zoo when you have a lion inside of a cage you may stand some distance away from his cage. Wait untill the lion is far away from the bars and make the lion sharp in your viewer. On your pictures the bars will be unsharp and hardly noticeable. You will have a picture of a lion without bars.
In addition to the lenses, some filters are very useful during your travels. An ultraviolet filter may eliminate some of the bluishness from distant pictures of pictures from an airplane or winter pictures. A Polarizing filter will eliminate the glare from non-metallic objects. It will eliminate the glare of water sun-reflections and will make the sky darker with nondarkening of other objects. The polarizing filter can also increase th color saturation.
YOUR BEST TRAVEL PICTURES
When you travel you try to save money and film on unnecessary pictures. But actually, the photo expense of your travel. It will also, later, be the greatest joy of your travel memories. So when you find a situation or composition for a superior picture do not try to save film. Make a few exposures from different positions and distances, and maybe one with a different exposure just to be sure that one of those pictures will be one of your best travel pictures.
You will often notice that a little lower or higher camera position or a few feet to the left or right or closer will change your picture and greatly improve the composition. Even when your light meter shows, for example, f-8 make one picture with F-8, another with F 5.6 and another with F-11. Different colors will have different reproductions and it is difficult to predict ahead which will be best.
Another idea is to use different camera shutter speeds. Try to take a water fall with 1.1000,sec, another with 1/100, another with 1/25, and another with 1/4 second. You will be amazed at how different the pictures will look. You can try the same thing with sports during your travel. Today everybody can take an ultra-sharp picture using a high shutter speed and freezing the movement. But by using a lower camera speed you may get a blurred moving object. For example, a moving car will give the impression of speed. Another trick is to "pan" a speeding object with the camera and take a sharp picture of the object. The background will be blurred because you moved your camera. If you want to experiment with differences of perspective, photograph an object with a wide angle lens so that the object fills the viewfinder. Then re-photograph the object with a telephoto lens by moving, back untill the object again fills the viewfinder. The main object will appear very similar but the background will be completely different.
You will sometimes read that a professional photographer uses many rolls of film and hundreds of pictures before he had one or two for publication. As an amateur you will use more common sense. If you do not succeed sfter ten pictures of the same object, then there is little possibility that in the next ten you will find a better one.
The general idea is that when you find an object you think is superior for a travel picture, do not hesitate to spend some time and film to get the best picture of your travel.