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How to Take Great Vacation Pictures

How To Take Great Pictures

SIMPLE STEPS TO TAKING GREAT PICTURES 

 

Want to improve your picture taking? One way is buy all those 200 paged books of photos and techniques. 
In those books they tell you all about  the mechanical aspects such as setting your shutter speed, F-Stops lighting, 
what camera to buy etc. Yes, that's important. If you Google "How to take great pictures" you get much the same thing.
Yes, eventually you get to lots of examples with some explanations etc, but no one seems to touch on the "Art". 
Personally, no matter what price range of equipment you use, no matter what mechanical settings you're good at setting
.... Great photography really boils down to 4 or 5 basic concepts.

If you ever wondered why what you saw isnt what you ended up with in your camera when you got home.
         
then
 
Follow these simple principals to turn your next Vacation Photos into lots of Professional Quality Shots  

If you want more than just "Snapshots", then read on......

 1 - FRAMING

     On Scenics, always look for foregrounds to frame the picture.
     Rocks or Walls, Overhanging tree limbs or Bushes and foliage work great.
     We all have a tendency to think all that is clutter, and focus it out.
             but its really the most important part of the photo.
     When I shoot scenics, the first thing I look for is trees and bushes. 
     I rarely try to '' stand out in the open'', even in the middle of a city.
     I'd bet you even in Downtown New York City you can find a tree branch to shoot from under!
     Ive even been known to  hold a tree branch over the camera view to enhance a picture.  

  

 2 FOREGROUNDS and SIDEGROUNDS

     Looks for something in the foreground or on the sides to force the viewer into the picture
     Even a railing on a ship is better than the wide open ocean  

         

3 - PERSPECTIVE

     Try not to shoot "head on". Angle your shot. Look for winding streets, walking paths,
     streams of water to draw in your viewer to a receding point "inside" your picture.
     Many times stepping just a few feet in either direction can make the difference between a great and a "ho-hum" shot.  

    

 

4 - TIC-TAC-TOE

    When you draw tic-tac-toe lines you notice that there are 4 points of intersection
    Placing your subject into one of these four points will assist the eye to follow a natural 
    flow of direction to your point of interest.
               When reading, our eye naturally reads from left to right and from top to bottom. 
               When viewing pictures the eye naturally travels from left to right
                      Guess which of the 4 points is the "best target". 

                                       

                                 ( Did you pick Top Right ? )  

5- PEOPLE PICTURES

       Lining everyone up and saying "say cheese" may be necessary for a quick record shot of a group of people (for posterity),
       but take it to the next level...... 
 Try shooting "Candids"

  •  Instead of shooting straight on, shoot your subjects in a half-profile, or try a low or high angle. Shooting from a crouched position tends to make people look taller. I call it the Childs Eye View. 
  •  Shooting from a High Angle produces a unique perspective
  • Use a High Ratio Zoom lens and take head and shoulders pictures. This also tends to blur the unwanted background
  • Turn your camera to the "Vertical". 
  • Shoot from as far away as you can so that your subject is not as aware of your snapping the shutter.  
  • Whenever possible use available light, even indoors. Available light molds highlights with shadows. especially when the light comes from the sides.  Notice how the light strikes these examples below.
  • Available light can produce incredible depth and color, whereas flash flattens and whitens everything.  

                       

                         

     Hints

            With a little practice you will find you begin to intuitively use these
            simple principles to create some really great Vacation Shots.

  • Lots of medium to high end cameras have an option to project the tic-tac-toe "grid" onto the viewfinder. Use it.
  • Use a Polarized Filter when shooting through the window of your travel bus. Turn it to eliminate the reflections from other objects and windows on the opposite side of the bus. 
  • Crouching - Changes the normal view most people see while standing. It gives an entirely new perspective to an otherwise mundane shot. 
  • Don't be afraid to shoot more pictures than you need. We all have Digital Cameras with more memory capacity than we can use. Remeber, most of the time you can't go back and do it over.
  •  If you have time, experiment with slightly different views, Sometimes the one we least suspect turns out to be the best shot.
  • Phone Cameras are fine when you may have forgot to bring your camera,but if you want really good pictures, buy a Low Priced DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) with a zoom lens. Nothing takes pictures like a "real camera"
  • If you can, use a camera with a high ratio Optical Zoom such as an 18-250.    and ..... you only have to carry the "one lens" for "everything" You can shoot fantastic Scenics at wide angle, and instantly change to where you can shoot candid people photos from 10-20 yards away and get incredible close-ups. (They will usually be completely unaware you're even shooting!)
  • Television is a great teacher. Watch how the TV camera uses these simple techniques.Notice how trees frame scene shots - even in the crowded city - to give a 2-dimensional medium the illusion of 3-D,and observe how camera close ups, even extreme close ups, are used with actors and people shots.
  • One Last Observation -  the brain mainly captures visual memories as Stills. TV, Movies and Home Videos encapsulate two of our 4 primary senses. (Audio and Visual). Did you know..Short and Long Term Visual Memories are almost always recalled as a series of ''Stills'' from the peak moment of events we see in real time.  The talent or ability to capture those peak (Still) moments in time are what "Art" is all about. 

          Take a look at our Vacation Pictures of Ireland     

          COMMENTS ?  -  Email me at jims@bayou.com

Disclaimer: All these examples were shot "on the fly" while on our last Vacation in Ireland. Some were even shot from a moving bus.
I am not a professional photographer by any "stretch",  But I follow these 5 simple principles all the time

I do use a good DSLR camera and all pictures above were taken with an  "entry level" (Under $500.00) 
Canon T3 Rebel with a 18-250 Zoom Lens. Or - about the equivalent cost of a good Smart Phone.

                                    

Happy Shooting  

Jim Springer

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