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Travel and Scenic Photography 101


When you're driving through the mountains somewhere, and you notice a car parked half off the road and some guy leaning to the left to avoid a branch with his Rebel 2000 camera in the act of focusing, you've met me. I do this because, to me, a trip isn't fulfilling unless I've preserved that beauty for posterity. I'd like to share some of the techniques that make scenic photography such a wonderful artform - simple, yet elegant. First off, equipment. As much as the cheapo disposable camera beckons, get real. These cameras have fisheye lenses which I call "spam" lenses. They cram everything in, with equal blurriness and boringness. Good photos are sharp, unless you use blur for artistic effect. Sharp comes from an adjustable lens. It can be a fixed lens or a zoom, but it must focus specially for each picture. Fixed lenses are limiting for scenic pictures, where to frame the shot you may need to move long distances. Imagine using a fixed lens on the Washington Monument, when you're half a block away! Zooms get my vote, even though they often don't have as wide an aperture, which limits their capabilities in low light situations.   Practically speaking, an SLR is the absolute best. They are lightweight, and can be used with top quality lenses. Film SLRs tend to be less expensive, but have the limitations of film, meaning you have to  get it developed and so forth. Digital SLRs are VERY expensive, so for the budget conscious either go with a film SLR or a high quality basic digital camera. With digital, resolution is also a critical factor, so look at the specs before you buy. OK, we've got the camera, emotions are running high, and that's great, but not too great! Sometimes I find a spot that is so wonderful, I start shooting like a madman, only to be disappointed by the pictures. What happened? Emotions. When you experience a place, there are sounds, aromas and breezes as well as the visuals of the spot. Needless to say, you can't photograph all of these elements, only the visual. When overwhelmed by the spectacle of a scenic hotspot, we are often overwhelmed by all of these elements. So what to do? Look through your camera. The viewfinder does not lie (usually). Try to see what you are looking at as the finished picture. Most people perfunctorily take pictures, hoping that somehow the shot will come out great. If you wonder how the pictures came out when you are on the way to the drug store to get them, you're doing something wrong. At the moment you click the pic, you should know exactly what you will get. (Of course with digital, that's not a trick!).   Now, I was a tad dishonest in saying that you can't capture all of the elements of a scene. You can hint at them. For starters, motion. Yes, even in a still picture, there is motion. Something happened before, during and after your picture. In a mountain vista scene, you may find something that hints at motion, whether it be a branch of a tree that has been swaying in the breeze, or a river flowing through the valley below. These add a sense of motion.   Then there's the "rule of thirds." When you place the main object of the picture smack-dab in the middle, it is static and boring. Place it one third of the way from either side, and you IMPLY motion. Put the horizon in a landscape photo a third of the way up or down, not across the middle. Remember, when a person looks at a picture, their eyes move. You want to frame your photo to help that movement. If you can find some lines in the scene, such as a skyline, cloud formation, path through the forest, etcetera, use it interestingly, and with the rule of thirds to draw your viewer's eyes into the picture. Avoid "summit syndrome." You get to the top of Mount Washington and shoot the majestic vista. Great. The pictures come out ... boring! How? No PERSPECTIVE. Big vistas will be flat unless you have an object in the foreground, such as a rock or a tree, to give them perspective. Then the eye really grasps how big this scene is. People enjoying the view is a real winner, because the viewer may identify with their emotions, giving the image real impact. Cheese! Yes, you do have to take the family photos. It's obligatory. But when you do, make sure that they show the LOCATION of the photo. Otherwise, you might as well do it on your driveway. Frame the scene in context, with landmarks as part of the picture. Find a way to tell as story in the picture, such as little Sara climbing up the rocks by the waterfall. Finally, any element in the picture that hints at more senses than just the visual will make it  remarkable. Actor headshots for example, tell a story about the subject. You can almost hear them saying their next lines. If you photograph a garden, the viewer may experience the aroma of the flowers. A tourist street with an accordion player on the corner may have your amazed friends   whistling "Dixie." In summation, picture taking on travel is recording the experience in a satisfying way. Use motion, perspective, sensory, storytelling and so forth, to bring your photos to life. Oh, and needless to say, make your job easy and go to great places! See you at the overlook!

Using Film Speed Effectively


So you have this great new camera. Now you?re standing in front of a display of more film that you?ve ever seen. All you want to do is take some great family photos but you don?t know where to start. Here?s short guide to help you get started.

Using Film Speed Effectively (Black & White Film Thoughts)


It?s hard to find sometimes but it?s making a resurgence, black and white film. If you?ve never used this film now is the time to try it out. Here are some tips to using b&w film and what you can expect from the results.

Everybody is Fixing Their House or Apartment Up These Days. Use That Digital Camera to Capture


That?s right, you go through all the trouble of making your house or apartment nicer by hauling yourself off to the local fix it yourself store or hiring some professionals to come in and do it for you, so why not capture an accurate record of it for posterity. At almost no cost I might add.

Photography 101 Part 1


Photography 101

Tame Those Memories


Family vacations, summer weddings and family reunions are in full swing, and the warm memories and envelopes of photographs are ever growing! You certainly intend to organize them -- but the boxes in the attic are full of intentions, and now the photograph CDs are being to pile up! What can you do to stop the madness?

Bracketing and How To Use Tt Correctly...


What Is... Exposure Bracketing

Choosing The Right Digital Camera


Let's get something straight right out of the box. If you're looking to buy a new digital camera, you don't really have to be an expert in pixels and mega pixels and all that kind of stuff. If you expect to find that kind of deep technical discussion here, you're in the wrong place.

How Can I Preserve My Lifetime of Memories in Photographs?


Like most folks you have probably have organized and sorted your photos atleast once. The problem is they never seem to stay organized no matter how hard you try, and even if they do they seem to lack that original impact that they had shortly after you took them or if they do, you never drag them out until sadly, someone passes on.

Digital Cameras and Digital Photography


Before you rush into buying your digital camera this holiday season make sure your properly informed. Many consumers during the holiday season rush into purchasing electronic equipment in a mad panic to get that high end gift for their loved one or spouse.

Where Do Great Ideas Come From?


At a Photo Club meeting I attended recently, the President made a comment on another meeting he had attended, where someone in the audience asked the presenter where to find good subjects to photograph. The presenter in question started giving specifics instead of identifying the core issues in question, Attitude and Perspective.

Photography Jobs: Do You Have a Future in Photography?


There is a wide world of photography. It touches each of us in our lives on a daily basis in some form or another. Photography is so much a part of our culture now that we hardly even notice all the places that it exists. When you watch television, look at a magazine or even view a billboard on the highway, this is all because of photography. There are so many ways that photography crosses our lives each day. There are a lot of opportunities for someone looking for photography jobs.

Photography Contest - a fun and rewarding experience


Do you like to take photos? Are you always standing by with your camera waiting for that moment that is meant to be captured on camera? You may even be taking photography classes or maybe you have already completed a photography course and you want to share your photos with others. You may want to get into photography as a career and winning a photography contest will help you get recognized. Maybe you are just an amateur that has a favorite photo that people keep telling you to enter.

Black and White is Beautiful


Think about Laurel and Hardy for a moment, or Charlie Chaplin, and even Harold Lloyd. All true examples of early cinema genius. Today?s DVDs offer the opportunity of not only watching these classics in their pure black and white format but also in the DVD provides a colorized version. Essentially though the colorized version never quite looks right, even though it?s meant to look more modern and more realistic to latter day cinema.

Photographing Kids


Kids grow up so quickly and while we are often left with countless memories, most parents have only a drawer packed with school photos, blurry holiday snaps and the forced grin of the inevitable yearly birthday picture to account for the years gone by. It?s time to stop bemoaning the latest photograph of your thumb obscuring your adorable baby and get on with improving your skills as a photographer.

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