Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Going on Vacation? Photographic Advice, Part II

Vacation photography is a form of photo-journalism. In this case the events have personal family historical significance, but the mission is similar. You want a visual narrative of your trip, and the experiences of all who went on it with you. This is not as easy as it sounds, involving some thought and insight, all while enjoying the white-water experience of the vacay from your own viewpoint, and the zombie-fying glaze that settles in on about day three of any trip.

Every day is different for each member of the family. Try to focus on the highlights, yes, but also on everyone. Learn to work fast so as to bring some spontaneity to your trip pix, yet take the time to work situations, posed and candid. Remember to make good portraits, and be sure to back off to include overall shots. Everyone photographs food nowadays, but remember to do things like still life pictures of museums, decorations, hotel rooms (before and after you trash them). Many photo-cliche's exist for a reason. Do not be shy about making your own, even the usual frisky wife/hubby shots and those X-rated ones using the self-timer. The more photos you have to work with at the end of your trip, the greater the possibilities for making different types of albums.

Unless traveling with another photo-crazed person, it is best to focus on the shared experience, instead of risking mutiny by making everyone wait for "perfect light", etc. Like a photojournalist, traveling light and being able to work fast and thoroughly is of utmost importance.

A point-and-shoot is perfectly suited for this task, particularly the non-super-zoom kind. They close up flat, cover decent wide to portrait length tele, some do RAW mode (for when you dive deeper into photography). My recommendation in this category is the Canon S110 (about $450 or less).

Canon S110 camera.

 This is a first-rate small camera that is perfect for light travel. It lacks long zoom, but that long zoom means a bigger body, more weight, and to use those long focal lengths, you will need a tripod, too.

For a larger, fancier P&S, the Fuji X100 is an elegant, more professional instrument, with a great fast lensm a bigger sensor (here bigger is beter, specially (yes) in the dark. Cost? About $900.00 zoom. But all the old men on the tour will be asking you about it, and if you do your best, this thing is capable of first-rate results and easily of 16x20" prints, if you need to make some.

The current King of P&S's is the Sony DSC RX-1. It has a 24x36mm sensor, the same as pro DSLRs, yet is far more portable. 24 megapixels, great low light capability, RAW, big print sizes, etc. All for a measly $2,800.00 and big for a P&S, overkill for 99.9% of all vacationers.

Sony DSC RX-1

No matter which camera you get, purchase at least two extra batteries (from the same company as the camera), perhaps an extra charger (to speed up the charging process). It is essential to take far more than enough high quality, large capacity memory cards. Do not delete any pictures on these cards while on your trip. Even if you download to your laptop or tablet, do not format and re-use the cards until you have them stored in at least two locations (drives) after you get home.

Camera bags are like underwear. Highly personal items. Plan on spending time at the store making certain you like yours. Take your camera, batteries and one or two spare memory cards, make sure they fit, are accessible, and can be taken out and returned to the bag with ease. Get the smallest one that does this well. For P&S use, I prefer Lowe-Pro brand.


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