Photographing Vacations and Travel

Whether you are going around the world or around the corner, here are some ideas to capture your family’s precious vacation moments.

Photographing at the Beach

A beach vacation is perhaps the most popular kind; who among us doesn’t appreciate the carefree days spend in the sand and sun by the shore. The beach can offer some of the biggest photo opportunities – and challenges. Fortunately there are plenty of ways to document the holiday, put pizzazz in your photos and protect your equipment.

Catch the Beach Action

Some family activities are unique only to the beach. Take pictures of your family building giant sand castles, digging to China and riding the waves. Nowhere else will you find a more perfect shot of a kid on a skim board amid a water flume or a baby chasing sea gulls into the surf. A day at the beach can be captured in pictures, too. Shots starting from getting into the car at the beginning of the day to tired kids returning to the house or condo at the end can give a treasured momento of family fun. Remember to include the water in the background of your beach pictures. Water has a soothing effect and makes a great backdrop. And, don’t forget popular ‘beach hangouts!’ Every beach has a boardwalk or beat up bait shack where people gather to socialize. Include some local flavor in your photos to remind you of the cultural ambience of your beach vacation spot.

Protect Your Gear

Sand, water and heat are your camera’s worst enemies. Remember to protect your equipment from the elements when at the beach. When you are not taking pictures, keep your camera and film in a zippered plastic bag out of the hot sun underneath a white towel. Remember to reload your camera in the shade so that the direct sunlight will not damage the film and make streaks on your pictures. If sand does get in your camera, first blow it off, then brush off any remaining grains with a lens cleaning brush. Consider taking a one-time use waterproof camera instead of your favorite expensive equipment; sand and water are unlikely to be a factor.

Place the Horizon Off-Center in Your Photographs

Ocean panoramics make compelling photographs, but remember that a horizon line at the center of the frame will slice the picture in half and make it far less appealing. Make sure your horizon is above or below dead center in your viewfinder.

Photographing at a National Park

National Parks are home to a bounty of wildlife and scenery. Take advantage of the beauty of a National Park when taking pictures of your vacation in the wild.

Capture the Landmarks by Using a Strong Point of Interest

Be sure to take pictures of some of the strong points of interest that can be found in any of our national parks. Geysers, waterfalls and meadows and streams are common and make beautiful backdrops for pictures – or can create a composition of their own. Remember to place your focal points and horizon off center to create visual interest in the photograph, and make sure that any people in your photographs are placed off center as well. Including people in your pictures can be a wonderful way to illustrate the size of the landmarks you are shooting. Remember to get in the picture too! Use of the self-timer is a good way to get yourself in the photo. Make sure to set the camera on a flat surface or tripod.

Take Pictures No Matter What the Weather

Even of the weather is terrible, don’t let that discourage you from taking pictures. The rain can make colors brighter, shadows shinier. If the day is overcast, a spot of color in a flower or bright t-shirt can make the picture brighter and make for an interesting composition.

Photographing at a Theme Park

The excitement of a theme park is a great backdrop for unique pictures. Your wife hanging upside down on a roller coaster, the kids dancing with cartoon characters, or everybody laughing along with a Wild West Show can make your photographs colorful and interesting. Make sure to have the camera ready at all times – you never know when that perfect shot will present itself.

Look for Colorful Details, Dazzling Night Lights and Fireworks

Colorful sets, murals and designs make theme parks the perfect place to take interesting pictures. Include the Haunted House, Cotton Candy Vendor and flower gardens in the backdrop of your vacation shots. Remember that night lights add a new dimension to your photos, and using a slow shutter speed will create colorful blurs of the lights on moving rides. Be sure to hold your camera steady in the dim light.

Theme parks typically have a fireworks show at night. Be sure to include a few shots of them in your vacation photo collection. To capture all the light variations of a day at the theme park, be sure to use a versatile film with a speed of 400, 800 or higher and no situation will escape your camera. Remember that a day at the theme park is a perfect situation for a photo story.

Photographing at a Zoo

The animals at the zoo will offer endless photo opportunities for the family photographer. Children’s emotions and reactions to the animals will provide an array of priceless photo opportunities that you will treasure. A day at the zoo is another perfect opportunity for a family photo story, too!

Lock the Focus

Since you can’t get close to the animals at the zoo, you will have to take your pictures from afar and through the fence. Get as close to the fence as possible and lock the focus on your subject. The fence in the foreground will go out of focus and practically disappear from view. Remember to lock the focus on the camera, you simply place your subject in the middle of the viewfinder and hold the shutter down halfway. Once you have the animal placed appropriately in the photo, press the shutter the rest of the way down to take the picture.

Use Natural Light

Remember that the flash can be your worst enemy when taking pictures. It won’t be bright enough to illuminate the birds in the rainforest exhibit and it will create an annoying reflection off the glass between you and the python or shark. Turn off the flash and trust your camera to do its best on the ‘no flash’ setting. The flash can be used when including people in the foreground of your picture, though. Just remember to shoot at a 45 degree angle so the flash reflection bounces away from your lens, not back into it.

The time we spend with our families, whether on vacation, at the zoo or a day at the park, is the time we will most want to remember. Take your camera with you and have it ready to document these special moments. The pictures you take while spending time with your family when they are growing up are your links to the fond memories you will treasure in the years to come.

Source information adapted from ‘Taking Great Pictures”


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