In a couple of months, many of you will be gearing up for the annual
overseas trip to see relatives “back home”. In around three months many of
you will then be showing your travel shots from ‘over there’ to friends
‘over here’, and will be very disappointed with the results.
by Ernie Kuehnelt)
Let’s see if we can get you over some common hurdles and improve this
situation. The first thing to remember is that travel shots are not all
portraits. Sure, everyone wants to see how granddad looks these days, so be
prepared to take some dedicated portrait shots of him and grandma. Do not
try and incorporate granddad, grandma and the three cousins standing outside
the village fountain while eating ice creams. It won’t make a good travel
shot and neither does it make for good portraits.
With digital cameras, now you can see if you’ve got it in one second. All
you have to do is look critically at your images! If you haven’t got the
shot you wanted, you are still there and can take it again. For that reason
alone, you should take a digital camera with you on holidays.
However, there are many other good reasons, including the fact that the
memory chip is not affected by the airport security scanners. You can take
two or three memory cards with you without using up space in handbags. And
photoshops all over the world can read the cards very easily and burn you a
However, to come back with some cracker holiday shots is not all that
difficult, it just needs some thought and time. Not taking the correct
amount of time in shooting is probably the number one reason for getting
disappointing results. The corollary is that by taking time, you will get
Take a look at the shot this week of the Cambodian girl on the bicycle. This
was taken by a keen amateur, the late Ernie Kuehnelt, and took one hour. No,
he did not get the girl to cycle back and forth for 60 minutes, but he
stayed in position (in the shade) close to a bridge in Siem Reap for one
hour. During that time he snapped interesting looking subjects and this shot
was one of the best. It is a wonderfully evocative shot that shows the
lifestyle of a Cambodian peasant girl. By the way, the shot was taken using
the follow focus facility, and it certainly worked well.
What is worth noting from Ernie Kuehnelt’s photograph is that he came back
with images of Cambodia, not photographs of “me beside a temple” or “me
taken with our guide”. Your camera should be used to record the places you
visited, not just you on your holidays. The former kinds of photographs are
interesting. The latter are not, other than to your mother!
Before your trip, you should also have some ideas on the subject matter.
This you can get from the internet or your friendly travel agent, but if you
are going to Koln, for example, you have to put some time aside for the
cathedral and the river transport there. Or if you are going to Canada, try
to make sure you get a moose. Or if going to the US, look for Mickey Mouse.
What camera should you take? Well, unless you are hoping to send the
photographs to National Geographic, I would probably suggest you leave the
expensive digital SLR at home. Why? Because lugging an expensive camera
around tourist spots can be a chore, as well as worrying about its welfare.
Ever tried to fit one camera and lenses, into a hotel security box? A point
and shoot compact with a mini-zoom would be my choice, and a large capacity
memory card, or even two of 4 GB each.
Finally, think about how you are going to present the results. It is always
a huge temptation to rush in as you get back. Wait! Sort them, keep the good
ones, delete the bad. Put your best shots on CD and think about an on-line
site or in the “cloud” that will host your shots for the world to access.