Getting organized

Close focusing (or macro capability) is another one of the digital camera's best features. By introducing details of the location you're visiting, you can trigger memories of your experience years after the trip has ended.

On that cruise I mention earlier in this chapter (in which the stateroom had only one electrical outlet), my wife and I were fortunate to stay in an owner's suite, one of the nicest cabins on the ship. Each afternoon, we received a treat of some sort from one of the ship's staff along with a card announcing whom it was from. Before enjoying our delicacies, we made sure to photograph the dish and card together, as shown in Figure 6-18, and kept the card for a scrapbook as well. The photo album from this trip includes many such details and provides a much fuller and richer representation of our trip.

Figure 6-18: Photograph keepsakes and other unusual bits of your environment as you travel.

Now take it a step further. Think of your photographic coverage as a series of still images that tell a story rather than a group of individual pictures that stand on their own (even though they should).

♦ Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs: Use street and highway signs, or even the one and only South Pole (shown in Figure 6-19), to show where you are or where you're going. Photograph maps and brochures, too. Don't just settle for snapshots of these images; try to use lighting and depth of field to turn them into interesting images in their own right.

♦ Cultural and language differences: Signs differ from country to country. In the United States, signs read End of construction. Years ago, on a trip through New Zealand, I photographed a sign, shown in Figure 6-20, that proclaimed, Works End, with a cemetery in the background.

♦ More signs: Street and road crew signs are only one type of photographic target, though. Distinctive shop, restaurant, and tavern signs also provide reminders of where you've been.

♦ Newspapers/newsstands: Check the local newsstands. In at least some countries, newsstands say something about where you're visiting. For that matter, a close-up of the day's headline during your visit can make a good introductory graphic if you're giving a presentation.

Figure 6-19: The South Pole is one sign that you've traveled far and wide.

Figure 6-20: A sure sign that your travel work is never really at an end.

♦ Trailheads: On a wilderness trip, most trailheads are well marked. Photograph the signs. Shoot the trail maps, too. Your packs, supplies, and other gear should also be documented. Follow the same approach if you're on a white-water, skydiving, or ski trip.

♦ White water: For white water, shoot as many rapids as possible. (Only my fellow paddlers will get that pun.) Photograph the rapids from the side because that field of view gives a better sense of scale than a head-on shot. If you can, get a raft or kayak in the photo because that will help show the rapid's size.

♦ River scenes: Wilderness rafting trips include many other photo opportunities as well. Photos of swimmers (the white-water euphemism for someone who's inadvertently become one with the river) and their rescue provide dramatic images. The lunch buffet (if on a commercial trip) provides an opportunity for humor if you get shots of some of the sandwiches the guides make. (Guides traditionally eat after the paying guests have gone through the buffet. As a result, some of the sandwich ingredients get pretty creative. Mine usually included cold cuts, veggies, chunky peanut butter, and thick slices of onion.)

♦ River scenes (part 2): Don't forget that white-water rivers generally offer spectacular scenery, too. Plus, you can take shots of all the preliminaries — inflating the rafts, getting gear together, putting on wet suits and life jackets.

♦ Rock climbing: Scenery, gear, climbers. Oh yeah, don't forget the rocks. Seriously, mix close-ups, wide-angle shots, and action images of the climbers. Take advantage of the bright colors and patterns of the clothing that rock climbers wear, and the chocks, friends, and nuts (protective equipment climbers use to anchor into the rock, for all you nonclimbers) are great subjects for close-up shots. So are chalk-covered fingers. Also, get lots of angles: Shoot from below, above, and alongside the climbers.

♦ Moods: Everything doesn't have to be bright and sunny in your travel photos. Don't be afraid to shoot moody, misty, rainy days, like the one shown in Figure 6-21, to show yet another side of your journey.

♦ Papers, please: Don't forget close-ups of your travel documents. They're also part of the story you're telling.

Figure 6-21: Even moody scenes can tell part of your travel story.

Book IV Chapter 6

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