Tuesday, June 9, 2015


My roots in photography, starting over forty years ago, are in nature (National Parks), architectural and old cemeteries as fine art; entering prints and slides in PSA local and state competitions. I quickly learned that to be noticed in these competitions I could not be content to merely capture a scene, as it was, in front of my camera; no matter how well executed.  I had to take it to another level—a different view—show the judges some new aspect of a common subject…especially iconic subjects…that they had not seen before.

Delicate Arch - 16mm Fisheye Lens on Ektachrome I.R. Film 
This philosophy applies to the magazine editors at National Geographic or Outdoor Photographer or the editors at Getty Images, and also the curators at your local art gallery. An impactful, different, view of a common or iconic subject will make them STOP as they click through the huge number of images they see every day.

My first two tips are the most important and span all types of photography, especially….

Three dimensionality in flat art is created by shadows.  In portrait photography we MAKE the shadows with lighting (studio) or GOBOS (subtractive lighting) when outside. If you see no shadows when outside you’re either in the wrong spot or it’s the wrong time of day.

Flat Light                            and                          Short Light
In these images of the same subject in Pompeii, Italy; I photographed the Left image the way all the tourists did as they walked by: Flat Light with NO Three Dimensionality.  All I had to do was change my camera position 180ยบ and on the other side of the statue we now have Short Lighting (one of the basic types of portrait lighting) with dimension AND texture!

When doing travel photography don’t just do Landscape views (horizontal big views) like so many tourists do.  Use your lenses to crop the scene into compositionally pleasing pieces.  I’ll often take a large horizontal subject and do vertical slices of it showing it’s details.

               The Full Scene                                                          Cropped, in Camera, for better composition
The image on the Left is a “record-shot” of the entrance into one of the many Pompeii rooms with frescos on the walls.  I didn’t like the things on the floor in the middle or the white pipe to the right, so as I walked closer I pointed my camera Left and Zoomed to exclude the light at the roofline.  However, I did NOT ENTER the room because I had to include that beautiful wall, with the broken fresco on the Left!

This image shows basic composition:
  1. Foreground—the wall on the Left
  2. Mid-Ground—The broken pillar on the floor
  3. Background—The frescos on the corner walls behind the pillar
Before you go: Google the places you’re going and look at photos—I want to see what’s been done so I can do something different.  You may also discover a subject you didn’t know was there

TIP #4  — Upon arrival scout important locations; where is the sun rising/setting? Determine which subjects will have good light at Sunrise or Sunset.

TIP #5 — Can you access these sites when the light is good? What are the hours of the site and do they close? (This is part of your up-front research!)

TIP #6 — During the day (bad light) go do interiors—visit museums and churches; eat a long lunch…take a nap!

TIP #7 — Bring A.C power plug converters for Europe. (If you are cruising make sure you do your charging on the ship and you won’t need the adapters.

TIP #8 — Stay near (walking distance) to your primary subjects.

TIP #9 — A compact tripod is really handy. (I have a Digi-Pod!)

TIP # 10 — You need a Water repellant hat.  It’s a shade/gobo…I have a Tilley hat for summer and an Outdoor Research hat for winter use.

Next week I’ll continue the Travel Photography Tips with an emphasis on cruise travel photography. 

’Til next week….

Author:  Jerry W. Venz, PPA Certified, Master Photog., Craftsman
Training site:  http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com

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