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Nic Rossmüller : May 24th 2006 - 00:04 CET

PMA Provides Photo Tips for National Photo Month

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PMAPMA Provides Photo Tips for National Photo Month : May is National Photo Month, and Photo Marketing Association International (PMA) reminds consumers it's time to take great spring pictures. And that also means summer is not too far behind which means vacation/travel photos will soon be captured as well. You've seen beautiful travel photos by professional photographers and you may wonder why your photos aren't as good, colorful, or dramatic. The truth is, when on a bus tour, cruise ship, or a vacation trip, you will seldom be at the destination location at the "right" time of day for photography. Usually the best time for atmospheric landscape shots is near sunrise or sunset. PMA provides Photo tips to get beautiful photos.
PMA Provides Photo Tips for National Photo MonthNational Geographic for Examples
Study National Geographic, or any top-notch travel magazine, and you can usually bet that the professional photographer spent half a day, or at least several hours, at the location waiting for the "light to be right." Since twilight or sunset is measured in a few minutes, that's all the time the professional had to shoot the pictures, but he had hours to prepare. The average tourist can't wait for the light to be just right, or the mist to roll in from the sea on time. Therefore, your secret to good photography is to shoot hundreds of photos on vacation, but only show your greatest ones to family and friends.

Digital photographers - Choose before print
Luckily, digital photographers can see their pictures on the camera's LCD monitors and even choose the ones they want to keep before making prints. If you do this, and you have a good eye for pictures, you will quickly get the reputation of being a fantastic photographer. Since digital cameras let you peek at your photos on LCD monitor screens immediately after making exposures, you have a great advantage over film-camera photographers. This can be a great learning experience on taking better photos while still on location.

Photo tips for great photos with a tour group:
• Learn to operate your camera by heart and be ready to shoot at a moment's notice. Study how to change camera modes from portrait to action shots in a second, or how to turn on the flash for shady, outdoor locations. Most cameras have many special features and you should to learn how to use them before travel picture opportunities pass you by. Zoom lenses are a real plus for filling the viewfinder, since cropping can make a digital photo less sharp.
• Noon light (directly overhead) is not particularly flattering for portrait photography. However, it can be attractive when photographing architecture, since it brings out the texture of the walls. Study photos you enjoy and try to determine where the light is coming from. You can learn to use light direction to improve your own photography.
• Buy an auxiliary flash unit that can be used off-camera. Having a second flash unit, not attached to the camera, will create photos with a professional look both indoors and out. Cameras with "hot shoe" contacts provide cable connectivity to the auxiliary flash unit and you can fire both the built-in and off-camera flash units simultaneously. Some auxiliary units are wireless and can be used off-camera without cables.
• If you can, get up early at your destination hotel and survey the location before the rest of the tour group. Often you can find many photo opportunities before other tourists overrun the entire landscape. In the same vein, try to be one of the first off the bus during a stop and take your sightseeing photos while the ground is still "fresh."
• Don't overlook local inhabitants as photo subjects. You can make some fine portraits of shop and kiosk owners as they sell spices, fruit, hats, masks, etc. Usually the handmade products are colorful and the locals often have strong, unique faces.
• It's impossible to take a sharp landscape photo from a moving tour bus, so give that up. You can try to make blurred impressionist photos that capture movement and landscape colors. At night, using slow shutter speeds, colorful "light paintings" of downtown signs with a handheld camera.
• Finally, try to think ahead and be ready with the correct equipment for the tour's photo events. Bring a flash for the evening's flamenco dance performance. Expect to use your telephoto extender when entering a game reserve, or be sure to pack your wide-angle supplementary lens when trekking through historic temples and churches. In addition to the obligatory travel destination and family group shots, look for other possibilities for attractive "editorial" travel photographs.

Three suggestions overlooked by amateur photographers:
• Don't snap "blah" landscapes. Wait for big wide-open vistas that can be cropped (top and bottom) into interesting panoramic formats. The subjects can be mountains, countryside, or cityscapes but you will make the pictures more interesting if you include some closer object that suggests depth, such as the silhouette of an overhanging tree branch, an open gate or archway, or even a rock formation in the foreground. (Be sure your focusing spot is on your main subject.)
• Interesting people: Too often amateur photographers are "afraid" of taking photographs of people and tend to stand too far back from their subjects. Get in close! If they are strangers, ask if it is okay take a photo (even if you have to use sign language and point to your camera). Then take a head-and-shoulders portrait of one subject or a group of subjects. The idea is to fill the photo with faces!
• Interesting details: When traveling, many photographers overlook small, attractive details that make great pictures. The subject can be almost anything that is eye-catching, such as a woven design on a fabric, a rusting house number, lace gloves on a child's hands, or silver decorations on a cowboy's hatband. Watch for these kinds of small details that, when shot up close, will make dramatic photos.

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