Thursday, April 7, 2016


Vacation is just around the corner !
Here is what you need for
preparations (photographically)

With the good weather approaching, like it is here where I live, you can't help but get a little excited about planning for your vacation this year.  Kids are out of school in less than 2 months (in this area), and if you haven't made plans, you need to.  Where are you going to go?  What are you going to do?  What equipment should I take?  All these questions are going to come up.  And I am going to help you.  Because, we have all found that once you get on your vacation, you will wish you had this, or that, or I wonder what I should take pictures of to make it even more memorable.  So, let's get started with some real good things to go over:

When packing for your vacation, keep these things in mind:
  • Camera(s), batteries + extras, memory cards + extras, and battery charger ( if applicable.
  • External flash (if needed), tripod, portable storage device
  • Power adapter if traveling abroad
  • Camera case - weatherproof if you are going to a beach or around the pool.  If you are going to a moist climate, bring some silica gel to pack in your bag.
  • An underwater camera.  This could be priceless to have, around the pool, at the ocean, bring a disposable one if you don't have one.
  • Make sure you have a strap on your camera, or a wrist strap.  The cameras always will fall if you don't, or someone may attempt to steal it, and the extra protection will be worth it.  Don't lose your memories.
Be sure that before you leave, you have fully charged batteries.  Make sure, also, that your memory card is clear.  Don't bring one that is almost full.  Clear the card before you go.  Or just bring a new one.  Don't take the chance of losing older memories.  

Also, before you leave, get some travel information about the places you are going to.  Pre-plan some of the shots you want to take.  What will be happening during the time you are there?  Get online and check out the many websites that cover that particular area.  Plan your schedule according to the things that are happening at those locations.  Think of the spectacular things that could happen:  A sunrise over the Rocky Mountains?  The fireworks over the Eiffel Tower?  A picture of feeding time for the elephants at the San Diego Zoo.  The grand opening of something new at Disneyland:

Find out these schedules so you can be a part of these places you go.  If you are going to a resort area, those resort areas plan on something extra during the vacation time.  Find out what it is.  Email them and ask if there is anything special going on during the time you want to be there.

Oh, does that mean you have to be good at "selfies"?  No, I don't think so.  All amateurs do selfie's.  Find a little more class or professionalism in your photos with you in them.  Ask someone to take a picture of you, or your family.  Find another tourist.  Doing favors back and forth is a great idea:
 If you are worried about giving a stranger your very expensive camera, then give the strange some disposable camera or something that doesn't matter so much.  How can they mess that up?   But, that might be the safest way to get a good picture of yourself.

If you are visiting family or friends, make sure you get pictures with them as well.  That will prove to many people that you really were there.  And then you will want to make copies or send a copy back to your friends or family as well.

  • Capture the anticipation of your trip.  Take pictures of your family packing the car, getting on the plane, sleeping at the airport while waiting for your flight.  The journey is part of the memories.
  • Make sure when you take pictures of people during your vacation that you use good composition.  Remember that you are really taking pictures of your vacation, and not the people.  The people are in the picture to prove they were there, but, really you want to see the background, if someone is in the picture.  So, divide the photo in thirds, like we have learned in good composition, and put your people in one of those crossing points of thirds for greater impact.  

  • Try to get your people to tell a story.  Have them do something rather than just pose for the camera.  If they are in front of the scenery, have them in the picture looking at the scenery too.  Get pictures of the eating in a local cafe, leaning on street sign, swimming at the beach, etc.
  • Try to get some action shots.  How about the first time they try chocolate covered ants, or when the elephant sneezes all over them at the zoo, or feeding the pigeons at the park, etc.  That makes it a lot more interesting.
  • Take a look at the entire scene.  Often, national parks will have a special spot to take a picture.  See if there is another location that might be more interesting, that no one else will get.  Can you even crouch down to get a different angle that might be different.  
  • Think about the distance you are away from subjects.  If you are taking a picture of a house in the distance, that will appear as just a dot in a small photo.  Use your zoom lens or bigger lens to move into that subject more if you can.
  • If you are taking pictures of landscape, make sure there are no objects that will detract from the photo.  Watch for cars, light poles, wires from pole to poles, and someone else in the picture in a distance.  How about a road that you don't want in the picture?  Can you move around to get rid of your object.

  • Take advantage of the different types of auto modes on your camera.  On one of my cameras, I have a landscape mode, and what it does is, it enhances the colors of my landscapes.  I compared the shot I took with the same one my wife took, and it was remarkably better.  There are also panoramic modes, AV mode, which will give it a greater depth of field, and if you are up in the snow, or sand, use the Snow / Sand mode.  Yes, there is such a mode on cameras now, and they work great.     

If you go to a different part of the country, and they have unique things quite different than what you are used to, take a picture of it.  How do you describe that to someone when you get back home?  A picture is certainly worth a thousand words in this case.  If you go to other countries, then you must take pictures of their culture, their unique lifestyle, their streets, their people, etc.  That is the only way to describe that to other people when you get home.

I remember being in Japan once, and was surprised that the water heater was small and just right above the sink in the kitchen.  I had to take a picture of that to show my family how the water heater is made and how it works in Japan.  Also, if you go to another country, you may find your favorite potato chip is there, available, but, you can't read the package anymore.  So, you should take a picture of that too.  Also, back to Japan, I remember eating at KFC, and looking at the menu there, and finding that on the menu you could order chicken gizzards and liver.  Why don't they serve that here in the U.S?  Strange that it is not the same all over.  And to be strange, where I live here in the United States (Utah), when you go to order French Fries, they ask you if you want fry sauce or Ketchup.  And everyone here loves Fry sauce.  And you can't hardly find Fry Sauce anywhere else but here in Utah.   So, things are different everywhere you go.

Now, before I go into a special gallery of vacation Photos, I have one more story that I love to tell.   When my family was going on a vacation in Yellowstone National Park, I was amazed at how beautiful the scenery was.  We were driving along and, it seems that everyone else was more amazed at all the wildlife and experiences you can have with the wildlife in Yellowstone

National Park.  Every time you would drive along and see lots of cars pulled over to the side of the road, you were sure there was some wildlife there somewhere that everyone was taking pictures of.  Well, I was driving along, and was fascinated by a certain scenery shot that I just had to pull over and get a picture of.  I pulled over to the side of the road, grabbed my camera and tripod and got it all set up to take the picture, and the next thing I know, I have 20 cars all piled up around our car, and people running down by me asking what animal I was taking pictures of.  When I told them I was just taking pictures of the scenery, they all just got all "huffy" and got back in their car and left.  I thought it was interesting that no one could see what I was seeing in that magnificent scenery.  So, I learned something that day.  There is not that many serious landscape photographers out there.  There is just a bunch of "sheep" out there in the photographic world, and it is our challenge to do something different than the average photographer.   So, with that, I have found a few good vacation photos that I want to share that "good"  photographers have taken.  

I hope you have enjoyed this SPECIAL EDITION of Vacation Planning special, and now a SPECIAL EDITION GALLERY OF PHOTOS OF VARIOUS VACATION SHOTS AROUND THE WORLD.   




The best beaches in Puerto Rico

How about riding an elephant on the beautiful white sands of an Asian Beach

Ever wanted to see the Northern Lights?  How about this time of year, when It's not so cold..

This is awarded the "happiest" country in the world.  Would you guess:  Denmark  

Ahhh, the beautiful beaches of Croatia 

Domaine des √Čtangs in Massignac, France
And this is a hotel !!!
Enjoy wondrous views on one of the most scenic train routes in Switzerland

Kaieteur Falls, Guyana

The Wave, Coyote Buttes, AZ and UT

The beautiful Alaska

"This is the real China," said the American photographer, sipping whiskey on the patio of the Niccolo, a new luxury hotel in downtown Chengdu. “This is it, man, this is where it’s really at.” We were schmoozing around the hotel bar at an event sponsored by the American Chamber of Commerce, surrounded most immediately by an assortment of meat-and-cheese plates, and beyond that by the skyscrapers of Chengdu’s commercial center. “I don’t think it is,” said a British hotelier, as politely as possible. “Not the real China.” He nodded down at the shops below us. “Not here with Tiffany and Cartier and whatever that one is.” The photographer, seeing his challenger’s point, hedged. “Well if you go out of town twenty miles, you’ll find it there,” he said.
It wasn’t the first time I’d heard an expat waxing on about realness or the lack thereof in China. For many foreigners, there’s a geographical hierarchy of authenticity. Shanghai is at the silicone-fake end of the spectrum. (Hong Kong doesn’t even register.) Beijing is slightly better, with its end-of-days traffic, shoddy English, and general chaotic whirl. Chongqing, Wuhan, Changsha: legit. Get down to your third-tier cities like Zhuhai, Shijiazhuang, or Taiyuan, and you may have some hope of experiencing real, lung-blackening, gut-lacerating, Imodium-proof China. If you want something really real—possibly too real—go to the countryside.
Chengdu falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. It’s not quite a Tier 1 city—maybe 1.5, with a population of 14 million—but it has grown rapidly in recent years, and now has many of the markings of a cosmopolitan Chinese metropolis, including multiple ring roads, colossal malls with international brand-name stores, and pollution you can taste. Yet it has also somehow managed to remain distinct: slow where Shanghai is fast, green where Beijing is gray, provincial where Guangzhou is internationalized. As the capital of Sichuan province, it’s beloved by foodies, and traditional arts like Shu brocade and Sichuan opera survive, albeit largely for tourists. It has a sense of place—there is a there there— that may be what the photographer was referring to when he called it “the real China.”

This wild kangaroo decided to join a group of Australian beachgoers.

This gallery of photos courtesy of Travel + Leisure .

Hope you enjoyed this SPECIAL EDITION ON VACATIONS.   How to take pictures and prepare photographically for your vacations, and then a great gallery of some of the best places in the world for taking your vacations.  We live in a great world, don't we?  

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