As a 25-year veteran writer and photographer for National Geographic Magazine, Robert Caputoâ€™s work has ranged from documenting traditional cultures and wildlife to covering wars, famines, and political strife. Assignments in Africa, Asia, South and North America included text and stories about the Nile, Congo, and Orinoco Rivers, the rehabilitation of orphan black bear cubs in New Hampshire, HIV/AIDS in Uganda, the Kingdom of Mustang, and an in-depth look at the Horn of Africa. During this time, he won awards from NPPA (National Press Photographers Association) Pictures of the Year, Communication Arts, and The Society of American Travel Writers Foundation (The Lowell Thomas Award). Solo shows include Horn of Africa in Perpignan, Recent Works in Birmingham, Alabama, and Shoot to thrill at the Delaware Museum of Natural History.
Contents Itroduction to travel photography
Travel photography tips
landscape photography tips
Portrait photography tips
Adventure photography tips
Travel Photography Robert Caputo
Each place we visit has its own particular look, character, and ambiance. If we want photographs of our travels to be good and lasting, they should capture all of these qualities, and say as much about a place as give the literal look of it. We are unlikely to long remember the smell and buzz of a flower garden in spring, the awe of gazing for the first time at the mountain we intend to climb, the caress of a tropical breeze, the thrill of a huge roller coaster, the wonder of our first wild bear, or the adrenaline of rafting white water. Our photographs need to bring these and other sensations back, to trigger our memories, and to communicate how we felt to others. To do this, we need to think and feel as much as look when setting out to make photographs. First and foremost, think about what made you decide, out of all the places in the world, to choose this particular destination. Whatever it is the beach, the rides, the mountain, the galleries, the food obviously appeals to you. If it didnâ€™t, you wouldnâ€™t be going there. That site or activity (or inactivity) is one of the things you want to photograph. But there are probably many other interesting
aspects of the place you may not be aware of. That’s where research comes in. Read brochures and travel books. Go to libraries, bookstores, or onto the Web. Talk to friends who have been there. Pick up travel information at the country’s embassy. Find whatever you can that is relevant, and devour it. Understanding the customs and traditions of a place is vital. For one thing, you want to be sure you act in a way that is not rude or offensive while you are there, and it’s hard to know what’s acceptable and what isn’t with some knowledge. It can also help you understand things people do that at first encounter you might consider incomprehensible or even horrifying. When you arrive at your destination, be open and try to take note of the first impressions write them down if you have to. (A notebook is an essential accessory for a travel photographer.) When you see a place for the first time from the plane window, or when you drive
around a bend and there it is, or as the ship nears some distant island how do you feel? Where do your eyes go first? What do you notice about the place right away? A smell? The heat or cold? Blistering sunlight? Mysterious fog? A particular building or vista? The way people move? Their dress? Whatever it is, remember it. First impressions are invaluable sparks to creative interpretation, and by definition are not repeatable. You’ve seen the place in pictures, you’ve read about it. Now you’re there, and all your senses can partake. Get out there. The only way to discover the rhythm of life in a place, and so figure out what to shoot, is to experience it. Many places, particularly hot ones, are active very early in the morning and late in the afternoon but rather in a lull around midday. Get up early, stay out late. If you are on a
tour that is scheduled to leave the hotel or ship at 9:00, get up well before dawn. Wander around before meeting up with your companions. If the tour goes back to the hotel or ship for lunch, don’t go with them. Rather than take the bus back at the end of an afternoon tour, hang around until after sunset and then take a taxi. Use any spare time to get out and look for photographs. Besides availing yourself of more opportunities, time spent discovering the place will enrich your experience. Get lost. Wander down alleys. Sit in cafés and watch life pass by. Don’t eat where the tourists do, but where you see locals. Just set off down a street and see where it leads. Look around the bends, over the rises. Get away from the crowd. If you meander away from the tourists and tourist sites, away from what is too familiar and comfortable, it’s much easier to adapt to the rhythm of a place, and to be more observant.
Travel Photography Travel photography is a subcategory of photography involving the documentation of an areaâ€™s landscape, people, cultures, customs and history. Each place we visit has its own particular look, character, and ambiance.
Keep your eyes open and camera ready as you head out into the world. Architecture, colors, and mountains all give us a sense of place. Donâ€™t be shy about photographing people. The ways they are dressed and the ways they behave can help your images convey both the look and feeling of different seasons in different places. The Internet offers a great way to do research. Search for both information and pictures of the place youâ€™re going. Good research helps you save precious time on your trip.
Carry a notebook that fits easily into your camera bag, and take notes about both what you want to photograph and what you already have. When you cover a lot of subjects, it’s easy to forget. Getting lost is a great way to meet people. Don’t be shy about asking for directions. When packing gear for a trip, carefully consider each item. When was the last time you used it? Are you really likely to need it? If the answers are “a long time” and “no,” leave it behind. You don’t want to be overburdened with equipment. Quite often, foreground elements are low to the ground. You may have to squat or lie down to get them properly placed in the frame. Be patient and friendly with customs and security inspectors at home and abroad. They have a difficult job, and getting impatient with them usually means it just takes longer.
Get creative... Travel Photography
Wherever you go, be on the lookout for humour you can incorporate into your photographs. Practice and experimentation are the keys to doing anything well. Try different compositional techniques on your family and friends and study the results before you set off on a trip. Donâ€™t be shy about photographing people. The ways they are dressed and the ways they behave can help your images convey both the look and feeling of different seasons in different places. Practice motion photography at home before you leave. Go to an amusement park with rides, a race track, or even a nearby highway. You donâ€™t want to waste precious time on your trip learning.
When you are on a trip, make an effort to get ahead of your companions so you can photograph them in the environment. Go in the first raft, on the first bus, or whatever, and shoot back. Check the weather forecast in the local media as soon as you arrive somewhere so you can make plans for sunny, cloudy, or rainy days. If you are without a tripod but want to shoot with a long shutter speed, set your camera on your camera bag, bundle up your jacket into a pillow, and use that there is always something you can use for support.
Use some distinctive feature of the place you are visiting as a silhouette against a rising or setting sun. The sun itself is too hot to photograph unless it is masked by haze or some object
Landscape Photography Landscape photography is a genre intended to show different spaces within the world, sometimes vast and unending, but other times microscopic. This popular style of photography is practiced by professionals and amateurs alike
Take time to explore. Part of the joy of landscape photography is being out in nature. Wander around and get a sense of the place. It will take time and patience to discover the best way to show what makes it unique. Lens flare can be a problem with wide lenses. Use your hand or a piece of cardboard to screen the lens from the sun but keep the screen out of the frame. Visualize your photograph. Create the image in your mind the way a painter would create it on a canvas. Then think about the time, light, and composition that will translate what you see in your mind into a photograph.
Itâ€™s much more fruitful to spend time on one or two locations than to race around. A great shot of one place beats several mediocre ones of many. Such an approach allows you to be creative. Once you have recorded the image you were thinking about, try something different. Climb a tree, wade out to the middle of a stream, use a flower or other object in the foreground, and try another lens or a slow shutter speed. Play with the subject and your gear. Have fun. You may be surprised at the results, and you will often capture something more than what postcards showâ€”something original and quite personal. Never be content with what you see in the viewfinder the first time you raise it to your eye. Move around, lie down, find a different angle. Get out before sunrise and stay out after sunset the times when the light is best. Use the harsher light of midday to scout.
Use wide angle lenses.
Use the rule of Thirds... 19
Lead in lines
Framing can be very helpful when you cannot get close to your subject. It can give you an interesting way to deal with empty space in the foreground or in the sky. Since we usually look for details, it can be harder to see blocks of colour or shape. Squint a bit: Details will blur and you will see things as masses. If you are with friends, donâ€™t be shy about using them in images to get a sense of scale. But remember that the photos are of the place, not the people. If you are staying in one place for several days, check out the long-range weather forecast and plan your shoots around the weather that is best for specific subjects.
To learn how light direction affects the look and feel of images, photograph a tree lit from the front, the side, and the back. Gaffer’s tape is an essential photographic accessory. Among its innumerable uses: taping reflectors and flashes in place, labelling film type on the back of cameras, and sealing camera cases. When making long exposures, use a remote release to avoid camera movement. If you don’t have a remote release, use the camera’s self-timer. And be mindful of any breeze that might be moving your subject.
Avoid getting your equipment wet. If you are shooting near a fall that is sending up a lot of spray, cover your camera with a plastic bag as you would to protect it from rain. If it or a lens gets wet, wipe the item immediately and put in the sun to dry. Be careful in the placement of foreground elements. You donâ€™t want them to detract from what your photograph is really about. If you want circular star trails, point the camera at the North Star. Buy a small liquid level and attach it to your tripod head.
Portrait Photography Portrait photography or portraiture is the capture by means of photography of the likeness of a person or a small group of people (a group portrait), in which the face and expression is predominant. The objective is to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of the subject.
Work your way into a situation. If you see something interesting, don’t be satisfied with just a wide shot. Think about the essence of what you are photographing and work closer and closer until you have isolated and captured it. Don’t be shy. People are usually happy to show you what they do well. Create a catch-light in the subject’s eyes with a small reflector, such as a dulled mirror or the silver side of a CD, to add a bit of glimmer. If you don’t have a tripod and want to shoot with a long lens and slow shutter speed, use your camera bag to cradle the camera. If you’re using a really slow speed, use a self-timer to avoid shake.
Donâ€™t just stand there sit, squat, lie down. The angle from which you make a photograph can make a dramatic difference. A piece of very light orange gel over the face of your electronic flash can warm up the light and give it a more pleasing cast. Be patient. Street scenes change by the millisecond. Find a spot you like, get comfortable, and wait, watching all the time for the elements to fall together. When photographing people interacting with each other or with pets, observe their behavior and think about what they might do to express the essence of the relationship. If you use objects other than your main subject in the fore ground, be careful of placement. You donâ€™t want to obscure or detract from your subject..
Fill the frame.
Photograph the subject in their native environment.
Be yourself and shoot what you love...
While looking through your telephoto lens, scan around the scene looking for patterns. Portraits of people from other cultures have to do double duty they have to be honest about the exotic nature of the people while conveying our common humanity. If you are travelling in a foreign land, learn at least a few phrases of the local language. Your reception and ability to make photograph and your whole experience will be enhanced. Practice in your neighbourhood. Go out into the street and make frozen, blurred, and panned images of passing cars. When making environmental portraits, take the time to find out what your subjects really care about and have them show it to you.
Every time you hold your camera to your eye, look for leading lines, foreground elements, frames anything you can use to lend dynamism to your image. Photographs are two dimensional but it helps if they look and feel three dimensional.
Anticipate kidsâ€™ behaviour. If they are playing tag, set up near the base, compose your image, and wait for them to come running in. When using an electronic flash indoors, move your subject away from walls to prevent harsh shadows. Be careful if you are using a wide-angle lens to photograph a group. The people at the edges may get distorted. To avoid being too anatomical when photographing the human form, try using soft focus or a little blur. When you first arrive at a new location, make note of any features that strike you. Try to find ways to incorporate them into your composition. If kids want to look through the camera, let them. They will be more relaxed and cooperative. Just watch out for dirty fingers on the lens.
Adventure Photography Adventure photography is probably the only field of photography that is exclusively shot by participants. You can use your proximity to help you focus on both the subject matter and the emotion of the events as they develop. In a large part, adventure photography is about telling a story.
Though useful for holding big heavy lenses, and for long exposures, tripods usually slow the action photographer down. Think very carefully about your use of the tripod before you bring one. A monopod is a very lightweight alternative to a tripod for following action and shooting with a big lens. Donâ€™t always use the camera rectangle to frame your picture. Look for natural frames, such as an arch or the shaded walls of a canyon. A frame can be a dramatic device to enhance your subject.
Remember to keep your cameras clean. During times of blowing dust or sand, avoid changing film or, with digital cameras, changing lenses. Wait until the storm has passed or open the camera in a clean sand- and dust-free environment indoors. When shooting portraits, try backing up a little to include the environment around the person. When you see a unique event unfold, donâ€™t waste time make the best of the equipment you have in your hands, find the best position to compose the shot, and start shooting. Donâ€™t worry about wasting film or memory on your card.
Show the Whole Story... Adventure Photography
Try POV (point of view) shots, shooting from unusual angles or from the viewpoint of the participant you are photographing. POV angles are effective in bringing the viewer into the action of the scene. Keep your flash close at hand. Just a light touch of electronic flash can add a sparkle to a personâ€™s eye or pump up colour in a drab scene. After you have made a wide shot, move in closer to capture detail photos these often contain their own stories. Always keep an eye on camera frame numbers and battery levels, and make sure your camera is set for rapid shooting. If youâ€™re just a few frames from the end of a roll of film, or from filling your digital memory card, change it out if you anticipate any action.
Cameras and flashes have complex program modes, so always travel with a copy of the instruction manual. These technical manuals are usually in several languages copy only one language to save weight and bulk. Carry a couple of one-gallon Ziploc bags. They are waterproof and dustproof and can be used to protect lenses and film. A bag can also be fashioned into a tent cover for your camera so you can shoot in the rain. In foreign countries, often the simple act of pointing to your camera and pointing to the subject is enough to communicate the fact that youâ€™d like to photograph
them. Always read up about native customs before travelling to a foreign culture. Always smile. Always be on the lookout for humour. You might be surprised at how frequently it shows up, even in the most extreme environments. When shooting adventure and action, know the abilities of the people youâ€™re photographing to avoid accidents. People will often exceed the limits of their ability for the camera. Must have gear for shooting in the sun on an open playing field are a hat, water, and an energy bar.
Designed and edited byPalash Jain
Travel photography is a subcategory of photography involving the documentation of an areaâ€™s landscape, people, cultures, customs and history. So this book gives a small introduction to a travel photography and tips to make your photography better.