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Travel Photos - Practice at Home Before you Go

Taking photographs should be second nature to you. You should be able to pick up your camera and fire off a sequence of shots without needing to think about the mechanics of the operation. This is especially essential for the Travel Photographer, who frequently needs to grab a once-in-a-lifetime shot in a split second, before the scene moves on. But it is easy to lose the habit of taking photos, and the familiarity of your camera and its controls, if you are away from it for some time. During a long trip, after some days or weeks with the camera, you know by touch where all the buttons are and what they do. You know how to access the menu you want, and quickly make the changes in camera set-up. But as with any skill, if you don't practise it for a while, the details will start to go blurry in your mind, and you forget actions and methods that were previously second nature to you. What does that button do? Where is the menu item to change so-and-so? Its vital to know.

For most people who have a steady job and work a standard 9-5, Monday-Friday week, their annual holidays abroad are a major chance to take photographs. The sights they encounter from day # 1 of their holidays make them want to start clicking away immediately. So much is new and exciting, and there is little enough time to acclimatise to strange places, customs, and climates. You don't want to waste any of that time remembering how to use your camera, or wondering which settings to use to get the best out of your photographs. I would therefore suggest that it makes a lot of sense if you have not been taking photographs for a while to prepare yourself before the trip starts by practising a little. A simple and cheap way to do this is by going out to your local town or wilderness area, and spend a day taking photos in the same type of scenarios that you expect to encounter whilst you are away on holiday.

There is nothing new or novel about your home town, of course - its a place you have visited hundreds of times before. You need to use your imagination, and try to forget your previous knowledge of the area. How would your home town look from a traveller's viewpoint: someone who'd never been to the area before? Try to imagine how a visitor to your home town would see it, when his only introduction is the Lonely Planet guidebook or the leaflets supplied by the local tourist office. How can you quickly get an overview of the town, and locate the important landmarks and must-see locations? How can you find the hotel you've booked, and where is it in relation to the main bus or railway stations? Where are the major viewpoints, the must-see attractions? How would you book a taxi, and ask to be taken to where you want to go? Which restaurant serves the type of food that you are comfortable with? Are the locals happy to have their photo taken? These are all the tasks that you will have to accomplish when you begin your trip, so now is the time to practise them. Try and take a full portfolio of photographs of your local town or wilderness area in exactly the same way as you intend to when you are away. This is not just a valuable exercise in trip preparation - you will probably produce some saleable photos as well!

 

Read other articles in the Tim's Tips series...

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