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Digital Photo - A Traveler�s Lens
A Traveler’s Lens
How digital tech and lens evolution work together for travel photography
Armed with a wide zoom and a telephoto zoom, there’s little that a travel photographer can’t accomplish. The purpose here is to call attention to just how versatile the medium telephoto can be as an invaluable travel lens.
It’s safe to say that the primary reason that the vast majority of photographers choose to step up to an SLR in the first place is to achieve two key benefits that otherwise limit compact fixed-lens cameras: 1) eliminate shutter lag; and 2) add the ability to attach a telephoto lens to capture more distant subjects. Manufac-turers are responding to demand by offering camera-and-lens kits with lenses that are much more useful than the tepid 18-55mm. Once you start shooting with a telephoto zoom, you’ll quickly begin to enjoy the creative control that the broad spectrum of focal lengths affords you across a range of subjects.
While cameras have evolved rapidly with digital technology advancements related to sensor capacity and computing power in a continuing cycle of impending obsolescence, lenses have remained a sound investment. With each new step up in megapixels and image improvement, passed-over cameras, like old laptops, become as valuable as paperweights. Focal length and the ability to create compositions remains largely constant over time, and as of yet, there are virtually no digital substitutes for a lens’ resolving power or optical personality, which is why it’s always regrettable to see buyers splurge on a camera body and scrimp on lens quality or utility.
A number of manufacturers offer zooms with a maximum focal length of 200mm to 300mm. There are two primary features that you’ll want. First, it’s useful for the maximum aperture not to exceed ƒ/5.6. Beyond that aperture, the lens will lack sufficient light-gathering capabilities in lower-light situations, causing you to rely on higher ISO settings—perhaps 800 and above. While the latest models of digital cameras do an excellent job of minimizing noise at higher ISO settings, I’d rather place more responsibility on the quality of the lens. The second important feature, and one that goes hand in hand with aperture, is image stabilization. Now that stabilization has become an affordable option, there’s no excuse for using a lens without it.
Digital Photo - Top Travel Camera Tips
Top Travel Camera Tips - 4/27/09
Protect your gear, and your pictures
Summer’s almost here, and that means one thing. To quote the immortal words of The Go-Go’s, “Vacation. All I ever wanted.” Alas, Belinda Carlisle probably wasn’t traveling with a camera. If she were, her lyrics surely would have contained more practical advice on protecting such sensitive equipment and important images. Traveling with a camera can be tricky, but these lyrics… er, tips… can help make it a bit easier.
The Fine Art of Travel Photography
The Fine Art of Travel Photography
Think like an artist—not a tourist—for great travel photos
Detail shots using a macro lens or close-up filters can bring you up close and personal with a whole other world. A simple set of close-up filters can be carried in the camera bag. I carry a couple of setup and step-down rings so I can use one set with a variety of diopters with any lens.
Creating pictures that tell a story has been the mainstay of travel magazines since their inception. Travel editors have a mantra that must be taken to heart before approaching a publication with an idea: “A location is not a story.” Look for stories that give the viewer an inside look into a culture by focusing on a person, a ritual, an aspect of history—the list is endless.
The best photo essays often are those that come from a personal interest, so search “inside” before you go outside looking for ideas. Even if you’re not pitching an article, thinking in this way will make your personal slideshows much more compelling for your viewers.
Your work isn’t complete until the images from the trip are put in a form that you and others can appreciate. For me, the ultimate expression is a printed book. In recent years, a number of companies have made it both feasible and affordable to produce personal photography books of high quality in a short amount of time. These books can act as a portfolio piece or just a great way to share your experiences with others.
In addition to numerous editorial and commercial assignments, Mark Edward Harris’ books include Faces of the Twentieth Century: Master Photographers and Their Work, The Way of the Japanese Bath, Wanderlust, Inside North Korea and Inside Iran. The recipient of a number of awards, Harris teaches travel photography workshops at the Julia Dean Photo Workshops, the Mentor Series, Art Center School of Design and Santa Fe Photographic Work...