Category Archives Travel Photography

Above: That’s me in Copenhagen back in 2011 shooting an all-in-one 18-200mm lens (photo by Terry White).

Greetings from Denver (I’m here for my Lightroom seminar today).

Last week I did a post responding to a flood of emails, texts, Facebook comments, direct messages about which is the best lens to use for travel photography and in that post I gave my lens picks for full frame camera users. Today we’re covering crop sensor lenses, and here it’s a whole lot easier because the lens I’m going to recommend is made by pretty much every lens manufacturer. As a remember: my goal is to travel with just one lens that does it all — that covers such an awesome range that:

(a) I don’t have to carry a 2nd lens at all

(b) Which means I don’t have to carry a camera bag with me either (it stays in my hotel room, mostly empty) and I don’t’ have to worry about someone snatching my camera bag because I don’t have one with me.

(c) I can still enjoy my vacation, which is really important.

Today, I’m just covering lens for Crop Sensor bodies (since I covered full frame lens picks last week).

Nikon Shooters: Get the Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G  VR II Lens ($646 at B&H Photo). This is a very lightweight, inexpensive, not super sharp lens. Yes, it’s not that sharp, but it’s sharp enough. I have a huge 60×40 print I took with it hanging it my house and it looks sharp as anything and people always comment on how sharp the shot looks (of course, I sharpened the image in Photoshop like I do any image), but at the end of the day, the lens is pretty decent. It’s a great deal for the money, and really convenient, and don’t listen to the goobers in online forums talk you out of it — you’ll really enjoy using this lens.

Canon Shooters (like me): Get the Canon 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 IS Lens for Canon (it’s $699 at B&H Photo.). Canon makes one in this same 18-200mm sweet spot and it’s really lightweight, coming in a just over a pound. Pretty decent sharpness at longer lengths; I remember it being not as sharp all the way out wide, but still — it’s sharp enough, and the price is so right.

Sony Shooters: Sony has their own 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS Lens (around $848 at B&H), which is a little pricey compared to the Canon and Sony models. I haven’t used this particular lens myself (so I’m just going on the range), but from the research I did online, it’s sharpness seems pretty much in line with the Nikon and CanonSony lenses, in that it doesn’t have awesome sharpness (and in this low price range, I’m not sure you’re going to experience “awesome sharpness”), but again, it seems sharp enough. There is always a trade-off, on any of these low-priced, lightweight, lens and the tradeoff is usually sharpness.

 

You might want to consider…

The Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD MACRO (the Macro part just means you can focus so close with it, it’s considered within “macro” range, but it’s a regular zoom lens). This is a really intriguing range because it’s wider than 18mm and 100mm longer on the long end, and it’s available for Canon, Nikon, and Sony. The reviews on it have been pretty much like the reviews for the 18-200mms I talked about above. The price is pretty insane ($499 at B&H), and it’s not too heavy at 1.7 lbs.

Tamron has announced an 18-400mm f/3.5-6.3, but it’s not out yet, but I think I’d rather have the 16mm wide, which is more useful for travel (for me, anyway) than the 400mm end would be (great for Safari or birding though).

Hope you found that helpful. Have a great weekend, everybody!

Best,

-Scott

P.S. We released an awesome class with football photography superstar Dave Black — it’s called “How to shoot High School Football Like a Pro” and it’s an update of Dave’s classic class we did five years ago. Dave is amazing! Here’s the link to the course. 

I’ve been there hundreds of times. We all have, I’m sure. We’re prowling the streets in an unfamiliar land and there they are, right there in front of us. A local character, personality oozing and dressed just how you’d ask a model to if you were epitomising the destination. You want to take a photo, right? But what’s the etiquette?! Do we pay? Do we ask? If we ask we break the element of surprise which affords us that reportage, candid shot. But what if we want to use the photo? We need a release in many circumstances so we need to go say hi and get a little signature. Well here’s how I do it!

If, for example, we’re out and about in Havana (which I hear you Americans are allowed to do now) there will be a local puffing on a Habinero and you will want a photo. But guess what… they have a price. It’s in situations like these where the person has basically put themselves there specifically for that purpose and it’s their living, so these people need paying. So here’s the first rule: if it’s someone making their living from donations, donate. Monks, street entertainers, buskers, beggars, they need paying just because. If you can get a model release signed, happy days. That leads me on to the next point.

If you’re paying and if you want to use your resulting photos to their full extent, the model release is something you should strongly consider. In my bag I have a small wedge of them for ‘just in case’ situations like these. Getting it signed, however, isn’t your consideration but theirs. If they point blank refuse and you’ve worked your way through your powers of persuasion and landed slap on the floor there’s not a great deal you can do, but then there won’t be a great deal you can do with your photos either. If the person isn’t recognisable you don’t need to deal with this at all, it then all comes down to you. So there’s the second rule: model release!

Next up it’s the fiscal aspect. How much do you pay? Well it all depends on how bad you want the shot and what plans you dream up for it’s subsequent use. If it’s someone who’s expecting to have their photo taken, they won’t ask for much. A £/$/ or two will suffice in most cases. When the stakes are raised be prepared to get value for money and get your bargaining gear engaged! Although I won’t recommend it as an option, here’s a tactic I’ve used in Cuba. Plaza de San Francisco. There was a church I wanted to go up on top of. I saw a balcony, I knew it existed, but I just couldn’t get to the right part of the building to access this balcony. That is until I found the right person, and had the foresight to arm myself with the right currency. Sure, my CUCs (Cuban Convertible Pesos) were good, but I had something more valuable – sweets! With the right amount of sweets, which are a rare and valuable commodity there, I was able to negotiate my way behind the special doors to the balcony for the shot I wanted!

So lastly, if you’re travelling and you think you’re going to come across some models you’ll shoot, always have coins and small notes with you separate from the rest of your money. This way you aren’t revealing to any unwelcome eyes where you keep your cash, and you aren’t showing that you’re (relatively) rich. As if your camera isn’t a beacon for that already! You could consider making it cheaper for yourself by offering a copy of the photo, which I did to get this couple to walk past me in New Jersey. A much cheaper version, and a souvenir for them.

Let me know if you have your own experiences shooting models on the go, I love to hear from you.

Much love
Dave

My genre is travel, and I’ve spent years perfecting travel photography and learning the best ways to shoot travel. This week, I’m not going to share my killer tips with you on how to take better travel photos, but I’ll tell you how to take the best travel photos! There’s no point holding back, let’s get it done!

Think about the light

The easiest way to make your subject appeal to the complex, little, biological device that is the human eye is to think about the light. It’s the beautiful light that makes the image over the subject. Take this example:

In this photo above, we have an indistinct field of sunflowers. It’s in Germany, but it doesn’t matter where it is, and I’ll bet the farmer who owns this field wouldn’t even recognise it in the photo. The next photo is of one of the world’s most recognisable places, but the light makes it much less attractive despite our brains being wired to like familiar things. The difference that the right light can make is amazing. Consider the time of day, and the position of the sun (or other light source). Trust me in saying there’s no time like sunrise—people are still in bed, the atmosphere tends to be calm, the colours (not colors) tend to really pop, and for the photographer, the resulting image can be a huge reward and a great start to the day.

 

Redesign familiarity

Let’s take the Eiffel Tower, again. Google it, and you’ll find 61.5m results, most of which look pretty similar to one another. That’s the crowd, and you need to stand out among it! It’s a pretty big challenge and to overcome it, we absolutely must be original. That means be creative with our perspective, our content, composition, light, focus point, everything! If we can capture a place along with a person and/or a thing, then we stand a half decent chance of changing things and even becoming the rose (British reference. Go team!) among the thorns. Here’s what I mean…

This is a shot I took (which Scott stole—he must’ve read Glyn Dewis’ book) in Paris a few years ago, giving a different view of the Eiffel Tower.

Twist into portrait

Taking a tall photo, rather than a landscape one, will work wonders with many scenes and gain much more attention in today’s smartphone-oriented world. The days where most people look at photos in landscape mode on a desktop or laptop computer screen are passing, and now it’s far more likely that your photo, when viewed online, will be portrait-oriented on the screen of a phone or tablet. And, if you want to go so far, let’s not forget that magazine covers are set that way, too. When we scroll through Instagram, we are far more likely to engage and react to a photo which fills the screen, for example.

Emphasise the person

When you take a portrait, make sure it really is a portrait. Capture the person and make sure the photo is all about them in any and every way you can. If you choose to reflect their character, their location, their emotion, make sure their personality comes with it and that the photo evokes thought about the subject with your viewer. If you present someone in your photo and the viewer goes away wondering about their back story, then you’re winning.

Think about your composition

Look, then think, then look, then think—just make sure you’ve really nailed the composition. Take a look around, suck in what surrounds you, look for leading lines, look for foreground elements, break things up into threes or into spirals. If you give yourself a second to think about what’s going on and being more deliberate about your composition, your photo stands a much higher chance of catching people’s eye.

Research hard!

When you go somewhere new, and most of the places we go when shooting travel are new, it’s a very, very good idea to put in the time to research where you’re going. Learn the local stories, the specialties, the history, and find the best spots for your photos. Two of my preferred (and tried and tested) ways to do this are to get on Pinterest and Google Maps. There is a LOT of information out there from people who have been before, so make the most of their experiences and use their information. You’re doing it right now! On Pinterest, we find a whole variety of photos, articles, and tips on locations simply by searching the right keywords. We can save our favourite bits and pieces straight to our own board and build a plan from there. Once we know where we’re going, or at least where we think we’re going, we can save the destinations on Google Maps and even download an offline version of the area just in case our cell phone loses data while we’re there roaming. Put in the legwork beforehand, and be armed with knowledge, and don’t forget that there’s a reason they say “failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”

And that, my friends, is how to be the BEST travel photographer! Now that you’ve taken the photos, show them to the world!

You’re welcome ;)

Much love,

Dave

walkin1

This may win the award for “latest posting of photos from a trip” but I finally got them up there over at exposure.co (the photo storytelling site I’ve been using for a few years now). It’s perfect for when you want to tell the story with pictures and words, and that’s what I’ve done here.

Here’s the link.

Thanks for letting me share some of my photos from the trip with you.

Here’s wishing you your best Monday of the year (so far). :)

Best,

-Scott

3dayinice

Hi Gang, and happy Friday!

I finally I posted my images, and the story of the trip, over at exposure.co (that’s the photo storytelling site I’ve been using for a few years now — it’s a wonderful way to share a trip like this).

Here’s the link

Thanks for letting me share some of my photos from the trip with you. :)

Hey, I’m in Minneapolis next Wednesday, and then Milwaukee on Friday doing my seminar – hope you can join me.

Best,

-Scott

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