Paul Timpa Photography Blog Photography Tutorials and Tips from Paul Timpa Photography

24Jan/14Off

Travel Photography: How to Prepare for Your Trip

Preparing for Travel Photography

Colosseum, Rome, Italy

Colosseum, Rome, Italy

Going on a trip where you'll be taking photos can be one of the most exciting photography experiences you can have. Whether it's simply going on vacation, or a dedicated trip specifically for travel photography, you’ll want to be prepared. This guide will help you get there and highlight some of the things you need to think about.

So let’s get started!
 

Gear

You should always bring all the photography gear you’ll need with you. Assume that you won’t be able to acquire any photo equipment at your destination. While it may turn out that there is a photography shop nearby, it’s better to play it safe. I suggest making a list of all your gear on your computer. Then before every trip you can print it out and check that each item is packed. I go the extra step and actually set everything up, power on the camera, put it on the tripod, etc. This way nothing can be forgotten. (For example, one time I almost left without the quick-release plate for my tripod, something that would have been easy to miss had I not actually tried to mount the camera).

Here is a simple list to get you started:

* Camera
* Camera Battery in the camera + extra batteries
* Battery charger
* Memory Card in the camera + extra memory cards
* Tripod and tripod attachments (e.g. Quick release plates, heads, etc.)
* Remote control for shutter
* Filters + filter holders
* Flash + flash batteries
* Ziploc bag (quick rain protection)
* Cable to connect camera to computer
* Electric plug adapters (for international travel)
* Backup point-and-shoot camera with battery, charger, and memory cards

Take special note of that last item. Cameras can fail, break, or get lost. You don’t want to be on the trip of a lifetime and have your only camera fail, leaving you with no other option to take photos. Always bring a backup camera, even if it’s an inexpensive point-and-shoot. You may not get the highest-quality photos, but at least you’ll have something.

Positano, Italy

Positano, Italy

 

Photo locations

Now for the fun part -- figuring out what you want to photograph at your destination!

There are many ways to determine some of the key "must have" photos from any particular location. I usually use three ways:

First, I’ll simply do some Google searches about the destination to see what comes up. In addition to researching the destination in general, I’ll usually search for something like “Where to photograph in [insert destination]” as well.

Secondly, I’ll buy guide book or two. These are great not only to highlight the key places to see, but are also super helpful overall for things like hotels, restaurants, etc. The popular ones are usually very good, such as Fodor’s, Frommer's, and Lonely Planet.

Lastly, I’ll go to a photo sharing site like Flickr or Google+ and search on the destination to see what’s popular to photograph.

When I get to the destination, I’ll look at the postcard rack to see what else looks interesting, and of course I'll talk to locals to get their input as well.

If you use the methods above, you’ll have a good chance of getting to all the key photo opps.

Once you've identified where you want to photograph, it's time to create the “plan” to get all the photos.

The first thing to do is figure out how many sunrises and sunsets you’ll have, since many of your photographs will likely occur at that time. You’ll get a sunrise & sunset for each full day you’re there, and depending on what time of day you’re traveling, maybe a sunset on the day you arrive, and a sunrise on the day you leave. Subtract out any sunrises / sunsets where you’re doing something besides photography (you might want to have a nice meal along the beach at sunset, y’know!)

Costa Rica Sunset, Mal Pais

Costa Rica Sunset, Mal Pais

Once you know how many sunrises / sunsets you have, just look at your list of photo locations and assign them to the days of your trip. Do the important ones first -- this way if the weather is bad and you don’t get a shot the first day, you can go back the next day and try again. The photos you don’t get to will be the least priority ones.

Especially for the sunrise / sunset photos, I recommend scouting the location in advance during the day. The window for photography at sunrise / sunset is very small. You don’t want to find out on the morning of the shoot that you don’t know where to park, that there’s a huge construction site in front of the location, or any host of other things. Go to the site during the day, confirm you know how to get there, exactly where you’re going to shoot from, etc. Then you can just go to the spot the next day, worry-free, and take the shot.

Use a sunrise / sunset calculator to determine your shooting times. I like the one below -- it also shows “civil twilight” which loosely translates to blue hour.  Enter the location and dates you'll be traveling:

Sunrise / Sunset calculator

Determine if there is a particular direction you need to be facing. For example, the Grand Teton mountains are generally photographed when facing straight west, so they are usually photographed at sunrise when the sun is behind you and shining on the mountains. If you’re trying to get the NYC skyline with the sun rising behind it, you’ll want to be facing east and take the photo from the New Jersey side of the river. If you want the sun setting over the skyline, you need to face west and take the photo from Queens / Brooklyn. These are the types of things to think about.

NYC Skyline

NYC Skyline

Whether it’s a sunrise / sunset photo, day photo, or night photo, group the locations together so you can shoot the ones that are close together on the same day if possible.

Bring a paper map just in case GPS navigation doesn't work. Once I have my photo plan, I’ll use Google maps to get directions from one place to another, and I’ll print those directions to bring with me. Then I don’t have to worry if I don’t get a good GPS signal.

Also put some thought into what locations might be OK to shoot even if the weather is bad. You might not think of a gray rainy day as a worthwhile day for photography, but maybe the location lends itself to black & white photography, so getting warm light isn't necessary.

Don't forget there is more than one way to shoot a popular location, as illustrated below in two very different takes on the Eiffel Tower:

Eiffel Tower, Paris

Eiffel Tower, Paris

 

Eiffel Tower, Paris

Eiffel Tower, Paris

 

Traveling with your gear

Once you've identified everything you’re bringing and you've got your photography plan, it’s time to pack and travel. Traveling with your gear can present its own set of challenges. Firstly, if you’re flying, you must take your camera, memory cards, and accessories with you on the plane as a carry-on. It’s not wise to check your expensive and fragile equipment, that could get lost or damaged. Either put it in your luggage that can go in the overhead bin, or use a photo backpack that you can put under the seat. You can use a compact tripod with four-segment legs that will fit in many carry-on sized pieces of luggage. My four-segment compact tripod is my only tripod and it works great.

Be sure to use a foam-padded backpack or case, or at least wrap your camera in towels or clothes to protect it from the bumps of travels. Put in the center of your luggage, not near the edges where impacts can damage it.

If you’re traveling internationally, be aware of customs rules. There are some rules regarding purchasing equipment in other countries and returning with it, so if possible have a receipt or just some way of explaining that the gear is yours and was not purchased on the trip.

When you get to your destination, always be aware of your camera equipment. Never leave it unattended. If you’re going out on the town without your D-SLR and it fits in the hotel safe, then put it in the safe along with the memory cards.

 
Backup

OK, so you got to your destination, executed your plan, and you captured some amazing photos. Congratulations! Now it’s time to back everything up. It’s incredibly important to backup your images while you’re traveling, as soon as you possibly can after taking them.

The simplest and most familiar way is to bring a laptop and transfer the images to the hard drive. You can also buy a portable memory card backup device with a hard drive, but the laptop has a significant advantage: You can email the photos to yourself, upload to “the cloud”, or burn CDs from a laptop. This is important because if at all possible you should try to have backups that are not with you physically. If all of your backups are in your bag and it gets lost, you’ve lost everything. With a laptop, you can (and should) upload important photos to “the cloud” (a dropbox, your own server, etc.) or at the very least email a few photos to yourself. You can also burn a CD and mail it to yourself if necessary. This way, if something happens to your gear, you’ll still have the images in the cloud, your email, or waiting at home in your mailbox. I also connect an additional portable hard drive to the laptop via USB to create a second copy while I'm there.

Don't plan on using a "public" computer at your destination, such as in the hotel business center or Internet cafe. Often public computers have safeguards that will prevent you from plugging in your camera and/or hard drives.

South Street Seaport, NYC

South Street Seaport, NYC


 

Closing

Travelphotography can be one of the most rewarding types of photography. Not only do you capture memories to last a lifetime, but you get to share those beautiful locations with everyone. Perhaps you might even inspire someone to travel there too.

My last point in this guide is probably the most important: Remember that you’re traveling and experiencing amazing things. Don’t get lost in the photography while forgetting to experience the moment. If there is a stunning sunrise, photograph it, but remember to put the camera down for a few minutes, forget about the photography, and enjoy life.

Enjoy!

Best,
Paul

I've also created an app for iPhone, Android, and iPod Touch which teaches you photography -- more info can be found here:

Photography Trainer for iPhone and Android

Photography Trainer iPhone app

Photography Trainer iPhone app

 
To keep up-to-date with the latest photo additions and other topics, you can become a fan at my Photography Facebook page, add me to your Google+ circles, or follow me on Twitter:

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Paul Timpa Photography's Facebook

 
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If you'd like to purchase prints or stock photography licenses for my photos (for advertising and editorial use), please visit:

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Copyright 2014, Paul Timpa

http://www.timpaphotography.com/

18Apr/11Off

Photography Myths

There are many "photography myths" out there. When you're just starting out in photography, it's fun to read and to learn and absorb as much information as you can. As you're learning, you may sometimes here things over and over again, that you take as fact. Some of this information may actually be long-standing myth. I've written this article to help provide some clarification on things you may have heard as you learn more about photography.

MYTH: Cloudy and rainy days are not great for photography

TRUTH: Cloudy days are some of the best days to get out with your camera. There are a variety of photographic subjects that are best taken on cloudy or overcast days, from portraits to macro and flowers, to landscapes.

For portraits, flowers, macro, insects, etc., cloudy and overcast days are often better than sunny days because of the significantly reduced contrast and shadows. When the sun is blazing, there are harsh shadows produced on the subject, whether it’s a person’s face or the delicate petals of a flower. These shadows can be a huge problem, requiring everything from flashes and external lights to diffusers and reflectors to overcome. When it’s cloudy, you get beautiful soft light on your subject. The clouds and overcast conditions act like a giant softbox, providing you with amazing soft light for portraits and flower photography. When it's cloudy out, I specifically head out to get the best flower shots!

For landscapes, thick cloud cover and even storms can create some of the most atmospheric and moody photography imaginable. This is especially true if you convert to black & white. Photos of landscapes with brooding skies, hinting at an impending storm, can have some incredible impact.

Tulip

Tulip

The photo above of a tulip was taken on an overcast day. Notice how there are no harsh shadows distracting from the natural beauty of the flower.

Sedona, Arizona

Sedona, Arizona

The image above was taken in Sedona, Arizona on a day with thick cloud cover.

The next time it’s cloudy, get out there and try one of these types of photography and you may be surprised how happy you are with the results.

MYTH: Flash is best for indoor photos or photos at night

TRUTH: Many photographers think of the flash mostly as a tool to use in darker conditions, either indoors or at night. However, one of the best uses of flash is outside during the day in bright daylight. As mentioned in the previous myth, bright sunlight causes dark shadows on the subject, whether it’s a portrait or a flower or the foreground of a landscape. One of the easiest and best ways to improve the photo is to reduce this shadow by using your flash. (This is often called “fill flash” because its primary purpose is to fill in the shadows rather than illuminate the subject). I almost always use the flash when taking outdoor portraits. The best part is that all newer cameras handle this “fill flash” automatically, without overpowering the subject with light. Just turn on the flash and the camera will calculate the correct brightness so that the flash fills in the shadow. If you prefer the flash a bit brighter or darker than the camera chooses, you can always use the “Flash Exposure Compensation” feature available in most D-SLRs to tweak it to your liking.

MYTH: Wide Angle lenses exaggerate perspective and Telephoto lenses compress perspective

TRUTH: Perspective is the distance that objects “appear” from each other in a photo, from front-to-back. (This distance in the photo may or may not reflect "reality".) While it’s true that wide angle lenses often have the effect of exaggerating perspective and telephoto lenses may have the effect of compressing perspective, it’s important to understand that the lenses themselves actually have nothing to do with perspective. It is only your physical distance from the subject and background that determines perspective. Why is this important? Because in order to change perspective and change the way the photo looks, you need to physically move your body to a new location farther or closer to the subject. Simply changing lenses from wide-angle to telephoto will not alter the perspective in any way. The myth exists simply because when photographers use wide-angle lenses, they often move physically close to the subject, which exaggerates perspective in the final photo. When using telephoto lenses, you’re often photographing objects that are far from you – which compresses the perspective in the photo. Note that in both examples it’s the distance that has caused the effect, not the lens. If you took a photo of distant mountains with a telephoto lens, then stood in the same spot and took a photo with a wide angle lens, the mountains would like identical in both photos -- they would be compressed together because you are far away, regardless of lens. The only difference in the photos is that the wide-angle lens would include a wider “view”, meaning you’d see more to the left and right and in the foreground. The mountains however, would look the same. Keep this in mind when you’re out taking pictures. Always remember to alter your distance from the subject so that you can try out different perspectives to see how they affect the photo.

MYTH: HDR produces unnatural photos

TRUTH: Many people see HDR photos on the internet and are immediately turned off by the unnatural appearance and overly saturated, often “cartoony” look. While it’s true that these photos have likely been produced with HDR software, it’s important to realize that those photos were produced by photographers who’ve intentionally created images with that look. HDR can look incredibly natural, and very often you may not even know that a photo is HDR. It’s just easier to “notice” the over-processed, over-saturated, cartoony ones. Many of my own photos are HDR and it’s difficult to tell at first glance. Sometimes, after a while, I occasionally forget which ones of my own are HDR! HDR is incredibly useful for architecture, interiors, landscapes, and a wide variety of subjects. Once you learn the software, you’ll be able to create natural looking images that have the extra dynamic range (bright and dark tones) but still look very “real”.

South Street Seaport

South Street Seaport

The photo of NYC's South Street Seaport above is an HDR photo and would not have been possible without using HDR techniques.

MYTH: When shooting landscapes, you should stop down your lens to the smallest aperture to ensure everything is in focus

TRUTH: Using the smallest aperture on your lens degrades image quality and is rarely necessary. Due to the way lenses are built, when you use a tiny aperture like F22 or F32, the photo can actually get less sharp because of something called "diffraction". Technically, the depth-of-field will be maximized and everything will be "in focus" -- however the overall image quality will suffer and be more blurry than if you had used a slightly wider aperture. You'll often find that apertures like F14 or F16 are sufficient for many landscapes, and will result in sharper photos that are still in focus. I rarely shoot at an aperture smaller than F16.

MYTH: It’s always a good idea to use a UV filter on your lens

TRUTH: Opinions vary on the use of UV filters. For me personally, I don’t recommend using UV filters for most photography. Of course this is just my personal opinion, and I respect those who wish to use them for an added layer of protection. However, it’s important to understand a few things about UV filters and lenses in general. Firstly, lenses today are pretty tough. They’re built to take the standard knocks and bangs you might encounter. If you’re especially accident-prone, then perhaps it may make sense to use one for protecting the front lens element, but otherwise, I suggest leaving it off. This is because from a “UV” and “haze” perspective, I’ve found they do very little to improve the photo. On the down side however, using a UV filter can definitely introduce unwanted flare in your photos. Flare is usually seen as several large, colored or white blobs in your photo. This is caused when bright light sources shine directly on the front lens element. Using a UV filter adds an additional layer of glass which increases the chance of light bouncing around and causing reflections and flare. Any type of photography where there are bright lights on the lens, such as sunsets or sunrises, or night photography where there are streetlights, etc., can be negatively affected by UV filters. For these types of photography especially, I recommend removing the UV filter. The only times I could see needing them is if for example you’re on a beach and there is a lot sand blowing around, or if you’re walking through a hiking trail and branches are frequently whipping at the front of the camera. Or perhaps you’re on a boat and there is salt-water splashing up. In those extreme examples, I could see if someone wanted to use a UV filter. Otherwise, I recommend leaving them off for the best possible image quality.

MYTH: Full-frame cameras are better than APS-C or Micro-Four-Thirds cameras

TRUTH: First let me say that just about any D-SLR on the market today is capable of taking incredible, professional-quality photos. I’m a firm believer in “It’s not the camera, it’s the photographer.” Even so, many photographers see the full-frame camera as the ultimate format to own. While it’s true that full-frame cameras may often provide some of the best overall image quality of the various camera formats, it’s also true that full-frame cameras may not be the best cameras for all types of photography. For example, Canon’s two full-frame cameras the 1Ds Mark III and 5D Mark II, shoot at 5 frames-per-second and 3.9 frames-per-second. While this is just fine for landscape and studio photography, it may not be fast enough for fast-action sports or racing. By contrast, Canon’s 1D Mark IV (a non-full frame camera) shoots at 10fps, twice the speed of Canon’s fastest full-frame camera. The 7D shoots at 8fps. If you shoot a lot of wildlife or sports, you may also be interested in choosing a non-full-frame camera. Without getting into the technical details, just know that non-full-framers have the “effect” of adding extra telephoto reach to any lens. For example, if you buy a Canon 400mm lens, it basically acts as 640mm lens on a Canon 7D. By contrast, that same lens on a 5D is 400mm. The price of a 600mm lens (which is what you would need on a 5D to equal the reach of a 400mm lens on a 7D) is much higher than a 400mm lens by several thousand dollars. So you save a lot of money by using a 7D and getting 640mm out of a 400mm lens!

MYTH: It’s always best to photograph landscapes and architecture with a wide-angle lens, and to take sports and wildlife with a telephoto.

TRUTH: While it’s true that most often landscapes and architecture are photographed with wider angles and that sports and wildlife photographers lean toward telephotos, there are plenty of times when you’ll want to do the opposite. Using telephotos for landscapes can be perfect for picking out important details or isolating a subject. You can also photograph scenes that are far away, and because of the compressing of perspective that is caused by the distance, you can get fabulously layered photos that are really interesting. Similarly, you can use telephotos in architecture to highlight certain details that may otherwise be lost in a wide-angle shot. One of the most useful times to use a telephoto for architecture is when you’re trying to avoid “converging verticals”, that pyramid effect that happens when you’re close to a tall building and shoot with a wide-angle lens pointed upwards. To avoid the lines of the building slanting inwards, use a telephoto lens and stand further back from the building. This allows you to keep the camera pointed straight ahead, rather than pointed upwards. When the camera is pointed straight ahead, you don’t get the slanted lines.

Telephotos are often used for sports and wildlife to bring the athlete or animal closer, but sometimes it’s great to see the subject in its environment. Some of my most favorite wildlife photos are silhouettes of a deer on a mountaintop with a gorgeous sunset in the background, taken at a wide angle. It can really add to wildlife photos if you can show the beautiful surroundings where the animals live.

St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter's Basilica

The photo above of St. Peter's Basilica in Italy was taken with a 70-200mm telephoto zoom lens from very far away.

MYTH: Low ISOs produce the best picture quality

TRUTH: While technically this is true, it’s important to understand the larger context of how ISO works. From a pure “image quality” perspective, low ISOs produce images that are clean and noise-free. However, low ISOs require you to use longer shutter speeds, which is what causes blurry photos. In almost all cases, it is better to have a noisy photo that is pin-sharp, than a noiseless photo that is blurry! Because of this, it’s important to make sure that you use a shutter speed that is fast enough to prevent blur, even if that means raising the ISO to 800, 1600, or higher. High ISOs also allow you to use a narrower aperture when shooting handheld, which increases depth-of-field ensuring everything is in focus. Today’s cameras are getting better and better at handling noise at high ISOs, so don’t be afraid to use them as necessary. Of course, if you’re using a tripod and shutter speed is not relevant, go ahead and use the lowest ISO to ensure the cleanest photo.

MYTH: A D-SLR is always better than a compact

TRUTH: Sometimes it’s easy to think that a D-SLR is better than a compact camera in all situations. You’ll often find this is not the case. Here are a couple of scenarios where a compact camera may be a better choice.

* Compact cameras are great for macro photography. It is difficult and expensive to design true macro lenses for D-SLRs. In addition, the small depth-of-field of D-SLRs compared to compacts forces you to stop-down your lens to tiny apertures like F22 to get everything in focus. These small apertures require long shutter speeds, and that’s why you almost always need a tripod with D-SLRs for macro photography where focus is critical. Compact cameras on the other hand naturally have a lot of depth of field. You can take amazing macro photos, without a tripod, with most compacts, even the inexpensive ones. Compact cameras are a great way to experiment with macro photography.

* Compact cameras are great for street photography or any photography where you don’t want to draw a lot of attention to yourself and your gear. There are many occasions and places where you may want to blend into the crowd to get more “natural” shots of people and places, whether it’s a bustling city or simply a friend's party where you’re snapping some candids. Compact cameras are great for this purpose.

* Compact cameras are the best and often only choice when you need to travel light. We’ve all heard the phrase before: The best camera is the one you have with you. (They also say that about tripods.) It’s true -- If the option is no camera at all or bringing along a compact, the compact of course wins every time. Whether it’s going on a long hike somewhere, or diving into the ocean with a small waterproof compact, there are many places where a D-SLR can be just too large, heavy, and cumbersome to bring along. Compacts are great for filling in, and many of the new advanced models have full manual control and outstanding image quality. I went hiking across the summit of Mt. Kilauea, Hawaii, with just my Canon S90 compact, and I can’t tell you how happy I was to not have my D-SLR. The hike would have been incredibly difficult otherwise. With the manual controls and a lightweight tripod, I was still able to capture long-exposure shots of the glow from the lava pools.

MYTH: Lightning photography requires special gear or quick reflexes

TRUTH: As you may have seen in my more in-depth article on Lightning Photography, photographing a lightning storm has little to do with special gear and quick reflexes. It’s simply a matter of using long shutter speeds and a bit of patience to capture the lighting. Using manual mode, set the shutter speed to around 30 seconds, and an aperture and ISO that suits the scene. Then just click the shutter and wait for lightning to strike!

Lightning Strike over NYC

Lightning Strike over NYC

MYTH: Professional photography is a glamorous job of jet setting, models, and exotic locations

TRUTH: Many people dream of being a professional photographer and one day traveling the globe taking photos of exotic locales or photographing models on the beach. The job can certainly seem glamorous and extremely fun, and on rare occasions it can be just that, but more often than not, professional photography is just like any other job. You’ve probably heard this before, but pro photography is probably 20% photography and 80% running your own “business”. That business is just like any other business, and running it involves all the activities of accounting, billing and invoicing, marketing, advertising and sales, administrative work, managing client relationships, etc. You may be amazed to find out how little actual photography there is! Also, many pro photographers generate income not just from photoshoots, but a variety of other “photography-related” pursuits. For example, despite generating income by working for my architectural clients, I also hold photography workshops, I sell prints of existing work as art, I have my iPhone app, etc. You’ll need to be able to juggle a lot of different photography activities, all while running the business side of things and handling the sales, marketing, and accounting. It’s a tough career!

MYTH: You don’t need a tripod these days, because high ISOs allow low-light handheld shooting

TRUTH: High ISOs do allow you to handhold the camera in dim conditions that previously required a tripod. However, these high ISOs are purely used to obtain a fast shutter speed. For me, the beauty of the tripod is that it allows long-exposure photography, something that ISO cannot help with. Long exposure photography is one of my favorite techniques in photography, because it allows the camera to capture “motion”, which adds so much interest to the photo. That motion can be the rushing water of a waterfall or stream, the car light trails in a nighttime cityscape, or the hustle and bustle of people. None of these types of photos are possible without a tripod, so you’re missing out on a whole world of photography without one. Perhaps even more importantly, a tripod is required if you want to do any kind of exposure blending, whether manually or using HDR software. You may already know that cameras are not great at capturing a wide range of brights and darks in a single photo. Exposure blending is simply the process of taking two or more photos at varying brightness levels and combining them on the computer afterwards so that all the brightness levels of the scene are present in the photo. This cannot be done without a tripod because all the photos at different brightnesses must be taken with the camera in the exact same position, so that combining them on the computer is easy. Sure, you can attempt to hold the camera very steady to try this technique, but for serious photography, a tripod is necessary to do it right.

Colosseum, Rome, Italy

Colosseum, Rome, Italy

MYTH: Great wildlife shots require an expensive African safari

TRUTH: I’ve seen beautiful and incredibly natural wildlife photography that’s been captured in a zoo or local wildlife preserve. The key when capturing the picture is to take special care and attention to eliminate all of the “man-made” features surrounding the animal. For example, this can be done by using a telephoto lens so that just the animal is in the frame and you can’t see the man-made background elements. If the background is going to be visible in the frame, you can also use the widest possible aperture on your lens. This can blur the background to a wash of color where it’s impossible to tell what’s behind the wildlife. When photographing through glass enclosures, be sure to turn off the flash to eliminate reflections. Also get as close to the glass as possible, even pressing the front of the lens right onto the glass to ensure there are no reflections. When done properly, you may find you can take very natural wildlife photos very close to home.

MYTH: Setting your images to 72dpi is important for displaying them on a computer screen

TRUTH: To this day, I’m unable to determine the origin of this myth. The truth is that when it comes to displaying your images on a computer screen, the dpi (dots per inch) you see in your editing software is completely irrelevant. The size of your images displayed on a computer screen is only related to the dimensions of the image in pixels, for example 1200x800 pixels or 640x480 pixels. The larger the image in pixels, the larger it will appear on screen. Ignore any references to setting your images to 72dpi for on-screen viewing.

MYTH: Using image editing software is “cheating”

TRUTH: This is one of the most commonly discussed topics in all of photography. Everyone has their own opinion on it. The reality is this: No digital image produced today is completely unmanipulated. Even if you don’t personally Photoshop the image or fiddle with the adjustment controls on the camera, the digital photo itself is manipulated by the camera’s settings for saturation, contrast, etc. There’s no difference in choosing the black & white mode on your camera which desaturates the image, or the Landscape mode which intensifies blues and greens, than doing it afterwards on the computer. With film, images are adjusted in the darkroom in very much the same way, for brightness, saturation, contrast, etc, as well as dodging and burning to bring out specific details. Photographers throughout time have adjusted their images to make the best representation of what they saw. Many people like to do a little extra “adjusting” and that’s just fine – photography is art. Really the only area where minimal adjustment is required is in photojournalism. For my personal style, I prefer to keep it natural, especially with my travel and architecture photography where I know the images I capture need to represent reality. If you wish to enhance your images to make beautiful art for all to enjoy, I wholeheartedly encourage you to do so! It’s all up to you.

If you have any questions about these or any other myths you may have heard, please let me know.

I've also created an app for iPhone, Android, and iPod Touch which teaches you photography -- more info can be found here:

Photography Trainer for iPhone and Android

Photography Trainer iPhone app

Photography Trainer iPhone app

Best Regards,
Paul

To keep up-to-date with the latest photo additions and other topics, you can also become a fan at my Photography Facebook page at:

Paul Timpa Photography's Facebook Page

If you'd like to purchase prints or stock photography licenses for my photos (for advertising and editorial use), please visit:

http://www.timpaphotography.com/purchase

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Copyright 2009, Paul Timpa

http://www.timpaphotography.com/




8Oct/10Off

Where to Photograph in Rome, Italy — Rome Photo Opportunities

Rome, Italy is an amazing city for photography. There is such incredible architecture and history, the photo opportunities are endless. From the Colosseum to the Pantheon, from the Roman Forum to Vatican City the wealth of beautiful scenes is astounding.

I’ve highlighted a few of the classic Rome photo opportunities for you below. I’ve also included several of my own images as examples.

The Colosseum is one of the quintessential images we often see of Rome, and for good reason. It is a spectacular sight. The Colosseum is pretty central in Rome and you can walk there from almost anywhere. I’ve found the best light for photography to be just after sunset, but your preference may be different. I encourage you to explore the area at different times of the day to see what works best for your style. I decided to do a “light trails” image, and the result is below.

Colosseum, Rome, Italy

Colosseum, Rome, Italy

St. Peter’s Basilica / Vatican City is another great photo opportunity in Rome. There are a wide variety of vantage points, from up close in St. Peter’s Square to views from a distance. The shot below is taken at dusk from Ponte Umberto over the Tiber River. Ponte Umberto is a short walk from Piazza Navona.

St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Italy

St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Italy

Inside St. Peter’s Basilica is the famous and beautiful dome. Since tripods are not permissible inside, you’ll want to use a high ISO and wide aperture to get a sharp shot handheld.

St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Italy

St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Italy

The Pantheon is an ancient and wondrous building, both inside and out. It is located in the Piazza Rotunda, which can be very busy during the day and at night, so I photographed it at dusk in the very early morning.

Pantheon, Rome, Italy

Pantheon, Rome, Italy

The photo below is also of the Piazza Rotunda, taken at night from a very low viewpoint.

Piazza Rotunda, Rome, Italy

Piazza Rotunda, Rome, Italy

Piazza del Campidoglio designed by Michelangelo is another great spot at sundown. The photo below was taken at dusk.

Piazza del Campidoglio, Rome, Italy

Piazza del Campidoglio, Rome, Italy

The Roman Forum provides a glimpse into an ancient world.

Roman Forum, Italy

Roman Forum, Italy

The Trevi Fountain is one of the most beautiful and famous fountains in the world. A long exposure provides a silky look to the flowing water.

Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy

Trevi Fountain, Rome, Italy

In the photo below of majestic Castel Sant'Angelo I used a very long exposure to blur the fast-moving clouds.

Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome, Italy

Castel Sant'Angelo, Rome, Italy

There are countless photo opportunities in Rome, these are just a few. You should also be sure to visit the Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona, and all the other wonderful sights in Rome.

Explore and enjoy!

I've also created an app for iPhone, Android, and iPod Touch which teaches you photography -- more info can be found here:

Photography Trainer for iPhone and Android

Photography Trainer iPhone app

Photography Trainer iPhone app

Best,
Paul

To keep up-to-date with the latest photo additions and other topics, you can also become a fan at my Photography Facebook page at:

Paul Timpa Photography's Facebook Page

If you'd like to purchase prints or stock photography licenses for my photos (for advertising and editorial use), please visit:

http://www.timpaphotography.com/purchase

Share this Tutorial with friends:
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Copyright 2009, Paul Timpa

http://www.timpaphotography.com/




23Sep/10Off

Taking Photos in Busy Tourist Destinations with no People in the Shot

Hi everyone! I've created a new tutorial on taking photos in busy tourist destinations with no people in the shot. It's a technique I use all the time, and I hope you find it useful too! While this tutorial is slightly more advanced than some of my other ones (it requires a little bit of work in your editing software), anyone can do it.

I've guest-posted on the always-awesome website Digital-Photography-School.com, and the article is here:

http://www.digital-photography-school.com/taking-photos-in-busy-tourist-destinations-with-no-people-in-the-shot

Enjoy, and as always, please feel free to ask me any questions.

Thanks!
Paul

To keep up-to-date with the latest photo additions and other topics, you can also become a fan at my Photography Facebook page at:

Paul Timpa Photography's Facebook Page

If you'd like to purchase prints or stock photography licenses for my photos (for advertising and editorial use), please visit:

http://www.timpaphotography.com/purchase

Share this Tutorial with friends:
Share

I've created an app for iPhone, Android, and iPod Touch which teaches you photography -- more info can be found here:

Photography Trainer for iPhone and Android

Photography Trainer iPhone app

Photography Trainer iPhone app

Copyright 2009, Paul Timpa

http://www.timpaphotography.com/

21May/10Off

The Louvre Pyramid by I.M. Pei, Paris Stock Photos, Paul Timpa Photography

Paris is such a beautiful place, and amazing for photography.

This is a photo of the Louvre Pyramid, which now serves as the main entrance to the Louvre Museum in the main courtyard, Cour Napoleon. It was designed by architect I. M. Pei and completed in 1989.

I wanted to photograph the pyramid at night so that it was internally lit. You can visit the courtyard fairly late in the evening, even after the museum closes. On this particular night, there were only a few pedestrians, so it was relatively easy to get a shot with no one in the photo.

The shot required a tripod and long exposure. On a calm night, you can get great reflections. This location is definitely worth a visit at night during a trip to Paris.

Enjoy.

My iPhone app which teaches photography is here:
Photography Trainer for iPhone and iPod Touch

My Photography Tutorials list is here:
Photography Tutorials List

Best regards,
Paul

If you'd like to purchase prints or stock photography licenses for my photos (for advertising and editorial use), please visit:

http://www.timpaphotography.com/purchase

To keep up-to-date with the latest photo additions and other topics, you can become a fan at my Photography Facebook page at:

Paul Timpa Photography's Facebook Page

Copyright 2009, Paul Timpa

http://www.timpaphotography.com/

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12May/10Off

Camera Settings for Helicopter Photography and Aerial Photography

Na Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii

Na Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii

This post discusses the camera settings and equipment recommended for photography from a helicopter or airplane. It is a follow-up to my previous post that displayed images from an aerial photo shoot on Kauai's Na Pali Coast in Hawaii.

I recently returned from Hawaii where I knew I would be taking a helicopter tour of Kauai. Prior to the trip, I did much research into the appropriate camera settings and equipment for aerial photography. I was very happy with the results of my trip and thought I'd share what I learned from my research and from the actual photoshoot.

Equipment:

Assuming you'll have your D-SLR with you, the main choice you'll have to make is which lens to bring for the helicopter tour. Keep in mind that in most cases, you will not be allowed to change lenses during the flight. As a matter of fact, you will likely not even be able to bring additional lenses. It's important to make the right choice.

I recommend a zoom lens in the moderate-wide-angle to short telephoto range, such as a 24-70mm on a full-frame camera, or an 18-55mm or 17-85mm lens on an APS-C camera. This will enable the widest range of shots that capture the magic of aerial photography. Telephoto zoom lenses have too long a focal length to capture the spectacular wide sweeping views you can achieve from the air. I do not recommend bringing your 70-200mm lens. On the other end of the spectrum, ultra-wide angle lenses like a 16-35mm on full-frame or 10-22mm on APS-C have too limited a focal range, and equally as important, are almost too wide -- at the widest focal ranges you may actually get much of the helicopter itself in the shot, even on a doorless helicopter where you're able to shoot from outside (you'll still capture the rotor blades and the landing skids). Your best bet is a lens that covers approximately 24mm to 100mm full-frame-equivalent.

Kauai, Hawaii

Kauai, Hawaii

As far as accessories, don't bring any. Filters like polarizers will only get in the way and decrease your shutter speed. There is also limited time to constantly be adjusting the filter. The same applies to lens hoods, which will limit mobility, and in a doorless helicopter will get torn off by the wind. Leave all filters and lens hoods on the ground.

Use the largest memory card you have, preferably 8GB at minimum. Many helicopter tour operators do not allow mid-flight changes of your memory card, especially in a doorless helicopter.

Na Pali Coast and Kalalau Trail, Kauai, Hawaii

Na Pali Coast and Kalalau Trail, Kauai, Hawaii

Camera Settings:

There are a few things I recommend when it comes to camera settings. Firstly, shutter speed is the most important setting to monitor. You'll need very fast shutter speeds in order to combat the movement and vibrations of the aircraft. I suggest ensuring that the shutter speed is at least 1/1000th second at bare minimum, and preferably in the 1/2000th range. You can achieve these speeds with a combination of wide aperture and ISO. While there are many ways to set the camera, my suggestion is using Aperture Priority mode. Set the aperture to one of the widest settings to allow plenty of light into the camera. Depth-of-field is not an issue since most everything will be focused at infinity. Depending on the brightness of the day, start with the ISO at 100 or 200 and check the shutter speeds that are achieved with that aperture / ISO combination. If you're in the range of at least 1/1000 to 1/2000, you're OK. If the shutter speed is below that, raise the ISO until you're in that range. During the flight, you'll need to constantly monitor the shutter speed through the viewfinder, as lighting conditions can change dramatically depending on the scene. Be prepared to raise and lower the ISO quickly to compensate for changing conditions. I do not recommend just setting the ISO to 400 or 800 because if you encounter a very bright scene, you may reach your camera's max shutter speed and wind up with an overexposed photo. In addition to being able to adjust the ISO quickly, you will likely need to adjust exposure compensation frequently to achieve the correct exposure. Be prepared to adjust exposure compensation from scene to scene by quickly checking the LCD to confirm you're not over or underexposed. For this same reason, I suggest shooting in RAW so you have the most flexibility with exposure adjustments when you get home.

While I would normally suggest Manual focus at infinity for the shoot, to ensure the speediest shooting, I'm instead going to recommend auto-focus. The reason is that there is a lot of movement inside the helicopter, and it's possible you might accidentally move the focus ring out of focus and wind up with an entire batch of out-of-focus images. During the day, your camera will have no problem keeping up with focus.

Na Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii

Na Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii

As for shooting mode, you can decide between single-shot and continuous shooting. If you're going to use continuous shooting, you'll need an extremely large memory card, of at least 16GB. As previously mentioned, in most helicopters you will not be able to change memory cards mid-flight. Continuous shooting can be helpful to ensure keepers, and also to give you a better chance of capturing a shot without the rotors visible. Even at very fast shutter speeds, with wide-angle lenses, it's possible to catch the rotors in the shot. If you're going with continuous mode, just be sure to use it sparingly and in short bursts. You don't want to run out of memory card space half-way through the flight.

Aerial shots from a helicopter or airplane can produce some truly spectacular images. I hope these tips and suggestions will help you on your photoshoot.

I've also created an app for iPhone, Android, and iPod Touch which teaches you photography -- more info can be found here:

Photography Trainer for iPhone and Android

Photography Trainer iPhone app

Photography Trainer iPhone app

To keep up-to-date with the latest photo additions and other topics, you can become a fan at my Photography Facebook page and follow me on Twitter:


Best,
Paul

Rainbow, Kauai, Hawaii

Rainbow, Kauai, Hawaii

If you'd like to purchase prints or stock photography licenses for my photos (for advertising and editorial use), please visit:

http://www.timpaphotography.com/purchase

Copyright 2009, Paul Timpa

http://www.timpaphotography.com/

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Na Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii

Na Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii

11May/10Off

Hawaii Stock Photos, Paul Timpa Photography Aerial Photo Shoot, Na Pali Coast, Kauai

I recently had the opportunity to photograph Hawaii's Na Pali Coast on the North Coast of Kauai from the air. It was a spectacular experience. I highly recommend it, especially for photographers. You can capture amazing images during an aerial shoot of Hawaii from a helicopter. The image above shows the rugged coast with a secluded beach.

We chartered a helicopter from Jack Harter Helicopters, one of the most respected companies in Hawaii. They were fantastic. Most importantly, apart from their expertise, is that they offer charters in helicopters with no doors. Their tours are available in Hughes 500 helicopters flown with the doors off. This is essential for capturing quality images because you don't have to shoot through glass. It also allows you to capture a variety of angles that would otherwise be impossible.

The photo above is of a deep valley within the Na Pali Coast. You can really see how rugged the landscape is here.

The photo below of the Na Pali Coast also shows the famous Kalalau Hiking Trail (though it may be difficult to see in a lower res image). This challenging but incredibly picturesque hike winds its way along the Na Pali Coast. Further to the left in the frame, you can see Ke'e Beach.

The image below is of a stunning valley with several waterfalls. I counted at least five waterfalls in this image. Truly amazing.

Photographing a Rainbow on the Na Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii

Photographing a Rainbow on the Na Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii

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"How to photograph from a moving helicopter": If you're photographing with a D-SLR, I recommend the following camera settings to get the most number of keepers. Provided it's bright enough, set the ISO to 100 or 200. Shoot in Aperture Priority mode with one of your widest apertures. Be sure to have your finger on the exposure compensation dial because you may need to adjust frequently if the meter reading is off. Most importantly, keep your eye on the shutter speed the entire time. I'd suggest ensuring that it is always at least 1/1000th of a second at minimum. If it drops below that, raise the ISO as necessary. You'll want to continually monitor the shutter speed and the exposure, because if you raise the ISO for a darker scene and then return to a bright area, you may find that you reach the maximum shutter speed resulting in overexposed images. Lower the ISO again if this happens. It's a constant balancing act between shutter speed and ISO, but it's a fun experience and the results are worth the challenge.

The photo below is taken with the camera pointed straight down (something that is somewhat impossible in a helicopter that has doors). This is a sea cave on the coast.

Below you can see a sweeping wide-angle view of the coast, and how beautiful it is.

For anyone visiting Hawaii, a helicopter tour will provide memories to last a lifetime.

My iPhone app which teaches photography is here:
Photography Trainer for iPhone and iPod Touch

My tutorial on camera settings when shooting from a helicopter is here:
How to Photograph from a Helicopter

My Photography Tutorials list is here:
Photography Tutorials List

To license these images as stock, click here:
Hawaii Stock Photos

Jack Harter Helicopters:
http://www.helicopters-kauai.com/

Best regards,
Paul

If you'd like to purchase prints or stock photography licenses for my photos (for advertising and editorial use), please visit:

http://www.timpaphotography.com/purchase

To keep up-to-date with the latest photo additions and other topics, you can become a fan at my Photography Facebook page at:

Paul Timpa Photography's Facebook Page

Copyright 2009, Paul Timpa

http://www.timpaphotography.com/

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14Apr/10Off

New York Architectural Photographer Paul Timpa Photographs Brooklyn Bridge, NYC

This post is the first in a new on-going series where I'll discuss photo ops and locations that present great opportunities for photography.

This is an image of the Brooklyn Bridge, taken from Brooklyn facing Manhattan, New York City. It's taken from Brooklyn Bridge Park, a wonderful place to visit. I've taken photos from this location at dusk, but I wanted to try a very long daytime exposure to get something different. The long exposure smoothed out the water and gave this photo a very peaceful feel.

This image is available for purchase as a stock license or as a print, by clicking on the photo.

For more information on Brooklyn Bridge Park, click here:

http://www.brooklynbridgeparknyc.org/

My iPhone app which teaches photography is here:

Photography Trainer for iPhone and iPod Touch

My Photography Tutorials list is here:

Photography Tutorials List

Best regards,
Paul

If you'd like to purchase prints or stock photography licenses for my photos (for advertising and editorial use), please visit:

http://www.timpaphotography.com/purchase

To keep up-to-date with the latest photo additions and other topics, you can become a fan at my Photography Facebook page at:

Paul Timpa Photography's Facebook Page

Copyright 2009, Paul Timpa

http://www.timpaphotography.com/

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29Mar/10Off

Tutorials List

I've compiled a list of all the photography tutorials I've written.

To view a tutorial, please click the link below for the topic that interests you.

My iPhone and Android app which teaches photography is here:

Photography Trainer for iPhone and Android


Taking Sharp Photos


Night Photography


Sports, Children, Wildlife, and Action


HDR Photography Tutorial


Photographing Lightning Storms


Camera Lens Filters for Photography


Using Live View on your D-SLR – Tips and Tricks


How to Take Sunset Portraits — Indoor Portraits — About Your Camera’s Light Meter


A "General Approach" to Photography and Working a Scene


Manual Mode on Your D-SLR — When and Why to Use It


Color Management Made Simple – How to Calibrate your Monitor


Top Ten Ways to Improve Your Photography


Photography Tips for Compact Cameras and Point-and-Shoots


"What Camera to Buy?" — A guide on choosing a D-SLR


Shooting in RAW vs. JPEG


Choosing the best Focal Length for a photo


How to Photograph Fireworks


Camera Settings for Helicopter Photography and Aerial Photography


Your First D-SLR: Best Ways to Use It


Taking Photos in Busy Tourist Destinations with no People in the Shot


iPhone, Android, and iPod Touch app which teaches photography:

Photography Trainer for iPhone and Android

Photography Trainer iPhone app

Photography Trainer iPhone app

7Jan/10Off

Manual Mode on Your D-SLR — When and Why to Use It


Italy Collection - Images by Paul Timpa

Manual Mode on your D-SLR can really help you take your photography to the next level, allowing for spectacular images and much more creative shots.  It is especially important for:

* Sunsets
* Night Photography
* Waterfalls / Rivers / Streams
* Sports / Action

Many of you who have read my previous articles have heard me mention "Manual Mode" on cameras, and how using it can really help your pictures.  I decided to write an in-depth article on the benefits of using manual mode, and why it is often actually easier to use than the automatic modes like "Aperture Priority (Av)" or "Shutter Priority (Tv)".  I hope after reading it, you too will give it a try and find that it's the easiest mode to use and also results in the best photos.

I've guest-posted this article on a colleague's blog, and you can read the full text of my article here:

http://www.digital-photography-tricks.com/manual-mode.html

As always, if you have any questions, please let me know.

Best,
Paul

I've also created an app for iPhone, Android, and iPod Touch which teaches you photography -- more info can be found here:

Photography Trainer for iPhone and Android

Photography Trainer iPhone app

Photography Trainer iPhone app

Please feel free to share this article with Facebook friends:

Share

To keep up-to-date with the latest photo additions and other topics, you can also become a fan at my Photography Facebook page at:

Paul Timpa Photography's Facebook Page

If you'd like to purchase prints or stock photography licenses for my photos (for advertising and editorial use), please visit:

http://www.timpaphotography.com/purchase

Copyright 2009, Paul Timpa

http://www.timpaphotography.com/

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Positano, Italy, Amalfi Coast

Positano, Italy, Amalfi Coast