Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Professional Photo Tips for Travelers

Shared by my friends from International Expeditions

Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of the World's Greatest TripsBooks on Travel Reference)


We’re sharing veteran wildlife and nature photographer George Ritchey’s tips for getting the most out of your equipment and experience. With over 35 years of wildlife photography experience and credits including Robb Report, Atlanta Journal Constitution andBirmingham Magazine, Ritchey offers travelers tips on how to capture, preserve and enhance their memories while traveling.

·          Equipment
I don’t recommend that you bring a tripod unless it is a very light and mobile. Many of us will have cameras as well as binoculars. More equipment will become cumbersome and difficult to use. I am bringing a combination of walking stick and monopod. Often if your subject is an animal you will not have a lot of time to capture the image before the animal flees thus a tripod is of little use in these situations.

·          Wildlife
When approaching animals in the wild begin taking images during the approach process since you never know at what distance the animal will flee. Take lots of images. It is easy to delete unwanted ones. It is always better to capture a shot approaching the animal rather than the animal fleeing. Zoom in as close as possible. Have your camera ready and accessible at all times. Most animals will not wait for you –Sloth excluded.

·          Composition
Include reflections in your composition. Often the reflection itself will make a good photo. If your composition is in the sun or bright light a neutral density filter or circular polarizing filter should be considered but in darker situations such as the rain forest you will not need to use a filter.

·          How to pack
If your equipment includes many individual parts bring a small day bag or small backpack to house all the pieces that are not in use. Remember travel as light as possible. You will have a much more enjoyable trip. I would rather have the basic equipment than too much equipment.

·          Before leaving home review and study your camera manual. You should know how to operate it and that all functions are working. This is very important if you have a new camera or it’s been awhile since you used your camera. Remember we will have very limited access to any stores after we arrive in Lima. Once a participant in my seminar brought a five year old camera that she did not check, and after driving four hours she was disappointed to find that the camera did not work.

·          Make sure that you pack your camera manual. Many of the new cameras do not come with the manual and if you want one you need to download the manual from the manufacturer. Many strange and unusual malfunctions have occurred in the field and the manual often will supply instruction that can correct the problem. It may mean the difference of lots of images or going home with a disappointing number. Remember most of us will not travel the Amazon again!

·          Bring some type of rain protection for your camera equipment. There are specialty waterproof systems such as Aqua Tech or Kata, Inc. camera covers or you can use something as inexpensive as Ziplock bags. These bags come in sizes from 1 to 3 gallons. I once failed to use an adequate water protector in Alaska, and I spent many hours trying to dry my equipment and praying that it would work. I was successful but many photographers have not been so lucky.

·          Bring some type of security to attach your camera to you. I know that we all want to go home with all the equipment that we started out with. A neck strap or chest harness is acceptable. Gear Keeper offers a retractable device for smaller cameras. Cotton Carrier offer several chest strap carrying systems. I do not think a wrist strap is adequate. One inexpensive solution is to tie a string or small cord to your camera and to the button hole of your shirt. Don’t think it can’t happen to you! My last trip to the Galapagos claimed one unsecured camera.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Surely You Joust...

I timed my arrival in Tuscany with the joustng festival, The Saracen Joust of Arrezo.  Held the first Sunday in September every year.  This is a colorful display of rivaly. Participants representing four quadrants of the town  dress in respective colors of green/red, yellow/crimson, white/green, yellow/blue. Each team parades throught he town with much regalia and fanfare culminating in the Knight's Tournament in the Piazza Grande.

I rambled through the city tasting the local food, including Boar's Head.  Other vendors selling arts, crafts and tourist merchandise gathered in the park.

The beautiful walled city contained  churches and quaint restaurants . The streets swirled with crowds of people.  We got prime seats for the joust after waiting in an interminable line.  Just like "Medieval Times' we got to cheer for our home team- Porta del Foro known as Porta S.Lorentino (yellow and crimson colors).

As much as I enjoyed the festival atmosphere, I would return to Arrezo at another time to take a more leisurely stroll through its alleyways.  If I do I would stay at

Friday, September 2, 2011

Enter A Real Time Machine - The Newseum in Washington D.C.

I stepped out of my hotel and into a time machine.

Transported back, not in the typical resurrected town like Williamsburg, Va. or quaint seaport village like Mystic, Ct., but truly back where I remembered with emotions raw enough to bring tears to my eyes. I cried tears of grief, and tears of joy. The images I saw were contemporary and vivid. I lived them, and here I relived them. I was standing in the Newseum, Washington DC's newest museum of the news media, hence it portmanteau of a name.

Now before you doubt my opening, let me assure you that I am sincere in what I felt. Boyhood wonder came flooding back in watching the broadcasts of the space race, fear trickled through my fingertips in reading news about Hiroshima, and being a photographer I stood in sheer awe, mouth agape at the Pulitzer Prize winning photos.

Here I didn't just see the images, but each one was captioned with the full story behind its creation and the man or woman that captured that moment. They became so real for me. It was as if I was looking through the viewfinder in complete empathy with the imager, drawn into the intimacy of the scene.

My most poignant moment came when I reached the display for 9-11. I sat through the heart-wrenching movie and relived that day. Just outside the theatre was a display dedicated to Photographer William Biggart who lost his life when the second tower of the World Trade Center collapsed.

The Newseum’s collection includes radio, print, and television. Over 500 years of journalism is chronicled here. The history of history, if you will. Among its six floors you’ll find actual full size pieces of the Berlin Wall, and a forty-foot guard tower from near Checkpoint Charlie (not replicas), sports, comics, and the current day’s front pages from all fifty states.

The Newseum is a must-see stop when visiting Washington DC

The Newseum is located at:
Pennsylvania Avenue and Sixth Street, N.W., Washington, DC.

Hours of Operation
The Newseum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
General Admission
Good for admission on two consecutive days. Tickets may also be purchased at the Newseum's ticketing kiosks and admissions desk.
Adults (19 to 64)
$19.95 plus tax
Seniors (65+), military and students with valid ID
$17.95 plus tax
Youth (7 to 18)
$12.95 plus tax
Children (6 and younger)

Written and contributed by Jim DeLillo