NYT article on becoming a better vacation photographer


The New York Times published an online article today discussing the tips on taking better photos when on vacation. They interviewed a pro photographer, Dan Lipow, asking him for his tips and tricks on shooting better.

I’m mostly cognizant of his tips, so on the risk self-aggrandizing, I thought it’d be interesting to answer some of the questions myself to see what I would do, and to also _FINALLY_ show some of the photos I took when I went back to Singapore and Indonesia in March, except the first one below from Spain…

Anyway, here we go!

Q: For D.S.L.R. photographers, what lenses are best for vacation shots?

A: I typically travel with zoom lenses for the convenience, although I seem to grudgingly accept the weight and bulk of my 17-55, 12-24, and 75-150 lenses. With my Nikon D300 with a 1.5X multiplier, it essentially gives me an effective field-of-view in 35mm terms of 18 to 300mm. Unless I’m in a confined space or am shooting wide open landscapes, I rarely pull out the 12-24.

Q: Do you recommend any additional equipment?

A: A light tripod absolutely. I have a light Gitzo Traveler GT1541T tripod with the Markins Q3 Traveler ballhead. I LOVE this combo for it’s stability and (lack-of) weight. Some of my best shots are taken early mornings and late evenings. The latter when the light is low and the people are out. Otherwise, I hate shooting with tripods…

Tucked in a corner, on tripod, in the rain

Tucked in a corner, on tripod, in the rain

Q: When on vacation, do you typically shoot in manual, aperture, shutter or auto mode?

A: Generally aperture priority, unless speed is essential. Even then, I normally use the aperture to pick the speed. To be honest, I’ve never shot my cameras in manual mode, and while I’m familiar with the Sunny-16 rule, I’ve never used it.

Q: How do you take compelling photos of your friends and family on vacation, images that have an interesting composition and don’t look posed?

A: Can’t do it. Both Mrs. Blog and I seem to abhor having our photos taken, even on vadations. So while we’re trying real hard to at least document our visits, at this point, our personal photos are quite blah and are generally made up of photos taken with a P&S in my outstretched arm.

Q: It’s best to zoom in on people, right? Seems like many people take shots way too far out.

A: Shooting people is hard. See this.

Somehow these folks were oblivious to me shooting them...

Somehow these folks were oblivious to me shooting them...

Q: Any tips on taking really interesting photos of landscapes?

A: This doesn’t just apply to landscapes. Most tourists shoot from the same place where everyone else shoots. That could make great postcards shots and could impress the people back home, and if that’s what you’re looking for, great! Hey, I have tons of those! But if you’re out to shoot something that can’t already be seen on the postcards there, walk around and see if there’s something to discover.

Inside a storehouse shooting out

Inside a storehouse shooting out

Q: Any advice for users of point-and-shoot cameras? Ways to better use the scene modes?

A: A P&S won’t give you the same flexibility as an SLR, but within the range of what it can do, it can rival the quality of the SLRs. I’d say that every photo in this article could’ve been shot with a decent P&S. What’s important is learning how your camera works and working with it instead of against it.

My final parting shot is one I took in a mall in Singapore. I like how the large round blackness and blueness of the fountain contrasts with the warm tones of the small tables and chairs. The lady right at the edge, to me, adds interest.

Look for a different point of view? Try looking down

Looking for a different point of view? Try looking down

I’m no pro photographer by any means, and I’m still figuring out my way on how to maximize the image quality while on vacation, so if you’ve got a good tip for me to improve, drop me a comment. Please! If you’ve got a representative photo, send a link as well.

There are several more photos not shown here from my Asian trip. Check them out in this gallery.



One Response to “NYT article on becoming a better vacation photographer”

  1. Stunning photos! – and I good post, although much is lost on me as I am not a photographer by any means.

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