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Serious Photography Meets the Family Vacation - Part 2 - A Few Techniques

August 31, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Tulum BeachTulum BeachTulum is an area of ruins about an hour's drive from Playa Del Carmen. I liked this small patch of beach that opened up to the ocean, as some threatening clouds moved overhead. The water really was this unbelievable blue color. It was like looking at a sea of Gatorade :o)

I experimented with the post processing by making a pseudo HDR shot using 1 original capture that I made under and over exposed copies from. The HDR was done using Photomatix.


Serious Photography Meets the Family Vacation - Part 2

So in part 2 of our blog post about shooting scenics while on a family trip, I want add some more comments on being prepared as well as cover a few techniques that can greatly enhance your chances at coming away with those shots you can be proud of.

First here are a few more comments on extra items to consider bringing along:

  • Memory cards - These days memory cards are very cheap, so there is no good excuse not to make sure you have enough along with you to allow you to shoot as many shots as you like WITHOUT having to erase any cards during your trip. This solves one other issue too - it gives you one backup of your images (more about backup later.)
  • Extra battery - Many modern digital cameras use proprietary batteries, so having 2 batteries plus a charger with you is a good idea. If you are going to a foreign country also make sure that you have the necessary adapters/converters to plus your battery charger into the wall too.

Here then are a few suggested techniques to get the most of of whatever photo opportunities you have on your trip

  • Learn To shoot RAW if your camera supports it - While RAW mode may only seem like a way to create much larger files that are harder to look at on your computer, in fact RAW mode has some distinct advantages over the jpeg output mode that many cameras default to. A RAW mode file contains all of the information that your camera can capture. Think of it like a digital negative. Using this format allows you more latitude in adjusting your image later, either to correct problems (exposure, white balance) or to add cool effects. In many cases, cameras that support RAW mode shooting can also shoot in both RAW and jpeg mode. This gives you both a quick and easy image to see and share, but also a digital negative to do critical enhancements to later if you wish.  With today's inexpensive memory cards the extra space used is not typically significant.
  • Use your histogram to evaluate exposure - Almost every digital camera today has the ability to show an exposure histogram. This is a more accurate way to tell if that shot you just took is properly exposed to avoid blown out highlights or lost detail in the shadows than simply looking at the LCD display on the back of the camera, especially if you are outdoors in bright light. Details of what a histogram is and how to read one can be found online, here is just one such link:
  • Bracket exposures when shooting in challenging lighting conditions - As stated above, memory card space is cheap, so if you are unsure of your exposure for a shot, or if the scene has too much dynamic range to capture all details in a single exposure, take a few additional shots with exposures both above and below the exposure settings recommended by your camera. This is called bracketing' your expsore. At the expense of as few as an 2 additional shots this technique allows you a better chance to get the exposure right, especially if you are rushed in setting up your shot. Bracketed exposures can even be combined in post processing to recover highlight or shadow detail that the camera couldn't capture in a single frame (a technique called High Dynamic Range processing, or HDR - more about that in a future blog!) Often, bracketing can be easily accomplished automatically using the appropriate camera settings.! 

So that's it! gather up your gear for your next family trip and come back with some great images! 


Best Regards, 






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