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Taking Great Pictures While on Vacation

Updated on August 28, 2016

What to Bring Along with Your Digital Camera

You have the trip planned, you have the hopes that you will have a good time, and you have your digital camera, or, in some instances, your mobile phone as your device for capturing all of the photos that you want to take.
Here is a list of what to bring along with you and your camera to make sure that you don't miss getting some great shots.

  • Extra batteries. At least two. On a trip to China, I missed getting some really great shots with Panda Bears because my camera had died on me. I thought that I would be able to just find time to charge my battery, but that was not the case. My camera also was able to take AA batteries, but there were none to be found in any of the shops. For every 3 days you are going to be gone, pack an extra set of batteries. Make sure that you either leave the batteries in their original packaging, so that they do not touch battery contact points and discharge, or, if that is not possible, put each battery in a separate zip top bag.
  • Extra memory cards. Memory cards are pretty cheap now. For a good card, you can get one for less than $25.00 in most cases. Bring an extra for the camera, again, the rate is about 1 memory card for every three days. Hopefully, in three days, you will find a place to upload the memory card to.
  • The charger for the camera. That goes without saying, but I have heard repeatedly of people who thought that they would not take as many photos as they ended up taking. They either had to go without photos, or buy another camera on the trip. That can get pricey!
  • A proper cleaning cloth. Do you really want to wipe your camera and camera lens with a shirt that you have been wearing all day? Cleaning cloths are inexpensive, and there are even some cloths that attach to your phone or camera.
  • A proper camera case. A proper case will provide padding for the camera, protecting it from bumps and jostles as well as the occasional drop.
  • A carrying strap or holding strap of some sort. No one ever intends to drop their camera on vacation. Get into the habit of using the strap now, so that it is second nature later.

What to Aim for with the Camera

We've all seen the vacation shots that we would rather forget. A shot straight up someones' nose. The one where the kids look at something off camera, and let's not forget the best one of all, the unfocused frame.

In taking good photos, you want to frame your shot by looking either at the screen, through the viewfinder, or at the subject that you are photographing if you are using a tripod that you have already set up.

Compose your shot. Even if it is merely friends toasting the sunset, make sure that everyone is in the shot. Look around for things like trash cans, litter, animal litter and similar. If any of those are in the shot, either you move, to remove the offending item, or have your subjects move. Make sure everyone is facing the right direction, and take the shot.

Don't have them say Cheese. It's cheesy, and the smile always looks fake. Try saying "Sassy, Silly, Rain", or something else that makes the face end in a smile. Take the photo. Now...take another one immediately, when everyone relaxes.

When shooting pets and children, drop down to their eye level. Line up the shot, and take it. Don't come in too close to where the person or pet blurs, but do come in closer than with adults.

What if I Still don't Get Great Shots?

The first thing that you need to do is review your shots right after you have taken them. Right then, right there. If the shot is not right, take another. If after three times, you still cannot get the shot, then review it later to try to improve upon. Sometimes, with amateur equipment, you cannot get the same results. I was once trying to get a shot of the fountains in Las Vegas. I wanted to get a misting effect that I was seeing on a photo online.
I shared with a photographer there the effect I was trying to produce. He started listing off different types of lenses and filters. I did not have that option with my simple point and shoot.

Read the manual before you go on vacation. Before I left to England, I got a new camera. I took the time on the flight to completely read the manual before I got off the plane. I learned of some fun settings and "filters" that were built into the camera. I was able to take some really remarkable photos that myself and my friends enjoyed.

Using your Phone as your Camera

I have used my phone many times to take impromptu photos at social gatherings and such. I heartily do not recommend it for vacations. The main reason is that if you are going on a vacation outside of the United States, some phones require that the radio be turned on to use any of the features.

That means that in a foreign country, you will be going through your battery very fast. Additionally. when I was on a foreign trip, my phone experienced a glitch and I lost every single image on the phone as it had to be reprogrammed to make it work again. I would not want to take a chance with something as valuable as vacation photos.

Saving Your Photos

When I come home, I decide which photos are going to be printed. I then take the time to go and look through and delete photos that are blurred, lighting is bad, or other awful moments that I do not want to remember. I then burn everything to 3 separate disks and label the contents. One gets stored with photos, one gets stored in a fire safe, and the 3rd I mail to a family member.

Over and over in disasters, we hear of people lamenting the loss of photos. Now that online storage is becoming more affordable, I am stored in the cloud, too, but I am also keeping my own copies. I recently saw that large storage devices of 2TB and more are available for less than $150.00. That is a lot of photographs. If you value your photos, make sure that you have them archived. Memory cards fail, CD's and DVD's sometimes fail, and technologies change. Anyone still using floppy disks these days?

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