Eat, pray, shoot, Part 2: Our best digital photography tips for travel photos – Macworld

Welcome to the second part of Have Gear, Will Travel’s digital photography special. In part one, I talked about the camera gear, hardware, software, and apps I use to make myself look like a semi-competent photographer. Depending on where I’m going and what I plan on doing while I’m there, the photography gear I jam into my backpack can range from dirt cheap to questionably expensive. All the tips I’m providing today, however, come at the low, low cost of free.

In order to better illustrate these techniques, tweaks, and suggestions, I spent a week in Montana this past November taking in the sights in Bozeman, Pray, Yellowstone National Park, Three Forks, Butte, the ghost town of Bannack, and all points in between. My time there was cold, the landscape was starkly beautiful, and the people I encountered were disarmingly warm. Within the space of a week, the state managed to charm its way to the top my list of favorite North American road trip destinations.  

But for now, let’s talk photography. The following rules have worked well for me, and now, I pass them on, like the low-rent inheritance they are, to you.

Don’t be stupid 

stupidSéamus Bellamy

See the brown lump in the middle of this photo? It’s a buffalo. It was far enough off the road as I drove through Yellowstone National Park that I likely would have missed it, if I hadn’t have noticed its breath lofting from its nostrils in a lazy upward pillar in the cold winter air. It was the first animal I spotted in the park that day and I was excited.

Neither the point-and-shoot camera or either of the iPhones I had with me, equipped with Moment’s 2X telephoto lens or not, provided me with the optical reach I needed to bring the beast’s features out in an image in a way that made me happy. Yeah, the buffalo was laying down in knee-deep snow, and he looks like he’s too full of chocolate to run. But there’s no way in hell I was going to get any closer to this thing. The furry buggers can easily outpace a human. Per the National Park Service, more than three times as many people were injured in bison attacks than dust-ups with bears between 1980 and 1999. And in 2015, Darwinism reared its head on multiple occasions as snap-happy idiots decided to move within six feet of one of these furry tanks, hoping for an amazing photo to remember their time in the park by. Stepping beyond a fence that officials put in place for your safety? Yeah, that’s stupid too.

elkSéamus Bellamy

For most folks, the best way to see elk up close, is from the safety of their car.

Use your head: No matter whether it’s getting within petting distance of a wild animal, standing on the edge of a cliff, or taking a photo of disenfranchised individuals in a country where you don’t understand the social rules, no photo is worth getting hurt or dying for.

Plan, if you can 

skinnersSéamus Bellamy

The only drinks you’ll find in Skinner’s Saloon these days are the ones you bring with you.

You spend time planning a vacation or business trip: accommodations, the route transportation and what you’ll bring with you all get some consideration. Heck, some people won’t leave the house to go to the store without a shopping list. Is it so much to ask that a little thought go into capturing the moments or places that’ll allow you to reconnect with an amazing adventure for years to come? While there’s something to be said for spontaneity in photography, planning before pulling the trigger on a shot can mean the difference between taking a picture of something cool that you saw on your travels and allowing others to see why you felt it was so cool in the first place.

While wandering through the ghost town of Bannack, I came across this old barber’s chair in Skinner’s Saloon. An artifact of the 1800s, it added a real sense of life to an otherwise dead building—who knows how many road agents, regular townsfolk, and travelers sat in it back in Bannack’s heyday? Cool chair! I could, upon seeing it, just snap a pic of the thing, like this:


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