This is the second of a series of articles that uses travel photography to show how you can get a particular type of shot.
Some of the examples won’t be stock, product or marketing photos, although any image can be used to market anything.
Nearly all of them will be travel photography images
But this is a good starting point for taking similar photos for any reason whether it’s travel photography or for your business.
And I hope that this inspires you to go and emulate and even improve on the method I give you here.
So, let me clarify that this article is not some much about technique but opportunism.
Let’s set the scene
I was travelling through the South West of the USA and stopped off at a little town of Jerome.
Smack bang in the middle of Arizona and north of Phoenix, its claim to fame is that it was a copper mining town.
Nowadays it’s a tourist hot-spot. Being at a higher altitude, Jerome is attractive to residents of Phoenix, the big smoke, during their ugly summer months of high temperatures.
And so, I discovered how attractive it was as I roamed the streets of Jerome taking shots of the interesting sights as well as the landscape beyond.
However, what I really became interested in was the locals.
There’s only around 450 of them and they all seemed to be happy, friendly and smiling.
Whilst I have done some portrait photography, I’m not a big lover of it.
I find that taking impromptu spontaneous images tend to bring out much more of the subject’s character.
Positioning for Street Photography
When you take any street scene sometimes you get lucky and fire off a few shots straight away.
Other times you have to kind of go with the flow and watch and see how the street life unfolds.
That day was one of the latter.
I wondered around until I found a spot diagonally opposite a bar, a hotel and a winery cellar door, yes, they do have wine in Arizona and good wine it is too.
The spot I found was a corner or rather a T-junction.
Normally I would find a café to sit and watch but there wasn’t one where I wanted to be.
But there was, at that time, enough people around to make me feel inconspicuous.
So, I waited.
As it was mid-afternoon and wasn’t a Sunday I figured that there would be a bit of coming and going from the bar.
There was but not as much as I wanted.
But I did shoot a few images as I hung around.
After about 10 minutes some motorbike riders turned up and went into the bar.
I shot off a few shots of them.
But being mindful that I didn’t know these guys I was fairly conservative and kept a low profile.
After about 5 minutes these couple of guys came out and sat outside chatting and looking at the bikes.
Now neither of these guys are oil paintings but they were perfect for me.
So, I was off a running – not literally, of course.
This one is the best of the shots I took.
One is smiling and the other is laughing and both are looking at the bikes.
I have no idea whether they were laughing at the bikes or something completely different.
So, let’s get technical.
My gear was a Canon 5D MKII with a 75-300mm telescopic lens, which is a full frame DSLR
I usually use aperture priority and had that set at F/8.
F/8 is the sweet spot for this and most other cameras for subjects that are a short to medium distance away. Ideal if shooting travel photography.
You should get everything in focus regardless of the focal length you use, which in this case was 180mm.
It also means that unless the light is low, you should get a fast-enough shutter speed which at 1/200 sec, I did.
Even though the light was quite good, it was overcast. Having said that, I had the ISO set to auto and it selected 320 ISO, so the light was not as bright as you may think for somewhere like Arizona.
In this camera you have to get up to about 1000 ISO before there is any noticeable difference to the picture quality i.e. noise or grain.
I could have set the ISO even lower as I had a lens that had IS, Image Stabilisation but I didn’t feel that I needed to use it.
To get a good photo of anything, you need a bit of luck but at the same time you can make your own luck. If you used this example for instance, you would do that by:
1 Scouting the location
2 Working out the best position
3 Being patient
4 Ensuring you have the correct equipment, which can be the best you have with you.
But be realistic. For example, using a smartphone is not the best camera to use for all situations.
5 Setting your camera correctly.
6 Make sure if you are taking street photos, you are in a location that will allow you to quickly move into a better position.
One last tip: If you are holidaying make sure you actually make time to enjoy the location. Forget Travel Photography occasionally and move in front of the camera and have a good time!
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