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Photography Question 
Debra J. Broome
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/16/2005

Tips for Travel Photography

I am traveling to Italy next week and wondering if anyone has tips for me about travel photography. I am interested in trying some low light photography so any tips would be appreciated. Thanks.

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9/30/2006 8:49:10 AM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  I can offer you a couple. First, you ought to score a copy of two books: The first by our ole buddy Peter Burian and Robert Caputo called "National Geographic Photography Field Guide" 2nd Edition, ISBN 2003104002.

The second is called "Travel: Secrets to Making Great Pictures (Photography Field Guide Series)
by Robert Caputo, Charles Kogod (Editor) also published by National Geographic ISBN: 0792295056
Pub. Date: April 2005

Both of these are pocket size paper backs that will fit easily in your photo vest or camera bag. They're loaded with useful info that applies to travel photos and also general photograhic principles and tips and a lot of tricks. I highly recommend both. Easy to read on the plane going over. Then read them again on the way back to kick yourself for all the stuff you forgot to do. LOL !!! (just kidding).

I can't tell you what to photograph in Italy, but I can tell you that the basic rules of street photography apply; i.e., first and foremost always be aware of your surroundings and what's going on around you. Blend in and try not to either look like a photographer or tourist photographer.

While part of that is attitude, the other part is appearance. Your camera bag shouldn't look like one. My preference is to carry a diaper bag instead of a Domke. Not only is this unlikely to be boosted, but it has a certain insulation quality which is good for keeping film cool. ;>) A photo or travel vest is really useful too because you can wear your equipment and that makes it harder to snatch and run.

A tripod for low light photography is useful. I really like my Gitzo Reporter for that. It's small and light enough to schlep but sturdy enough for a medium format camera. At night, use pre exposure mirror lock-up if your camera has it. Meter for the highlights of a scene and bracket your exposures at least 1/2 stop in either direction.

If you're working on film, there are a lot of x-ray exposure precautions that are useful. Try and carry it with you on the plane. There seems to be some debate as to whether that's still ok since the shampoo scare. I haven't had any trouble doing it domestically, but haven't been to Europe since. Carry the film in the heavy duty lead bags, have it out of the containers or in see through plastic containers for hand inspection in the U.S. airports.

European airports are more often using the CTX 5000 scanners on checked baggage as is becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. as well. These things can be cranked up to see through just about anything, including your lead-lined bags. Here's a link to the TSA site and one page on traveling with film domestically.

BTW, the TSA still says film slower than ISO 800 isn't adversely affected by carry-on bag screeners. They're wrong. The effects are cumulative. Their statement still presumes only one pass or two.

The Sima Corp makes lead bags for film, their site is at:

And...........bon voyage. ;>)

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9/30/2006 10:27:01 AM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
  Watch where the tourists go and go the other way.

This blanket statement will prevent you're coming back with the same thing that has been shot over and over,...and over again.
Dare to be different.

For low light, follow Mark's advice...and bracket a lot if using film.

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9/30/2006 4:39:20 PM

Debra J. Broome
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/16/2005
  Thanks so much for the great advice. I will get the books tomorrow. Debra

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9/30/2006 8:42:12 PM

Alan N. Marcus   Dear Debra,

My wife and I just returned from Italy on a photo safari. Our trip was wonderful. Weather perfect and all reservations worked and the luggage was not lost. Pictures will be treasured for our lifetime.

My advise on electric stuff.

Check all electric appliances you will take, particularly battery, camera /flash/phone chargers. Make sure they will operate on 220V 50Hz. (most do). Call cell phone provider tell them you will be in Europe.

Go to Radio Shack and get two (2) adapter kits to allow you to plug in American style electric plugs into European receptacles . If your devices only work on US 110V power, buy a small converter/adapter/transformer (probably not needed for your chargers as they are usually universal but with the wrong plug-in prongs). Take a short extension cord that terminates in multi plug-in so you can charge more than one appliance from a single outlet plug.

Many hotels have no spare electric outlets. Take an adapter the kind that allows removing a light bulb and replacing it with an electric receptacle.

Go to Wal*Mart and buy their inexpensive monopod (camera department). Monopod looks like a walking stick. With Monopod you can steady the camera when taking low lit interior shots at the museums etc.

If your digital uses AA batteries get the lithium long-life type and take them with you.

Take extra digital storage. My cameras use SD so I took four 2M chips.

Have fun stay safe.

Alan Marcus

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10/1/2006 12:08:30 PM

Debra J. Broome
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/16/2005
  Dear Alan, Thanks for the advice. You mentioned some issues I had not thought of myself.

I hope you and your wife publish some of your pictures on this site. I would love to see them.

Thanks, Debra

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10/1/2006 12:29:31 PM

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