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Photography QnA: Destination and Travel Photography Tutorial

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Category: All About Photography : Photographing Specific Subjects : Destination and Travel Photography Tutorial

Looking for a travel photography tutorial? Going on a trip soon and want to come back with stunning photos? Check out this Q&A. Or if you're interested in private instruction, check out Brenda Tharp's Creating Memorable Travel Images online photography course.

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Photography Question 
Frank P. Luongo
Contact Frank
Frank's Gallery

member since: 6/7/2004
  21 .  Shooting Photos From Bridges
When shooting pictures FROM bridges, even with a tripod, does the vibration from the bridge adversely affect the sharpness of the picture? Thanks.

11/3/2004 4:15:02 PM

Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 7/17/2003
  Yes ... especially if there's steady traffic. On the longer bridges, the vibration from traffic is more pronounced, and there can even be some minute "swaying" if it's windy.

11/3/2004 5:06:23 PM

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Photography Question 

member since: 9/15/2004
  22 .  How to Save Digital Pictures
I am going on vacation and taking my digital camera along. Because I take a lot of photos, I have two memory cards. However, I know they will fill up fast, and I was wondering how to save my digital pics without having to print them out every day. I was thinking I could use something like a Kodak photo machine and save the photos on a CD. That way I can delete them off the card to free up more space and print and edit them when I get home. Will this work?

9/15/2004 5:38:46 AM

  Writing to CD is the best way, although a little time consuming. Digital wallets are great, too. Many have a viewing window so you can scroll through your images. I would consider taking three or 4 512M or 1G cards. They are very delicate hard drives and if you drop one or accidentally sit on one or drop one in the ocean, it may become inoperative and will need recovery software to pull the images from the damaged drive. Have fun!!

9/15/2004 3:11:36 PM

Diane Dupuis-Kallos
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 12/27/2003
  I had the same question when I travelled to Europe this past spring. I couldn't afford to buy any more memory cards, and had to rely on downloading onto CD. Unfortunately when I tried it in Paris - it didn't work!!! And if you are not going to a very touristy area you may not fnd a machine. If you can afford it, buy more memory cards or some other device to download the pictures yourself, and be sure at the end of each day to review your shots and delete the so-so ones...
Have a great trip!

9/21/2004 3:37:55 AM

  AVOID THE KODAK KIOSK MACHINES! a) they only hold 120 pictures b) they take your photos and make a slide show so if your pics are all ready for presentation in camera you are fine cause you cannot get to them to process easily and C) you lose the original files and the exif information. Try using one here and if you are OK with that then fine. Otherwise get a portable CD burner or see if there is a place where you will be that can readily transfer the files from your picture cards to a CD for you. Enjoy your trip.

9/21/2004 5:00:36 AM

Phillip A. Flusche
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/17/2003
  There are several solutions. All involve some money. One is to download to a lap top you carry with you. A less expensive solution is to download to either a portable CD burner made just for this purpose or a portable hard drive made just for this purpose. The hard drive versions vary in price depending on the size of the hard drive and bells and whistles. I use a portable CD burner that has slots built in for all the major types of memory cards thus negating the need to hook up via a cable. I see advertisements for these type machines in Photo Magazines every month. Mine is made by Apacer and is called "DISK STENO 100". There are two models. Not sure of the current prices but suspect their's and other companies' burners run in the $300 range. CDs are a good choice because you get a relatively long lived permanent/archived copy of the pictures that cannot be modified until downloaded to a PC. One other p;ossibility is to find an internet cafe that will let you burn CDs on their computers. Not very likely and they will charge for the priviedge.

9/21/2004 9:33:58 AM

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Photography Question 
Ronnie Black

member since: 3/19/2004
  23 .  Traveling with Film
I am about to go on a trip to the Spain/Portugal area and would like to know how best to protect my film both used and unused at the airports scanners X-rays or any other equipment used. I will carry all photography gear in hand luggage. Thanks in advance.

8/26/2004 12:03:42 AM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/18/2000
  The best way is to not carry film through the airports, but instead buy, and have it processed, there. U.S. scanners for carry-on luggage are safe for up to ISO 800. Don't know about Spain/Portugal. In the U.S., you can request a hand inspection of film. While you are legally entitled to this, sometimes the security worker will refuse since the scanners are deemed safe for most film and hand inspections slow things down. Some advise carrying some ISO 3200 film to force hand inspection. You're also more likely to be obliged if you show up early and go through security during a relative lull.

8/26/2004 6:22:11 AM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/18/2000
  P.S. Single-use cameras get scanned regardless. They do not count as "film".

8/26/2004 6:26:00 AM

Nirmal Hasan

member since: 5/21/2004
  Hi Ronnie,

Blame it on the times we live in, but there doesn't seem to be an easy solution to this. The X-ray scanners are supposed to be film-safe up to about 800 ISO - the operative phrase being "supposed to be". So, theoretically, a single "normal" pass through the scanner shouldn't affect the slower films.

However, if you pass through multiple scanners, the effects add up. If the film stays in the scanner for longer than normal (say, the security personnel want to get a good look at your bag or someone else's bag through the scanner) then the film can get "cooked".

In the U.S., you can request your film (and cameras with film) to be hand-checked. I have done this and have had no problems. However, while the security personnel are supposed to honor this request, there is no real guarantee that they will (especially if the lines are long). Additionally, I don't know if you can get them hand-checked at airports in Spain.

You can get protective pouches for your film. As I understand it, the pouch is lead-lined and impermeable (or less permeable) to X-rays, which means there is a good chance that it raises eyebrows when put through a scanner. So now, it may sit under the scanner longer as they try to figure it out or you might be asked to either put them back without the pouch or have them hand-checked.

Another option is to not carry any film while flying - purchase your film at your destination and develop them before you leave there. If you cannot develop them there, you could consider mailing the exposed film back to your residence, but I am not sure if packages in the mail get scanned these days as well ...
Hope that is of some help..

8/26/2004 6:30:47 AM

Steven Chaitoff
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 6/22/2004
  So they say it's safe ... I always cringe when my precious film goes through that machine and wonder about all the waves going through it. When I went to Kenya last year, I took about 40 rolls and put them in a see-through ZipLoc plastic bag. The rolls were Fuji and used their transparent white container as well, so everything was easily identifiable and all that really helped. You can just hold up your bag and point and they'll pull you over to the side for a hand check. Like Jon mentioned, I also put a couple 1600s in there because they do tend to ask "800 or lower? ... machine." In Nairobi, they actually opened, dusted and examined every canister but it was worth it.

8/26/2004 6:28:25 PM

Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 11/11/2003
  It's good to leave it out of canisters and with the leader out, so it tells them it's actually a roll of film. It may get you a hand inspection if it's that way.

8/26/2004 9:41:24 PM

Steven Chaitoff
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 6/22/2004
  I hear you should never leave a roll out of a canister for a long a period of time, but I don't know the source behind that.

8/26/2004 10:10:30 PM

Norbert Maile

member since: 7/28/2004
  They say that even regular film (under 800 ISO) will be damaged if it is exposed to regular-strength X-ray more that 5 times. I have taken film out of Canada, and into the U.S., and Japan, post-911. I have always carried it in a separate bag (plastic), and, with a smile, requested hand inspection. I always had a roll of 3200 film in the bunch, and I was never refused. It takes time, but so what? Better to spend time (which is not your fault) than have your film ruined. Ever hear the story of the film company doing a documentary in South America? They spent months filming, came back to the U.S. with all film in cargo, and all ruined! I would not get film developed in a country that didn't have first-rate labs either, unless I was staying there for a few months. Mailing also would be risky, since you are not a film manufacturer. The U.S. government has a good Web site on the subject as well.

8/27/2004 8:16:17 AM

Norbert Maile

member since: 7/28/2004
  Here is the link to the U.S. Government site:

8/29/2004 5:43:02 AM


member since: 4/18/2004
  I have travelled the world over and always have used lead lined bags The best ones come from travellers magazines such as Travel Smith or Magellans. I do try to get the film processed where I am but this year having just returned from France I had 6 rolls of exposed film and they all were fine. I suggest you purchase a leaded bag and place allin your carryon .

8/31/2004 4:09:55 AM

Scott Pedersen

member since: 11/18/2001
  Gregory has the right plan. Film does not need to be stored in a canistor but don't leave it in direct light for extended time. if its in a baggie and the baggie is in your pack it wont hurt it a bit. As far a people getting all their film ruined, I think its an old photographers tale. Oh Im sure things can happen, but memory cards can be mysteriously ereased too. Neither of which happens very often. Just use some common sense and your film will be just fine. Traveling abroad and photographing would be fun but now I personally wouldn't do it. Its less safe than ever for us now outside of the USA.


8/31/2004 4:44:58 AM

Norbert Maile

member since: 7/28/2004
  I wouldn't want to take a chance on my film getting ruined, even if there were no problems before. Take all the precautions you can and have a great trip!

8/31/2004 6:45:56 AM

Ronnie Black

member since: 3/19/2004
  Thanks everyone for the information I will be flying from Scotland to portugal in the next few days this will be my last trip overseas for a while I will be sticking to the Highlands and Western Ilses of Scotland for the forseeable future .
Good Health, Ronnie

9/1/2004 7:57:30 AM

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Photography Question 
Rajesh C

member since: 2/4/2000
  24 .  What Equipment for the Grand Canyon?
I'm going to the Grand Canyon for the first time. I am confused as to what equipment to carry. I have an Olympus OM2000. The lenses I have are 35-70mm f3.5-4.8, 70-205mm f3.5, 100-300mm 4.5-5.6, and a 135mm f2.8. The telephoto zooms are very heavy, and I don't want to carry both of them because of back pain. I also have to buy a wide-angle lens. Should I go for a 24mm f2.8 or 19-35mm f3.5-4.5? Both are within my budget.

8/8/2004 4:26:07 PM

BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/28/2002
  When I went to the Grand Canyon, I carried these 3 lenses: 28mm, 50mm and 135mm FD for my Canon AT-1. I used the 28mm and 50mm most. I only used the 135mm on one photo. So my suggestion to you, either the 24mm or the 19-35mm, the 35-70mm and optional, either the 70-205mm or 100-300mm, whichever is lighter or the better optic. Hope this helps.

8/9/2004 8:13:10 AM


member since: 1/2/2003
  Hi, Rajesh G: I have been to the GC twice, once in the fall and once in the winter, and spent weeks poring over books (photographer's guide to the Grand Canyon and Northern Az by Lange and Photographing the Southwest by Martres, especially). I took my 24mm, 80-200, 105 micro, 24-120, a lot of film, my flash, my Nikon F100, my filters for BW and packed them in a mini trekker. My husband took his Nikon N80 with a Tamron 28-300. I spent so much time switching lenses that I felt like throwing the backpack into the canyon. My husband didn't even carry a pack or a bag and was able to go places I could not. Our lab could find no difference in quality between his images and mine with enlargements of 8x10.

The 24-120 was the lens I used most. If I had had the 28-300, I would have used that, but I seldom used the 80-200. Having so much equipment was unnecessary, exhausting and a distraction - for me, at least. If I were going again, I would buy the widest angle zoom I could afford and take only 2 lenses.

You are very lucky to be seeing the Grand Canyon. Have a wonderful trip. I hope this info is of some use.

8/10/2004 8:09:55 AM

Marvin E. Woodward
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 4/6/2004
  I spent some time there this spring - and, to make a long story short, my Fuji S2 Pro, my 12-24 Nikon, and my Tamron 28-300 would have been all I needed. When you're working on or near canyon edges, you can't always move up or back for composition. A zoom has an edge over a prime in this type of situation.

8/10/2004 1:44:39 PM

  Hi Rajesh, I have been to the Grand Canyon three times now,and each time I find it more awesome. I use a Nikon N80, and the only lens that I found that was needed was my Sigma 28-105mm
2.8-4.0 I would definately suggest that you purchase or bring your polarizer filter, or an enhancing filter. If you are taking a tour out of a hotel or the like, you will be at the Canyon during the height of the day. During this time of day, filters more so than lenses are going to be your greatest asset.
Hope this helps. Don't forget to take time to absorb the Canyon, because it's easy to get caught up in the photographing. ENJOY!!
Richard J.

8/20/2004 3:07:36 PM

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Photography Question 
Carl J. Morrison
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 1/8/2002
  25 .  Shooting from a Cruise Ship
I will be going on a Crystal Cruise (Harmony) from San Francisco to the Alaskan glaciers and back in July. Having been on an Inside Passage cruise before, I know I'll see great shots from the deck ...wildlife, fishing villages, lighthouses, and landscapes. I've done okay with these subjects from land with 200 ASA, polarizing filter, medium length Minolta zoom, and a tripod, but what do I do to adjust for the ship's movement, overcast days and some distance to the subject?

I could borrow a fixed length 300mm lens if that is appropriate.

Additionally, suggestions about cruise photography in general...on and off the ship...are welcome.

I love looking at pictures, so your uploaded examples would be most appreciated.

Carl "High Seas" Morrison

2/7/2002 1:40:09 PM


member since: 7/6/2001
  You should be just fine with a Prime 300mm. I suggest renting a 1.4x teleconverter for the extra "punch" necessary should you find yourself still short at the telephoto end.

Since the ship won't be moving too fast, you should be alright at f/5.6.

For indoors, I would try a prime or a decent wide-angle to short zoom - say an 85/1.8 or perhaps a 24-85 - that would give you a great option to take the sweeping indoor shots like the dining room or the main stairwell/lobby. It's also great for perspective shots from the back of the ship or the forward observation deck. That range is also wonderful for shore tours. Don't forget a dedicated shoe flash! Buy your film in bulk before leaving and consider a mixture of ISO 100 for scenics/good light and 400/800 for moving action/evening shots. I can't seem to find the shots from my cruise at the moment - if I do, I'll upload them to this thread.

-AJ Heredia

2/17/2002 1:27:30 PM

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Photography Question 

member since: 4/23/2001
  26 .  Photo Etiquette in Holy Places
I was wondering about the etiquette of taking pictures in holy places. Is it intrusive to take pictures of a statue display, candle display or stain glass windows while other people are praying. Also, are there any opinions about making portraits of people who are in the act of prayer. I would like to get as many points of view on this topic as possible, I find that sacred places such as churches, and mosques provide opportunities full of emotion and personality. Thanks for your time.

10/26/2001 12:02:25 AM

  Dear Greg, I think that you should have a reason to take pix of people while they are praying. A few months ago I had an assignment for a paper. I was sent to the church breifly before the service. I spoke with the priest and he let me shoot but asked me to use no flash. He let me set up my tripod where I wanted and I did move around. So... I would ask permission. Tell him you are an artist. I was very quiet during the shoot but people knew I was there. I felt very intrusive. If you do this be prepared to answer a lot of questions after the mass and good luck. donnarae

10/26/2001 7:37:56 AM

James Fuqua

member since: 6/11/2003
  I just returned from a trip to France, Spain, Gibraltar and Tangier. Of course we visited many churches. Some churches will not let you take photo at all. Some will let you take them without flash. Just ask before you flash! As been previously said you can get into a lot of trouble. Of course most of them will not turn out without flash. I found that was just a waste of time. James Fuqua

6/11/2003 5:02:53 PM

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Photography Question 
Michael Yoder

member since: 8/29/2001
  27 .  My Perfect Travel / Backpacking Camera
I am looking for a small, sturdy camera with excellent optics and a SLR viewfinder for composition and some zoom capabilities for on the spot flexibility. Quick to use, unobtrusive, lightweight...yet still have some control and get high quality.

Also I am tempted by digital, but worried about sturdiness, battery life, and other problems that could be encountered in a backpacking environment.


8/29/2001 4:58:48 PM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/27/2001
  IMO a manual focus, mechanical shutter SLR offers some advantages for backpacking. Even though a battery is required for the TTL metering, you can continue shooting without any batteries by estimating exposure.

All of the following are sturdy, well-made workhorses with systems that have excellent lenses. If you want macro capability you can use a set of extension tubes on, although they tend to work better on prime lenses, not zooms (focusing is harder). I've listed the OEM zoom lenses for them that span a modest wide-angle to a modest telephoto. I recommend looking at the 35-105mm and the 35-135mm (if one was made for it) zooms. My one zoom is a 35-105mm and have found it more versatile than a 35-70mm even though it's a little bigger and heavier.

Many of these camera bodies use the old PX-625 1.35 volt mercury cell for the metering. Using the 1.5 volt alkaline replacement is not recommended. There is a zinc-air version of the PX-625 specifically made by Wein for cameras and light meters. There are also adapters for using smaller zinc-air hearing aid cells, and an adapter that drops the voltage of a 1.5 volt #357, SR44 or MS76 silver cell to 1.35 volts. If you need more information about these workarounds, just ask. I have two camera bodies that were made for the mercury cell and they are running just fine on silver cells in the voltage-dropping adapter. Using the wrong voltage can throw metering accuracy off, sometimes by quite a bit.

Hope the following list helps you out some.

-- John

--- Nikon (AIS) ---
Nikkor AIS 28-85mm f/3.5~4.5
Nikkor AIS 35-70mm f/3.5~4.5 Macro
Nikkor AIS 35-105mm f/3.5~4.5
Nikkor AIS 35-135mm f/3.5~4.5

--- Olympus (OM) ---
OM-1 (cannot use motor drive)
OM-1 MD (can use motor drive)
Zuiko 35-70mm f/3.5~4.5
Zuiko 35-70mm f/3.6
Zuiko 35-105mm f/3.5~4.5 ("close-up")
Zuiko 35-80mm f/2.8

--- Canon (FD) ---
New F-1 (1/90 & 1/125 - 1/2000)
FD 35-70mm f/2.8~3.5 SSC
FD 35-70mm f/3.5~4.5
FD 28-85mm f/4
FD 35-105mm f/3.5
FD 35-105mm f/3.5~4.5

--- Pentax (K) ---
LX (mech. 1/75 to 1/2000)
28-80mm f/3.5~4.5 Takumar A
28-135mm f/4 SMC A
35-70mm f/4 SMC A
35-70mm f/3.5~4.5 SMC A Macro
35-105mm f/3.5 SMC A Macro
35-135mm f/3.5~4.5 SMC A Macro

8/29/2001 9:42:08 PM

doug Nelson

member since: 6/14/2001
  As a photographer and backpacker, I can only enthusiastically agree with John L. Too many times I have seen photographers in the damp, cold mountain air with their all-electronic cameras shut down. I tried the plastic very lightweight Canon T-60 SLR, only to find I had to remove the batteries and wipe them off for each shot. It now sits on the mantel for when the grandkids do something cute. I use an Olympus XA, a backpacker cult classic, pre-autofocus, because the sharpness is OK, I can forego tele capability, and it's no bigger than a tiny digital.

8/30/2001 7:58:03 AM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/27/2001
  Bought one 35mm SLR body in particular because it has a mechanical shutter and uses the same lenses for which I have bodies with electronic shutters.

Reason? Doug brought up a good point about batteries, albeit with condensation. Having done some Winter landscape and architectural shooting (including at night), electronic cameras die quickly in severe cold even if the batteries are dry. Battery voltage drops when temperatures drop below about freezing (water). At about +10F to +20F the voltage drops enough that electronic shutters won't fire, motor winders bog down failing to wind on completely to the next frame, and AF lens focus motors can become intermittent. It will recover when brought back to room temperature, but that doesn't help out in the wilderness.

BTW, batteries can last up to several years in most cameras that use them only for the metering. They're also very small compared to the Lithium monsters required to drive some current AF/AE bodies with integral motorized winders. I never go anywhere without spare cells.

-- John

8/30/2001 1:18:27 PM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 5/18/2000
  John L., great advice as always. Your list of suitable Olympus cameras excludes the OM-2000, a current model that is very inexpensive, but has metal body, mechanical shutter that can shoot at all speeds (1 to 1/2000 sec.) w/o batteries, DOF preview, and spot metering. Just an oversight, or is there a problem with this model?

8/31/2001 9:14:36 AM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/27/2001
  I thought about the OM-2000, the Nikon FM-10, and a Canon FD mount equivalent (T-60 ??). There *may* be a Pentax version also (P30T ??). Decided to leave them off the lists because the question mentioned backpacking and the need for sturdiness. The ones listed in my first reply are hardier bodies, albeit perhaps a little heavier.

The OM-2000 its cousins under the other names are all made by Cosina for the major big-name badges. The bodies are decent for their pricing, but not as hardy as an FM-2n, OM-1[n], or Pentax K-1000. IMO: If hardiness for backpacking was not one of the criteria, and they would reside in a more sheltered environment, they could be an alternative.

-- John

8/31/2001 7:42:50 PM

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Photography Question 
Jason  Morgan

member since: 7/30/2001
  28 .  Safari Photography Advice
I will shortly be going to South Africa to take slides of the wildlife for references for my oil paintings. As my lens speeds are not fast - 70-210mm, f4.5 zoom, 28-80mm, f3.5 zoom and a 400mm telephoto f6.3, I was wondering your recommended slide film/speed (my guess was 200 and some 400 but I was concerned about grain, are Kodak Elitechrome and Fuji Superior II suitable?

7/30/2001 4:25:22 PM

John A. Lind
BetterPhoto Member

member since: 9/27/2001
Elitechrome 200 has very nearly the same granularity as Elitechrome 100. There is a leap in granularity when going to Elitechrome 400. Unless you need the ISO 400 for film speed, use the ISO 100 or ISO 200.

Data sheets for the Elitechromes with granularity numbers. You will need Adobe Acrobat to read them; they're PDF files:
100 speed
200 speed
400 speed

All three are general purpose transparency films (do not confuse Elitechrome 100 with "Elitechrome 100 Extra Color" which has extremely high saturation).

Fuji Superia is color negative. Fuji Sensia II is transparency. Not completely certain which you were asking about. Both lines are general purpose films. Assuming you are asking about Sensia II, the data sheets for them are here:
Sensia 100
Sensia 200
Sensia 400

Sensia 400 has slightly finer grain than Elitechrome 400. However, the situation is noticeably reversed at ISO 200 with Elitechrome 200 being significantly finer grained than Sensia 200. Sensia 100 and Elitechrome 100 are comparable. All that said, it's still a matter of personal preference in which one(s) you like best.

-- John

7/31/2001 12:30:05 AM


member since: 6/15/2000
  Hi Jason:
I am also going on an African safari next month. While there are many slide films to choose from, my personal favorite is Kodak E200. This film has excellent grain characteristics and excellent color saturation. Its best feature, though, is that the film can be pushed to 400 or 800 with very little increased grain. In Africa, where the game drives are in the early morning and late afternoon hours, you can expect some deep shadows and the "pushability" of this film will serve you well.
Have a great time on your safari.


8/1/2001 11:16:02 PM

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