Many photographers have to fit their hobby around a full-time job, so their annual vacation is the perfect opportunity to spend some time taking photographs.
In the seventh part of her ongoing series about how to avoid making classic photographic mistakes our head of testing, Angela Nicholson, takes a look at some of the problems photographers encounter on holiday and offers some expert advice about how to avoid them.
Classic Travel Photography Mistakes: 01 Kit damaged in transit
Hand luggage allowances are very restricted on some airlines and this makes it tempting to squeeze some of your kit into your hold luggage, but it’s a temptation that is best resisted.
Standard suitcases and bags often take quite a pounding and delicate cameras and lenses are easily damaged.
If you are going to put some of your photographic kit in the hold make sure it’s in a case that is specifically designed for the purpose.
The possible exceptions to this rule are things like your tripod, memory cards and battery charger, these are usually sturdy enough to be able to survive the trip in a hold surrounded by your underwear.
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Classic Travel Photography Mistakes: 02 Sand/water damaged kit
Beaches make superb photographic opportunities, but they also one of the harshest environments for camera gear. Sand is abrasive and saltwater horrendously corrosive.
In good weather, when there’s no breeze to blow sand around, you can often get away without protecting your camera, but you never quite know what will happen so it’s a good idea to at least fit a clear filter onto your lens to protect the front element.
Is also a good idea to encase your camera in a protective covering, this may be a dedicated housing or case, but a clear plastic bag drawn tight around the end of the lens with an elastic band can also be used. There are also some even more DIY photography methods you can use.
When you’re on the beach avoid changing lenses at all costs, you don’t want any of the sand or salt to get inside the delicate workings of your camera.
It’s also a good idea to make sure that you have a large capacity card installed before you head onto the beach so there’s no need to change card halfway through your shoot.
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Classic Travel Photography Mistakes: 03 Kit damaged by cleaning
When you’ve been in a harsh environment it’s always a good idea to give your camera and lens a clean, but this needs to be done with great care to avoid causing damage.
Before removing the lens, opening the battery door or taking out the card, use a blower to blow any sand grains off the camera and lens.
Then brush your kit with a soft brush to make sure any loose particles have gone.
Only when you’re sure that any sand particles have been removed should you start using a cloth or cleaning fluid on the lens, viewfinder and LCD screen.
If you start wiping before the sand is removed you run the risk of scratching your kit.
Pay particular attention to the lens mount area of your camera, and after cleaning the outer body and removing the lens, clean the mount to ensure that no sand is present.
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Classic Travel Photography Mistakes: 04 Underexposed beach shots
The bright conditions encountered on a beach can fool your camera into underexposing the subject.
It also makes it hard to see the image on the LCD screen, so it can’t be relied upon when you’re assessing exposure.
You need to activate the histogram view and make sure that the image isn’t badly underexposed, dialling in extra exposure using the compensation facility as necessary.
A burst of light from your flash is also useful for filling in any harsh shadows.
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