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In this course, photographer and teacher Mikkel Aaland explores one of the oldest and most beautiful neighborhoods of San Francisco: North Beach, home to iconic architecture, beautiful vistas, delicious food, and more than a few interesting people. He explores the area on foot over a three-day period, taking you up hills, inside restaurants and shops, and into encounters with people on the street. Along the way, learn how to take advantage of natural light, shoot a city at night, pack and prep for travel shoots, and enhance your images in post-production.
Skill Level Intermediate
Jim: Hi, I'm Jim Heid from lynda.com. And with me is Michael Owen. Michael, welcome. Male: Nice to be here, Jim. Jim: So your body of work has encompass everything from photo journalism to fine art. Male: Mh-hm. Jim: What has drawn you to travel photography? Male: Oh travel photography that's a great question, I love travel photography I love travel. So what drew me to travel photography was travel and it's in my blood. I love going and seeing different cultures, different people, different places. And its just natural for me to have the camera as you know part of what I'm doing.
So it's, it's a it's a real love of travel. And a love of photography combined. Jim: So in talking about travel photography, what's the difference between it and vacation photos. Male: That's a good question. When I think of travel photography, I think of something where you know it's, it's more photocentric. In other words I'm going there with a camera in my hand. And i am there to take pictures. And that's really one of the primary purposes of me being there, as i take picture and bring back a record that,that i want to share with other people.
So i had an audience in mind a little bit, when i am photographing and when you are doing vacation pictures or snapshots if you will. It might be that you just take a, a picture to say well I was there. And then your done. And, and there's nothing wrong with that. I mean that's, that's totally valid. Because there's some people that really believe that having the camera interferes with their experience. With being some place, if your a surfer let's say. You don't want to be worried about taking pictures. You want to be on the surfboard enjoying. the surfer.
Nowadays we can put cameras on a surfboard. So I mean it's, it's not that hard to take a camera on a surfboard. But, but my point is that when you're oh, when you're there as a photographer. And you've made up your mind to go as a photographer, you know, that's, that's how you see the world. You're, you're working, you're working it and you have an audience in mind, most likely. It's maybe it's, maybe it's your, your, your kid's classroom, back at home. That you want to show-off your pictures to or it might be a greater audience depending on what, who you are and what you're doing.
But it's, it's more in, the intent is more, to, to take. Pictures, and to share those pictures. Jim: So, I'm going on a trip, what kind of advanced preperations should I do? Male: OK. That's a good question. I always do research before I go on a trip, and it used to be I'd reach in my bookshelf and pull out one of my guide books or go to the library (LAUGH) and get a book. Remember those? Things those books, now it's, it's so easy to do it on the Internet with say Google or Bing and do a, an image search.
and just get an idea of, of what is coming out of that area, see what other people are putting up on the Internet. I like, caution you, because you don't want to go into a place and have all these kind of preconceived ideas of what to photograph. You do, it doesn't hurt to have some idea of where to go to start. It's a starting point. You don't, you don't want your glass full. You want room for your own inspiration, your own vision. But it is a good idea to do some research, check out places before you go, and then use those as starting points and then build on it from there.
Jim: So let's talk about gear. What kinds of packing considerations go into travel photography, and how might that be different depending on whether you're traveling by plane, or boat or car? Male: Boy, the world is so different now than it was when I first started out. I mean, it's, to get on a plane and, and, and what we can carry now and the restrictions of what we can carry. It's, it's getting harder and harder and harder to, to travel with any kind of amount of gear.
So, I you know I like to try to keep it as minimal as possible. Unless I, I have a lot of kind of big fancy equipment and more and more I'm moving toward these kind of smaller compact type cameras. I can see the day coming when, when I'm going to be probably that'll be what I carry exclusively. but it, it, so, try to minimize what you're brining. Bring it, get it down to kind of a manageable size. because the airlines are just so, so tight now when it comes to weight and, and even carry on.
Although there is an old trick that we use, still can use. Is that you bring a heavy coat, a big coat with lot's of pockets. And if they get really funny about your carry on. you just start filing your pockets full of lens 'n strokes, and whatnots. And that still works. Although there's some airlines now in Europe, that don't even let you get away with that, some low cost carriers. So anyway, just try to, you know, keep it as compact as possible. i caution you not to check your any expensive equipment in, no matter what anybody says, the odds are it's going to get lost.
I have, lenses taken out of my bag (INAUDIBLE) checked bags. Its inevitable, so try to keep it onto a carry on uh,size bags Obviously, the camera is important. the lenses that you have, or if you have a camera with a zoom lens, it covers a nice spread from wide to telephoto. You might just get away with that and keeping things compact. you need memory, extra memory. That is something that, that you'll always benefit from.
And batteries. Either, extra batteries, a battery recharger, and then, if you can, if you have room, some sort of backup device whether it be a laptop, or an iPad, some portable device, that will allow you to make the backup of your, of your work. because it's You know, there is nothing more tragic than to spend a couple of weeks some place, photographing, and then either lose the memory cards or have them fail because memory cards fail just like any memory device and not have a backup, it's a real tragedy.
So, I mean those are kind of the main things and then a lot of cameras have strokes built in and they work pretty well. I'm finding that I shoot less and less strobe because the cameras are able to handle the low light situation. So, again, keep the amount of equipment down, if you're, if you're shooting available light and not having these, a lot of strobes, and things like that. I always bring a reflector, because I use reflectors a lot. When you can buy these very small compact reflectors that take up no space at all.
And then cleaning material, something that either, a brush with a blower that you can get the dust off your camera. clean your lenses, those kind of things. Those are, the, I've kind of hit some of the high points, the main things. but, but the most important thing is try to keep your, keep it down. Keep the size down. You know you'll be a lot happier in the long run. Jim: And obviously if your traveling by car. You have a lot more options. Male: Absolutely. Jim: Does that mean you should bring everything you own? Male: Sometimes I do. (LAUGH) (LAUGH) yea obviously, I love car trips, because they do give you some kind of freedom that you don't have now.
Or when you travel on a plane. Courtships are really, they're so much, they're a lot of fun. Especially if you're originating some place, you haven't flown (INAUDIBLE) fill that car up Yea, I, I, you get a little spoiled when you were the car. You know, you fill the space that you have. but it, it's nice to have all that extra equipment you know? Jim: So you talk about backup and I've heard photographers talk about this all the time.
Take a backup device, for when you're on the road. Male: Right. Jim: And the film days that luxury didn't exist. Does that apply that you know, digital was less reliable some how? Male: Now but, boy you know in the old days we, we did worry a lot about our film and we you know that was something that we were constantly about x-rays for example or losing, losing the film and stuff. digital is, is, is very reliable. It's just things go wrong and it's just the nature.
Especially when you're traveling, you know? You can count on things to go wrong. But something I've, I've advocated before that I, I don't think is a bad idea, is that if you get shots that you know, that are what we call hero shots, or you know? You know. One of a kind shots that you know you just nailed the shot. And you're, you're in love with that shot already. and you really want to make sure that you eh, have, have protected that shot. You might consider just emailing it to yourself, you know. Or emailing it to friends or uploading it someplace where it, it's got, it's enough resolution and so, so you save it in the cloud if you will.
And there's more and more services now that, that exist that you can save your images up in the cloud. But you can't, they're not practical for you know, thousands of pictures. It just takes too much bandwidth, but if you pick out a few of your hero shots and, you know, upload those. I do that, and so that I know if everything just fails, at least I know that I've got the shots that I really am in love with, they are saved someplace in the cloud.