Before I even begin, let me be clear that I am still learning the technicalities of an SLR camera. I know a lot today than what I knew a year ago, but I still need to go a long way. There was a time when I was shy of even holding an SLR camera in my hand, let alone using it. Initially, I used to shoot only in auto mode, because I barely knew anything about its settings and adjustments. But now, I mostly shoot in manual mode barely switching to auto mode. So, I have certainly come a long way.
Also read How To Take Better Travel Photographs
If you know the art, technique can do wonders
Yes, technique can create magic. But can you do without creativity? Nope! Most people think they should own an SLR the moment they realise they want to click pictures. I’d suggest, take your time! Don’t hurry! Buy an SLR only when you know that you understand the art. Before learning the technical ropes, it’s important to discover and develop one’s creative skills as a photographer. Get the subject, angle and composition right before you get into the complexities of an SLR.
Your point-and-shoot can make great pictures
I enjoyed a hassle-free and creatively fulfilling journey with my point and shoot camera for five years. As long as your hands don’t shake, a digital point-and-shoot can click stunning pictures. I have contributed many of my point-and-shoot clicked images to a couple of stock photography websites also. The two things that you should keep in mind while buying a camera for your travels – it should have 300 dpi (dot per inch) and it should have a good zoom lens.
Switch to SLR, but don’t discard your point-and-shoot
Once you know that you really want to take the next step in travel photography, buy an SLR. However, don’t sell or disown your point-and-shoot camera. I still use my point-and-shoot sometimes when my SLR is not ready and I want to capture a candid moment. I take it along on all my trips. I usually set my point-and-shoot on a level surface and use the self-timer option to click my own pictures.
It’s okay to make mistakes
Yes, I have made lots of photography mistakes and I don’t regret them. In fact, my mistakes have taught me a lot about photography. Although I am far from being a professional photographer, some people do think that I have taken some kind of training in photography. The truth is, I haven’t. Whatever I have learnt so far is from my own practice and diligence.
Observation is the key
I believe you can’t be a photographer without being observant. The very first thing that I did to learn photography was to observe all the good photographs that I saw and gushed about. I looked at them deeply and tried to figure out what the photographer must have thought before clicking them. I observed the subject, the angle and the overall composition. I noticed the light – how it’s used. Of course, I noticed the technical stuff too, like the usage of bokeh (blur) and other effects, but I focussed more on the creative part – the idea behind the photograph and how it’s captured.
Have an eye for beauty
Travel photography or any other form of photography is about beauty. A photographer has to have a sense for what is visually appealing. The joy of photography is in extracting beauty out of an ordinary scene. When you decide to frame something, you know there is some beauty in it. I must confess that there are so many photographs I wish I had clicked. There are some amazingly talented photographers who care to click extraordinary photographs. They wait for the right moment and when the right moment comes, they don’t wait! I am yet to have some extraordinary photographs in my collection.
Lessons I have learnt over the years
. Communication helps a great deal. If you come across someone who shares the same passion for photography as yours, make it a point to go out with that person and talk about photography. I have learnt some important technical stuff while just casually hanging out with friends.
. Don’t just click. Wait and wait a lot. Most of the time I have realised that I have missed out on a brilliant shot because I did not wait enough. Sometimes, it happens out of hesitation or self-consciousness. Whatever it is, shed it.
. Be patient and spend some time at your chosen location. Familiarise yourself with the place before clicking anything. Look around and observe. Doing so will take less effort and deliver better results.
. Travel photography is sheer hard work. I’d say it’s more challenging than any other kind of photography, because a photographer has to deal with so many things on the road – heat of the day, bad lighting (it could be cloudy or the sunshine could be too harsh), and not to mention the torrential rains. Besides the weather factors, there are issues like people stare (I guess, that happens only in India), photography prohibited areas, certain obstructions that hamper your composition and sometimes people refuse to be photographed. Thus, you have to deal with all of that happily and make sure that your enthusiasm doesn't dim down even a little bit.
I’d like to wind up with a spontaneous thought that I have to go a long way in travel photography.
To be continued …