Monthly Archives: November 2016

Let’s Photographing Your Way

Have a guess where the most photographed spot in the world is. Go on. Have a think.

The Eiffel Tower? The Taj Mahal? The Statue of Liberty?

Nope. According to Sightsmap’s map of the most photographed places in the world it’s the Guggenheim Museum in New York. This place:

Snapping the Big Apple
Where better, then, to start the ultimate photographic trip round the world than this most iconic city? Photographers have been drawn here for as long as cameras have existed and with good reason. From the obscure corners of the Bronx to Times Square in the heart of Manhattan the scenes of New York have played host to some of the most famous frames in photography. Ever.

While the Vivan Maiers, Diane Arbuses, Bill Cunninghams and Elliott Erwitts of the world had years to explore New York, your gap year might leave you with only a few days or weeks. So, make the most of it. Don’t hold back. Take those shots of the amazing busker on the subway, that incredible sunset from the top of the Empire State Building or that abstract photo of the Guggenheim, and add yours to the photographic tableaux that captures every moment of life in New York.

Although hard to top for cityscapes, street photography and diversity, there is a lot more to America beyond New York, regardless of what kind of photographer you are. Whether you want to fly straight to the likes of Chicago, San Francisco or Las Vegas, to shoot more iconic urban scenes, or travel overland and follow in the footsteps of photographers like Ansel Adams and Stephen Shore, there’s an unbelievable amount to see and shoot.

Get trigger happy in South America
While North America is practically synonymous with photography, South America also has much to offer. From old coastal towns in Colombia’s tropical north, right down to the snow-capped mountains of the Torres del Paine, in the far south of Chile, it really is astonishingly beautiful and more varied than you could ever imagine.

Not only that, but it’s a dream to photograph, the light is fantastic and the people, scenery and climate are conducive to great photos. Mario Testino, one of the greatest living photographers, comes from Peru. It is easy to imagine how while growing up there these elements helped influence his style and formation as an artist. Maybe you’ll find the inspiration you’ve been waiting for there.

Travel and all the new sights it offers are the best inspiration for any kind of photographer. Your gap year is the perfect way for you to discover or hone your photographic style and try something completely new in completely new surroundings. Perhaps you’ll branch out from those beautiful landscapes and try some portraits of the locals, or maybe you’ll find yourself captivated by the colours in a local food market where normally you might focus on the lines of the local architecture.

While you’re travelling through South America in search of that perfect photo, whatever your style may be, you’re pretty much guaranteed to stop off at a few cities – Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires and Santiago to name just a few.

South America is well known for its beautiful landscapes, but it also has these vibrant, colourful and downright crazy cities. La Paz, surrounded by snow capped mountains, is the world’s highest capital city. Rio is possibly the most scenically located city in the world and is home to both the best beach on the planet – Copacabana – and the best party – Carnival. Santiago is the gateway from South America to the South Pacific so you never know who or what you might meet there!

From Santiago go west and cross the international dateline and end up in New Zealand. The Land of the Long White Cloud is where you can practice your wildlife photography – perhaps snap some whales from Kaikoura – and walk the Tongariro Crossing, maybe trying your hand at some winter photography before winding up in Christchurch to explore in search of some haunting urban shots.

Right next door to New Zealand is what is jokingly referred to as the ‘mainland’ – Australia. This mammoth island is more continent than country and its diversity reflects that. For photographers it’s got everything, from the opportunity to study the maze-like Sydney Opera House, to the beautiful Great Ocean Road with its famous rock formations. And then there’s the verdant beauty of tropical North Queensland, home to ancient rainforests and some of the best beaches in the world.

Beyond the more obvious and well-trodden side of Australia, there’s also a wealth of diversity in people and settlements. Everywhere from the busy streets of Sydney to the remote Aboriginal settlements in the Outback, there are fascinating places and people with stories to be captured.

Lights, camera… Africa!
From Australia, head to South Africa, a brand new continent with awe-inspiring environments.

There’s a good reason we associate images of Africa with pictures of lions, elephants and vast savannahs and that simply is the fact that it is home to some of the most amazing wildlife and their natural habitat is these primeval plains.

Wildebeest Migration

Regardless of whether you are planning to explore the backwaters of the Okavango Delta, the ancient Rift Valley or just simply the national parks that are dotted about Africa, there’s something that will catch the eye of any photographer.

These are the images that any explorer of Africa searches for. The ones that convey the scale of the place, the nature of life there and how everything else seems small by comparison. Africa will give you some perspective on your photography and teach you quickly what you are best at and how to put your photographic skills to best use.

Work your way overland through Africa snapping those elusive Big 5 and all the myriad other animals that dot the landscape, before winding up in one of Africa’s cities. Whether you stay in South Africa and head out along the Garden Route, before flying out of Johannesburg or Cape Town, or decide that you want a bigger adventure and make your way overland to Nairobi, the photos you will come away with are sure to be some of your best.

Frame the organised chaos of Asia
Taking a step back there’s a whole other route you could take from Australia – via Asia. Again, the options are pretty much unlimited, pack your kit up and head for Indonesia in the south of Asia or fly straight up to South East Asia’s crown jewel – Bangkok.

If you choose the former you’ll get to trek through jungles in search of the Old Man of the Forest (Orangutan) and climb active volcanoes through steam-shrouded rainforests. For almost all photographers these will be completely new environments to explore and work out how to shoot in, so not only will you come away with these amazing photos, but you’ll have a chance to really stretch yourself photographically too.

Or, if you head to South East Asia, on that classic backpacker route, you’re bound for the nightlife of the Thai islands, the gold-clad Buddhist culture that runs throughout the area and the intoxicating chaos of the cities. All of it just begging to be recorded forever in your photos.

Should Know About 7 Things To Do Besides Take Photos

There comes a time in everyone’s life when they’ve had enough of clicking the shutter on their camera. It may take years, months, hours or even minutes but at some point I can guarantee the average person will get photography fatigue and just want to put the camera to one side.

I travel with a Go Pro, an iPhone and a point and shoot camera, I feel ridiculous but they’ve all got their purpose. Sometimes I even add a DSLR on top of that too. I’ve increasingly noticed lately that I’m just not in the photography mood, and as a full time blogger, my snapping can come more from duty than from love.

I just feel like people are taking all these photos, thousands for every trip, but what do they do with them all? Is it not better to live an experience for real, rather than view it from behind the lens?

1. Look up
When I went on safari in the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania everyone was stuck to their viewfinder. You can get the same view as they did if you Google ‘Ngorongoro Crater’ and for a lot cheaper too. The fun of actually being on safari is looking up, looking around and trying to spot the wildlife for yourself. Safaris are all about feeling the savannah air and looking out to the expanse of the landscape. I understand wanting a photo of the wildlife, I want one too, but when you get home all you have is a photo of a lion like everyone else who’s ever been on safari. You won’t have that feeling of what it was like to be on a safari because you were too busy setting up the camera for the shot.

2. Talk
Instead of looking down, sorting out your camera or clicking the shutter for the tenth time, how about talking to someone? We’re so quick to hide behind our technology these days. In the olden days of disposable cameras, which I just about remember, you’d ask someone else to take a photo (and make a new connection) and you’d take the one or maybe two because they cost 30p per photo to develop. Now it’s all selfies and 7 snaps before you’ve even sorted your hair. Trust someone else to take a photo once in a while and strike up a conversation while you’re at it.

3. Draw or paint
Do people still paint anymore? I’m guessing that if ever anyone made some sort of graph showing the amount of paintings done per day compared to the amount of photos taken, the lines would cross somewhere around the late 1990s. From 2005ish the photo line would be off the chart. Painting a scene is a great way to really look at an image, to notice all the nuances and characteristics and to record them for yourself. Instead of taking the obligatory photo of a landmark or site as you walk on through, painting gives you the time to actually really sit and look at it properly.

4. Write
Sure, a picture paints a thousand words and all that, but what about writing a few verses on what you see? It doesn’t have to be for any sort of publication but the notes you write now on how you feel will me sacred memories when your gap year is over. If you’re quickly progressing from destination to destination it’s surprisingly easy to forget the details and how you felt at the time. Writing when you’re on you gap year gives you the perfect opportunity to actually sit down and think about all the amazing things you’ve done, rather than just relying on your memory or the photos on your iPhone.

5. Experience
How about you don’t do anything but just soak up the experience and live in the here and now? Put the camera down, any other thoughts to one side and just focus on the here and now. Work your way through your senses when you reach a moment in life you’d normally photograph and think about how it affects each one and enjoy it.

6. Take your time
It’s easy to get caught up in attractions, to follow the crowd and eagerly get onto the next thing before you’re ready all to get the perfect shot, orshots. Take time out at a destination. Have a cup of tea, a picnic, or simply sit and people watch. Find out what it’s like to actually be there rather than just to see it and snap it.

7. Quality photography
Obviously I’m not suggesting you give up taking photos all together, but maybe cut down on the snap happy attitude and go for quality over quantity. Think about how you want to frame the shot and take time to set it up. Don’t fill your phone with half hearted attempts at photography that waste time and memory – go for the money shot. Done!

Tips for Taking Gap Year Photos

Gone are the days of taking a cheap disposable camera on your gap year – now, anyone can get their hands on a camera that’s capable of capturing great images. But how do you achieve shots that are truly jaw-dropping and stand out among the mass of shared photos online?

Make sure you read these top tips before you head out on your travels.

1. Pack the right gear

Have you ever tried capturing that once in a lifetime experience on camera, only to find that you don’t have a back-up battery to hand when your current one inevitably dies? Battery life is crucial to ensure you capture the best footage, but there are dangers to recording for long periods of time.

Keep in mind that your camera can overheat, which can damage it or stop you getting your footage or photo. Look out for cameras with their own heat management system to help avoid overheating when capturing high-resolution footage. Ensuring you pack the right gear is vital for ensuring you get the perfect shots without any setbacks.

2. Know your equipment
Get used to your equipment before you head off on your travels. Having the right size camera is crucial too; something that’s small and easy to fit in your pocket is ideal if you need a camera that’s convenient to use at any time and in any place. Be sure to gain a good understanding of what its strengths and weaknesses are so you don’t miss out on the opportunity to capture something amazing all because your camera takes a few seconds to fully switch on.

Explore different settings on your camera, experiment with burst mode and slo-mo, and don’t forget about the self-timer as it gives you the chance to get into that shot you’ve spent so long setting up. Of course, settings such as Electronic Image Stabilisation (EIS) are ideal for when you need to compensate for any tilts, bumps and shakes when recording footage.

3. Add a human touch
There’s nothing wrong with capturing the view of a vast landscape which looks totally untouched by humans, but it can feel like something is missing. Try adding people to your photos to give the shots some more personality and to provide a real sense of scale. This will help you to showcase how amazing a location really is to visit. If you can get yourself in the pictures, then it also gives you bragging rights to prove that you’ve actually been there.

Don’t forget to make the most of the range of accessories you can get for your camera. Additions like selfie sticks and handlebar or head mounts can take your pictures to the next level to help you take even more amazing shots.

4. Go waterproof
You never know when you might need to protect your camera from an accidental splash, or when you want to take a dip in a lake surrounded by beautiful scenery. When finding the right waterproof housing for your camera, be sure to choose something that’s designed to be compatible. You can even attach a floating grip to your camera if you’re worried about it sinking into the abyss.

An extra tip: if you are worried about damaging your equipment, then make sure it’s all covered by your insurance.

5. Have fun

Don’t forget to have fun when you’re out exploring every nook and cranny of each new place you visit on your gap year. Get locals involved, try striking new poses, and don’t be afraid to do something that you’ve never tried before. The more you get stuck in, the more you’ll relax.

Remember to use a camera that makes downloading your pictures and footage straight to your phone easy and quick, so you can instantly edit and share that amazing shot to your social media channels for your friends and family to see.

Ensuring you have the right equipment is key to capturing great photos. Thanks to advances in technology, many cameras are capable of capturing every step of your travels whilst staying extremely lightweight and compact. This is the perfect combination that allows you to see and do more as you continue on your gap year.