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How to get the best holiday snaps

01 Nov 2011

Christmas is just around the corner and chances are quite a few of you are jetting off on vacation somewhere. Whether you’re headed to an exotic paradise, to visit family or just escaping to the bach for a week, make the most of this holiday season by capturing it all on camera. Below are some tips on how to create the best holiday photo album and memories you can treasure for years to come.START AT THE BEGINNINGStart shooting at the beginning of your trip – packing, at the airport, on the road, etc. You want to tell a story don’t you?IF LOST – PLEASE RETURN TO:Print (or write) out your contact details and email address and photograph them, this way your camera always has your name and details recorded. Maybe mention a reward. Lock that image so you can’t erase it, this will increase your chances of at least getting your priceless pictures back if your camera is lost or stolen. Invest in travel insurance too, of course.SNAP YOUR BAGSFace it: your luggage probably looks just like 90% of other luggage out there. Let me guess, it’s black with zips? Grab a few pictures of your bags before you leave. If they wind up in Tahiti when you’re headed to Taiwan, it’ll be much easier to show the airline person a photo rather than trying to explain how "it’s big and black with zips.”READ THE MANUALYou’re possibly going to take a long flight or a big drive. The camera’s manual will teach you lots, so read it on the way! 15 minutes doing this will improve your pictures, I promise.You’re reading this – we know you can read.CARDS ARE CHEAPBuy a big memory card – 8 GB cards are cheap in New Zealand (and expensive in tourist locations overseas). In fact, buy two cards so you won’t have to delete pictures to make room halfway through your trip.BACKLIGHTINGIf you are shooting against the sea, snow or sky, the camera’s light meter will probably silhouette the subject. Pop the flash on to compensate or use +2 exposure compensation if you have that option. Try both.YOU’LL NEED POWERIf your camera has a rechargeable battery look at buying a second one as you may be away from an easy recharge. Also ensure your charger is 100-240v (it’s printed on the charger) if you want to use it overseas. You may need a plug adapter, but be sure to check the voltage first!SHOOT PEOPLE AND MOTIONIt’s very tempting to just photograph buildings and monuments, but you should try to include people and action as well. Your pictures will be better if there is something going on, and it’s always interesting to see locals doing their thing.STEADY ONShoot at dawn, dusk and night as well. Give it a try! You may be surprised what you can get away with. As the light fades, remember your little built-in flash probably only has a range of 20 feet or so. Try steadying yourself against a wall to prevent camera shake as your camera lowers the shutter speed to compensate.RABBIT IN THE CROSSHAIRSSure, your camera focuses on the centre of the frame, but using focus lock (remember we talked about the manual?) you can easilythe subject to show the background better. Zoom in and out and take a close up and a wide shot. Try not to have the subject’s face in the centre of the frame.SHOOT LANDSCAPE AND PORTRAITShoot horizontally and vertically – you’ll be surprised what you get!TURN OFF THE FLASHModern digital cameras are very capable in low light. Try one picture with flash and one without – I bet you’ll prefer the no-flash image more than half of the time. You’ll find more dramatic colour and less pasty faces!SHOOT WHAT YOU DOTake pictures of the meals, the bars and cafes and the accommodation. Shoot the view from a window or take photos of the currency, the different packaging and local signs. Document it all, as you’ll want to show off on your return home and fill up your Facebook!USE PROPSActivity flyers, souvenirs and postcards you purchase, use them as props in your next photo. It’s a sure way to get you thinking out of the box and produce some interesting shots.TAKE NOTESA picture might be worth a thousand words, but sometimes it still doesn’t express how you really feel on the day. Excitement? Culture shock? Homesick? Try carrying a small notebook and think about captions and details you may use if emailing or posting the pictures online.PUT YOURSELF IN THE PICTUREPractice holding the camera to include yourself in the frame. This is very useful if you’re alone. Show off that tan!ABOVE ALL ELSETake a LOT of pictures, the boring ones won’t be boring in a year’s time, they’ll be great memories. And be sure to back up your pictures!