I Need a Vacation!

Well, I don't really need a vacation, cause it seems like I just got back from Israel a few weeks ago, but that doesn't mean I'm not really excited about my next one and it just so happens my next one is in three weeks!  The family and I are going to St. Martin at the end of the month.  By the way, if you have any tips, recommendations, suggestions, information or hook-ups in St. Martin, LET ME KNOW!  As of today I only know where we're staying and when we're leaving and coming back.  Other than that I have no idea what we're doing.  I do however know I'll be taking my camera equipment and taking lots of pictures.  

St. Martin is an island in the northeast Caribbean, approximately 300 km east of Pureto Rico.  Okay, you now know as much as I do about where we're going.  So how do I know what to take photos of?  Well, 500px and Google+ are both great for scouting out locations.  I just put St. Martin in the search box of both site and a plethora (yeah, I said plethora) of images came up.  One thing I quickly learned is that the landscape and beaches are really beautiful and I'm sure a majority of my pictures will be landscape shots.  Well, actually the majority will probably be of my kid, but the second majority will be landscape shots.  I realize that "second majority" isn't really a thing, but this is my blog, so I can say whatever I want!

Given how many landscape shots I plan on taking, I thought I would give you my top three landscape tips.

1) Go to a place with cool landscapes!  Okay, that was kind of a freebee, so I'll give you three more.

1 again) Chase the light!

Light is quite simply, everything. Without good light, an image can appear flat and lifeless. You will be totally amazed at how different your photos look when taken in good light as opposed to the harsh midday light you get at, well, midday.  Most landscape photographers are up at the crack of dawn to catch the sunrise and while you may not wish to do this every day you're on vacation, you could be missing out on one of the most magical times of day when the light is soft and it’s most flattering. The golden hour, which occurs in the late afternoon and early evening is also another fantastic time. Avoid shooting in the middle of the day when the light is harsh and contrast is high, shadows will be very dark and your camera will struggle to meter effectively. It may well be that you have to go back several times to a location before you get the image you want as the conditions are not quite right. This is not always possible when you are on vacation and have limited time but be more easily achieved at home.

2) Try to get a good sky!

A good sky can really make an image. There is nothing worse than a dull grey or bland blue sky lacking in interest. What might at first appear like a beautiful day with warm sun and no clouds will probably end up giving you a pretty boring image.  Clouds play an important part also in casting shadows on the landscape before you, adding form and dimension. If you don't have a good sky, don't not take the pictures.  Take it... you might never get that exact photo again and you can always fix it in Photoshop! ;-)  Try devoting two thirds of the image to the sky.  Of course if the sky isn't interesting, devote the majority of the sky area in the image to the landscape and hide the uninteresting sky.

3) Get good composition!

The way you compose your image, or in other words, position the various elements within the frame is vitally important. There are various guidelines which we can follow. The ‘rule of thirds’ is one, whereby imaginary lines are drawn, dividing the image into thirds both horizontally and vertically. Important elements of your composition are then placed where these lines intersect. Quite often the horizon is positioned along the bottom third. However, rules are also there to be broken, so don’t be afraid to try placing your main subject in the center of the frame sometimes – this often works best with very simple compositions.

Including some foreground interest will help to achieve a more balanced composition, as well as add depth and help draw eyes into the scene. Lead in lines, such as a path, wall or river can be used to achieve the same effect.

So there you have it, three of the important things to consider when taking landscape photos.  Maybe we'll have one more post before I leave and we can talk about planning a vacation shoot, or what to bring, or how to make a cheeseburger... or something.