Professional Photo Tips for Travelers

Shared by my friends from International Expeditions




We’re sharing veteran wildlife and nature photographer George Ritchey’s tips for getting the most out of your equipment and experience. With over 35 years of wildlife photography experience and credits including Robb
, Atlanta Journal Constitution andBirmingham Magazine, Ritchey offers travelers tips on how to capture, preserve and enhance their memories while traveling.

  • Equipment

    I don’t recommend that you bring a tripod unless it is a very light and mobile.
    Many of us will have cameras as well as binoculars. More equipment will become
    cumbersome and difficult to use. I am bringing a combination of walking stick
    and monopod. Often if your subject is an animal you will not have a lot of time
    to capture the image before the animal flees thus a tripod is of little use in
    these situations.

  • Wildlife

    When approaching animals in the wild begin taking images during the approach
    process since you never know at what distance the animal will flee. Take lots
    of images. It is easy to delete unwanted ones. It is always better to capture a
    shot approaching the animal rather than the animal fleeing. Zoom in as close as
    possible. Have your camera ready and accessible at all times. Most animals will
    not wait for you –Sloth excluded.

  • Composition

    Include reflections in your composition. Often the reflection itself will make
    a good photo. If your composition is in the sun or bright light a neutral
    density filter or circular polarizing filter should be considered but in darker
    situations such as the rain forest you will not need to use a filter.

  • How to pack

    If your equipment includes many individual parts bring a small day bag or small
    backpack to house all the pieces that are not in use. Remember travel as light
    as possible. You will have a much more enjoyable trip. I would rather have the
    basic equipment than too much equipment.

  • Before leaving home review and study
    your camera manual.
    should know how to operate it and that all functions are working. This is very
    important if you have a new camera or it’s been awhile since you used your
    camera. Remember we will have very limited access to any stores after we arrive
    in Lima. Once a
    participant in my seminar brought a five year old camera that she did not
    check, and after driving four hours she was disappointed to find that the
    camera did not work.

  • Make sure that you pack your camera
    of the new cameras do not come with the manual and if you want one you need to
    download the manual from the manufacturer. Many strange and unusual
    malfunctions have occurred in the field and the manual often will supply
    instruction that can correct the problem. It may mean the difference of lots of
    images or going home with a disappointing number. Remember most of us will not
    travel the Amazon again!

  • Bring some type of rain protection for
    your camera equipment.
    are specialty waterproof systems such as Aqua Tech or Kata, Inc. camera covers
    or you can use something as inexpensive as Ziplock bags. These bags come in
    sizes from 1 to 3 gallons. I once failed to use an adequate water protector in Alaska, and I spent many
    hours trying to dry my equipment and praying that it would work. I was
    successful but many photographers have not been so lucky.

  • Bring some type of security to attach
    your camera to you.
    know that we all want to go home with all the equipment that we started out
    with. A neck strap or chest harness is acceptable. Gear Keeper offers a
    retractable device for smaller cameras. Cotton Carrier offer several chest
    strap carrying systems. I do not think a wrist strap is adequate. One
    inexpensive solution is to tie a string or small cord to your camera and to the
    button hole of your shirt. Don’t think it can’t happen to you! My last trip to
    the Galapagos
    claimed one unsecured camera.




Contributed by Jim DeLillo:


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  • Also see Jim DeLillo's follow-up about tripods.
  • This is the tripod I use. Cheap, small, fits in a bag or my pocket, and works like a charm:
  • Oh and knees, walls, comapanion's bag, and even the ground can all provide for a stable platform.
  • I agree with you Sam. I have travelled both with and without a tripod. I haven't yet saved for a new carbon fibre one, so it is very inconvenient.  I have found that my pictures are much improved with a tripod- both in composition and sharpness (tack sharp). It does slow me down, but it makes me think out my shot a bit more carefully in the process.  That said, I have taken to travelling without my tripod, except when I know in advance I will need a slow shutter speed, flat horizon, or crisp landscapes.
  • Many, if not most, photography coaches will disagree with Ritchey's suggestion that you not bother with a tripod, but I'm on his side. Unless you really have time to set up a tripod properly (read, unless you're traveling by yourself), it will only slow you down. Learn to steady your camera against a tree, and you'll be able to take more photos instead of spending your time trying to even out the legs of a tripod. 


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