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Getaway

How to make the most of your vacation photos

By Jamie O’Meara

There likely aren’t many among us who miss the one-F-stop-fits-all disposable pocket cameras that were once a staple of vacation photography. Indeed, to think we once entrusted our memories of once-in-a-lifetime travelling experiences to such things is hard to believe. Today, the phones in our pockets do a better job of capturing those invaluable moments than the Instamatics of the past.

Here are 5 tips for taking the best vacation pictures:

  1.  While smartphone cameras offer convenience, the image quality still isn’t so great. A $100 compact digital camera is the perfect complement to your phone. A compact camera is also better suited to party or dinner photos, and a far less obvious target for thieves.
  2. Speaking of which: regardless of the type of camera you have, always remove your memory card and stow it away discreetly when you’re done for the day, and/or frequently transfer your photos onto USB keys or other storage devices. A lost or stolen camera stings, but the pain of losing a vacation’s worth of photo memories lasts a lifetime – I speak from experience.
  3. Now about those photos… High noon may have been great for duels, but for our kind of shooting, not so much. Photos taken with the sun high in the sky tend to appear washed out and have a two-dimensional quality. Take your pics early in the morning or late in the afternoon when angled sunlight will enhance colours and lend depth to your images.
  4. Experiment with composition, moving your subjects to the left and right of the frame, as well as forward and back. Being aware of what constitutes foreground and background is also important. For example, decide whether you’re taking a picture of a person or a picture of the mountain behind the person – trying to do both at the same time can have regrettable results.
  5. The unlimited nature of digital photo-taking has simplified vacation photography, but can be dangerous in the hands of the shutterbug with an itchy trigger finger. Knowing when to put the camera away is as important as knowing when to get it out – your travel happiness is not contingent on preserving every single second for posterity. Remember to live in the moment and that, in photography as in life, balance is important!