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Tag: vacation photography

Why You Should Never Wait to Take that Photo

A last-minute photo attempt may not result in the best picture. Then there’s no opportunity to try again. Here’s how to avoid that disappointment.

Whenever I feel inspired to take a particular photo, it’s based on an almost subconscious series of creative choices. My brain constructs the framed image, and I can visualize it. Then, I just need to capture the actual photo.

If it’s beautiful scenery, then I simply snap the picture. Easy!

But if it involves other people in the scene itself, then I have to interact with any number of other brains that may or may not want to conform with my brain’s vision. The challenge becomes one of staging the moment you see in your head.

Maybe it’s wrangling a good group shot at a party or event. Or perhaps it’s capturing a key family vacation photo that you’ll need for that photo book you’re planning to create.

Here’s my number one tip to help ensure your success:

  • Don’t wait to get the shot!

That’s because a photo ‘moment’ is by definition a short period of time. It’s rarely going to wait around for you. So you’ve got to move quickly.

Early Departures can Crush your Plan
If you’re with a group of people at a party, snap that group shot as soon as everyone has shown up. Any number of variables may then quickly thin the ranks. As soon as you see everybody in one space, that’s the moment to ask for the group picture.

I think there’s a social norm that suggests the end of an event is the more appropriate time for everyone to gather for a group photo. While that may feel like a better flow, it assumes all your guests are still there. See the problem?

Be Mindful not to Ask for Too Many Photos
Family vacation photography doesn’t typically have that same challenge as you’re tracking fewer people who should theoretically be together through much of the trip. But as the family photographer, I always need to pay attention to the reality that my family doesn’t always want to pose for my frequent requests for a picture. (They’re not my photo models!)

So, I’ve got to be strategic and not waste opportunities for a posed photo or a family selfie.

That said, I often try to front-load the family pictures I take early in a vacation to ensure I’ve got what I think I need. (And you can see how that thinking can negatively impact my family’s tolerance for my photography later in the vacation.)

Ultimately, I find it’s a balancing act. And I’ll admit that as a family photographer, I’m still a work in progress!

Don’t Wait for your Last Day
I recently snapped a few group photos with my work colleagues, because I’m changing jobs. (I’ve really enjoyed working with them, and of course, I wanted some pics.)

I used my ‘take-the-picture-early’ strategy and did not wait until my last day. And I’ve got to tell you, it was a delightful process (and more relaxed than it would have been as a last-minute attempt). It removed all the unnecessary stress about whether everyone would be available to take the shot.

There is no Perfect Moment
The bottom line is never wait for the perfect moment to take a picture, because that moment may never arrive!

When you see an opportunity that contains the imagery and people you want, then you’ve got to make your move. It’s as simple as that.

It might feel a bit forced, but if you’ve got some staging to do, it may be your only chance.

Everyone will thank you later when you text the group what they see as the perfect photo.

My Favorite Photos from our Maine Vacation

I used a couple of guidelines to help me spot my favorite images during our road trip to Acadia National Park. And here’s the result…

What did my family and I do this year for a pandemic-influenced summer vacation? We drove to Maine, camped in Deer Isle and hiked in Acadia National Park. It was a spectacular experience.

Bringing the right tech to complement our camping gear was an important step to keep us on the grid. Here’s my checklist to make sure you bring enough portable power.

Of course I snapped a number of photos along the way. I was really struck by Maine’s rocky topography. (That created some really cool contrast in my shots.) And depending on the weather, Maine’s shoreline imagery vacillated between bright beauty and eerie fog.

We happened to spend a fair amount of time driving during low tide. And those moments revealed a damp, almost alien-like, brown and green rocky landscape… begging to be photographed.

Keep your Shots Wide

I quickly found that using a camera or a smartphone with a wide-angle lens is critical, especially if you like to take family selfies at the summit of a hike. That’s because you’ll want to capture enough of the environment around you in the shot to show where you are. (I used my GoPro for that.)

Tight shots can be great, but I feel this type of vacation photography is all about the wide. If you hope to capture a fraction of that feeling you get when you look around after you’ve climbed a thousand feet up, you’ll want to focus your camera wide. (And the same goes even if you’re walking on a beach.)

Let the Natural Beauty Tell the Story

So, here are some of my favorite shots from our trip to Acadia National Park and Deer Isle. I hope you like them!

4 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your GoPro

I’ve enjoyed carrying my GoPro around in my pocket on vacation to capture the moments my other cameras wouldn’t be ready for. Here are a few tips I’ve discovered to help ensure your GoPro gets it done!

I recently returned from a week’s vacation on Cape Cod where I put my new GoPro HERO6 Black to work documenting my family’s beach and lake adventures. I especially enjoyed capturing my 8-year-old boy underwater.






But there was one problem…
A crack somehow showed up on the back LCD screen!
(There was no moment of impact that I was aware of.)

Previously, I had attached a plastic screen protector to the LCD in anticipation of this kind of unsettling moment.

The question was whether the top-to-bottom crack was on the plastic protector…
…or on the screen.













Protect Your LCD
I think it clearly makes sense that if you’re going to put your GoPro in harm’s way, you have to give it some additional ‘armor.’
(They’re not tanks.)

I originally went with a lens and LCD protection kit made by GoPole. It comes with a lens cap and two clear covers for the lens and LCD. These near-invisible shields are made out of ‘shatterproof, tempered glass.’

But, clearly, they’re not ‘crack proof.’

Not that anything is… but I still decided to choose a different manufacturer for my second attempt at GoPro protection.

I landed on a similar kit made by Deyard.






It’s received good reviews on Amazon and costs less than half of the GoPole kit. Plus, it comes with two sets of screen and lens protectors and two lens caps.

$8.99 on Amazon






The Deyard protection plan may not necessarily be any better than GoPole’s. The fact that there are backup items in the Deyard kit perhaps reflects the reality that any screen protector is not impervious to in-the-field abuse.

As for having multiple lens caps… that’s a super idea, because lens caps have their own special way of disappearing…

If you want to avoid risking unnecessary damage to the glass on your GoPro, you’ll probably need to spend a few bucks every so often replacing these protectors, no matter which manufacturer you go with…

Minimize Ghosting by Turning Off HDR
In a portion of my vacation photos showing people, I ran into the problem of ghosting, where certain body parts displayed echoes. It was as if my GoPro had trouble locking in the action.






It’s so weird, because this happened in bright sunlight where most cameras don’t have this kind of problem.

So, I had originally turned on the HDR mode when I set up my GoPro. I figured… “Why not?”
HDR quickly takes several photos at different exposures and stitches them all together to create the best image possible.

But that extended sequence can lead to the ghosting problem… which makes total sense.

So, turn off HDR if you’re having issues freezing the action in your GoPro photos.
(And don’t forget to hold the camera steady!)

If you continue to use HDR, you’ve also got to pay attention to whether you’re moving!

Did I mention you might want to turn off HDR?

Keep People Towards the Center of Your Shot
I’ve previously mentioned my infatuation with my GoPro’s wide angle lens and how it reveals so much more of an image’s story.

The challenge is keeping your subjects out of the distorted fringes of the wide angle. Otherwise, they’ll look like aliens with warped heads.

This can be especially challenging when you’re snapping a photo with multiple people crammed in. Those on the ends will be at risk.

The good news is the wide angle lens should naturally provide plenty of safe space around everyone in your shot unless you intentionally try to fill the frame by walking up really close.

Even if you’re going for a group selfie, you should be fine as long as you keep the shot centered.

Download a QuikStory Video
I’ve also talked about how impressed I am with GoPro’s QuikStories video-editing smartphone app, which quickly throws together and shares a short music video using your GoPro’s action videos and photos.

The only glitch you may experience when sending out web links of your Quikstories to your family and friends is that they may not know how to ‘save’ them.

Your videos will play back online embedded in a GoPro web page, which I believe will eventually disappear when you delete the specific QuikStory project from your smartphone.

So, the web link is not forever…
Some folks may want to save your video file for their ‘happiness’ archive.

To do that, they need to click on three really tiny dots on the bottom right of the page with the video. Doing that will reveal the download option.

Not that all of your GoPro QuikStories are forever masterpieces… but it could be important for someone to know how to save one of them…

The Human Factor Still Matters
My GoPro HERO6 Black has proven it has many tricks up its sleeve. But like any piece of tech, it’s not magic.
(Nor indestructible)

A little human care and operating knowledge can really make all the difference when you take it on your next family adventure!

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