PART ONE OF THREE
I have recently been privileged to travel alongside some of the worlds best National Geographic photographers. Travelling with these experts, learning of their rise to success, having the chance to obtain some hints and tips from them is like a dream come true. I can only imagine how many aspiring camera enthusiasts would yearn for this experience.
So what did I learn from travelling alongside the worlds best? Learning to understand what your camera is thinking and how it functions is key.
I have broken down the tips I have learned into three modules, allowing you time to practice and play with your camera. These tips are for those perhaps using an SLR but not to its full capabilities, or for those looking to get the most out of their point and click which now offer many functionalities that SLR cameras offer.
But first we need to understand.
Why do we take photos? The answer is to capture memories, memories we love to share.
More importantly, what is photography? Broken down, it translates to writing with light.
There are three important elements when capturing the perfect shot. Light, lighting and colour. The number one rule around these elements, is that if the light isn’t perfect, don’t shoot it.
What is the perfect light?
Back in the days of film cameras and even in the early days of digital, you were always taught to take photos with the subject in the centre and the direct light behind you. This would front light your subject making your photos flat and without shadows. Shadows used to be seen as bad.
If you move the light behind the subject, it becomes backlit this doesn’t always work either, but it is great with flowers and for illuminating in close up shots or silhouettes.
Some cameras have a feature called a starburst. This is something you may be able to preset, otherwise it can be created manually by simply using the sun to hide behind half an object.
Overhead light quite often makes images flat and pretty blah. No details are captured.
45 degrees up and 45 degrees to the side lighting – this works brilliantly in mid-morning light and the early evening. It is better known as side lighting and provides glimmer and glowing to your images.
Side lighting is the best type of lighting to highlight details in an object and is generally the best light to shoot in.
Do not shoot photos in the middle of the day unless it is cloudy. Diffuse light, such as clouds, is beautiful.
It can convey mood in your photos. Don’t preconceive what you think you can or can’t see.
Never shoot in black and white. Always shoot in colour, and if you wish to convert your image to black and white, do so on a computer.
This way you will avoid losing data captured by your camera if you were to shoot in black and white.
Light has colour.
At high altitude, it is blue.
In polar regions, it is pewter.
A forest is green.
Mornings are pink.
And evenings are golden.
Remove the filter from your mind and use your eye.
Share your photos taken using these lighting tips on our facebook page or tag us on Instagram @crooked_compass for us to repost.
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.