Blog # 49 Experiment During Travel
Travel photography is practically it’s own genre with countless tomes of information written about the subject. The goals of this genre may be to capture the essence of a place and its people, or to reveal the undying feel of a place by photographing as a local would. It has been suggested that rather than making the same image of the Eiffel Tower that others have made, turn your camera around, or get in very close [or far] to capture a fresh perspective.
In this week’s blog entry, I offer an alternative perspective for the photographer when travelling. In one word, experiment! Try a new genre and get out of your comfort zone. The best place to do this is away from home and your normal routines. I suggest that there is value in the new place, new approach to making pictures concept. When we are at home, we fall into routines and photograph similar or even the same places [streets] week after week. While great images may result from this practice, shaking things up a bit can also result in some novel and wonderful results. For more on the subject of experimentation in photography click here and using film click here.
On a recent family holiday to Cebu in the Philippines, I made lots of images of my family, and our beautiful surroundings as one does on a family holiday. However, I also planned to take the opportunity to experiment with some underwater photography.
A few metres off of the beach from our resort, under the otherwise pristine aquamarine peaceful waters of the Philippines Sea , there was a whole universe of life to explore.
While planning for my dive into underwater photography [pun intended], I brought along a small point a shoot camera that has waterproof capabilities to about 12 metres or 40 feet. There are a few manufacturers that produce these models that can be had for under $400 USD. For more thoughts on gear for travelling click here. I covered myself in sun block, strapped on my mask and snorkel, and dove into the cool and refreshing waters.
Trying to remember the cornerstones of good photography, away I went, out into the big blue. Light, subject, colour, and compositional rules [guidelines] ran through my head as I floated along with my face in the water looking for subjects to shoot. The ocean revealed an underworld teaming with life, colour, and beauty. I snapped away. I took big deep breaths of air and dove down under the water until my the pressure made my ears ring and my head pound. I wanted to get closer to get up front and personal with my subjects as we try to do when shooting street photography.
It was a learning process, and thankfully one that I had a few days to work on. There were many [mostly] mistakes and blurry shots. This is an absolutely brutal [albeit beautiful] environment to make images. Each day we would wake up, grab some breakfast, cover ourselves with sun screen which barely did any good since the sun seemed to go right through it; we were all pink and burned but happy as clams. I was back into the waters each day like it was my job to catch a few “keepers”.
I saw a sea urchin, some sort of scary looking eel, clown fish, and other amazing species such as these skinny fish that seemed to be up and down like pencils floating in the water. With a depth of just a few metres, and the bright sun beaming down and reflecting off of the ocean floor, there was enough light to keep my tiny point and shoot’s sensor happily functioning at about 100 ISO.
You can see some of my results from above and below water in colour [JPEG] and black and white [just because] in this blog entry.
Next time you are away from home, do some photography an a genre that you don’t normally work in. You might be pleasantly surprised that you did and you will learn things about yourself and your photography that you might not expect.
The light is always right.