Nearly everyone takes pictures while on vacation. Some record the places that they’ve been to; others show themselves in those locations. To me the best travel photos go beyond the simple snapshot. They capture the flavor and the beauty of lands and sights of their adventures and the people that live and/or visit there.
This month’s Readers Photo Challenge assignment was to send in you summer vacation photos. Some traveled as far away as France while others were as close as our backyard of the Delta (interestingly enough, the Delta photo was sent in by someone who lives in Newport Beach in Southern California and a Stocktonian entered a photo he shot in Newport Beach). The best photos went beyond the typical vacation snapshot and gave a sense of place worthy of any travel magazine.
29 people sent in a total of 114 pictures. Here are some of the top examples.
Most of us travel to our vacations spots by car, plane, train or boat, but there are some places of beauty that you can only get to on foot.
An experienced backpacker with 20-years of hiking under her belt, Stocktonian Pam Johns’ vacation was an 8-day solo backpacking trip through rugged mountainous terrain of the John Muir Wilderness in the Sierras east of Fresno. Space and weight was at a premium in her 40-plus pound pack, so her imaging device was just a small Nikon Coolpix 9700 point & shoot digital camera.
Johns, 66, says she loves the spiritual solitude and dramatic beauty of the remote backcountry. It helps her to “put every aspect of life in the proper perspective and she leaves those areas with a clearer understanding of what is really important and with a renewed sense of purpose.”
She traveled about 40 to 50 miles on her trip, much of it off trail. On her sixth day a substantial storm moved in with hail and lightning. She had set up her tent about a ¼-mile from Moon Lake when the storm hit, but she quickly sought shelter under some low bushes for safety from the lightning. When the storm passed she went to the lakeside and started taking photos.
Sometimes I describe the moment when everything comes together perfectly in a photo as when “the clouds part and the angels sing.” For Johns when the storm cleared, the clouds literally parted for her nearly perfect picture. As for the singing of angels, you can almost hear them in the sublime beauty of her photo.
A typical family vacation photo is to have one’s kids or oneself in front of a landmark or activity. Glenn Pillsbury of Stockton eschewed that method when he took a shot of his sons, Glenn Gordon, 6, and Rowan, 2, at the Sacramento Southern Railroad in Old Sacramento on August 3.
Using just an iPhone 4s, Pillsbury photographed his kids as they rode on an excursion train. Rather than having them look directly at the camera, he caught them in a candid moment as they looked out the window of the railcar. Another locomotive can be seen outside as beautiful light pours in through the window. The image of his youngest is reflected in the glass as he captured the curiosity and wonder of both his children.
Nearly every vacation spot has at least one iconic image that every tourist takes a photo of. Paris has the Eiffel Tower, New York has the Empire State Building, San Francisco the Golden Gate Bridge, etc. But a great travel photographer goes beyond the obvious and finds something magical in something others may have passed by.
Morro Bay is located on the coast in San Luis Obispo county. Its most prominent feature is Morro Rock, a 581-ft. tall volcanic plug located just offshore at the entrance to the town’s harbor. It’s a natural photo subject of many a vacationer and thousands (if not millions) of tourists have taken pictures of it (including yours truly). Tom LaBounty of Stockton took a little different route. With a Fuji X-T1 DSLR he photographed the small town’s (population of about 10,000) Bay Theater. With the light from the blue hour falling over the scene, combined with the color from the cinema’s neon marquee, the photo takes on a moody purple hue. It not only shows the quaintness of the berg (population of about 10,000) but also captures the quiet beauty of small town life.
Light is everything in a photo. Bad light can make an interesting scene boring, good light can raise the mundane to the sublime.
On a trip to Tain l’Hermitage, France, Dan Flores of Stockton visited the Musée Pierre Palué. It’s a museum dedicated to the works of artist Pierre Palué in a 16th century house run by his daughter Marie. Instead of concentrating on the works of art on the walls Flores turned his Canon PowerShot SX 30 point-and-shoot digital camera to the building itself. Nice soft light pours in through the windows of a stairwell of the old stone structure. Combined with some incandescent interior lights the scene is illuminated with a warm, inviting glow and brings out the texture of the walls and steps.
When shooting a landmark there is the natural tendency to try to get the entire structure in the photo. This is fine, but getting a detail or portion of the landmark can make just as compelling a photo.
On a trip to New York City Jeanne Marie Tokunaga of Elk Grove took a photo of the world famous Empire State Building in Manhattan. But in instead of taking a picture of it in its entirety from the ground, she photographed it from the building’s own 102nd floor observation deck. Pointing her Canon EOS Rebel T4i DSLR upward, she got a night shot of the art deco spire at the top of the building. Lit from the exterior and from within, the spire boldly stands out against the inky black night sky.
Often when taking a scenic photo there can be unwanted obstacles in the way. Joan Erreca of Stockton used an obstruction to actually enhance her picture. From a vista point on Highway 120 in Yosemite Valley she used the branches of a tree to frame the scene of Vernal Falls in the distance, adding a nice frame to the composition of her photo.
All of the photos entered can be seen in a gallery atRecordnet.com. Stay tuned for a new challenge which will be issued next Thursday.