More About Camera Lenses


Wide-angles (or the wider end of your single zoom) are wonderful for letting you put a lot of something into the picture, but make sure that something is visually interesting. Here is a man I passed on a very narrow jungle trail while on a week-long hike to Machu Picchu. Fearing that he wouldn’t turn around for me to shoot him if I moved away, I took this shot from just over arms-length, something only a wide-angle would allow.


Here’s another use of the wide end of a good travel-photography point-and-shoot zoom – a shot of a cyclist (me) following the Revolutionary War route of George Rogers Clark and his men across Illinois to capture a fort.


Purposefully making the biker tiny amidst the greenery conveys the sense desired – of dense, overwhelming foliage and deep woods. (My hat’s off to Clark for taking on the British and the cold of February, the month he made his trek. But I had to deal with mosquitoes.)


Similarly, notice how leaves are used in the next photo to frame the covered bridge in Vermont. This provides a feel for the season and highlights the splash of delicious color.


Of course, wide-angles also can be used vertically to capture and to accentuate the height of an object.


Cameras with Interchangeable Lenses
If you’re into changing lenses, in time it’s guaranteed that you will have dust on your sensor and thus spots on your shots. Getting rid of them can be a challenge (go ahead, Google “digital dust removal”).
You can avoid the dust by carrying two bodies with the lenses attached, in which case the choice of camera bag (and concerns about theft) become consequential, and travel becomes more for the pictures than for the experience you’d be having if you weren’t obsessing about photography.
Shooting can be a great reason to travel, but the decision to do so should be made with the frontal lobe, not backed into after buying more equipment than you find you really want and then feeling guilty about not using it. There’s not a thing wrong with picking up postcards of the popular sites you visit. They’re usually better snaps than we could take anyway, since they’re often taken by locals who can wait for the best light and don’t have to lug tripods thousands of miles. Buy postcards for those places, and use some sweet little point-and-shoot with a somewhat-wide to somewhat-long built-in lens to capture the personal side of trip. That’s a very popular way to go.


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