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 Sinclairification by Grant Sinclair

Uses For Your Digital Camera, Other Than Photography

15 Sep 2009

In the truest sense, we’re still talking about taking pictures.  But not in the composed, memorable, artistic kind of way.  We’ve listed a few other things to photograph to make your trip run a little more smoothly.

While these ideas could apply to film cameras, having immediate access to the images makes this more suitable for digital cameras.

As you’re out in the world, camera in hand, you’ll photograph the scenery, the people, the places and the adventure.  But what you are forgetting is that a few simple clicks could save you a lot of irritation.  Try the following the next time you travel.

1) Photograph your rental car.  Or more specifically, the license plate.  If your rental car is stolen, you’ll need to provide the police with as much information as possible.  And since your rental agreement is either in the car or the hotel, you probably won’t remember or have access to either the license number or the renal agency.  Good for you if you kept their card in your wallet.  Bonus points if you entered the rental agency’s number in your mobile phone.

2) Street signs.  Do you remember on which street you parked?  Or where the metro station is?  Where is the hotel?  You may recall this information if it’s in English, but foreign alphabets or languages may leave you lost and confused.  Better to take a quick snapshot to be safe.

3) Your trusty guide.  Sure, you may remember what the guide looks like, but if you get separated, it will be easier for you to find each other if you have a picture.  This rule applies to guides who take you on tours of more out of the way places where fewer people travel, not so much for tour guides who lead large groups.

4) Your hotel/hostel.  A photograph of the exterior of where you’re staying may help you find it more easily, particularly if you’re walking and come back at night.  Better yet get a business card for the hotel when you arrive.  Business cards should be readily available at the front desk.  If not ask for one.  If there are no business cards to be had, ask a hotel employee to write the hotel’s address in your pocket notebook – in the local language, of course.

Not only will having the hotel’s business card be helpful if you get lost (handing it to a cab driver should get you back fairly quickly and easily), but they also make cool souvenirs.

For more information on business cards and pocket-sized notebooks, click here.

5) Plaques, signs, descriptions and art work.  NOTE: Please DO NOT take pictures in museums when you are told not to.

If you are at a museum, ruin, archaeological site or other location and you want to lean about where you are or what you’re seeing, but you’re being hurried along by the tour group or your friends, take a few quick shots of the signs.  This offers two advantages:

1) At the very least, you can read the information later.

2) This will help you stay organized.  If you travel a lot, you may forget where you were when you took a great picture.  That’s what happened to me with this photo from Tongdosa, in South Korea.  It took me years, literally, to track down where I was when I took those photos.

Even if the sign is in another language, photograph it anyway.  It’s easier to find someone to translate the sign than it is to retrace your steps.

6) Establishing shot.  In film or TV, an establishing shot sets up where the action is about to take place.  For example, on the Simpsons, you may see, at the beginning of a scene, an exterior shot of the Simpson’s house.  The next shot would be the characters interacting inside the house.  The exterior, or establishing shot, lets the audience know where the scene takes place.

You can do the same thing while you travel.  “Welcome to” signs or just exterior photographs of a famous place, followed by photographs of that place, will help you tell the story of your trip through your pictures.  Your establishing shot would be of the exterior of the stadium, preferably the part that says “Yankee Stadium”.  Your next photographs could be Monument Park, the playing field, the frieze, the “bleacher creatures,” the players on the field, etcetera.

An establishing shot isn’t limited to individual venues.  You can use famous landmarks or city skylines to establish the setting for your pictures.

For example (I know I say that a lot), if you’re taking a trip across Europe, you can use images of the icons of that city to establish the setting for the pictures that follow.  In your photo album or picture book, you would put a photo of the Eiffel tower before the pictures from France, a photo of Parliament (sorry, I couldn’t help it…try this link.) before pictures from England, photos of the Coliseum before pictures from Italy, etcetera.

For more information on what to do with your photos when you come home, visit the article entitled, “What to do With Your Photos When You Come Home.”

7) End shots.  These aren’t as common or as necessary as establishing shots, but it does bring closure to the series of photos.  End shots – a term I just made up – are a little harder to take, because while there are many things that say “Hello” and “Welcome to”, there are fewer things that say “Good bye.”

Some examples of end shots:
• The scoreboard at the end of the Yankee game.
• “Now leaving” signs.
• Group photos of travel companion in front of a famous landmark.
• “Welcome to” signs when returning home.  Those make a great final image for picture books.

REMEMBER: You don’t have to take these pictures in order!  The end shot doesn’t have to be the last photo you take, though it is usually easier to take establishing shots when the opportunity presents itself, like when you are arriving some place.

Add these suggestions to your next trip and you’ll come home with a more thorough record of your experience.  You’ll have more interesting photographs that will help you share this trip with family and friends, as well as help you remember how much fun you had. 

© 2009

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