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How to Take Better Vacation Photographs-Learn what to do to make your vacation photos really fun souvenirs.

These easy tips will help guarantee photos that are as great as your memories.

Before You Go
A point-and-shoot camera will do for most trips. Bring extra memory cards and lithium batteries or your rechargeable battery and charging thingie. If using film, budget two rolls per day (400-speed is the best all-purpose).
If it is a big deal trip--read travel books before you go (so you’ll know not to miss sunrise over the Serengeti) and by all means, bring a notebook, everyone tends to forget the details. DollarTree is a great place to pick up tiny notebooks that will even fit in your camera case. Sure some cameras will record voice notes, but it uses a bunch of memory card space.

Let There be Light
Midday light is the very harshest. Try to take pictures in the morning and late afternoon when light is soft, the darks and lights are more balanced and all looks peaceful. Overcast days are great, too.
Stand at least three feet from your subject so it will be in focus — but not too far or all you’ll get is background. The best composition keeps things a little off-center. In general, flash works best within 15 feet of your subject. Is the sun behind you? It should be. Add drama to your composition, try shooting through natural frames like doorways and windows.

Sun, Sand, and Sea
Sand + cameras = disaster. Wind + sand is even worse. Pack a disposable underwater camera, they are under ten dollars. Place the horizon in the top or bottom third of your picture to avoid bisecting a lovely scene. And it might seem strange to select “fill flash” in brilliant sunlight, but it will do wonders for dark shadows in the shade from the bright sun. By the way, the sunset rarely looks as good on film as it does in person, so don’t miss it fussing too much with the camera.

Subjects Do Matter
There’s nothing more mind-numbing than clichéd vacation photos. When documenting your trip, try to think in terms of a narrative. One idea: Take snapshots of great meals before you eat them, cool reflections on the water, or your best friend or kids passed out in the passenger seat. Shooting pixs of road signs help you remember where you’ve been. Take out your camera when everyone puts theirs away. Fun memories can include candid pictures of you traveling companions as they are packing, waiting in the airport lounge, or haggling with cab drivers. These may end up being favorite keepsakes.

Family Fun
When photographing the folks, keep it simple. If you photograph groups, arrange them against plain backgrounds and don’t waste time or energy trying to pose kids or pets. Get in fairly close, shoot at your subject’s eye level (that means squat down if they’re little). Try for action shots whenever possible. Some cameras have a 3 shot burst mode--check your manual before you leave town. Put your traveling companions in your 'postcard' scenes. A silhouette against a vast seascape is more interesting and meaningful than just another postcard picture.

Mountain Peaks
Capture peaks and valleys with 100-speed film because it’s slower and better for high-altitude light. If you’re shooting a tall peak, hold the camera vertical. Adding a person to the scene will help show the enormous scale of something like Old Faithful,or let some of the foreground show in the frame of the photograph--maybe some flowers on a shrub in the tropics. Another cool idea--take pictures in bad weather; approaching storm clouds have a lot of drama, and help you remember the some of the action parts of your trip.

Bummed Out ?
The worse the travel conditions and circumstances, the more important it is to take pictures. Record the moment when everyone discovers the Polynesian “villa” is really a “shack.” Or when you get lost in the rain forest, the photos of the wrong paths and your dirty, exhausted feet will make funny commentary at a later date !

Now ready, set, GO !!

Take Better Photos Tips

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