Guest Post & Photo by

In John Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charlie” he writes, “We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.” To help make your travels this year or next more fun, I’ve assembled a list of digital tips, tools and techniques for capturing memorable photographic moments.

Be Sure To Have Fun! Don’t carry so much photo gear that you get so bogged down in the technical aspects of image making and forget why you’re on vacation! That’s another reason that the next suggestion is so important.

Don’t buy a new camera right before a trip. This is second worst photographic idea of the history of bad ideas. What’s the first? Last Thursday I received an e-mail stating, “I’m photographing my best friend’s daughter’s wedding on Saturday, what kind of camera should I buy to shoot it.” Even the simplest digital cameras have lots of features that when you know how to use them make creating really great picture a lot easier than just guessing. That’s why I also suggest you.

Do read the manual whenever you get a new digital camera and don’t be embarrassed to take it on vacation. A manual won’t take up much space and will give you something to read instead of watching The Brady Bunch Reunion in-flight movie.

Do take a second, small camera. As Wayne Gretsky once said, “you miss 100% of shots you don’t take,” so bring along a small point-and-shoot cameras. I used a Leica D-Lux 2 to make the shot at the top of this post.

Don’t put away your camera at night. Use your camera’s “night scene” mode to make photographs of people that don’t look like the same old snapshots. In Night Scene mode, the camera turns on the flash, often with Red-eye reduction active, but uses at a slower shutter speed to pick up more ambient light.

You may want to use a tripod for nighttime photography but you don’t need a behemoth. A quality tabletop model takes up little space and will make sure that your photographs are is sharp. If you don’t have a tripod, brace the camera against something solid and shoot!

Do use your flash outdoors. When taking pictures of people during the day turning the flash on is one of the simplest ways to improve your photographs. Instead of getting underexposed pictures or silhouettes your friends will pop out of the background, as will the colors.

Do take pictures in all kinds of weather. My mom used to tell me “don’t be afraid of the rain; you won’t melt.” I protect my camera with a plastic shower cap that most hotels thoughtfully provide for the benefit of the traveling photographer.

Use your zoom lens to get closer. No zoom, get closer anyway. If you like sharp pictures skip using the mostly useless digital zoom many digital cameras features and just take a step or two closer to your subject-unless you’re at edge the edge of a cliff, that is.

Do take lots of big memory cards. One school of thought says to use lots of smaller cards because if you damage or misplace a card you won’t lose too many photographs. I prefer to take bigger cards and take a laptop to transfer images to a portable drive, like a WD Passport, that will be used to transfer the images when I get back home.