Vacation Photo Tips

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National Parks with their bounty of wildlife, grand scenery, and beautiful details offer plenty of picture-taking opportunities.

Capture the landmarks
Most national parks are known for some special feature—a geyser, a mountain, a waterfall, a scenic view. Make sure you take at least one picture of that distinctive site.

Include a strong point of interest
Your eye needs a place to rest in the picture, so include something of interest—a clump of colorful flowers, a cloud in the sky, a mountain, a tree, a boat.

Place the point of interest off-center
The picture will be more interesting if the horizon or your point of interest is not in the center of the picture. Put the horizon a third of the way down from the top (or up from the bottom) of the frame, or the subject a third of the way in from the left or right. Experiment until you find a composition that appeals to you.

Include people for scale
The cliff may not look all that big, especially in a photo—until you put a person next to it. In some scenes, including a person adds a sense of awe by showing the sheer size of your subject.

Take extra batteries and film or picture cards
Wouldn’t you be crushed if your camera stopped? What if you ran out of film or filled up your picture card right at the crucial moment? The night before, check the batteries in your camera and snap a few pictures to make sure everything is working. Pack extra batteries and film or picture cards to take with you.

Use the self-timer
Don’t forget to get into some of the pictures yourself. Set your camera on a flat surface or a tripod. Check what you’re aiming at in the viewfinder, then set the camera’s self-timer so you can join the scene after you press the shutter button. Read your camera manual for detailed instructions on the self-timer.

Fill in with flash
If your family is standing in a shadow and the scenery behind them is in sunlight, turn on the flash to balance out the scene. This also reduces harsh shadows on their faces.

Use a zoom lens
Your camera’s built-in zoom may not be enough to make a wild animal more than a speck in your frame. Check to see if your camera accepts accessory lenses. If so, bring along a telephoto or zoom lens (and an adapter if necessary) to capture that wandering moose or bear. Follow park rules and don’t approach the wild animals.

Capture a panorama
If your camera has a panoramic format mode (P), you can use it to capture the grandeur of a wide vista. APS cameras, such as a Kodak Advantix camera, have this feature, as do panoramic one-time-use cameras, such as the Kodak Advantix switchable camera.

Take pictures, even in bad weather
Don’t let rainy days discourage you from taking pictures. Polished by the rain, colors seem to glow. On overcast days, try to include a spot of color to brighten your picture.