the rules when traveling. Try using wide angle lenses
for close-ups, as I did in this flower photograph. Use
a telephoto lens for landscapes when you want to compress
the element in a scene. (Canon EOS 1N, 20mm lens, Kodak
Elite Chrome Extra Color 100).
Photos © 1999, Rick Sammon, All Rights Reserved
Never before has 35mm photography
been so easy, so exciting, and so much fun. What's creating all
the hoopla in this time-proven format--the choice of most photojournalists,
travel photographers, and amateur shooters? For one thing, just about
all the major camera manufacturers have introduced new 35mm AF SLRs
in the past year or so. These new cameras offer faster focusing, more
sophisticated exposure metering, and easier operation. What's
more, new SLRs are more ergonomically designed--which means they fit
in your hands more comfortably.
For some shooters, having a new camera does something else: It unlocks
hidden creative talent because the user feels more creative with his
or her new "toy."
No matter what camera model you use, there are several important accessories
that will help you capture on film the image you see in your mind's
eye. Here are the ones I travel with when I'm taking pictures
on assignment--or traveling on self-assignments.
Lenses. Years ago, zoom lenses were not that sharp,
which is why pros always used fixed focal length lenses. Today's
zooms are super sharp--so sharp, in fact, that you probably can't
tell the difference between a picture taken with a zoom or a fixed focal
I travel with two Canon zoom lenses, a 17-35mm and a 70-200mm. Most
of my shooting, if not all, is done with these two lenses. (I also pack
a 20mm, 24mm, and 100mm lens--just in case I accidentally drop a lens
and need a back up.) My third basic lens is a Canon 50mm macro, which
I use mostly for flower and insect pictures; it's also useful
for indoor, low-light portraits. With these three lenses, I can cover
just about any assignment.
zoom lenses are a "must" for serious shooters.
One important feature is that they provide a comfortable
shooting distance between you and your subject. (Canon EOS
1N, 70-200mm at 200mm, Kodachrome 200.)
tripod does more than just steady a camera, which is sometimes needed
when shooting in low light, when making long exposures, and when shooting
with telephoto lenses. A tripod slows down the shooting process--and the
photographer. In this fast-paced world, however, slowing down can be a
good thing. It can add to the enjoyment of the picture taking experience.
What's more, when a camera is mounted on a tripod and the photographer
looks through the viewfinder, he or she can take lots of time searching
for important, as well as distracting, elements in a scene. The result
of this added viewing time often can make for a more effective composition.
Filters. I'd only be exaggerating a bit if I said
I never take a landscape or seascape picture without a polarizing filter.
This filter has a few cool effects on a photograph: It can darken a blue
sky and brighten white clouds (if the sun is off to your side); reduce
the sun's reflection on water; cut through atmospheric haze; and
minimize glare on dew-covered grass and foliage. The result: In many of
these situations, the picture will be more pleasing.
My other favorite filter is an 81A warming filter. I use this filter when
photographing people and places at midday when I want to create the effect
that the picture was taken later in the day--when the light is "warmer."
have fun on your travels? Try a new lens. A 15mm full frame
fisheye lens was used to bend the horizon line and create
this unique photograph. (Canon EOS 1N, 15mm lens, Kodak
Elite Chrome Extra Color 100.)
Sure, many SLRs feature built-in flashes that can do the job. However,
for serious shooters, an accessory flash is a must. An accessory flash
offers more flash power, so you can take pictures of subjects at greater
distances. Other advantages: Most flash units feature swivel heads for
bounce lighting (which softens the light). Some models even offer control
over flash output (over and under the automatic TTL setting) for fine-tuning
flash exposure to individual creative needs.
Flash Accessories. My favorite flash accessory is the
LumiQuest flash diffuser. This accessory attaches to my flash with touch
fastener strips and softens the light to the point where my flash pictures
don't look like flash pictures (when I balance the flash output
to the available light).
Another one of my way-cool accessories is a flash extender. With this
device mounted on my flash, I can photograph distant animals that are
beyond the standard maximum flash range.
Films. I never was a Boy Scout, but I know the Scout's
motto: Be Prepared. With this thought in mind, I always travel with a
selection of films for all the different shooting situations I may encounter:
Kodachrome 64 for pictures when I want natural colors and super sharpness;
Elite Chrome Extra Color 100 when I want to create impact with enhanced
color (and when there is not a lot of color and I want to add some); Elite
Chrome 200 for action shots (which I push two stops when shooting light
is low); and Elite Chrome 100 for my general travel photography.
Cleaning Accessories. When I was growing up, my mother told me on more
than one occasion: "Cleanliness is next to godliness." I took
my mother's advice, and I clean my cameras before a trip, at the
end of each shooting day, and when I return home.
I use dust-free cloths, lens cleaning fluid, "canned air,"
and a fine-hair paintbrush to keep my cameras and lenses free from dust
and grit that can be harmful to my gear and pictures. Remember: A single
speck of grit inside your camera can scratch a few frames--and ruin all
your hard work.
possible, include a person in a picture for scale. (Canon
EOS 1N, 15mm lens, Kodak Elite Chrome 100.)
Digital Darkroom Programs.
In '90, I attended a meeting at which commercial photographer Jody
Doyle was speaking. One of his comments: "If a professional is not
into digital imaging, he's dead."
Well, I paid no attention to Doyle's comment--until May of '98,
when I opened Adobe Photoshop on my computer. The program was overwhelming,
but I was committed to learning just one technique per day. I figured
at that rate, I'd learn about 30 techniques a month.
Now, I teach basic Photoshop to students--showing them how to create new
and exciting images. No, I don't show them how to put an elephant
in the sky, or a fish in the desert. I show them how the program can be
used to make one's pictures look better--correcting color and enhancing
color, contrast, and detail; working with highlight and shadow areas is
also one of the major benefits of Photoshop.
My point is that with digital darkroom imaging programs like Photo-shop,
you can, like Ansel Adams, who spent thousands of hours in the conventional
darkroom, get new and improved 35mm images.
Scanners--flat-bed and film--are making it easy to get
slides and negatives into the digital darkroom. So are picture disks and
picture compact disks, on which you can have your favorite pictures stored.
A Photo CD is another great way to get your pictures scanned and into
Printers. Once you have a digital image, desktop printer,
like the Epson Photo Stylus EX printer I use, you can see the results
of your efforts in a few minutes.
Well, enough talk. All this stuff typing about 35mm photography has gotten
me excited. I'm gonna run--and go out and shoot some pictures.