On The Road Again

There’s nothing like travel to refresh your photographic eye, to make you see new again and break the visual habits gained from the same path trodden day in and out. These days travel might be limited to a park a few miles away or into a city available by transit, but whatever the trip, from arboretum to a national park, there are photographic possibilities awaiting us. We are all curious by nature, and travel piques that interest by presenting us with new forms, folks, architecture, and topography. Few of us can forget the first time we traveled through Red Rock Country out West, or glimpsed the pounding surf after living landlocked our entire lives.

Having a camera along to record those visual shocks and delights is part of the fun and adventure of the trip. Indeed, many photographers I know got hooked on photography by casually taking along a camera on a big trip when they were younger, and returning with the realization that the camera alters the travel experience in a very positive way. It almost forces observation in a way that only the most contemplative would consider without it.

But travel photography also has its demands and “necessaries,” particularly these days when many of us tend to go the electronic route, thus having to contend with wires, backups, and memory card and image management. Yes, digital has made many things in photography easier, but being easier does not make it easy. In fact, it can get downright complicated. Not that “film travel” was any walk in the park in the past, and is not these days with all the rigors of airline inspection and the concern with getting film processed while on the road.

But whatever the hurdles I, and I am sure you, would not even consider making any kind of meaningful trip without my photo gear. While I do have different kits for different types of trips, there’s no question about bringing a camera along.

That brings us to this issue, which highlights travel photography. It’s a sign of the times that one of the things we are focusing upon here is geotagging and how we can now locate where and when we took our photos marked with those ubiquitous pins on a map. This was once available only to high-end shooters, but is becoming almost commonplace today. I am also in the midst of a test of software that allows you to create the same mapped coordinates even without a device on your camera, but with “location tagging” software. More to come on that front.

In the end, though, I don’t think it is so important where you have been; rather, it’s what you have seen and taken away from the experience of travel itself. And few things allow you to do this with such acumen and excitement as making images as you go.