When my husband's cousin came to our home for dinner last week, he brought the pictures he had taken while visiting several European capitals.
Whoever said "A picture's worth a thousand words" never spent two hours viewing color slides of black-and-white buildings. The meatloaf I served looked like a Monet painting compared to those photos. They were like architectural mug shots - front and center with no personality. Those pictures belonged under the bed in a shoebox.
According to Judy Langston, professor of photography at Oakton Community College in Des Plaines, travel photography doesn't have to be a long shot. With a clear head and the right equipment, even the photo-challenged can snap an award-winning photo.
If your vacation includes air travel, you might want to go digital.
Airport scanning equipment can cause your film to fade faster than your memories of the trip. The beefed-up power the government uses on checked luggage gives a clearer picture of what's in the bags. But if your film is in your bag, your pictures might fade.
You can avoid the problem by putting film in your carry-on luggage. Then again, carry-on luggage is also fading, so digital photography is becoming a much clearer shot.
There's an array of digital equipment available. Automatic focus, zoom lenses and internal light meters take the guesswork out of many shots. Small point-and-shoot cameras slip easily into a pocket or purse.
And digital cameras allow you to take as many pictures as you need until you get it right.
"With my digital camera, I'll take 30 snaps of something and pick the best one. I've actually framed some of my shots," said Mike Caswell, who uses a small point-and-shoot digital camera that fits in his shirt pocket.
But no matter how many bells and whistles your camera has, you still have to take the picture. Here are some ways to keep your photo from becoming another not-so-pretty face:
- Read your manual.
Before Jean Cowden took a trip down the Amazon, she bought a new digital camera. She thought it would be great to not worry about film.
What Jean didn't know was that she had to worry about battery juice. For the first three days of her trip, she photographed everything. Then her battery died - and so did the rest of her pictures of the Amazon.
- Look for the unusual.
When my daughter Kaley and I flew to Paris, I took a post-card- perfect shot of the Eiffel Tower. It looked like every other picture of the icon.
Meanwhile, Kaley took a picture of a skateboard in front of the base. It looked amazing.