Light plays such a crucial role in all photography but with travel most photo buyers want ‘blue sky’ shots although in recent years atmosphere shots have become more acceptable. This often means waiting for either the sun to come out behind cloud or later in the day at sunset for it to slowly sink behind a great foreground. This can seem a bit pointless and a waste of time to non-photographer partners which can lead to friction so take a bit of time to educate them into exactly what you are doing and why.
For example, waiting for a sunset to evolve over a time can be stressful if your partner really, really wants to go and have supper while you know the sunset can only get better, even when the sun has gone.
When going on location I always take a small kit to use in hotel rooms at night or when it’s raining. This comprises; flash with sync lead, small softbox, small lightweight stand and a 20 inch Lastolite reflector. That might seem a lot but not for any real photographer. Used with small still life subjects this enables me to shoot studio pictures anywhere and I have used it for portraits as well. It means also that I always have something to shoot. But being real life, things don’t always work out and on a shoot in Japan I ended up parted from this kit which as we were travelling light on a side trip, I’d left in the suitcase in another city hotel we would return to.
We were given some very attractive looking lunchboxes, too good to eat before shooting, so I had to improvise, and fast, Chizuko was hungry! One thing I did have was a metre square of non-reflective black cloth which can be a background to many subjects. The old fashioned business hotel we were in had all the basics so I got the coffee table and put the bedside 60 watt desk light over the top from behind on a chair. Then I used a newspaper taped up against the tripod legs to reflect fill from in front. Setting the White Balance to 3000K (or as close as goes) to correct the tungsten light, the pictures were a fraction warm in tone, easily corrected with minimal post production.
A lot of photography is ‘thinking on your feet’ and with travel it is also ‘on the run’, always have the camera set to the conditions so you can take a picture within a couple of seconds from seeing it. Never be afraid to experiment, it will only be a few frames after all and it might just work. The lunchbox pictures have done well, and the contents tasted nice too!
More blogs will follow on this important subject, telling the story with just one frame too, so keep watching.