Point-and-Shoot Travel Photography
15 Aug 2007
Travelling with an SLR can be cumbersome, especially when exploring the less-beaten track; the last thing you want when hiking around an unknown terrain in what could be extreme weather conditions is a bulky camera and its accessories taking up all of your backpack space. Not only is it a pain when on the move, think about the problems of finding a plug in the wilderness to charge your batteries or a laptop to download your pictures on to.
No, it's too much bother. Why not just take your little point-and-shoot instead? Not only is it tiny, or at least much smaller than an SLR, all the gear that comes with it will take up much less room than all of those lenses and filters for your SLR. In fact, I have an A5 sized bag that fits all of my pointer's gear no probs. And film doesn't have a limited amount of data space; just bring along loads of the little things.
So here are ten tips to get your point-and-shoot juices flowing when on the road:
1: PACK LITE
Do you need that tunnel-vision lens, that colour splash, that black-and-white film? Point-and-shoots are simple by nature and churn out lovely shots without all the trimmings, so make sure that you only bring what you will use.
2: THINK ABOUT THE LOCATION
Tailor your inventory to your destination; you might want a tripod if you're going somewhere with vast scenery, like a mountainous area, but what if you're going to a little village?
3: CHOOSE YOUR FILM CAREFULLY
What pictures are you hoping for? Ones that have a gorgeously smooth, sleek finish, as close to what you see as possible - then maybe skip the slide film and go for a high quality normal colour C-41 instead. Or do you want distorted colours and unexpected results - then expired film (at least two years) and slide film to cross-process will be better for you.
4: BRING A FLASH
If you don't have a flash inbuilt into your pointer than bring one along - this is a stand-alone tip because you wouldn't believe how easy it is to forget this! You'll want to be able to shoot in any weather conditions and because you don't know quite what it will be like, a flash is necessary.
5: DON'T JUST SHOOT THE SCENERY
You should know this if you're a JPGer, but still, it takes a little reminding sometimes. Although reams of scenery pictures can be fascinating, if you're somewhere exciting and different try and capture the atmosphere with shots of the place itself (culture, people, everyday life) rather than just its situation.
6: REMEMBER THE ISO
If you're really going somewhere crazy where the weather conditions will be all over the place, remember to change your ISO with every little shift in weather. Yes, it's tedious and very easy to forget on a pointer but do it, and don't go too far out of the range of the ISO of your film; unless of course you are trying for the unrealistic.
7: WATCH WHERE YOU LEAVE YOUR POINTER
You wouldn't put your SLR in direct sunlight all day or leave it lying around on a beach all day without protection, so make sure you do remember to look after your pointer too. It's sturdier and much easier to clean but you don't want to ruin the film and your precious shots now, do you? Sunlight and heat are the main things to avoid, but watch out for sand, soil, water and extreme cold too. Always have a simple cleaning kit to hand just in case things get stuck where they shouldn't.
8: USE PROTECTION
This is very important if you're going on a trip which will involve much moving around and will protect your camera in various ways from the dreaded horrors of being flung around in a gigantic rucksack. By wrapping up your pointer in a small cloth or towel, or better still putting it in a little case while it's stowed in your backpack means that it will be protected from any vigorous movement, will be safe if any type of liquid explosion occurs (carry water in a metal bottle rather than plastic to avoid this) and will hopefully mean that the shutter will not accidentally go off and waste a shot or ruin one already taken.
9: GET WET/TAKE RISKS
I would not dare to get my D-SLR wet, but my pointer? Go for it! Make a splash and bring your camera along to capture those moments in a paradisiacal ocean or in a monsoon rain shower or jumping off a waterfall. Pointers are generally small and sturdy enough to endure small amounts of water exposure but if you're worried you can always make a 'waterproof jacket' for your camera with a plastic bag and some elastic band and scissors. Note that this tip doesn't mean you can just throw your camera into a pool or leave it lying around in heavy downpour! Just be a bit less cautious around water - and other things too! Take risks that you usually wouldn't with an SLR and surprise yourself.
10: MAKE MISTAKES
A wonderful thing about film is how, in the right situations, 'mistakes' can make the shot. Take light leaks, for example; a soft orangey blur spreading across the sky can transform a bland scenery picture into something extraordinary. Make sure that the shot you open the back of your camera on is nothing important though as this picture will be almost completely white. Other 'mistakes' to try include shooting at the end of the roll, deliberately capturing sun flares and letting tiny drips of water get on the negatives for beautiful, controlled blurs.