Up-Close-And-Personal with Nature!

The very next morning after we had an amazing time at the Kent Pond while driving North US 100, we were staring at the highest mountain in Vermont – Mount Mansfield. Though the public forums didn’t mention much about driving up 4,393 feet to the summit (they normally talk about taking the Gondola ride up through the Stowe Mountain Resort, which we also took next day), I found it to be a pleasant drive. Maybe because we were the first ones to be there, thus having the road to ourselves!

As soon as the gate to the toll road opened up at 9am, we paid the price – $22 for the vehicle and driver and an additional $7 for Saru – and started the drive uphill, which was steep at times. Being fall season, every few minutes I had to stop to capture the amazing scenery. It was cloudy, and with the foliage colors all around, it was quite a sight to behold! One also gets stunning views of Lake Champlain (we went there later that day) and Adirondack Mountains on the way up the zig zag road to the summit ridge.fall-foliage-in-usaOnce at the top, it was freezing up there (we were warned about it at the gate itself). There are many trails one can take up there, and we did walk about quarter-a-mile. However, poor visibility called for an early return. Instead, we thought of enjoying more spots on the way back down the mountain while the traffic was still less. By then the sun also had started peeking through the clouds and some panoramic views looked much better because of the glaring contrast in falls colors.where-to-see-fall-colorsbest-fall-trips-in-usaautumn-colors-in-usIf you ask me was the drive worth it, I would emphatically say Yes…especially because of the colors all around! It might not have been that great a drive if there was just greenery out there. Though you would get similar views by taking the gondola to the summit (will write about it in another post), the experiences differ as you are more up-close-and-personal with nature while driving!vermont-fall-trip

Photography while Traveling

We all love to capture moments, as they remind us of our happier times. This is especially true of our travels, as we might not be able to revisit the place. However, for those who are not aware of what the basics of photography are, they can have a hard time capturing a good shot. And I am not even talking about ISO, which forms the bedrock of a photography class.

Imagine you clicking a selfie with the sun shining brightly in the background, or a landscape you clicked that looks too monotonous! Avoiding these mistakes doesn’t require any Technical know-how of the device. If you have a decent camera, which even the phones have these days, you can still do a pretty good job with your pictures.

Having traveled extensively over the years, and captured (and learned from) every type of a view, I now have pictures that speak more than what they show…and I do nothing special with them! Just keep these basics in mind, like I do:

1. The frame: How often do we think where we are before we click a shot? Almost never, as we rely on the popularity of the attraction. But, in spite of that, you can still do a lot better by inspecting the view. For example, if you are at Taj Mahal, look around and find the best setting for your click…the Sun, the colors, the contrasting and complementing objects – all contribute to a great frame.

Another example is below, which I clicked on New Year at Miami in Florida. See how I used the reflections in water to complement my primary object – the magnificent skyline; the colors provide for additional beauty!

The frame

2. The light effect: Having looked at thousands of selfies on Instagram with bright Sun in the background, I wonder how can people do that. This is so basic, yet so elusive a concept! If you want to take a picture of yourself, you need to have the focus on you and not on what is behind you. The background should not be overly bright or dull; just enough light to complement your primary object.

I was at The 12 Apostles in Australia and played around with this concept. I would never post this picture of my better half on social media!

The light effect

3. We love symmetry: If you have to capture the calmness of ocean with the vastness of the blue sky, the ocean layer has to be horizontal. If it is not, it would not appear so logical to the audience. Another example is of an architecture which, more often than not, would be symmetrical and would be best presented if captured that way. Moreover, remember that there is symmetry in asymmetry also!

Compare the pictures below from Bondi Beach in Sydney. Take your pick!

Symmetry 1Symmetry 2.jpg

4. Impeccable Clarity: This point can’t be overstated, nobody likes messy pictures! That’s why many of us carry the tripod around. However, if you practice enough to keep your hands steady, you would not have to carry the extra weight along. A quick tip is to find a place at the location (maybe a bench or a rock) where you can rest your camera for the shot.

5. Attractive colors: Even if the image is a monochrome, we like a nice contrast between the black and white in it. A lot of photographers do post-processing on their pics for the same reason. In a natural setting, nature does it for us; we only have to have an eye to make the best of the scenery.

This click is one of my most ‘liked’ and ‘commented’ ones…no prizes for guessing why!

Attractive colors

6. Always experiment: Nothing can beat practical experience. When I was a novice in the field, I used to take my camera out just to experiment on above aspects. That’s how you can make out what went wrong, so you won’t make a mistake when it matters!

All this may sound basic, but that’s where many of us go wrong. You won’t have to spend a lot of time processing your raw images once you learn these basics. Of course, from a professional standpoint, you can do much more with a great shot that you have already taken!

Once you have a decent collection of travel photographs, next would be to show the best ones around. Now, who has the time to manually pick and choose? I use http://siftr.co, which is world’s first intelligent photography curation platform. Siftr creates a website from our existing online photos (Instagram, Flickr, and Facebook pages) in a couple of minutes, and surfaces the best shots in a visually compelling manner.

Do check them out to create your own website for free, available as an introductory offer!