Travel with open eyes and ready camera
Washington — Tourists and cameras. They go together so consistently that when you've seen one, you've probably found the other. If you and your camera are about to take a trip, take a minute to check these tips, which can help produce photographs that give you lasting satisfaction.
* If you purchased your camera recently, get as accustomed to its operation as you can before leaving home. Take at least one roll of photos; consult your photo shop salesperson about any problems with the results.
* Pack your equipment very carefully. Modern cameras are complex machines with precision ground lens elements and intricate electronic circuitry. Thus they need to be cushioned a bit more than the average item in your care to protect them from vibrations and jolts. Put your camera atop a few layers of clothing instead of in the bottom of your suitcase. If you're traveling by car, put it on the car seat. That's softer than the glove compartment.
* Keep the camera - and all film - out of extremes in temperature. Long periods in direct sun is a no-no. So is keeping a camera or film in a hot, closed car in the summertime. Take them with you when you interrupt your driving for lunch.
* Take along an easy-to-carry plastic bag for protection against rain, dust, or sand. You may carry that bag folded in your pocket for a week without using it. Then one afternoon you'll have to walk back to your hotel in a light rain, and the bag will keep your camera dry.
* If you're traveling by air, try to avoid putting any film in checked luggage, because some airline surveillance machines harm film - as do some of the machines that check carry-on luggage. At baggage check points, pull your clear plastic bag of film out of your carry-on luggage and politely ask airline attendants to check it by hand.
Lead film-shield envelopes specifically for the air traveler are readily available at photo shops. While they may be of some use, they do not protect film in checked luggage when it is subjected to large amounts of X-rays, as it is in a few airports.
* If you're going abroad, you'll save money two ways if you buy all your film before you leave the United States. For one thing, American-made film purchased in the US doesn't need to be declared on reentry customs forms; it can also be mailed back in manufacturers' prepaid processing envelopes without customs duties. Further, when purchased overseas, US-made film may cost double or more its domestic price.
* Once you've arrived at your destination, one simple step will help you get more interesting photos every time without spending a lot of time and thought: Select carefully the spot from which you'll take each picture.
Whenever you prepare to take a picture, compose it from several different spots - it is important to choose from among several ways of seeing it.
Now you are on your way to enjoying the photographic process, far beyond merely producing a record. You're ready to say you are concerned about ''making'' photographs rather than only ''taking'' them.
One more thing: Use your camera in a friendly way, making sure your actions cannot be considered offensive. Be reasonably sure you have permission before starting to make pictures - even people who are happy to have you photograph them may become offended if you merely start in without speaking first.
Language is no barrier when it comes to cameras. Merely holding your camera in one hand and gesturing toward your intended subject while offering a genuine smile will get a clear reaction. And it is much more likely to be a positive one than if you had not made the effort.