Gear Tips for Your Holiday Travel Photography

by Robyn Porteen
( November 25th, 2014 )

Packing Gear for Travel PhotographyHoliday Travel Photography 

If you’re going to be traveling this holiday season and plan to do some photography, don’t make the mistake of loading yourself down with too much gear. Consider the following list and add to or amend it as needed; these staples should get you through most any travel photography scenario:
Cameras. Bring the camera that best suits your planned photography. Compact Cameras are great for family photos and are even carried by Pro photographers for assignment shoots. Lighter is better in my book!

Lenses. Discipline yourself to take just two to three lenses on the road with you; more than that is probably superfluous. If you’ll be doing some sightseeing at museums, outdoor markets or other tourist sites, consider making at least one of your choices a stabilized lens. A wide-angle zoom, telephoto and a macro lens are all strong possibilities.

Tripod? A tripod can become optional on your trip if you resolve to use a stabilized lens and high ISOs while shooting. However, if you plan on doing holiday family group shots and want to be included in them (facilitated by your camera’s timer), then bring one along. Of course, opt for your lightest, most compact and travel-friendly model.

Charger and batteries. Regardless of the length of your trip, you’ll want to make sure you’re armed with backup batteries as well as your charger.

Memory cards. As a general rule, take twice as much memory as you think you’re going to need. Of course, the exact amount will be influenced by the photo resolution you favor. Consider packing numerous smaller cards (no more than 4 GB each) so that if you lose a card, you haven’t lost all your work. If you’ll be shooting video as well, take three times as much memory as you believe you’ll need.

Electronic storage. Bring at least one of the following: your laptop computer, a portable storage unit, or several USB flash drives for backup storage of your images.

Voltage converter. Some countries have different electricity outlets than the U.S., so do your homework and bring the appropriate voltage converter for your charger if needed.

Odds and ends. Bring a polarizing filter, cleaning kit, plastic bags (for equipment protection against moisture in humid or outdoor settings), and a recent guide book for your destination if traveling somewhere new.

Take some of the strain out of holiday travel by using this streamlined photo gear list—and enjoy your adventure.

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Creative Composition – Break the Rules!

by Robyn Porteen
( November 9th, 2014 )

Creative composition in photography

Break the rules and let your creativity take over to tell a story with your photography. There are many rules when it comes to composition in photography, symmetry, and the rule of thirds are just a couple. Being self-taught, I like to  just go with what I think looks best. Who needs rules, right!

Here are some suggestions for making creative choices on composition. 

I like to let the imagination wonder where a person is looking or walking.  The woman in the photo below is walking down the street with a bouquet of flowers. There is nothing exciting about this photo and it doesn’t make you wonder where she is going, she is just a part of the sidewalk scene.

Woman walking in Dublin

Here is another shot of the same woman walking but the photo has been composed with the woman on the right side of the frame. Now it looks as though she has just entered the frame giving the image some motion. There is a direction to where she is going by leaving a path to the left in the image. Isolating her out of the other people on the sidewalk makes her the focal point. Now one can wonder where she is going with those flowers. All of the arrows present in this photo also lead to asking that question.

Woman Walking on right side of frame.


I photographed this cat on a bench in Dublin and centered him in the frame. I usually do not do center my images, so I must have been photographing quickly that day. When I reviewed this later, I didn’t like the plain composition with the trash showing under the bench. There was little to no feeling here.

Cat sleeping on bench centered in frame.

With a little creative cropping, the photo has a sense of peacefulness and shows the quiet atmosphere of the area. This one makes me want to curl up on the bench with the cat!

Cat Sleeping on bench to the right side of frame.


Composing on the side of the frame works great with faces! If a person is looking in a direction, keep their face to the side opposite of where their eyes are looking. It gives a sense of wonder to a photo.

Aussie with Hat looking to the left.

Closer off center cropping can also show more feeling. The photo below is nice and it shows a cute little girl looking downwards.

Girl centered in frame.

I like this crop better, it shows more feeling and your focus might be more on what the girl is thinking or feeling.

Little girl with hat cropped for feeling.

You can make these same decisions with inanimate objects like buildings and landscape features. If you place the focal point to the right or left side of the frame, you leave the eye to follow the path of the front of the building. It can also showcase the surrounding area and tell more of a story about where the building is located. You can see the landscape in the photo below and the church is just a part of the terrain instead of the focal point.

Church in Irish Countryside

I am including the photo I took in the Brush section of Detroit. Putting the home in the right side of the frame allows you to see the houses in the background that are all fixed up. It makes you wonder if this house has a chance of reclaiming it’s original beauty. If it had been photographed in the center of the frame, it might not have told the same story.

A view of one of the Mansard houses in Detroit.

All photography by Robyn Porteen

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Travel Photography – It’s in the Details

by Robyn Porteen
( October 27th, 2014 )

Travel Photography Tips

Travel Photography – It’s in the Details.

Traveling to foreign cities can be overwhelming with the hustle and bustle of daily activities. There are people making their way to work and tourists staring up into the air at the architecture attempting to take it all in. It might be intimidating to just start pointing your camera at strangers. My advice is to break yourself in by paying attention to the details and small things around you.

Spices and Incense

You will be amazed at how many more photos you will come home with and you will end up with a very unique collection from your trip. If you were to send five people to the same place and tell them to focus on the details, everyone would come back with a different set of images. Photographing the details will show your own unique perspective.

Travel Photography Details

These images were selected from a trip to Israel in 2009 and all of them bring me right back to that small place in time. The old city of Jerusalem had a certain smell and feeling about it. There was a sense of danger and awe.  I had no problem finding details to focus on in my daily walks around the city.

Poster in Jerusalem

Travel Photography

It’s usually the photos like these that I end up printing and framing. I think the details have more of an artistic nature. I love doors and have collected photos of doorways from around the world.

You might want to try collections of certain things on your travels. Faces, street signs, and close-up architectural shots are all great subjects for collections.

In the details


All photography by Robyn Porteen 


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