Archive for August, 2010

Travel Photography and Preconceived Expectations

August 10, 20100 Comments

I’m lucky in that I have a job that allows me to travel internationally 9 weeks out of the year.  I usually travel to Europe, Asia or South America.  My travel also gives me an opportunity to indulge in my favorite pastime, photography.  We usually have half a day or so when we arrive in a city to take in the sights.  I also occasionally extend a trip by taking some vacation time.  Prior to trips I map out what I’d like to photograph, though I’m invariably a little too ambitious,  I’m generally able to check off some of the locations on my list.  
On my last trip to Europe in July I extended a business trip and I met my mother and daughter in Paris.  My daughter hadn’t been to Europe so we spent a few days in Paris being the typical tourists, then we hopped on a train to London.  I guess I haven’t been to a major European city in the middle of summer because I’ve never seen so many tourist in one place, I’m not quite sure what I was expecting.  A big part of my photography goals for the trip was to do some night photography, specifically of the Louvre.  Additionally I wanted some really wide angle shots of the Eiffel Tower, some of the Eiffel Tower from the Trocadero and possibly the Arc de Triomphe.  The second night I was there I ventured onto the subway and strolled into the main courtyard at the Louvre along with a couple hundred of my new Parisian  friends.  It was just before sunset so I hung out and waited, figuring many of the people would leave once they attempted to take pictures after dark without tripods and viewing a blurry mess on their LCDs.   After an hour and a half or so, the sky turned to a deep blue, most of the people disappeared and I started shooting.  It wasn’t always easy, there was a lot of litter on the ground, people walking in front of the camera and a couple and their dogs decided to use one of the reflecting pools for bathing.  Here is one of the shots.
The next evening I decided to tackle a picture of the Eiffel Tower from the Trocadero.  There are some interesting statues, nice patterns in the main courtyard, etc.  I thought I would have lots of photo opportunities.  I arrived at the Trocadero around sunset and to my dismay, hundreds of people, trash, vendors, nothing was as I expected.   There was not a shot to be had without someone or something in the way.  I fumed and fussed for a while and then made my way as far forward as I could.  I made the best of the situation by getting a shot of the tower, but not what I had envisioned in my head, something I’ll add to the list for a future trip.
Eiffel Tower
I had a much better experience in London, not that there weren’t a plethora of people, but I was able to work around the masses and get the shots I wanted, though I only hit one location on my list of night shots, St. Paul’s and the Millennium bridge from across the Thames.
St. Paul's and Millennium BridgeI’m pretty happy with the night shots I brought home, though I’m still looking forward to getting some great shots of Paris.  My photography friend, Linda I ‘Anson is arranging a trip with a professional photographer for a private workshop in Paris next spring, so I should get my chance…fingers crossed.
I always have high expectations of what I’m going to accomplish and I always visualize the perfect situation, but that’s rarely the case.  When traveling, all we can do is make the best of the conditions and do what we can.  It may be that we don’t get the shots we envisioned, but we can enjoy the views and the culture.  There will always be another day.
Until next time – Jim

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