Secrets to Great Vacation Photography in San Diego

Scenic San Diego is a photographer’s dream. From Seaport Village to the San Diego Zoo, there are so many photo opportunities. Think of how many millions of pictures have been taken of the sailboats in the Harbor with the Coronado Bridge in the background. You can snap some beautiful shots along the beaches in La Jolla. You can use your cell phone camera to capture the fun on a night out in the Gaslamp District. Thanks to digital SLR cameras, cell phone cameras and social media, you can document your vacation and share your trip with your friends.

Oceanside PearWhile anyone can point a camera and take a picture, it takes more than that to become a skilled photographer. We’re not talking about professional photographers who can tell you the difference between a 2.8 F-Stop and an ASA 200 rating. We’re talking about the average traveler who enjoys photography.

Photography in San DiegoToday’s advanced digital cameras automatically adjust the aperture and sharpen the focus so all you have to do is concentrate on snapping the shot. While the camera will make the necessary adjustments, you still have to pick the subject, choose the angle, and know where to focus. It’s no secret that if you pay attention to some of the tips shown below, your San Diego vacation photos can look as good as if they were taken by a professional photographer.

SunsetChoosing a Camera

Choose a camera that fits your budget and is versatile enough to use in a variety of picture-taking situations. When you’re on vacation, a light, easy-to-carry camera is usually preferable to a big and heavy one. You want to be able to slip the camera in your pocket or purse and not have it hanging around your neck all day.

Almost any camera you can buy will take a decent picture so the camera you choose largely depends on your personal preferences. You can narrow your choices down by price range, brand of camera, and type of camera. Do you want to spend $100 or $500? Do you want a Nikon, Canon or Olympus? Do you prefer a compact point-and-shoot digital camera or want a digital SLR camera?

Don’t Leave Home Without it

Don’t risk missing that great picture because you run out of memory or your battery goes dead. Carry a spare battery and an extra memory card. Remember, in a pinch, you can use your cell phone camera to capture the moment.

people La Jolla BeachPut People in your Vacation Photos

Resist the temptation to take too many pictures without the people you are traveling with in the scene. Instead of taking a picture focused on the sand and surf of Mission Beach, use it as a backdrop to compose a more interesting and memorable photograph. Capture the kids building a sandcastle or your wife posing in her straw hat.

Every Picture should not be Posed

It is okay to pose for the camera once in a while, but candid, unposed photos are so much more interesting. Snap shots of people when they don’t know their picture is being taken. Natural is better than staged. You can capture details from a distance by using a zoom lens.

Flamingo San Diego ZooEnhance your Pictures with Signs

They say a good picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes, a few written words adds to the message you are trying to convey. Include placards that identify landmarks, museums, amusement parks and other sites that you may see. You can even take pictures of street signs (“Welcome to San Diego”) and restaurant menus to remind you of some of the places you visited.

Create a Story

Pictures tell a story and you don’t want to leave any of the details. Put on your photo journalist hat and take a series of shots to better capture the scene. Go from a broad to narrow focus. For instance, if you are touring the USS Midway Museum, take a few wide shots of the aircraft carrier and then, when you get on board; take close-ups of the planes, the bridge, the massive chain links, and other points of interest. Remember to include people in some of those shots.

Include Identifying Pictures

When you get home from your San Diego vacation, you’ll want to download all of your pictures into your computer and maybe print some out to make a physical photo album. It helps to chronicle your vacation by having some shots that categorize the images you captured. For example, you could have a picture of the San Diego skyline, the hotel you stayed in, the fancy restaurant you ate in and the different places you visited in Balboa Park. Again, be sure to include some signage so you will always be able to remember the special places you visited.

Capture the Local Culture with People Pictures

Yes, you can take a picture of a boat, but a picture with the fisherman who sails the boat adds context. When you are having lunch in a restaurant in Old Town, ask the waitress if she will pose with you for a picture.

Frame and Focus your Picture

We’re not talking about the kind of frame you use to hang a picture on the wall, but rather, the scene you see in the viewfinder of your camera. People should be photographed so they take up a good portion of the frame and do not appear like little figures in the background. Landscapes and other pictures without people should focus on a more specific subject rather than just the distant horizon.

Pay Attention to your Surroundings

Avoid ruining your picture by accidentally including people or things that don’t belong. If you are trying to take a serene picture of the waterfront, don’t have the garbage can or the “No Parking” sign in the corner of the frame.

Shoot from the Hip

Well, not literally. If you want some really cool San Diego vacation photographs, vary the angle at which you take pictures. Stand on your tip toes and hold your camera overhead, or bend at the waist and get a ground level view. Changing the position of your camera can create a whole different perspective on the same subject.

The Picture within the Picture

Sometimes you may think the picture you took is boring and should be deleted. Well, before you do that, examine it more closely. With the ability to zoom in and crop digital pictures, you may find a portion of the photo interesting and worth saving.

Take Lots of Pictures

It costs you nothing more than the loss of some storage space to take 10 pictures instead of just one. Take plenty of pictures when you are out-and-about. When you get home, you can go through them all, delete some and save the best ones.

Related articles:

 – 7 Secrets to Great Vacation Photography
 – 5 Tips for Taking Great Vacation Photos
 – 8 Tips To Take Better Travel Pictures
– 22 Tips on How to Take Great Vacation Photos



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