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Learn about your destination

Improve your chances for good pictures


Electrical outlets are often quite different in other countries, requiring plug adapters if you wish to use electrical items (a battery charger, for instance) from your own country.
Electrical outlets are often quite different in other countries, requiring plug adapters if you wish to use electrical items (a battery charger, for instance) from your own country.

PREPARE AHEAD

It pays to study up on the place you plan to visit; you will get better pictures.

Check its tourism websites, and visit the library for detailed information from travel guides and books that show local photographs.

The knowledge you gain of local customs, climatic conditions, principal features and landmarks, scenes that are commonly-photographed, and events that are planned to take place while you are there can make your visit more enjoyable and fulfilling. They can also make your photography more efficient and satisfying.


Besides, extra knowledge can never harm you. It can actually help your photography. For example, you may learn of a neat attraction or a seasonal event near your destination, or a colorful or interesting activity happening nearby.

By way of example, wouldn't it be a shame to miss a place as interesting and unique as Las Pumas Rescue Shelter only because you didn't know it was located just off the main road as you drive by the city of Canas in Costa Rica? (Las Pumas is, indeed, a special place, as you will see if you click here.)

A recent arrival at Las Pumas, this jaguarundi is scared. Care and gentle handling will speed its rehabilitation for its return to the wild.
A recent arrival at Las Pumas, this jaguarundi is scared. Care and gentle handling will speed its rehabilitation for its return to the wild.

There are many sources of travel planning information, including maps and printed travel guides. National Geographic and Lonely Planet guide books are reliable and especially informative.
There are many sources of travel planning information, including maps and printed travel guides. National Geographic and Lonely Planet guide books are reliable and especially informative.

Some of the many sources to help you plan a great photo adventure are:
- websites for Chambers of Commerce, tourism departments and events;
- travel and photo magazines;
- the travel section of your newspaper;
- guide books (especially National Geographic's comprehensive country guides which always contain exemplary local photographs);
- maps;
- holiday travel brochures; and
- friends who have already been to your destination.


Your photo-planning does not need to stop at home, either. Once you've arrived at your destination, visit a local photo shop or tourism office to ask about popular and attractive photo locations and picture-taking ideas.

If you don't speak the language of your destination country and no one seems to be able to converse in your language, it can be helpful to have a small pocket translator, either a phrase book or an electronic translator.

Foreign language translation books can be very helpful. Some are easier-to-use than others. Review them carefully before you make a purchase.
Foreign language translation books can be very helpful. Some are easier-to-use than others. Review them carefully before you make a purchase.

This electronic language translator is only 3
This electronic language translator is only 3" by 5", but translates 16 languages. It also handles currency and metric conversions, gives world time in 200 cities, and more. It's available from Radio Shack.

Be sure to buy a translation book or electronic unit that is small enough to fit in your pocket, camera bag or purse. If it's too bulky or heavy, you might tend to just leave it in your hotel room.

Learning some commonly-used, basic phrases in the foreign language before you leave home is a wise thing to do. It doesn't take much to remember such common courtesies as "Thank you," "Please," and "Excuse me," but they go a long way towards good relations with local people.

And, of course, photographers will do well to learn how to say "Smile, please," or "Where can I buy more film or a digital memory card?"


An easily-overlooked item that can make or (without it) break your photo holiday is an electrical transformer.

If all of your photo gear (chargers, image storage viewers, computer, etc.) requires electricity that is 110 volts and you are in a country where the electrical service is 220 volts, you need a transformer. You can't just plug into that high-voltage electrical current without destroying your equipment.

The 220-to-110-volt transformer seen here on the right was purchased in Puerto Princesa on the island province of Palawan in the Philippines. It was a life-saver, permitting the daily downloading of hundreds of digital images onto a 40GB Epson P-2000 Multimedia Storage Viewer.

YOUR CAMERA'S MANUAL

Not only should you gain some knowledge about the place you are planning to visit, but you should also renew your familiarity with your camera by going through its manual. Brush up on features you have seldom used, but may need on the road.

If you're from a country like the USA or Canada where electricity is 110-volts, it's wise to check if your destination country is also 110. If it has 220-volt electrical service, you will need a transformer to plug in your electrical devices.
If you're from a country like the USA or Canada where electricity is 110-volts, it's wise to check if your destination country is also 110. If it has 220-volt electrical service, you will need a transformer to plug in your electrical devices.
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Las Pumas Rescue Shelter

Don't rush your picture-taking