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Include a sign in travel pictures

A sign is a good reminder of where you visited


No doubt about where this travel picture was taken
No doubt about where this travel picture was taken

When on vacation, it is often helpful to include a prominent sign in a picture to serve as a reminder of the many places you visit.

Sometimes, the sign is a historical plaque, a significant mileage marker, a town name or the entrance sign to an unusual place. A sign may be entirely descriptive, providing detailed information that you would like to remember. There is no need to write it all down in your notebook when all you have to do is take a picture of it. And sometimes, the sign can be your subject because it is particularly colorful or simply unusual and interesting by itself.

 An interesting sign can be the subject itself
An interesting sign can be the subject itself

WATCH FOR REFLECTED FLASH

Be careful when using flash to shoot a sign that the light does not reflect back at you, obliterating the letters and information. This is most likely to occur when you are standing directly in front of a flat sign, and particularly if the sign's material is reflective, as many are. When employing flash, stand at a slight angle to the sign so its light will be reflected away from you. If you can't for some reason step sideways, stoop down so the light is reflected upwards and away.

 A sign can remind you of the date you were there
A sign can remind you of the date you were there

Sometimes, you don't need to fill the frame with a sign, but can include the sign as a small part of a larger scene so that it explains what you are viewing. An example? A picture of a mountain that includes a sign bearing the mountain's name or its elevation. You might never have remembered that mountain's name otherwise.

MAKE YOUR OWN SIGN

When it is fun to do, you can make your own "sign", like the one sculpted from sand on this page that tells you that Michael was in Hawaii.

 You can sometimes even make your own sign
You can sometimes even make your own sign

A sign can also serve to remind you of the name of that interesting museum you visited, a fabulous restaurant or that particularly comfortable hotel in which you stayed. Neon signs are especially colorful. What better reminder is there of a trip to Las Vegas? A tripod will ensure there is no camera shake when photographing signs after dark, but if you don't have one, take the picture anyway, especially if you are shooting with fast film or have set your digital camera's sensitivity to a high speed, such as 400 or 800. You may be surprised to find that neon signs give more light than you would expect for photography.

The camera was hand-held when taking this picture.
The camera was hand-held when taking this picture.

If you keep a written daily record of your trip, which can be particularly helpful back home when chronologically sorting your photographs, you will find that pictures of place name signs are a huge aid in organizing your pictures. As an example, let us suppose you are traveling by car across the United States, and you pull over each time you cross a border to take a picture of the State you are entering. Later, when sorting your pictures, you will know in which State any particular group of photos were taken, and when.

This sign appears on a ferry in Puntarenas, Costa Rica. The English-language portion is not perfectly translated, but the meaning is still clear.
This sign appears on a ferry in Puntarenas, Costa Rica. The English-language portion is not perfectly translated, but the meaning is still clear.

Signs that are always popular with family and friends who view your travel photos are the funny ones, like the ferry sign above. Humor can be found in a variety of signs - those that are improperly spelled, with letters reversed, humorously translated, containing funny pictures or artwork, and so on. A picture that shows a place jammed with too many signs can make you smile, and perhaps even make you pause to try to read them all. If your picture brings a laugh to its viewers, it was worth the taking.

Here's a place where the subject of the photograph is the color, number and variety of the signs themselves.
Here's a place where the subject of the photograph is the color, number and variety of the signs themselves.