In Foreign Territory, Arrange A Local Guide

An English-speaking local guide can help you communicate with other locals much more effectively than you can on your own. That’s true even if you’ve mastered a limited set of guidebook phrases or have a smartphone translation app (though such phrases and apps can definitely be helpful). If you aim to understand the culture you’re visiting or the ceremony or festival dance that you’re photographing, a local guide can be invaluable. The quality and depth of the verbal and image stories that you tell will definitely benefit.

Remember the extended exposure scene from a Vrindavan temple during the Holi festival? We would likely have been hard-pressed to gain access to that balcony at all, at least on reasonable terms, without a local guide to negotiate on our behalf.

As we practiced productive wandering in Chhattisgarh, an India village, our local guide helped us to communicate with villagers. They welcomed us into a courtyard where one was cranking a fan to separate the desired crop from the undesired chaff.

If you find an especially photogenic setting, either by yourself or with the help of a local guide, another option is to wait for interesting characters to come into your scene on their own. On a trip to Yunnan province in China, we were based for several days in a small village. Most mornings, we did pre-breakfast walks, looking for ways to take advantage of the terrific early-morning light. One effective strategy was to find an attractive background scene with good lighting on a fairly active village street and wait for interesting villagers to come into the scene. Some declined my gestured requests for permission, but most accepted.

Plan Productive Wandering For Better Travel Photos

One way to take the pulse of a place and its people is to wander around. Look for places and times for your wandering that can maximize your photographic yield.

In a booming Chinese city, tall modern buildings and conventional urban street looks can dominate many scenes. Is there an “old town” section that may be more representative of traditional life in the area? Maybe there’ll be an opportunity to juxtapose old homes with new skyscrapers or busy construction sites? We found exactly those possibilities in Kashgar, China (population 4+ million).

If you stop at one of those touristy handicraft stores, is there an area out back where the handicrafts are produced? In northern Vietnam, we found such an area behind a massive pottery shop, with dusty workers and dozens of symmetric rows of shapely pots.

Rural villages are often most active in the morning and late in the day. Happily, that’s when the quality of light is typically best as well. As you wander, keep an eye out for inner courtyards with interesting activity; often, locals will graciously welcome you into them.

Look For Unusual Perspectives

The annual Holi festival in India is a riot of colored powder and paint that is brimming with photographic possibilities. Even in this subject-rich environment, you can up your game by finding an unusual perspective to capture the action.

To gain the perspective of my image taken in the Vrindavan temple (above), we climbed to a balcony and shot down toward the temple floor. Tripods are out of the question in the hubbub of Holi, so we steadied our cameras against a balcony railing to keep the pedestal sharp, despite the one-second exposure. I sought to capture the worshipful (but frenetic) motion I saw below me.

Holi presents special challenges in protecting your camera equipment—and you. We enclosed our cameras entirely in low-cost clear plastic OP/TECH Rainsleeves. The sleeves were taped to the lens at the filter ring, where the front element was protected by an inexpensive UV filter. We operated the cameras entirely through the rain sleeves and discarded them at the end of each day.

If you plan to shoot Holi, take care of your body as well. I wore contractor safety glasses to protect my eyes from flying liquids and powders. I saw western visitors wearing snorkeling goggles. You may find such protections unnecessary. With the help of our local guide, I acquired a local Indian white outfit, wore it every day during the festival and left it behind, no longer white. Beware the risks of jostling crowds; consider leaving your cell phone and valuables in the hotel safe.

Seek Out Festivals And Celebrations

Consider scheduling your visits to overlap with potentially photogenic local festivals. Festivals often have many key ingredients for engaging imagery, including happy people who are pleased to share their joy with you, colorful and unique clothing or festival settings, and a celebratory mood overall, which can translate to lively images. Also be on the lookout for celebrations that you weren’t aware of in advance.

In some rural areas, such as the tribal areas of the state of Chhattisgarh in India, villagers (perhaps encouraged by a donation to the village from your local guide) may be willing to perform traditional rituals and dances specifically for your group. During a visit to one of these villages, we had several hours with multiple groups of dancers. Such arrangements can present rich possibilities for action and portrait photographs.

Some festivals get so popular that they are almost overwhelmed with other tourists, who can mar the authenticity of a scene. Consider the Paro Tsechu festival in Bhutan, typically held in March. While all the ingredients mentioned at the beginning of this section are present, there are also hundreds or thousands of tourists, and it can be difficult to capture a festival image without them. Meanwhile, similar tsechus and other festivals are held across Bhutan at other times of the year. During our two June weeks in Bhutan, we photographed three beautiful tsechu festivals in out-of-the-way towns and saw very few tourists. But we needed to invest in day-long drives on precarious mountain roads instead of driving an hour from the Paro airport to the tsechu festival there.

During a visit to Jaipur, India, we headed out for what we expected to be a routine late afternoon of street photography. We started following what seemed to be a wedding procession—always an exciting proposition in India—along the streets. We learned that this Ganguar festival included an event that casts girls and boys as brides and grooms and celebrates simulated weddings for them, complete with elaborate clothes and makeup. That “wedding procession” led us to a park area with dozens of “wedding parties” all begging to have their pictures taken!

One challenge with photographing such dynamic events is that you may need to shift on short notice between wide-angle and telephoto lenses. To maximize your flexibility, you can carry two bodies, each mounted with one of the two lens types, say a Canon EF 24-105mm F/4L IS USM lens on one body and a Canon EF 70-200mm F/4L IS USM on the other. I carry the two bodies on a harness so that I have instant access to either focal length range as necessary for the image opportunities I spot.

Zoom lenses give you critical framing and subject isolation flexibility. In the particular pair of lenses above, the longer reach of the 24-105mm lens, compared to a common 24-70mm alternative, gives you more telephoto range on your wide-angle camera, potentially saving you some camera/lens swaps.

Image stabilization can help you preserve the convenience of handheld shooting, even in low light and even for lighter and smaller lenses with relatively slower apertures like ƒ/4. With a slower lens, you may need to use higher ISO settings, but with modern cameras like the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, such settings work well. While shooting in aperture priority to control your depth of field, you can set a minimum shutter speed for the expected subject activity level and have the camera automatically boost the ISO level to achieve that speed.

Better Travel Photos: Demonstrate Respect

Do your homework. Read up in advance on the places and people you’ll be visiting, including guidance on gestures or actions that are especially welcome or unwelcome in the local culture.

The Ganges River is sacred for Hindus, especially where it passes through holy cities like Varanasi. The reverence with which Hindus approach their “Mother Ganga” can yield beautiful images; be careful to respect that reverence. My image of a sadhu (holy man) was captured along the ghats (flights of stairs) that line the river. Other parts of these ghats are used for cremations, and photography is forbidden there.

Photographing from a boat toward the ghats in the early-morning light, you can capture reverent bathers reveling in the sacred waters. At the same time—even in the same frame—you can see people who are simply washing their clothes, bodies or hair as part of a normal daily routine.

When you’re capturing scenes of another culture, showing your respect for and commitment to understanding that culture will help you be accepted. This is especially important when your subjects use a language you don’t speak or understand. One of the simplest ways to demonstrate respect is to place yourself and the camera at the same level as a portrait subject, versus looking down (in the case of a seated subject or child, for instance).

Learning some key phrases in the local language is ideal, but pointing to your camera in a gestured request for permission to take a photo isn’t complicated and usually works. Sharing example images on your camera with your subjects will usually help build rapport.

Sometimes, a reluctant subject is just shy and can be gently and respectfully cajoled. For instance, you can take a photo of a nearby pet or object and share it, and often that will break the ice. Parents and grandparents are usually eager to offer their children for photos. Sometimes the children are the most interesting photographically; at other times, the adults.

Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu's The Art of War has long been revered because the preeminent guidebook on how to correctly wage war. So who higher to advise than a person like Tzu, an historical Chinese military chief and warrior who knew a way to combat and win? He additionally knew a way to inspire his expenses, reportedly beheading  guys famous with the king, just to expose the opposite courtesans no person was secure from punishment and field.

But now, people wonder if Sun Tzu changed into actual at all. As History.Com explains, pupils presently recognise nothing about wherein The Art of War got here from, handiest that it might randomly appear — generally on sewn-collectively bamboo slabs — for whatever army individual or student wished it. There's no document of "Sun Tzu" selling himself as the writer, happening e-book tours, or some thing of that type, and even the tale of him beheading those negative courtesans is unsourced and quite in all likelihood a delusion.

It stands to reason "Sun Tzu" is a pen call, and Art of War's contents are cobbled together from generations of Chinese navy instructions, theories, and strategies. Considering how people global are nevertheless analyzing and gaining knowledge of from it, hundreds of years after it first seemed, it's in reality stable advice. It just probable didn't come from the thoughts of 1 merciless military genius.

William Tell

William Tell is a Swiss people hero exceptional acknowledged for child endangerment. Tell allegedly lived in Switzerland at some stage in the early 14th century, when the Hapsburg dynasty of Austria dominated the land. As the story is going, an Austrian respectable positioned a hat on a pole in metropolis of Altdorf and commanded each Swiss situation to dispose of their caps as they surpassed by means of it. One day, Tell, a local peasant who was followed with the aid of his son, refused to achieve this. In reaction, the Austrians forced Tell to shoot an apple off his son's head at one hundred twenty paces or face execution. Tell loaded his crossbow and elegantly shot the apple. He then went on to lead a small rise up towards the Austrians — probably after shopping for his son a few new pants.

Tell is largely the Swiss model of Robin Hood and, much like the outlaw of Sherwood Forest, he possibly by no means existed. The apple tale is extraordinarily much like a Viking folktale, which most probably was imported to Switzerland in some unspecified time in the future and utilized by Swiss patriots as a rallying cry against their Austrian rulers.


To quote Confucius: "If names be not accurate, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language be no longer according with the fact of factors, affairs can't be carried directly to success." That's deep … and deeply complex. Research shows that cheating youngsters become a hit adults and that quite successful adults lie. That's a whole lot of incorrect there, Confucius.

Of route, if Confucius by no means existed, then the quote's been misattributed, that means the words can't accord with the fact. Thus, in being wrong, the quote would be proper, which sounds extremely good incorrect. And the Confucian confusion does not stop there. Experts agree with he turned into born in Lu, China, and created the Ru School of Chinese idea. But relying on which document you examine, Confucius comes off as an unflinching idealist, an bold flesh presser, or a fifth-century B.C. Superhero. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy recommended that even The Analects, academia's move-to resource for info on Confucius, suffers from striking inconsistencies and improbabilities.

Confucius's entire shtick was setting pointers for righteous dwelling, but historians debate his primary precepts. In The Human Record: To 1700, Alfred Andrea and James Hoverfield mentioned filial piety (respect for elders and ancestors), a precept regularly seemed as Confucianism's middle. According to the authors, it wasn't in reality a large deal to him. In reality, many claims attributed to Confucius are arguably apocryphal. Fittingly, the guy defined as China's Socrates raises greater questions than he solutions.

Robin Hood

The legendary English people hero Robin Hood is well-known for robbing from the wealthy and giving to the terrible, dwelling in Sherwood Forest with his gang of outlaws, and wooing Maid Marian. The tales are truely fictitious, however changed into Robin Hood a real man or woman or without a doubt primarily based on one? It's impossible to say if any person person stimulated the legend's advent. The memories are both completely invented, or are a combination of elements taken from exclusive historical sources.

Identifying a single man or woman as the premise for the famous outlaw will become even more tough given that, as the tales commenced to grow in reputation inside the thirteenth and 14th centuries, random English outlaws started to call themselves Robin Hood. Nevertheless, a few historians speculate that Robin Hood turned into based, in component besides, on nobleman Fulk FitzWarin, who rebelled towards King John (one of Robin Hood's foes). FitzWarin's existence became later was its very own medieval story, Fouke le Fitz Waryn, which holds a few similarities to the Robin Hood testimonies. If he turned into the premise, then a name exchange became a very good decision. The call Fulk FitzWarin does not precisely strike worry into the hearts of villains.


Surely the excellent William Shakespeare was actual, proper? He has writings — masses of them — and we have portraits of the man. How may want to that equal a phony? Amazingly, pretty effortlessly; many people are satisfied "William Shakespeare" become a pen name, and whoever wrote those stories is probably misplaced to records.

As recapped by using PBS, there was a man named William Shakespeare, but we know little about him. We don't know in which he learned to write down, how he found out a lot about law, politics, and records, and his will referred to no performs or sonnets, that you'd suppose would be essential on his mind. It sounds like the real Shakespeare failed to write plenty more than a grocery list. If genuine, we're uncertain approximately who the "actual" Shakespeare is. Plenty of candidates have emerged through the years, like Francis Bacon, Ben Johnson, and Christopher Marlowe, but these opportunities have not stuck.

There's some other legitimate opportunity inside the difficult to understand Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere. According to J. Thomas Looney, a schoolteacher who uncovered a extraordinary deal about the person, Vere wrote poetry that reads just like what the Bard wrote. According to this concept, Vere used an assumed name due to the fact, as nobility, he failed to need to be related to a low-forehead artwork like playwriting. Then, while he died, his fans posted his performs below the pen name of a few random commoner named William Shakespeare, who died years lower back. That's suitable, because maximum aspiring writers could a great deal as an alternative be called "Shakespeare" than "Vere."