Travel Photo or Wow Factor

There’s a difference between a vacation photo and one shot on vacation that has the “Wow! Factor” and you’ll have to think a bit past 1/250 of a second at f/16. 

On a much needed vacation, I found myself sitting on a screened-in porch of a friendly cottage on a beautiful body of water in upstate New York. Hot coffee on the table and the dawn slowly defining the clouds above Cayuga Lake I was basking in the serenity of the scene and of course, like every other tourist who visited here, I pulled out my trusty camera and captured a typical tourist snapshot. 

“How many travel images have you created,” I asked myself? Myself answered, “Far too many to count!” I’m not knocking travel photos. They create a visual diary of memories that I’ll enjoy at a later date, perhaps when the snow piles up around my garage door and I’m sitting by the warmth of the glowing logs in my fireplace.

Then my professional photographer brain kicked in and I couldn’t help but think about making another image, only this time it had to contain the “Wow!” Factor. 

Let’s see. If I wait all day, the sun just might stream a few rays between some broken clouds and I’ll capture the light from above; “God’s light,” as many photographers call it. 

Tried that. Sun came out en masse across the lake illuminating the west shoreline and not even one ray in sight. At least I didn’t have to wait all day. Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow. I don’t mind getting up before sunrise on a vacation day.

“Change camera angles,” I tell myself. Yep! Another tourist image only this time, looking slightly to the northwest. Two king fishers fly low over the glassy water looking for breakfast. A silent seagull circles above, dips down for a closer look and decides it’s not a fish so he resumes his previous altitude and continues on down toward the south end of the lake.

Got my two different angled images for today. God closes His light on the distant shore and I need more hot coffee. I’ll try again tomorrow, or maybe there’ll be a spectacular sunset tonight. 

Hundreds of sunsets have been brought to my attention by amateur photographers in hopes that I would tell them that no other photographer has captured a sunset as spectacular as theirs and of course; their image is exactly what a calendar publisher needs (yawn!) and will pay big bucks for the privilege of placing on next year’s July page (Not!). Thinking, “Nice but not a snowball’s chance in Hades,” I attempted to let them down as gracefully as possible. 

Night falls and I can’t sleep because my brain is still in high gear trying to solve my problem. I go out to the deck again and it’s almost pitch black out there. It should be. It’s three o’clock in the mourning! I can’t capture a photo now. It’s way too dark, but there are a few areas dimly lighted enough for my eyes to see.

Yes, I can! Grab the camera, set the ISO to 6400, f-stop at 8 and shutter speed at 30 seconds. Rest the camera on the porch railing and trip the shutter. Success! I’ve elevated my typical vacation photo to an image with a “Wow! Factor”!