Keeping a Visual Record of Your Travels

May 27, 2010 by Barry & Monique Zander · 8 Comments  
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You’ve probably chosen RVing because you love the travel, or you don’t want to miss out on all the natural or manmade wonders of North America, or you just don’t like being tied down to one place.  Whatever the reason, are you keeping a visual record of your travels, or, in other words, taking pictures?

 Like any other art form, picture-taking means different things to different people.  And like buying a recreational vehicle, costs vary widely, depending on the buyer’s/user’s objectives.

Comstock Lode Ready 5973






 Why take pictures?  Are you looking to keep memories alive?   Are you planning to give a talk to the Kiwanis Club when you get home?  Or is there a big bodacious dream of having your pictures published in a table-top book or in magazines?  They are all good reasons to keep a camera with you and snap pictures.

 I take hundred of pictures every month because we always seem to be on the move.  Then I download my shots onto my laptop and delete about 80 percent of them.  My immediate goal is to just keep a record of the places we’ve been, mostly to help us recollect what we’ve seen. 

 This may sound like I’m excessive compulsive, but I try not to let taking the picture interfere with taking in the scenery.  We’re there to enjoy our surroundings; the photo is like a bookmark in the novel.

 The least important element in picture-taking is the camera.  Whether you’re using a $2,500 single-lens reflex or a point-and-shoot budget model, or even your cellphone, what I consider the most important goal is getting a picture to record what you see.  If you can take one or more pictures that tell a story, that’s even better.

 You don’t need to dwell on perfection.  Just take the picture.

 Now, here are some hints:

1)      If you’re in Yosemite National Park with a group of friends, it’s better to use Bridal Veil Falls as a background rather than your RV.  Be aware of the background when you’re taking people pictures.

2)      In landscape or scenic shots, try to show motion by having a river, a road or a line of trees, for instance, meandering through the scene.

3)      I always take pictures of signs showing where we’re camping and the places we visit.  It’s a quick reference when reviewing the collection.

4)      Apply the “Rule of Thirds,” meaning, put the most important element one-third of the way from the right or left, not in the middle of the picture.

5)      Try not to get too much sky or too much foreground. 

6)      Look for ways of framing.  Often that means having a tree or other feature along one side of the photo.  Not always possible, but, then, you don’t want to have every shot look the same anyway.

7)      Don’t be afraid to put humor in the picture, and it’s not a sin to use a contrived scene if it conveys your message.

8)      Seeing smiling faces in pictures makes the viewer smile.  Expression on faces promotes interest.

9)      Go digital, if possible.  It will save you lots of money in a short time and the quality of digital these days is at least as good as film.  Shoot now; decide later which one or ones to keep.

10)  When you transfer your photos to your computer, be specific on the folder name so you can quickly find the pictures you took.

11)  The only time it’s too late to get started is when you sell your RV and stay home.

 Since I’ve rarely done any video shooting, that’s not mentioned here, but the same primary rule applies — “Just do it!” so you can re-experience the wonderful places you’ve been.

 Monique and I recently started sharing an “e-Postcard” of our travels with family and friends as often as the scenery warrants and when we have internet service.  Some recipients reply to every mailing; some never reply, but they do mention a scene or two when we talk or have an e-mail conversation.  Despite offering to remove anyone from the e-mailing list, no questions asked, no one has asked to be taken off.

 The photos below were all taken in the past two weeks.  It’s that easy to find interesting subjects.

Mono $ Meditation









Pond & Burro






2Buck & Kokopelli






For the record, the scenes above are: 

(In the article) From Gold City in the Comstock Lode, Nevada; (and immediately above) Lake Mono, California, and Monique at Red Rock Canyon, California; A Virginia City, Nevada, scene, and a trout pond near Crowley Lake, California; Barry shopping at Trader Joe’s in Carson City, Nevada, and our trailer at the Blue Mountain Summit in Oregon.

From the “Never-Bored RVers,” We’ll see you on down the road.

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8 Responses to “Keeping a Visual Record of Your Travels”

  1. GK on May 27th, 2010 8:08 am

    Awesome pictures!

    Just a couple of things: I wouldn’t obsess about the rule of thirds. There are times where you want the subject dead center. The beauty of digital is you can always change it later :-) . I have taken advantage of that a few times when putting together print albums for family and friends, where the original shot wasn’t framed as nicely, but with editing, I could reframe it by cropping the parts I didn’t want. To do that, though, means you need to “zoom out” a bit to have more scenery around the subject.

    Also, when framing and you have people in the shot, be aware of what is behind them. There are an embarrassing number of shots where people have trees and poles growing out their head.

    Definitely can’t emphasize #9 enough: the beauty of digital is that you can basically “blaze away” with the camera, and then edit/remove later (although I have a habit of keeping everything, I just file it away somewhere else. You never know when a shot you thought was a dud actually had something good on it when you review it again later).

  2. kay on May 27th, 2010 6:52 pm

    The last time we went West, I stocked up on film before we left home (I now have digital). We didn’t get to spend the summer, as planned so I shot many rolls of film out of the window of our truck (pulling 5th wheel), on the way home.. Needless to say, some didn’t turn out too well due to the conditions of some of the highways we traveled but many did work out and I have some great pictures of the scenery between Georgia and Utah.

  3. Tige on May 27th, 2010 10:51 pm

    Try a camcorder through the windshield as you drive mountain roads.

  4. Johnm on May 28th, 2010 10:15 am

    We take a number of pictures of the differnt places we stay so we can remember what was there and if we liked it enough to go back. I have tried the camcorder and it isnt as much fun some times and the still. Both are very good ways to capture a good time or place. We always download the picture by date and place so we can review them again, and to refresh our memory of what we did or did not like at each stop.

  5. Bill on May 28th, 2010 2:26 pm

    That’s a nice picture of you sitting on the bench with the donkey. Looks like you dressed to fit your surroundings.

  6. Fred Brandeberry, SR on May 31st, 2010 11:13 am

    Hi Guys & Gals:
    We use the camera in our phone for emergencies and pleasure use.
    Family members use their cameras for reunions.
    We like to KISS, keep it simple.
    Many rigs, are overweight.
    Some persons choose to tell the RV dealer, build me a house, O, put wheels on it. Must we take all the gadgets? Yes, they are getting smaller and better in quality.
    If you must purchase a stand alone camera – you might want to do some research first.
    Happy Camping,
    Fred b.

  7. Harold on June 9th, 2010 1:03 am

    We take a ton of photos in our travels. We have a travel journal of our travels, and we have about 25 friends in our travel address book. Some of those friends are unable to travel anymore, and they tell me time and time again how much they enjoy our journal and all of the photos. That alone makes the effort of keeping the journal up well worth it. And I so enjoy sharing the sites of our travels with old friends. This summer we’re on an Alaska Adventure looking for and finding great fishing spots.

    Harold H

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