Here are a couple of essential points to consider when taking photos in Crete
Crete has beautiful landscapes and you will probably want to record some of them on your holiday. In general you will want to use a wide-angle lens in order to record a larger portion of the scene. It’s not always a case of ‘the wider the better’ but it is really nice to have the option to go wide.
If you are using a DSLR with interchangeable lenses it is up to you to buy a wide-angle lens (a zoom will be more flexible) if you think that you might need one. If you are using a compact camera the range of your lens will be determined by the camera you buy. Almost all compact cameras have a widest setting of 28mm (this is the 35mm film equivalent focal length – see the photo on the left to understand what it means in real life) which I personally find is not wide enough in a lot of situations. At the moment the only two quality compact cameras that I know of with a wider (24mm) focal length are the Panasonic LX5 (a brilliant little camera, I have one of those) and the Canon S100. If you need to upgrade a compact camera they are well worth looking at. The difference between 28 and 24mm might seem like splitting hair but it is a big difference (compare them in the photo)..
If you have a DSLR you will of course have the option to go wider. My widest focal length is currently 17mm (which I use on a full frame camera so it is a real 17mm, no multiplier factor). That’s technically an ultra wide angle and I often use it but be warned: because it pushes everything in the distance you will easily create photos that may have a lot of stuff in but it will all be far away and create a rather boring image.
The trick here is to include something in the foreground and also to make sure that you are holding your camera level (in order not to get too much distortion). See the comparison images on the left. Both images are a little boring because the weather is grey and the light is flat but the bottom image holds the attention a little longer because of the asphodels in the foreground.
Looking back at the landscape photos I take I’d say that I mainly use the range between 20 and 30mm. Of course it is very much down to your own taste.
Choose the right time of the day
On a cloudy winter day you could probably get decent light in your photos at any time of the day. In summer it’s a different story: for about 5 hours of the day the sun will be high up in the sky, sometimes almost vertical. During those hours the light from the sun is more direct and harsh, bleeding out colors and leaving images flat or blown out. Generally you want to avoid taking photos in the middle of the day. The best times for photographing are just after sunrise and before sunset. The light is more pleasing and generally easier to work with and those times of day have been given the name Golden Hour.
If you don’t have the choice (after all, you probably didn’t come on a photo trip and have other priorities) and you have to take photos in strong mid-day light it is best to underexpose your photos (generally by one stop but you need to experiment). If you don’t know how to underexpose (or bracket) on your camera, go read the manual.
Finally, remember these ISO settings….no need to go any higher than base ISO in bright sunlight.
To be continued …