Taking photos during your holiday in Crete (Part 2)

Here are a  couple of essential points to consider when taking photos in Crete

Go wide!

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.

Wide-angle focal length comparison

Comparing the field of view of 17mm, 20mm, 24mm, 28mm, 35mm and 50mm lenses on a full format DSLR

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)..

Wide-angle image with and without foreground

Wide-angle (24mm) image with and without foreground

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 …

6 Responses to Taking photos during your holiday in Crete (Part 2)

  1. Peter Ward says:

    I very much admire your mountain shots and wonder what camera you use? I am currently using a Nikon D300 but it is a heavy piece of equipment to climb with and it is tempting to compromise on more essential equipment to reduce pack weight – or maybe I am just getting older!

    • Jean says:

      I’ve used a Nikon D700 for the last 3 years, Most lenses that I take with me are pro grade (so not light). Often also a Carbon fibre tripod with Arca Swiss ballhead. And that’s only for the simple stuff when I know that I won’t use flash(es). And yes it weighs a lot. There are more and more alternatives with decent quality but the problem is that they just don’t reach my quality standard so whist I keep buying them I end up using them very little (such as the excellent Panasonic LX5).

  2. PeterS says:

    In the present situation in Greece wouldn’t you think that walking around with a big DSLR and a couple of lenses in a bag could be seen as provocative by people who barely can make ends meet (and perhaps attract thieves)? I have the feeling a small unobtrusive compact camera might be less problematic to bring on a trip to Crete. Just a thought.

    • Jean says:

      I suppose that this could apply to some high crime areas in Athens. I’d certainly never see it as a problem in Crete.

      • Caroline Burley says:

        I recently came back from two weeks in Crete where I had a rucksack full of very valuable photographic gear. There was one incident where I felt a bit uneasy, but in those situations, you just have to make sure common sense prevails. I certainly felt I was in no more danger in Crete than I would have done in the UK. I hope this helps.

    • Rafal says:

      Just remember, that pure economical situation doesn’t makes thieves. It depends on someones character and upgrowing. Everywhere an the world You’ll find cheaters and honest people. When I was in Crete I’ve found more the second types, so common sense will do as a precaution 🙂
      And from the other hand, there are so many so great views that You might regret taking only simple compact camera. 🙂

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