More tips on travel photography, with photos from Istanbul

Recently I was able to spend a couple weeks in Istanbul, Turkey and also some time over on the Aegean countryside. When I travel, rather than taking a vacation from photography I probably shoot more pictures on a daily basis than I do when I'm here in the U.S. In these photos I try to offer a little bit of explanation of how to get the most from your camera when you're on the road.

I should confess that I probably make it harder on the people who travel with me because I try to time some of my visits to popular spots by when I think the light will be nice, like in the late afternoon. But one big factor that helps that is that my wife and I often travel in the late fall, winter or early spring. This helps us avoid the crowds of tourists that pack the popular sites in the warmer months, and it also means that I usually have better light almost all day. The sun rises later, stays a little lower in the sky, and sets earlier. Sure, I have to wear a heavier jacket, but that's a small price to pay for having such nice shooting conditions. And it gives me extra pockets in which to stuff camera gear.

This photo was taken just after 5 p.m. when the combination of sunset and city lights came together. Most of these photos have some additional explanation in them if you click on the image.
I love using shadows and interesting patterns in photos to set off the main subject. And sometimes the pattern itself is an interesting scene, as in the photo below of the hanging lamps in the Hagia Sophia.

Sultanimiye mosque, which I think is the prettiest in Istanbul. Because we're not there in the peak tourist season, the place is relatively empty, and quite peaceful, adding to its beauty.

Look for opportunities to make nice detail photographs in markets and along the streets. I think one of the reasons people like to travel is to see the sort of scenes we don't get at home, wherever that is.

Shooting in to the sun is one of my favorite ways to add some depth and texture to photos, as in these photos from Priene, above, and Lake Bafa, below.

 Again, shooting in to the sun, but letting the structure clip most of it, gives a sense of depth and drama.

 Photography is inherently a two-dimensional medium. The places we see have not just width and height but also depth. Add to that other sensations like smells and sounds and the wind chilling you down to the bone, and you see why most photos don't do a great job of demonstrating the experience of what it was like to be there. This ancient Roman stadium at Aphrodisias, above, was so large that I don't think there would really be any way to properly show what an amazing space it was. It's three football fields long. Even though there are two people in this photo, way down on the field, this is a case where a few more would have helped give some sense of scale.
 In this photo, having just one person actually highlights the scale of the museum display, giving a feeling of how expansive this collection of friezes is in the museum at Aphrodisias.
 This photo of the densely-packed city of Istanbul is inherently "flat," but there is so much visual data in it that it achieves a sense of space and size. You can almost feel what it might be like to live in one of the thousands of rooms whose windows you are peering at.
 Again, dusk is one of my favorite times to shoot, when buildings like this fountain outside Tapkapi museum are light up and you get just a bit of dark blue in the sky. The couple holding hands in the foreground gives a sense of the size of this structure that wouldn't be there otherwise.
 In any city that's hundreds of years old you're going to find lots of places where the ancient and the new come together in interesting juxtaposition. The old fire tower on the campus of Istanbul University is reflected in a modern office building.
 In any town I visit, I try to go see the traditional markets, and I love looking at cemeteries.

 Pedestrians aren't wearing enough hats, our research has shown.
In the photo above a person would have helped show how very steep this street is. But the only person out was an old woman furiously chopping up a piece of furniture with an ax. The way she was banging on it, I figured it was best not to disturb her. In fact, I gave her a wide berth.
Here again, the organic forms of the people accent the regular, straight forms of the architecture.

In the Museum of Archeology, the signs don't lie! I was very amused by the document below, more than 3500 years old, saying that "Inanma prefers the farmer." Sorry, dude.

 Look for ways to shoot from different angles. From ground level, this "graveyard" of old Roman column parts didn't look nearly as interesting as it did from above on the palace walls.
 Using the giant doorway at Tapkapi museum to frame the Sultanahmet mosque.
 Keep an eye out for interesting patterns even in places you might not think of as picturesque. Above, a series of flagpoles seen at the domestic terminal dropoff area at Ataturk Airport.
 Mosaic in an excavation going on at Ephesus. This sort of work always amazes me.
 I'm not sure that I succeeded here in showing the scale. The tablet at left: maybe 3 feet high. The building front at right: around five stories high. But I do think you get a sense of texture and maybe a small feel of what it might have been like walking around Ephesus in its heyday.
 Interesting details that add to any trip. When was the last time you saw a "Stray" or "Fringe" bar in your local candy aisle?
 Without the young man standing on top of these columns, it would be hard to get a feel for how massive they are. Each section is probably 4-5 feet in diameter.
 Once the main entrance street to Hierapolis at Pamukkale, deserted now for hundreds of years.
I shot this photo from the car driving us to the airport on our last morning. Admittedly, a happy accident. I was trying to show the boats and the sunrise over the Sea of Marmara. But this demonstrates a maxim of mine: shoot, shoot, shoot. Always keep your camera ready for the next scene that you might encounter. If you do, you'll end up with travel photos that take you where the postcards and guidebooks can't.

You can see a few more of my Turkey photos at my Thomas Graves Photography page on Facebook.

A bit of technical information: these photo were made with either a Nikon D5100 or a Nikon P7100. For the D5100, I use either the 12-24mm Nikon zoom or the 28-300mm zoom. And though I love lighting pictures whenever I can, I don't generally carry a flash when I travel. So these are all ambient light. I shoot in raw mode, then convert to DNG and handle the images in Adobe Lightroom.