Anywhere in the world you travel, you’ll come across a crowd. They are at every major tourist attraction with their cameras in hand, clicking away trying to make postcard-perfect photos. What few of them realize is, they are not making best use of the available light and when they get home from their trip and view their snapshots, they’ll be horribly disappointed with the under, or overexposed shots they created.
This is a photo of what is probably the most visited attraction on Okinawa, the main gate to Shuri Castle. Millions of visitors pass through this gate after stopping right in front of it to take photos. The black rectangle, between the double-roofed gate contains Kanji characters and most tourists are trying to capture the writing, as well as, the scenery around the castle. In the early morning, without a powerful external flash, what they are trying to do is photographically impossible! It’s a good idea to watch what the tourists are doing and shoot from the exact opposite direction, sometimes. I always try to make the best use of natural lighting, paying particular attention to the direction of the sun and the shadows it creates. The best lighting for scenery and landscapes, I think, is coming from the side of a subject at a 45-85 Degree angle.
In this photo, I’d recommend late afternoon sun to capture the gate and Kanji characters on the sign. Another option would be to go there at night and see if the site is lighted with floodlights, which would make the Kanji characters stand-out from the background. I was pleased with this version of the photo and took several with no tourists in the scene for my personal collection. Next time you travel, remember, shoot the attractions from different directions once in awhile and you may come home with some unique and rewarding photos! Until next time, Happy Shooting!
A wildlife photographer livning in Okinawa, Japan, Mike has been featured in Matador Abroad and is published in Apogee Photo Magazine, Boots N all, The Nihon Sun and Photo Guide Japan. He has recently joined the ranks of travel writers, capturing Nature, Festivals, Castles and Cultural shots of the Ryukyu Islands to share with the world.