How to photograph .....
Ask first, if you can (see is
If you have a camera with a zoom or a changeable lens, be careful
about the 'focal length' (amount of zoom) you choose.
are measured by their 'focal length'. Focal length is measured
in millimetres (mm). On a 35mm Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera
(the sort generally used by outdoor professional photographers)
a lens with a focal length of 50mm is the standard and gives
roughly the same magnification as a human eye. Any lens with
a focal length less than 50mm is a called a 'wide-angle' lens
and will fit more in the picture than you could normally see
at once without moving your eyes. Anything over 50mm is 'telephoto'
and will have the effect of magnifying the image, or bringing
it closer to you. A 100mm lens would give you 2 times magnification,
so the subject would look twice as big or half as far away.
A 300mm lens is 6 times the standard lens (50x6=300) so it
would be like taking a photo through binoculars with 6 times
If you get too close and use a wide angle lens (a lower focal length
than standard - say 28mm) the face will appear as if it is reflected
in fatty mirror. The features will be exaggerated, the nose will
look too long and so on. If you use a wide angle lens from further
away the effect will not be as bad but the subject will only take
up a small part of the total picture.
At the other extreme, a telephoto lens (a focal length more than
50mm) flattens features and shortens the nose. Professional portrait
photographers usually use a lens with a focal length between 80 and
135mm. With this kind of lens you can get the flattering effects
of a telephoto lens without having to move too
far back from the subject.
Of course, we are not looking to take cover-page photos, so let's
not be too fussy, but the moral is that if you want the child on
the west bank to look in your photo the way they looked when they
tried to sell you a carving, don't get too close and if you have
a zoom, leave the setting just above the standard.
Luxor is a very busy place. There are photogenic buildings, but in
many cases you can't get far enough away from them to take a picture
of the whole building with a standard lens. Luxor temple is a case
in point. Taking parts of it are not difficult from various parts
of the Corniche, but to take a picture of the whole of it is only
possible from somewhere in the middle of the Nile or from the opposite
bank. To take a picture of a substantial part of the temple frontage
from the East Bank will need a wide-angle lens or a compact camera
that zooms to a lower focal length than the standard.
From a cruise boat
Most of the pictures will be to one or other of the banks of the
Nile. Even when the ship is close to a bank, it is still far enough away for any subject the size of a person to appear very small in the picture if you use a standard lens.
By and large, a telephoto lens, or a camera with a built-in zoom,
will be needed if you want pictures of people doing their laundry
or washing their cooking pots in the Nile. Pictures of buildings
along the Nile will also fill more of the frame if you use a telephoto
lens. A zoom lens with a magnification from around 1.5 up to 6 (such
as a 75mm - 300mm on a SLR camera) will be fine for most situations,
but even then the people in the pictures will not fill the frame.
When to take the photos
The normal advice when taking photos of people is to have the sun
behind the photographer. This shines light on the face of the subject
so you get more detail and colour in the picture. However, in Luxor
the sun is very bright almost all the time, so it is difficult
for the subject to stand in sunlight without squinting.
An alternative is to move away from direct sunlight and to use 'fill-in
flash'. This avoids the squinting problem and lightens the shadows
that you would otherwise get, especially in the eye sockets and other
areas where there would otherwise be shadow.
flash provides a measured amount of light - less than a normal
full camera flash. The amount of flash will match the amount
of surrounding light. It is not as harsh as full flash. Most
cameras, including compacts and digital cameras, have a fill-in
Buildings don't squint, but they still suffer from harsh shadow.
It is usually best to avoid the middle of the day when the sun is
high and the shadows are very strong.
In the early morning and later in the afternoon, the colour of the
light is usually more flattering to the building and there will be
more natural rather than shadow detail.
If you know something
we don't, please use a feedback form
to share it with us.