You’ve gone as far as purchasing a bulky and expensive digital SLR camera, so might as well go the whole nine yards by learning how to use it. I, for one, am a camera junkie, but not until I realized that photos are much better if I knew how to use my camera for all its capabilities. Seems to be something that you’d know out of common sense, but I kid you not when I say that a lot of travelers still lug heavy DSLR cameras yet shoot only on “auto” mode.
For all I know, you could be that traveler. I see them everywhere, sometimes with expensive professional cameras I can only have and hold in my daydreams. For the love of Canon, please maximize your cameras. It isn’t that hard anyway. Here are some starter points:
Know how to use your camera. On MANUAL mode.
When you use your SLR camera on auto mode, it’s just like using any other type of point and shoot camera. If you’re not willing to invest time in learning how to shoot on Manual mode, then this is the part where I’d have to ask you to sell your SLR and bring a point and shoot camera the next time you travel. That should help you lessen the weight of your carry-on baggage, as all airlines, from Philippine Airlines to Cebu Pacific, naturally have weight limits for hand-carry items.
The manual mode of your SLR lets you take control of your gear. You get to decide the amount of light coming in; you get to decide how blurred the background of your subject will be. There are loads of cheat sheets and basic camera guides you can see in the Internet. Print out one of them and take it with you on your travel.
Get familiar with simple composition principles.
Composition rules will break your natural train of thought as you take photos. For instance, if you think that the best way to take a photo of somebody is to place them right smack in the middle of the frame, you are so wrong. You don’t want to waste a once in a lifetime moment (say, seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time) by taking an unattractive, poorly taken photograph! It’s time to move your subject a little bit to the left or to the right.
There are loads of other composition basics you can easily master with some practice days/weeks/months before your trip. If you will only start learning how to use your camera on the day of your trip, you’d end up a frustrated amateur photographer rather than being a happy traveler who knows how to take good photos. Read up and give photography the interest that it deserves, so that you can have a trip worthy of your DSLR, and a DSLR worthy of yourself.