One of the things I don’t like about travelling

I am not a normal photographer and I can admit that. One of the things that seems to set me apart is the fact that I don’t really like travelling.

I remember having a conversation with someone quite a few years ago and she was about to go travelling. She told me how she wanted to get a particular photo somewhere. I mean what she was hoping to get sounded amazing, but how realistic was it?

You can have all the great plans when you are travelling, but that doesn’t mean you will get the perfect conditions for the photos you want. So many things can go wrong and it is usually the weather that doesn’t cooperate.

I can remember that realisation when I first went to the USA in 2015. It was the trip of a lifetime and such an amazing opportunity, but I soon realised that I wasn’t really going to get the amazing photos I was hoping for. It just wasn’t going to be a photography trip. It was great for seeing things, but not necessarily an opportunity to get amazing photos.

Let’s look at some examples.

This is from the ghost town Bodie in California. We don’t have anything like this in Australia so it was incredible to go there.

For me the weather was terrible. It was a really hot day and there wasn’t a cloud to be seen anywhere. While many people might like conditions like this, I don’t. It was the worse time of the day to take photos and I always find light like this, it was September, is too harsh.

Here is another image.

I took lots of photos anyway, but they have always been disappointing to me because of the weather.

It was one of those things that there was no control over. Because I was travelling and this was the only day we could be there, we had to accept what it was.

After this, on the same day, we went to Mono Lake.

I’ve seen some really beautiful images of Mono Lake, but we were there in the afternoon and the light was the same as it was for Bodie.


The photos from there aren’t great. We were on our way to Yosemite and we didn’t have a lot of time to really explore and see the area.

I didn’t have a lot of control over the situation and what we saw. I don’t mean that in a bad way, just that I had to go with my friends and get what I could.

When you aren’t travelling with people who like to take photos as much as you do it is harder. I know that the best times for photos are first thing in the morning and early evening, but when you are seeing multiple things each day you can’t always do that.

It isn’t like I didn’t get some great images. There were some times that I got some great shots, here is one of them.

We did get up early in New York and I managed to get a sunrise with the Flatiron Building. That was a great morning.

I also loved this one that I got from the Staten Island Ferry.

I think when you travel you have to manage your expectations, as the saying goes. The reality is that people who get really amazing photos of places either live there, or travel there often, or they were very lucky.

I always loved this photo from New Zealand of the Wanaka Tree.

It was luck, basically. We were lucky that morning that we got some lovely conditions to take photos. It was very cold but worth it. We had been there the morning before and it was horrible.

The friend that I went to New Zealand with is into photography as well, so we planned lots, best times to photograph places. We worked out where we could the best locations to take the photos. Still, there were things out of our control. The weather, the tides, time, and so many things can go wrong.

The featured image at the top is the same.

So I don’t travel to get amazing photos. I hope I will get some, but I know that I will have to be very lucky to get some great shots. It is about seeing places, I suppose. Though, I don’t know that I will ever be a great traveller. I like being home too much, plus it is getting too expensive to travel now.

Do you like travelling? What about taking photos? Do you travel with ideas of what you hope to get?

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70 Comments

  1. i like to take road trips when i can, but flying anywhere and having to pack camera and computer gear is sooo tiring. a friend and i did a photo trip to hawaii aug/sept for 18 days in 2021. 4 islands, 6 airports, 5 rental cars, 7 different places we stayed.. i had to vacation when we returned home!
    as far as your pictures from bodie, i really like the photos you took. i understand your issue with the light, but i see a LOT of photos of bodie, and the light you have evokes the heat that those old gold and silver towns can feel in the summer. i also see a slot of mono lake photos, and with that, i completley agree, that midday is not the prettiest.

    1. I try to do road trips now too. I like that I don’t have to worry about how much gear I am taking. lol.
      Your trip to Hawaii sounds fantastic but also exhausting. I have a trip planned for next year, but we are taking a car with us.
      Now that you have said that about Bodie, I completely get what you are talking about. I should have thought of that. Thank you so much Wendy, great great point.
      Yeah, Mono Lake was a bust, but you can’t have everything. Thank you Wendy.

  2. Amazing post Leanne. I can see that travelling can be tiresome but it is a great way to unwind and take a break.

    I like to travel but due to financial issues that currently seems impossible. I also love taking pictures too.

    Have a great day my friend🙏🙏

    1. My idea of relaxing and taking a break is just around home and doing nothing, lol.
      I love taking photos where I live. I love the way you can plan and get the best shot. I don’t begrudge anyone travelling, if you like doing it then you should, but it isn’t really for me.
      Thank you so much, you have a good one too.

  3. I like taking sunrise and sunset photos in black and white. I only shoot black and white film because that’s what I feel comfortable developing. When you catch the light right it adds a certain mood to it. I understand that it’s not for everyone but a personal choice.

    1. Thank you Jennifer for explaining why you do them in black and white. It is good to hear. I never do film now, I did it for many years, but in the end I hated it. I love digital a lot more.

  4. It’s comforting to me to see someone else feel like this – I feel like I *should* travel all over the place for new creative experiences – I love to learn about different places, and dream of going to them. But the travelling part I find isn’t as enjoyable as it used to be, and also getting acclimatised can be quite a challenge to the kind of focus I need. I also think restriction can be very creative. I was unwell for a time and not able to travel far, and it ended up being a really creative time in some ways because I had to make do with what I had near to me. It’s amazing how subtly different a place can be day to day – many grains of sand to a beach etc!

    1. I know just what you mean Cath, I often feel like I should, but I just don’t want to. That is great to hear that the time you were unwell turned out to be a positive thing for you. I couldn’t agree more, I think if you want to get amazing photos the best chance you have is to take photos around you. You can take so many different ones and get so many different things. Thank you Cath.

  5. Unless it’s a trip dedicated to photography and planned around mornings/evenings, with carefully chosen locations, chances of taking worthy photographs are slim…I did a road trip in far north Scotland in 2018 and we had a week of abnormally sunny weather, great for driving and sightseeing but not so much for moody shots 🙂 I love visiting new places, whether close to home or further away and always take photos regardless of lighting conditions – I work with what I have. I guess it all comes down to whether you prioritise photography or travel, if it’s travel than photography just comes along…

    1. I have to say most of my trips are those photography trips and planned around those, but nature can still make it so hard. My trip to the US was a bit different. I like travelling with a couple of hours of my home, I like that I can go back over and over. You can’t do much else, but work with what you have I suppose. I prioritise photography, while I will go away, I don’t think I’m going to get some amazing photos, but I try. Thank you Kat.

  6. I find photography can often be disappointing. The good shots you have of your travels are really something though. Have you been to the ghost town of Steiglitz outside of Geelong? Victoria. There are still a few buildings left from the early goldmine days. It’s not as ‘wild west’ as the place you visited in America, but you might get a few good photos there. The bush around the buildings is strange too.

    1. They are really something, and very highly regarded, if that makes sense. Probably why some of my favourite shots are from trips, I know how hard it is to get them. I have been there, but not really sure about it. Thank you Suzanne.

    1. I didn’t get to any of those. I did get to the top of the Empire State Building, but I was limited with how much I saw. Still it was all great.

  7. I don’t like travelling either …… but I do like arriving! I’m not a particularly good photographer and often find an image doesn’t truly represent what I saw/perceived. Enter photo apps! Love your flatiron photo 👏👏🕉

    1. I like that about arriving. I don’t really like any of it, actually that’s not true, I like walking in my front door. Thank you.

  8. Ah, well, we do what we can with the conditions, and choose the sorts of things t,hat we can photograph in particular weather conditions

    1. That is all you really can do I guess Sue. I still photograph the things I want to take photos of, but I don’t get too bummed when the conditions aren’t great. Thank you Sue.

  9. I enjoy travelling and most of the photos I take are when travelling. But the photography is always secondary… I travel for the experience. I rarely bother with golden hour photography. Because I shoot primarily in black and white I look mostly for contrast and texture and I do a lot of street photography so again, perfect lighting isn’t so important.

    1. I suspect that is what you need to do Stuart. I try to make the trips about photography, so I want to go to places that I want to photograph, but I have to accept that I may not get that. That is an advantage with black and white photography. Sounds like you have worked out the best way to do it. Thank you Stuart.

  10. I love to travel but I agree with you completely. It can be difficult to get great photos on those trips. When I head out to familiar trails on my own, my chances of getting an image I truly enjoy are much higher. 😉

    1. I couldn’t agree more Pepper, I find the same thing. Some of my most favourite photos were taken here in Melbourne or places near the city. Places I can keep visiting. Thank you Pepper.

  11. A wise man once said you can find the universe in your backyard, a wise woman once said keep your camera handy you never know what’s around the corner. I’ve done a fair bit of moving in my younger years but no photography back then. There was no need to, my camera was my memory.

    Now I use my camera to explore my yard and express my feelings.

    I’m not at al sure that I could do my type of photography on a road trip.
    Brian

    1. I like exploring my yard too Brian, I think photographing where you live is a really good thing to do. Love being able to go back to places over and over.
      I find travelling a real challenge. Thank you Brian.

    1. Some of them I love, but I was disappointed with some. It was more than I couldn’t do what I wanted with them. Still great images for the memories. Thank you Therese.

  12. Yes indeed – I’m fairly sure that if I travelled hoping to photograph a specific thing I would fail – for all the reasons you have given. When I was in France recently I just pointed my camera at whatever took my fancy and hoped for the best!

    Your experienced at Mono Lake etc reminds me of mine at the Grand Canyon. The light simply wasn’t right.

    1. I think most of us would fail with that. Sounds like the trip to France would have been fun like that too.
      It is pretty frustrating when you go somewhere amazing and then you get there and the light is just not that good. Thank you.

  13. I fully agree, we dream of ideal situations, certainly when we travel, but it seldom happens like in our dreams…
    Most of the time we must do with what we get. That’s why I try not to travel with high expectations. The same goes for all my other photographic explorations.

    1. So true, it really does happen seldomly. I think it is a good idea to travel like that, great if you get some great photos, but not too disappointing if you don’t. I like photographing at home because there is more chance of going to places over and over. Thank you Rudi.

  14. We don’t travel very much and usually when we do my focus is not on taking pictures but enjoying the experience (although like you I look for things I wouldn’t normally see in my every day life). I do love trying to find new things to photograph at home, and new ways to photograph what I have already shot. Always lots close to home!

    1. Sounds like a good way to be when you travel. I am the same about home, I always think the best photos you are going to get will be at home. You have a lot more control over things. Thank you.

  15. Leanne, You’ve touched on a few pitfalls with travel and photography. Success often depends on luck with the weather, time of day you arrive at a spot, and how much time you can spend. You didn’t include any of Yosemite, one of my favorites. Great shot of the Flatiron and I love your take on the Wanaka Tree. The Flatiron was completely covered in scaffolding when I shot it a couple weeks ago, as luck, or no luck would have it. 🙂

    1. So true, there is a lot of luck with travel photography. The amount of time spent there is very important too. Maybe I will try and post some of my Yosemite photos on Sunday if you like. I was really happy with my Flatiron photos, we spend a good amount of time there very early. The Wanaka tree was really good, the second morning we went. I hate that when it happens, it would be like going to the 12 Apostles right now and the first two are close off because they are building a new viewing platform. It doesn’t always go the way you want. When I was in New York the main reading room in the library was closed, I was really disappointed with that. Thank you Jane.

  16. I love traveling to new places, but I agree that it’s challenging to travel for photography. I also dislike the actual travel part, airports and cramped airplane seats. But seeing new destinations and experiencing new cultures and food is great and I’ll keep going until I can’t any longer, even if I don’t get the dream photos!
    Great post!

    1. I am a bit the same, I hate travelling, the actual travel bit, like you said. I hate sitting still for that long. I miss home too much, which is probably why I only go for shortish trips. I think going away and hoping you get a couple of good ones is a good plan. Thank you Alicia.

  17. As you say, Leanne, the light is very bright or harsh here in the deserts which I love. No gray sky like Michigan! I’m surprised that the Flatiron building is still standing!

    1. We get the same light here in summer. You don’t take photos in the middle of the day here in summer, but in winter you can take photos all day long. We are getting lots of grey skies at the moment, though this week we have been seeing a lot more of the sun. Why are you suprised John? Thank you.

  18. Oh my! That top photo of the tree…the fog…the mountains in the background. Perfection! I do love to travel and if I can get a few good shots to remind me of my trip, that’s wonderful. These are all beautiful captures. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you, I was lucky with that one, though if I’m truthful it is actually two photos. That’s great that you love to travel, I think I’m in the minority with that. It is good when you can get some good photos. YOu’re welcome.

  19. I agree with you. The only time dedicated to photography on my Australia trip was when I was with you. After that, it truly wasn’t my trip. Even at home, we do photography when we can, good lighting or bad, good weather or bad. If I was younger, I’d plan trips, scope out areas, get up early, stay up late, etc. Oh well!!

    1. And you were lucky in that I knew the area and had a good idea of where to go and when to take photos. We all need to visit an area and have someone like that with us. I get what you mean about whose trip it is. When I go out with some friends we do that too, but you always know that you can go back if it seems like it would be worth it. Thank you Anne.

  20. This is very true! My first trip to Hong Kong (4 days) ended with all rainy/super cloudy. Been there 5 more times since then (all 4-5 days per trip), but I’ve only got a few favourite photos from there. Now planning to live there for 3 months after retiring to shoot & shoot! 📸

    1. I’m sure living there will make a massive difference, you can go out when you want to. Lots of time. It is so terrible when you plan a trip and all you get is rain, I’ve had that happen to me. Thank you Joey.

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