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Planning and Research for the Trip Ahead - Continued (#2)


Sunrise over the Sai Gon River in Ho Chi Minh City

This is the second article in a series about Planning and Researching for future travels.  Click here to see the first article.

So . . . You have scheduled a trip or are about to.  What happens if it’s not solely a “Photography Excursion”.  Maybe it’s like mine or maybe your spouse or family have set this up and so you have to work around the schedule and locations that they are selecting.

In my case it was an escorted tour and I was fortunate enough to have a few months in advance to do the research.  Of course the tour company had a pretty detailed itinerary of what days in what cities and the places they would be taking us.  They also had good details on the optional tours as far as how long they would be and where they would take you and the costs.  Though exact times of when a tour left the hotel, etc. were not available it usually gave us an idea of whether it was morning or afternoon and how many hours. 

The first thing I did was create a spreadsheet by date detailing  as best I could figure out from the information available where I would be and when.  Within each day I broke it down to “Early morning” which I translated as before breakfast; then “Morning”, which meant between breakfast and lunch, “Afternoon”, I think you get the drift, and then “Evening”.  Even though the information I had on the daily itinerary was not precise as to times, I anticipated that the day would probably not start too early  nor run too late.  It turned out I was right and in our case, with very few exceptions, the tour company didn’t start anything before about 8:30 or 9 am and we were done by about 5 pm, optional tours included.   I even included the traveling to get there on my schedule with flight changes and so on.  I’ll explain why I felt that was important as we get into more detail later.

Any serious photographer knows, or will soon learn, that the most important time of the day for scenic photography is that special time before the sun actually rises and a short while afterwards  and then the same around the sunset, with the sunrise often being even more strategic than the sunset.  These times are commonly referred to the “Blue hour” (before the sun is visible in the morning and after it has set in the evening) and the “Golden hour” (shortly after the sun has risen and just before the sun has set).   Even though they are referred to as “hour” they can be much shorter than 60 minutes or in some cases even longer and are very dependent on many factors including latitude and date as well as weather.   I’ve heard more than one accomplished photographer say that if you expect to get wonderful scenery shots and you’re not willing to rise early you may be in the wrong business. 

With this in mind, after I had set up the spread sheet my next action was to go find out exactly when Sunrise and Sunset would be on the dates and in the locations where I would be.  Fortunately that information is very easy to find on the Internet and you can even get a pretty good guess as to the Blue hour and Golden Hour.    If you need further assistance with this leave a comment or use the contact widget to send me an email and I’ll be glad to help you out.

Depending on your photographic desires, you may also want to know what the moon will be doing on those dates. 

We’re getting warmed up now and the next few posts will go into even greater detail and hopefully give you some important tips and ideas.


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