How Pinterest Has Ruined Travel Photography

Screen Shot 2017-12-21 at 10.25.20 AM
Pinterest sent me this promo today.  Here’s why I’m screaming at the computer screen.

 

I got this promo from Pinterest today.  Photos like these are ruining travel photography and Pinterest is to blame — or maybe the readers of Pinterest are to blame.

Notice the young lady mugging for the camera in the promo for Barcelona?  She is sitting on a bench in Park Güell in Barcelona.  I suspect there are fifty other tourists around her trying to get the exact same shot with their cell phones.

I suspect there is a tourist on her right that is trying desperately to get the same photo.   Some tourists bring shopping bags or small suitcase so they can change clothes in each photo.  Selfie sticks cross and get in the way as people jostle for the same spot.

Ten years ago, photographers would have been lined up at this same location in Park Güell.  They wanted a photo of the undulating benches made by Gaudi with the park below and Barcelona on the distance.  The photographers would have stood at a distance so all the elements were in the frame.  Traveling companions would have wandered around the huge square looking at the scene and exploring.

The Park Güell, gardens, Carmel Hill,  Barcelona, Catalonia.
Group gathered around one of the famous fountains at Park Guell in Barcelona.

Today, everyone is a photographer and everyone has a camera.  Today, everyone with a cell phone has to sit or stand in “the spot” to get a selfie.  Then they get up, let their friend sit down and take a selfie, then both pose for a selfie, then they change clothes, sit down again to pose, then change pose . . . you get the picture.

In October I led a photo tour to Spain.  We visited Seville, Cordoba, Granada, and Barcelona.  The photo opportunities were amazing and we had so much fun.

The Park Güell, gardens, Carmel Hill,  Barcelona, Catalonia.
Me on one of the benches at the Park Guell

I never got a photo of the lovely undulating benches at Park Güell because the benches were lined with tourists taking selfies.  People were not photographing the benches made by Gaudi in the 1900s.  People were photographing themselves sitting on the benches made by Gaudi.

Scroll up and look at the Pinterest photo of the lady standing on the Parasol in Seville.  Such an amazing public art installation in the heart of Seville.  Thanks to photos like the one you see above, the place where that lady stands is now “the spot.”  Tourists will line-up to stand in that exact location, mug for the camera, smile, duck-lips, peace signs with the hands, change clothes, stand with their friends, etc.

I’ve seen these same thing happen all over the world.  At Machu Picchu it is nearly impossible to get the iconic photo of the ruins because people are lined up taking selfies with the ruins in the background.  A group of 10-15 friends arrive and then stand in the same location for a half hour while each is photographed individually, then in small groups, then in larger groups, then with another camera.

At Angkor Watt in Cambodia people stand around the lovely courtyards to take selfies.  Then they change clothes, rearrange the group, change cameras, etc.  The more people move into the courtyards and repeat the process for the next 15 or 20 minutes.  They are not viewing the magnificent ancient architecture — they are photographing themselves in the ancient structure.

Tourists, sunrise, Angkor Wat, cambodia, crowds.
Crowd gathered to view the sunrise at Angkor Watt in Cambodia.  The pushing and shoving is something to experience.  People will push in front of you unless you are standing right along the water.  

The views of lovely blue domed churches in Santorini have been blocked by the hordes of tourists.  People perch on white walls and angle to get their selfie with the blue domes in the background.  Then they hand their camera to their friend and the friend tries to get “the shot.”  Twenty minutes later that group moves and another gets into position.

Photography changes and it has changed now that everyone has a camera.  I do miss the days, though, when people were more interested in the location than themselves in the location.

 

Vacation Photography — Remove All Those Tourists — Well, maybe

Some say that HDR, or high-dynamic range, is a great way to remove tourists from our photos taken in busy vacation locations.  Well, maybe sometimes.

First some explanations.  HDR is high-dynamic range photography.  Our eye sees 22-stops of light but the camera can capture about 5-stops.  HDR images allow us to photograph details in the shadows while still maintaining details in the highlights.

To create a HDR photo, we take 2 or more photos from the same location and vary the exposure.  The examples below have been created from seven photos.  The exposures range from balanced light meter to -3-stops all the way to +3-stops.

HDR software has an option to deghost or remove people.  Deghosting removes people from the final photo if those people didn’t appear in the same spot in all the photos.  There’s usually a scale so we can vary the intensity of deghosting.  I’ve set the deghosting to maximum on each image.

You see that people are still in my photo of the busy street in San Gimignano, Italy.  The only person who stood still through all seven photos was the man in the gray windbreaker on the left.  Everyone else moved.  The lady in the orange coat walked straight at the camera through all seven photos.  The man with the umbrella walked across the scene from right to left.

In conclusion, the crowded street is still crowded with people.  The different software, though, handled processing in a variety of ways.

 

San Gimignano Italy KAC5699_HDR_aurora
This is an HDR image created with Macphun’s Aurora HDR software.
San Gimignano Italy KAC5699_HDR_nik
This is an HDR image created from the same files but processed with Nik’s  HDR Efex software.  Notice that there’s a half person on the left and two half people on the right.  We call these “ghosts.”  All of the HDR software offer a deghosting option.
San Gimignano Italy KAC5699-HDR_PS
Same files processed in Photoshop’s Adobe Camera Raw HDR feature.  Notice there is no ghosting.  The man with the umbrella in the center of the photo doesn’t appear in that location in any of the other examples.

Here are the seven photos used to build these HDR photos.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.