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Travel Photography: Connecting People to Places


 I’m still thinking about the wonderful National Geographic/Lindblad  Expedition we went on last May/June to the Fjords of Norway and the Arctic Circle.

I’ve done posts on  the polar bear sightings,  the cod fishing towns and the absolutely stunningly beautiful, like makes you gasp, kind of scenery. Today I’d like to share the experience of having Jim Richardson on board.


Wow.  I loved that man.  He’s a marvelous National Geographic Photographer and a charming  person.  Friendly.  Patient.  Really a good guy.

He was on board to share his photo experiences, tips and help all of us photographer wannabees  shoot the wildlife, ice, water, glaciers and do this on a moving (vibrating) boat or while making our way across ice and snow.


He was wonderful.  How fun to share the experience. Trust me, I was watching what he shot and how he did it.










I’d like to share a couple of Jim’s tips from his photography lectures or on the expeditions ashore.

“When you get to a new destination go to a store and look at the post cards…. See what has been done to death and then challenge yourself to capture the scene in an original and creative way,” he said.  Here’s my attempt to capture the iconic Arctic Cathedral in Tromso.

What a great way to challenge your self to be better, to be more creative.  He also advised us to  avoid just standing in one spot and shooting what is in front of you.  Good photographers dance around the tulips is the phrase he used.

 And then there’s the light compensation meter.  Photographers might hoot, but there were a bunch of us who were clueless about this, even though we owned fancy SLR cameras.

There’s this great little button you can use to work with your exposure.  If I understand it correctly it really replaces the bracketing system that the shooters I worked with at the Grand Rapids Press followed.

Yes, I remember some of them, saying, “I think we’ve got some good shots here, Susan, just want to bracket to make sure.”

I’d nod as if I had some idea what they were talking about, but really…. clueless. .

Guess I have another crack at it.  If you are a Photographer Wannabe like me, get that manual out and learn about about your Exposure Compensation Button.

Jim gave us lots of tips  but  something that has really stuck with me is that he says he picks one thing at at time and works on it.  That there is so much to learn about photography and being a good photographer that the way to gain mastery is to take one concept or technique at a time and work on it.

He said he was currently working on Panorama photography. He takes lots of images of a scene all in a row and then stitching them together on software on his computer.  Cool.  He showed us some examples of what he was working on.

He suggested night photography or even as simple as just faces.

Being an obsessive over achiever I’m going to work on two things.  One is subject–capturing small children in ways that communicates their spirits and then there’s that exposure compensation button thing.  Going to master that.

Thanks, Jim.


Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.


  1. posted by
    Sep 18, 2012 Reply

    Really great tips, even for someone who’s NOT a photographer wannabe. His advice could apply to many circumstances: Don’t do something just because it’s always been done that way. Look at situations from different angles. And lastly, know your tools.
    Thanks Susan (and Jim, who seems completely charming, even though I’ve never met him!)

  2. posted by
    peggy depersia
    Sep 18, 2012 Reply

    So much to learn, so little time…..I always admire the way you go for it and this blog captures that. The end photo is delightful and playful and you’ve really captured that in the moment joy and fun that children pull off so effortlessly.

  3. posted by
    Sep 18, 2012 Reply

    Susan, these are wonderful photography tips, even valid for we “point and shoot” photo takers! Obviously Jim helped you…some of your Norway trip photos are some of your best. Thanks for sharing.

  4. posted by
    Sep 18, 2012 Reply

    Thanks for the great “tips”!! I think I can do one or two things at a time. And make it a focus. I like that. Pics just get better and better Susan – love the cathedral shot.

  5. posted by
    Sep 18, 2012 Reply

    PS love the pic of Madelyn!

  6. posted by
    Sep 19, 2012 Reply

    HI Susan,
    My husband and I were on this trip with you and I’ve just checked out your latest photos that you posted. It brought back such great memories. Thanks for taking the time to do this and refreshing my memories.
    Charlotte (Mike’s mom)

  7. posted by
    Franziska Iseli
    Sep 23, 2012 Reply

    Dear Susan

    I totally agree on your point of view about Jim. He is not only a great photographer and a great guy, he has great taste in Whisky, too :-).

    I learned a lot from Jim, too, especially that it takes a lot to be a really good photographer and you always have to be on the move to find the best spot at the best time.

    I think, that there are still situations when bracketing makes sense, mainly in very difficult situations and when you want to try for a HDR picture, but the constant use of the Exposure Compensation Button has really improved my photography.

    I still enjoy your Blog and even hope for more about our trip…


    • posted by
      Sep 23, 2012 Reply

      Hi Franziska,

      Thank you so much for your comments. Much appreciated.
      At this point I have done six posts about the Norway trip so unless I get really inspired and come up with another angle I’m probably going to move on to other topics. My goal is to post something every Monday or Tuesday or……stay tuned for new stuff.
      I really appreciate your loyal readership. If you didn’t catch all the posts on Norway, go back to the home page and scroll down to see the lead ins for each post .
      Hope our paths cross on the National Geographic Explorer some time.
      Hope you have safe and interesting travel, Susan

  8. posted by
    Sep 30, 2012 Reply

    The picture of Maddy is fascinating. I still am not sure how you achieved the bubble effect! I will try to “dance around the tulips” to get some fun pictures in Spain. Thanks for the tip!

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