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Photo of the Week: May 25, 2012

Editor's note: Today we are launching Y! Travel's "Photo of the Week," chosen from the Flickr group created by our readers - you! Each week a professional photographer will select a photo that stands out from the crowd, and explain why they chose it. To have your own photo considered, join our Flickr group and start submitting your own photos!

Many, years ago I was asked to be one of the judges of a beauty contest. I was young, loved looking at girls in bathing suits and gladly accepted. The night of the contest, however, I became quite uneasy with my responsibilities. Who was I to tell all but one girl, in twenty, that they weren’t worthy of being the queen? I found courage, cast my vote and was very grateful that there were two other judges.

That’s the way I feel about being asked to choose the best image for this week’s Yahoo Travel Photo of The Week. There were so many beautiful images, but I am allowed to choose only one.

As I write this there are three images left on my screen; three out of the hundreds I viewed. There’s a llama, a beautiful little Balinese girl, and a seaside cave. I want you to be with me as I make my final decision; I think it will be instructive.

The lama stands on high ground overlooking Machu Picchu, high in the Andes Mountains. It is looking into the camera, as if to say: “This is my home, isn’t it beautiful?”

The little girl is presented in profile, from her shoulder up, her face has been painted in traditional Balinese fashion; she looks like a little doll. Facing the girl is a woman who may have applied the paint; she is slightly out of focus and under-exposed, which is helpful to the image overall.

The seaside cave is the only one of the three that is composed vertically. The photographer has gone to the back of the cave, leaving a friend near the entrance; a large wave is breaking just yards away. The image is beautiful, but scary; it makes me feel concerned for the safety of the two intrepid visitors. Like the image of the little Balinese girl, the seaside cave is technically well executed and required some thought, before and after. The llama, however, was a moment. It is what it is: A llama welcoming us to its high altitude home.

Like any other endeavor, travel photography can be helped with pre-planning and what we call, “post production.” That being said, all the Photoshop, Lightroom, or whatever, can only, at best, enhance an image and, at worst, really distract from what was already there. Just because we can manipulate and image doesn’t mean we should.

The photographers who made the images of the little girl and the seaside cave each achieve something that could not have been done without the magic of digital capture and processing. El Llama? It says: “Mi casa is su casa, bienvenido.” With no help from technology, the photographer was given a moment, captured it and shared it with us. My compliments and sincere, thank you, to Brendan ó for: “I was here first,” my choice for Photo of The Week.

Tip of the Week
When you make your photos, keep in mind: Planning, i.e., time of day. When you compose an image, try to have something in the foreground; composition is crucial. Digital capture has a lot of latitude, but proper exposure if still very important.


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