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Justine Seligson

Learn to Shoot: Nat Geo Student Expeditions

Justine Seligson, a teen travel columnist, shares some photography tips she picked up while participating in the National Geographic Student Expeditions trip to Bar Harbor, Maine earlier this summer.

Focusing in on Bar Harbor

I never knew how physical photography was. Before I joined the National Geographic Student Expedition in Bar Harbor, Maine, I took most of my photos at eye level. Now I find myself crouching, lying down in the dirt, extending my body over ledges and practically getting in yoga positions to snag the perfect shots. This is just one of the things I learned from the professional photographers that joined us on the ten-day trip. Here are some others:

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Justine Seligson

Shoot All Angles. In order to get the best photograph possible, take as many angles of a scene or an object, as possible. I took more than a dozen photographs of this gangplank photo from the side, by standing on my toes, and for this one (right), practically lying on my stomach.

Take Risks. You often hear not to shoot into the sun because you’ll get silhouettes. But many pictures shot in the sun turn out to be very interesting.

Experiment with Shutter Speeds. Take a shot of a scene or an object or person at various settings and compare the results.

Be Patient. You might think standing in a parking lot is boring, but you never know what might suddenly present itself as a photo opp. A good photographer waits for opportunities to unfold and also finds photos in what others might consider mundane scenes. We were just waiting for the group to assemble when I spotted this railing in the rain (top).

Chase Down Great Shots. Getting up at 4 a.m. may not be fun, but you may get some really special shots. For us, this meant catching seals slumbering on rocks in the bay and getting the first glimpse of the sunrise from the top of Cadillac Mountain.

Look for Alternatives to Tripods. Dragging around a tripod can be cumbersome. An excellent substitute could be a stationary object like a ledge or a fence.

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Always Take Along Your Camera. Even if you’re just running a few errands, bring your camera with you. You can never predict when a photo opp will present itself. I grabbed this night shot when we were going out to dinner.

Read Justine’s column about the ten-day program at National Geographic Student Expeditions is a program for high school students which invites the next generation of explorers to get out in the field and follow in the footsteps of Nat Geo photographers, writers, and scientists. Learn more.