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IMG_1095I just got back from Imaging USA in Nashville and had a great time with my wife Lynn who accompanying me for the first time. We started out staying downtown for the first two nights and where able to hear some great music at quite a few Honky Tonks. I decided to only bring my Sony a7r camera with one lens, the 24-70mm. I took this camera because of its size and I really wanted to work with it, it worked great.

Then it was on to Imaging USA and where I was up for an IPC Grand Imaging Award. The past two years I took 1st and 2nd and this year I did not. I am still one of the Top Ten Commercial images this year; I will have to work harder for next year. It was great connected with my friend from my Grand Rapids Junior Collage days Ruth and another friend from Photoshop World that I had not seen for many years Cheryl Mcnabb.

I was also there to receive my “Master of Photography” degree form PPA. This is one of the greatest honors I have been a part of and I had my wife placing the ribbon and medallion around my neck. I would like to thank all the people that have helped me get to this place and hope I can help others do the same.

Here some images form Nashville:

When you are taking photographs in any location that is popular you will be encountering large groups of tourist. There are a few ways to remove them from you image, one is to wait and hope you get a break from the hordes of people that are around. Another way is to be there when the tourist are not, this means late at night or before they are up in the mourning. The way I am going to show you is to use a tripod and photograph many photos and then remove the people in Photoshop.

Takeing People out from Randy Van Duinen on Vimeo.


One of the important aspects of travel photography is to capture the feeling or essence of the place. I am known for my architectural photography so when I’m out I am usually focusing on either architecture or landscape, but to really get feel for an area or place I believe you also have to photograph people in their surroundings. Sometimes I do this by asking someone if I can take the photograph, and in other cases it’s just capturing people in their daily lives.

In Italy it seemed that I was trying to capture people in their everyday lives, this meant with them not realizing I was taking the photograph. These candid shots should show emotion, tell a story and give a feeling of there surroundings. One of the things that I noticed in Italy was the Roma people and how they would beg for money. I have this one shot of a Roma woman kneeling down in front of a tin can, but you’ll notice she is peaking out and taking a look at me as I walk away.


There are street performers at every tourist location I believe you need to photograph them and capture the emotion of what they’re doing. The street performer in Siena was really working the crowd and I think this photograph really shows emotion that is as he plays the violin.


Another shot that I really like is photographed from the top of the bell tower in Venice looking down onto St. Mark’s Square. This is a shot of people in their everyday lives shot from a unique angle that I think makes a very strong statement.


Don’t forget you can also photograph the tourist photos of your wife or loved ones and have them become part of the story. This is a shot of my wife in Venice as she was waiting for me because I was photographing. I have a very understanding wife as she stood around quite a bit in Italy.


Sometimes it takes a little planning to get a good candid shot. In this case I noticed all these people walking into a church and as I was getting a little thirsty and needed a glass of wine, so my wife and I decided to sit at a little café right across the street, where it positioned myself so I could catch some of the patrons as they walked out with this wall right behind them.


Some of the best photographs are the ones where you’re at the right place at the right time. The photograph of the two young priests sitting in having a conversation was only there for a second before they both got up and left. Finding this little elderly Italian lady walking down this alley with an older gentleman watering his flowers cannot be planned, but I’m glad I was there to take these photograph.


As you can see even someone who doesn’t usually have people in their photographs, with a little luck and little planning, can take some good travel photographs with people in them.

If you want to get everything in focus, but you can’t in one shot this video will show how put together two or more images that are photographed at different focus planes to make one images with everything sharp from front to back. The first example was taken out west near Page, AZ and is a simple example to put together. The second example is from the bell tower in Florence, Italy and is a little more difficult with a few more steps to put together.

Hyper focus from Randy Van Duinen on Vimeo.

1383-0041Last year my wife and I went to Italy for a 25th anniversary. It was the first time for both of us and my wife knew that I would be photographing quite a bit. My wife is wonderful and understanding, as we have an agreement that I can go out early in the morning and photograph whatever I want while she is asleep in her bed and then we can meet for breakfast. This worked out quite well as I shot over 21,000 images, but of course a lot of those were HDR.

As this was our first time in Italy and we were traveling to many different cities, I needed to research different places to photograph and get some ideas of where and when would be the best times to photograph. I have been asked by many people how I knew where I want to go and where did I find information on these places to photograph. This brings me to a great point when traveling to new places that you have not been to and where to start researching for places or ideas you would want to shoot.

1413-0016My first place to start is a website called 500px. This website has some of the best of the best images, it is a high end Flickr and the places I start when I’m going to go to a new place. Sometimes it will give you the city and the location of where the photograph was taken, but a lot of times it will not and you have to do a little bit more research to find out exactly where it is. So my next place to go on the web is Google images. Here you’ll have to go through a lot of bad and vacation photography, but in the end you will find some great locations with a lot more information of where they’re at and how to get there.

1378-0536As I was searching for places in Italy I found a video by some college students who had traveled around the Chianti area near Siena and it showed this winery with great architecture. Now, as some of you know, I am a wine lover, but the architecture at this winery was incredible and as soon as I showed this video to my wife we went online and booked a tour of this winery. I a lot more images to go through but here are two from them winery.

1392-03161392-0895Another image that I wanted to photograph was of the double helix stairway in the Vatican Museum. There are many photographs of it, but most have a lot of people walking through it and as you cannot use a tripod inside the museum it would be hard to remove people out in Photoshop. I did my research and found that there was an early tour that would get me into the museum at 7:30 AM, well before the public would be allowed in. we where able to get into the Sistine Chapel before there were lots of people, but it also allowed me to get to the stairwell just as the museum opened and I was able to photograph it without anyone around.

1416-0287Another great resource for travel that will also give you some photography ideas is Rick Steves. He has a show on PBS and travels the world with quite a lot of information and he goes to unique spots that are out of the way that have great photographic potential and he’ll give you some great travel tips in the process to.

Hope this helps you get some great pictures the next time you’re out traveling around. Look for more on Italy to come.


  • Elaine Larimer - Great advise, thanks Randy! Beautiful shots too!