The weather is always a factor in life here, and there are some basic do’s and don’t’s for camera care. Never leave your camera and equipment in your car where components can overheat. Keep it with you, or store it in a cooler along with the water you should be carrying with you, anyway! Ziplock bags are always handy for storing the camera, especially in the case of sudden rain.
Please ask permission before taking photographs of local people. The colorful Maya clothing and beautiful children are tempting subjects, but please be respectful of their privacy and wishes.
Yucatán is known for its beautiful sunny skies, but shooting in intense sunlight can be difficult. Strong sunlight creates harsh shadows and contrasts, and washes out colors and textures. When taking photos mid-day, look for shady spots created by plants, terrace roofs, doorways, etc. A few hours after sunrise and before sunset will produce the best results.
A shot of our brilliant pink flamingoes is a must-have! There are many bird-watching towers on our coast, where you can get quite close to the flocks without disturbing them. Getting too close to a flock might cause them to fly off in a panic, potentially injuring themselves.
A great flamingo photography technique is to incorporate the reflections in the water. If the water is calm, a near-perfect reflection will result, creating a powerful symmetrical image. If you have the opportunity to take a mirror-image shot, take care in composing the picture. Be sure to include all of the reflection, and leave space around the central image to emphasize the picture. When the water is disturbed by wind or the movements of the birds, an asymmetrical, abstract image is formed. This can be a great way to bring life into the picture, and emphasize the magnificent color of the birds.
Background vegetation will also increase the quality of your photographs. The mangroves that harbor much of the flamingos’ food are a natural back-drop to the beauty of the birds.
As birds are always in motion, getting sharp images can be a challenge. If you don’t have a tripod, minimizing your own movements will help. When taking shots, keep your elbows tucked against your body, use a railing or your car as a tripod, and keep your footing steady.
Cameras are allowed in the archaeological zones, but video cameras are charged a small fee for use inside the parks. As mentioned above, the most striking shots of the pyramids are taken in the early morning or late afternoon, when the shadows highlight the carvings and weathered stones.
Mexico, like the rest of the world, is going digital. If you are using film, be sure to bring more than you think you’ll need, as it may be hard to find here, and expensive.
For photo developing and supplies, the Omega stores found around Mérida are excellent resources. For old photographs, used cameras, and personalized developing assistance, try the camera store on Calle 62 and Calle 57. For photography production services or location scouting, try Yucatan Productions at www.yucatanproductions.com
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