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Creating a Travel Journal
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Creating a Travel Journal

The pictures you take on a trip should add up to more than a hard drive full of random glimpses of a place. They should incorporate, if not a formal storyline, at least a certain continuity or chronological progression. Any journey has a start, a middle, and a finish; whether you arrange your pictures in a printed album, an online gallery, or a digital slide show, they will be more meaningful to you (and less sleep-inducing to others) if they exist in some type of organized form.

One of the great things about digital photography is that as you expose each picture, the camera records what's called "EXIF" data along with the picture that includes things like the date it was shot, what camera and lens you were using, and what exposure modes and settings you used. You don't have to do a thing to record the EXIF data, it's recorded automatically and can be viewed in any photo-editing program. This information can be a huge help when it comes to organizing your digital photos because the dates and times that you shot the photos are recorded for you.

In addition, there are a number of excellent organizational programs for digital images that let you organize, categorize and keyword your photos so that you can store and locate all of your digital files in a computer without losing track of them. One excellent organizational program is Google's Picassa, and you can download it for free at www.picasa.google.com. Many digital cameras also come with a basic organizational program. However you choose to file your images, it's important that you start your system as soon as you begin shooting digitally. Keep this in mind: If you shoot just 20 new photos a week, you'll end your year with more than a thousand digital files—that's a lot of photos to keep track of without some help!

Logistics aside, it's important to give your photo travel journals elements of both visual surprise and emotional discovery. In other words, you want to make them interesting. In the same way that motion pictures have lulls leading to dramatic moments that lead to higher crescendos and then settle down to quieter interludes, so can your slide shows or online galleries.

Mixing up views of recognizable landmarks with interesting detail shots and informal portraits will provide visual variety, too. Try to mix ordinary scenes—breakfast by the pool—with those spectacular aerial shots of Angel Falls. The emotional contrast will surprise and entertain viewers.

Finally, don't be afraid to jazz up your digital productions with shots of trip mementos (a basket full of pine cones from Flagstaff) or insert copies of postcards that you bought and then scanned into your computer.

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