Photography Tips in the South Pacific


Photography Tips in the South Pacific

January 15, 2020

As frequent guests on board the m/s Paul Gauguin, Gerald Dallons and Zelle Olson have taken thousands of pictures of the South Pacific. You may have seen some of their work in brochures and on social media channels for Paul Gauguin Cruises. They will return to French Polynesia in 2020, where some of the most spectacular scenery in the world can be found.

The couple have been married for 20 years. Zelle had traveled to French Polynesia five times before they met, with her first trip in 1993. As Zelle was passionate about French Polynesia, Gerald knew how to persuade her to marry him. When Gerald asked Zelle for her hand he said, “I will take you to the South Pacific every year.” Thus, they will celebrate his 21st and her 26th trips to French Polynesia in 2020. 

Zelle studied film production, photography, fine art, and graphic design at schools in Minnesota and Santa Barbara, Calif. Gerald’s background was more technical in nature as a sound engineer. It didn't take long before they knew their skills complemented each other, and they started photographing weddings. 

They now own nine different cameras. Gerald’s technical skills were handy in learning everything about the capabilities of each one of them. Together, they make a solid team and are hopeful to have many more years not only to shoot weddings, but also to take pictures and videos of what they are passionate about—which includes French Polynesia.

Here are the couple’s best photo composition tips.

10 Photography Tips to Make Your Pictures Stand Out from the Rest
By Gerald Dallons & Zelle Olson

So how can the average cruiser take fantastic pictures of their trip of a lifetime? It's easier than one may think. Eighty-five percent of good photography isn't the equipment. Hand a kit camera to a professional photographer, and he or she will amaze you with the quality of the pictures they take. Taking good pictures is easy if you follow a few simple rules. It doesn't matter if you’re using your cell phone camera or you’re taking a $5,000 camera/lens setup on your trip. Here are some tips that will enhance your photos.

Photo Tip 1: Rule of thirds with the m/s Paul Gauguin in the lagoon and a bartender serving a coconut drink on private islet Motu Mahana.

Photo Composition Tip 1: Rule of Thirds

Make your shots more interesting by shifting the balance. Split the image up into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, then try to place your subject on one of these imaginary lines or intersections. Most cameras including modern cell phones have an option to include a “thirds” grid.

Photo Tip 2: Balance with the m/s Paul Gauguin in the lagoon, and a Les Gauguin blowing into a shell to greet guests arriving the private island of Motu Mahana.

Photo Composition Tip 2: Balance

Placing the subject off center can make the photo feel empty, so balance the picture with a less important object to fill the space. 

Photo Tip 3: Depth with seabirds perched on a railing above a lagoon in French Polynesia and overwater bungalows in the background.

Photo Composition Tip 3: Depth

Adding something in the foreground can add depth and interest to your picture.

Photo Tip 4: Background with pink and white tropical flowers against the blue sky in French Polynesia.

Photo Composition Tip 4: Background

Use a background that doesn't distract from the subject.

Photo Tip 5: Leading lines with a sandy pathway leading to a thatched roof gazebo that is near a lagoon in French Polynesia.

Photo Composition Tip 5: Leading Lines

Use walls, fences, paths, and roads to guide the viewer’s eyes to the subject.

Photo Tip 6: Framing with palm trees and a tropical pond framing a bridge to a thatched roof bungalow.

Photo Composition Tip 6: Framing

Look for natural frames such as trees and archways to focus the main point of interest.

Photo Tip 7: Viewpoint with a photographer looking up to the sky through a grouping of trees.

Photo Composition Tip 7: Viewpoint

Taking pictures from different angles can provide for some really interesting and stellar pictures.

Photo Tip 8: Action with the m/s Paul Gauguin at anchor in the lagoon with an island in the background and palm trees on a small islet in the foreground.

Photo Composition Tip 8: Action

Don't cramp the subject; leave some space for the destination.

Photo Tip 9: Golden hour with the m/s Paul Gauguin sailing in French Polynesia and a sunset on the horizon.

Photo Composition Tip 9: The Golden Hour

Photos taken when the sun is near the horizon—the first or last hour of sunlight—are typically superior. Everything gets colored with a golden light, and the sun drops long shadows bringing the subjects to life.

Photo Tip 10: Horizon with a rainbow over the island of Bora Bora.

Photo Composition Tip 10: Check Your Horizon

Make sure your horizon is straight. Most cameras have a level option. Use it!

So grab your camera, and get ready to WOW people with your new photo skills!