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T+L's Photography Tips

Travel + Leisure photo editor Whitney Lawson evaluates five snapshots from finalists of our monthly photo contest and explains why they work.


This shot of Prague is set apart by its aerial perspective, which makes the people and buildings look almost like toys. Most European cities have churches or clock towers that you can climb for a couple of euros—it’s the easiest way to capture the streets below from a unique vantage point.

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Editor Dispatch: Live From The Gulf Coast


June 15, 2010: Just back from a family trip to Seaside, Florida, where I was expecting to see beaches marred by the oil spill. On the contrary, the Gulf Coast beaches that I saw (Fort Walton, Santa Rosa, Miramar), were as gorgeous as ever—fine white sand, blue-green water. Let's hope they stay that way.

Whitney Lawson is the photo editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo by Whitney Lawson

Yelp Yack: Humorous Illustrations of Real Reviews


This weekend in San Francisco I met an illustrator named Jessica Wassil who has an amazing new project: creating illustrations based on anonymous reviews on Yelp. She takes the characters in the reviews, both the narrators and the subjects, and brings them to life in her drawings, with hilarious results. My favorite begins:

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Cool Photo Gear: Kata Camera Bags


I'm loving the photo bags and organizers from Kata lately. The founders of this company, who met while serving in the Israeli army, started making photo bags in 1992. Now they have a full line of photo and video gear that is light and ultra-protective.

My favorite is the Pro-Light FlyBy 74, which is a generous camera bag that doubles as a roll-aboard suitcase.  It has veritcal and horizontal handles, and a tripod holding option on the front. The inside is the best part: super modular, the interior panels are bright yellow, making it much easier to find your photo gear than it would be in a black-lined case.

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Our Favorite DSLR Camera Right Now

Question that I get asked all the time: I have a digital point-and-shoot camera that I like, but I want to take my photography to the next level. Can you recommend an easy-to-use DSLR camera that will take great images for years to come?

My new answer:  The Nikon D5000.

I am really excited about this camera.  It has a lot of the aspects you’d expect from Nikon: wonderful colors and metering, excellent image quality, sharp lens, HD video, but it has a new feature that really gets me—the flip-and-twist LCD screen.

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Lebanese Food in D.C.—Get Hip To It!


Washingtonians are treated to one of the best international dining scenes in the world.  Everyone in D.C. knows where to go for the best Ethiopian (Meskerem), best Scandinavian (Domku), and best Trinidadian (Teddy’s Roti Shop). Tucked into different neighborhoods in Northwest, many of the international restaurants in D.C. are quite affordable.

But when I go home to D.C., my favorite place to eat is the Lebanese Taverna. The staff are affable, the vibe is congenial, and the food is uh-mazing. The shared small dishes always makes a dinner feel more like a party. I try and get a big group together so that we can try different things.  I can’t leave without ordering the Foole M’daas (fava beans with garlic and lemon) and the shrimp Arak. Trust me on this one.

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Burritos, Dim Sum, Shopping in San Francisco....Airport!

I'm a huge fan of flying United to SFO—the PS flights are my favorite. Another enticement has sweetened the deal: SFO's Terminal 3, the United terminal, has some terrific new food and shopping options.

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Cool T+L Outtakes - Shanghai Edition


Hello, hello!  I'm at a place called Vertigo!  I stumbled on these outtakes the other day from a shoot we did at the Park Hyatt in Shanghai. Gorgeous shots. Our man in China, Andrew Rowat, had this to say about his shots taken from the observation deck at the top:

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Back to the Future: Olympus E-P1

200910-b-olympus-camerajpg An interesting hybrid between digital point-and-shoots and bigger, bulkier DSLRs, the new Olympus E-P1 ($799) combines a lot of the best of both worlds. (Tech writer Jonathan Blum does a great job summing it up here.)

What excites me the most about this camera is the pinhole-camera mode, which approximates the unpredictable, low-fi charm of a 120 Holga or Diana toy camera. It has a way of making the most prosaic of scenes look strangely appealing, with crazy-vivid color.  The center is in focus, and the edges blurred out and nicely vignetted.

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Cutting Room Floor: Venice Scene


It is a familiar heartache to a photo editor that we commission beautiful images, but not all of them make it into the magazine. Luckily, I can blog photos that got left on the cutting-room floor.

Here's a wonderful outtake from our October Driving story about the Modernist architect Carlo Scarpa's works around Venice and the Veneto region, so some of the more traditional scenes did not make it into the layout. This view of Venice was shot by the talented Christian Kerber.

Whitney Lawson is a photo editor at Travel + Leisure.


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