Virtually there - June 2010
Iím writing this on a plane between Cairo and Singapore. Sounds exotic, but thatís not the story Iím telling. And, having said that, I must digress again to say that anyone wanting an interesting family tour in an interesting spot without the interesting drama of organising it must try Explore! Worldwide Adventure Holidays
. No, this is not advertorial. Would I do that to you? I was reluctant to use it myself because organised tours, especially those with exclamation marks in the name, fill me with the kind of excitement I usually reserve for school reunions and root canal work. But, sadly, the task of organising overnight trains, camels, feluccas, hot-air balloons, donkeys, sphinxes and teenagers all the way from Cairo to Aswan was utterly beyond me.
Family tours may sound dire but, on the plus side, we could not only avoid the hard-out party people (all the 18 to 35s were on Contiki tours) and our kids had people better than us to talk to. And guess what? I actually liked the other adults in the group. Though we wonít be bestest friends forever (drum roll, please, for the actual point of the storyÖ), we want to swap our trip photos.
Interestingly, despite the ubiquity of social networking sites, none of us had a Facebook, Bebo or MySpace account, nor do we plan to get one. The children all network, but thatís no help. The answer is a photo-sharing site and the best one (I think) for private people who donít spend much time online is Photobucket. Simply create a group album, upload your photos and email everyone a link and password. They can comment on the photos and add their own.
My husband disagrees Ė he says that Picasa Web Albums is better. Iím sure it is but I canít work out how to use it, so weíll have to take his word for that. Another online photo-sharing option is Snapmania which has a clever tourist-removal feature. When your must-have photo of the pyramids at Giza is clearly going to be ruined by a constant stream of ugly day trippers in souvenir T-shirts and beige drip-dry cargo pants, simply take multiple photos from the same place and the clever software will blend them all to make one great tourist-free image. This is a particularly useful technique if you suspect you may fall victim to a photobomber.
Photobombing, if you havenít heard of it yet, is the art of photojacking, or sneaking into a strangerís photo. Some particularly fine examples of the art can be seen here, and from them you will see there are several variations of the genre. There is, for example, the accidental passer-by who just looks bad, as opposed to the person deliberately doing something weird in the background. If any reader finds a teenage girl with McDonaldís fries up her nose in the background of the charming shot they took of their little girl at Changi Airportís Terminal 3 food court recently, Iíd like to apologise for my daughter right now. Her speciality is sneaking into other peopleís group photos. She never gets to hear the aftermath (ďWho the heck is that strange girl standing next to Grandma?Ē) but the thrill of the game is clearly its own reward.
One inescapable observation from all this photo sharing is that the average punter has no idea how to take a decent photograph. Luckily Kodak has some simple technical hints here. Composition advice abounds here.
And, from me, the best tip of all: look at the background. And if my daughter is there, grinning like a maniac, threaten to tell her mum!