While there are probably far too many numbered lists floating around out there, I have to admit an interest when they involve travel. Great rail journeys, temperate winter trips, most historic UK castles—these will all garner my attention. Usually it’s to find inspiration for new places to visit, or to bring back memories of those places I have been.
One thing does bother me, though. Take this list, for instance: http://www.placestoseeinyourlifetime.com/top-10-impressive-gardens-and-parks-3380/
Nothing wrong with the list as a list. I have no problem with gardens and it’s from a site whose lists and photos I enjoy, and therein comes the rub. As a traveler and photographer, I know that you will never capture most of the unpopulated photos used for these lists or prominently featured on travel sites.
Forget the fact that professional photographers travel with professional equipment, including lenses that have lower apertures than the avid hobbyist could ever afford (and therefore allow for much better low light photography). They also travel with tripods and often have time to spend at a sight, including access before and after official hours. And they have use of top end photo-editing equipment and know how to get the most from it.
I hold none of this against the photos or the photographers. What bothers me is that you, the tourist, will never capture these scenes. I guarantee there will always be someone walking across the bridge in that first photo of Stourhead estate, probably posing for numerous photos. Likewise, there will always be people climbing those stairs in Keukenhof Gardens or strolling on those paths in Kyoto’s Arashiyama Bamboo Forest, frequently in brightly colored outfits that make them hard to ignore.
And don’t get me started on Château de Versailles. It’s like salmon spawning inside and not much better outside. Granted, there is more space to move around in the gardens, but there are still thousands of people who will be in nearly every photo you take. Even when zooming and cropping, I still find arms and legs in my photos. Don’t be fooled, below is what the exterior of Versailles is really like; certainly not the peaceful respite one is led to believe based upon a lot of professional travel photography.