Travel photography is a skill like any other, and while using quality equipment will help, stunning photos can be achieved with the right preparation, understanding, and technique. Here are our top tips to help you improve your travel photography.
Firstly, your camera shouldn’t stifle your travel experience; consider your destination before selecting which equipment to take with you. If you are going to be travelling into dangerous areas or doing lots of moving around, you may prefer a camera which is lighter and cheaper.
Different cameras achieve different effects. For high-octane photos and film, consider an action camera with a sealed case for underwater shots. If you are planning to party, a quality mobile phone or pocket-sized LCD should be sufficient for superior night photos.
However, if you really want to develop your travel photography capabilities, invest in a DSLR. They are relatively expensive and lenses can cost more than the camera itself, but the quality and range of photos you capture will significantly improve. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, and have ten different lenses or just the default, take some time to understand your camera’s settings and capabilities. The more familiar you are before setting off on your travels, the better prepared you will be when the perfect shot presents itself.
When your camera holds its shutter open for longer, you take what is called a long exposure shot, and this method can produce some beautifully unique effects. Water looks softer, stars move across the sky, and city traffic transforms into a laser show. However, it’s impossible to get good long exposure shots without a steady surface, so buy a sturdy tripod. You will also need to experiment with adjusting your camera’s ISO settings to reduce the amount of light entering the camera.
Always carry several memory cards with you and keep your battery (and a spare) charged. You never know when inspiration will strike, and you don’t want to be scuppered because your equipment can’t capture an image.
With modern cameras capable of storing thousands upon thousands of photographs, it can be tempting to point and click at anything and everything in the hope 1/100 pictures looks impressive. Actually, you are far more likely to capture an astounding image if you take your time, think about what you hope to achieve in your photograph, and setup your camera accordingly.
This trick is especially useful at helping beginners understand the importance of framing and to improve their travel photography quickly. Imagine horizontal or vertical lines across your viewfinder, dividing your image into three equal parts. Try to line up the shot so distinct elements of the photo occupy each of the parts. For example: the bottom third might be a beach; the middle third, the sea; and the upper third, the sky. You may be surprised just how much this improves the final product.
A simple but effective tool for capturing striking profiles of people is to manually control the depth of field. By flicking your lens off of auto-focus and doing it yourself, you can take close-up pictures of subjects with great detail while blurring the background. Your subject will be more pronounced and sharper, giving the illusion of them jumping out of the photograph.
When working with people, it is helpful if you can communicate with them. Take some time learning the local language and some phrases you might need to help position your model in the best way possible.
Always ask permission before taking a photograph of someone. This demonstrates respect and reduces the risk of upsetting anyone. Similarly, if you ask first before taking someone’s picture, most will be flattered and prove to be very cooperative models.
Naturally, the closer you can get to an animal, the better the chance you have of capturing a prominent photo. But animals are unpredictable and scaring them may cause them to run away or attack you. Pursuing the perfect shot and exercising respect for animals are not mutually exclusive; give them distance, never try to touch them, and keep yourself safe.
If you have or can afford a lens with a powerful zoom and a high-speed camera, you can keep your distance, remain undetected, and still take detailed photos.
To improve your travel photography when small animals and plants are your subjects, switch to macro settings or a macro lens. This helps you produce up-close photos and capture fine details.
One of the most important tips for improving your travel photography is to exercise creativity. Your instinct will tell you how to initially take a shot. If the photo doesn’t impress you immediately, think about how you might take it differently. Perhaps change your altitude or angle on the subject, incorporate something in the foreground or background, or adjust the camera settings. You might surprise yourself with how unique you can make something look.
This is especially true for famous landmarks. Beautiful landscapes and architecturally impressive buildings always make for wonderful travel photography subjects. However, chances are that someone else has already beaten you to the obvious shot. But that doesn’t mean you can’t also take an interesting and inspirational photo of the same thing; you just need to get creative.
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