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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Useful travel photography tips

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Some people collect souvenirs when they travel, I prefer to collect beautiful images with my camera. Travel photography is like a time machine, freezing memories from a journey that you can look back on and enjoy for years. Every travel destination has its own look, culture, history, people, feelings, landscapes, and stories. Learning how to capture these subjects through photos helps convey the spirit of a place to others, giving them a glimpse of what it might be like to venture there. I never went to school for photography.



And yet here I am now, making my living as a professional travel blogger & photographer who regularly licenses images to tourism boards, brands, and occasionally glossy magazines. I've slowly learned the techniques of travel photography over years of reading books, watching online tutorials, and regular practice to improve my craft. You can learn this way too - if you put in the effort! Here are some travel photography tips to improve your images.

Wake up early, stay out late: The early bird gets the worm. I'm sure you've heard that phrase. Well it's also very true for travel photography. Light is the most important ingredient for great photography - and soft, warm, morning light creates amazing images. Sunrise isn't the only time to catch good light. Sunsets are also great.

The hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset are nicknamed "golden hours" because of their soft, warm tones and eye-pleasing shadows. "Blue hour", is the hour after sunset (or before sunrise) when the sky is still blue, but city lights are turned on. In comparison, shooting photos at noon on a bright sunny day is probably the absolute worst time for travel photography! In fact sometimes I'll just take a nap during the middle of the day so I have more energy for early morning and evening photography missions, when the light is best.

Pre-trip location scouting:
Read travel guidebooks about your destination. Scour the internet for articles and blog posts to help give you ideas for photos. Talk to friends who have been there. Reach out to other photographers. Become more knowledgeable about which images will capture the essence of a place. Wandering around with no plans has its place, but being well prepared with research beforehand saves time so you can fully commit to producing amazing travel photography once you're there, and maximize your time.

Talk to people: Photographing local people in a foreign country is tough for many photographers. What if they don't understand you? What if they say no? Will they get offended? It took me a couple years to get comfortable shooting portraits of locals, and even now I still get a bit nervous. But I've learned the key is to talk to people first. Say hello. Ask for directions. Buy a souvenir. Compliment them on something. Chat for a few minutes BEFORE asking for a photo. It's far less invasive this way. Always ask permission for close-ups too. Spend 15 minutes learning how to say "can I make a photograph" or "can I take your portrait" in the local language before you arrive. People really appreciate the effort, and it's a great way to make a new friend.

Rule of thirds: One of the most basic and classic of photography tips, understanding the Rule of Thirds will help you create more balanced compositions. Imagine breaking an image down into thirds horizontally and vertically, so it's split into different sections. The goal is to place important parts of the photo into those sections, and help frame the overall image in a way that's pleasing to the eye.

Use a tripod: I think more people should be using lightweight travel tripods. A tripod allows you to set your camera position and keep it there. With the camera fixed, you can then take your time arranging the perfect composition. Tripods give you the ability to shoot much slower shutter speeds (waterfalls, low-light, star, etc) without worrying about hand-held camera shake. You can keep your ISO low (for less sensor noise) and use smaller apertures, so more of the image is in focus.

Patience is everything: Photography is about really seeing what's in front of you. Not just with your eyes, but with your heart & mind too. This requires dedicated time and attention. Slow down and make a conscious effort at becoming aware of your surroundings before pressing the shutter. Pay attention to details.

Are the clouds in an eye pleasing spot? If not, will they look better in 15 minutes? Sit at a photogenic street corner and wait for a photogenic subject to pass by. Then wait some more, because you might get an even better shot, or not. But if you don't have the patience to try, you might miss a fantastic photo opportunity! Good photography takes time. Are you willing to spend a few hours waiting for the perfect shot? Because that's what professionals do. The more patience you have, the better your travel photography will turn out in the long run.

Protect against theft: Ok, this one is slightly off topic, but I think it's important too. Cameras are small expensive products. As such, they're a prime target for theft while traveling. I've heard many sad theft stories from other travelers. Luckily I've never had my camera stolen, but I also take precautions against it.

Shoot in manual mode:
You'd think that modern cameras are smart enough to take incredible pictures on their own in auto-mode. Well that's just not the case. While they do a pretty good job, if you want truly stunning images, you need to learn how to manually control your camera's settings yourself. If you're new to photography, you may not realize all the camera settings that need to be adjusted.

These include ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. If you want the best images possible, you need to know the relationship between them, and how to adjust these settings on your own. To do this, switch your camera's dial into Manual Mode. This camera mode gives you much more control of the look of your images in different situations. By manually adjusting aperture you'll have more control over the depth of field in your image. By manually controlling shutter speed, you'll be able to capture motion in more creative ways. By manually controlling ISO, you'll be able to reduce the noise of your images and deal with tricky lighting situations. (excerpt)

The writer is an active blogger and  adventure travel photographer. The write-up has appeared on  www.expertvagabond.com

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