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Travel Photography Tips For Improving Your Photos

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You can take amazing photos with today’s digital cameras. However, if you don’t have the experience, and don’t travel often, you still can make some simple mistakes that will ruin your pictures. Below are few travel photography tips that will help you get some stunning shots during your trips.

  • If you are one with a big and heavy SLR camera, don’t haul your heavy gear with you everywhere. If you insist on bringing the heavy equipment, also bring a small point-and-shoot or mirrorless camera, just for the moment when carrying the SLR is not convenient or you get sick and tired of doing so.
Travel Photography Tips

Canon G7X compact camera

 

  • Invest in a polarizing filter. This is a single piece of equipment that will improve your outdoor images immensely. Not only does it saturate the colors, darkens the sky, but also removes the glare of the water surfaces. Think, highly saturated postcard pictures…
Travel Photography Tips

Tiffen circular polarizer filter

 

  • Bring extra batteries with you. I can’t remember how many times, I have been on trips with people complaining that they just ran out of battery power and they don’t have a spare. If your camera is using rechargeable batteries, don’t forget to bring a charger.
  • If part of your travel activities includes any water sports, like kayaking, scuba diving, sailing, etc. invest in a waterproof camera. I have seen a number of regular cameras ending up in water, doesn’t matter how careful the owner tried to be.
Travel Photography Tips

Nikon Coolpix waterproof camera

 

  • When traveling, it’s not always possible to choose the time of the day when we are at the outdoor destination. However, whenever possible take advantage of the “magic hour” – the morning and the evening time, when lighting is the best for shooting landscapes.
Travel Photography Tips

Photo taken at sunset to take advantage of the favorable lighting conditions.

 

  • Be aware of the sun. Try to have it behind your back, or outside of the camera view, unless you trying to shoot silhouettes.
  • Be creative with the composition. It is a common mistake to place the subject dead in the center of the frame. Try placing it according to the ‘Rule of Thirds’ – along imaginary intersecting lines that divide the frame into thirds – one-thirds from the top, bottom and sides to create a more pleasing composition.
Travel Photography Tips

‘Rule-of-thirds’ applied.

 

  • Use the weather. In the middle of the day shooting in harsh full sun does not produce great results. If there are any clouds in the sky, wait till sun gets covered and use the diffused light to your advantage.
  • Use a telephoto lens (or zoom in with a point-and-shoot) to capture portraits of people or other, close subjects and blur distracting backgrounds.
Travel Photography Tips

Background blur used to direct focus to the subject of the image.

 

  • Use fill-flash in bright, sunny conditions to fill the shadows (assuming the subject is close to the camera).
  • It is a common mistake to have a person too small in the frame. Get in close to your subject so he or she is recognizable.
  • Change your angle. Don’t shoot everything from eye-level; try moving the camera higher or lower. Images from a bird’s eye view or from frog’s perspective can make an interesting change.
Travel Photography Tips

Taking advantage of elevation to get a ‘different’ perspective.

 

  • Learn about your camera, if you don’t know it well. It is very frustrating when you want to change a setting and you cannot because you don’t know how.
  • Pack a flexible tripod so you can capture beautiful light and long exposures, even if it’s only the tabletop one. I also use picnic tables, horizontal tree branches, etc. as tripods to steady a camera during the long exposure shot.
Travel Photography Tips

Manfrotto Mini Tripod

  • Get Out of “Auto” Mode. Modern digital cameras have the so called “creative modes”, that allow more control over settings. Often the most interesting images can are created when we break the rules. Try using the “shutter” mode to experiment with longer exposures and motion as well as shorter exposures to freeze action. Also, use the “aperture” mode to play with the depth of field. Blurring the background of a shot while the foreground stays sharp is a great way of focusing the attention on the subject.
Travel Photography Tips

Photo taken with tripod and setting of long exposure to get the ‘silky water flow’ effect.

 

Travel Photography Tips

Long shutter speed used to the show the fast motion of the subjects in the photo.

  • Take advantage of post-processing (i.e. color correction and editing) on your computer to correct issues. While you want to get the best photo with the correct camera settings, sometimes you can fix the mistakes or get improved results with post-processing.
  • Take a lot of photos… Have you ever come back from a trip and looking at your photographs you had realized that you did not take enough pictures?… Take as many as you can. With the digital photography, there is no reason, not to. Just make sure, you have enough memory cards. Later, at home, delete the ones that are not so great…

Rich S. is a lifetime photographer and traveler based in Metro Detroit area. He has been traveling the Great Lakes area for over 30 years. Follow his blog about his trips, interesting activities and destinations in the Great Lakes region.

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