Whether you go around the world or just to the beach for the holidays, taking photos is all part of the pleasure to document your adventures. Or is that just me?
If you’re all about sharing your trip on social media or are expecting to take your photography to the next level, these easy tips will help improve your photos. It doesn’t matter if you’re using a telephone or fancy camera, thinking about how you will produce an image, make it uniquely yours or what color temperature you need.
I’m all about going with the flow, I didn’t study photography from a textbook, I learned from being in the moment and experimenting what works best. Call it, trial and failure, or as I like to see it, finding my own way, but discovering how to make your camera work for you is vital to improving your photography.
Let’s get started…
COMPOSITION AND CONTRAST
The creative composition can improve your image instantly. The Rule of Thirds is an great way to help you think about where to put your subject rather than just pointing and firing straight ahead. You can use this composition technique whether you’re photographing a house, person or landscape, it’s just about thinking outside the box and turning the focal point of the picture. Using contrast with composition lets you operate with colors that help each other to stand out.
You know those photographers you see crouching down or climbing a wall to get ‘THE’ shot? Or the ones lying on the ground when they wonder what on earth they see that you aren’t?
Wel, give it a go. They’re no doubt trying to produce a unique angle and it’s a great idea to take better photos! While it may look a little absurd, who cares if you can walk away with a hook that no one else has! My favorite angle? Photographing from the sea, it’s a lot less awkward to do the photographer's position underwater.
SHOOT IN APERTURE MODE
To add background blur to your photo on Aperture Priority mode (A or Av) with a large aperture like f/1.8 or similar and focus on the material to create beautiful bokeh (blur) behind. This is done best by using a prime lens like a 50mm or 85mm lens. The 50mm lens is one I nevermore leave home without, it’s excellent for street photography, pictures and detail shots making it the ideal traveling companion!
KEEP IT STEADY
Assuring you stay nice and still while taking a photo will avoid the dreaded blur. You don’t require a tripod to keep your camera still; balance it on the road, a trash can, lean against a wall, table, your friend’s head…whatever keeps it steady is just as good as a tripod most of the period! If you see your images are still blurry even though the camera is still, it might be time to look at the settings…low light indicates you’ll need a higher ISO.
Manually setting your camera's white balance will control the color temperature to determine how the image turns out. Rather than put your white balance on automatic, switch it manually depending on the kind of light you’re working in to guarantee a more accurate reading of the scene.
The best three to focus on is ‘cloudy’ white balance which goes when you’re in a rainforest or related green environment to enrich the green colours and make them active. It will warm up most beach or town scenes too! ‘Daylight’ is most suitable for direct sunlight during the day and ‘Flash’ will assist warm up the colors when you’re using your flash both inside or outside.
FOCUS ON THE Original
Keep an eye out for something exciting, colorful, quirky or cultural to include in your photograph. Rather than getting photos only at lookouts or the best vantage positions, try and work with the details. When traveling you’ll no doubt see something every day that you can photograph to help give your pictures a sense of place. It can link to the destination or be entirely out of place.
You have undoubtedly seen the numbers of photos circulating on social media of people staring at a vast landscape and looking very small. This is how to build perspective. If you’re photographing a mountain, try to find a subject that will assist showcase just how tall and forcing it is—placing a person in the distance supplies the mountain or landscape an actual size matching to help the viewer judge just how unbelievable the scenery is.
LOOK FOR THE BEST LIGHT
If you’re bored of saying, ‘I wish I had my photo camera for that sunset!’, start preparing! Researching the times for sunrise and sunset will help you organize your day around the best light for a photo. The warm evening light is my favorite to work with. When I’m traveling, I always check out the best place to be about one hour before sunset to capture the changing colors. Be sure to understand where the sun rises and sets in the place you’re attending too as this will help you to choose where to be at the best times.
SAY HELLO AND SMILE
Try to say at least ‘Hello’ in the language used in the destination you’ll be attending. Trying to communicate with the locals will improve your chances of a better photo and make people more satisfied in your presence. Nobody needs a snap-happy unfriendly tourist lurking around their city!
PREPARE YOUR EQUIPMENT
Having the right lenses when traveling is crucial to taking great photographs. If you’re only practicing a telephoto lens but want to take something close-up, it’s not going to turn out well. The equivalent for a macro lens when you want to take action photographs of wildlife…it won’t work. Try and predict what kind of photos you’ll need to take on your journey so you can invest in the best tools to suit your photography. It doesn’t have to be the largest and best photo camera, as I’ve said before I think your photographic eye is more powerful than the camera but a simple camera kit is necessary. Traveling with a zoom lens that has a broad focal range will support you cover all bases and be ready for anything. I usually use my 28-300mm lens which lets me photograph most scenes without changing. If you’re going to be around water, then prepare for some underwater photographs too…I can never pass up an chance to jump in the sea to take some photos so my underwater housing or GoPro is never far away!
To put the above tips into work, teach yourself how to use your photo camera so once you’re traveling, you can whip it out and photograph like a pro.
The primary buttons you’ll need to locate on your camera are the following –
- ISO: Most photo cameras will have a button readily possible to allow you to change your ISO fast. If you can’t find it, there should also be a place to manually change your ISO in the menu section of your camera. If you shoot on automatic, it won’t be necessary to change your ISO, but any other mode such as Aperture or Manual will need you to select what ISO is best. As a general guide ISO 100-400 is best for sunlight, ISO 400-800 is suitable for shade or cloudy days, ISO 800+ is required once the light starts to get low or dark.
- White Balance: On DSLR photo cameras, you’ll find this button (WB) located somewhere accessible and you can adjust with the dial and watch the little icons appear on your screen to select among. Just like ISO, you can also change it manually in the menu of most photo cameras and the little image icons are very self-explanatory.
- Exposure: The button usually has a little +/- sign on it and you use it in combination with the dial to add more or less danger. I love using the display button along with my ISO to switch the brightness of a photo.
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