Life’s like taking a photograph, you gotta give it your best shot.
When you think of your last trip what memory is the most vivid in your mind? For me it was the sheer size and expanse of the pyramids against the smooth sands of the desert in Egypt. For a travelbug every journey creates memories that can last a lifetime. While mental captures are incomparable, photographs are one of the best ways of preserving these memories, so that you can return to them someday and reminisce about the journey. Welcome to the world of Travel photography.
Thankfully in these days of the digital revolution it is so easy to have a camera and use it to no end. Your phone, a point-and-shoot or a hard-core professional DSLR, whichever you chose, travel photography is a very personal journey and each picture will have an intimate story behind it. Remember, great photography is very much about the photographer and not the camera.
We all love taking photos of people, landmarks and landscapes when we travel. Although at times we can be quite disappointed when the photos fail to capture what our eyes see in reality. The human eye is vastly more adaptable and clever than the lens of a camera. Photography is a skill that takes time, effort, and a lot of practice to master.
We have curated a list of simple tips & tricks to help you be better at Travel photography. Hold your camera with both hands and be steady. Your lesson begins now..
Use the Rule of Thirds
The “Rule of Thirds” is one of the first things that budding students of Travel photography learn about and rightly so, as it is the basis for well balanced and interesting shots. The basic principle behind the rule of thirds is to imagine breaking an image down into thirds (both horizontally and vertically) so that you have 9 equal-sized squares. For the most visually arresting photo, your subject should land where any two lines cross.
An easy way to think about this is mentally to divide the frame into three sections (left, center and right), and put the main subject of the photo either entirely within the left or right section, or perhaps right on the line dividing two sections. Studies have shown that when viewing images people’s eyes usually go to one of the intersection points naturally rather than the center of the shot.
Use “People, Places, Things.”
The best results of Travel photography will often be about all three of the above. Let’s say you want to take a photo of the Eiffel Tower on a rainy day. You could get a decent photo. However, if you put your daughter (people) in the photo with the tower peeking over her shoulders (the place of interest), visible just under the rim of an umbrella (a thing that evokes emotions), you have a great shot. Similarly, try to feature local people doing everyday things like selecting flowers at the market, having coffee at the outdoor cafe or chatting as they walk their dogs. A human element always adds interest to your images.
Use Zoom/Go Closer
If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re probably not close enough. The closer you get to your subject, the more detail and interest you can capture. You could zoom in or simply walk closer to your subject. Despite how close a zoom lens makes things appear, when viewing a photo the human eye can still sense the distance, and appreciates when an image has truly been taken up close.
Use Focus and Blur smartly
Before shooting, decide on the focus of the photograph. One way to be sure that people look at the part of the image you want them to look at is to have only that part of the image sharp and in focus and the rest blurry.
Use the full frame
The best way to tell a story in a picture is to occupy the frame with “something” so it becomes the center of attention. It is a common mistake to want to stuff too many things in a single picture. In the end, what we get is a photo with no focus or no story.
Use Lines which lead
With leading lines in an image, we draw the viewer’s eyes from one part of the picture to another. The horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines are compositional elements that provides meaning to images. Like roads, railway tracks, buildings, streams and rivers are perfect for Travel photography.
Generally, colors opposite to each other will complement each other. When you are on your travels, keep an eye out for contrasting and complimentary colors that you can incorporate into your shots.
Use golden hours
The first 2 hours of light after sunrise or prior to sunset is what is typically referred to as the golden period for Travel photography. During this time, the natural light makes for some stunning and soothing pictures.
Use Sunlight and know where the sun is.
The easiest way to flatter your subject is to put it in the best light. If you want your subjects’ faces to shine, shift them so the sun is shining on their faces. Therefore, face west in the morning and face east in the afternoon to keep the sun behind you.
Use different angles
Sometimes, a decent photo could have been a great photo if only you had just moved a little bit, reframe the photo slightly, or even if you had put something interesting into the background. This can involve moving a few steps forward or back, shifting to one side or the other, or crouching down. Bring your camera right to the water’s edge or bend down to place the camera closer to the floor or climb a few steps higher to an elevated spot or get closer to the action and take that perfect shot. If you’re shooting animals, get down to their level so as not to make them appear dwarfed.
At familiar tourist sites, emphasize something other than the subject.
When shooting popular sites, try something different. Many thousands of people will have already shot the scene from the same places. If you are photographing the Pyramids or any other frequently photographed site make it a photo about something else — maybe the camels or local people. You might have yourself a great photo.
Use your creativity
“Be adventurous. Be the crazy one.” The only way to find beautiful, epic places is to, simply, explore. If you’re visiting a monument, walk past the photo opps and drive away from the tourists. Always push yourself to go even further.
Use your sense of humor
Do not underestimate the value of capturing or expressing a little humor when taking travel photos. Travel is usually as much about how we felt and thought while traveling, not just where we went, and photos that capture some humor often bring back the strongest memories and sensations as time goes by.
Finally, Just before you hit the button
Before you commit to taking the shot, run through some checks in your mind. Is everything you want to shoot in frame? Is the focus right? Is the horizon level? Is your camera set to the right mode? Is your thumb over the lens/flash? Before taking a photo, just take a quick look at your surroundings, and give yourself a second to think about anything interesting that might be happening and Click!
Happy clicking and create happy memories.
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