Next holiday return with exciting shots . These easy travel photography tips will help you think differently about your pictures.
Travel photography ticks all the boxes – exploring the imaginative potential of your camera in an enthralling new location is about as good as it gets. But great travel photography is about more than hopping on a flight to Kumbh Mela and snapping same old Sadhus with Chillams.
It requires as much cleverness, preparation and careful technique as any other photographic variety. How do you make your shots of a popular tourist destination stand out from everybody else’s – to be more than pure ‘postcard shots’? Here are some useful tips…
Get the ‘classic’ view in the bag early
There’s nothing wrong with a simple visual reminder that says ‘I was here’, but finding your own personal take could give you greater satisfaction, not to mention some more interesting pictures to look back on. We would recommend getting the classic/cliché shot out of your system as soon as you arrive at a well-known location, otherwise it can have a tendency to block you from more creative images.
Go the extra mile
Getting up in the early hours, skipping meals, putting up with intense temperatures, long-distance trekking – it’s all in a day’s work for the dedicated travel photographer. There will be very few instances when you can simply roll up beside your subject in an air-conditioned taxi and shoot a truly knockout view. As the saying goes, you never get a great shot from the hotel Balcony!
If you want to capture truly memorable pictures you need to be prepared to walk a few streets. It might be possible to reach a historic landmark quickly on foot, but finding the most impressive view might involve a little more legwork.
Find a new viewpoint
When confronted with a famous landmark, move around it and look for ways to show it in a different context – such as framing it through an archway or using a slow shutter speed to render moving elements as a blur. A variety of lens focal lengths can be priceless here.
If the classic shot’s taken with a wide-angle, for example, move further away and switch to a telephoto for a tighter composition – or vice versa. Shoot from a more adventurous viewpoint by lying on the ground or looking for a high vantage point.
Set yourself a project holiday
Sometimes the sheer number and variety of potential photographic opportunities on a trip can leave you feeling overwhelmed rather than motivated. To avoid coming home empty handed, try setting yourself a mini photography project. This is a great way to focus your mind’s eye and to help you prioritise what to point your lens at.
You don’t have to re-invent the wheel here; your project could be something as simple as doors, shadows or kids, or something more ambitious like religion. Anything goes, as long as it fires your mind’s eye. Once you have got a few shots captured there’ll be no stopping you!
Stay alert and ready
Interesting events, characters or positions have a habit of presenting themselves just when you least expect them to, so make sure your camera is always hanging in your neck and switched on.
To give yourself the best chance of capturing cothose unique memorable shots, set your camera up in advance and get used to changing your exposure settings on the fly – particularly how to dial-in positive or negative exposure compensation quickly.
Make yourself look past the obvious
It can be tempting to rely on the new, colourful and exotic quality of subjects you encounter on your travels to carry your shots. But work with the available light to create something more dramatic. Try shooting a few frames facing towards the sun, for instance, and using fill-flash to illuminate a shadowed subject against the bright background. This is a great technique for people, animals and road signs, which glow under flash illumination.
In tricky lighting, it makes sense to bracket your shots, taking the picture at altered exposure settings to ensure you come away with at least one usable image. This idea can be applied to composition, too, especially if you plan to sell your photos. Shoot vertical and horizontal images of an interesting subject. Get in close and pull out wide. Give yourself options when you’re editing back at home – the mood will change subtly between frames.
Zoom in on detail
Wide, all-encompassing views are great for setting the scene, but small details can be more telling when it comes to painting vivid pictures of people or places. Switch to a macro or telephoto lens and think architectural flourishes, signs and traditional foods. Pick out strong, graphical colours and shapes. With people, try zeroing in on features like hands, tattoos or even possessions that hint at a way of life.