I’m often asked how to take better travel photos. It doesn’t take fancy equipment to capture stunning images. It takes a good eye, proper composition, knowing how to use light and when to take the shot. Here are a few tips to help guide you to taking successful travel photos.
Light is one of the most important elements of a photograph. Knowing how light works and how it will affect your photo is key. There are different types of light that will have a different effect on the mood of your photograph. Good photographers will recognize this and use it to their advantage when taking a stunning image. Types of light include:
Hard Light – For example a very sunny day will create a lot of very dark harsh shadows on your subject. Very often your subject will be very bright but the background will be dark. You can fill in the background with a fill flash or you can use the contrasted lighting to your advantage and get a really interesting effect. It is all in the way you see things and what you want the final outcome to be.
Soft Light – This is when the lighting is more subdued, and consistent. There are no harsh shadows or overly bright spots. A good way to get soft lighting is to place your subject in a shaded area.
Composition is one of the most important elements in photography. It is how you choose to frame the photo you are about to take. The way you choose to compose a shot can make for a more dynamic and interesting photo. First, you need to determine what your subject is and how you want to frame it.
Use the Rule of Thirds as a guide on where to place your subject. Placing your subject on the dots and lines will create a more levelled image. Try to avoid the middle of the photo.
Use lines to attract attention to a specific part of your frame. it can be a person, object, or even a vanishing point.
Fill Your Frame/ Get In Close
A teacher once told me to improve my images I must move in closer. She was correct. By filling the frame you add impact to your photo. You are getting rid of unnecessary clutter and focus just on your subject. Two ways to fill the frame are to zoom in with your lens, or physically move in closer.
Depth Of Field
Depth of field is the area of sharpness within a photo what will appear in focus. This zone will differ from photo to photo depending on your in camera settings and how you frame your photo.
The main factors that affect depth of field are aperture (f-stop), distance from your subject, and focal length of your lens. The simplest way to remember aperture is the lower your f-stop number the smaller your depth of field, the larger your f-stop number the higher your depth of field. For instance using an aperture of 2.8 will create a shallow depth of field resulting in a blurry background and using an aperture of 11 will create a wider depth of field with a much more in focus background.
If you have the ability on your camera to play around with your settings and some of the techniques listed above you can get some really interesting effects.
I also love to play around with foreground blurs to help add more layers to my photograph. The photo below happened by chance but I really like the way the blurred man helps fill in the space and add a more interesting element to my image.
Go Off The Beaten Path
Some of the best travel photos that I have taken happen when I wander out of the touristy areas. You will be amazed at what you can find. Be observant and keep your eyes open. Sometimes beauty lies within the most simple things. A good photo doesn’t always have to be so obvious. Look for textures, patterns and shapes.
Check your focus
Be precise with your focus and focus on one spot. The number one rule is that your subject should be sharp. Whether you are shooting on automatic or manual mode get to know your camera. Taking photos with proper focus requires practise and knowing how to control your camera.
Knowing the right time of day to take photos is key. Shooting early in the morning or late in the evening when the sun is lower make for very stunning imagery. Wake up early to catch the sunrise and go for a walk. Not only is the lighting particularly better for photos but it is a much quieter time to go and explore the city as well!
Frame Your Subject
Look for interesting elements around you to help frame your shot in an interesting way. Instead of shooting that city shot dead on try shooting through a window and see how that looks. Framing your subject helps highlight the photo.
Simple photography techniques can produce stunning results. Go explore and keep your eyes open. The techniques listed in the post plus your imagination and creativity will surely result in amazing shots.
I would love to see your photos and hear other techniques you find helpful so please leave a comment and share your insights!