A perfectly captured travel photograph is a lot more than just pixels on a screen. They can convey the spirit and sensation of the location, allowing you to relive the moment as many times as you wish. A badly captured photograph does just the opposite: these feel like wasted opportunities and you’ll long for the chance to do it all over again, especially in the age of social media where sharing your best memories is so easy (and fun!).You don’t have to be a professional photographer, or even own an exorbitantly-priced camera to take beautiful travel photographs. Before setting off for your next adventure, have a look at these tips for collecting the most enduring souvenir of all - the gorgeous holiday snap!
Your holiday may bring with it some sensory overload, and you don’t want to risk quantity over quality by simply snapping away haphazardly. This is where some pre-planning and location scouting can come in handy. If you’re serious about capturing a gorgeous photograph of a particular monument or area on your intended trip, do some online research first. Image resource sites, travel blogs and forums are great places to find location photography information. Use the following questions to guide you in your research:
- Which vantage points and angles work best?
- What times of day offer the best lighting?
- How accessible are certain areas?
- What will the weather be like when I am there and how will it affect accessibility and the picture results?
- Are there any festivals or events on whilst I am there that I can add to my travel album?
Although it is always helpful to plan ahead, there will naturally be plenty of spontaneous photo opportunities too, so don’t worry if you haven’t done any location scouting when you find yourself in a sudden ‘photo op’ situation – the rest of these tips will help with that!
The ideal photographic light shines during the ‘golden hours.’ These hours are approximately one hour after sunrise and one hour before sunset. It’s not always possible to be where you want to be during at these times, so take note of how to make the best of bad lighting.
The midday sun is harsh, and can create unsightly shadows on your photos. Keep the sun at your back, in between you and your subject matter and ensure your shadow isn’t showing in the frame. If your environment is too bright, adjust the exposure on your camera until you find a good balance. (The exposure setting on most smartphone cameras looks like this: +/- and can be manually adjusted whilst in camera mode.)
- If possible, wait until the sun is hidden by the clouds and the light is diffused. Cloud cover can also add interest and depth to what could otherwise be stark, bland landscape photos.
- You can also shoot into the sun to create a silhouette effect around your subject matter.
- In low light, increase the ISO setting on your camera or smartphone camera.
If you’re travelling internationally, ensure that you find out the exact times of sunrise and sunset beforehand so that you can plan your itinerary for photography and fun!
Embrace candid shots
Portrait shots of you and your travelling companions (or locals who have given you permission to take their photo) will give you poignant reminders of your trip. However, a truly candid shot can really capture the essence of a personality or the energy of a group of people. Taking the perfect candid picture takes patience and persistence:
- Remain unobtrusive, and try to keep your camera as inconspicuous as possible.
- Wait for the right moment by immersing yourself in the experience whilst keeping your eye out for great opportunities, such as people laughing, greeting each other, listening to a story, or simply gazing at something.
If you’re trying to capture a bustling street or the scenery as you travel in a train or moving vehicle, use the following camera settings:
- To freeze a subject in your photo, use a faster shutter speed. This will help you capture different objects or subjects within your frame.
- Portray the action by using a slow shutter speed. This will blur the moving parts around you and keep still objects in perfect focus.
- Play around with the shutter speed setting on your camera or smartphone, and enjoy the results you’ll see with subjects such as waterfalls and busy streets!
Add a personal touch
If you’re capturing an iconic landmark or popular tourist destination, a great way to stamp your mark on the photograph is to add a personal touch to it. Ways to do this include placing your travel companion somewhere interesting in the same frame, or including an interesting vehicle driving past.
Backup and save
It’s easy to get swept up in the adventure of your trip, but don’t forget to ensure that your photos will be there for you to enjoy when you get back home! If possible, take a laptop along on your trip for regular backups of all images on your camera or smartphone. If you are unable to travel with a laptop, set a reminder to back your photos up to a secure cloud storage server when you have access to Wi-Fi. If you’re photographing with a smartphone, don’t forget to charge it fully before you set out each day.
By using these helpful tips and training your eye to find beautiful photo opportunities, you will have a timeless way to remember the sights, sensations and spirit of your adventures – perfectly captured photographs.