In today’s digital age, it is virtually impossible to take a bad picture, with the variety of tools at our disposal. However, there are still some basic methods that need to be followed and tips that need to be mastered through practice so that your travel photography becomes more than just a pastime. Here’s more about the practicalities of this enriching hobby. Here are some tips and tricks in travel photography for beginners.
Travel Photography Tips and Tricks
Start Using a DSLR Camera
Starting off with a seemingly obvious one, but a surprising amount of wannabe photographers still desist from buying a DSLR, and persist with their point-and-shoot playthings. A DSLR gives you complete control over a lot of things that you can’t adequately control in point-and-shoot cameras, the most important of which is the type of lens you want to employ. It also allows you to shoot RAW pictures, which is akin to having the negative of a picture at hand to be molded however you want to, rather than the ready-made JPEG pictures captured by point-and-shoot cameras. The latter is fine if all you are going to photograph is family gatherings, but for serious photographic journeys, you seriously need a DSLR.
Pack a Variety of Lenses …
Different lens settings are useful for different scenes. To be efficient with your equipment, you only need two types of lenses: one that can be versatile with its focal length; a 25-200 mm lens (or thereabouts) will work just fine, and another that has a prime focal length, such as a 50 mm lens.
… But Don’t Pack Too Much
Unless you are a professional photographer, you don’t need (and probably can’t afford) a whole range of variable lenses. As said before, you only really need two lenses; even one would suffice. As they say, it’s the photographer that clicks the photo, not the camera! If you find a beautiful scene, even a standard, kit 18-55 lens is more than enough to make it look fantastic. When the perfect moment unfolds before you, you don’t want to be stuck changing your lens―you want to be clicking away.
Research Your Location
Of course, there are beautiful scenes wherever you go, but getting the opinion of other, more experienced photographers about certain places is really important. If someone you know has been somewhere you are going to go, bug them for information about scenery, the best locations to view it, and weather conditions. Look up various locations around your destination on the Internet, and get involved in photography forums.
Limit the Number of Touristy Photos
Yes, you got to have a photo of you and your smiling partner next to the Eiffel Tower, or holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but try to limit yourself to wasting a minimal amount of time on such photographs. A photo is not just what you see, it’s about what you want to show. Try to take pictures with your unique take on the familiar scene.
Include People in Your Shots
And I don’t just mean portraits by that. Places don’t come alive thanks to the stunning architecture on a medieval wall. They don’t come alive thanks to fields of flowers stretching before your eyes. They come alive thanks to the little boy staring intently at the wall, and the little girl running through the flowers. There may be appealing scenes, but in travel photography, what you want to show is the people that make up a place. The places remain the same, but the people may never come to that particular spot again.
Use the Golden Hour
Golden hour photography is a freebie given away by nature for newbies. It makes everything appear more beautiful and warm. Use the moments just before and just after the sun sets and rises (don’t be too lazy to wake up before sunrise) to give your frame that enviable golden luster. Cityscapes look much more inviting and appealing in the golden light, and portraits carry a bronzed hue.
Keep a Backup
Let me just repeat that: Keep a backup! Memory cards love getting lost and putting you in a fix. An easy way to defeat their purpose is to back up your photos to your laptop daily. Better be pedantic about keeping a backup than sorry about losing your precious memories in one tiny stroke of bad luck, right?
That shot you think would be amazing of a waterfall taken from its summit? There’s a device for taking such shots, and it’s called a helicopter. That shot you just got to have of that snake staring into your lens? What you actually need is a lot of distance between you and it. Don’t put yourself in undue danger for the sake of a photograph! The point of photography is to make memories, not be one!
Use Image Editing Programs Lightly
Some ‘serious photographers’ are incredibly self-righteous about photographers who use such software, and fair enough, if your photo has to be ‘rescued’ with the help of Photoshop, you shouldn’t be clicking photos. But there is nothing wrong with using it for basic functions, such as optimizing the contrast and color settings, or removing red-eye. Do the best you can with the initial photo, and only use editing programs to refine the shot, not to virtually make the shot.