Photographs, the cliché goes, can capture a moment in time like no other. This is never more important than when travelling. A good photograph will bring back memories of the sights, sounds and smells of a faraway place. while giving others an idea of what it was like to be in foreign lands. Fortunately, learning to take good photographs is a skill that anyone can learn. With a little bit of instruction and practice, it’s possible to take world class travel photos. Here are five tips to help you take those amazing travel photos.
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Manage the lighting
Good lighting can be the difference between a good photo and a bad one. Ideally, light sources (such as lamps or the sun) should be behind the photographer rather than the subject of the photo. While a flash can be used to combat dark conditions, the results are often poor with unnatural looking lighting ruining the photo. Avoid using the flash if possible and move around until you find a position where the sun or other lighting source is behind you. Then, line up the shot and snap away.
Framing and Composition
The most common mistake that novice photographers make is to place the subject of the photo right in the middle of the photograph. This causes the subject to take over the photograph, creating an imbalanced looking photograph. Ideally, the subject and the background should be balanced in such a way that they are both equally represented in a photograph.
The easiest way to accomplish this is by sticking to the ‘rule of thirds’. When taking a photograph, imagine that the viewfinder has three horizontal and three vertical lines drawn onto it and frame the shot so that the subject of the photograph is placed on one of the intersections between the lines.
Try lots of angles and take lots of shots
In the pre-digital camera world, every shot had to be meticulously constructed because there was very little room for error. Nowadays, digital cameras are capable of holding tens of thousands of high quality photographs, meaning it’s possible to take hundreds of shots in a single location and pick out the best. Experiment with different angles and try shooting both horizontal and vertical shots. Zoom in, zoom out. Take shots from the left and shots from the right. Then, once you get to your computer, simply choose the best photos and delete the bad ones.
Use the manual settings
Manual settings on a photograph allow for more nuanced control over your shooting technique. The main three settings are the shutter speed, the aperture setting and the ISO settings.
The shutter speed indicates how long the camera shutter will be open for. The longer it is opened, the more light the lens is exposed to. Generally, photographs should be taken with higher shutter speeds as using lower shutter speeds can result in blurry photos. That said, slow shutter speed, when used in combination with a tripod for stability, can result in result in some stunning low light shots.
The aperture setting determines how much light is let into the camera when the lens is open. In situations where there is too much light, a lower aperture setting can help to control the light allowing for a better photograph. The aperture setting also determines how much of a photograph is in focus and how much is out of focus. This can be useful for creating shots where a subject is in focus but the background is slightly blurred and out of focus.
The ISO setting determines how sensitive your camera is to light. When using a high ISO setting, lights will appear stronger and brighter. This can be useful in dark conditions where lighting is minimal. High ISO settings can, however, reduce the amount of detail present in a photograph. Generally, for most settings, a medium ISO setting is best.
The manual camera settings may seem intimidating at first, but through experimentation, they can be mastered and used to shoot better photographs.
Don’t get the same shots as everyone else
People often rush to the same places to take the same photographs, leading to copycat photographs and feelings of déjà vu when looking at photos others that others have taken. Instead, when visiting a new place, try to capture it from your own unique perspective rather than the perspective of someone else. Examine the surroundings and try to find a unique and interesting place to shoot from.
The basics of photography are easily learned, but the key to taking good photos is to practise! Use your camera as often as possible and, over time, the basics will become ingrained and, who knows, one day your travel photographs may end up in the National Geographic.