Tips and Tricks to Get Better Travel Photos
At its core, photography is an art. And like any art, there are no real rules that you must follow. However, some concepts will make your photography more engaging and appealing to the eye. Now, I don’t consider myself to be a professional photographer, but I love to chronicle my travels through pictures. Here are a few tips that I’ve picked up along the way that have helped me take better photos.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Imagine, it’s the championship game and there’s only time left for one play. Are you going to make up a brand new play and try it for the first time? Of course not. It’s the same for travel photography. Why would you travel somewhere to get that once in a lifetime photo, and then snap some shots and hope you get a good one? Practice taking pictures and it will give you a better idea of what angles to shoot from, how to handle the lighting, the limitations of your equipment, and the list goes on.
Get to Know Your Equipment
It doesn’t matter whether you are using the newest mirrorless camera, DSLR, or even your phone. You’ll only get as good a picture as you tell your camera to take. If you just take pictures using your camera’s factory default settings on any device, you’re limiting yourself. Even cellphone cameras are coming packed with options.
Use a Tripod
If you want to get better shots, especially in low light situations, a tripod is a must. A camera operates by capturing light. In a well-lit environment, there is a lot of light so the camera shutter doesn’t need to stay open longer to get what it needs. In a darker scene, the shutter needs to stay open longer to get the light it needs. Because the shutter is open longer, even the slightest movement can make the picture blurry.
Rule of Thirds
Most people tend to center everything when they take pictures. While there are plenty of cases where this is the correct approach, eventually all of your pictures will start to look alike. Plus you may be cutting out or blocking the things that could make that picture great. Instead, try thinking of a photo divided into thirds from top to bottom and left to right, as if there was a hashtag imposed over it. Try placing your subject along these lines or near the intersections to add variety to your shots. Experiment and see what works for you.
Don’t Center Horizon
Taking pictures with the horizon in the direct center of the photo is another tendency most people have. It’s not wrong, but it can be kind of boring. Why would you want to give the ground equal real estate in a photo where I’m trying to catch a sunset or the sky? Why give the sky equal space when your subject is the green flora?
There are times when you want to draw extra attention to your subject or a particular point in a photo. Using things in the surrounding environment is a great way to draw a viewer’s eyes to the point you want them to focus on. Look for lines within the scene that lead your gaze to the subject. These lines can be anything. A road, railing, stream, shadow, coastline or anything else. Get creative. Once you start looking for them, you’ll find that they are all around. This works well when you can place your subject at the intersection of leading lines.
Framing is another valuable technique using environmental elements to focus a viewer’s attention to a particular part of a photo. Using lines or objects in the scene, you can make an imaginary frame within the picture. The objects or lines that you use don’t have to be close to the subject. You can just as easily use objects in the background as the foreground or one edge in the background and one in the foreground.
Learn Some Basic Editing
When you’re traveling, there are times where it’s just not possible to line up the horizon correctly or prevent people from walking into the edge of your shot. There’s nothing worse than having to set aside an otherwise perfect photo. That’s why learning just some simple editing is critical. There are plenty of paid and free tools available ranging from basic to complex. You can get as deep into it as you like, but just the basics will save a lot of shots.