Travel Photography

Travel Photography

Taking great travel images – tips of the trade

So, you are off into the big blue yonder with dreams of capturing in your camera the trip to share with those not as lucky as yourself. Great travel photography has become more and more accessible to travels in recent years and so has the quality of images that even amateurs are uploading.

Here are some tricks of the trade for taking great travel images and most importantly having a great time doing it.

What to pack- a travel photographers kit

What you pack and how big your camera kit is should be determined by the type of photographer you are going to be doing and the ultimate purpose of your images.

If you are photographing to share on a blog or on your social media you will want smaller files and can carry a smaller kit. The advantage here is that you will be less intimidating to locals and you can move around and get unique photographs that really tell stories.

If you are photographing in attempt to sell images to professional publications, galleries and sites, you might need bigger lenses and more accessories. With a big kit and long lenses locals will also be more reluctant and less relaxed around you. In addition it will be slower to move around so you probably need to plan ahead for positions and hire guides to take you to places.

Basic & Essential for your DSLR kit

Okay, so we are assuming that you are serious enough to invest in a DSLR camera, although for portraiture and street scenes a good compact camera can do a good job with enough resolution to print in magazines. If you have just upgraded from an automatic compact to a DLSR we recommend you do a course to learn the priorities and manual settings. Until you master them, keep the camera on automatic (or program if it’s a Canon), but do take advantage of the manual focus and zoom of your new baby from day one. Learn to concentrateand pull focus on the subject rather than get overwhelmed by the technology.

So here is what to pack besides your camera.

Lenses for travel photographers

If your DSLR camera only came with one lens we suggest you invest in a second one. Here is a guide to your best lenses for travelling. The lens length we outline here are just the common ones and will vary from model to model.

Lenses for travel photographers

17- 35 mm or 18-55mm Short and Wide Lens

These are often the starter lenses that came with the DLSR camera and are the typical standard built-in on compact camera. The good news is that this is a handy range for some landscapes because it’s wide and very good for portraits and street photography where you concentrate on a subject with a soft blur in the street behind. –Highly recommended

80-200mm Medium to Long Lens

These are good zoom lenses to focus on distant objects (though not at telephoto distances). However, their real advantage and use for travel photographers is the nice depth of field. If you want to shoot rooftops billowing back behind the church or too see deep into a market scene these are nice. – Highly recommended

80-200mm Medium to Long Lens

28-300 Multi-purpose lens

So you could also get a lens that covered most of the range of the two above. Most photographers don’t recommended lenses with a huge range as they don’t tend to do either job well- they are neither great for focusing on a close subject with that artistic blur in the background or distant subjects with details behind. – Not recommended but it will do an adequate job if packing is your enemy

Telephoto lenses 3000mm + Lens

This is what the nasty paparazzi use but they were really designed for professional wildlife photographers who don’t want to disturb the wildlife (especially the lions on the prowl!) They don’t do a good job zooming in but it looks flatter than if you were actually up to the subject.  They will also generally sendlocal people running in fear. You will also absolutely need a strong tripod if you choose to take a telephoto lens –Only for safaris

For most photographer’s use a small lens (i.e. 18-55mm) for close ups and wide shots, and a second longer length for more distant shots that you want a big depth of field (i.e. 80-200mm) such as a cityscape at sunset or the bustle of a huge market.

It’s a good idea to choose the lens with image stabilizes especially for the longer lenses. This may add hundreds of dollars to a comparable size lens but it really is worth it. It means you probably won’t need a tripod as often.

A computer, battery recharger, power adapters and back up memory cards

If you want to shoot prolifically, you’ll want a spare set of batteries to be recharging in your hotel room while you are out and about (or you could recharge overnight). Camera batteries have really long lives these days but most travel photographers wouldn’t leave their hotel without the battery fully charged each morning.

You will probably also want a computer back at your hotel which you can view and back up the photos each evening. You can also delete bad pictures from your memory cards each night to save space and back the good ones up to a cloud or USB.

Don’t forget an electricity adapter for the region you are going to.

A Camera Bag

A strong camera bag that will protect you great and is comfortable to carry will enhance your photographic experience (while a poorly made uncomfortable bag may ruin it). If you can keep your kit in a bag small enough to wear around your neck or under your arm that is safest.  Photographers with huge backpack kits make themselves targets of crime if they travel alone.

Extra and Optional Equipment

You probably don’t need it unless you are doing safari style photography with a huge telephoto lens. Even for sunsets and selfies you can be creative with ledges and tables.

Timer triggers

These are also good for sunsets (when you set a very slow camera speed and if the camera nudges the tiniest bit you get blur) and selfies. They are small so if you already have one, why not throw it in your kit but it is not essential to buy one.

Filters & Shade Caps

They may try to sell you these as an accessory in the camera store but because digital cameras do not react to the sun like old analogue cameras they do nothing. However, they can protect your camera lens from scratches so if you have one keep it on your camera.

You don’t always need a shade cap to put at the end of your camera, when possible try to shoot from a shaded spot into a sunny spot. But if you think you will be shooting in the midday sun a lot, it’s cheap and handy.

Travelling Photography Tips Capturing People

Travelling Photography Tips Capturing People

Use a short wide lens and get up close to your subject. It is a good idea to do test shots and get the setting of your camera ready before you ask people if you can photograph them, that way you can start clicking straight away and really catch the moment.

Choose people who are happy to be photographed.Reluctant people make bad subjects because they rush you and don’t let you get close. Unless it’s a public event like a parade or performance never take photographs without permission. It’s rude and might be dangerous if people get angry.

Positions yourself so that the person is natural and from your positions natural light falls on their face. If it’s night make use of street lights and candles rather than use a flash (which will look artificially to light and might make them blink).

For colourful and exotic people that you can snap away at without asking permission and without inhibitions, find out where those street parades and festivals are being held.

Travelling Photography Tips Capturing People

To capture crisp action choose shutter priority on your camera and make the speed of the shutter very fast.

Shooting Landscapes and Cityscapes

Here you might want to use a long lens to do deep into background detail or a wide lens to capture it’s a matter of taste and experimentation.

Shooting Landscapes and Cityscapes

Long lens for seeing important details in the distance

Shooting Landscapes and Cityscapes

A wide lens (on a compact camera for the photograph above) can give details right throughthephotograph from left to right. A DSLR with an even wider lens would have got a little more detail in the village at the centre but more or less the same for the sides and background.

The easiest way to capture magical moments is during the ‘golden hour’. This is about a half an hour before sunset oar half an hour after sunrise when the light is perfect for photography and you will catch gorgeous shots on automatic.

Shooting Landscapes and Cityscapes

Also consider the ‘rule of thirds’- put your horizon a third from the top or the bottom of the photo rather than dead in the middle, is believed to be somehow more eye catching.

Tack your time with landscapes and sunsets, it takes practice and experiment, and no two moment of light are the same. Find a quite spot and experiment.

Wildlife & Nature

Wildlife & Nature

Here is the only occasion you can justify a huge telephoto lens and will absolutely need a tripod because to get natural shots you need to shoot from a distance and hidden location with a heavy and sensitive lens.  You’ll probably also benefit from a time trigger too to keep it absolutely still when you click.

Best results of moving animals like for people and vehicles are taken at high speed on shutter priority. Click like crazy just before and during the action, and see what luck brings you.

For things like waterfalls and waves you can capture two really different and interesting shots of the same things at a fast shutter speed (you can see water droplets and the shape of the waves) or slow shutter speed (an interesting blur). Use shutter priority unless you are an expert at manual set up.

Date posted: 13th April, 2015

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