5 Tips For Better Travel Photography
When we think of travel photography we often think of the famous landmarks, monuments & attractions of the city or country we plan to visit. However for many people these famous sites are just the tip of the iceberg when visiting a new destination. To us here at DPS travel photography is so much more than just landmarks. To us it is a sub-genre of documentary & reportage photography that involves looking at landscapes, cultures, customs, people & their history. It conveys in an image a feeling that expresses the feeling of a particular time and place.
When we return from a holiday often it’s not the big things e.g. the Eiffel Tower or the Leaning Tower of Pisa that stick out in our mind but the smaller things. Details & quirks of the trip that spring to mind are e.g. small coffee shops, local markets or the artisans that ply their trade on the roadside. Food & art are things that make a culture unique. When we go away what we are looking to find is not what is similar to our own culture, but what is different. With all of this in mind, here are a few simple tips on what to look for when photographing on your adventures & travels.
Plan Your Kit:
This is one of the most important considerations and one of the first things we teach on our travel photography workshop. Think about what kind of shots you want & make a list. If it’s mostly scenic landscapes then pack a wide angle lens, if it’s people a 50mm fixed or if it’s a mix of both, consider a zoom lens. Remember that it’s not always about what is in your kit bag!, a good compostiion can be achieved on a camera phone or a compact camera, will still look great on a web album or e.g. Instragram.
Be Prepared For Low Light:
A lot of the action takes place in the evening, especially in hotter climates where the heat of the day can be a little over whelming. Be prepared for shooting in low light & carry something portable that you can use as a tripod to create slow exposure effects. A mini gorilla pod or a table top tripod are small & portable & they will fold up neatly into your kit bag. They are ideal for use anywhere. However if you are stuck, then you can use a bean bag, a wall or a rolled up t-shirt.
The 1/640th Rule:
When travelling we are often looking for a shutter speed that will freeze about 90% of everyday action. Try setting your camera to 1/640th of a second, while this will not freeze every scene, it will freeze most day to day scenes that you will come across where people & moving subjects are part of it.
Start walking around with your camera in TV or S mode. This will allow you to focus on framing & composing your image.
Buy Something For A Portrait:
A great way to break the ice with a local trader for example is to buy something small from them, then ask if you can take their portrait! Get chatting to them. Even if language is a barrier they will see from your body language that you have no alterior motive & they will often allow you to take their photograph. Stall holders, shop keepers & street musicians are often asked by travellers for photographs & will generally be willing to have their portrait taken. If fact many of them often play up for the camera.
Get Up High:
High vantage points can be found almost everywhere. Even if your only photographing down-hill, it will make a massive difference to your images.
Get great scenes by getting up high, this can be as simple as photographing from your hotel window or by hiking up a hill, or even taking a drive into the mountains. Try to a have a point of interest in the foreground as a focus point so as to make the shot more interesting.