Monday, 9 July 2012

Travel Photography


  •  Do research on your destination on what to see and what to photograph. Look at other people’s photos of your destination. Check out your destination in travel books, magazines, travel brochures and websites to get an idea of what is important to that area and what light and techniques have been used.
  • Think about what you want to shoot and when. Famous icons are best in early morning or late afternoon. Up close street scenes and markets in between. Plan your days before you go.
  •  Research the customs, traditions and special events not only to photograph but so you become aware of what to expect and what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.
  • Find out the location of camera repair shops and the tourist information centre.
  • Practice before you go. For example, practice motion photography at amusement parks, road transport and races.

What to Pack
  • Depends on what type of trip whether you take a DSLR , a hybrid, a point and shoot or a smart phone. A DSLR and a smaller one is a good idea but if you have to travel light a point and shoot or smart phone is best.
  • Battery charger, spare battery, travel adapter.
  •  Memory cards-4GB or 8GB but not all on one big 64GB (which stays in the camera the whole time) in case the camera is lost or stolen. Remember RAW takes up much more room on the card.
  • A small wrap around tripod. However an alternative is to use a fence,  a camera bag, or a jacket bundled into a cushion.

  • Most of our travel shots are imitations of post cards. It is common to snap iconic images such as the Sydney Opera House or the Eiffel tower.
 However, we should try to think outside the postcard shot.
  •  Our photos need to evoke the emotions we experienced when we were there; the smell of the gardens,
 the awe of the mountains,

the thrill of the roller coaster,

the colour of their clothes,

the wonder of a wild bear,

the adrenaline of wild water rafting

and the hustle and bustle of the streets.
These photos will enable us to relive our memories and communicate how we felt to others.

  • Think about your first impressions. What did you feel. Use a note book to jot down these first impressions.  Smell, heat, cold, sunny, foggy, buildings,

the people and vistas. Use your feelings to spark interpretation of the scenes.

  • Get out there and discover the rhythm of life, try to capture the feel of a location and tell a story in your shot. Get up early, go to bed late. If you are on tour use any spare time.
  • Good photos take commitment, time and energy. Tour itineraries rarely leave room for serious photography. Try to make a scheduled time each day to photograph, don’t give up.
  •  Never be satisfied with your first view of a place. Get closer, use different angles, different lenses, different filters. Wait for the light, wait for people to either move in or out of your shot. Once you have exhausted every possibility then move onto the next situation.

  • Always have your camera with you. Serendipity plays an enormous role in Travel Photography. You may stumble upon a scene just right for the moment. So be prepared have your camera on the right settings or even on “P” or Automatic so you can capture the scene before the people move or the light changes. Think of it as hunting, be ready to capture whatever pops up.

  •  Get lost. Wander down alleys, get away from tourist sites, sit in a café and wait for a story to unfold. Look around bends and over rises adapt to the rhythm and become more observant.

  • Photograph things that identify the area such as grand vista,




 shop windows,



as well as fashion, people, markets and accommodation.

  •  Photograph local events like festivals, markets, races, art shows etc. A local tour guide can help you find the best locations.
  •  If it is a road trip capture the trip itself. Capture the feel of the trip. If it is hot capture empty drink bottles or a sweaty brow. Candid shots of the car interior after all that is where you spent a lot of the time
  •  Capture humour. For example a child asleep in front of a world famous landmark or visit.
  •  You need to be a “Jack of all Trades”. Travel Photography includes Landscapes, Portraits and everything in between. For example, street photography, motion photography, wildlife, flowers and don’t forget light and composition.

  •  Mountains, forests, lakes, rivers, deserts, wetlands and sea coasts all have their own characteristics. The Nile differs from the Murray, The Andes differ from The Snowy Mnts. Try to capture what makes them different. Try to capture how you felt there. A sunny happy beach or a rough weather, craggy, cold coastline.

  •  Add scale to your landscapes. The sense of size doesn’t always translate through a photo.  Use people or familiar objects like a car or a boat to give a scale of size in your photo. Use layering to give a depth of field. Have a point of interest in the foreground, middle ground and background.

  • How to deal with busy tourist sites. Sometimes there are too many people in your shot to avoid this you can get up early before the throngs appear

    or you can move and re compose the shot.

    Another technique is to use a tripod and a very slow shutter speed and the moving people disappear
An alternative is to include people to enhance your shot. People make a scene come alive. An outdoor café looks better with people in it than empty.

  •  Capture everyday life. Look to take people doing what people do: sweeping, smoking, standing in a doorway, children laughing, and walking by. Take their local dress, local activities, buying and selling in markets.
Take the texture of their clothes or a weather worn face.

.. laughing

  Create a photo story in markets. Take wide shots and then close ups of items and money changing hands or a handshake

  • Capture people doing their jobs; smiling waiter, museum curator, street performer, railway workers and other tourists.

  •  Don’t be shy to take people. The way they dress and behave give emotion  and context to your photo.It is best to ask permission first. Chat first ,explain why you want the photo. Most are flattered and willing. If not respect their wishes. Some may ask for money, remember they may be very poor.

  •  Photograph your travel companions, include yourself . Don’t take them standing in front of an icon but rather action shots, interacting with the locals or engaging in an activity; eating local foods, playing with locals, reef diving, horse riding, cruising, etc.

  Use a wide angle lens to capture them in their surroundings to give context to the story or zoom in just to get the expression on their face but try not to lose the context.

     Run ahead of your companions and turn around and shoot them getting off the bus, out of the boat or just walking through the forest or the streets, get them in context.
Building, Architecture, monuments, statues, iconic structures.
  •  Think about what they represent and try to capture that with the type of light or weather that would suit best. Get away from postcard snap. Foggy weather creates romantic look to Sydney Harbour Bridge.

     Wet, cold, grey gives a miserable feel to Edinburg.
  •   Resist the postcard snap. Take close ups of metal beams, bolts, patterns. Architectural detail will compliment traditional pictures of famous landmarks. 

 Shoot outside,  detailed patterns, shoot inside,

Include surroundings to give context.

Use different angles and have something in the foreground.

Include people

View icons with a fresh perspective. Frame them differently and use different angles. 
  •  Include your accommodation whether it is 5 star luxury or a rough camp site. It helps tell the story about the location.

  •   Use a distinctive feature as a silhouette against the sun. Hide the sun behind the object.

Cities and Towns
  •  Each city has its own distinctive setting, architecture, famous site, food and dress. When photographing a city, town or village do 3 things:
1) Capture the overall sense of the place, a wide shot showing setting or skyline.

2)   Capture famous landmarks.

3)   Capture the life of its inhabitants.   

  •   Get an idea of what is important to the place by checking out the postcard stands.
  •   Amusement parks offer a variety of shots including facial expressions.

  •  Include signage such as in markets, street signs which give context to the place and signs in different languages.

Practice your Food Photograph.
  •       Get a window seat in a café/restaurant and use natural light and turn off the flash.

  •       Take local cuisine, artfully presented dishes, a coffee with a fancy pattern, take the menus in foreign languages, table tops, patrons and the exterior of the restaurant

         Try to get street vendors preparing their food.
  •  Mix up your shots. Don’t take all people or all buildings, or all landscapes.
  •  Use different angles, wide shots and zoom in.    
  • Use different light and composition techniques. 
  • Most of all have fun!

  •     You can make panoramic scenes by using photo stitch techniques which merge images.
  •      Using HDR helps in high contrast scenes where there are very dark and very light spots in the photo.
  •     There are many programs that enhance or correct your photos. A few are: Lightroom, Photoshop, Aperture, iPhoto, Picture Manager.


  •      Prints for albums, scrapbooks and frames.
  •      Digital photos for photobooks, mugs, T-shirts, calendars and posters.      
  •   Sharing on the internet:      Photoblogs:  Google’s Blogger, Wordpress, Typepad, Bigpond’s Bigblog, 365 Project.      
  •   Photo managing and sharing sites: Yahoo’s Flickr, Google’s Picasa, Redbubble.
  •     Social networks: Facebook, Google+