As the holidays draw closer, we will soon find ourselves traveling to visit family, friends, close relatives, loved ones, and significant others in far-off distant places. With that, we often find ourselves either taking pictures or being in them to remember and cherish those memories and moments. With that in mind, we at CanvasPrints.com wanted to share tips and tricks for getting the most out of your photos during your holiday travels. The best part though is that these tips and tricks can carry over to other subjects and styles of photography.
General Travel Photography Tips You Need to Know!
Know Your Gear
It should go without saying that perhaps the most important aspect of photography is knowing your gear. By this we mean, what are its functions, what buttons do what, how it operates, where it excels, and where it falls short. Knowing these parameters will help you immensely in the long run. By knowing the ins and outs of your gear, whether it's your smartphone or a 45-megapixel camera, you’ll have the technical knowledge and confidence to capture any and all moments the way only photographers can.
Ask for Permission
As with anything, if you are taking photos of people or groups of people during your trip, you should ask for permission if you would like to take their picture, especially if you plan to share it on social media. Not only is this good manners, but asking permission to take someone’s picture can avoid a potentially dangerous or violent interaction because someone didn’t want their picture taken.
Framing refers to the photographic technique used to draw your eye’s attention to the subject of the photo by blocking the other parts of the photo with the image itself. This technique is a great and simple way to achieve stunning photos with nothing more than the environment.
Composition simply refers to how the photographer “arranges” any given visual element within a photo. This idea may sound simple, but it's far from it. It takes quite a bit of practice to learn how to use visual elements in a complementary way within any given composition. For example, visual elements may work in harmony vertically, but may not in a horizontal picture, or vice versa.
There are 5 main rules for composition; negative space, leading lines, horizon lines, symmetry and patterns, and finally the rule of thirds. It’s by using these rules in a synergistic whole that a photographer can achieve beautiful and stunning photographs each and every time. Let’s delve a little deeper into each rule to get a better understanding of them.
Negative space is the empty space around your image's focal point.
Leading lines are a compositional technique that uses man-made or natural lines to draw the viewer’s attention toward the image’s focal point.
Horizon lines are again just as the name implies, a horizontal line that cuts through the image. This type of line is often seen in seascapes, but horizon lines can be used elsewhere to artificially divide an image for further visual interest.
Symmetry and Patterns
Symmetry and patterns are oft used as compositional techniques in photography. Symmetry allows the photographer to give equal “weight” or distribute the focal point across the entirety of the picture, whereas patterns lend themselves to further create a sense of visual calm and harmony across the picture. When combined together, these two principles can create visually arresting images
Rule of Thirds
The rule of thirds is another compositional technique that divides the image into grid-like structure and emphasizes the placement of your focal point on either the right or left third of the picture to create dynamic, visual interest.
Stay Early, Stay Late
Another great tip to take advantage of when taking photos while you’re traveling is to stay early or stay late to make the best use of the natural daylight or capture your photo in the mysterious nighttime glow. Photographers refer to these two optimal times to take photos as the golden hour and the blue hour.
The golden hour is typically thought of as the hour after sunrise or an hour right before sunset when the light is softer and more diffuse. In contrast, the blue hour is thought to have a shorter window of time, usually just right before sunrise or just a little after sunset when the sky is that beautiful shade of violet.
A focal point is just that, a point of focus that draws your attention to it. Photography heavily relies on this principle and often if there isn’t a focal point to your photo, your photography will be uninteresting, bland, or just plain boring. The easiest way to achieve a focal point in your photo is by giving your image a low depth of field. This is a fancy way of saying that your photo’s focal point is in focus, while the rest of the background is blurry.
Use of Color
The use of color is considered to be an element of photography, as well as art in general. The use of color can help dictate the overall mood of your image, as well help tie the composition as a whole together in a more cohesive way.
The easiest way to break down how to use color is to explain it using the concept of warm and cool and the idea of color harmony. Warm colors are typically thought to be yellow, orange, red while cool colors are thought to be violent, green, and blue.
Color harmonies explore the complementary nature that exists between the warm and cool poles of colors. This is best illustrated with a color wheel. The general idea however, is that warm colors have complementary cool colors and vice versa.
Using this principle can further help you develop your photographic compositions in new and unique ways that can create stunning works of photographic art everywhere.
As with any creative endeavor, constant and consistent practice will help you develop your skills. Photography, as both an art form and hobby, is no different. It is by doing that we learn and by taking many photos we learn what makes a good photo, what a camera’s settings do, how they function, and more. So get out there and take some bad photos!
Back Up Your Photos
Generally speaking, it's always important to back up your photos. Saving your photos is easy enough, but ensuring they are backed up either on your computer, a cloud storage service, or an external hard drive makes it easy to recover your photos in case you damage your camera or smartphone while taking photos or due to some unfortunate, unforeseen accident.
Technical Travel Photography Tips
The Exposure Triangle of Photography
The exposure triangle of photography is a conceptual tool to better understand how to get the correct exposure when taking certain types of photos. A helpful short-hand way of how this works in action is that when you change one setting at least another change has to occur to maintain the correct exposure. The triangle itself consists of ISO, the aperture, and the shutter speed. Image courtesy of ExpertPhotography.com
ISO is a bit of an esoteric acronym, as it stands for International Standards Organization, which in all honesty has nothing to do with photography as an art. For the sake of simplicity, ISO in a photography context represents the sensitivity of your camera’s digital sensor when capturing light. The lower the ISO number the more light will need to pass through to make a proper exposure; usually, this is reserved for nighttime photography. Inversely, the higher the ISO number less light is needed to gain proper exposure.
Aperture refers directly to the circular hole in your camera’s lens that allows light to pass. It’s not a coincidence that the larger the aperture, the more light is allowed in, while the smaller the aperture less light is allowed in. In photography, the aperture is commonly represented by what is called “f-stop” which is shorthand for “focal length/diameter”. This represents the ratio of the size of your aperture’s opening.
Shutter speed is perhaps the easiest concept to grasp in the exposure triangle. Shutter speed refers to the length of time that light is allowed to pass through the sensor. This is measured in seconds, thus like ISO the lower the shutter speed, the more time light is allowed to hit the camera’s sensor, whereas the higher the shutter speed the less time light is allowed to pass to the camera’s sensor.
The manual mode is a mode on a digital camera, as well as a smartphone camera, that allows you to have full control over the aperture and shutter speed of the camera. Meaning simply that you can fully control both to get whatever exposure you want when snapping a photo. Often this mode is disabled and the camera’s sensor automatically determines the aperture and shutter speed settings when the image is in the camera’s viewfinder.
You may be tempted to use post-processing photography applications like Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop or even slap an Instagram filter on your photo. These tools have the power to radically transform your photos for the better (or the worse if you don’t know what you're doing). Luckily there are thousands and thousands of tutorials available online to help you achieve any effects you are looking for. All that said, it's often better to judicially apply any post-processing effects than go “hog-wild” and apply every effect you run across
Hopefully not only will you be able to use these tips and tricks over the course of the holiday travel, but elsewhere too! That way you’ll end up with a stunning and beautiful picture every time, and get back to spending those precious moments with your friends, family, and loved ones rather than constantly reshooting the same picture over and over again!