Seven Tips For Taking Better Travel Photographs

Vacations are an important thing in today’s society. With all of the pressure and stresses from every day life building up over the course of the year due to family, health or work issues, many people look forward to their limited vacation opportunities as a way to relax and do something just for them or their family. Once the vacation is over though, the only way to show off their travels or relive them properly is through the photographs they took during their excursion. When so much is riding on their vacation photos, many people would be well served to learn a few easy steps they could take to make their photos even better. With that in mind, here are seven tips for taking better travel photographs.

1. The Importance Of Lighting

One aspect of taking photographs, whether for travel or other purposes, that is much more important than most people give it credit for is the lighting present during outdoor photos. There is approximately an hour just after sunrise, and then an hour just after sunset, that when used properly can lead to having some of the most beautiful outdoor pictures being created if they are taken during those two hours. The soft glow that blankets buildings, treetops and hillsides during these two magic hours is very valuable to photographers. While it may not be enough of a reason to change a vacation itinerary, keeping in mind that these early morning and late afternoon conditions lead to better natural looking photographs is a good way for a vacationer to take advantage of way better than average photo taking conditions.

2. The Art Of Cropping People

Cropping people when photo editing can be a tricky business, but here is a simple rule that works amazingly well in most situations. Whether a photographer is looking at an action shot, a portrait style sitting or a candid photo, the photographer needs to keep in mind the positioning of the body and how it fits in the frame. A simple trick is that when it comes time to crop out part of a subject’s body, the cropping border should not on the joint of the subject’s limbs. If an arm needs to be cropped, it will look unusual if cropped at the elbow. It can more effectively be cropped at the forearm or bicep area and remain looking natural. The same is true for a leg, cropping at the calf or thigh looks more natural than cropping at the knee or ankle. The reason for this is that when a subject is cropped at the elbow for example, there is an element of mystery as far as what angle or positioning the arm is after it leaves the frame of the photo. When a limb is cropped beyond the joint, the mind’s eye of the viewer of the photo can see where it eventually extends to.

3. Proper Framing Changes Everything

One thing that affects the look of a photograph more than almost anything else is the framing of what is being photographed. Framing refers to how the main subject of the photograph is situated within the field of what is being photographed. The idea is to maximize the space for use by the main subject. When taking photos of people, a photographer should be close enough, or be able to zoom in close enough, so that these people that are important enough to them to be photographed are not lost in the surroundings of whatever else is included in the photo. When taking a photo of a large building or scenery setting, the photographer needs to be far enough away so that the entire subject can be seen, but not so far away that the subject blends in with the rest of the surroundings.

4. Play The Angles

Vacationers are usually thrilled and excited to see things in foreign countries that they’ve never seen before, and part of the reason is that these things are three dimensional and real. The trouble with transferring these sites to film is that photographs are two dimensional by their very nature. The way for a photographer to borrow as much of the three dimensional reality of a building or city scene as possible is to play the angles. A photo showing a road disappear off into the distance adds depth to a shot showing the city life of a community. A photo of a tall building taken from the corner so that two sides of the structure are seen trailing to the heavens is much more dramatic that a normal front-on picture that only shows one side of the building.

5. Reflections Pay Off

A popular standard travel photo involves taking a photo of a building or historical site that has still water in front of it. This causes there to be a perfect image of the intended subject, and then directly below it is an inverted and somewhat distorted image of that subject. The reason this is a popular photo is because it is extremely pleasing to the eye of the person viewing it. When coming across conditions that provide for a photo like this to be taken, the photographer can often take a risk and train their camera more on the reflection or use an unusual angle to change the appearance of the photo somewhat. Reflective pool photographs will remain popular for many years to come, and with good reason, people love them.

6. Know How To Disable The Flash

While modern technology allows for cameras to have both manual and automatic features that can affect the appearance of a photograph greatly, there is one camera feature that a photographer should master regardless of what model of camera they are using. A flash on a camera can be a photographer’s best friend, enabling photos to be taken in the dark that otherwise would have to be skipped. Often though, a photo can be taken in soft light without a flash and appear to be more natural and pleasant than when the flash is used. Also there are many times that either all or part of the subject being photographed is reflective. Without proper attention to the angle that the photo is taken to in relation to these reflective surfaces, the photographer could end up having photos that are dominated by the reflection of the camera’s flash. Disabling the flash is a must in certain situations. In fact, with today’s modern digital cameras it should be easy enough to take one photo with the flash on and then one with it off, then the decision on which photo to keep can be made at a later date.

7. Don’t Be Confined To The Center Of The Photo

Many photographers are so enamored or conscious of the intended subject of the photo that they automatically photograph it in a way so that it is in the direct center of the shot. While this does bring attention to the subject and make it so there can be no doubt in what the intended subject is, it can also not be the most pleasing way of assembling a photo. There is an old photography rule called the rule of thirds that many photographers have mastered to great success. The concept states that a scene will look more pleasing to the eye if the focal point of the photo sits not in the center of the photo, but either at the one third or two thirds line horizontally or vertically. This naturally makes the eye of the viewer see more of the background and allows them to experience what is being photographed at a better level. When used properly either with photographing scenery or photographing people, this can produce a photo that will be a treasured part of the photographer’s experience.

With the aid of better techniques and even some little tricks, everyone can end up with better vacation photographs. Photographs can add to and extend the good memories of a great vacation. As time passes, everyones memories do fade and sometimes important but small details are forgotten. By capturing those memories in well laid out and beautifully planned photos, travelers are actually both extending the positive impact of the vacation as well as coming up with a great way to share their experiences with friends and family.


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