Have you ever browsed the pictures of your friends’ vacation on Facebook and complained about how uninspired their shots were? Perhaps they went to an exciting, far-flung location like the Forbidden City in Beijing and despite making an effort to capture the majesty of the courtyards and throne rooms, the final shots were so awkward it hurt for you to look at them.
Maybe the lighting was bad or the composition was weird? Either way, you do not want to repeat any of those mistakes when you go traveling! Not only do you want to take amazing travel pictures, but you also want to share some of the wonders of your experiences with your viewers.
Check out the following tips and you will soon be taking great travel photos, some of which might be good enough to frame and hang on your living room wall:
Pay Attention To Your Surroundings
This might seem like fairly obvious advice, but people are often too distracted, stressed, or overstimulated while on vacation to really appreciate their surroundings. If you want to take amazing travel photos, you will need to pay closer attention to your surroundings and absorb everything in: the smell of spices and the cacophony of haggling in a souq or the colors and patterns on textiles being sold on the street.
Whatever it is about the situation that is unique and special, you need to become aware of it. This can be hard to do if you are traveling with friends or family. If you must, get away from your travel companions for a while, so that you can truly engage with your surroundings.
Great travel photography is all about observation and storytelling. By paying closer attention to your surroundings, you can bring a story to life in your mind and shoot better pictures.
Use The “Rule of Thirds” For Better Composition
The rule of thirds is a guideline for composing an image to ensure an aesthetically pleasing result. This rule requires you to:
- Break an image into nine equal parts. This is done by drawing two equally spaced vertical lines to form three evenly spaced sections.
- Then, draw two equally spaced horizontal lines, with the end result being nine equally sized squares.
For more visually compelling photos, your subject should land on or near where any two lines cross. In this beautiful nature shot, the photographer placed the main compositional elements on or near where the lines intersect. The tip of the stem on the top left-hand side of the picture nearly touches the point where the upper left-hand lines intersect. The end result is a dynamic and aesthetically pleasing image.
Use Natural Light to Your Advantage
You are going on vacation, not to a Vogue photo shoot, which means you will be leaving your strobes at home. When taking travel photos, natural light is your best ally. Your camera, unfortunately, is not nearly as sharp as your eyes. If you take pictures in direct sunlight, your camera is going to reproduce mostly shadows, and if you shoot into shadows, your camera will not reproduce many of the details you can see with your naked eye.
In these cases, you will need to work with natural light, not against it. When shooting subjects, you will need to literally put them in their best light. If you want your subjects to appear in vibrant detail, position them so that sunlight falls directly on them. The more natural light your lens can capture, the more vibrant the resulting shot. However, if it is raining heavily and the skies are overcast, you will need to work with your camera’s flash to capture vibrant images.
Find The Right Focal Point
When viewers look at one of your pictures, the subject should be clearly evident. One way to establish a clear focal point is to keep the subject sharp and in focus while the rest of the picture is blurry. This is a great way to isolate people, animals, or any kind of subject matter in your shot. You can achieve this effect through the “portrait” or “people” mode in your camera which most DSLRs and Digital cameras have.
Placing the subject in a prominent position using the rule of thirds is another great way to establish a clear focal point. Lastly, do not confuse the viewer with too many competing elements, as this might overwhelm the main focal point. Secondary points of interest can help guide the eye, but too many strong ones can clutter the photo and confuse the viewer.