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How to take great travel photos
Channeling your inner Ansel Adams in the name of better travel pix
Photographs are the best way to preserve memorable travel moments. Once you have returned from vacation, there is nothing better than looking at your pictures and reliving the special moments from your trip. Travel photography doesn’t have to be complicated, you just need to follow a few rules and learn a few tips and tricks.
Choose the right camera
Taking great travel photos doesn’t mean you have to invest in the biggest and most expensive camera. There are several cameras on the market that suit a variety of travel styles and budgets. If you want to travel light, a Micro 4/3 camera may be right for you. If you are heading to that once in a lifetime place like a wildlife safari, you may want a higher end DSLR with exchangeable lenses. If you plan on going to the beach or doing a lot of water sports, a good waterproof point-and-shoot may be in order. It’s important to think about what you will be doing and how much you want to carry. There’s no sense investing in a bunch of equipment if you don’t know what you are buying it for.
Once you’ve decided on your camera, invest in a tripod. This tool will help you keep the camera steady while you're taking your photograph. Because most great landscape photography takes place when light is low (at sunrise or sunset), apertures are small and shutter speeds are slow, it's important to keep the camera still. A tripod allows you to frame shots with ease. Also, if you like the new HDR techniques of taking multiple exposures of one image and blending them all together, a tripod is essential.
When taking your photographs, consider composition, and divide your subject or scene evenly into thirds. You want to create a balanced shot that is pleasing to the eye, but you don’t want your main focal point to be in the dead center of the photograph. Instead, you want your subject to be off to the side a bit; this gives the photo more impact. Finding the right balance is key. Too far off to the side will cause it to get lost, but too much in the center will take away the creative look.
Viewfinder Tip: When taking photos of strangers, always ask their permission first. It’s polite, and you will end up getting photographs that are far more animated and interesting.
Think about the time of day you are shooting. Midday is the worst time to shoot a scene, as that is when light is the harshest (and nothing looks good in harsh light). Instead, shoot your photographs early in the morning or late in the evening when the sun is low. This will put more contrast and texture in to your photograph. If you are photographing people, try to shoot them under cloudy conditions or indoors, under soft lighting. Also, never have the light directly behind your subject unless you are aiming for a silhouette effect.
Experiment with Angles
Don’t be afraid to take photographs from high or low angles. Low angles can lend strength and drama to a subject; high angles swallow up the point of focus and minimize the strength of subject. When taking photos of children, a good rule is to squat and take your shot from their level.
Foreground interest and sense of scale
Adding something in the foreground of a scene—such as rocks or flowers—can help balance out a photograph. This allows you to draw the viewer into the scene and keep his or her eyes from wandering. Also, if you are taking a photo of a large landscape or structure, the sense of scope will be far more effective if there is someone or something in the scene to give it scale.
The next time you photograph your travels, take a moment to think about what your subject is and how you want people to feel when they see the photograph. Concentrating on a few of these tips and tricks will help you take home memories to last a lifetime.
What's your best tip for new photographers?
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