IMPROVE YOUR TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY
Would you like to improve your Travel Photography? Travel photography is a great way to enhance your journey. But sometimes when you get home are you a bit disappointed in your results? Well, don’t feel alone. That’s a fairly common experience. Many travelers bring a camera long on their trip as somewhat of an after thought. They “grab” photos along the way to document their trip. And for many travelers this type of photography is all they need or want. But if you would like to improve your photography – well, as with so many things in life, you are going to have to put some time, thought and effort into it.
Travel Photography is always a challenge. Unless you have unlimited time and budget ( I don’t know many photographers like that – do you?) you are probably going to be facing some challenges and unknowns in your adventure. The weather may not be what you had hoped. The light may be less than ideal. The location may be over run with people. The list of unanticipated challenges can be endless. As a result, it’s best to have a variety of ideas, techniques, and strategies to help in those photo situations.
So what can you do to not only deal with the challenges of travel photography but to also improve your travel photography? This is the first of a series of brief articles on travel photography. Some are of the ideas are “no brainers.” Some are easier to implement than others. None will work in all circumstances. But if you keep them in mind, and use them when the occasion arises – they can help take your travel photos to the next level.
Travel Photo Tip #1 – THE PICTURE POST CARD PHOTO
Why start with The Picture Post Card tip? You know the type of photo I’m talking about here. It’s the classic image that comes to mind when you think of a particular destination. The Eiffel tower in Paris. St. Peter’s Square in Rome. I find it interesting that there are lots of articles and photographers who tell you to avoid the Picture Post Card photo. It’s “too tired”, it’s “over done”, it’s “trite”, it’s “boring”. And to some degree that is true. If you only shoot the picture post card photo then you are missing something. But if you don’t shoot the picture post card photo then you are missing something as well. So let’s start with making sure you get that great, classic picture post card photo of your destination.
To get the best picture post card type photo you need to do your research before you head out on your journey. Research is a big part of good photography. Fortunately this is fairly simple now with the internet. Do a search for images of your destination and see what comes up. Find the classic images that appeal to you and study them. Find the location of the spot on a map (again the internet is a great help here) and determine directions and locations. Where was the photographer positioned for the shot? Which direction was he or she facing and where was the light coming from? This will help you determine what time of day the photo was taken. Armed with this type of information you will be prepared to know which sights you want for those classic photos, what camera position to select to get the shot, and what time of day will offer the most favorable light.
Shoot a lot. In this day of digital photography it is easy to take lots of photos. Don’t be shy about shooting. I highly recommend you shoot a lot. After all, it might be awhile before you get back to this destination. But when you shoot – shoot with a purpose. Be a thoughtful shooter. Ask yourself why you are taking this particular shot. What are you trying to tell the viewer. How can I best set up the camera and frame the shot to convey what I want.
One simple way to improve the likelihood of your getting a high quality image for your “classic photo” is to bracket your shots. Shoot the same image using a variety of shutter speeds to vary exposures from a bit under exposed to a bit over exposed. This will give you a variety of images to work with when you get home. (After all – shooting the image is just one part of the photo process.) Remember you can always bring details out of the underexposed areas but if you blow out an area – well that detail is gone forever. Also shoot with varying apertures ( f stops). This will give you images with different degrees of depth of field. Once home you can decide what you like best – the image with tack sharp focus throughout the image or the one with the softer, less focused background.
Here is the “Classic” picture post card view of the Golden Pavilion Temple in Kyoto. If you ever visit Kyoto this is a “must see” and “must photograph” location. To get this shot it helped to know if advance the best time of day for the sun to provide this warm light on the temple. (You won’t have any trouble finding this shooting position. It’s well marked and is full of people.) Fortunately it was a very calm day allowing for the wonderful reflections in the lake. Yes – it’s is a Picture Post Card view. Everybody takes it. A bit of planning helped make it a nice shot. But it’s a shot I would want – regardless of circumstances.
Another “classic.” Who visits Key West Florida and doesn’t take this shot?
And of course you can’t visit Paris and not do the Eiffel Tower Night Shot.
Travel photography is not any one thing. It is a process and a coming together of many things. Don’t ignore the tried and true Picture Post Card shot. It can serve as a familiar and striking foundation for your travel photography. With a bit of research you can improve your chances of getting a high quality shot. You will know the location, the time to be there, and the best shooting position. All of that will also help you bring along the right photo gear. Then make a variety of images but shooting in a purposeful manner. Put it all together and you have that Classic Picture Post Card image – the one you really don’t want to miss.
Until the next installment of Travel Photography Tips – remember to keep shooting and -
Enjoy The Adventure!
Dr. B, The Photo Trekker