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10 tips for picture-perfect travel photography

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A camera is one of the most vital travel essentials – when exploring the world we all want to document our journey with a set of decent snaps. Our writer and photographer Holly, has a few handy tips on how to make good travel photos great…

Travel light

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Camera kit can be pretty hefty, especially if you are an enthusiast, but there is only so much that you can carry. Ask yourself if you really need six different lens. You can probably get away with a mid-range, wide-angle and telephoto lens. Do you need a tripod or could you improvise with some strategically placed rocks? A lot of tourist attractions don’t permit the use of tripods anyway.

Carefully consider the location and decide on the bare bones kit. Whether you get a budget camera kit from Argos or top of the range gear online, make sure you feel comfortable carrying it. When considering the essentials don’t forget your battery charger, travel adapter and storage cards. A laptop can be really handy to backup photos, make more room on your camera or even start the editing process.

Keep track of the sun

Liepaja sunset, Latvia on GlobalGrasshopper.com

Good photos rely on good natural light and this isn’t always too easy to predict when you are in a new destination. Do your research and make sure you catch the sunrise and sunset. There are plenty of apps and websites devoted to calculating sunrises and sunsets at any place in the world.

Aperture priority for landscapes

Hverir, Geothermal region, Iceland - strange landscapes on GlobalGrasshopper.com

It’s likely that you’ll want some landscape shots, whether they be large stretches of desert or thriving cityscapes. The best way to keep the whole photo sharp from foreground to background is to select Aperture Priority mode (Av).

Animals in action

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Capturing unusual wildlife in a photo is a great accomplishment but can be very hard to do. If the animal is moving quickly make sure you crank up your ISO to increase your shutter speed.

Use a filter

Cuba Beach

Obviously, travelling light means that you won’t want to take too many filters with you.  However, a circular polariser can be really useful when it comes to travel photography. It dramatically reduces surface glare from water and glass and also brings out the blue shades of the sky.

Shoot in RAW

RAW gives you the freedom to process images differently. When you are shooting new and exciting views you don’t want to be limited to the exact settings you used at the time. Increase your possibilities by keeping the original RAW file.

Capture natural portraits

People Caribbean

The kind of nasty cheesy holiday shots that we are trying to avoid involve people posing and looking self-conscious. Great portraits are taken when the subject is completely unaware. Use a telephoto lens to capture locals without them realising and to soften the background, putting more emphasis on the person.

Check your insurance

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If you add up the value of you kit you’ll probably find it’s worth quite a bit. Make sure that you are fully insured for any breakages that occur while you are away, as well as theft.  Then you can relax and take indulge in your photography with great peace of mind.

Keep your camera on stand-by

Camera

Never miss an opportunity. Don’t pack your camera up and only take it out when needed. Have it available at all times, so that you can capture every instance. Wildlife, beautiful shots and changes in light happen so quickly and are very easy to miss if you’re not prepared.

Wander off the beaten track

Cuba Roads

There is no point taking photos of well-known tourist attractions and landmarks, everyone knows them and some very accomplished photographer has probably already taken the defining image of the place. You can always buy postcards or places like this.  Instead try to find new places that are much less likely to have been photographed. Get yourself lost, explore and document your journey as you go. This is a great way to inspire interesting photos.

Holly’s passion for adventure was first inflamed during a family holiday to Africa at the tender age of seven. With a taste for the exotic, the off-beat and the far flung, her feet have stayed consistently twitchy and a studying for a degree in Japanese and art history only poured more fuel onto her travelling ardor. UK based Holly likes nothing better than unravelling new destinations through the people, the cuisine and the local stories, and a story teller herself, her other indulgences include spoken word poetry, playing the cello, photography and seeking out curios. Counting Japan, Paris, Barcelona and off-the-beaten track family adventures as her favourite travel destinations she’s also a regular columnist for The Green Parent Magazine, an author for Green Books and runs the website Natural Mumma.

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