Travel Photo Advice

We all want to take great pictures on our holidays to remember the amazing adventures.  And while we would love to take pictures like a professional photographer, we don’t want to spend thousands of dollars, lug around a hundred pounds of equipment, or spend two hours setting up one shot.  Here is a quick list of things I try to remember and prepare for when I am shooting pictures on a trip.  I hope they are helpful to other travelers out there!

Adjust the Equipment

Check the date and time on your camera — especially if traveling a long distance.

Check the auto-focus and image stabilization buttons — they can get switched off accidentally.

Take lots and lots of pictures

If the picture isn’t perfect right now, take it anyway, and then wait for the perfect picture.  If perfection never comes, at least you will something!  (Take a picture of the elephant now, and if he moves next to the beautiful tree, take that picture too.)

Pay attention to details

Giraffe on safari in the Serengeti, Tanzania

Giraffe on safari in the Serengeti, Tanzania

Pay attention to bad things in your picture like a road in the foreground, other people’s heads, cars driving past, etc.

Find a strong point of interest.

Get close to your subject — fill the frame.

Narrow in on a small detail.

Know the “Rules of Thirds”

If you are going to learn and apply one artistic principle to your shots, the “rule of thirds” is arguably the most worthy to understand. The essence of the rule is better composition; the benefit: better, more appealing photographs.  One place to start is here:

Be prepared for traveling

Buy lots of batteries, extra disks, voltage converter, tripod (mini and/or large lightweight), bag for traveling, bag for carrying, and a microfiber cloth.  You will need to pack everything for flights and long drives, and you will need to be able to carry things around easily during the day.

If you have a nice SLR camera, also bring along a small point-and-shoot that you can pull out at a moment’s notice.

Know your destination

Each destination has it’s own unique photographic and environmental challenges. In cold climates you will want to be careful about condensation and concerned with battery life; in desert and beach locations, you will want to be prepared to keep sand out of the fine moving parts of your camera; and in the rainforest, you will want to be prepared for low light shooting conditions and naturally, the rain. Knowing the climate and conditions of your destination will help you protect your expensive equipment and insure better photo results.

Save battery life

Remember that batteries get used up more quickly in cold weather, when using the LCD screen, and when using flash, so plan accordingly.

Buying a camera

When buying a camera, go for at least 12 MP, better than 3x zoom (forget digital zoom), and high-end glass if buying a SLR camera.

Do some research — there are new models and new features every day.

Practice before you go

Many of the newer digital cameras have a stunning array of features that you would be well-advised to play and experiment with before you go on your next big adventure. Practice makes perfect, and in this case, practicing with your camera makes perfect pictures.

Flash Advice

  • Instead of using a flash, try using a higher ISO setting (like 800).  However, this will make the photo look grainy, so try it both ways.
  • Don’t use a flash in front of a window unless the lens is right up against the window.
  • Use during mid-day to fill in shadows (faces under baseball hats)
  • Use only on subjects within 10 feet

Night Shots

For good night shots, use a tripod, external trigger, and a long exposure.

Advice for interesting photos

  • Take pictures of people:
  • Close up
  • With a good background
  • Doing an activity
  • As silhouettes
  • Not in front of building from far away
Red Footed Booby in the Galapagos

Red Footed Booby in the Galapagos

  • Look for a juxtaposition
  • Look for humor
  • With a splash of color
  • From a strange perspective or angle
  • Take a picture close up and then far away
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