Walking the Inca Trail, Camino de los Incas, on the way to Machu Picchu, Peru Travel Pictures
Photography tips (for cameras rather than smartphones)
• Shoot from early until 11am, and from 3pm till sunset. The light is richer at these times and shadows give depth to the photos even if it does make you get up early when you’re on holiday!
• Look for interesting light situations as well as subjects. e. g. Evening shadows, morning mist, black clouds with rays of sunlight etc. These can work as photos in their own right, as well as making an ordinary/frequently shot subject sensational
• Generally shoot with the sun behind you or at your side, unless you’re going for special effects like a temple silhouette
• For white beach or snow shots (or any of these kind of high contrast shots) you have to trick the stupid camera which thinks everything should average at medium grey. So first frame the shot you want with your zoom. Then turn and point the camera at something that is a similar distance, but of middling lightness, such as vegetation or tarmac/asphalt. Press the shutter down half way to lock the exposure, point it back at the shot you want and press the shutter all the way.
Alternatively learn to use the exposure compensation feature, turning exposure up by around . 5EV for sand or 1. 0EV for snow (experiment with different settings).
• For sunset travel pictures try to meter (set the camera’s exposure) off the bit of sky near the sun, not on the sun.
• Subjects with an interesting texture (e. g. stone) can be shot with with light coming from the side to pick out the surface differences and make the image more real/tactile to your viewer.
Using a flash for travel pictures
• Switch off the flash on compact cameras when taking distant shots like landscapes or church ceilings. The flash only illuminates up to five metres and will unbalance your exposure (lighting). For ceilings, set the camera on self-timer and put it on the floor or any flat surface.
• If you’re using a flash indoors and close to your subjects – especially if you can check your results easily on a digital camera – watch out for too much light/brightness. Hold or tape a piece of tissue paper over the flash to soften it.
• For a natural look in a low-light situation you need to turn off the flash and hold the camera REALLY steady – preferably a camera with image stabilisation AND a fast lens (e. g. F2. 8). See below, Steady.
• Most digital cameras have an automatic ISO function, enabling you to take flash-free photos in low light but don’t let the setting go too high or you’ll end up with very grainy images. Find ISO in the camera menu and keep it below 400.
Composition (subject arrangement)
• For people and sunset shots use your full optical zoom if you have one. People will be less distorted and the sun will be bigger.
• Get people in your travel pictures doing something, preferably demonstrating their personality by getting them to do something typical. Suggest they move (the camera is fast enough to freeze them) if they are posing, or shoot people without telling them to stop and pose.
Or photograph people quickly again just after you’ve done the ‘Say cheese’ shot! But n. b. if they are vacation pictures of local people who have seen you, ASK PERMISSION!
• Get closer and simplify especially if using a phone-camera with no zoom! Try to strengthen strong subjects by eliminating clutter. If you can’t walk closer, use an optical zoom if you have one (not the digital zoom that loses image quality)
• If it’s a much photographed subject, like the pyramids, try to get something unusual/amusing in the foreground like an old man on a donkey or camel-mounted police. Move! Don’t just stand there!
• Look for an unusual angle as well as your basic frontal shot; put the camera down on self timer; walk around the subject; look from near and far, low and high perspectives.
• Try putting the subject off centre – either one third across the picture or one third up it, or both. This position is known by classical artists as the Golden Cross Section. Landscape shots particularly benefit from having the horizon NOT in the centre of the image. Decide which bit – e. g. sky/sea/land – is more interesting and make the photo 2/3 that and 1/3 the less interesting bit.
Some digital cameras include a grid option that helps you make horizontals horizontal and putting subjects on the golden cross section.
• Look for matching sets of subjects to create some kind of symmetry. • Consider concentrating more on landscape formats (i. e. horizontal pictures) if you usually view digital holiday photos on a computer or even TV, as these will suit the display shape much better. e. g. Bugbog’s photos are now nearly all landscape format.