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Who doesn’t want to travel to amazing places and have epic memories when they get home? Everyone does but how can you. First, you take pictures. Lots of pictures.
But if you can’t tell what you are looking at (too dark, too bright, out of focus) what’s the point. Sooner or later it will just become a faded memory of some trip you may or may not have taken a long time ago. Sure the pictures you upload to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc will forever be there. But don’t you want those photos to be epic? Don’t you want to print the best ones out and put in an album or frame on your wall?
I know a lot of people don’t print photos anymore. But you should. You really should. I have plenty of pictures in my home that I have taken myself from the many places I have visited. You should too.
It reminds you every day of the places you’ve gone to. Plus it may even get that spark in you to go out today and explore a new local area too.
Enough of that talk let’s get into the tips.
Location, Location, Location
Just like real estate. Location is everything when you want to take a great photo. But that doesn’t mean go where everyone else is going. If everyone took the same photo. Wouldn’t it be boring?
I mean hey, they should just put an “X” where they want you to stand and take your photo. But there is no such thing. Yet most people will take the same exact photo of a given location.
Instead of taking a photo of the head-on with the famous landmark. Maybe take a couple of steps or go 50 plus feet to the left or right. Maybe even go to the backside. Or up a hill.
Just remember to think outside the box. Don’t take the same photo as everyone else. Sure some you will have to. But many, many photos can have your own creative spin to them.
Hit Golden Hour
You should already know that the best time to shoot photos is during “Golden Hour”. You know the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset. When the sun sits low on the horizon and doesn’t give off as harsh of a light.
Hitting sunrise is better for crowds. Most places you will not see many people crowding around for sunrise. Most people are sleeping especially if they are on vacation.
The crowds for sunset can be insane. People on top of people trying to get the perfect shot. This is where our first time can come in hand. Find a different angle to get that epic golden hour shot. The lighting you get early in the morning or around sunset can be epic.
It’s much better than the light you get midday. Going during
No one wants to role-play being a Marine getting ready to invade a country lugging around 100 pounds of gear on their back. Pretty much you want to travel light. Have an idea of where you are going to go for that day so you don’t bring every piece of gear you own.
I usually carry my camera bag (I like this one for when I am hiking) with some ND Filters and my Tamron 16-300mm lens. Sometimes I’ll pack other filters and lenses. The main thing I try to do is plan out what I would like to shoot that day. Am I trying to do street photography? Just shooting landscapes and wildlife? Maybe I am just trying to get stock photos. Having a solid plan can help you travel light.
Bring a Tripod
You just never know when it might come in hand. You can find some decent travel tripods like this one. It folds nice and compact making it ideal for your travel photography.
Personally, I like to use a GorillaPod. They are small, lightweight, and can be placed just about anywhere. You just never know when you might need it. Plus a tripod is one of those things that you are better off to have and not need than need and not have.
Try different compositions. Don’t just try to use the rule of thirds. Use other compositions like Symmetry, leading lines, reflections, and more.
Don’t spend a while trying to frame up the perfect shot either. Like one of our tips earlier you need to think outside of the box. The same goes for compositions. Plus remember to “break” the rules of photography. They are more like guidelines than rules anyway.
As with any photography you need to pack your patience. This holds especially true with travel photography. You could be visiting places that are full of people. With so many people they are bound to get in your shot.
You can either snap away and try to use photoshop to remove them. Or wait for the right moment to take the photo. The same goes if you are visiting National Parks. Some of the most beautiful areas you will come across are located in National Parks around the world.
Like we said earlier, you want to go around the golden hour. But you can’t be one of those people who try to make the mile hike out to a given location 5 minutes before sunrise or sunset. You have to get there at least a half-hour early. Even than might be too late at some of the most epic spots on earth.
A good rule of thumb no matter where or what time of photos you are taken is to get low. Get low to the ground. You will get very interesting angles and shots.
Grab your phone and take a test shot. If you like what you see try with your camera. You will be amazed by the types of shots you can get when you are low to the ground.
Everyone takes photos from eye level. Be different. Be unique. Stand out from the crowd.
If there is a way to get up higher than most go for it. Don’t just stick your hand way up in the air and click the shutter. Look for a rooftop bar or public balcony.
Again, everyone takes photos at eye level. Look for those different angles and heights. If you can’t find anything ask a local. They just might give you a hidden local spot that not many visitors know about.
If you don’t already know this the most important thing other than just owning a camera is the lenses you own. You can have the most expensive camera out there. But if you only have the kit lens it won’t be that good. But it is still better than a phone.
Know your Camera
It sounds crazy but you really should learn your camera. Each camera has its own unique way about it. Learn yours so you know what to expect when you are out traveling and exploring.
Just remember the exposure triangle.
Aperture is how much light you are letting into the camera. The lower the f-number (f/4) the MORE light that is getting in. The higher the f-number (f/22) the LESS light that is getting in.
Another thing to remember with the aperture is how much of the background will be in focus. The lower the number the less in focus. The higher the number the more in focus.
Landscape photographers generally use a higher f-stop. Portrait Photographers generally use a lower f-stop.
Because you can adjust the aperture. Your camera will always be better than your phone.
Shutter Speed is how long you are letting the light into your camera’s sensor. So if your shutter speed is set to 30 seconds. The shutter will remain open for 30 seconds. Two seconds to 30 seconds is great for night photography and trying to get some light trails. You will need a tripod for shutter speeds that low. Low shutter speeds are good for showing motion.
If you have it set for 1/500. You will be letting light in for 500th of a second. Anywhere from 1/80 to your camera’s max shutter speed would be used during the day. About 1/80 is the slowest most people can handhold their cameras without any shake. Higher shutter speeds are good for “freezing” the action.
ISO is how sensitive your camera is to light. Generally, you want to live this at the lowest setting either 100 or 50 depending on your camera. The only time you would increase this is if you are indoors or trying to take photos at night without a tripod.
The higher your ISO is. The more grain you will have show up in your images. Just remember low good, high bad. Most of the newer cameras, however, can still give you good images with an ISO setting of up to 1600.
Just practice with your camera and know what it likes and doesn’t like.
Doing a little research of your given location before you go is a great idea. Search the place on google maps. Get an idea of how far things are from each other. This way you know if you will walk between them or drive.
Also, look at the photos other people submitted. Are they all from the same area and angle? Do you think you can do something different and creative in that location?
Check the forecast
The last thing you want to do is wake up at 4 am to head out for sunrise only for it to be completely cloudy. Trust me I know. I’ve done it a few times already. Some clouds are good but a full-on cloudy sky is not.
Check the forecast the night before. This way you know if you are waking up early or sleeping in. Plus don’t worry if it will be raining that day. Still get out there and take those photos. Just be prepared. Have an umbrella or poncho and something to protect your camera and get out there and snap away.
How often do you go out and take photos? Do you take a lot when you travel? Do you use a camera rather than your phone? Let us know in the comments below. Also, give us your tips.
KozmoPhotos has started a new Facebook group called US Travel Bloggers. Join if you would like to post your travel blogs or are looking for different and unique content. We will post our latest articles and fun tips, hints, and tricks. It’s new and we are just now starting to try and build it. We hope to see you there.
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