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Top Tips for Better Travel Pics

11th September 2014

Many travellers transform into budding photographers while on holiday, keen to capture all those amazing travel experiences and spectacular sights. From beautiful sunsets in Italy to family happy snaps at iconic USA attractions, there’s nothing better than making your special moments last forever. Whether you’ve got a simple point-and-shoot camera, an advanced DSLR or just a smartphone in tow, there are many ways you can take better photos on the road. You don’t need heaps of fancy equipment! So here are our top tips for better travel pics to show off when you get home. But remember: photography is all about experimentation, so play around and have fun with it!

nature bird

Find a Point of Interest

A point of interest is simply something that you want to make stand out or draw attention to – an element that makes the photo interesting. Often this will be the very attraction that you've travelled to see - an iconic monument, a waterfall, an ancient ruin or famous building. But there are many other points of interest that may not be so obvious - and they could make for fascinating images. It could be a boat on the water in the distance, a person at the markets, an animal in nature or even just an interesting branch that's hanging over the beach. You could also turn your camera’s attention to the texture of a lovely fabric, rows of souvenirs in a shop, or a colourful cocktail perched on the edge of a pool. Whatever it is, remember that it will be the king of your shot, so take the time to compose your image well and make it interesting.

beach umbrella

Apply the Rule of Thirds

Many people tend to place objects, people’s faces or horizon lines in the very centre of their image. While this can sometimes look great, a common trick is to use the rule of thirds. Imagine your image is divided into a grid of three rows, both vertically and horizontally – many cameras even have a special grid function that will show the lines on the display for you. Then try and place any points of interest along these lines, or at the intersection of the lines. For example, in the image above there is one third of beach and two thirds of sky, and the umbrella is placed one third from the left. It doesn’t have to be exact, but try using this grid idea as a guide when composing your shot, then decide if it looks good before pressing the shutter button.

market food

Create Depth

Try to create some depth in your photo by including subjects that are both near and far. This can be done by shooting front on to create a multi-layered effect. For example, there may be a bird in the foreground, a river behind it and a city skyline rising in the distance. Another way to create depth when there’s less distance between objects is to capture interesting angles from side-on, like a row of market stalls that starts close to you then fades into the distance - or like the rows of fresh produce in the photo above. If you have and understand how to use your camera’s aperture function, you can also play with that to create a blurred effect to add extra depth.

city

Incorporate Interesting Lines

Linear elements are a great way to guide your viewer's eye through the image whilst also creating depth. Straight lines can be found everywhere, such as buildings rising up into the sky, a road that disappears into the horizon, or pillars of an ancient ruin. Alternatively, use curves to create interesting shapes in your image, like a winding pathway that disappears into the jungle. These lines and curves may lead out of the image, or to an important point of interest that you want to draw attention to in the photo (consider the rule of thirds for where to place it). But try not to over think it. Just notice where your eyes naturally trail and capture it.

greece acropolis

Maximise on Natural Light

Don’t make the mistake of always relying on your camera’s flash for light. To truly capture the mood and feel of your destination, shooting with the available light you already have will convey a much more authentic representation of what you saw with your own eyes. So pay attention to whether your flash setting is switched to ‘on’, ‘off’ or ‘auto’, when it could fire off without you even realising. And remember, a flash will only reach so far – usually up to eight metres. So turn it off if you’re not close to your subject. Another thing to consider is the position of your natural light source. If you’re outdoors, try and stand with the sun behind you so the light hits the subject of your photo. Often the best sunlight is in the morning or afternoon when it’s not harsh and bright. If you do photograph into the sun, you may find that you simply get silhouettes – which could very well look great! If you’re indoors, again consider where the lights are and how they light up your subject.

taj mahal india

Use Your Body

To achieve many of the ideas above, you’ll need to move your body. That may mean simply taking a few steps forwards or backwards, or bending a little to the left or right. It could also mean walking 100 metres away! While a zoom lens is handy, often your feet are the best zoom there is. But also consider how you can get different angles. Crouch down, lay on the grass, or get up nice and high by standing on something or finding a nearby hill. Whatever you do, try and take it from a point of view that is different to what every other traveller around you is seeing it from. Make it unique! This is a great way to stand out from the crowd with your travel pics when you get home.

Bonus tip! Don’t forget to soak up your amazing travel experiences while you still can – while an image may last forever, there’s nothing like actually being in the moment and seeing it through your eyes instead of a viewfinder.