Top Travel Photography Tips
Travel photography is about capturing a moment, a place or a culture. No one can deny the satisfaction the photographer gains by carefully planning and executing the perfect shot using a whole host of expensive equipment to get everything just right. However a technically perfect, but emotionally distant shot pales into insignificance next to one that manages to convey it’s message with sensitivity and shows an intimacy with it’s subject.
Aside from a spare battery set and other such essentials, one camera, one or two lenses, and possibly a polarizing filter should let you cover most situations. Walk around the scene. Look at the people. Speak to people. Become part of the scene. You may find that you spend more time getting to know your subjects than actually shooting. It is better to come away with a few memorable images than many average ones. Which for many a traveling photographer, is the real prize.
So while it is easy to be swept up in discussion with other photographers about who has which gadget, don’t forget why you’re there in the first place, and spend a little more time thinking about what you see though the lens rather than the lens itself.
First, choose the right equipment. I like a semi-pro camera with a fixed lens and long zoom. Best travel photos happen fast. I always keep my camera on auto-focus and auto-exposure. Remember, best photos happen fast. If you get invited to a party usually nobody objects to photos taken with a small innocent looking “toy-camera”.
A small light-weight tripod is useful for night/sunrise/sunset photography. Practice, practice, practice.
Also, read a few good books about photography in general and also on digital shooting techniques. Start shooting! Shoot a lot, maybe 10-20 shots of the same subject. What is essential for the shot? How to compose the shot? If you are told “no”, respect it.
Photographing landscapes: Put your camera on aperture-priority and experiment with different apertures.
Some maintenance tips: Remember that moisture, salt and dust are real digital camera killers! If the conditions are difficult keep your camera in its bag until the last moment. If it starts raining heavily, wrap your camera bag in a plastic bag. Clean everything, preferably with a camera care kit. Don’t forget to wipe the lens and filters. Many monitors ship with calibrating software. If yours didn’t, most image-editing software come with something similar. Adjust your monitor’s brightness and contrast if necessary.
Make a hard-copy of your photos on CD/DVD and start playing with image-editing tools. Delete really bad shots. Also adjust colours, shadows etc. Practice more, read books, seek information over the internet, maybe join a camera club, attend photo exhibitions, even have your own? Ask at local libraries, shopping malls etc if they allow you to post your pics.
1. Primary camera: Panasonic Lumix DMZ-FZ30 , a real bargain these days with its 12x Leica lens, 8 MB and excellent usability
2. UV filter to protect the front lens of the camera
3. Camera bag
4. Lots of 2 GB SD memory cards and spare batteries
5. Plastic bag to protect my camera when it rains
7. Backup camera: Nikon Coolpix 3200
8. Photoshop for image editing
Lee Frost’s Creative Photography Handbook covers photography in general from basics to advanced issues, giving you lots of sound advice on composition, using light and other essential stuff. I particularly like The A-Z of Creative Digital Photography which is all about digital shooting techniques as well as lots of very useful Photoshop hints for polishing your photos.
Here are about travel photo tips to help you do just that.
1. Look For Local Cultural Events because these can make for some great photo opportunities.
2. Carry A Wide-Range Zoom (28-200mm) to reduce weight and still have plenty of focal range. Bringing a lot of lenses can really weigh you down.
3. Previsualize Your Shots at a scene. Walk around while considering light, weather, lens selection and how to frame some unusual and fresh compositions.
4. Get Up Before Dawn At Least Once and photograph a scene as the morning light emerges.
5. Show The Picture On The LCD to people you shoot, especially when there’s a language barrier. It involves them in what you’re doing and builds trust.
6. Use A Portable Reflector To Control Light, fill in shadows or brighten colors in the foreground.
7. Make Sure You Have A Tripod, preferably one that’s strong, lightweight and fairly compact when fully compressed.
8. Back Up Your Images with a portable storage device to free up memory cards and ensure that you come home with all the photos you took.
9. Don’t Forget A Cleaning Kit to keep your lenses and sensors clean.