Monthly Archives: August 2016
Traveling and photography go hand in hand. Most of us can’t travel without taking photos, some travel for photography, while some work as photographers in order to travel! The allure of photography to a traveler goes much beyond just having a memory of having been at a particular place. It is an attempt to capture the very essence of the place he/she has visited, an effort to bring to life what makes the place tick, an innate desire to make others see the place through his own eyes.
In today’s digital age, it is virtually impossible to take a bad picture, with the variety of tools at our disposal. However, there are still some basic methods that need to be followed and tips that need to be mastered through practice so that your travel photography becomes more than just a pastime. Here’s more about the practicalities of this enriching hobby. Here are some tips and tricks in travel photography for beginners.
Travel Photography Tips and Tricks
Start Using a DSLR Camera
Starting off with a seemingly obvious one, but a surprising amount of wannabe photographers still desist from buying a DSLR, and persist with their point-and-shoot playthings. A DSLR gives you complete control over a lot of things that you can’t adequately control in point-and-shoot cameras, the most important of which is the type of lens you want to employ. It also allows you to shoot RAW pictures, which is akin to having the negative of a picture at hand to be molded however you want to, rather than the ready-made JPEG pictures captured by point-and-shoot cameras. The latter is fine if all you are going to photograph is family gatherings, but for serious photographic journeys, you seriously need a DSLR.
Pack a Variety of Lenses …
Different lens settings are useful for different scenes. To be efficient with your equipment, you only need two types of lenses: one that can be versatile with its focal length; a 25-200 mm lens (or thereabouts) will work just fine, and another that has a prime focal length, such as a 50 mm lens.
… But Don’t Pack Too Much
Unless you are a professional photographer, you don’t need (and probably can’t afford) a whole range of variable lenses. As said before, you only really need two lenses; even one would suffice. As they say, it’s the photographer that clicks the photo, not the camera! If you find a beautiful scene, even a standard, kit 18-55 lens is more than enough to make it look fantastic. When the perfect moment unfolds before you, you don’t want to be stuck changing your lens―you want to be clicking away.
Research Your Location
Of course, there are beautiful scenes wherever you go, but getting the opinion of other, more experienced photographers about certain places is really important. If someone you know has been somewhere you are going to go, bug them for information about scenery, the best locations to view it, and weather conditions. Look up various locations around your destination on the Internet, and get involved in photography forums.
Limit the Number of Touristy Photos
Yes, you got to have a photo of you and your smiling partner next to the Eiffel Tower, or holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but try to limit yourself to wasting a minimal amount of time on such photographs. A photo is not just what you see, it’s about what you want to show. Try to take pictures with your unique take on the familiar scene.
Include People in Your Shots
And I don’t just mean portraits by that. Places don’t come alive thanks to the stunning architecture on a medieval wall. They don’t come alive thanks to fields of flowers stretching before your eyes. They come alive thanks to the little boy staring intently at the wall, and the little girl running through the flowers. There may be appealing scenes, but in travel photography, what you want to show is the people that make up a place. The places remain the same, but the people may never come to that particular spot again.
Use the Golden Hour
Golden hour photography is a freebie given away by nature for newbies. It makes everything appear more beautiful and warm. Use the moments just before and just after the sun sets and rises (don’t be too lazy to wake up before sunrise) to give your frame that enviable golden luster. Cityscapes look much more inviting and appealing in the golden light, and portraits carry a bronzed hue.
Keep a Backup
Let me just repeat that: Keep a backup! Memory cards love getting lost and putting you in a fix. An easy way to defeat their purpose is to back up your photos to your laptop daily. Better be pedantic about keeping a backup than sorry about losing your precious memories in one tiny stroke of bad luck, right?
That shot you think would be amazing of a waterfall taken from its summit? There’s a device for taking such shots, and it’s called a helicopter. That shot you just got to have of that snake staring into your lens? What you actually need is a lot of distance between you and it. Don’t put yourself in undue danger for the sake of a photograph! The point of photography is to make memories, not be one!
Use Image Editing Programs Lightly
Some ‘serious photographers’ are incredibly self-righteous about photographers who use such software, and fair enough, if your photo has to be ‘rescued’ with the help of Photoshop, you shouldn’t be clicking photos. But there is nothing wrong with using it for basic functions, such as optimizing the contrast and color settings, or removing red-eye. Do the best you can with the initial photo, and only use editing programs to refine the shot, not to virtually make the shot.
1. Choose an interesting subject to photograph
One of the easiest ways to improve your photography is by taking photos of interesting subjects. Of course, you can take great creative photos of uninteresting subjects, but if you choose an interesting subject to photograph in the first place, it makes taking a great photo much easier.
So where do you find these interesting subjects? They can be found everywhere, from a stormy landscape, to a simple street scene, to a flower in your garden or local park.
Just take a walk around your local neighbourhood with your camera, and you’re sure to find something interesting to photograph.
2. Pay attention to the light quality
Something that has a big effect on how your photograph looks is the quality of light that is hitting your subject. There are two aspects of lighting that you need to pay attention to – the colour of the light and how harsh / diffused the light is.
As a general rule, we tend to prefer photos with a warm (golden) tone. The warmest light naturally occurs around sunrise and sunset, and this is why many landscape photographers prefer this time of day.
The colour temperature of a photo can also be modified by adjusting the white balance setting on your camera. And if you are taking photos using flash, you can use a warming gel on the flash to warm up the light.
Of course, in some instances you may want to go the opposite way, and use light with a cold (blue) colour temperature.
Diffuse vs. harsh light
Diffuse light is where the light creates soft shadows, which is preferred for most types of photography, but particularly portraits.
Diffused light can be created by reflecting light from a large surface (like a wall), or by using a large piece of semi-transparent material between the light and your subject. This works the same way as when there is a thin layer of cloud, which diffuses the sunlight and creates a nice soft light.
Harsh light creates strong shadows. Natural light is at its harshest around midday, while an undiffused flash will also create a harsh light. When shooting with harsh light, try and use the strong shadows it creates to your advantage, incorporating them as an element of your photograph.
3. Compose your photograph carefully
When taking a photograph, it’s all too easy to just point and shoot. However, try and take a bit more time to think about the photo and the composition.
Rule of thirds
Composition is how the elements in the photograph are arranged, and a good guideline for composition is the ‘rule of thirds’. The rule of thirds works by splitting an image into thirds both horizontally and vertically, so you end up with 9 sections.
In many good landscape photographs, you will see the photographer places the horizon in the top third of the photo, while the landscape takes up the bottom two thirds of the photo.
As well as placing elements along the thirds lines, you can also try and put your main point of focus so that it falls on the intersection of two of the thirds lines.
The Golden triangle
The golden triangle is a good compositional guideline to use when your photograph contains strong diagonal elements. It involves splitting the photo into three triangles that contain the same angles (are the same shape).
One right-angled triangle runs diagonally from corner to corner, while the other two triangles are created by drawing a line that goes from one of the other corners to meet the diagonal line at a right angle. Try and place the diagonal elements in the frame so that they follow this pattern for a pleasing composition.
Leading lines and converging lines
Use leading lines or converging lines to draw the viewer’s eye into the image. Good examples of this you can use in landscape photography are roads, paths, fences, hedges etc, really anything that creates a line that leads into the photo.
Try and avoid including lines that lead out of the photo as this has the opposite effect, and leads the viewer’s eye out of the photo.
The Fibonacci spiral or Golden spiral
The Fibonacci spiral is a spiral based on the Fibonacci sequence, while the Golden spiral is based on theGolden ratio. Both are very similar, and can be used as a compositional tool.
If you look at a curled up fern, this roughly follows the spiral pattern. By photographing a subject where the elements can be arranged in the golden spiral pattern, the curve of the spiral will help lead the viewer’s eye through the photograph.
4. Check the exposure
One of the main advantages of digital photography is the ability to check the photo on the camera’s rear LCD. When taking photos, you should check that the photo has been exposed properly, i.e. is not too dark or too bright. Although modern cameras have sophisticated auto exposure systems, they don’t always get it right.
As well as inspecting the image, most digital cameras also have a couple of tools that can help you judge the exposure of an image. The first one is Highlight Warning, colloquially known as ‘blinkies’. What this does is that any areas blown out white will flash when reviewing the photo on the camera’s LCD.
The second tool is the histogram. This is a graph that shows the range of tones in your photo. If there is a peak at the very left edge of the histogram, this means that some of your photo is solid black. And if there is a peak at the very right edge of the histogram, this means that some of your photo is solid white.
Either way, areas of the photo that are solid white or black contain no detail. Maybe this is what you want, but generally it is better to have detail available even if you don’t need it.
You can modify the exposure of the photo by adjusting the exposure compensation. Use negative exposure compensation to darken the photo, or positive exposure compensation to brighten. Take the photo again, check the exposure again, and repeat if any more exposure adjustment is necessary.
Generally the ideally exposed photo is one that is as bright as possible without any detail being blown out white. You can then adjust the photo on the computer to darken it if needed. It is an extra step, but maximises the image quality.
5. Reduce camera shake
Blurry photos can be a problem, especially if shooting handheld when it is relatively dark. The key to reducing blur caused by camera shake is either to make sure you are using a fast shutter speed or to make sure the camera has a solid support like a tripod.
To ensure a fast shutter speed, put your camera in the shutter priority shooting mode. As a general rule, the shutter speed should be 1 over the 35mm equivalent focal length, e.g.
- A full frame camera with a 50mm lens would need 1/50s shutter speed for a sharp handheld photo
- A 50mm lens on a camera with an APS-C sized sensor has a 35mm equivalent focal length of 75mm, and so would need 1/75s shutter speed for a sharp handheld photo
- A four thirds camera has a 2x crop factor, meaning a 50mm lens has the equivalent 35mm focal length of 100mm. So it would need at least 1/100s for a sharp handheld photo
The actual shutter speed you need will depend on your handholding ability. To try and give the camera more support when shooting handheld, hold the camera up against your eye, use both hands to grip the camera, and push your elbows in against your stomach / chest.
If using a fast shutter speed makes your photos too dark, try increasing your camera’s ISO setting, and / or using a wider aperture. This will allow more light to reach the camera’s sensor without having to reduce the shutter speed. If you are photographing a person or nearby object you can also use flash to provide enough light for a fast shutter speed.
The alternative to increasing the shutter speed is to use a tripod or some other form of support (e.g. placing the camera on a wall or table). Make sure the camera is secured tightly on the tripod and either use a cable release or self timer to trigger the camera’s shutter. This way the camera doesn’t receive any shake from the process of pressing and releasing the shutter button.
Try to come out of the auto-mode and start handling the options found in manual mode like ISO, shutter speed, aperture, etc. Read the manual that came along with your camera, and refer to the guidelines to get a good hand on your primary equipment. Once you get to know how to navigate through the manual settings, you’ll be able to customize every shot as per your liking.
If your camera comes with an external attachable lens, it is better to carry a decent zoom lens to maintain a safe distance between you and the subject. A handy waterproof backpack, along with comfortable shoe wear are a must-have for a quiet predatory walk near your subject. A compact lightweight tripod can help in getting the perfect steady shot.
Whenever you are trying to capture any photo, never compromise on the sharpness aspect. An image which is not sharp enough should hit the trash. Try clicking the capture button when you are breathing out for maintaining a more steady hand, if you are taking the shot by hands.
If you want the subject to be still while keeping the background a little blurred, it is advised that you take the shot at high shutter speeds. The more challenging the shot is in terms of movement, the higher the shutter speed should be. Adjusting the proper shutter speed manually for capturing the perfect shot will take diligent practice.
Keeping the ISO value at an optimal level prior to taking the shot is quintessential. Ideally, the ISO value should be inversely proportional to the day-light availability. The less amount of natural light in the environment means you should set the ISO value at a higher level. You can use the Auto ISO setting, but it may sometimes result in noise factors. After taking a good amount of pics, you’ll get a good idea as to what the ISO value should be set at.
Climatic conditions play an important role in photography. A normal sunny day is apt for taking photographs, but too much of sunlight may result in shadows. Using a flash to clear the shadows is one solution, but it may scare away the subject, so it’s best avoided.
Patience is a virtue that you’ll have to worship when studying your subject. You may have to make multiple trips to the same place in order to click that magic moment, and yet, still control yourself of not going berserk when things don’t happen the way you plan.
Don’t get caught up in the intricacies of photography, so much so that you miss the bigger picture. Whether you’re on a wildlife safari or just for a trip around the zoo, take your time to enjoy the moment, relax a bit, and then opt for clicking your desired picture. “There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.” – Ansel Adams
Capturing images of pets is quite difficult as it’s not easy to predict the mood and actions of animals. Let’s take a look at the top 10 tips for pet photography.
- To begin with, first relax! You need to clear your mind from other affairs and concentrate on your project and doing this important. Take some deep breaths and hang out with your pet to find out the type of pictures you want to click. Stay focused on the current moment as pets often do something surprising at any minute.
- Go through the Basics! Before doing anything else, you can go through a photography book that gives details about pet photography. You’ll become frustrated soon, if you don’t know the basics of capturing pets’ images.
- The shade velocity should be no less than 1/250 of a second or quicker. (Read the manual to figure out how to do that) You need fresh, clean pictures with no signs of blurring. If you’re utilising a point to shoot, then simply put the speed dial on.
- Find A Good Background! Ugly backgrounds simply ruin pet photos than anything else, except bad exposure, so look at it and move your pet to another area if the background has a garage, a dirty wall or a garbage bin.
- Move In Close! Ensure that you move in near to make the viewer feel of being in that spot. This will likewise trim out the background issue, which you can’t wipe out.
- Continuously concentrate on the eyes! Unless you’ve a horse as a pet, you have to get down sufficiently low to capture pictures of your pet at eye level. If you’re capturing images of a cat or dog, then lie down on the floor and utilise your elbows to get the camera up to your eye.
- Try To Keep Everything Simple! Focus on catching one thing and one thing only. First decide, whether you want to capture a photo of your dog & your room or just your dog? Choose! It is typically difficult to catch two thoughts in one photograph.
- Evade Harsh Light! Are you planning to shoot outdoors at noon on a sunny day? Wrong decision! There’s no doubt that sun helps to capture some of the most mesmerising pictures, but the situation is not the same when it comes to pet photography. Capture images either in the early morning or in the evening, when the harshness of the sun reduces. Cloudy days are also considered ideal for pet photography.
- Props Can Be Used! Use props to catch astonishing expressions. Use a toy, a whistle or a bright colour cloth. Be prepared! Props just work until the pet becomes bored and exhausted, so you need to capture images immediately.
- Have A Good Idea About Flash Range!
#Bonus Tip: Patience! It’s the key when it comes to photography, especially when you’re doing pet photography. Sam Crawford, an expert photographer says that you never know what’s store in the future, so you have to be always ready and have lots of patience to capture photographs of animals.