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Sunday Read: Travel Photography – Tips for Beginners

22 January 2023

Sunday Read: Travel Photography – Tips for Beginners

 

Sunday Reads

Laura Currie 
22nd January 2023

Not All Who Wander are Lost...

 

 

Are you about to embark on an exciting trip? Be it local or somewhere far flung, travel photography can be incredibly inspiring. You get to combine two wonderful pastimes all whilst absorbing the native cultures. 

 

You can either wander about aimlessly and just wait to see what catches your eye, or if your time away is limited, then half the fun can be researching the area before your trip to see where the most captivating shots can be found and what events might be taking place. One thing that’s worth looking up, with either approach, are the times of sunrise and sunset. This will let you seek out golden hour, the short period of time when the sun is low in the sky offering gorgeous contrasty shadows and colours.

 

Shihyu Tsao

 

Tejj ibhRue

Travel light 

Generally, for travel photography you’ll want to travel as light as possible, not just to avoid the astronomical baggage fees but also to encourage you to carry the kit with you as often as possible.  

If you feel weighed down with a huge camera bag then you’ll tire quickly, feel less inspired and probably end up leaving it in the hotel room. Another reason travelling light is important in some locations is that you don’t want to draw unnecessary attention – firstly because it can make people self-conscious in your presence, and secondly because you don’t want to have it stolen. I had my camera snatched whilst on holiday a few years ago, I was horrified but luckily my husband was able to wrestle it back! 

But don’t worry, small doesn’t have to mean inferior, especially these days. For example, Sony’s a7 range is famous for immense quality and speed, the Fujifilm X-H2S is equally impressive and has gorgeous, cinematic film simulations. 

By opting for a more modest-looking camera, you’re also more likely to avoid having to apply for a carnet – therefore avoiding having to pay import/export taxes. 

Get Familiar

Ideally, you’re better off getting to grips with the camera before you head off, so you can make the most of every minute shooting, not fiddling, so it’s a great idea to hire a few days before your departure. Whilst you can simply plonk it into auto mode and get very good results, it’s not as fun and you have far less control over things like depth of field or motion blur, which can really make or break an image.

Street Photography 

One area travel photography really comes into its own is street photography. It can be so inspiring just wandering through busy streets full of strangers going about their lives that you know nothing about, looking for things others might not notice. It may be an old lady sat in her doorway skinning fish, market traders shouting out what they have on offer, street food carts sizzling and smoking… Any number of things can make for insightful, revealing artwork. 


Robson Hatsukami Morgan

But be thoughtful when photographing people – depending on the environment, it may not be polite or appropriate to shoot without permission –  people of some cultures will choose to refuse, so research the customs of the area before you go. If possible, learn how to ask for a photo in the local language, you’ll be sure to get a better reception.


Takalani Radali

Frank Holleman

One technique that’s worked well for me in past if I want a candid shot of someone but need to check they don’t mind being photographed, is to ask permission, take a few shots, then wander away. Once they go back to what they were doing you can revisit and take the unposed picture, safe in the knowledge that they don’t mind. 

Landscapes 

If people are not your preferred subject then landscapes could be for you. The whole world is your oyster (depending on budget!). Anything from arid deserts and dusty cityscapes to green landscapes, lagoons and mountain ranges will present stunning opportunities.

Simona D'Auria

Ashim D'Silva

Omar Elsharawy

Be sure to pack a tripod if landscapes are your objective, something small and lightweight like the Manfrotto Befree Live folds down to just 40cm and can support up to 4KG. Plus it comes in a handy carry bag. 

Tripods will provide stability for long exposures and allow you to capture the movement of water, clouds or even stars, and remote shutter release will help reduce camera shake even more. 

The Rule of Thirds 

A traditional composition guideline which is said to help you frame subjects in a way that’s pleasing to the eye is known as the rule of thirds. It’s especially effective for landscapes. The idea is to have the key elements of the image in line with the ‘third’ markers, as seen here: 

Mmarco Montero

It’s quite an old school technique – it was first written down by John Thomas Smith in 1797! It’s great to bear it in mind but don’t feel too restricted by it, more unconventional compositions can yield some really interesting results!

Filip-Mroz

Have a Project! 

Set yourself a project! If you find yourself in a bustling food market, see If you can capture an image with every colour of the rainbow to create a series. Or perhaps you could challenge yourself to build a set of images featuring only one colour. Another fascinating topic is old doorways; it might sound boring, but in old cities they can be captivating – just think of the thousands of people who have passed through them.  

A favourite of mine is to restrict myself to a single prime lens – it forces you to physically move more and be more deliberate about composition. You’ll feel more involved and immersed in the scene. Plus, primes will offer you far bigger maximum apertures without the heft of a zoom. 

The Boring Bits

Be sure to pack plenty of batteries and memory cards – the last thing you want after trekking through an alien city to capture that perfect scene at golden hour is for either reserve to fall short. They don’t weigh much and take up very little room in your kit bag!

So in Conclusion…

Be sure to have fun – don’t forget, you’re on holiday!

Loren Joseph

 

Not All Who Wander are Lost...

Are you about to embark on an exciting trip? Be it local or somewhere far flung, travel photography can be incredibly inspiring. You get to combine two wonderful pastimes all whilst absorbing the native cultures.

You can either wander about aimlessly and just wait to see what catches your eye, or if your time away is limited, then half the fun can be researching the area before your trip to see where the most captivating shots can be found and what events might be taking place. One thing that’s worth looking up, with either approach, are the times of sunrise and sunset. This will let you seek out golden hour, the short period of time when the sun is low in the sky offering gorgeous contrasty shadows and colours.

Shihyu Tsao

Tejj ibhRue

Travel light 

Generally, for travel photography you’ll want to travel as light as possible, not just to avoid the astronomical baggage fees but also to encourage you to carry the kit with you as often as possible.  

If you feel weighed down with a huge camera bag then you’ll tire quickly, feel less inspired and probably end up leaving it in the hotel room. Another reason travelling light is important in some locations is that you don’t want to draw unnecessary attention – firstly because it can make people self-conscious in your presence, and secondly because you don’t want to have it stolen. I had my camera snatched whilst on holiday a few years ago, I was horrified but luckily my husband was able to wrestle it back! 

But don’t worry, small doesn’t have to mean inferior, especially these days. For example, Sony’s a7 range is famous for immense quality and speed, the Fujifilm X-H2S is equally impressive and has gorgeous, cinematic film simulations. 

By opting for a more modest-looking camera, you’re also more likely to avoid having to apply for a carnet – therefore avoiding having to pay import/export taxes.

Get Familiar

Ideally, you’re better off getting to grips with the camera before you head off, so you can make the most of every minute shooting, not fiddling, so it’s a great idea to hire a few days before your departure. Whilst you can simply plonk it into auto mode and get very good results, it’s not as fun and you have far less control over things like depth of field or motion blur, which can really make or break an image. 

Street Photography 

One area travel photography really comes into its own is street photography. It can be so inspiring just wandering through busy streets full of strangers going about their lives that you know nothing about, looking for things others might not notice. It may be an old lady sat in her doorway skinning fish, market traders shouting out what they have on offer, street food carts sizzling and smoking… Any number of things can make for insightful, revealing artwork. 

Robson Hatsukami Morgan

But be thoughtful when photographing people – depending on the environment, it may not be polite or appropriate to shoot without permission –  people of some cultures will choose to refuse, so research the customs of the area before you go. If possible, learn how to ask for a photo in the local language, you’ll be sure to get a better reception.

Takalani Radali

Frank Holleman

One technique that’s worked well for me in past if I want a candid shot of someone but need to check they don’t mind being photographed, is to ask permission, take a few shots, then wander away. Once they go back to what they were doing you can revisit and take the unposed picture, safe in the knowledge that they don’t mind. 

Landscapes

If people are not your preferred subject then landscapes could be for you. The whole world is your oyster (depending on budget!). Anything from arid deserts and dusty cityscapes to green landscapes, lagoons and mountain ranges will present stunning opportunities.

Simona D'Auria

Ashim D'Silva

Omar Elsharawy

Be sure to pack a tripod if landscapes are your objective, something small and lightweight like the Manfrotto Befree Live folds down to just 40cm and can support up to 4KG. Plus it comes in a handy carry bag. 

Tripods will provide stability for long exposures and allow you to capture the movement of water, clouds or even stars, and remote shutter release will help reduce camera shake even more. 

The Rule of Thirds 

A traditional composition guideline which is said to help you frame subjects in a way that’s pleasing to the eye is known as the rule of thirds. It’s especially effective for landscapes. The idea is to have the key elements of the image in line with the ‘third’ markers, as seen here: 

Mmarco Montero

It’s quite an old school technique – it was first written down by John Thomas Smith in 1797! It’s great to bear it in mind but don’t feel too restricted by it, more unconventional compositions can yield some really interesting results! 

Filip-Mroz

Have a project! 

Set yourself a project! If you find yourself in a bustling food market, see If you can capture an image with every colour of the rainbow to create a series. Or perhaps you could challenge yourself to build a set of images featuring only one colour. Another fascinating topic is old doorways; it might sound boring, but in old cities they can be captivating – just think of the thousands of people who have passed through them.  

A favourite of mine is to restrict myself to a single prime lens – it forces you to physically move more and be more deliberate about composition. You’ll feel more involved and immersed in the scene. Plus, primes will offer you far bigger maximum apertures without the heft of a zoom. 

The Boring Bits 

Be sure to pack plenty of batteries and memory cards – the last thing you want after trekking through an alien city to capture that perfect scene at golden hour is for either reserve to fall short. They don’t weigh much and take up very little room in your kit bag! 

So in Conclusion… 

Be sure to have fun – don’t forget, you’re on holiday! 

Loren Joseph

Laura Currie 22nd January 2023