So usually one of the biggest compliments I receive on my blog and Instagram is regarding my photography, so I thought I’d make a little basic guide on how to take good travel photos. Now just to add a lil’ disclaimer… I am no photographer and I am very much an amateur (and I cannot take flatlays to save my life!), but here are some tips on how to take lovely photos whilst abroad that you’ll want to print.
Also little note: yes all of the photos featured here are in Japan. This is because of many reasons. Firstly as I mention further down, taking pictures of things you really love brings out the best in you. Secondly, I had just upgraded my camera and finally was getting to grips with photoshop and lightroom whilst travelling on the various Shinkansen in Japan. So apologies for no other locations, but here I finally am happy enough with my photography to order prints for my room <3 Hopefully future shots in other countries will be good too!
INVEST IN A GOOD CAMERA
Now iPhones are perfectly fine if you’re not overly passionate about photography, but I would recommend at least a compact camera to take breathtaking shots. For travelling, compact systems can be perfect as you get the power and flexibility of a DSLR with a much smaller size for travel. I really recommend the Olympus PEN range, and also the Canon EOS M and Sony compact camera ranges. I personally use the Lumix GX8 but that is more at the pricey end so it probably isn’t a good place to start (unless you’re desperate for super high resolution for its size). It also means that, if in the future you want to up your game, you will be able to switch lenses for different occasions, which I’ll get onto further down the post.
KNOW YOUR FEATURES
Try and free yourself from auto mode to truly control your photography. This is done by adjusting your aperture, shutter speed and ISO. What’s all this?
Aperture: Chose a high aperture for more focus and a lower aperture for more blur. Eg an aperture of 2.5 should provide you with an in-focus subject and a blurred background. Adjust it for how you wish but I personally recommend to never have it too low otherwise nothing will be in focus. Bear in mind though, that this also affects how much light is brought into the camera, so you will have to adjust the shutter speed and ISO accordingly (I personally prioritise aperture)
Shutter speed: The lower the shutter speed, the more light you let in, the higher the shutter speed, the less light you let in. So if you are taking a nighttime photo, have a low shutter speed, if taking a photo on an extremely sunny day, have a high shutter speed. Make sure you use a tripod if slowing down the shutter speed to prevent blur!
ISO: The sensor too needs to be adjusted to the light. Have a high ISO setting if in a dark place, and a low ISO setting if in a bright place. Having a high ISO on a not-so-good camera will increase noise though!
I’ve tried to explain those three main adjustments as simply as possible, but realistically it will take your own personal judgement and adjusting at the time to get it all right!
|Example of a poorly exposed photo, and poor white balance – settings matter! Although the lighting in here was challening :’)|
I only really use the one when travelling, and many photographers would say this is wrong, I disagree, but rule of thumb is each lens you buy will have a different purpose.
This is the type of lens you are most used to. You’ll have the ability to zoom in and out. However, because of this, some zoom lenses can be poor quality and not very sharp. Furthermore, the maximum aperture will change depending on the length you are at. For these reasons professional photographers dislike them. I however, adore them, especially for travel. As much as I would love to use a prime lens for every shot, realistically when travelling you might lose the moment to take a good shot during the time you are taking to switch a lens over. Travel photography is all about the moment. Plus in many instances, I want to enjoy my holiday and take snaps simultaneously, not prioritise getting a ‘perfect’ shot.
These are lenses that have a fixed focal length. Meaning you cannot zoom in or out. If you want your subject to be more zoomed in, you’re going to have to move yourself and the camera closer. The quality of these lenses are typically better and the apeture range is a lot wider too, allowing you to play more with the light and bokeh. So a 15mm lens would be wide angle and a 50mm lens would be zoomed in etc. If you want stunning photographs and know what you’re doing, go for prime lenses. However, be aware that to get a wide range of lengths, it will cost you hundreds of pounds and you will have to take all of these lenses around with you. This is why if travel photography is your thing, go for a zoom, but if you’re trying to be the next best portrait or nature photographer, a full frame DSLR camera with prime lenses is the way to go.
TAKING THE PHOTO
Aim for interesting angles and for different angles. Also, you should try to focus on the little things you see, not just the landmarks and the sightseeing. I also would advise trying not to have too much going on in one photo. Essentially if you cannot take a good photo on an iPhone, an expensive camera will not let you either. Composition is key. However, composition is generally a personal thing so not too much advice to be given in this department as its down to what you personally like in regards to photography. Make photography about you, take pictures of things you like, not just what everyone else takes photos of.
Arguably this is just as important as taking the photo. As I said before though, everyone has their own personal taste, so make sure you edit in your own way. If you copy others, your photography won’t really be yours will it? But rather an inspiration of someone else’s. But when it comes to software, I recommend for ease to use the apps VSCO cam and Afterlight as they are easy to use and provide you with good results. Play around here and see what you like. I personally don’t like photos that are too noisy and gritty, but again that is my own taste! Once you’ve mastered these simple apps, move yourself over to photoshop and lightroom and make sure you’re editing RAW photographs rather than JPEGS. RAW files have more data and thus whilst editing the exposure of your photo, it’s much easier and looks much better. Just double check that your camera is set to take RAW photographs over JPEG. I personally have my camera take both.
|Despite this being shot on a zoom lens, there still is a nice bokeh and all the hairs on the macaque are sharp. Zoom lenses are not all bad 😉|
There are all my little tips! I hope they find you well! What kind of photos do you like and do you have any tips?