Elevate your travel photography with these 12 pro tips

Your vacations can provide endless opportunities for great photography, no matter what part of the world you choose to head off to. Now that travel is starting to become a part of our plans again, it’s time to hone those photography skills. in Part One of the Travel Photography GuideI have taken you through the set that you should consider taking with you, whether it is a cool phone like iPhone 13 Pro or Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra Or a dedicated camera like Canon EOS R5 or Leica M11.

Now, I’ll share with you some of the best tips to keep in mind while getting around the world – to help you come back with some great travel shots, instead of a boring set of vacation shots.

By knowing how to quickly turn the camera on, I was able to capture the fleeting golden light of this Scottish sunset.

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Get to know your group

Learning how to operate the camera will not only help you get better and more creative shots, but it will help you take those shots faster, since you don’t have to fiddle with settings. Some of the most exciting travel shots can come and go in a split second, so whether you’re snapping a photo of a bull run in Pamplona or a snowboarder zipping off a mogul pole in Switzerland, you’ll want to learn shooting fast.

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Learning how to use manual controls will allow you to get creative with slower shutter speeds.

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Exit automatic mode

Spend some time with the camera in manual mode before you go too far. Learn how to change shutter speed, aperture, ISO speeds, and white balance, and experience what happens to your photos when you change these settings. A good camera will be able to take some great shots in automatic mode, but when you want to get creative with long exposures, you’ll need manual control over the settings.

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Shooting in Raw mode allows you to adjust settings such as white balance after the photo has been taken.

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shoot in raw

If your camera has it (and most do), shoot in a raw format. Yes, it does create larger files, but memory cards are so cheap now that it’s worth carrying two extra 32GB cards with you. Shooting raw allows you to change the white balance after a shot, capturing more detail in extremely bright and very dark areas, allowing you to soften any puffy sky or lighten some shadows in Photoshop.

While it’s always best to get the correct shot the first time you take it, raw processing gives you more flexibility to salvage a completely incorrect shot.

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Local events can provide a wealth of photography opportunities, such as the marine swimming competition in the Italian city of Vernazza.

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Do your research

Find your location on Google and visit travel sites to learn more about where you’re going. Not only will this help you get the most out of your trip, but you may learn about local events or particularly attractive locations that you may have missed.

You may also learn about photography limitations that could land you in hot water – as a general rule anywhere, avoid photographing government buildings, and if you’re not sure, ask permission.

Find your destination on Instagram or on photography sites like Flickr and 500px to get inspired by what you can see. It’s easy to get an idea of ​​snapshots taken by other people – either to repeat it yourself, or to avoid taking the same generic snapshot that the Internet has seen hundreds of times before.

Take your time to compose

Good composition will make or break an image, and unlike white balance or tone, bad composition cannot be fixed in post-processing. The morning light bouncing back from that country church wouldn’t count much if you accidentally snapped the taper off in a hurry to take the picture.

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By finding a higher vantage point, I was able to better capture the beautiful spiers, swamps – and castle – on a stunning winter evening in Edinburgh.

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play with angles

A general shot of a famous place can be turned into an unusual and creative work of art simply by changing the angle. Take a moment to look at the scene before shooting and don’t be afraid to move around to get the best angles. Struggling with the beach scene? Walk along the coast to find boats, nets, or rocks that might add interest up front. A shooting in the city? Get a tall building for exciting urban cityscapes. Even just kneeling and shooting from below can make all the difference.

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Amazing things can happen in the dark.

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Don’t be afraid of the dark

Just because the sun goes down, it doesn’t mean that photography has to stop. It’s a great time to get creative with slow shutter shots. Long exposure of motion blur, turning ordinary headlights of cars on a city street into creative and abstract light trails, breaking through the darkness. Use a narrow aperture – from f12 to f20 – and a long exposure to turn points of light into gorgeous starbursts.

You’ll need to hold the camera firmly in place – using a tripod – and if you’re playing with exposures longer than a few seconds, you’ll need to be careful about breezes or people walking by adding any vibrations. If you want to make long exposures in the daytime, you’ll need a dark-neutral density filter, like Big Stopper by Lee Filters, to allow you to have one minute exposure in the middle of the day.

If you’re shooting with a modern camera – especially with a larger, full-frame sensor – you can also increase the ISO speed to over 3200 without seeing much degradation from image noise. Combined with a wider aperture of f2.8 or more, you may have more luck shooting handheld scenes in low light. If this is a priority for you, then cameras that also offer in-body image stabilization (such as the Canon EOS R5) should be on your list; This installation allows you to use slower shutter speeds without the need for a tripod.

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Always ask permission before taking pictures of strangers.

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be a person

It is often the people you meet who like the places you see who make traveling and exploring so much fun. People make great subjects for photography, whether they are just strolling the streets, relaxing, or working hard.

Of course, not everyone will want to be photographed, so out of politeness if nothing else, it’s a good idea to ask the person’s permission in advance. It will help if you do your research and learn some basic phrases of the local language not just to ask for permission, but to be able to understand the response. If they say no, it is important to respect that.

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Set the alarm early enough and you can catch the golden sunrise.

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Set the alarm

Midday might be the best time to stroll the Tuscan streets, sip on a mountainside hot chocolate, or order a third cocktail on the beach, but the afternoon sun doesn’t usually provide the best lighting for dramatic photos.

It is the early morning light, casting its long golden shadows that will indeed make the place look prettier. Setting an alarm for the sunrise on holiday may seem like the worst thing in the world, but it’s worth trying — even just once — to see what kind of shots you get. Find out the locations in advance to make sure you don’t waste your precious first hours trying to find a place to shoot.

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By returning to this tower later in the day, I was able to capture the sunset in the background.

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Back to the scene

When you stumble upon a particularly scenic sight, don’t just visit it once. Although the bay may look exhilarating in the day, it will look different again at night, as all the lights of the neighboring buildings stretch across the water. If you know a great place, do your best to come back to see when it looks better.

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Sometimes a powerful black and white adjustment can add to the drama of a scene.

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Play with processing

Although you should always try to get the best shot possible when you first take it, some well-placed post-processing can turn a good photo into a great one. If you’re shooting raw files, you’ll need to process them anyway, so it’s worth trying out a few sliders in Adobe Lightroom while you’re at it.

With your raw files, the first thing you need to do is correct the white balance. Play with the color temperature slider and see which tone suits you best. Summer evening shots will benefit from warmer tones, while cool February city streets will look better with something a little cooler.

Lowering the highlights can help keep bright skies in check, while raising the shadows helps make dark areas more visible, without affecting much of the rest of the scene. It is important not to overdo this, as it can make your photos look somewhat unnatural. From that point on, have fun playing around with the editor of your choice and see what you like. There is no one right way to tweak your shots – no matter what anyone says – it’s all about your preference.

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I adjusted the exposure and color balance for this shot using Adobe Lightroom.

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do your thing

Sure, rules like “take off the lens cap before shooting” should always be followed, but never be afraid to experiment with an unusual angle, fiddle with settings, or experiment with new editing techniques in Lightroom.

If everyone always followed the exact same format, everyone’s photographs would look the same. Use these rules as guidelines and play with angles, settings, and editing as often as you like to find what works for you.

Read more: No paid leave? How to travel without vacation

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