Dress for the Environment, Climate and Culture
Engage a Guide
Pack the Right Ancillary Gear
Be a Creator, Not a Recorder
Shoot Beyond the Light
Travel is often an exciting adventure…new people, new places, new cultures and new opportunities to expand your photographic abilities…and photos of your adventures only make the experience that much better.
This PhotographyTalk article presents a number of lesser-known travel photography tips that are just as important as having the right camera, lens, exposure, etc.
Often, the best travel photos are captured when you are as inconspicuous as possible, so dress in subdued colors, such as a green, tan and brown. Save the tropical shirts and other brightly colored clothing for the evenings or when you aren’t taking pictures. This is especially important if you plan to photograph wildlife. You probably don’t need to wear camouflage, but you do want to wear colors that make it more difficult for animals to distinguish you from the background or surrounding vegetation or landscape.
Also, remember to wear the right kind of shoes. In the city, comfortable shoes are preferred, but again, if you are heading into the backcountry, then wear heavier shoes or boots instead of shoes with soft soles.
Be conscious of local clothing customs too. You don’t have to dress like a local, but if you wear similar apparel, then you are more likely to find people friendlier about having their pictures taken. Plus, you won’t necessarily be noticed in a crowd as a tourist/traveler.
If you haven’t traveled to a specific place in the world and the culture is quite different from yours, then arranging for a guide/translator will help you gain access to places, people and events you would not otherwise know are there. You don’t need a guide everyday; but schedule a few days during your travels to concentrate on capturing images that are not the standard tourist fare with a guide who knows the local color and the places tourists never go.
If you’re a serious travel photographer, then don’t just think about packing the right camera, lenses and other gear. Consider a mini-backup/editing system. These include your laptop, a card reader and one or more backup drives. Of course, your laptop is loaded with editing software, such as Photoshop, Aperture or Lightroom. Make absolutely sure you have the most up-to-date RAW Plug-in, especially if you’re packing a new camera. Otherwise, you may not be able to access your RAW files.
In addition, you’ll be well served to pack an AC power strip, so you can charge multiple devices simultaneously instead of one at a time. The electrical system is not the same in all countries, so check in advance whether you need a specific power adapter plug for your destination.
Tourists typically take photos that “record” what they see. Serious travel photographers “create” truly interesting photos of what they see because photography is a process, not just a point-and-shoot exercise. You’ll bring home much better travel photos if you take your time and consider all the components of the scene or person you want to capture. Be conscious of the direction of the lighting and study the foreground and background. There may be a much better angle or position from which to shoot than just wherever you happen to be standing. Don’t hesitate to ask people to move slightly to make an average image spectacular.
Your DSLR camera has better eyesight than you, so it can continue to capture remarkable travel images even though the light is low inside or at the end of the day when sunset is turning to twilight. Measured by the ISO scale, your eyesight has the equivalent of ISO 800 during low-light conditions and the dark of the night. By comparison, an intermediate DSLR will “see” with ISO 1,600 and a pro-grade DSLR can see like a big cat, with ISO 1,600, 3,200 and 6,400.
The difference between the point-and-shoot tourist and the serious travel photographer is not that great. With just these few tips, which don’t require much time or money, you’re almost guaranteed to improve your travel images.
Image credit: tiero / 123RF Stock Photo
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