Jun 8, 2011 10:20 - Daniela | 2,338 views
We all have seen great travel photography: those photos of people and places that seem to transport us to where they were taken. Travel photography is a skill and an art that I am passionate about, and something at which I am always trying to improve. Over the years, I have learned some guidelines that have helped me take photos that tell their stories effectively.
I would like to share the guidelines with you below.
Learn the Rule of Thirds
The first thing that a photographer, painter or anyone who is concerned with composition needs to learn is the rule of thirds. Basically, the rule divides the canvas into three equal sections across horizontally and three equal sections vertically, resulting in a rectangle made up of nine sections.
Once you have these divisions in your mind, you need to focus on the image’s four intersections (marked red in the image). These are the spots you should place your subject. If you are not able to place an image exactly at an intersection, you should try to place vertical subjects along the vertical divisions, and horizontal subjects along either of the horizontal divisions.
Following the rule of thirds works because people’s eyes naturally go to these areas of a photo or picture. Furthermore, placing your subject at these intersections allows your photos to flow naturally.
Be a Tripod
Digital cameras are great. They are inexpensive, easy to carry and allow you to take and store thousands of photographs. However, not everything is positive about these small devices; being inherently unstable, they have been the cause of many a blurry photo.
Traditionally, a photographer had to hold her film camera up to her eye to take photos. This gave the camera a third point of contact, the other two being the photographer’s hands, which helped stabilize the camera as the photo was snapped. This is no longer the case with those digital cameras that have had their eyepieces replaced with viewing screens.
Now, to avoid taking blurry shots, you need to pay attention to how you are standing and how you are holding the camera. First of all, you need to ensure that your legs are wide and stable. If possible, it is always a great idea to lean against something as you are taking a photo. Next you need to make sure you are holding the camera securely so that it is not shaking. You do this by tucking your elbows into your sides, which is the exact opposite of what many elbow-flapping digital photographers tend to do these days.
Remember, the more secure your camera is, the clearer the photo will be.
Change your Perspective
When people first get a camera they generally all take the same kind of shots by standing upright and simply taking pictures of what is directly in front of them. This produces staid, boring pictures. What you want to do when you are traveling is not to take the same-old tourist photos that everyone else is taking. No, what you to do is find new perspectives.
As you are considering a shot or even when you are taking them, move around, lay low on the ground, get up high, get close, back away. By lying low, you can really show a subject’s height. This is a great way to have your subject fill the canvas. Conversely, going higher, allows you to give your photo more depth and perhaps take in more of the scene. Bring your camera close to the subject to pick up more of your subject’s detail, and, finally, back away to put your subject in more context than you otherwise would be able to.
I know that it can be embarrassing lying on the ground to take photos, but I promise that once you do it a few times it will become second nature and, really, your portfolio will thank you for it.
Follow a Theme
I love following themes when I am taking photos. A portfolio of vacation photos can be made up many themes such as a night out, the beach, craftsmen, and transportation. For each them I try to get at least three types of photos: a general shot of the entire area, a close up of something that represents the theme, and a shot of no more than a few people or items. Once you start trying to represent your themes in at least three ways like this, a whole world of possibilities will reveal itself to you and your camera.
Keep heads free
This is a simple guideline that we all miss from time to time. Simply put, when taking a photo of someone, make sure your perspective does not have a pole or tree or something else growing out of his head. Change angles if need be.
Keep your camera with you
Always carry your camera with you and always be ready to take photos. Considering that taking digital photos is free, there is no reason you should not be taking hundreds of photos each day. Even professional photographers go through thousands of shots to find a few pictures with which they are happy. So please do not assume you got the perfect shot with the first take.
Be Aware of the Light
Wake up early to take advantage of morning light’s warmth and beauty. Next time you are up and out early in the day pay attention to the light. You should notice that colors are redder and shadows more pronounced than they will be later in the day. Another benefit to waking early is that tourist spots are normally less crowded at this time.
The midday and afternoon sun is the one to avoid when taking photos as it produces a harsh light that washes out details, colors and shadows.
Bringing with it its own cool colors and shadows, the twilight of the evening is also a great time to take photos. For practice try taking photos of the same subject at different times of the day. That should demonstrate to you natural lighting’s impact on the quality of your photos.
Remember, these guidelines are just that, guidelines. Go out there and experiment. Have fun and take as many pictures as you can. With time you will find what works for you, develop your own style and build a collection of travel photography you can be proud of.
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