You don’t need professional equipment or formal training to take incredible travel photos. The key to excellent travel photography is a little patience, lots of practice, and knowing how to get the most out of resources at your disposable. When I first started “O The Places We’ll Go” in 2015 I was armed with just my iPhone 5 and tips from a few Insta-savvy friends. Since then, I’ve upgraded my iPhone twice, invested in a DSLR (Nikon D3300), and just now started to look into more professional equipment. Although I often use a DSLR, most of my favorite travel shots continue to be the ones that I capture on my iPhone.
Set up your Phone
- Make sure the “grid” setting on your phone camera is set up. If you’re an iPhone user, this can be done in the settings app under “Photos & Camera.” I love using the grid because it helps me align the subject I’m shooting. It’s also a great tool to use to make sure your picture is straight especially if you’re taking a picture of a door, window, or a flatly.
- Keep your lens clean! How well do you see out of dirty eye or sunglasses? Not well. The same applies to your phone camera lens. Keep your lens clean to get the best quality photos from your phone.
- Turn on HDR. You’ve probably noticed the HDR option on your phone. HDR (high dynamic range) is a setting that captures slightly more details. Instead of just taking one photo, HDR captures a couple of images and consolidates them.
- Take the time to focus. Press down on your screen on where you want the camera to focus when you’re taking a picture.
- Use Apps. There are a ton of great apps available to edit your pictures. VSCO, Snapseed, A Color Story, and Lightroom are all great. I use Lightroom for editing my iPhone pictures. Lightroom offers many options to adjust color, contrast, and sharpness of images. You can also take photos from your camera through the app.
Regardless if you are using a DSLR or iPhone lighting is vital.
- As a general rule of thumb, have your light source behind you when you’re taking a picture. For example, if your light source is behind your subject (let's say it’s a person), the result will be that their face will be shadowed. If the light is behind you when you are taking a photograph, it will illuminate their face.
- Be aware of the strength of your light source. Daylight is very broad, so a picture that is taken outside, where the lighting is everywhere will be softer and have less shadow. On the other hand, taking a picture in a room light by a couple of light sources (like a restaurant) will result in a harsher image that has more contrast & shadows.
- Experiment. The best way to learn about lighting is by doing. Try taking photos with different settings on your DSLR or phone at different times of the day. Understanding how lighting works will significantly improve the quality of your travel pictures.
Don't be so serious
Why do you travel? For the Instagram or for the culture, food, and chance to experience something new. Travel and photography should both be fun so don’t get frustrated if the first photograph doesn’t turn out perfect. My rule of thumb is to spend no more than five minutes photographing one spot. If the picture doesn’t turn out right in that time, it’s not worth the frustration or daylight.
What are your favorite photography tips?