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Photography Tips

Before you go on your next day trip, weekend away or holiday adventure, make sure you read these essential travel photography tips. This will make sure you enjoy it and capture every important memory.

Tip 1: Pack just what you need

Only take what you’ll need for your chosen destination. With more and more weight restrictions on airlines, pack only the equipment you need. Don’t forget a tripod

Tip 2: Research the location

Find out as much as you can about your destination by checking out the great content on our website or by viewing our YouTube Channel for destination video ideas. Practical guidebooks, such as Lonely Planet are another great source of information. Read forums for other people’s first-hand experiences, especially on how to access difficult areas for photography and what time of year is best to go. If going overseas, Trip Adviser is a valuable resource

Tip 3:

Don’t forget battery chargers for your camera and mobile phone – and a travel adaptor if going overseas. A couple of extra camera batteries are valuable especially if your not near power outlets for a few days

Tip 4:  

A laptop is great for backing up images. But adds to the extra weight you need to carry. Extra memory cards are a great alternative. Or space permitting a backup drive.

Tip 5: Sunrise/Sunset App

A sunrise/sunset calculator for your mobile devise tells you exactly where the sun will rise or set, anywhere, at any time of year.

Tip 6:  Early to bed, early to rise

While most tourists are still asleep, I’m out making the most of the great morning light. As most people are still in bed you won’t have coach-loads of people getting in your photos and spoiling your shots! Photographing villages, towns and cities at this time of day makes the photographic experience more enjoyable. Late afternoon and on – until after the sun sets below the horizon – is another ideal time to take pictures. In the so-called ‘magic hour’ – when the sun is just above the horizon, either in the morning or evening – scenes are illuminated with a wonderful warm, golden glow.

Tip 7: Not missing an opportunity

Tourist information offices employ local people who will have insider knowledge about the area. Local postcards will point you in the direction of lesser-known places, as well as the iconic travel locations. Google Earth is great for finding out how to get to locations and discovering likely viewpoints.

Tip 8: Avoid that burning sensation

Sunscreen! Be safe; factor 30 and above will keep harmful rays at bay. A hat keeps you cool by keeping the sun off your head and face. Or blend in and dress like the locals.

Camera settings

Tip 9:  Use Aperture Priority mode

When photographing landscapes, you want to achieve a maximum depth of field so the scene is sharp from foreground to background – so it’s best to use Aperture Priority mode (Av). You can choose the f/stop required and the shutter speed will be set automatically.  Just be aware that, if you can’t use a tripod and want to use a narrow aperture, the shutter speed might be too slow to handhold. Many tourist attractions don’t allow tripods, so try setting the camera on a wall or similar.

Tip 10:  Select the RAW setting

RAW is a master negative that contains much more data then JPEG. Some cameras let you shoot both Raw and JPEG. This combination takes up a lot of memory but lets you have great results when you come to process them. RAW enables you to go back at any time and process the image in a different way. With RAW software and technology improving all the time, it’s good to have the original RAW file to convert again and again. Not good at processing photos? Services like has professionals that can do the prints for you. And as the website says, your pics usually only cost $5 each to process giving you photos you can be proud of.

Tip 11: Take better candids

There is nothing worse than cheesy posed pictures. Grab candid pictures when the subject is unaware that you’re photographing them for better results. Use a telephoto lens to capture natural portraits of locals and to blur distracting backgrounds. Fill the frame so they are recognisable, a common mistake is to have a person too small in the frame. Show off a beautiful location by having a person actively doing something within the scene, such as walking along a beach. Be aware of cultural and legal restrictions in some countries.

Tip 12:  

Use fill-flash in bright, sunny conditions to fill the shadows and bring out colours.

Tip 13: Know your metering modes

Understanding the difference between metering modes will help improve your travel photography. Best for most situations is Evaluative metering. This averages readings from all four corners and the centre of the viewfinder. Partial metering takes a reading about 14% of the centre of the viewfinder; this is useful when doing a portrait of a person who is backlit. Spot metering takes in about a 3% area and is useful for metering smaller subjects in the frame, which would otherwise be over-exposed. Finally, centre-weighted metering concentrates on 60-80% of the central part of the viewfinder.

Tip 14:  Get white balance right

White balance settings will adjust the colour temperature for any given lighting situation to correctly render elements that are supposed to be white – instead of grey or some other colour. Remember that, if you are shooting in RAW, the image on the display is for viewing purposes only and can be changed post-processing; however, if you are shooting JPEG, the white balance setting will effect the file at the point of capture. The cloudy white balance setting is great for just warming up a scene a bit.

Tip 15:  The best ways to use camera filters

If you only had the choice of using one filter, choose a circular polariser. It’s useful because it not only reduces unwanted reflections and glare from surfaces such as glass or water, but increases saturation in blue skies.

To get maximum polarisation, place your subject at 90 degrees to the sun. You may also want to try using graduated neutral density filters. They are great not only for contrast control, but to add drama and atmosphere to skies, by balancing the exposure of the sky so it’s in-line with the foreground.

Tip 16: Memory cards

Avoid losing memory cards by carrying them in an organised card wallet instead of carrying them loose.

Tip 17:  Always take cameras as carry-on luggage on planes. Be aware of the rechargeable battery limitations on some airlines. Here are Australia’s CASA guidelines in relation to dangerous goods

Tip 18:  If shooting on windy coastlines, constantly clean the lens as the salt spray clouds up lenses.

Quick pointers for better travel photos

Tip 19:  A lightweight, sturdy tripod  will improve and expand your travel photography.

Tip 20:  Always carry your digital camera. You never know when a photo opportunity will present itself.

Tip 21:  Change your angle. Don’t  shoot everything from eye-level; try moving the camera higher or lower. Images from a bird’s eye view can make a refreshing change.

Tip 22:  A well-placed person can add human interest to improve an image – for example, to give a sense of scale to a waterfall.

Tip 23:  Make a picturesque panoramic

When you come across a scenic viewpoint, instead of using a wide-angle lens so that everything appears small, try shooting several images and stitching them together in Photoshop.

This works best if you are using a tripod and allow at least a third overlap of each image so there is enough information to stitch the images together. Focal lengths of 50mm or longer are best. Use manual focus and manual mode so that all of the exposures are consistent.

Tip 24:  Shoot cities at night

Cities come alive with lights and colour at night, and distracting details such as cranes, wires and unsightly buildings melt away in the background. Every holiday destination will have something that looks great at night.

Good subjects include illuminated fountains, sculptures, churches or cathedrals, and market places. Use fountains or statues as foreground interest with the main subject in the background.

Tip 25:  Play with HDR

The HDR (High Dynamic Range) technique is perfect when you have a high-contrast scene. With your camera on a tripod, take several exposures for the shadows, midtones and highlights. Depending on the exposure range of the scene, three exposures with 2-stop increments works well and can be done by bracketing your shots. Combine the images together using a program like Photomatix Pro.

Tip 26:  Get great silhouettes at sunrise/sunset

Shooting a brilliant sunset is something we all do on holiday. Sometimes, though, they don’t quite turn out quite as we saw them. A great way to improve sunsets is to silhouette a distinctive subject.

Remember to compose your subject with the right balance of dark areas, especially when it comes to the foreground. The tendency is to include too much, as our eyes see much more detail. To enhance the sunset, simply switch to cloudy white balance. If your camera allows custom colour temperature, you can increase the temperature to enhance the warm tones.

How to shoot nature while on holiday

Tip 27:  Use a wide aperture to blur distracting backgrounds.

Tip 28:  Use a telephoto zoom with a tele-extender to get in close. Zoom lenses also allow quick recomposing when animals are on the move.

Tip 29:  In order to freeze the action of an animal, increase the ISO to achieve a faster shutter speed.

Tip 30:  Use both eyes to shoot; one to look through the viewfinder, the other on approaching animals so you can anticipate the action.

Above all else…….. Have an awesome time. Share your with us