Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Travel Photography Tips For the Footloose

Photo By Spreng Ben

Travel photography is an interesting blend of experiences; the thrills and challenges attached with travel; the windfall gains in the shape of rare images like landscapes, wild lives or sculptures etc. It gives the footloose photographer a double bonanza as traveling meets his wanderlust too; ‘can see the duel and pick some herbs’ as the adage goes!  

Travel Photography also happens to be a mix of all kinds; portraiture if you are that type; catching people in their own abode; nature and wild life photography etc. There are all sorts of wonders attached to this mix; where travel combines with recording of images. Travel when you are free or bored with monotonous work schedule. Always carry a backpack with camera and necessary things when on the move.

Back home; sort out the souvenirs you picked and place them safely; run to the laptop with camera; taste the thrill once more; the hard earned spoils in images; occasionally think about those scenes and experiences at the location; preserve these images like a treasures; there may be occasions when they prove their worth. 

What You Need.

Travel photography is one of the genres of photography that call for the least amount of equipment; the need to travel light could be sighted as the reason. To get started all you need is a digital camera. Even better if you have a DSLR (digital single lens reflector camera)and a general purpose lens which could cover a decent range from wide to short tele photo like the  Canon 24mm – 105mm f/4 IS USM; all packed safely in a backpack.

Keep It Light

travel photography gear
Photo By Dietmar Temps

A beginner when planning to try his/her hands on travel photography might be eager to capture every possible detail with every piece of equipment he or she owns. But seasoned travel photographers stress   the need to travel light; listen to them as they say it from their own experience; the importance of which cannot be emphasized more.

First have a clear idea of how much you can carry; mode of travel if a road trip in a roomy vehicle (everything is ok); to trips by plane, train or bus (requires carrying everything to each hotel and back by yourself); the luggage has to be trimmed; extreme hiking or bicycle trips demands the least well packed in a saddle bag.

Your Travel Gear

camera bag
Photo By Robert Scales

If you are using a DSLR as your main camera it is always a good idea to pack a compact camera too. You can take the compact with you every time say, when you're going out to dinner or something same time don't want to be ‘camera-free’. Never care to take along your main gear either; it will act as insurance if something goes wrong with your main camera. In cases you wish to have yourself in the picture; it is always safe to hand the compact to a person nearby rather than overwhelming him with your beefy DSLR, this way you could include your favorite gear(dslr) in the shots too.

Make Sure You Have Ample Storage?

travel photographer
Photo By Evan Leeson

Lack of enough memory is a problem that needs to be addressed by every photographer; there are several ways (again depending on the mode of travel) to address this issue, like carrying a laptop, a portable storage device, using cyber cafes en route etc. etc. 

The prices of memory cards are going down while their storage capacity increases by the day; it is most economical and convenient to go for some high capacity cards. 

A realistic estimate would be to assume that you will take anywhere from 300 – 500 pictures a day. Consider the file format you are using, mega pixel count of your camera, the no of days you plan to travel and you could easily find exactly how much storage space you need.

What Else to Take?

Other than your camera, lenses, memory cards, spare battery and if possible a tripod (though bulky certain shots are nearly impossible without it).

Battery Charger with Adapters

Never forget to take a battery-charger; if your destination is outside your home country; a charger that will work at that country’s voltage is a must. Latest chargers are the universal type that works with on 110 and 220 volts, but their pins may require adapters to fit in any sockets.

Clear Plastic Bags

Outdoor photography is no picnic; there will be no roof over your head; rain, dust storm or anything may be there.  Always carry some clear plastic bags with you, they have more uses than you will ever imagine especially when travelling. Also a gallon sized plastic bag makes a good raincoat for your camera. Cut a hole in it to put your lens through and you can take pictures even if it's wet outside. It is also useful to avoid condensation inside your camera and lenses when moving from cold to hot areas, in order to prevent condensation, put your camera and lenses in a plastic bag and carry it out/in, and only take it out of the plastic bag a little while later, allowing the temperature outside and inside of the bag to equalize.

Camera Bag

A compact sized camera bag with a few re-sizable compartments to stow each item individually, without needing separate cases for them to prevent them scrub each other as you move around is the ideal choice. Features like a sturdy strap, the ability to open the bag quickly, and protection from the weather are also important. It doesn't matter whether your bag is a backpack, belt pack, chest bag, or shoulder bag; use what is comfortable.

Other Miscellaneous Stuff

A small bag holding your camera cleaning equipment like cleaning cloth, rocket blower and also things like plastic rain coats, a roll of gaffer tape and a small fold-able knife preferably a Swiss army knife will come in handy during travel.

Tips for Getting Great Travel Pictures

Over and above what was mentioned above here are some more things; as you rove about, camera in hand to get back home with some great pictures.

Shoot Details

travel photography ideas
Photo By Werner Kunz

When you get to any location the first thing you should do is to capture the scene, preferably in wide angle to establish the ground for your story, then you go around looking for details that may tell a little story about the place or structure that you are photographing.

Sometimes, the best way to picture a building or other memorable sight is to capture individual snippets of its design. In some cases, parts of some buildings or monuments may be more interesting than the structure as a whole.

Doorways, entrances, roofs, and decorations all make interesting subjects for photographs. Best of all, you can often use a telephoto or normal lens to capture details, avoiding the problems of perspective distortion entirely.

Travel Landscapes

travel photography tips
Photo By Martin Sojka

One major hindrance in travel photography is the pressure to meeting schedule and getting to the next location. Traveling by car allows some chance at least to gawk at an impressive lake or mountain vista, then hurry back and move on with few pictures.

You certainly don't have the time to maneuver to the perfect position, or to stick around until sunset so you can capture the waning light of day. When day wanes, you need to be checked into your hotel room! Travel with a tour group in a bus is likely to be even more hurried.

So, you'll have to take extra effort to stop and smell the roses or, at least, take their photo. You may never pass this way again, so take the time to scope out your scenic view, find the best angle, and shoot it first. That way, if you're forced to move on you'll at least have a good basic shot. Then, take the remaining time to look for new angles and approaches. Use a wide-angle to emphasize the foreground, or a telephoto to pull in a distant scene. Consider taking several photos that you can later seamlessly stitch together as a panorama.

Tips for Photographing People

travel photography tutorial
Photo By Spreng Ben

People can be among the most interesting subjects of your travel photographs, especially if you've traveled to a foreign land where clothing, cultures, or even the packaging of common products that people use, like soda or candy bars, can be different from what we are used to. Some ‘stolen moments’ from their life can evoke the lifestyles, working environment, and cultural influences, or simply ‘people in the act of being themselves’.

There are a few things to keep in mind when photographing people during your travels.

Don't Gawk. 

Travel photography people
Travel photography people

As exotic as the folks from a country where you are a guest may appear to you, they aren't circus performers, and you should treat them with respect. Behave the friendliest way possible. 

Ask Permission..........Always 

Photographer asking permission
Photographer asking permission

In the same vein, it's good to ask permission to shoot, even if you only nod your head in the person's direction before taking the picture to see if they smile or glower. That approach works even when there is a language barrier, because photography and taking pictures is a universal language. Once you've gotten the okay, suggest, even if only by gesture, that your subject resume their normal activities so your photos will look natural.

Offer Thanks after Shooting. 

Once you have the shot, take a little time to thank them and acknowledge the favor. If your subject is interested, you can show him or her images you took on your camera’s LCD, or offer to mail a print or e-mail the photo, if appropriate.

Be Aware of Taboos and Legal Restrictions. 

photography travel
Photo By Luciano Rizzello

Some cultures frown on photographic images of people. Photographing women (or even a man asking a woman for permission to shoot) can cause problems. You may also get into trouble photographing soldiers, military installations, airports, or even some public buildings. Try to learn about these restrictions in advance, if you can.

In travel photography problems aplenty as well as chances of getting unique images; there may not be any for who sit cooped up in a corner to avoid the perils of travel; go places; make great images; preserve them or flaunt them; time will only add value to them.