Travel photography can be tricky. You are traveling and can’t take a whole warehouse of supplies. It’s also different when you’re traveling versus photographing in a studio. What’s even more difficult than taking travel photos in general… Self portraits when you’re traveling. It’s difficult, awkward and at time embarrassing (if you let it be). Soooooo, I decided to put together a list of tips to keep in mind when delving into the travel photography world.
Pack Only What You Need
Trust me, I get it. You need those filters, you need your three different telephotos, you need your hoods, your leveler, your flashes. I GET IT. But listen. You actually don’t. You can function off two or three lenses and lighten your load. I’d say you need 1. a wide angle. I use this one and it is the most wide angle lens I’ve found that doesn’t get all ‘fish-eye-like’ on you. It’s especially great for astrophotography. 2. One really good telephoto. I like this one. And 3. I always recommend a “nifty fifty” like this one. With these three lenses you can accomplish pretty much anything you need. And with the 50mm being so small it’s like you’re only bringing two lenses, right? In addition to that, ditch all of the accessories. You don’t need all the filters and gadgets. Arm yourself with your necessary lenses, a tripod, a remote, your battery charger, a few memory cards and you should be good to go.
When it comes to photographing scenery and architecture, I kind of ditch the whole “rule of thirds” thing. I pretty much try to focus on symmetry. It’s an oddly satisfying thing when you get a perfectly centered, level photo that has great symmetry. Not that that’s what the above photo is. It’s just the first photo I found in my recent camera roll that was symmetrical. Symmetry is just aesthetically pleasing, and that’s what we’re all aiming for right? But when it comes to landscape photos and photography, I’m all about that rule of thirds.
Rise Early, Stay Up Late
This is for multiple reasons. First of all, you want a good picture without a bunch of tourists milling around. So, you’re going to have to opt for a time with the least amount of traffic. These times are generally going to be early in the morning or later in the evening. I know, waking up early and going to bed late sounds horrendous but wait – there’s more. This means you’re going to be present for all those lovely golden hours. I don’t know why they call it the “golden hour” when it’s actually a few hours. In the morning you get the great amber glow from the East and in the evening you get the warm gold glow from the West. It’s a win-win. Another thing to keep in mind when you’re trying to take self-portraits: It’s a lot easier to set up your tripod and go snap a few photos when there aren’t people around to knock your equipment. Or worse, steal it.
Experiment With Shadows And Highlights
When it comes to photography editing makes all the difference. Sure, you have to start out with a nice composition, some lighting you can work with and all that jazz. But what makes pictures pop now a days is the editing. Hover over the image and look at the difference adjusting shadows, highlights and contrast can make. It’s huge! Not to say that this photo looks especially great with these settings but just look at the difference. You can turn one image into billions of different things. By changing settings, you can change the whole mood of the image with just a few sliders. Play around, figure out what works for your photo, BE BOLD MY FRIENDS.
This is a lot easier said than done, I get it. But if you want to take a successful self-portrait it is the key ingredient. Who cares if you feel silly? What are the odds of you ever seeing those people again? And do you think that in two hours they’re even going to remember that they say you? Nope. They won’t. And you know, who cares if they did. Fuck everyone. Seriously. If someone wants to judge you for trying to capture a moment – let them. It won’t affect your life in any way. It may feel a little weird at first (and taking pictures early in the morning and in the evening really hope reduce the amount of people around you!) but you’ll get used to it and I promise, it gets easier.
Tipod + Timer = Your Best Friends
If your camera has a flip around screen like mine does, your life is going to be so easy. You can see where you are in the frame, if you’re too zoomed in, etc. Get the focus set (we’ll talk about that later) and have your camera all set up and good to go on your tripod. Now, change your setting to 10 second timer. Go stand in the little spot you’ve picked out, get situated and ready (so much easier when you have a flip screen). Once you feel like you’ve got it – click your remote and then you have a full ten seconds to throw your remote out of view. Don’t worry they’re small and only cost a couple of bucks. Just find somewhere soft to throw it 😉 Or of course, stick it in a back pocket or tuck it in your bra – whatever works.
When taking self portraits try using burst mode. This will take a ton of pictures and is great for if you’re looking for more of a candid photo. I only use burst mode because I figure if I take 200 pictures at least one of them should turn out halfway decent. AmIRight?
Props To Set Focus
When you’re alone and don’t have someone to go stand in front of your camera so you can set your focus, life can feel hard. But guys, I promise – it’s going to be okay. Here’s what you do. Grab a nearby [insert random thing here such as: apple, coffee cup, a book, your purse, a shoe, etc.] and place it where you plan on standing/sitting/laying/floating/flying. Now, set your focus on that item. Make sure your lens is set to manual. If you used manual to set your focus you’re already good but if you used auto, make sure to set it back to manual. That way it won’t try to refocus when you use your remote to take your photo. Using a prop is also helpful when you don’t want to be the focal point of your image but still want to be in it.
Do you have any other tips or tricks that you’d like to share? Please leave them in the comments, I’m always looking for new ways to improve my own photography.