Nature Photographer

You have spent time planning the perfect vacation!   Picturing jaw dropping photographs that you plan to take, you can visualize the pictures on your wall!  Taking good travel photos is not always easy.  I’m not going to try to teach you photography composition in this blog, but, rather discuss how to improve travel photography,  how to take better travel photography pictures and travel photography tips for beginners.  

1.  Know your camera

This tip is worth repeating.  Know your camera!  You can’t  take a perfect picture unless you can make the camera translate your vision and capture what you are seeing.   You don’t need to have a professional camera to take great pictures.  Most professional photographers will agree with me, it is your creative vision and the photographer that takes the picture.  The camera is just the tool used like an artist may use a paintbrush.  But if you  don’t know the camera, you will have a difficult time using the camera to capture what you are seeing.  So the first tip on how to take better travel photography pictures is to know your camera.  

Besides your camera manual, YouTube is a great resource to learn your camera.   There are videos for pretty much every camera and every type of photography.  Knowing your camera will help take good travel photos. 

2.  Shoot early in the day and late in the day

Most people will tell you to do this.   It is in fact, the best time for the best light for photographs and will help you take better travel photography pictures.  However, it is not always possible to do this.  You may take a tour, or a place may only be open during the day.   If you have to take pictures during the day time hours, especially with full sun, there are some tips to make your pictures better.   I have done a full blog on shooting during midday sun which you can read here.   

The following picture was taken mid-day.  I would have been hiking in the dark to take this picture early in the day or late in the day.   The clouds and reflections in the water still make this picture interesting.  

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3.  Do pre-trip location scouting

It helps to know where you want to go and what you want to capture pictures of.  Besides the obvious, there are a few good reasons for this: 

  • Sometimes it takes longer at a location than you planned.  I have seen too many people try to cram so much into a day, that you ended up missing some places you really wanted to see.   Having a list of the places you really don’t want to miss will help. 
  • There are some places, depending on location, that you will want to take at sunrise vs. sunset.   It may make a huge difference in taking good travel photos.  
  • If I had waited until sunset to take the following picture, I would not have been able to shoot in the direction of the lighthouse to get the same colors.  The sun would have been shining on the lighthouse with the sunset to my back.

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4.  Think creatively

Look at a location from multiple angles.   Moving where you are standing may provide a more unique photograph than originally planned.  Move your feet!!   Find a different perspective that is not the same as every other picture.  

5.  Look for the details

When you take a picture, look around for the details.  There may be some flowers, a unique sign, or great texture.  

6.  Patience is everything 

Good photographs require time and attention.   Slow down. This will greatly improve your travel photography.  Is there something that would make the picture better.   For example, there may be too many people in the picture?  If so, will it be better if you wait.   Are the clouds in a pleasing spot?  Would they be better in 15 minutes? 

7.  Check the weather

Sunny is not always better.   Some great pictures can be taken when storm clouds are present.  And cloudy days can make for the most interesting photos.   Clouds will soften the sun’s light, acting like a natural light box and improve your travel photography.  They can also create a dreamy and moody effect that can make your pictures more interesting.

Knowing that a storm was coming allowed for a much more interesting picture in the picture below than if there were sunny skies.  

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8.  Travel light

Don’t purchase a top of the line DSLR.  While they take great pictures, they are big, bulky and heavy.  I used to shoot exclusively with great DSLR’s.  But not being able to carry lightweight equipment can hinder travel photography.   Get a small lightweight camera and small lightweight lenses.   I use a mirrorless micro four-thirds camera, the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III.   You can read more about my transition to this camera in a previous blog.  

9.  Go on tours for photographers

For a beginner or even an advanced photographer, a tour geared toward photographers may be a perfect option.   Most will have a professional photographer on the tour that will provide guidance to help you capture the pictures.  Also, they have pre-scoped out the locations as well as the times that you go there.  This will all help you take good travel photos. 

10.  Have fun!  

Don’t forget to enjoy yourself and put the camera down a little.   Creating memories is the most important part of your trip. I hope the travel photography tips help you on your next adventure. 

Debbi Marquette Photography is located in Upstate New York at the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains.  Debbi is  an award winning and published  travel, landscape and bald eagle photographer specializing in artistic, authentic, and memorable landscape and wildlife photography.   She travels frequently, lives near the mountains and constantly has a camera in her hand to capture photographs so others can see the beauty of our world.

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