This week’s blog post is by Laurence, from Finding the Universe. He teaches the Superstar Blogging photography course.
We all want better pictures, right? Especially from our trips — both for our own memories, but also to have something nice to share on social media. Becoming a better photographer takes time and practice, but there are always tricks to success.
In today’s post, I’m going to share with you some ideas to help ensure you get the best shots when you’re on your travels, from researching the best shot to simple tips that will ensure you get the perfect shot every time.
Tip #1: Practice before you go
Photography is a skill that needs developing and honing — you need to develop your photographer’s “muscle memory.” Things like knowing how to access and find the different features of your camera and how to compose a great shot are skills that you need to learn in order to improve.
Just make sure not to wait until your trip to practice.
On your trip you want to be catching the moment, not stressing about how to find the continuous focus mode for an action shot. Take advantage of your time before you travel and schedule in some practice.
Head out for a day or two and, to motivate yourself to really learn, try setting yourself some challenges. To start things off, try challenging yourself to:
- Shoot in manual
- Photograph a moving subject
- Capture some candid street scenes
Getting comfortable with these challenges will get you used to using your camera and prepare you for the “real thing.”
My advice is to use these challenges to become better at shooting scenes that are likely to crop up on your trip. After you’ve mastered these basics, I’d suggest also getting used to low-light photography, landscape photography, shooting around sunset and sunrise, and taking action shots of people. If you like sharing photos of your food, then practice those as well.
Tip #2: Get your basics right
A great photograph can easily be ruined by something as simple as a wonky horizon, which detracts from the overall shot and quickly draws our eye. Things like this are super-important and really easy to get right — with practice, of course!
Make sure when you’re shooting that you get these basics right:
- Check that you’re holding the camera steady
- Ensure the shutter speed isn’t so low (below 1/60th of a second) that the shot might end up blurry.
- Make sure everything you want to capture is in the frame – missing the top of a tree or someone’s foot will come back to haunt you later.
- Check that the light source isn’t casting unfavorable shadows.
Basically, you need to take a couple of seconds before hitting the shutter button to be sure that the shot you’re getting is the shot you’re imagining.
Tip #3: Do your research
Have you ever been on a trip somewhere and when you get back home you see all these wonderful photos of locations that you didn’t even know existed? I sure have, and I’ve kicked myself for missing some great opportunities!
Well, there’s no need to be like (old!) me. These days, there are a wealth of ways to find great shot locations before setting off on your journey. Check out location-based discovery apps like Instagram, Pinterest, and Trover to find great spots. Use Google Maps and Google Image search to pinpoint more locations — I like to save potential locations to my Google Maps for future reference.
Finally, if you forget about all the above and arrive at your destination, don’t panic. Check out the postcard stands to see what’s notable around you — you’re sure to get an idea for some shooting locations!
Tip #4: Shoot with the light
Last on my tip list is the advice to shoot with the best light. Of course, this isn’t always an option depending on schedules and your itinerary, but do try and line up the most photogenic sights on your trip with the best light, which usually falls around sunset and sunrise and not around midday.
There are some great apps out there to help you figure out when the sun will be around and also where exactly it will be relevant to your location. I like TPE, but there are many other apps that will help you plan the best location for your photography efforts.
Also, check your weather app to get an idea of what the weather is going to be doing. If rain is forecast, that might not be the best time for those beach shots.
Hopefully, this post will give you some ideas for getting the most out of your next trip. Don’t forget, photography is a journey and you’re always going to be learning — we all are! Just try to enjoy it, don’t stress, and enjoy yourself!