Thursday, 11 August 2016

How to Take Better Photographs When You Travel

Travel and photography have gone hand in hand since time eternal. Can you even imagine going on a vacation and forgetting to take your camera with you? In fact, has that ever happened to you? How did you feel? Regretful? Disappointed? Maybe, if you are an optimist, you would have believed it to be God's wish and enjoyed your trip all the same. However, most of us would have been full of remorse.

Cameras have been our travel companions ever since we realized how heartening it felt to relive a memory of a school trip even years after everyone had lost contact. They have allowed us to record adventures at camp, capture the novelty of honeymoons, ensure that family picnics remain fresh in our minds, and to not fret in case we are never able to visit the same place again in the future. Whether it is a point-and-shoot camera, a DSLR, or one inbuilt in your phone - they have been and will continue to remain our foremost travel companions.

Considering the integral role they play during our travels, it would be desirable to know how to make the most use of our cameras so that we are left with compelling photographs and crisp memories. Let's take a look at five fundamental things one should know to be able to capture a picture that is indeed worth a thousand words!

1. Functionalities of Your Camera

What all can your camera do? If you own a DSLR, I would recommend you explore the manual mode and get creative with it. Do you wish to give a silky smooth effect to the waterfall? Learn about the exposure triangle, i.e. how to control the ISO, aperture, and shutter speed to produced the desired effect in your photographs.

If you are interested in using your cell phone to capture photographs, make sure you are aware of the different applications that can enhance the capabilities of your phone camera. Did you know there are applications that can control the shutter speed of your phone camera? You might just be able to produce the same effect for the water with your phone, in case you don't have a DSLR.

2. Understanding Light

Does your subject's face have a shadow cast over it? Does it seem too dark? Or is the harsh sunlight getting in your way? Either way, having an understanding of light and how the subject's position in relation to the direction from which the sun's rays are falling on it positively affects the outcome of your photographs. Possessing such knowledge can take your photographs from mediocre to magical in an instance.

Further, have you heard of the Golden Hours? If you wish to get that soft, golden glow in your photographs, try to get out and explore your destination during the early hours after sunrise and just before sunset. Visit this website to figure out the times when Golden Hour begins at your destination.

3. Understanding Color

There's a reason why a lot of companies use red in their logos. It catches the viewer's attention. In a similar way, the colors in your photograph determine whether it will appear appealing to the viewer or not. That is where color contrast comes into play. Having a basic understanding of the color wheel can give you an idea regarding how to better compose your photographs.

There's a reason why the red flower in a green valley stands out. And it's the same reason which makes us glance a second time at a photograph of a blue hot air balloon against an orange sky.

4. Composition

Further, as mentioned before, composing your photographs is a skill that you can use to improve your photography. In simple words, "composition" refers to the arrangement of the subject and other objects in your photograph so that they all come together to produce one big picture. The composition of your photograph can either be distracting or visually appealing.

Though there are no fixed rules regarding composition, experience and experimentation have taught us certain techniques that can rarely go wrong. These include the Rule of Thirds, Symmetry, the use of shapes and lines, experimenting with different viewpoints, etc. A simple trick to make yourself aware of the composition of your photographs before you capture them is to roll your eyes over the entire frame of the photograph to confirm that you aren't allowing any disturbing elements into your photograph. That stray branch which is sticking out from the left corner? You might want to zoom-in to crop it out.

5. Editing

Sometimes, while you are still trying to get a grasp of things, you may come across situations where you have captured the perfect moment you wanted, but didn't have time to see to the technicalities. Your five-year-old son is standing in front of the Eiffel Tower, smiling that famous smile of his, the one on the verge of being a smirk and you manage to click the shutter at just the right moment. But, wait. The sun in the background got in the way and his face is almost too dark to make out. What do you do? Photo-editing applications can come in handy during such times. You don't need to have advanced software to be able to correct such discrepancies.

Experimenting with online and mobile photo-editing applications can help immensely! Snapseed, a mobile application, is one such go-to photo-editing app (Download- Android or iOS). Check it out if you have some precious photographs that need to be saved.

Often, we are so overwhelmed with information that we fail to make a move. The five basic points mentioned above do not constitute everything you need to know to be a better travel photographer. However, refer to them as a checklist. Do you know your camera inside out? Are you aware of how to control the light in your photographs and not let it control you? Can you point out color contrast when you see it? Are you paying attention to the composition, to diversify your photographs? Do you know everything that a photo-editing application can do to enhance your photographs? Wherever you find yourself lacking, make it a point to research it in depth and then, implement your knowledge during your next travel journey. And, do share the photographs with us!

Written by Priyanshi Sheth
"Namaste!" from a creative, Indian soul who aims to keep herself motivated as she writes, travels, photographs, and thereby, shares her knowledge.

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