Travel photography

Ellen Dewar — 17 July 2014

So you’re living the dream, or at least dream of getting away from it all, packing up the house and hitching up the newest addition to the family, the caravan.

Taking a trip the long or short way round gets you up close and personal with the places you’ve seen on TV and always dreamed of visiting. Some say their other half is the husband, wife, kids or the dog but, for some of us, that other half is, without fail, their camera.

With the advent of digital cameras, everyone is keen to forever capture the places they see in front of them. Go to any major landmark and it’s difficult to find a spare piece of ground to stand and get your shot!

So here are a few tips to get you thinking about your photos and shooting better on the road.

1. It’s not all about the gadgets

When packing gear into an RV, you don’t want, or need, to be burdened with heavy equipment. Look at what you have and ask yourself when the last time you used it was. Do you really want to lug it around?  One piece you should always have with you is a tripod – a reasonable, lightweight one is ideal, but even a mini tripod gives you the chance to shoot in low, magical light.

2. Scout the area

Take the time to research where you are heading – the more you know, the better related to the place you’ll be when you arrive. Taking a tour? Ask lots of questions, talk to the locals, and always scout the area, giving yourself time to wander away from the main tourist areas. That’s when you get a real feel for a place and start to see unique photographic opportunities.

3. The magic hour

Early mornings and late afternoon create light and shade giving images drama and beautifully warm light. Where possible, always shoot pre-dawn into sunrise or dusk into evening. Use the middle of the day to scout locations and come back when the light is right. Experiment with slow shutter speed and you can get some beautiful effects with the sky’s deep blue shades, or movement in water.

4. Perspective

Remember, it’s your story and experience you are trying to tell through the lens, so look for high and low angles where one doesn’t usually see from. Incorporate local people you meet as context to the landscape – this gives perspective and character to what can just be another place on the map.

5. Filters

Buy a polarizer, which reduces glare, creates dramatic skies and saturates colour. Circular PL is best to suit most lenses. Some are more expensive than others, and multi-coated are the best and are less lens vigneting, but they scratch easily so a mid-range one usually does the job. Do some research into HD filters .

6. Shooting landscapes

Think about what’s in the foreground and background. Be careful that the foreground doesn’t take away from the overall landscape, use it to draw your eye into what’s behind, and choose your composition carefully. Pre-visualize like a painter and explore further, rather than settling for the closest and easiest spot. Wouldn’t one glamour shot be better than many mediocre ones? Mobile phone apps can give you all the info you’ll need, such as where the sun is and when it’s in a certain spot anywhere in the world.

7. Photographing people

Being too nervous to talk to locals or ask for photos is designated to leave you disappointed when you review your images. Most people are open to helping someone who is interested in where they live. Take a leap and ask a local about good photo spots. They may even take you there or, better still, tell you a story far more interesting, and it’s then that most people will happily pose for you. Can’t speak their language? Learn how to say hello and thank you in their mother tongue – it goes a long way.

8. No camera

Use your mobile phone and try some of apps which can create interesting looks like Hipstomatic which it gives you film, lens and filter choices.

9. Get inspired

Travel photography should be fun. Explore, be patient, review your work and keep shooting. What’s out there is endless: Go online and explore others’ work , be inspired. The internet can help you in getting the basics about anywhere in the world, but seeing other people’s images can inspire you to see more than you’ve imagined. Take a look and see what you find.

Pick a location for your next adventure with this Australia bucket list.


photos photography camera skills lighting tehnique