Documenting exotic places, capturing priceless memories, and recording once-in-a-lifetime experiences are just a few of the pleasures travel photography affords us. But it can also throw up challenges. Time constraints, logistics, and lack of portable storage can make getting the perfect shot far more difficult. Here are a few tried-and-tested tips to help you make those challenges a little more surmountable.
1. Eliminate the unnecessary
Lack of storage, dubious safety, and the sheer weight of equipment may put the kibosh on your plans of bringing two DSLRs and five lenses to adequately capture your trip. By thinking about how you tend to shoot, you may be able to hone down your kit to just one camera and lens.
Some photographers opt for a fixed focal-length camera like the Fuji X100T. It’s compact, versatile, and good for all-round shooting. But for a photographer who shoots at long focal lengths, it would be a constant source of frustration.
Bridge cameras may provide an alternative, with their versatile zoom ranges in one neat package. Consider your individual needs based on your preferences and narrow down what kit you really need to have with you from what you merely want.
If you just can’t decide, try this; take one entry-level DSLR with a lens that has a varying zoom length from wide-standard to telephoto and a constant aperture of f/2.8 which is ideal for most situations.
2. Pick a lens with IS or VR
Each lens manufacturer offers some form of in-built stabilization. Canon has Image Stabilization (IS); Nikon has Vibration Reduction (VR). Choosing a lens that has in-built IS or VR helps when you can only shoot handheld.
When traveling, there are so many times when the perfect shot can only be captured on-the-fly. Unpacking a tripod and fiddling with camera settings may even be entirely out of the question. For moments when the light is low and shooting handheld is all you can do, IS or VR can help reduce shake and potentially save a photo.
3. Carry a mini-tripod
Slinging a folded down Manfrotto over your back may not be possible, but it also might not be something you’d want to do if you are taking photos in between relaxing moments on your family vacation. Having a portable, mini-tripod in your pocket or bag is a cheap and easy way to get around that issue. A flexible option like the Joby GorillaPod can even help get stable shots from unusual angles without adding too much undue weight to your bag.
4. Invest in memory and charge those batteries
Don’t come back from your holiday with 700 amazing shots from the first three days and absolutely nothing to show for the remaining week and a half because you ran out of memory. It’s now easier than ever to get lots of data and a fast write speed on one reasonably-priced SD card, so hoard a few of them before you go!
Do the same with batteries. Planning to re-charge every night is a great habit to get into, but don’t rely on that alone. When you end up in a hotel that has no power sources or you realize that you left your adapter in the last place you stayed, you’ll wish you’d invested in a few extra batteries and charged them before you left home.
5. Shoot for post-processing
We all want great results straight out of the camera. But if you don’t have all the equipment that you need or the time to nail your exposure by toying with intricate histograms, shooting a certain way to enable post-processing can be what helps you get the shot.
Bracketing your exposures and post-processing the final image into HDR when shooting the dimly lit walls of medieval ruins might be the only way to save the deep blue of the hot Mediterranean sky outside the cracked windowpanes. Without that, the blown-out highlights may not be salvageable.
If you don’t have a tilt-shift lens on hand and you can’t sprout wings and fly, shooting wider than usual and then correcting perspective in post-processing may be the only way to save that great shot of the iconic tower you visited.
6. When in doubt, take the shot
There are many times when you feel that it’s not worth taking the shot. A thousand other photographers may have captured the same view before; you may not have the equipment you need to get the results you want; the weather may have turned sour on the one and only day you got to visit. But regardless of how you feel, take the shot.
If it turns out to be a dud, you just delete it when you get home and you’re in the exact same position as if you hadn’t taken it. But if it turns out to be better than you’d thought, you could have a hidden gem that you hadn’t been expecting. Don’t miss a shot because you feel trapped by circumstance. Just shoot, and the magic will happen.
I hope these 6 tips have given you some ideas for your travel photography to make your next trip a bit easier.
Do you have any others to add to this list? Please share in the comments below.