Whether you are on a professional assignment or just planning to take some photos on your annual holiday, by putting some effort into planning your trip properly you will be able to maximize your time and produce better results. It all comes down to research and knowing what to expect once you get there.
It is easy to think that it isn't worthwhile researching your destination just for a short trip. But the opposite is true. The less time you are spending there, the more planning you need to do to pack in as much photography as possible.
There are two crucial pieces of information you need when deciding when to go. Firstly, the weather. If you are short on time, bad weather can play havoc with your photo taking plans. If you have two days and want to take some great landscape shots for example, constant rain is going to ruin any chance you might have had. So find out when the dry and wet seasons are and plan to travel at the best time of year.
The other essential information is to find out when festivals and events are held, as these can provide a wealth of photo opportunities. These events are often linked to public holidays, so research when these are and try to work them into your schedule.
If you are planning to fit a lot into your trip, it is vital to make sure you can get from one location to another quickly and easily at the right time of day. Making a shot list of "must shoot" photos will help you do this. Once you have your list, mark it out on a map. This will enable you to see how realistic your plans are, and plan how to get from one to another. Where you stay will also be a great influence on how much you can achieve on a tight schedule. If possible, try to stay somewhere central that will allow you to get from one place to the next quickly and shoot for longer once you are there. A central location also has the advantage of enabling you to pick up and drop off gear that you don't need all the time and is an annoyance to carry around. Like everyone's favorite friend, the tripod.
Information about your chosen destination can be found in many sources. Guidebooks, magazines and websites are all very useful. One especially helpful method is to get involved in travel forums on the internet. Hearing about other travelers experiences can give a more realistic picture of a place than a glossy guidebook, and also give some useful insights into the best ways to get around and lesser known festivals and events.
If you are shooting for someone else, proper planning can avoid disaster when on location. If you are shooting for yourself, it can avoid disappointment and also free up time for other non photographic activities while you are there and ultimately make your experience one that you can look back on with a sense of achievement.
Each place that you visit has its own peculiar ambiance. If you want your travel photographs to look exceptionally good, you should try to capture the unique character and features of that place. The snapshots should not only trigger your memories, but should also easily communicate to others the captivating vim and vigor of the location.
With respect to travel photography, here are 8 important tips that will help you to capture outstanding digital photos.
1. Buy a high-grade camera and learn the basics of photography
A good quality digital camera will certainly help you to take better pictures. Instead of a point and shoot camera, buy a SLR or DSLR with 300mm to 800mm lens. In addition to the photographic equipment, your bag should have memory cards, filters, external flash units, lens hood, cleaning gear, power adaptor and tripod or mono pod. If the batteries are rechargeable, then you would need a re-charger. Otherwise, you should keep a set of batteries as well.
For clicking excellent shots, you don't require any kind of special training in travel photography. You just have to know the basics like how to set the shutter speed or how to alter the aperture size. You should also learn about different camera modes, ISO, silhouettes, filter usage, and so forth.
2. Gather as much information about the destination as possible
If photography is the sole purpose of your trip, then before getting to the destination, gather as much information as possible. You should know about the best time to travel, chief modes of transportation, main attractions, events that shouldn't be missed, and things that should be avoided. Once you have completed your research, you should prepare a list of photographic opportunities available in the place.
3. Look beyond the main tourist attraction
Often, travel photographers become so obsessed with the main tourist attraction that they fail to notice other photo-worthy subjects. While travelling, keep your eyes wide open. At times, objects near the main attraction are more interesting and photogenic.
4. Natural light vs. artificial light
Usage of artificial light sources usually makes the photographs look unreal. For stupendous shots always rely upon natural light. Make the most of sunlight, and don't hesitate to use filters, reflectors, lens hoods, and fill flash technique whenever the sun becomes too overbearing. If the subject is not well-lit, then freely use flash. By utilizing flash diffusers, night mode, and fine-tuning the exposure settings of the camera, you can easily prevent instances of flash blow-outs.
5. Frame composition is crucial
Each frame that you capture should be top-class. So, before you press the shutter button, meticulously examine and evaluate the scene. Apart from the subject, take a look at the background. Make sure that secondary focal points do not overshadow the subject. Everything you wish to include in the frame should be distinctly visible.
6. Try to interact and connect with the people
For capturing candid portraits, you should openly interact with the people. Close interaction will help to generate trust, and it will become relatively easy for you to convince them to gaze through your lens.
7. Don't count the pictures
Experienced travel photographers shoot the subject from all possible perspectives before moving to the next photographic opportunity. Hence, for shooting great travel photos, explore the scene from all angles, and take snapshots liberally.
8. Avoid travelling with a group
If you travel with a group, your creative freedom would be drastically curtailed. You won't get a chance to pause, look around, and assess the different perspectives of the subject. Moreover, your pictures won't be exclusive as all the members will be shooting the same buildings and people.