Travel Photography Basics - Easy Tips For Taking Your Best Travel Photos

First, take a deep breath. Excellent - now I'm going to tell you the good news. Photography basics are just that - basic. You could spend months in a photography class. Or study a dozen books on technique. But there is no need. With a good camera, and a few beginning photography tips, you will be well on the way to taking travel photos you will be proud to show off.

Ready? Here we go.

~ Buy a good camera. This is truly where you get what you pay for - in spades. Digital technology has evolved so quickly, a high quality, high pixel camera can easily be found for under $200. If you don't plan on printing anything bigger than a 5 x 7, a camera with 6-8 megapixels will work just fine. I do recommend one with some kind of image stabilization - it helps immensely with movement and low light situations, when you can't use flash. My camera also allows me to change the ISO, or film speed. A huge deal for me, since I had complete control over my heavy duty, mostly manual Nikon. It will come in handy more often than you think, and is a cinch to change on most cameras.

Take your time on this purchase. Do some research, go in and play with cameras at a store with people who know their products, ask questions, look at the manual. If you aren't comfortable with the way it is set up, you won't be comfortable using it. Don't think you will get used to whatever is making you hesitate - trust your instinct and move on. You have so many options with digital cameras that there is no need to compromise.

~ Get to know your camera. Sit down with that manual, and spend some time getting to know all the features on your camera. Practice turning the flash on and off, changing the ISO, switching from one program function to another. Go through the settings - do you want the date on all your photos? Flash or red eye option? Set up your camera for everyday photo taking, then change settings for the situation. I keep mine on program, medium high resolution, ISO 400. That way it is ready at a moment's notice, I know what my defaults are, and can switch quickly if necessary. Being able to do this almost without thinking will really come in handy - especially when you capture that unexpected, once in a lifetime moment.

~ Don't sweat the technical stuff. And there is loads of it in photography. Aperture, shutter speed, rule of thirds, depth of field, perspective - just let it go. There are a few rules you absolutely have to know to take brilliant photos. And once you know, it leaves you with the freedom to simply shoot.

~ Change your point of view. Literally. Kneel, move off center, move in. Closer. Now closer - really fill that screen with your subject. Take a photo of the luminous stained glass, with the sun pouring through it. Or the jagged arches of a ruin popping against an incredibly blue sky. Look up, look down, lay on you stomach and check the view from there. I've climbed, crawled, leaned, sprawled and hunched myself into rather odd positions to get the perfect photo. Not only have I gotten the photo I was hoping for, or even better than I hoped, my contortions have also been a conversation starter!

~ Take more than one shot. Don't be content with your first photo. Take several, from different angles. You will be pleasantly surprised with the results.

~ Don't edit right away. You will be tempted to get rid of the photos that don't appeal to you at the moment. Wait until after your trip, when you have the time and distance to really look at them. Delete the out of focus or too dark photos, but save the rest. They will look completely different at home on your computer screen. Trust me on this one. If you think you won't have enough space for all the photos you plan to take, bring 2 or 3 memory cards. Even with a higher resolution quality, you will be able to snap to your heart's content.

~Bring a good quality lens cloth. Don't go for the cheap chamois type, buy one from a camera store. Check your lens when you turn on your camera, and on a regular basis if you leave it on as you move. If it's windy, be diligent about either checking the lens often or shutting down your camera between photos. Not only will it keep spots off your photos, it will keep dust from finding its way inside the lens, where you can't do anything about it.

~ Enjoy yourself! Don't spend your entire trip staring at your camera screen. There are times when you should put away your camera and enjoy the experience. Some sights force this on you, by not allowing photos at all. Take advantage, soak in the atmosphere, and buy some postcards or a small guidebook as a souvenir.

With these tips, your imagination, and a sense of adventure, you will be well on your way to taking your best travel photos ever.