Here Are Your Top Travel Photography Tips

You, like me, probably miss the days of capturing the landscape on vacation and trying to figure out how best to capture it on camera. But now you are stuck at home and your DSLR is gathering dust; Your phone’s photo archive is filled with pictures of your cat. We know how it happens. But listen, this is the perfect time to brush up on your photography skills. Photos of azaleas in your backyard may not be as spectacular as when you captured the Taj Mahal at sunset, but what you’re learning now may help you when the journey begins again. (What if you just increase the contrast in that last cat portrait? High drama .)

Yesterday I asked Lifehacker readers to tell me about their favorite travel photography tricks. Here’s what they said.

To learn more about photography, watch the video below:

Create your own tripod

GregR offers some great tips on how you can use yourself and your environment:

1) Use your surroundings as a tripod. Find something to lean on like a railing, table, tree, or something similar.

2) Use your body like a tripod. If none of these are available, or in addition to that, press your elbows to your sides and bring the phone as close to your face as possible with your hands under the camera. If you are sitting, put your elbows on your knees. The further your hands are from your body, the more they will tremble.

This is great advice, but I will also warn readers that if you are using your environment, make sure it is extremely resilient. On a trip to Bangkok, I used a table and napkin holder as a tripod and my phone fell and shattered my entire screen. And yes, I had a screen protector, but the impact was so strong that the main screen of my iPhone broke.

Another reader, Tarquin Shrapnel-Carruthers, has a fantastic trick of creating his own tripod bag.

Just ask somebody

There is no place in the world where I have been, where I would not find someone who would take pictures of himself or his friends. Usually these are the people I hire to take pictures of me, because I know that they will understand what is needed from the right angle – you know, “for a gram.”

Wittyname has a great way to ask strangers:

Whenever I need to ask a stranger to take a photo of me, I try to find someone pushing the wheelchair. I find I’m less worried about them taking the camera and running away.

People with families are usually safer, but if someone looks like a tourist, they will probably be more than happy to be photographed. Taking photos and selfies is a universal language, so don’t be shy.

Day to night

Often times, our worst shots come from not knowing what type of lighting we might need. Need a flash or not? Should you look at the sun or away from the sun?

Here’s what our reader GregR suggests on when to shoot:

The perfect time is when you’re there. No more thinking or stressing about eating at the right time. There is no perfect timing.

Usually, the “golden hour” during sunrise and sunset provides pleasant light for many types of photographs. I would start there. But it doesn’t really matter, it’s cloudy, or you are in a city surrounded by tall buildings, or inside, or it is inconvenient for you to go outside at 7 in the morning. Plus, night photos can be really good, especially in the city.

But what about a flash?

GregR continues:

If you are indoors, a flashlight can help you. Anyway, I always have one in my little backpack. If appropriate for the situation, aim the flashlight at a nearby wall or ceiling rather than directly at your subject. The light will be reflected and scattered into something that looks useful. Not perfect, but might be enough to take a picture.

Sometimes you can make the flash work indoors with a index card or other white sheet of paper. Place the card directly in front of the flash at an angle so that the light is directed away from the subject, preferably at a nearby wall or ceiling. With a phone camera, this can be very difficult because the flash and lens are next to each other. Covering one without covering the other can be difficult or impossible.

Think like a pro

The 1969 Dodge Charger guy advises using the Rule of Thirds. This means that you split the photo into three parts vertically and horizontally, creating nine squares. The grid created in this way allows you to focus on exactly where the most important part of the frame is.

If you place an object at any of the four intersections, rather than in the very center, you are doing yourself a great favor. And if you’re really okay, keep the topic out of the corner.

For DSLR users, Ash78 adds:

If you want to use it as your main camera, choose a 35-50mm fixed lens and auto setting (ideally with flash suppression if not required). This reduces size and weight and requires much less fiddling to get good pictures. Otherwise, please stay away from the crowd while you fiddle with changing lenses and setting up your tripod. No photo tips needed, you know what you are doing.

Black and white

I don’t think black and white photographs deserve credit for how much they can capture the moment. It turns out they can also help when light is in short supply.

GregR also advises:

Black and white can be your friend in dark photos. Even if there is no motion blur, photographs in dark scenes may be noisy / grainy. I find black and white images to be more forgiving in low light because grain is less distracting. Something to try.

There are so many cool tricks to try. But be sure to check out the comments in our previous post to find out more.


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