10 Photography Tips For Better Travel Photos

10 Tips I’ve Learned For Better Travel Photos (Part 2)

A year ago I’ve shared with you a few tips I’ve learned for better travel photos. As it was one of my new years resolutions to take better photos, I constantly practiced, read articles, found what I like and what I don’t. Suffice to say that I learned a few things this year so I’d like to share them with you in the hope that they will help you improve your travel photos. I’m no expert however, so I got to the following conclusions after a process of trial and error. Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong or tell me what other tips you know. After all, there will be a part 3 in the future. πŸ˜‰

1. More equipment doesn’t equal to better travel photos

10 Photography Tips For Better Travel Photos
My current photo gear (minus the tripod)

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a lazy af photographer. I find it incredibly inconvenient to change lenses, let alone carry a million of them with me. So looking to lighten my backpack, I settled on only two lenses to always have with me. A Sigma 18-250mm that’s great for everyday shots and a Nikon 35mm for portraits and indoors (especially food shots!). These two are the only lenses I used on my trip to Northern Europe from earlier this year and I’m quite happy with the result. Before these I had the kit 18-55mm lens and a Sigma 70-300, but changing them was a tedious process so after reading a lot of reviews, I decided to replace them with the all-around Sigma one. After all, a good lens will only get you so far, but it’s how you use it that will determine whether your travel photos end up awesome or not.Β It doesn’t matter if you carry a backpack filled with high-end lenses if all they do is weigh you down. So what I’m trying to say is: travel light and learn to take the best photos with the gear you have.

Speaking of lightening the gear, has anyone ever used a mirrorless camera? I’ve been reading a lot about them lately, but I’ve yet to try one, although I’m curious.

2. White balance can make or break your travel photos

10 Photography Tips For Better Travel Photos

White balance is something I’ve only recently come to take into consideration when editing my photos. For those of you who don’t know white balance is “the global adjustment of the intensities of the colors”, or in other words, it’s used to render the colors in the photo as accurate as possible. The cameras have predefined profiles for different light settings (this is why sometimes indoor shots turn out too yellow), but I like to shoot in auto and edit it according to my needs later. The first time I noticed how useful it can be when I went to the Infinitea tea house one morning and was disappointed to see that the photos didn’t do the place justice. Adjusting the “temperature” slider I was able to create a much more atmospheric feel to them.

3. Less is more when it comes to editing

10 Photography Tips For Better Travel Photos

Nowadays I mostly spend a few minutes for editing each photo, because I only make small adjustments (shadows, highlights, contrast and sometimes colors), to make the photo look as close to the scene I remember. I cringe when I see photos that look nothing like the real world (including some of my old ones). If you want to see some some of the photographers that inspire me, check out On The Luce and Travel Notes And Beyond.

4. Always shoot in raw

10 Photography Tips For Better Travel Photos

Speaking of editing, I’ve learned that shooting in raw makes it 1000 times easier to edit your photos. I admit, at first I was like “why would I need to fill up my hard drive, I can edit a jpeg just fine”. It’s so much more convenient to edit a raw file, you can effortlessly correct an overexposed or underexposed travel photo. And you can always delete them after you’re done (which is something that I’ve yet to do…).

5. Is carrying a tripod worth it?

10 Photography Tips For Better Travel Photos

While I’m all for having a light equipment backpack, there’s one thing that always weighs me down: my heavy tripod. I’ve pondered whether it is worth carrying it with me on all my trips, but the answer was yes, considering that I can take much more beautiful travel photos at night than I would if I just held the camera. However, I found ways to not make it be such an inconvenience: I don’t carry it with me during the day and when I take it, I have a fairly good idea on what I want to shoot. (and sometimes I outsource the carrying on someone else 😳 )

6. Learn how to create panoramas

10 Photography Tips For Better Travel Photos

If there’s one thing I’m happy I learned this year it would be this one. Panoramas are a great way to capture more from the scene in one photo and they can make excellent wallpapers as well. Some cameras come with a built in panorama function but if yours doesn’t have it (like mine), you can do it the fun way, by taking more photos and stitching them together in a software like Photoshop. What you should consider is that each photo should contain half of the scene in the previous photo and that you should take them vertically, so that the height of the panorama won’t be too small. Plus, you can end up with a few good images for Pinterest as well πŸ˜‰

7. Focus on details

10 Photography Tips For Better Travel Photos

Everyone wants that shot of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, but I’ve learned that focusing on details can create much more interesting photos. An cool street lamp, a colorful door, a balcony with flowers, they all can add a new perspective to travel photos from places that are well known. To see what I mean, check out the photos from one of my favorite Instagramers, Will Taylor (aka Bright Bazaar).

8. Lots of people around? No problem!

10 Photography Tips For Better Travel Photos

I generally don’t like crowds and if I can wait until everyone leaves, I do. But sometimes you can’t wait and there will be people in the photo. Sure, there are ways of removing them in post processing, like taking a lot of photos in the same scene and then using a tool in Photoshop, or Adobe’s future Monument Mode to remove people on the spot, but I found that people in a photograph can make it more interesting and add a sense of dimension, like in the photo above.

9. Animals make interesting subjects

10 Photography Tips For Better Travel Photos

I love photographing animals, you can end up with such cute and fun shots, although it’s often a frustrating process, because they never sit still (unless it’s a ridiculously lazy seal in Stockholm – the one above). From cats in Istanbul to wolves in Stockholm, I definitely spent a lot of time taking pictures of animals this year.

10. Just take the photo

10 Photography Tips For Better Travel Photos

Sometimes you think about the composition, take a few test shots, play with the settings of the camera and end up with the perfect travel photo. But there will be times when you only have a few seconds to get it right. For example, I had just sat down to rest in Stockholm when I spotted the most beautiful rainbow I’ve ever seen. To make it all better, it was a double one. So I quickly turned on my camera and snapped picture after picture, without checking the result or changing the settings. Being a raw file made it easier to edit them later (see no 4) and by the time I took out my phone to snap a quick photo for Instagram as well, the rainbow was already starting to fade.

What other tips have you learned for better travel photos?

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This year, I constantly practiced, read articles, found what I like and what I don't. Suffice to say that I learned a few things this year so I'd like to share them with you in the hope that they will help you improve your travel photos.

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  • I tried my 30 lei, 200 gram tripod with the new camera, and it actually does hold my new canon and its lens (over 1 kg!- I was surprised, believe me!). You should maybe check out some cheap and light tripods to replace your heavy one πŸ™‚

    • I’m seriously considering buying a smaller/lighter one, my camera with its lens are also well over 1kg. But I quite like the functions of my heavy one, like the possibility of rotating the head 360 degrees, so I’m torn, haha.

  • Susan Dalzell

    Great tips! I especially like #7 Focus on Details. Some of my favorite pics from our travels and from here in Tokyo have been the ones where I really zoomed in on a single detail. (Trying to remember to do that more for Instagram pics. It seems like the little square format works well with a tighter focus.) #MondayEscapes

    • Thanks, colorful details are among some of my favorite things to shoot πŸ™‚

  • Great tips – I’m trying to improve mine as well although definitely following the limited kit idea! The more I do take and practise, the more that helps too I think, and I love spying little details. #mondayescapes

    • Thanks, sometimes the little details can make a huge difference πŸ™‚

  • We bought a new camera this year and it has certainly been fun learning how to use it. I need to work on trying out your method of doing panoramas. Our camera doesn’t have this function πŸ™ #MondayEscapes

    • My camera doesn’t have the panorama mode either, but it’s more fun to do it this way πŸ˜‰

  • I have been paying particular attention to a couple of good travel photographers and I have learnt that less is more or as you say focus on the detail. Thanks for the extra tips.

    • What travel photographers are you following? One of my favorite things to do in my spare time is to look up other photographers for tips and inspiration πŸ™‚

  • Thanks for the tips, I have yet to learn how to put my tripod into good use. I’m lazier than you are when it comes to carrying things. :p

    • I only take a handful of photos with my tripod because I’m too lazy to carry it, haha.

  • Kathleen (Kat)

    Thanks for the tips…I agree with you about white balance and not to carry too many different lens but I’m still hesitant about the tripod hahah. As much as I know how valuable having a tripod especially for night scenes, but I’m not too keen on carrying them. Will see, if I choose to carry it in 2016 πŸ™‚ #MondayEscapes

    • You could try what I do and carry it only after dark and see how it goes. Good luck! πŸ˜‰

  • I need to improve my photography big time, not just in taking photos but also in post processing, so thank you for sharing this – perfect timing!
    Also, it’s another reminder that I *really* need to start shooting in RAW.

    • I’m also trying to improve my post processing techniques, shooting in raw definitely helps πŸ™‚

  • Great tips! I always struggle with people on the pictures but I guess there’s always a way! Animals are my favourite photo subjects πŸ˜‰

  • These are really great tips! I definitely agree with ‘less is more’ for editing as sometimes editing can make the photos look way too much!!

    • Definitely, sometimes filters and HDR can make some really bizarre and unnatural looking photos πŸ™‚

  • Lucy Dodsworth

    Great tips – and thanks for the mention! Shooting in Raw is one of the things that’s really helped my photography – I’m still terrible at using my tripod though (leaning on walls/propped up on lamposts mostly works for me). Plan is to go mirrorless next though, I’ve tried one out and seen some great results, and love the idea of less weight, just need to save up now!

    • Which mirrorless camera have you tried? I have my eyes set on a Sony A6000 but the price doesn’t make me jump right away to buy it without trying it first, haha

      • Lucy Dodsworth

        I’d love a Fujifilm X-T1 but the prices are a bit scary so it might be a while!

  • A great list and a fabulous blog. Thank you also for mentioning that you shoot with the white balance on auto. The photos above are stunning, especially the one from the teahouse. Best wishes!

    • Thank you! It’s always a hassle to choose the right white balance so I just shoot on auto and change it accordingly afterwards πŸ™‚

  • Gin

    I agree, it’s a good summary ! Sometimes, I just can’t be bothered to shoot in raw even If I know the result would be better :p

    • I know what you mean, if I’m on a short trip, I’ll shoot in raw+jpeg, so it won’t take me a long time until I can send the photos to my friends, haha.

  • Clare Thomson

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing. I shall try and put some of your ideas into practice. Love your panoramic shots.

    • Thank you, good luck with your photos! πŸ™‚

  • The whole tripod, no tripod thing is such a quandary. It always causes conflict between my wife and me, so I just cary a compact one, like the Gorilla or UltraPod. Everybody is happy that way.

    • I want to try a GorillaPod, everyone’s been telling me about them.

  • Elaine J Masters

    Great tips and I learned several new ones. I too like to have a few people in the picture for scale at least. The tripod dilemma is mine as well but having a Canon with stabilizing helps, otherwise my phone braced against a wall or railing works too. Always more to learn but couldn’t agree with you more about less is better for editing.

  • JustGoPlaces

    Thanks for sharing your tips!

  • Amanda & Brian

    Completely agree with you on the tripod. At times it can be a hassle but it’s worth it for beautiful night shots and we always regret it when we don’t want to be bothered bringing it. White Balance is a good tip, it’s certainly something we need to work on to ensure we are getting the most realistic colors!

    • I feel the same way, looking back on pictures I always wish I had carried the tripod with me more during a trip.

  • Good tips, Vlad. I try to carry my tripod with me whenever I can, but it’s so big and heavy that it’s a pain. Sometimes I just have to settle for the gorillapod so I don’t pay extra for the luggage. When it comes to lenses, it depends where I go. In a big city with narrow streets I’ll only take my 16-35 mm Nikon, while for landscape photography I’ll carry my 28-300mm, which is also great for portraits. I don’t usually take my Nikon 50mm fixed lens with me when I travel. Who has time for professional portraits when traveling?

    • I discovered that my 35mm is great for food shots, I always carry it with me when I go to a nice restaurant, haha.

  • Traveolani

    Your panoramas are gorgeous! I don’t take them as often as I wish.
    By white balance, do you mean editing the colours or the light of the picture?
    I am the same when it comes to changing and carrying lenses and my tripod. It takes so much space and time and sometimes I just don’t do it.

  • Really great tips Vlad. I definitely need to to try panoramas more – I’m not very good at those. I have such a good SLR that I still don’t really know how to shoot with it! I end up using my phone! But 2016 needs me to try more πŸ™‚ #MondayEscapes

    • Good luck with the panoramas! What camera do you have?

  • The_Paris_Itinerary

    These are great! My goal for 2016 is to really improve my photography skills.

    • Good luck, it’s always so awesome to see you can take better photos than you did a year or so ago πŸ™‚

  • some great tips on here I hadn’t heard of before! will definitely be putting some of these into action on my next trip Thanks for sharing these on #MondayEscapes

    • Thank you and good luck, which tips did you hear for the first time?

      • White light is a new concept for me, I definitely like to adjust the temperature myself. And interesting point about people in pictures – they are so often unavoidable so make them part of it. My other tip if you don’t want people in your shot – have kids, we’re always up early and at the sites before the crowds!!

  • These are great tips that I can use immediately to improve my pics. Nice list!

  • I love your photography tips! You are the one that inspires me.
    I also learned a lot this year, as you, also about white balance and to carry my tripod anywhere I go (I have regret many times I didn’t take it with me). I love the panorama photos, I think I should start taking them too. I need to improve taking pictures at night.

  • Great tips. Photography is something I really need to work on. At the moment the hardest thing for me is trying to get a range of good photos on my camera and smartphone while juggling two kids under three years old. If I don’t drop my camera, it’s a good trip. Lovely photos might have wait a few years πŸ™‚ #MondayEscapes

  • Can I outsource photo taking and editing to you pleeeeease? I am so scared of RAW, aaaand of Photoshop, and I dont even know how to turn on the panorama function on my DSLR (tho I know I have one bc I accidentally did it once), so I have resigned myself to being quietly jealous of other people’s photos. Boo.

    • If you take me along on your awesome trips, then sure! πŸ˜‰