50 Awesome Travel Photography Tips

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If travel photography is your passion, here are some great tips on how to take better photos when you travel. Professional photography Danielle Lancaster spills the beans with her sunset photography tips, wildlife photography tips and overall travel photography tips. 

When you travel, capturing a stunning sunset image should be right up there at the top of your list, so read on for some useful sunset photography tips. Lady Luck plays an important role and the weather will either be on your side or not but if it is, capturing a stunning sunset is the easiest travel photograph for anyone to take. Here are some useful travel photograph tips and if you’d like to learn more, join one of these photography courses at Bluedog Photography

Travel photograph tips

Travel Photography Tips

As we travel we meet everyday people doing amazing things. It may be in their work, undertaking a hobby or simply at home: that is in their own environment. Here are my environmental portrait photography tips.

Portrait Photography Tips

environmental portrait heron queensland 01
This is Kathy, a scientist based at the Heron Island Research Station that we met recently on a visit to the island undertaking a couple of her daily tasks.

Images of these people are called environmental portraits.

You will often see contributors in magazines and media using them to showcase a person they have met and that you may well meet one day too.

They enlighten the viewer into the subject’s life and form a delightful addition to any personal travel album, especially when capturing a loved one doing something they are passionate about.

Tips to capture memorable photographs of the people:

1- Get In Close

environmental portrait annabel artist
Learning to shoot people in their natural environment is one of the best travel photography tips to keep in mind.

If the work they are engaged in is very intricate, get in close without being in the way.

2- Pay Attention To The Light

If you have to use flash, diffuse, bounce whatever you can to soften the light. If you only have the flash on your camera, a top tip is to use a tissue. Hold the tissue over the flash and this will soften the direct frontal lighting of the on-camera flash.

3- Watch the background and foreground

Both should complement your subject and none should distract. Most importantly, it should provide an insight into the character.

4- Use Props

A prop can be good but it needs to be appropriate to the subject.

Not only does this help your subject relax, it also provides a link to the story and an extra visual element to the image.

5- Look For Colour

portrait photography tips
Keep these travel photography tips when photographing people in their natural surroundings.

Look for colour, line, curves, form and most importantly light.

6- Use A Wide Angle Lens

portrait photography tips
These travel photography tips will help you take better photos of the people you meet along the way.

Try using a wide-angle lens with a relatively small aperture. Be careful of perspective and objects close to the lens are not distorted.

7- Be prepared for the unexpected

environmental portrait eddie camel
One of the best travel photography tips is to look for humourous scenes.

These images may be serious or humorous.

Consider creating mood, drama, space and scale in your composition. And don’t forget to have fun capturing the many characters we meet along our journeys.

8- Consider Your Angle

Should you shoot from above, below or direct on? Each subject will vary. What is the feeling you wish to obtain from your image?

A camera angle from below your subject can give the feeling of power while an angle from above can give a feeling of suppression.

9- Always Smile

When photographing strangers politeness is the key! Always ask with a smile.

Don’t be timid. Asking someone to be photographed at work or doing something they love is really not that hard.

They are already in an environment they know. Take the time to get to know your subject and what they do before you pull the camera out. You will find this a two-way rewarding process.

10- Break down the barriers

Make your subject feel comfortable. If you know them this should not be difficult. If you don’t, a warm personality, big smile and generous handshake goes a long way.

Sunset Photography Tips

At sunset, we often experience dramatic lighting and rich saturated colours. Add that with a structure such as a jetty and you can produce a very clever photo that’ll be a keeper and may even feature on a wall in your home. 

This is the time of the day when conditions change quickly. It’s best to be at your location well before the sun sets and stay for the afterglow as you just never know what may happen as the sun dips below the horizon. 

Most photographers are looking for clouds to form a vibrant element in their sunset images. Here are a few other tips to help you snap a winner. 

11- Play with White Balance (WB)

photography tips

Nearly every camera and mobile photographic device, including smartphones, have the ability to control or change the WB of your image closer to what our human eye sees.

Check your camera manuals for where this is and play with it.

It is awesome and an instant way to add that punch of colour you are seeing to your image.

12-Compose you image

Photographing Sunsets Tips 1

Composition does matter!

Can you use the rule of thirds by placing elements such as horizons and interesting structures on a third of your image?

Try using line, a very strong compositional tool to draw your viewer into your image. Separate elements from another.

13- Look over your shoulder

Photographing Sunsets Tips 8

Don’t forget to look over your shoulder.

As the sun sets the moon may be rising swathed in gorgeous pinks and blues. Or the horizon could be bathed in layered pastels or an orange glow.

If there is a storm don’t forget to look around for the rainbow! 

14- Look for the little things and silhouettes 

Photographing Sunsets Tips 6

Look for the little details around you at sunset.

At this time of the day, the light is soft and your subject will be side lit.

Side lighting is the best lighting to empathize texture. 

Silhouettes are considered the most extreme form of backlighting in photography and the best silhouettes are simple. Look for strong, bold shapes that are easily recognisable.

15-Use a tripod and remote control or cable release 

Photographing Sunsets Tips 10

Avoid camera shake at all costs.

You have to use a tripod or some form of stable support.

A remote control or cable release also helps decrease camera shake and use your camera’s self-timer.

Above all have fun!

Wildlife Photography Tips 

wildlife photography butterfly
Butterflies can reward the patient photographer

Capturing a magnificent photograph of an animal in the wild takes more than a click of the shutter button. Here are our top 10 wildlife photography tips to help you bring home remarkable images of our friends in the animal world.

16- Be an observer

Wildlife photography is much more than capturing a stunning image of an animal in its natural surroundings. You need to observe, know its patterns and habits, when it feeds and on what.

17- Big lenses are better 

wildlife photography tips bower birds
A longer focal length lens means you are further from your subject. This was taken with a 500mm lens and x2 converter

Big lenses are better unless you are doing close-up or macro and a longer focal length (above 300mm) has a few advantages.

It allows you to stay further away from the animal and therefore not disturb it.

Longer focal length lenses also compress the image and make it easier to blur your background.

Image stabilisation is a great advantage on longer lenses.

They are best for birds and safari photography.

18- Fill your frame 

wildlife photography tips owl

I call it ‘cutting the crap but before you click’.

Look around your image area and ask yourself, do you need everything?

You will have a more dynamic image the larger the animal is in the frame.

Make your wildlife the main focal point of your image

19- Know your camera

Be familiar with your camera and be able to change controls without taking it away from your eye. This way you won’t miss an opportunity.

Be prepared to turn autofocus off as it can create a disturbing noise depending on what you are photographing.

20- Get down on their level

Animals are always better photographed at eye level.

21- Focus on the eye

What you are taking is a portrait so always focus on the eyes of the subject.

A rule of thumb is “get the eyes in focus and the rest will follow.”

If the eyes are not in focus, it affects the impact of the whole image.

22- Disguise, camouflage and tread slowly and softly

If you need to move closer do it slowly and softly and take your time. All animals are wary and when it focuses on you avoid eye contact with it. If you don’t act in a threatening way the animal may let you closer.

23- Don’t feed wildlife 

wildlife photography tips dingo

Animals in some areas have come to know man as a food source and therefore hang around campsites etc.

It is a fact that these can make wonderful models but please never coax an animal closer using food.

It is not only irresponsible but it could cause someone to get hurt including the animal.

24- Be patient

You are dealing with an animal in the wild so no point getting frustrated you can’t get the shot you want.

25- Never stress an animal 

wildlife photography tips possum

This can be particularly harmful especially if they have young.

While baby animals are so cute the parents may become incredibly stressed with your presence.

Frog Photography Tips 

queensland frogs 7
A Red-eyed Tree Frog

One of the great things I love about frogs is how they act when they sense danger: they keep very still.

It’s part of their survival behaviour to avoid being detected by predators such as snakes.

This is an added bonus for photographers!

Unlike other species such as mammals that hop, run, and scatter before you have even started focusing your camera, frogs freeze.

Here are some great tips on frog photography.

26- Watch that shutter speed for camera shake! 

queensland frogs 10
Don’t let camera shake spoil your image

One of the biggest disappointments in frog photography is an image that is blurry due to camera shake.

To avoid this from happening increase your ISO and use a tripod and flash.

27- Photograph At Eye Level

Try photographing from the eye level of the frog for an image that has impact and appeal.

28- Research Habitats

 Be patient and do your research on the frog’s habitat. Find out if they live in leaf litter, rushes or high in the trees.

29- Use A Polariser

Try using a polariser to increase saturation and contrast.

30- Composition does count! 

nature photography how to
White-lipped Tree Frog

Look for an attractive background that will complement the frogs colouring?

31- Know your Minimum Focusing Distance (MFD)

That is how far your camera can be away from the subject and still get a correctly focused image.

On many of the new compact cameras simply turning the dial to the macro setting will allow you to get a close shot.

32- Lighting is paramount! 

nature photography how to

Using a flash can create brilliant images or terrible ones.

For the majority of the time, an off-camera flash is best as frontal lighting is not great for showing texture and frogs have textured skin showing texture and frogs have textured skin.

Respect the frog and its habitat.

Never harass an animal or disturb their environment.

Humpback Whale Photography Tips

It’s prime whale watching season and record numbers of humpback whales are being spotted along the coast of Eastern Australia.

These beautiful giants of the deep almost hunted to extinction, are one of my favourite marine creatures to photograph, however they often present may difficulties for photographers – even professionals.

Here are a few photography tips for your next whale watching trip:

“Look sharp, all of ye! There are whales hereabouts! If ye see a white one, split your lungs for him!” Herman Melville (1819 – 1891)

33- Join A Whale-Watching Cruise 

humpback whales

Photography of humpback whales is best undertaken from a water vessel.

One of the best places in the world to go whale watching is Hervey Bay in Queensland, as the humpback whales stop and play here on their way back to Antarctica. 

34- Use a polariser filter

humpback whales

35- Use autofocus

Use autofocus and make sure the focus point has an area of contrast to lock in focus.

36- Exposure settings

Mode: For digital SLR’s use Shutter Speed Priority or Manual Mode. If you have a point and shoot camera use the Sports/Action Mode

ISO: Depending on the available light with the majority of DSLR’s you should work around 400 or higher

Shutter Speed: keep it high as the whale is moving and if you are on a boat, so are you. I usually try and use 800th-1000th

Aperture: If working on Shutter Speed Priority your camera will set this. If working in Manual mode, change the aperture to correctly expose your image.

Lens Choice: Long is great and I generally use a combination from 100mm to 500mm though humpback whales are naturally curious animals and often come close to boats where a wide-angle lens is best.

37- Photographing Humpback Whales on an overcast day 

humpback whales

If photographing on an overcast day, get up high and try excluding the sky as it is usually grey and washed out unless there’s dark storm clouds that can create a dramatic backdrop.

38- Be in the moment

Don’t delete on your outing. Firstly you waste precious time looking at images and you may miss that awesome shot and secondly, it wastes precious battery power.

39- Practice patience

Patience: You’ll need every ounce of this you can get.

Mother Nature does not work to your timetable and these are creatures in the wild.

Don’t forget to enjoy the moment.

40- Aim high

humpback whales

The top five images to take home are:

  • Breaching
  • Tail Slapping
  • The waterfall from a fluke
  • Pectoral fin slapping
  • The blow

Smartphone Photography Tips

photography tips 03

What’s the best camera to have? The one with you at the time and for many of us that is our camera phone, usually a smartphone. Here are some digital photography tips to help you use your smartphone. 

41- Keep your lens clean

smartphone photography 01

Keep your lens clean.

Most phones live in our pocket and there is plenty of fluff and ‘stuff’ in there.

Try to clean your lens with a good cleaning solution every so often to really get rid of any grim.

42- Composition counts

Use the usual rules for composition in photography. It’s still a camera and the rules apply.

43- Shoot Instasquares

Remember if you are posting to Instagram the image will be cropped square.

44- Crop don’t zoom

It’s better to crop then zoom.

When you zoom you lose information and with the megapixels increasing in phones this is usually good enough or displaying at least on the web.

45- Edit, Edit, Edit

Look at your editing options.

Different phone models also have some brilliant editing capabilities.

Apps that are worthy to investigate are Snapseed, Photoshop Express and iPhoto.

46- Don’t overuse filters

Don’t use a filter on every image you post as filters quickly become boring and dated.

47- Depth of field

Remember due to the wide-angle of your lens creating a shallow depth of field is very, very difficult.

Switch the flash off.

50- Save your images

Don’t forget to save your images.

There are various ways you can do this but don’t just leave them on your phone.

Back up!

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I’m an international award-winning photojournalist, author of an award-winning book 4WD Treks Close To Brisbane and former president of the Australian Society of Travel Writers. Based in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, my work takes me around the world uncovering new adventures, meeting wonderful people, exploring and then sharing these experiences through my writing and imagery.

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