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10 of the Best Travel Photography Tips

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Having traveled to 34 countries in different continents and spending the last few years photographing some of the most beautiful places on this planet, I have something to share. My 10 valuable travel photography tips, which I have learned through trial and error and which have always held me good stead, should come in handy for all you photography and travel newbies. Most tips will be illustrated with photographs that should ease up the process of conveying my 2 cents.

The following are 10 of the Best Travel Photography Tips

Do your Homework

Tallinn, Estonia – An almost journalistic investigation helped me to reach this spot; an abandoned harbor by the Baltic Sea. Not the type of place that you would typically read about on popular travel blogs or books, this spot turned out to be photography heaven.

Tallinn, Estonia – An almost journalistic investigation helped me to reach this spot; an abandoned harbor by the Baltic Sea. Not the type of place that you would typically read about on popular travel blogs or books, this spot turned out to be photography heaven.

Although this has no direct correlation between travel and photography, it is an equally important actionable. Before you actually land in the city of your dreams, please download the local transport app and learn the basics of the local language. Read up on travel websites and make a mental note of what your days and nights are going to look like. I have missed the golden hours and a thousand interesting things just because of poor planning, lack of knowledge and the inability to communicate basic things in the local language. A special event, a strategic point that only insiders can tell you about, a photo story that only a local photographer can suggest and assist with – all these gems come at a price. You pay for these rewards with the time that you spend preparing for your subjects and with your subjects.

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Equipment and Handling

Stavanger Old Town, Norway – While on the uphill walk up to the old town to capture views of harbor, I turned around on an impulse and stumbled upon this vibrant frame. The unique perspective adds a sense of drama to the combination of interesting textures and colours.

Stavanger Old Town, Norway – While on the uphill walk up to the old town to capture views of harbor, I turned around on an impulse and stumbled upon this vibrant frame. The unique perspective adds a sense of drama to the combination of interesting textures and colours.

I have learnt my lesson the hard way. Always carry your equipment in the cabin luggage. The “Fragile”, “Delicate”, “Handle with care” stickers are often completely ignored and you have absolutely no control on how the cabin luggage is on and off loaded. Take care of camera lenses and clean them after a days’ shooting especially if you were spending all your time at the coast with the sea wind greeting you. Never forget to pack that lightweight tripod.

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Choose the right Camera Mode

Zadar, Croatia – This was not a planned photograph. The girl was simply standing there and enjoying the view, while I played around with different settings on my camera. Quite by chance I happened to click this at the exact moment she aligned herself perfectly against the setting sun. The result is this stunning silhouette.

Zadar, Croatia – This was not a planned photograph. The girl was simply standing there and enjoying the view, while I played around with different settings on my camera. Quite by chance I happened to click this at the exact moment she aligned herself perfectly against the setting sun. The result is this stunning silhouette.

Please shoot in the RAW mode– I cannot emphasize this enough. You will only know the benefits once you start doing the same and compare the output with what you had before, when you were shooting only in JPEG. If you are not shooting in RAW, you are not utilizing your camera to its fullest potential.

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Be Aware of your surroundings

Strasbourg, France - There are few things as satisfying as geometry. Keep a lookout for architecture with interesting facades, they will almost always be symmetrical, and if you can juxtapose that against a repetitive form, you will have captured an intricate pattern. Don’t shy away from clicking if a jarring detail appears in the frame breaking the symmetry (like the seated man in the above image). The detail, if captured well, can act as a unifying element, tying the other elements together.

Strasbourg, France – There are few things as satisfying as geometry. Keep a lookout for architecture with interesting facades, they will almost always be symmetrical, and if you can juxtapose that against a repetitive form, you will have captured an intricate pattern. Don’t shy away from clicking if a jarring detail appears in the frame breaking the symmetry (like the seated man in the above image). The detail, if captured well, can act as a unifying element, tying the other elements together.

You have spent the last 15 minutes standing at this place and fiddling with your camera settings. You are satisfied with the results and walking out of that spot. Hold on, make a 180 degrees turn. More often than not, the landscape behind is equally or even more beautiful and we tend ignore this somehow, most of the times. The same rule applies with shooting into the sun. While, having the sun on your back while clicking pictures is the safest option, you will be impressed with the dramatic results of having the sun on your frame or having a burst of sunlight coming out from between the branches of a tree. My personal favorite is a wide-angle lens for this. Also, watch out for patterns – the beauty is in the details!

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Know your priorities

Untersberg, Austria – A good way to capture perspective is by identifying vanishing points. The featured image has a single vanishing point (a point where all the lines meet) often results in good photos irrespective of where in the frame you choose to place the point.

Untersberg, Austria – A good way to capture perspective is by identifying vanishing points. The featured image has a single vanishing point (a point where all the lines meet) often results in good photos irrespective of where in the frame you choose to place the point.

Do not waste time browsing through the pictures that you have clicked on the camera display. This is one of the biggest mistakes we do especially during the magic hours where every second is valuable to a photographer. Know your equipment, your metering modes, your histogram information and try to get the best settings possible to minimize the amount of post edits. The white balance is always very important.

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Experiment with placement

Kinderdijk, Netherlands - The line of old Dutch windmills lead you to the horizon

Kinderdijk, Netherlands – The line of old Dutch windmills lead you to the horizon

Experiment with the placement of the subject – more often than not, we tend to place the subject bang in the middle of our display frame. Try playing around with the rule of 1/3rds – you will be surprised with the results. Let the natural lines in the photograph lead the audience to the most breathtaking element in your photograph. Spotting these imaginary intersecting lines or the actual natural lines are easier when you are mobile.

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Backup your photos

Riga, Latvia – Stunning views of the city and the frozen river at -19°C from the St. Peter’s Church Tower

Riga, Latvia – Stunning views of the city and the frozen river at -19°C from the St. Peter’s Church Tower

Carry extra batteries and always back up your output for the day on your laptop or external hard drives. Experience has taught me that a lot of disasters could be avoided had I backed up at the right time, and kept my hard drives in different places so as to not lose them all at the same time to a petty thief. Dropbox is great but more often than not, the internet is not fast enough to let us back up online.

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Find great Vantage Points

Mykonos, Greece – A brief conversation with the man photographed above led to this image. He lived in one of those houses seen on the right, and had come to the waterfront to ‘catch’ his lunch! His laid-back body language acted as the perfect symbol for the carefree Mediterranean lifestyle and vibe.

Mykonos, Greece – A brief conversation with the man photographed above led to this image. He lived in one of those houses seen on the right, and had come to the waterfront to ‘catch’ his lunch! His laid-back body language acted as the perfect symbol for the carefree Mediterranean lifestyle and vibe.

Always look out for TV towers, hills to climb, church towers, elevators, skyscraper terraces. There is no comparison with what you see from up there. The bird’s eye view and panorama shots are always among the most impactful.

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Capture the subjects emotions

Kala Ghoda Festival Mumbai, India – A young boy enjoying a moment to himself, as he takes a break from his work.

Kala Ghoda Festival Mumbai, India – A young boy enjoying a moment to himself, as he takes a break from his work.

An important aspect of travel photography is the human element. These are strangers that you will shoot, who will add that much needed flavor to your otherwise mundane photo story. I urge you all to spend time with them, talk to them, eat their local cuisine, hire them for assistance and know about their lives. This whole experience goes a long way in motivating yourself and bringing out those emotions in every single photograph. The subject does not remain an inactive subject anymore, but becomes a character you have a relationship with and around whom your photo stories revolve. Their emotions are genuine and make a bigger impact when you engage them. Reward them with a few photographs (if not print outs, at least an email) that you have taken of them.

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Reading and improve

Weinsheim, Germany – This is the view from a hot-air balloon. I waited till I was at a significant height to capture this bird’s eye view of a cluster of houses and urban neighborhoods. There was no other way to make it look like a toy town.

Weinsheim, Germany – This is the view from a hot-air balloon. I waited till I was at a significant height to capture this bird’s eye view of a cluster of houses and urban neighborhoods. There was no other way to make it look like a toy town.

There is always some room for improvement. Each of my favorite travel photographers always have something valuable to give away in their blogs. Every time I get close to feeling like I have reached a saturation point, I stumble across a travel photo story like never before. The internet is a beautiful place for free resources. Always consult the experts online and offline, study their work and even people who have visited the place before you. Good luck with shooting on the move!

These travel photography tips are from Avigyan Dutta, a travel photographer who has spent the last few years photographing some of the most beautiful places on this planet. You can see more of his work on Facebook, Medium and Tripzilla

Avigyan is a foodie, blogger, techie and a photographer whose love for photography is only surpassed by his love for travel and heavy metal.

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