I’m a firm believer that you don’t need fancy camera equipment to take good photos. Before buying a Canon DSLR in 2015, I had spent 10 years experimenting with a basic point-and-shoot camera. I studied the technical side of photography at University and mastered the aesthetics on my travels.
Now, to be honest, I’m no expert at photography. I’m just an avid (or over-enthusiastic) photographer who loves to capture the beauty and soul of a place in a ton of photos. In fact, I’ve got an extensive archive of ‘forgotten’ photos, so I thought I should start using them to share tips and inspiration with other photography enthusiasts.
Well, I’ve decided to start with the basics. Whether you’ve just taken up photography as a hobby or need fresh ideas on producing stunning photos, here are some important things to keep in mind on your next trip.
Recommended SLR Camera
The photos in this blog post were taken with my Canon EOS 1200D, which I bought in 2015 and is still going strong, despite having been exposed to all sorts of elements.
This is a great DSLR camera for beginners – it’s easy to use and takes high-quality images.
1. Focus on composition
Before taking a photo of a building or a place, study your surroundings. Choose your main subject and check whether there are any distracting objects that you want to leave out of the shot. You might also want to use other available objects, such as trees and archways, to frame your subject and fill up the picture.
If you want the main elements in your shot to stand out, turn on the grid lines on your camera or phone and try applying the Rule of Thirds. For a well-balanced shot, place your subject where the lines intersect. However, feel free to experiment with other techniques. In other words, get creative! For example, placing your main subject bang in the middle of the shot or in a bottom corner can also have a strong visual impact.
2. Experiment with different angles and viewpoints
Another way to get creative with your photos is to photograph the same scene or subject from different angles and perspectives. Instead of remaining glued to the same spot, move around the place, sit on the ground or get closer to the subject. Shooting from a low angle can yield some dramatic shots of buildings. For street photography, try holding your camera at waist level.
If you’re not in a hurry to get to the next landmark, look for objects that can add a bit of creativity to your photos. Try capturing your subject in reflections, like puddles or shiny surfaces, or through another object, such as rain-speckled windows.
3. Capture interesting details and textures
Let’s be honest, many of us return home from a trip with photos of countless buildings and similar landscape shots. Introduce a bit of variety to your travel album by getting closer to subjects and capturing their intricate details. When exploring the great outdoors, look for eye-catching textures and patterns, such as old tree bark, colourful foliage, multi-coloured rock layers and sand waves.
If you’re visiting buildings or exploring old streets, you’re bound to come across some interesting stonework, patterned tiles and wall etchings – so just zoom in!
4. Take advantage of natural light
My number one pet peeve when it comes to photography is the inappropriate use of flash. It can totally ruin a picture, even when used for indoor shots and night photos. Be prepared to take control of whatever light is available. On bright sunny days, try taking photos in the shade to diffuse harsh light. An overcast sky might not provide much light, but it will definitely add mood and drama to your photos.
Once again, it’s worth photographing your subject from multiple angles for different results. You might get some beautiful silhouettes and contrasts if you move around a little.
5. Look for an aspect of local culture
It’s easy to get carried away taking photos of historic buildings and overlook the things that give a place authenticity. One way to truly capture the soul of a destination is to sit down for a few moments and observe people around you. Look for everyday scenes that you believe would represent an aspect of local culture. This can include two elderly men sitting on a bench, engaged in conversation or playing a game of chess, or a street food vendor frying up fish.
If you want to have some real fun with this, head to a local market or go for a stroll through a city’s quiet neighbourhood, away from touristic areas.
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