The concepts of travel and photography were practically made for one another. Each place we visit has its own look: some have that bright sun, that speaks of happiness and rolling meadows, some that cozy cold that makes you want to bundle up in a thick blanket, and others still resonate with the sound of Nature, undisturbed- you’re trekking through some hills, when suddenly the silence is pierced by the roar of a waterfall, or perhaps you’re taking a walk through a forest, and you see a majestic deer or elk. Photographers live for these moments, for a photo of something unexpected, something surprising is always something you put the most effort in.
If you’re trying to take photographs, the radiance, ambiance, and character of the location must be present in your photos! A lackluster photograph can still manage to convey the basic beauty of a place, but will not embody the feelings the photographer felt while there, and that is not a photograph worth taking. A good photo must convey the feeling the photographer felt while taking the photos, the sudden high of beauty that prompted him to take the photo. Here are some of the best travel photography techniques:
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If you’re planning to take a trip, and take some photos with that new DSLR you bought for the trip, or perhaps you’re a vintage kinda man and prefer a negatives-roll camera, planning and research should always be at the forefront. Wherever you’re going, something there must be appealing to you (otherwise you wouldn’t be going!)- the food, the scenery or perhaps even the mountains! That site or activity is obviously one of the main things in your photographing agenda.
But no location has just a single thing to do, see and take photos of! Professional photographers spend a lot of time researching a place before selecting it as their next destination. This helps them figure out what’s there- what the local scenery is like, how the natives react to foreigners and tourists and what subjects you find interesting. This can be done in a multitude of ways- One can go to libraries, read encyclopedias, or just type the name of the place on the Web! Reading brochures usually found at libraries or embassies and travel books also help.
Customs and Traditions
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Understanding the culture, customs and traditions of a place are very important, as acting in a manner that can be considered rude or offensive (there) can suddenly turn very friendly natives and guides into some very hostile ones. This can be easily bypassed if you just make an effort to observe the customs since most people consider that to be enough.
Sometimes what to do and what not to is hard to understand or differentiate between. In these cases, the proper (and safe) thing to do would be to ask a native who can understand you and is friendly, since less-friendly people may consider this you questioning their belief in their own customs.
A smart thing to do is have a separate notebook ( a proper photographer must carry at least 2 or 3) to write down customs, beliefs, rituals, and mannerisms in, after which you may keep observing the natives to find out more or ask somebody the meanings and proper ways of the customs.
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When you first arrive at your destination, you’re going to feel something. It’s going to start in your stomach, a slight tingle, and then work its way up your nervous system, and when it’s done, you’re going to feel every emotion you possibly can. Happiness, giddiness, apprehension, nervousness, and every single one of them!
This is what we feel when we go somewhere new. Some of you may be thinking this doesn’t sound appealing, but this feeling- this unique mix of raw apprehension treated with uncontrolled giddiness- only comes once. We rarely feel it in our daily lives, and you should take in as much of you can while you’re traveling.
Interpretation and the different resultant styles
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First Impressions. How you see a place when you first arrive is a very important factor in photography. Suppose you took a trip to exotic, rural India. Whether you see this as the land of colors, the land of rich natural wealth, the land of rich historical heritage, or just simply another boulevard of the concrete jungle, its all going to affect how you take your photos.
Your first impression significantly affects your photos. Photos can signify the colorful lives of the people (colorful clothes, etc.), the forest in all their natural, naked glory or the historical sites in their nobility as some of the very best found in the whole world. Nature-oriented styles tug you towards landscapes while photos of the people and animals make you stay with good old portraits.
Whichever style you pick (or possess), always take photos of everything. Even if you’re mostly a, say, nature photographer, take photographs of other things like the people and sites whenever you can.
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Timing is a skill essential for photographers. Always get up early, around dawn, and stay out late. If you have an early ship or train, at say 8 am, get up at 4 am at least. Most towns and villages, where one can find the truly great photographic opportunities, wake up well before dawn. Stroll the streets around dawn, and watch the fishermen push their boats out, smell the fresh crust of baking bread from the Baker’s and interact with the natives.
These are the best times, when the world is half-shrouded in shadow and just waking up, to take photographs. There is an inherent beauty present during these times. And the same goes for sunset and late at night. There are many unique and rare things to see in a city going to bed: A farmer shooing his animals back into their pastures, fishermen pulling in their boats, loaded with the catch of the day and the overall satisfactory air that another day passed without misfortune.
Another thing is making time for photography. If you’re hurrying to take photographs between seeing sites, they won’t be good. Like any other activity, good photography needs time. A hurried aim is nothing compared to the resultant picture with precision and clarity.
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More than most photographers have the idea that photographs of empty parks and vistas are the best. This is…not true. Not at all. While it is true that the photograph is stunning, the inclusion of people (be it natives, park workers, etc.) show the reason why the place is popular. There is a natural beauty present in any person’s face when it lights up, say when they see a lion on a safari, or a rare elk in a forest, and including the person in the surprising vista (whatever it may be) is definitely more than a worthwhile consideration.
Landscapes and Portraits
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Never be satisfied with the first view of a landscape you get. Try to get unique angles, rare shots from an unusual direction. Landscapes come in many forms- mountains, lakes, forests, deserts, seacoasts etc., and no two of them fall in the same category. They all have different angles which bring out the real beauty in them. Think about the natural beauty of the place, and look for ways and shots to include that and everything you feel while taking the photos, in your shots. For example, a shot of a mountain is doubtlessly better with flying birds, or a bird’s nest, or maybe even the perfect desolation.
Simply aligning somebody with a good-looking vista rarely does the job. One should always look for a genuine expression, a surprise feeling at an unexpected sight (whatever it may be), and these, combined with good vistas, make the best portraits of all. Feelings and genuine expressions always resonate more in photos than a posed smile or laugh at a sight.
Make use of these tips to properly perfect your shots to improve your travel shots, that resonate with the hearts and minds of viewers. These are just the beginning: There are many newfound, self-experienced ways of improving your shots; these must be discovered on your own, as only then is their true meaning comprehended.