Travel Photography – Part 3 of 4: PLACES

In Part 2, we explored the best techniques for photographing “people”.  This time around, we’ll look at some of the tools and techniques required for photographing “places” while on the road.

Blue Ridge Mountains

Blue Ridge Mountains

Landscapes:  How frustrating it can be to live in the Blue Ridge Mountains, surrounded by natural beauty, but always falling short of that epic landscape photograph.  There is a reason for this:  landscape photography is not as easy as it may appear, despite having such an abundance of awe-inspiring subject matter to work with!  Here are a few tips on capturing that elusive winning landscape:

  • Try to include a “point of interest” in the frame (e.g., a barn, tree, rocky out-crop, etc.) that draws the viewer in – and keeps them there!
  • Look for color contrast to add interest to the photograph.
  • Use a narrow aperture to provide depth-of-field / focus.
  • Use a tripod and cable release to limit blur due to camera shake.
  • Consider using a polarizing filter, or graduated neutral density filter.
  • Employ the “rule of thirds” in your composition (but know when to break the rule).
  • Take advantage of early and evening light.
  • Experiment with different lenses and lens focal lengths.
Cusco, Peru

Cusco, Peru

Cities:  Personally, I find that there are more opportunities in an urban environment than there are in nature, but perhaps that’s the Northeast coming out in me, and my familiarity with the likes of New York City and Philadelphia!  In any event, here are a few things to think about when you find yourself in a place with more concrete than greenery:

  • Work with architectural lines and shapes in your composition, remembering that the relationship between these lines and objects to the frame edges is crucial to the effectiveness and balance of the image.
  • Be aware of the perspective of your content and lines, keeping in mind things such as convergence, divergence, perpendicularity and symmetry.
  • If you are going for perfect symmetry in the shot, be sure to nail it!
  • Shoot wide for cityscapes, and tight for architectural detail.
  • Be aware of the light direction and contrast, and observe shadows to ensure that they are not distracting from the subject matter.
  • If you are visiting a sacred place (e.g., a church or temple) in your travels, be sure to respect any cultural sensitivities.  If the sign says, “No photography”, then put the camera away, and simply enjoy the experience.
  • When shooting inside, decide whether a flash would be useful (if allowed), or if you are better off working with the ambient / available light, while possibly using a tripod (if allowed) to deal with slow shutter speeds.
  • If night photography is your thing, start your work in the twilight and shoot into the darkness.  Chances are, the shots taken before the sky turns total black will be your best shots.
Can Tho Market - Vietnam

Can Tho Market – Vietnam

Markets:  One of my favorite places to be when traveling is at the local market.  It is the market where you will find the pulse of a community, and you’ll be treated to a wealth of photo opportunities, not to mention interesting people and tasty local food.  Here are a few tips to make your market experience a memorable and creative one:

  • Get there early before the tour buses arrive! Many markets are more “genuine” in the early hours when the “real” bartering takes place between the locals.  Set the alarm clock, and avoid the tourist crowd.
  • Make use of both wide-angle and telephoto lenses.
  • Look for color contrast, patterns, textures and interesting shapes.
  • Don’t forget that “food” can be very photogenic, as can textiles and crafts.
  • Markets are perfect for people photography.  Always ask permission first.  Usually, it helps to purchase something from a vendor, and then ask.
  • Use common-sense etiquette, and be polite.  A few words in the local language, like “please” and “thank you” go a long way.

Tune in soon for Part 4 of our Travel Photography feature (“Things”).

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One Response to “Travel Photography – Part 3 of 4: PLACES”

  1. [...] Markets:  Just a quick note on “markets”… Though considered “places”, markets are a fantastic place to photograph “things”.  For more about this, check out the Travel Photography – Part 3 blog post on the got f-stop Photo Blog. [...]