Travel Photography Tips
You’re heading off on holidays; exotic landscapes await you, so maybe you need a few tips on how to make the most of the photographic opportunities that will present themselves on your vacation.
Some of these travel photography tips are simply common sense, others are things any of us can forget to do in the rush out the door. Some tips have to do with familiarizing yourself with the destination you’re going to, its culture and local laws and customs.
But, whatever the reason for you trip, above all else, have a good time. If you get any great shots, why not send them in. I’m sure other readers would like to take a look!
|Accessories to Consider|
|Tabletop Tripod: Pack one of these for the occasional night shot.|
|Film: Kind of moot now that everyone’s switched to digital but if you’re still using a film camera and can find film stock…if you’ll be taking a lot of family photos on the trip, stick to using ISO 100, 200 or 400 color print film. Recommended buys are Kodak Ultra Color 100UC Color Negative Film and Fujifilm Fujicolor Superia 400 Color Negative Film. If you want to use slide film, then Kodak Elite Chrome ED 200 and FujiChrome Velvia 100 or Fujichrome Velvia 50 are recommended. Take a selection of speeds (all the above films come in different ISO ratings) to allow for outdoor shots as well as party/family shots in the evening.|
|Tripod: For the ultimate in stability or low-light conditions, take a light and compact tripod. You’ll be glad you did!|
|Camera Bag: You’ll need a bag to carry your kit. The Lowepro Inverse 200AW Beltpack is a good choice or if you want to carry your gear on your back (for better balance; e.g. it you’re climbing), try the Lowepro Orion Trekker II Photo Backpack. Both come with separate compartments for stowing your gear.|
|Filters: Don’t take a load of filters with you. You only need three: a neutral density filter, a polarizing filter and a graduated neutral density filter|
|Lenses: Try to cover focal lengths from 28mm to 300mm if possible, either with a single superzoom such as the Tamron AF 28-200mm F/3.8-5.6 XR Aspherical Zoom Lens (available in a Canon, Nikon, Pentax or Sony fit) or as two separate zoom lenses covering the range.|
|Spare Batteries: All modern cameras need batteries to run them. Make sure you have a set of spare batteries with you, Don’t lose a photo opportunity because you forget to change the batteries before you go on holidays or because you accidentally leave the camera turned on. You may not be able to get replacement batteries at your holiday location. If your camera uses a rechargeable battery, bring your charger with you, but still bring a spare battery.|
|Memory Cards: If you’re using a digital camera, bring some extra memory cards. Another alternative is to bring a portable storage device that lets you download your digital images so you can reuse your memory card. This might be a cheaper option than buying a lot of separate cards. Three worth considering are the HyperDrive Colorspace, the Nexto Di Digital Photo Storage and the Digital Foci Photo Safe II OTG.|
- Unless you’re specifically heading off on a photographic trip, remember you’re going away to relax and have some fun, so don’t saddle yourself with loads of camera gear and accessories that you’ll never get around to using.
- Always take more memory cards with you than you think you’ll need. Better to have extra than to run out somewhere in the middle of a shoot! You can get good deals on memory cards these days
- Take either a tabletop tripod (for the odd night scene) or a light compact tripod for long exposures (at night or otherwise).
- Make sure you bring the right travel adapters and power supplies for the country you’re visiting.
- Don’t give into the temptation to bring every bit of equipment you own.
- If you’re going on a once-in-a-lifetime trip, consider taking a second camera body with you. If you’re in Antarctica and your camera dies in the cold, how are you going to record your trip after that?
- Check your passport is valid (I found out the hard way that mine was 2 months out of date when I got the opportunity to travel and then had to withdraw as a replacement passport wouldn’t have been ready in time). And ensure that any visa requirements are met before you leave.
- Make sure you get all the required vaccinations and inoculations if you’re traveling to a tropical country. No photo opportunity is worth damaging your health over. The Lonely Planet and Rough Guide books are ideal travel companions and often feature some stunning photography.
- Do some research on your destination’s culture and terrain and study the map before you leave. Take a closer look at the photos used in magazines, brochures and guidebooks. Plan where you want to visit beforehand so you have an itinerary to follow.
- Muggings and bag-snatches are all too common these days. Think about insuring your camera gear. It could be an expensive loss otherwise.
- Always carry spare batteries and a charger.
- If you shoot digitally, it’s probably worth investing in a portable storage device.
- If you’re one of those people who travels with a laptop, back up your images to CD/DVD or your hard drive.
- Keep a neutral density filter and a polarizer in your camera bag at all times.
- If you’re shooting digitally, check the results of an exposure on the LCD to make sure it’s neither burned out or under-exposed.
- Don’t take pictures on private property – if there’s something you’d like to photograph, seek permission (through an interpreter if necessary!).
- Don’t ignore local customs – the residents of some countries can be touchy about having their photos taken (for religious reasons amongst others) so if your landscapes include a local, be sure to get their permission first.
- Antarctica, an almost out-of-this-world landscape…holidays and cruises to the bottom of the world!
An obvious travel tip this – don’t knowingly break any local laws. Taking photos that include military installations, airports or other potentially restricted places can get you into a lot of trouble in some countries. Be aware of what’s acceptable and what’s not at your destination.
- If you’re heading to a tropical climate (e.g. on safari), pick a time that will let you cope with the heat/humidity, if that bothers you. Late spring/early summer and late autumn/early winter can be good times to travel when the heat won’t wear you down.
- Take one or two lenses to cover focal lengths between 28mm and 300mm – a single 28-300mm zoom lens will do the trick. If you don’t have a lens in that higher focal length range, get a 2x teleconverter to double the focal length of your lenses (be aware that teleconverters decrease the maximum f-stop of your lens by one stop, so an f/3.5 zoom lens would act as an f/5.6 lens if used in conjunction with a teleconverter). Amazon have a wide range of them.
- Pack your camera gear with care and attach your name and address to your camera bag.
- Carry your camera gear (and especially film) as carry-on luggage on airplanes. The X-ray equipment used to scan luggage has been known to fog films. There’s no such danger with digital memory cards though.
Preparatory and In-Flight Reading:
- Lonely Planet Travel Photography: A Guide to Taking Better Pictures
Lonely Planet’s excellent guide to photography around the world, penned by acclaimed photographer, Richard l’Anson. A must-have for any travel photographer
- The Travel Book: A Journey Through Every Country in the World
230 countries are represented with suggestions and travel photography tips on what to do in each country. great for deciding where to go.
- The Photographer’s Eye Field Guide: The essential handbook for traveling with your digital SLR camera
Contains lots of practical advice for everything you need to know about planning and executing travel assignments.
- Travel Photography (Second Edition)
World-acclaimed travel photographer Susan McCartney offers both a definitive guide to honing skills as well as a business manual of expert tips for making each endeavor profitable.