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10 Tips for Taking Better Travel Photos

June 27, 2014

1. Use People as Props
While many budding photographers tend to avoid getting a fellow tourist in their travel photos, adding people to your landscape can be very effective. In this photo of the Grand Canyon, the crowd of tourists not only adds color and perspective to the scene, it also has a psychological impact on the viewer. It's easier to imagine yourself on the rim of the Grand Canyon by relating to the crowd in the photo. Don't avoid people....use them as props!

2. Shoot from the Hip--Try a Different Angle
Most people automatically shoot photos in a standing position in front of their subject. Try a “frog’s” or “birds eye” technique to get a different perspective. To achieve this scene of desert flowers, I crouched close to the ground to get a view on the field from flower height. The alternate technique is to elevate yourself and photograph from above. You might also try shooting from the side for a more interesting angle on your subject.

3. Put Things in Perspective with Figures or Objects
We’ve all had this happen to us at one time or another. Those photos we snapped of awesome landscapes end up looking flat and less dramatic than we remembered. The solution to this common problem is to add perspective. In this photo of Utah's Monument Valley, the photographer uses a lone rider on horseback to put the size of the cliffs and rock formations into perspective. We now get a sense of the vastness of the scene with the help of this element. 

4. Switch to Black & White for Drama or Contrast
Your travel photos don't all have to be in color (think Ansel Adams and his exquisite black & white images of the Yosemite Valley). Thanks to digital photography and software programs, creating a black & white image from color is an easy artistic option. Use this technique to add contrast and drama to a scene, or to convey an emotion. In this image of the Granary Burying Ground in Boston, the use of black & white evokes a feeling of history and the passage of time.

5. Add a Touch of Red
In Renaissance painting, red was used to draw the eye of the viewer. Even a touch of red can make an otherwise bland scene burst into life. In this photo of a Tuscan countryside, the bright red rose greatly enhances what would otherwise have been an uninteresting photo of cypress trees. Another tip: look for people in red clothing or red objects, cars, buildings, etc. to add to your scene for the same effect.

6. Frame the Scene
Look for ways to "frame" your subject using your surroundings. One of the easiest techniques is to use tree branches to frame one or both sides of your landscape. Or, shoot through a portal, window or door frame onto your subject. Be creative and use what is handy to add this element to your photo, and don't be hesitant to move around to find it. In this image of the Norman castle in Cefalu Sicily, the medieval columns provide a formidable frame to the rainbow in the distance.

7. Wait for the Right Moment
Take a few minutes to wait for people (or animals, cars, lights, etc.) to show up in your viewfinder. This photo of a Southern California pier at sunset is certainly lovely on its own. However, just by waiting a few minutes after I composed the shot, I was able to capture the romance of a couple as they strolled leisurely down the beach. This element added a greater dimension to the photo and made it more emotionally appealing.

8. Fill the Frame
Filling the frame is the golden rule of photography. Most budding photographers tend to add too many details to a scene. In this photo of May Lake in Yosemite National Park, the photographer closed in on the rocky foreground and the deep blue lake. Our eye is drawn to the beauty and symmetry of the image, and there is absolutely no confusion as to where the photographer wants our attention to rest. 

9. Don't Let Weather Conditions Stop You
On the day I was scheduled to visit ancient Pompeii, it was raining heavily and the skies were almost black. Though terribly disappointed, I packed my gear with little hope of taking any photos. A few hours into the tour, I was able to put down my umbrella and grab my camera when the sun broke through the clouds for just an instant....time enough to shoot this image of a glorious rainbow over the Forum in Pompeii. 

10. Try Shooting Against the Light
It's true that the general rule in photography is to shoot with the sun (light source) behind you--but there are exceptions. Sunset presents the perfect opportunity to photograph against the light, which results in a blazing golden background with interesting silhouettes of the foreground subjects. In this sunset photo of a California beach, we get a sense of bathers enjoying the last rays of the setting sun, without having any details cluttering our enjoyment of the peaceful scene.

Article Source: USA Today 10Best

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