Take Better Travel Pics

Yellowstone National Park. Photo by Charish Badzinski. 

I’m in no way a professional photographer. And I don’t use a fancy camera. But I know what I like, and I have been told my photos are nice. Though I am a total novice, I find it fun to take pictures, and some friends have asked me for pointers in the past. So from one photography novice to another, here are some tips I’ve picked up as I’ve snapped my way around the world. 

 

Keep in mind, I use a simple, relatively inexpensive, lightweight point-and-shoot type camera (it travels well!), and I have no professional training whatsoever. These are tips for the budding shutterbug in each of us who just wants to improve her photos a bit.

 

A few things to consider as you take your pictures:

 

1. Look for framing. Does something provide an interesting in focus/out of focus frame for the focal point? For example, do the branches of the tree part in such a way that is visually interesting to reveal the sunset?

My beautiful friend and her bright pink top provide a focal point on this staircase.
Photo by Charish Badzinski.

2. Score good lighting, when possible. Here’s what I’ve found: late day light is awesome for photos. It adds a richness, and a golden glow to everything. The middle of the day when you have direct sun? Not so much. It seems to knock out the nuances in photos. Morning light is also great (though this Rollerbag Goddess prefers to get her beauty sleep). 

 

With the harsh sun in the Australian Outback, I am happiest with the shots taken in the evenings,
just before sunset. Photo by Charish Badzinski. 

When it’s dark out, turn off your camera’s flash and find a natural tripod. (This is assuming you’re not lugging a tripod around with you!) You can set your camera on a flat surface, for instance. Then, set your camera’s timer for a couple of seconds, and take your hands off of it. Boom. Skyline. 

 

I used the banister on the Brooklyn Bridge to get this shot. Had I used a flash,
the beams would have been illuminated, and the skyline muted.
Photo by Charish Badzinski.

For food shots, I seem to have the best luck when I can get natural light or outdoor light through a window, rather than using a flash. 

Natural light through the restaurant window makes this dish look good enough to eat.
Photo by Charish Badzinski. 
This photo is taken outdoors, while dining al fresco. The light is indirect, though, as we
were under a table umbrella. Photo by Charish Badzinski. 

Backlighting can create a dark foreground, so I try to avoid it. Of course there are exceptions. If you use a flash, it can illuminate the foreground successfully without washing out the background. Secondly, if the background lighting creates a cool backlighting effect/shadow effect for a specific item, and you’re not concerned about that focal point being unlit, it can create a cool effect. Think sunrise, with grass in the foreground in shadow. 

La Jolla, California. Some interesting backlighting from the setting sun.
Photo by Charish Badzinski. 

3. Get close. Then, get closer. Sure, you want some establishing shots that capture a wide look at your surroundings. But vary your shots, and really zoom in for impact. Try this at home before you travel to determine how close you can get without compromising focus. You often won’t know until it’s downloaded to your computer. 

 

Focus is a bit soft on this one; the camera is not of high quality–and I’m not going to
rule out user error either! Photo by Charish Badzinski. 
The only photo taken with an SLR camera. And it’s almost in focus!
Photo by Charish Badzinski.

4. Move with the object you want in focus. Try to match the speed of your movement to the object you want to focus on. Though it’s an imperfect science, you might be surprised by the results.

 

Move with moving objects you wish to capture in focus. For this photo, I turned my upper body as the scooter sped by. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

 

5. Consider off center positioning of the focal point. What draws the eye? Visually divide the image into nine equal squares (think Brady Bunch squares). Would putting it in one of the corners create a more visually interesting shot? 

The main focal point is to the right. Photo by Charish Badzinski. Taken in Sorrento, Italy. 
Main focal point, a woman in Venice, is on the left. Photo by Charish Badzinski. 

 

6. Seek out repetition of shapes. Do elements of the photo repeat in such a way that they create a cohesive feel? For example, do the arcs in a fence mirror the arcs in a sweet, old-fashioned car’s bumper?

 

7. Also, look for the repetition of color. Repetition of color is pleasing to the eye and makes your shot look cohesive. 

There’s a lot of repetition of color and shape in this photo of Wisconsin hay bales.
Photo by Charish Badzinski. 
You can also fake repetition of color, by changing your photo once you’re home or changing your camera settings while you are on location. Photo of gondolas in Venice, by Charish Badzinski. 

8. Look closely. What else is in the shot that I’m not paying attention to? Can you avoid unsightly distractions?

 

9. Get odd. Look for an odd number of items to feature, which is best by design standards.

 

I never was good at math. Turns out, even numbers can look good too!
Byron Bay, Australia. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

10. Use reflections, or different perspectives to add interest. 

 

 

11. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to experiment, and have fun! 

 

What photo tips have you picked up along the way? 

 

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Charish Badzinski is an explorer, foodie and award-winning travel and food writer. When she isn’t working to build her blog: Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World, she applies her worldview to her small business, providing strategic communications, media relations and writing support to individuals and organizations. 

 

Find Charish on Twitter: @charishb

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Creative Commons License

Rollerbag Goddess Rolls the World by Charish Badzinski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

 

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