Travel photography tips from Gary Sherwood
Travel photography can be a complex thing. We have all been in that situation where we ask someone to take a photo of us on holiday (in my case I have just reverted to selfies now). There is always the awkward moment of “is it this button” [points to button on camera], and you think to yourself “yes! It’s the same f*****g button on every camera in the world!”. The person takes the photo, you have a look at it, you hate it, it’s the worst thing you have ever seen, there’s no composition, the lighting is bad and 3/4 of the photo is sky. You nod “great thank-you”, walk away and try finding someone else to take your photo for you.
This week’s Thursday tips focus around travel photography and come from London based photographer Gary Sherwood. Check out his two websites for some of his work: www.gaz.photography and www.picsbygaz.com.
10 travel photography tips
- It’s easy on a tour bus to just take a million shots as you’re whizzing past. Plan to go back to a particular spot later (relax, you’re on holiday remember!). It can be very disappointing to find you had window reflections or blurs in an image once you get home and look on a bigger screen.
- Travel photography is about taking your time… if you want to capture wildlife while on holiday, watch and observe; your patience will pay off… unless it’s a rampaging elephant charging towards you, then RUN!
- CAMERAS HATE WATER! … try to keep your camera in a waterproof bag at all times. People often dispense with the usual bulky separate camera kit bag when away and instead opt to slip it in the general bag for the beach, forgetting they have a bottle of water or suntan lotion in there too.
- Don’t handle your camera if you’ve JUST put on sun protection… I know this sounds obvious but it’s easy to forget. Lotions can not only damage the insides but the outside of your camera casing, eating the plastic parts…. and as for sand… I remember buying a very nice little camera in duty free on one holiday and first day on the beach sand got in it and that was the end of that.
- It wouldn’t be travel photography if you don’t have a picture of a sunset. If you’re really keen on taking sunset shots while on holiday (like me) then try to be aware of what time and where it sets on the first evening (over the sea, behind a hill etc). Being in the right place at the right time can take a little planning and imagination to get the best shot. Indigenous plants can make a great silhouette in the foreground for sunset shots, so hunt around a bit or, as I’ve done before, find something in the day and bring it with you (just don’t go ripping up any endangered species !).
- Shooting friends (old and new) while on holiday is always a nice idea but if it’s very sunny you will either struggle with too stronger lighting, shadows or people squinting. Put the people you’re shooting under the shade of a tree if it’s too bright (and turn the flash to off). By using something as simple like a newspaper as a reflector, you can bounce light back on to them by dropping or holding it in the sunlight in front of them just under the chins and out of shot. You will get great highlights in the eyes and the softer lighting of the shade will make a very flattering shot for all.
- A travel photography must! Be culturally aware – at times it isn’t acceptable to take photos in some countries or cultures. You can always ask someone official if it’s okay. Take the time to find out before hand.
- Travel photography is about being different. If you are taking shots on the tourist trails, rather than take the same shot a million others have taken, try to think outside the box. For example try looking for the subject in reflections, like in car wing mirrors, puddles or sunglasses etc. They can make a far more interesting shot than the standard “postcard” image…but having said that … if you do pass a tourist shop have a look at the postcards as it might give you some ideas of the best angle to shoot from.
- Travel photography is about the detail. Some of the most recognisable buildings in the world often have the most stunning detail that people don’t take the time to notice. Make sure you keep an eye out for the details, textures, colours, etc. Taking a lens with you that can zoom in or a macro lens will capture some of the more unusual details.
- Make sure your horizon line is level… this tip is essential as you get this wrong and the shot simply won’t work for the most stunning of seascapes and landscapes and saves having to crop and correct the image afterwards. Some cameras have grid options when framing the picture through the view finder, but if it’s a long exposure then checking your tripod has a spirit level on it will hit it dead on every time.