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Ten top tips for taking better travel photographs

Kim Wildman
Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Ten top tips for taking better travel photographs
Whether you're going on a cross-country road trip or taking-off on an around-the-world adventure, photographs are the best souvenirs you can get. So here are my top tips to help transform your memorable moments from mere holiday snaps into great photographs you'd be proud to hang on your wall.

Do your homework
There's nothing worse than finding out you've shown up a day too late to photograph something spectacular such as a colourful weekly market or annual festival. So before you leave, spend some time researching your destination and local attractions.

Move your subject off-centre
Whatever you do, resist the temptation to place your subject in the centre of your picture. Instead, bring your photographs to life by framing them off-centre, simply by following the "rule of thirds" — that is, place your main subject roughly one third of the way from the top, the bottom or the sides of the photograph.

Get in close
There's nothing worse than looking through someone's holiday pics and seeing their friends and family appearing as ants in the distance. To make your photographs bolder, fill the frame with your subject. Also by getting in close you'll reveal more interesting details such as the lines on a person's face or the texture of fabric.

Look for a unique angle
Just because you hold your camera at eye level or view it square on doesn't mean this is the best view. Try moving a few steps to the left or right or turn your camera at an odd angle. Better still, get down low and shoot up, or stand on a chair or step and shoot down.

Vertically challenged
When it comes to travel photography most people seem to be stuck in a horizontal rut. Remember, your camera works vertically as well as horizontally. So next time, turn your camera sideways and consider whether your subject would look better photographed vertically.

Look for leading lines
When framing your photograph look for lines that will give depth to your picture. By using the lines made by a wall, a fence or even a shadow you can draw the viewer's eyes through the picture towards the main area of interest. Diagonal lines are especially eye-catching.

Include personality
The best way to add more depth and atmosphere to your photographs is to include people within your frame. They not only provide local flavour, but can also add a sense of scale to vast landscape features such as Uluru. Be sure to ask for permission first and respect people's wishes if they don't want to be photographed.

Watch your background
While it's important to concentrate on your subject, it's equally important to be aware of what is happening in the space around them. Make sure there are no distracting elements or that you're not about to take a picture of someone with a pole or tree sticking out of their head!

Seek out the "magic hour"
The best photographs are taken during the "magic hour" — the hours immediately after sunrise or before sunset — when the light is golden. So try to take your pictures early in the morning or late in the day when the light is soft and warm, and the colours more intense. Shadows are also elongated during this time, so look out for great angles.

Look behind you
Sometimes the best photographs are of what has been left out of the frame. Just because you're in Paris doesn't mean the best shot is of the Eiffel Tower. Turn around and take a picture of what is behind you. You just might be pleasantly surprised with what you see.

User comments
great article which saves us all from looking at those dreaded holiday pics which could be from just about anywhere

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