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How to take travel photos like a pro: Part 1

VAWN HIMMELSBACH, Chic Savvy Travels VAWN HIMMELSBACH, Chic Savvy Travels

Trying to capture a moment on film while traveling isn’t always easy — at Everest Base Camp, for example, the infamous peak is back-lit by the rising sun in the morning, which doesn’t make for great pics. When I did the trek a few years ago, I met a group of travelers making their way back from Base Camp who hadn’t even seen Mt. Everest, since they spent two weeks hiking in blizzard-like conditions. So much for photos. Other times, you just get lucky. Some of my favourite shots were the result of simply being in the right place at the right time, with my camera handy.

Cruising near Winter Island in Antarctica. Photo by Paul Teolis

But even a novice photographer can learn a few tricks to take better photos, despite conditions such as poor lighting. Recently I had a chance to chat with award-winning travel photographer Paul Teolis, who’s leading a photography trip to Peru this May with f11project’s Louis Au, through GAP Adventures (Paul is also the photographer for Chic Savvy Travels). This is Part 1 of our interview:

Q: What kind of camera do you recommend for the amateur photographer?

A: There’s an old saying: It’s not the camera, but the person behind the camera. If an amateur photographer has a limited budget but wants control, a simple point-and-shoot camera that has the ability to shoot RAW format will certainly give them more versatility with their photos in post-processing. You ideally want the ability to control aperture and shutter speed, and also have manual functions.

I always tell people to work with what they have. If you just have a normal lens, work with that. It forces you to see your pictures differently and compose accordingly. Grow you equipment as your skills get better.

Q: What are the most common mistakes that travelers make when taking photos?

A: Whenever I’m trying to shoot something that has a large group of tourists around, I usually just sit back, watch and wait. Most tourists simply point their camera, shoot and walk away. If I wait long enough eventually I’ll have the location to myself and can compose with little interference.

It’s the mad dash to photograph something, but never actually see what you’re shooting, that I see time and time again. Most travelers need to simply slow down and ask themselves: What is my centre of interest in the photograph, and what am I shooting? Simply giving yourself more time to compose your image will greatly affect what you take back home with you.

Q: For the non-professional, what are some tips on how to compose a good photo?

Day of the Dead in Mexico. Photo by Louis Au

A: I’ve always been taught as a working commercial artist and photographer that it’s important to know the rules of composition just so you can break them. Rules can be restricting, so it’s important to remember to be spontaneous, too. That’s how I’ve always achieved my best shots. If you see it, take it.

Simple composition can improve the average person’s photograph. Avoid putting everything in the centre of the photograph. Placing your horizon high or low in the frame can immediately improve the mood of a photograph. Good light is a given, but not always possible, so work with the conditions you have. And never be afraid to get closer to your subject.

Q: How can you take good photos in either low-light conditions or on really sunny days — maybe you’re hiking and can’t wait until the end of the day for better lighting, for example?

A: Tripods are a key tool for low-light conditions, as camera shake will spoil your photos. If you’re traveling and don’t have a tripod with you, go to a store or market and pick up some dried beans or corn and fill a bag with them to rest your camera on. I always carry freezer bags with me for this very reason. No bag, fill up a pair of socks and rest your camera on that when shooting. Works great.

Really sunny days are great but avoid taking pictures around noon hour when shadows are almost directly under your subject. And make sure the sun is behind you when shooting to avoid back-lit situations.

Click here to read: How to take travel photos like a pro: Part 2

For more information on Paul’s photography trip to Peru, contact Paul Teolis, Louis Au or GAP Adventures.

Copyright @ 2011 Chic Savvy Travels


Date Added: February 2, 2011 | Comments (0)

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