3 Simple Tips for Capturing Great Photos On Your Next Trip

by Chandler Weber

 

Have you ever wondered why the photos your friends and family take look so much better than yours?

It's okay to admit, we've all been there. Have you thought to yourself, "I only have my phone (or an older camera) to take pictures with, mine will never look that good.”

We can help with that!

Keep reading for three quick tips that can help you capture the best memories on your next journey!

Clean Your Camera Before Taking Photos

 

This first tip might seem pretty obvious, but one we can all stand to remind ourselves of. Taking your phone in and out of your pocket or purse throughout the day, we often accidentally touch the camera. The small amounts of grease that naturally occur on your skin easily transfers to the camera glass and can cause your photos to have an innatural blur or appear streaky. Ever wondered why your picture looks like the example above?

More than likely your camera lens is dirty!

A small microfiber wipe or towel works best but is not something typically carried on a daily basis. Instead, you can gently wipe the camera lens with a soft part of your shirt, pants, jacket, etc. in a circular motion to clean off the lens. (Note: I would only use a microfiber cleaning cloth on DSLR or Mirrorless camera lenses)

Sunrise and Sunset Are Your Friend

While this tip might be more difficult to accomplish when on a tour with a pre-determined itinerary, it's worth mentioning and something to keep in mind when taking photographs back home! The hour or so surrounding sunrise and sunset is often referred to as "golden hour" due to the warm glow from the sun as it remains low on the horizon. This is a great time for photographs before harsh shadows and strong light take over during midday. If you have free time on a trip, this is the perfect opportunity to take that wide-angle shot overlooking a city, river, ocean, etc. You might have also heard of the hour before and after sunrise and sunset referred to as "blue hour." Make use of this time for photos with vibrant blues in the sky where you will likely see city lights on as well!

Basic Composition Guidelines

Have you ever wondered why two photos from the same location at the same time can feel so different? It's likely your eyes are drawn to a certain composition over another! 

These are a few "rules" to keep in mind when taking photos that can make a big difference!

Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds (the 9 rectangles pictured below) is a guideline for placing the subject of your photo on the right or left of an image. Using the rule of thirds allows you to showcase both your subject (often a person) and the background (historical landmark, beautiful landscape, etc.). This is a setting that can be turned on in the menu of most DSLR and Mirrorless cameras as well as your phone camera!

   

 

Leading Lines

Often used in conjunction with the rule of thirds, leading lines are an easy way to elevate the photos you capture on your trip! Leading lines are just as the name sounds, lines that lead your attention deeper into the photo! A leading line is often placed along the rule of thirds as well, making these two rules work in conjunction with one another.

  

 

Framing

A lot of the suggestions under this composition guideline will seem really simple when reading, but often overlooked. Let's imagine we are taking a photo of a beautiful church or cathedral. Far too often we pull out our phone, snap the photo, and keep moving. Instead, take a few moments before taking the photo to look around the edges.

      

Look for things like street signs, tree branches, even the odd trashcan or two. Don't feel bad if you have lots of photos with these distractions, even the best of photographers have missed a distraction or two in an otherwise great photo at some point in life! Instead, change the angle of your camera. Taking a few steps to your left or right will often move these distractions out of frame and only takes a few extra seconds. 

   

Likewise, consider how much empty or "negative" space is in your photo. If you are taking a picture of a flower, position your camera so that the flower fills the majority of the frame rather than seeing a mostly empty sky with a small flower at the bottom of the photograph! Same is true for buildings, people, and nearly any other subject.



When to Break Those Pesky Rules!

While these photography "rules" above are good to consider, no two photographs are exactly alike! In the examples below, you will see the rule of thirds displayed on top of the photo and that rule being broken.

Times I often break these compositional rules:

 Symmetry in the scene   

 

 Large subject front and center   


Grand scene that you want to feel “balanced”

I hope my examples I've included help demonstrate when and why I often break one or more of these basic compositional rules while still adhering to the other(s) in my own photography. At the end of the day, use your best judgement and take photographs that are meaningful to you! 

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