Tips for taking a great photo

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Taking great photos
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How to take a great photo

Your backpacking adventure will probably be one of the best experiences in your life and something you will want to remember. Taking great photos that capture your experiences is a perfect way to portray your travels.

Below are some tips that can be used to improve the quality of your photos.

tipDo your homework

Read your camera's operating manual and learn how to use many of the great features digital cameras have these days

Look at travel guides and picture books of the area you are planning to travel to and see where the best photo opportunities may be (such as landmarks, festivals etc.).

tipTry using photos to tell a story of your trip

You could include pictures of tickets, sitting on the plane, favourite meals you ate, people you met, street signs that represent where you have been. Take down notes as well so you can include these next to photos if you are making a photo album, travel blog or posting them on Facebook for your trip.

Tell a story

tipCapture emotions of the people you have met

Capture emotions

Try and capture emotions of yourself and the people you have met along the way. You could take a photo of people next to their favourite landmarks etc. and get them to express how it makes them feel.

tipCapture the local culture or flavour

Try and capture the local culture or flavour, take pictures of interesting locals (if they are happy to let you).

Local culture

tipPhotographs should trigger your memories about a place

Your photographs should be able to trigger your memories about a place, and to communicate how you felt about it to others.  Think about why you wanted to travel here, what aspects appealed to you (the beach, the people etc). Then you need to capture these subjects in your photographs. Also, look out for many other interesting aspects of the place you may not be aware of.

Trigger memories

tipGet off the tourist track and look for interesting locations

Get off the beaten track

Get off the tourist track and look for interesting locations - wander down alleys, sit in cafes and watch people. Try and take photos that capture the real essence of a place.

tipLook for common themes

Common themes

Look for common themes in your travels that will help you tell a unique story (a good example is unique road signs).

tipKeep it eye-level for close-ups of people and animals

When taking a close up picture of a person or animal, hold the camera at their eye level and aim to keep the background fairly plain so it doesn't detract the focus off the person.

keep it at eye level

tipUse your flash outdoors when taking photos of people

Use your flash outdoors when taking photos of people - On sunny days, the sun can produce unwanted shadows, particularly on the face. The best way to reduce this is to use your flash. If you have two options (fill-flash mode or full-flash mode), use fill-flash mode if the person is within approximately 2 metres distance from you, otherwise use full-flash mode. On cloudy days, try using the camera's fill-flash mode if it has one.

Know your flash's range, because pictures taken beyond the maximum flash range will be too dark. For most cameras, the maximum flash range is less than 3 metres (check your camera's operators manual).

tipReveal interesting features

Reveal interesting features

Try getting up close to the subject to reveal some of their interesting features, like striking eyes, nose, character lines (wrinkles).

tipBe aware of how the light affects your picture

Be aware of how the light affects your picture. For example often sunset and sunrise is the best time to take landscape pictures because of the great shades of colour this time of day produces. With people, bright light may enhance their positive features, but detract their negative features like wrinkles. You need to experiment and perhaps move your subject to different shades of light if possible.

Use the light

tipTry rotating your camera sideways

Rotate the camera

Try rotating your camera sideways and take some vertical pictures. It can often make the subject of the picture much more focused.

tipTake candid pictures

Take candid pictures instead of getting your subjects to pose for the picture. You can often get some great unexpected shots.

Candid pictures

tipStrike a balance between people and place

When you are taking pictures of friends, try to strike a balance between a picture of them and a picture of the place.

Balance between people and place

tipThink about how the place makes you feel

How you feel about a place

When taking a photo of a landscape think about how the place makes you feel and try and capture those emotions on film.

tipCapture a sense of place for photos of cities and towns

When taking photos of a town or city, you should try and capture a sense of place (a cityscape, skyline - check out the postcard rack for good examples), take images of famous landmarks and images of local people.

Sense of place

tipAlways have your camera ready

Always have your camera with you and ready, because you never know when a great shot is around the corner.

tipTake lots of photos

The great thing with digital cameras is you can take hundreds of photos and delete the ones you don't like later when you are editing them on your computer.