Like most, you probably started planning your trip because of a picture or video you’ve seen sharing some beautiful place! And while of course, these trips are about being in the moment and seeing it for yourself… it’s also wonderful to capture these memories in the best version possible. This blog features some travel photography tips to get you started in the right direction so you can not only capture standout images, but you can freeze the memory in time.
We understand different budgets can’t afford all of the nice high-tech cameras so we want to share tips with both higher-end gear, as well as some practical tips to get great shots on your phone.
General Travel Photography Tips
Plan ahead & get organized
While you are planning your trip and itinerary think strategically when you want to see these places. This will change the look of your photos completely. Example: If you want something with sun rays shining behind the mountains, you may want to plan to be in that location at sunset or sunrise. If you want a foggy misty vibe, you may need to be there right before sunrise. If you want that beautiful Milky Way Galaxy shot, you’ll need a dark sky, which may require being out there past midnight.
Learn your camera ahead of time
Don’t purchase a camera and just expect it to take amazing photos. Take some time to do some research, watch youtube videos on your exact camera and learn how it works.
Have your camera or cell phone easily accessible
There are many times while on the road you may see a beautiful moment and need to click a picture out your window or quick pull over because of a wild animal for example. Have your camera queued up and ready to go while you are on the road.
Cell Phone Photography Tips
If you have learned Lightroom already on your computer, you are probably aware that this is also a great app to use on your phone to make even a cell phone picture feel professional. If you haven’t heard of Lightroom, make sure and take some time to learn it. While it is industry-standard software for professionals, it is surprisingly easy to use and it will change your life! (Well at least your pictures!)
Another app we like to use is VSCO. These two apps will help make your pictures not only stand out, but also capture the moment in the way you want to remember it.
Instagram Stories Tips
We all love a good authentic Instagram story but sometimes it’s fun to make them pop! Instead of filming the video within the Instagram app and uploading, instead, take your video you shoot, place it in one of the following apps before uploading to Instagram and make it more interesting for the viewer!
Night Photography Tips
You always see those beautiful pictures of the stars… are they photoshopped in? Well, some might be. However, there is actually a more organic way to capture these images if you have a DSLR or mirrorless camera. Here are a few tips.
Shoot on a tripod or something very stable (definitely not handheld)Shoot on Manual (M) modeSwitch to a 2-second timer so pressing the shutter doesn’t shake the cameraRemember the exposure triangle: Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISOAperture: (F-stop) number as low as your lens will go. This will let as much light in as possible.Shutter speed: follow the 500 rule. 500 divided by the focal length of your lens. So if you are shooting at 24mm, the longest you should shoot is 20.8 seconds shutter speed (round it down to 20 seconds). This isn’t only for exposure, this is so you don’t get a light trail as the world spins. You want the stars to be crisp and in focus. Unless you want that light trail effect!ISO: This will depend. Start at 1200 but you may need to go lower or higher depending on how low your F-stop can go.Manual focus. Using live-view if your camera has it, magnify 2x or 3x so you can zoom in on the stars, then manually focus so it is nice and sharp. If you don’t have live-view, you can use the viewfinder to get the focus as close as possible, but you may have to take a few trial shots to really dial it in.
If you aren’t shooting the moon, don’t shoot during a full moon. The light pollution put out by the moon will make it very difficult to get stars in your shot, especially the Milky Way Galaxy.You need to be far away from city lights. Shoot into the darkest sky possible.Have something of interest in the foreground. Trees, mountains, etc.Try light painting. Since you are using a 20-30 second exposure, remember any light that hits the sensor during that time will be part of the photograph. Some people use a flashlight to light up certain things in the foreground while the camera is taking the photo.If you want people in the shot, you’ll have to paint them with light for a couple of seconds. They won’t be able to stand that still for 30 seconds.
Use your photo editor to brighten the exposure which will draw out starsUse the brush tool in Lightroom on the sky only, then adjust the “clarity” slider or something similar in other photo editors to draw out the stars.
Be sure and plan ahead how you want to store your photos and videos. After having a really amazing trip totally disappear due to a hard drive crashing we learned our lesson the hard way. But you don’t have to! We normally have two places we put all of our files each night of our Escape campervan trip. Some ideas of storage are cloud storage such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Amazon Cloud or physical hard drives.
Hope this gets you clickin’ in the right direction!