I’m the one who takes most of the pictures on the blog. I made rapid progress in photography during our first two years of travel and I wanted to share some simple tips, those that helped me improve when I started to take a serious interest in the subject.
It was during a long stay in India in 2010, a photogenic country par excellence, that I developed a taste for travel photography. In the following years, I had a fairly instinctive, not at all thoughtful practice of photography. I wasn’t really looking to improve. And then, with the help of laziness, I would even go on a trip with a phone as a camera.
With the creation of the blog, almost two years ago, I started taking pictures again regularly, I felt more and more pleasure in doing so, and I swore to myself that I would never go out without a camera around my neck again.
After a few months, when I saw my old travel photos again, even though they were stored in “best-of” folders, I couldn’t believe my eyes: so many blurry photos, badly framed… But what was going on? Why didn’t I realize anything?
So, even if I am still trying to improve myself in photography, I am becoming aware of the progress made. The learning curve is very fast in this area, it’s encouraging! Here are 5 simple tips that have allowed me to achieve this great difference in less than a year:
Concentrate when shooting to get a clear picture
Sounds silly, doesn’t it? And yet, this is the basis (unless the blur is sought of course)! This is the most obvious difference compared to my old photos: a huge part of them were not clear. When I think about it, I remember I was always hurrying. I would take the camera out in two seconds, barely concentrate on what I was doing, and then trigger when I was already putting the camera away, ready to go. That’s bullshit.
So here’s the first simple tip: concentrate, hold your camera tightly, or even hold your breath when you shoot.
I assure you that the effect on sharpness is radical!
Eliminate unsightly details on the edges
There are dozens of composition boards, such as the famous third party rule. Here is a much simpler advice but one that allows you to obtain a neat appearance and to highlight the subject. It is a question of ridding the edges of any imperfection: a passer-by’s arm, a lamp post, an electric wire, a large badly located stone… The ideal is to fit well during the shooting, but sometimes an unexpected event brings a twig or a passer-by into the field at the wrong time.
Waiting for “the little something extra”
Another simple but essential tip if you want to take pictures that are a little out of the ordinary: be patient. Patience will bring you a better light, will make the tourist leave the foreground of your photo, will see the well-placed silhouette that was missing from your scene…
Often, when I feel that a detail is missing, I settle in, prepare my settings and wait a few minutes. I’m almost always rewarded!
The setting was charming, I had noticed the high number of cyclists in the city. All I had to do was wait for someone to come by on a bike.
Again, I liked the decor. I wanted to have silhouettes in my picture but not in the foreground, and I preferred to avoid groups. After a few minutes of patience, I got what I had in mind with these two passers-by.
Chasing the light away
Before, I was happy when the sun was shining and my weather concerns stopped there. Over time, I have understood some subtleties: the light is softer in the morning and evening. Midday hours with aggressive sunshine should be avoided. The contrast is too strong, the colors less beautiful… unless there are a few clouds! The moment when the sun pierces them, letting the light gradually nibble at a landscape, is quite photogenic.
The sun gradually breaks through the clouds in Palenque, Mexico
I also discovered that backlighting was not necessarily bad. When the sun is low, it is sometimes more interesting to photograph towards it than with the spot.