Brilliantprints Live Help

Taking It Easy: Sure Fire Tips For Every Kind Of Travel Photography

August 27th, 2012 No Comments

You are in the idyllic location for photography. An exotic paradise, a place you have dreamed of for years. Now you are there and you are wondering, what can I shoot, and more importantly, what are the best settings to capture the feel of the place.

There are a number of themes to travel photography; among them are the people, the architecture, the wildlife and the landscape, be it rural or urban. In this article I will try to give you an idea of the best settings for your camera to create great travel images.


Perhaps more than anything else, the locals capture the flavor of a destination. A fisherman landing his catch, local women in a market, there are a multitude of images to be shot. The worst thing you can do is blatantly stick a camera in someone’s face and start shooting. I find the best policy is a smile and to point to the camera, 90% of people will be happy for you to take the shot. So what are you looking for? Well, you are trying to show the person in their environment, but you don’t want that environment to be intrusive. Look at using a relatively wide aperture, around f2.8-f5.6 on a normal zoom. Shooting at a focal length of between 24-70mm means that you can compose your subject somewhere in one third of the frame and use the other two thirds to show the destination. Aperture priority is the best mode for people photography. Because you need to work quickly, you can set your aperture and let the camera do the rest. In the example below, I have used a wide aperture of f2.8 to throw the background and foreground, out of focus to concentrate on the natural beauty of this Indian street woman.



Take a look at a city’s buildings are you will know more or less what country you are in. Capturing good architectural travel photos can be difficult. If you are in a well-travelled destination, the chances are there will be tourists and locals alike in front of your intended subject. Here your most important piece of equipment is an alarm clock. Get up early, as the sun rises it will create soft shadows and add definition to the building and of course, you will more than likely be alone. If possible, scout your location. It may be that the sun does not fall in the right place at that time of day and you will need to rethink your shoot. Try to get back from the building, and again use a standard zoom lens. If you are too close, you will have to point the camera up to capture the whole building, this creates converging parallels. These can be fine if you intend them, but in general, for architectural shots you want your parallels parallel. Try to use a small aperture, to capture as much detail in front and behind the building, f8 to f16 is ideal. This however can introduce other problems, as you are up early, the light levels may be quite low and as such your shutter speed may be a little to slow to get good images. There are two solutions to this conundrum; the first is to increase your ISO setting (film speed). This will drop the image quality but hopefully not significantly. The second option is to maintain the shutter speed but put your camera on a tripod. This will give you the sharpest possible image. The two best modes for architectural photography are aperture priority and manual. As your subject does not move, you have time to work on the settings



Taking pictures of local wildlife presents its own set of problems. Firstly by its very nature, it won’t want to be to close to you and secondly it will probably be moving fast. Here you will need a long lens, a good budget, telephoto lens would be in the range of 70-300mm, however, generally these lenses will not be fast i.e. they will not have a wide maximum aperture. Because of this, and because you may require a fast shutter speed to freeze the action, its possible you will have to increase the ISO to get good images. Mostly, you will find yourself using the 300mm end of your lens and the best mode will be shutter priority. This will allow you to define the shutter speed depending on the subject. If your wildlife is relatively slow moving, aim for a shutter speed of around 1/250th of a second. If it is moving quickly and you want to freeze the action, look for 1/1000th of a second or even faster. Panning the camera with the motion of the animal will allow you to stop the motion and use a slower shutter speed. It also has the advantage of blurring the background, giving extra definition to your subject.

Most DSLR cameras have what’s called a continuous shooting mode. In this mode, if you keep your finger on the shutter it will keep taking photographs. As most wildlife is unpredictable, it can be very useful if you have your camera set to this.



As mentioned earlier, landscapes can be rural, or urban. An urban landscape will concentrate more the general environment rather than a specific building. A rural landscape will capture the natural beauty of the location. The best time to shoot landscapes are the hours just after sunrise and just before and after sunset. This is commonly known as the “Golden Hour” due to the rich, soft, golden light the sun produces. In general, in landscape photography, you will use aperture priority and a small aperture of around f8 to f16 to capture the greatest depth of field. A wide angle lens of around 14-24mm will allow you to capture those grand sweeping vista’s, whilst the use of a telephoto lens will allow you to pick off the intricate details in your scene. A tripod is also a very useful tool, allowing you to keep the aperture small whilst keeping the ISO down for the very best quality. Focus manually if you are confident, this allows you to control exactly which point of your landscape you want to be in perfect focus.



These are just a few suggestions for travel photography. In reality there are an infinite number of possible photos out there. Let loose with your imagination and try capture the real atmosphere of your destination.


Leave a Reply

© 2020 Brilliant Prints

Are you a professional photographer or reseller?


Our Brilliant Prints professional site has 8 great products, useful resources and wholesale pricing.  ABN required.