top tips for great travel photography
Sponsored Words : Team Wanderlust | 03 September 2019

10 simple things travel photographers often forget

Ensure you capture amazing travel images with these essential tips from the experts at Nikon, covering everything from proper planning, to ways to make your pictures pop...

1. Don't forget to plan and research properly 

Research the location you wish to photograph before you get there (Nikon)

Research the location you wish to photograph before you get there (Nikon)

Incredible images don’t just happen by chance or luck. Ask any professional travel photographer and they'll tell you that they plan their shoots in advance. Do you want to photograph a sunrise or sunset? Then you need to check what time the sun comes up and goes down. Hoping to capture a shot of a river? Then you’ll need to know the time of the tides.

Plan your trip and get to know the location you’ll be photographing before you get there by using search engines or guidebooks. There are also apps available that allow you to virtually wander around the location before your visit.

Make sure you plan your travel shots (Nikon)

Make sure you plan your travel shots (Nikon)

The research doesn’t stop once you arrive at your destination. Speak to the locals or find a guide who can take you to some of the lesser-visited spots. The planning will pay off, and will help you put together a great shoot list for your travels.

2. Pack light 

Pack light; you won't need as much camera gear as you think (Nikon)

Pack light; you won't need as much camera gear as you think (Nikon)

It sounds simple, but it’s really easy to overcompensate and take too much camera gear. You don’t want to be trekking up a mountain with a heavy rucksack on, making the journey more difficult than it needs to be. Your camera body along with a couple of lenses and a few accessories should be more than enough gear for your travels. Don’t forget to pack a charger, necessary leads and a travel-adaptor plug. Remember the 80:20 rule; usually, 80% of your photos will come from around 20% of your kit.

 

You don't want to be lugging heavy gear up to the top of a hill (Nikon)

You don't want to be lugging heavy gear up to the top of a hill (Nikon)

If you’re struggling to decide what to take, pack all of the camera gear you think you will need at home and walk around with it to get an idea of its weight and how it will feel. Come back to it a couple of days later and try to swap or remove some of the equipment. If you’re still struggling to keep the weight down, cameras such as the Nikon Z 6 or D7500 are light and small, making it much easier to capture high-quality images without having to carry extra weight.

3. Pack a couple of versatile lenses, rather than lots of specific lenses 

Choose a lense that can capture everything from astrophotography to wildlife (Nikon)

Choose a lense that can capture everything from astrophotography to wildlife (Nikon)

Visiting new locations is exciting and gives you a chance to shoot nearly every genre of photography. You can capture everything from landscapes, astrophotography, street, portraits, candids and wildlife in one single place. While you could take lots of lenses to photograph these scenes, picking just one or two universal lenses will be a better approach.

A general-purpose lens (such as the AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR or the AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR) is a great all-rounder that'll enable you to capture all sorts of images. Use this alongside a Nikkor 35mm or 50mm f/1.8 to shoot amazing portraits and blur out messy backgrounds if needed.

4. Learn how to use your camera 

Take time to learn to use your camera before setting off on your travels (Nikon)

Take time to learn to use your camera before setting off on your travels (Nikon)

A lot of people will unwrap their shiny new camera, toss the instruction manual to one side and start clicking away in their haste to get started. As tempting as this is, don't fall into this trap. Pick up the instructions and take time to read about and practice all the different functions your camera has to offer. Or you could even book a place on a photography workshop to really get yourself up to speed. 

You don’t want to be messing about with buttons on your camera while the shot of a lifetime is getting away from you. Ideally, you should learn the main buttons and features on your camera and have it set up before your travels, making sure you're ready for anything.

5. Shoot two images of everything 

Set your camera to capture both RAW and JPEG images (Nikon)

Set your camera to capture both RAW and JPEG images (Nikon)

Setting your camera to shoot both RAW and JPEG images will offer you the chance to have high-resolution RAW images to edit in your downtime, but still have the JPEGs to send immediately to your smart device and upload to social media while you’re on location.

This will mean you'll be shooting two images of everything. It’s a very effective backup strategy, but it might be worth taking an extra couple of high capacity memory cards with you.

It’s good practice to download your images to a laptop or photo storage device every night. This is another good back-up and will free up your memory cards to be used the following day.

6. Make use of the core camera settings 

Make use of your core camera settings (Nikon)

Make use of your core camera settings (Nikon)

Make use of your core camera settings (Nikon)

Make use of your core camera settings (Nikon)

Shoot in Programmed auto mode (‘P’) for those situations that happen too fast to think about. Aperture priority (‘A’) gives you creative control on static subjects such as portraits, cityscapes and landscapes. Shutter priority (‘S’) is great for any action shots. Manual mode (‘M’) is for when you want complete control over the light and creativity in the image. Shooting with Auto ISO set to ‘on’ will also help you get correctly exposed images in any of the above modes.

Think about using flash to ‘fill in’ shadows in portraits or dark areas in your images, even on bright days (shoot into the light). Fill flash is best used when set to -0.7 to -1 Flash Exposure Compensation - this stops you getting that ‘overflashed’ look.

7. Be confident 

Ask persmission to take a photograph of someone and be polite (Shutterstock)

Ask persmission to take a photograph of someone and be polite (Shutterstock)

Environmental portraits of locals at the destinations you're visiting are always an interesting subject to shoot. We’d all love to photograph stunning images that express the subject's character and culture. However, these images are best shot on a 35mm or 50mm f/1.8 at around f2 or f.1.8 close to the person, not from a zoom lens.

This means asking permission. Be polite and respect different cultures. If you have a language barrier use mime or expressions with your face or hands. If they say ‘no’, it’s not a problem. Say thank you and go and find something or someone else to photograph.

8. Keep yourself and your camera safe 

Keep yourself and your camera safe (Nikon)

Keep yourself and your camera safe (Nikon)

Most locations in the world are reasonably safe and people are mostly approachable, but this is not always the case. You're carrying expensive camera gear, and it’s worth taking a few precautions. Good travel insurance is a must. Consider using a camera bag that doesn’t look like a standard camera bag with secure locks to deter thieves.

Before you travel, photograph everything and keep a record of all the serial numbers to help make any claims easier. Make sure you never put camera gear in the hold and be sure to take it on as hand luggage.

9. Change the narrative 

Change the narrative (Nikon)

Change the narrative (Nikon)

In busy destinations it can be difficult to take new images that don’t look like postcards or cliché scenes from social media. To get a different perspective on a location, try changing the height you shoot at or the angle of view. For example, shooting really wide at 14mm or close in at 200mm can produce a new take on an everyday scene.

Shoot two images of everything (Nikon)

Shoot two images of everything (Nikon)

Getting up early for sunrise, or staying out late for sunset or low light night images will also change the colours you get to work with. There are also a lot of non-obvious images to take. Study the patterns, colours, shapes and textures in objects or buildings. Every location has an almost endless supply of things to photograph.

If you get an overcast day, think about using the macro feature on your camera or a macro lens to explore the location in close-up detail. Most of all, be patient. For the best images, you may have to wait for the right light or adapt your shooting style.

10. Be aware of temperature changes 

Be aware of temperature changes (Nikon)

Be aware of temperature changes (Nikon)

Travel photography often means you’ll be moving between different temperatures. Going from an air-conditioned hotel lobby to sizzling streets, or from a snowy landscape into a toasty café can lead to condensation fogging up your lens.

If you need to shoot straight away, wipe the lens carefully with a cloth. The best approach is to put your camera in your camera bag as you change environments, as this will mean the temperature shock is not as great. If any damp does get into your lens, your only option is to give it time to dry out before you use it again.

Feeling inspired? 

Put your new skills to use by entering our Travel Photo of the Year competition, and you could win a trip to Texas, or a Nikon D3500 camera with an AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm VR lens

The photography experts

Nikon is one of the world's leaders when it comes to photography. With Nikon's cameras and lenses, you can capture outstanding imagery, from dynamic portraits to colourful landscapes. Nikon's gear helps you to hold on to your travel experiences, creating immersive images and videos, exactly as you experience them.

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