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11 Tips to Make Your Travel Photos Worthy of National Geographic

11 Tips to Make Your Travel Photos Worthy of National Geographic

Taking travel photos while you’re globetrotting is a wonderful way to remember your journey, as well as to share your experience with others—whether they be family and friends or millions of strangers across the globe via the world wide web. As a photographer and travel writer, I’ve taken photos in all sorts of places. I’ve learnt a few lessons the hard way, but the good news is you don’t have to! Here are my top travel photography tips to get the best possible shots out of your camera.

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sydney travel photo
    Sydney Skyline by Luke Chapman
    1. Before you leave home, consider which camera gear you should take, and which you should leave behind. If you just want to take a few holiday snaps, then a decent compact camera may be all you need. On the other hand, you may want to take a digital SLR and a few lenses. Lugging around a backpack full of camera gear can be a real pain, so as a compromise, consider taking an all-in-one travel zoom lens, like Tamron’s 18-270mm as well as a small 50mm lens for portraits and low light photos. (The nifty fifty is a recommended addition for any camera kit)
    2. I would consider a tripod to be an essential item for travel photography: It will allow you to get great long exposure photos in low light conditions and at nighttime, but can often be too bulky for travel. Tripods can also be a real hassle if you’re travelling internationally; I have been stopped countless times at airport security checkpoints as they check for any concealed weapons in my tripod (spiked tripod feet can also be an issue). A good alternative is Joby’s Gorillapod: It’s small, lightweight and flexible, so you can either stand it up or wrap it around something (like a fence or a tree) to get the perfect shot.
    3. If you don’t have a tripod with you, look for somewhere stable (like a bench or even the floor) to rest your camera on, especially for indoor or night time photos. This will keep the camera steady and help to eliminate blurry photos.

      rainforest travel photos
        Curtis Falls by Luke Chapman

      • “Bad Weather” doesn’t necessarily mean bad photos—some subjects are perfect for photographing in the rain. If you’re in a city, reflections on sidewalks and roads can make for some interesting photos. Gloomy weather can be great for subjects like rainforests and waterfalls; cloud cover is a great diffuser and eliminates the dappled light and harsh shadows that you normally get in the rainforest on a sunny day. If you’re near a garden, try taking photos of plants with water droplets on the leaves or flower petals. Search out local places to take indoor photos, such as churches, museums, train stations (the list goes on).
      • If you’re photographing something large (like a mountain or building) or small (like a miniature horse), try taking some shots that include people in the photo to give the viewer some perspective and sense of scale.
      • Although it sounds counterintuitive, using your flash during the day can be a good thing: it can help to fill in shadows and reduce contrast.
      • Try taking photos at night! In the city, you can get some interesting lights and reflections (especially on rivers or other bodies of water). If you’re away from the city lights, try taking some star trails or star field photos.

        river city night travel photos
          Brisbane River by Luke Chapman

        • Don’t just shoot the whole subject (e.g. a building). Take extra photos of little details. Get high, get low, try different viewpoints so you don’t get the same old photos. These all come together really well to tell the whole story.
        • Get away from the main tourist traps; follow your nose and explore back streets and meet the locals. Thousands of people will have photos of the main attractions, but how many can tell a story about the local people and culture? You will be guaranteed to find hidden gems by leaving the well-trodden path.
        • If taking photos of people, try to take candid photos. If they notice that you’re taking photos of them, most people will pose or smile for the camera, and it can look forced in some circumstances. Experiment with both. Most locals will be happy to oblige if you ask to take their photo. If they’re not, just move on. If you’re travelling in a country that doesn’t speak your language, it can be very helpful to learn to say “hello” and “Can I take your photo?” in the local language.
        • And a final tip: Get out from behind the lens and experience the journey. It’s nice to have photos, but sometimes it’s even better to put the camera down and just immerse yourself in an experience!
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        Last Updated on September 20, 2018

        How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

        How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

        Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

        If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

        1. Breathe

        The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

        • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
        • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
        • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

        Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

        2. Loosen up

        After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

        Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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        3. Chew slowly

        Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

        Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

        Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

        4. Let go

        Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

        The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

        It’s not. Promise.

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        Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

        Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

        21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

        5. Enjoy the journey

        Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

        Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

        6. Look at the big picture

        The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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        Will this matter to me…

        • Next week?
        • Next month?
        • Next year?
        • In 10 years?

        Hint: No, it won’t.

        I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

        Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

        7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

        You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

        Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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        8. Practice patience every day

        Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

        • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
        • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
        • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

        Final thoughts

        Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

        Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

        Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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