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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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        How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

        How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

        Keeping yourself awake at work can be a real challenge when you’re bored, exhausted or sleep-deprived.

        But before you reach for that can of Red Bull, bottle of Mountain Dew, or pot of coffee, try these healthy remedies to stimulate your 5 different senses and help you stay awake at work:

        Sight – Visual Stimulation

        The first thing you do when you wake up is opening your eyes, so your visual stimulation is very important to keeping your energy level high.

        1. Maximize your exposure to light.

        Your body’s internal rhythm is regulated by the amount of light you receive. The greater your exposure, the more alert you will feel.

        Open the shades and let in the sunlight. Step outside or look out the window. Turn on all the artificial lights in your office or around your work space.

        2. Exercise your eyes (or give them a break).

        Roll your eyes up and down, side to side and diagonally. Rotate them clockwise and then counterclockwise. Squeeze them shut and then open them wide. Do this several times.

        Reading and sitting in front of a computer screen for long periods can lead to eye fatigue.

        Take regular breaks with deliberate blinking and looking out into the distance.

        3. Take note of your environment.

        Learn to enjoy people-watching. Observe their activities, speech, body language and interactions with others. Notice the details of building, trees and other objects around you, including their color, shape and size.

        By doing this, you’re not only relaxing your eye muscles but also calming your mind.

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        Hearing – Auditory Stimulation

        What you hear or listen to have direct effect on your brain. This is why we feel so annoyed and sometimes angry when we hear construction noise when we’re working.

        4. Engage in conversation.

        Talk to a friend or colleague. Trade funny stories. Discuss your business venture, a creative idea, the latest political scandal, or any other topic that interests you.

        Practice mindful listening to what you and the other person are saying. Tune into the tone, volume and content of the conversation.

        Learn how to practice better listening from this guide:

        Why Listen to Reply Instead of Understand Is the Key to Failure

        5. Listen to upbeat music.

        Try hip hop, rock or jazz to keep you alert. Instrumental, non-distracting music works best.

        Sing, whistle, and hum along if you can. Plug in the earphones if you must.

        Smell – Olfactory Stimulation

        If you’re feeling sleepy and suddenly smell the coffee, you’ll probably feel more energetic. This is why smell is an influential stimulation.

        6. Work your nose.

        Aroma therapists recommend essential oils of peppermint (to boost energy), rosemary (to build awareness), eucalyptus (to increase oxygen), cedarwood  (to activate your mind), and cinnamon (to improve your reaction time).

        If you don’t have essential oils on hand, you can use lotions or burning candles that provide the same scents.

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        Citrus like lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges are also natural olfactory stimulants. Get a whiff of these citrus scents to stay awake.

        Taste – Gustatory Stimulation

        If you want an energetic day at work, you can’t let your tongue feeling plain and flavorless.

        7. Have a good breakfast.

        Start off with the most important meal of the day.

        Think fresh, light and healthy: bran cereals, wholegrain breads, fruits, and yogurt.

        Nix the heavy stuff like sausages, greasy eggs or pancakes.

        Need some breakfasts inspirations? Check out these ideas:

        20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time

        8. Drink lots of water.

        Keep a glass or bottle of H2O near you and sip from it throughout the day. Dehydration can leave you feeling tired, sluggish and sleepy.

        So make sure you drink enough water throughout the day. Not sure how much to drink? This can help you:

        How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day (and How Much Is Too Much for You)

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        Think that you’ve been drinking too little water? Try these friendly reminders:

        3 Best Apps To Help You Drink Much More Water

        9. Eat energy-boosting snacks.

        Nuts and fruits (like bananas, apples and strawberries) are sure bets. Pairings with staying power include baby carrots with a low-fat cream cheese dip; celery sticks with peanut butter; red peppers with hummus; and plain yogurt with granola.

        Avoid carb-filled, sugary snacks that make you crash and leave you feeling tired.

        Here you can find some healthy snack ideas:

        25 Healthy Snack Recipes To Make Your Workday More Productive

        Touch – Tactile Stimulation

        Last but not least, your sense of touch will make you physically feel more energetic and less stressful.

        10. Splash cold water on your face.

        Do this in the morning, during bathroom breaks and in the afternoon. Being exposed to cold water pushes your body to adjust and regulate its internal temperature, which in turn keeps you alert.

        This works the same as you take a cold shower to increase mood and alertness. Take a look at this article to learn more about it:

        5 Surprising Benefits of Cold Showers

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        11. Use acupressure.

        Apply pressure to, massage, or tap on the stimulation points of your body. These include the top of your head, the back of your neck, the back of your hand (between the thumb and index finger), just below the knee and your earlobes.

        Watch this video to learn about the acupressure points you can try:

        12. Get moving.

        Move away from your chair and stand, walk, run or climb the stairs. Feel the earth under your feet. Stretch and twist. Do jumping jacks, lunges, push-ups and back bends.

        And if you need to move more discreetly, wiggle your feet, bounce your knee up and down, scrunch your toes, or cross your legs.

        You can also try some simple stretches and exercises at your desk:

        Unlike addictive caffeine fixes, these remedies activate your senses, engage your attention, amp up your energy and prevent morning grogginess and afternoon slumps without the side effects or health risks.

        Pick a few ways from this list of suggestions and practice them consistently. And when you do this consistently, you’ll soon see the positive results — a more energetic and productive you at work.

        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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