Everyone has seen them – the photos taken while on vacation by a friend, colleague or family member that turn out looking like they are straight out of a travel magazine. Jealousy and reasoning are two most common things that you might feel when you see those pictures. “Jealousy,” as in you wish you had the “skill level” required to take such pictures, and “reasoning” that the reason so-and-so’s pictures turned out well is due to his owning a fancy camera. However, neither of those are the case. Anyone can take great vacation shots. The trick to taking great travel photographs is in knowing these few things:
Know Your Camera – The biggest hurdle to taking good pictures is not properly understanding how your camera works. How can you expect to take excellent pictures if you have no idea how to adjust the focus, change settings or turn on the flash? You need to be familiar with your camera before you go on vacation. Buy a manual and read it, experiment with the various settings in your own backyard, and if necessary, take a quick lesson on your camera from the store that you bought it from. Many camera shops offer a free lesson to anyone who purchases a new camera. Take advantage of this.
Take Plenty of Pictures – What you do not see in travel magazines (or even in your family member’s slideshow) are the outtakes. For every excellent picture seen, there are probably hundreds more that turned out blurry, did not look quite right or were too dark or too light. In order to come up with, say, thirty great pictures, you may have to take one hundred, usually of the same thirty things. Yes, put your finger on the shutter and snap away, while keeping in mind that of the five or ten pictures that you just took, one or two of them might be perfect.
Look At Scenery through Your Camera Lens – You need to be able to “see” each shot. Hold your camera up to the item that you want to take a picture of and study what you are looking at. Does it look balanced; is the focus where you want it to be? Try moving slightly to the left or right, or crouch down to get a different view of it. You might find that the composition works better from that angle instead. Basically, take the time to set up your shots and your pictures will turn out much better.
Be Patient and Focus – Yes, focus on the scenery that you are shooting, but also “focus” as in, let the camera’s auto-focus feature work properly. If you attempt to rush through each picture, you will end up with a lot of blurry unfocused ones. Instead, take your time and let the camera do its job. Keep the auto focus and the auto flash on, and let the camera’s electronics decide when it needs them. Newer cameras are like mini-computers; they can sense the lighting conditions and can automatically adjust. By forcing the camera’s processors to act too quickly, you will end up with a bad picture every time.
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