A keen interest in photography is one of the many gifts that geocaching has given me. In 2014 – my first full year of being a geocacher – I uploaded 900 photographs to a Facebook album entitled ‘Geocaching 2014’. I started this blog at the end of that year, and my passing interest quickly became a passion, when I realised just how important captivating pictures are if you want to make a blog more attractive to read.
With a lot of practice, online reading and some photography classes, I have learned a thing or two. I’m by no means an expert, but I’m pleased with how my skills have evolved since starting this blog and I wanted to share some of my tips for capturing the best shot you can, whether you’re on the geocaching trail, or further afield and fishing for those Facebook likes.
Not everybody has a dedicated camera for taking pictures and honestly, the quality of smartphone photography is so good these days, it’s not really a necessity to take great photos. I’ll base my tips on using your phone* to take photos, but most of my pointers can be extended to camera usage too.
*All photos featured on this post were taken on an iPhone 7 Plus, either by me or my husband.
1. Add some foreground interest
When you’re looking at a scene in real life, the lines of sky, buildings and ground can be interesting enough, but this doesn’t always translate over to an equally interesting photograph. Adding something in the foreground can accentuate the beauty of the background from time to time.
2. Minimise distractions
When you’re in a popular tourist spot or any busy place, the chances of capturing a snap with nobody in it are almost non-existent (unless you have a lot of time and patience!). Bright colours in a shot tend to draw the eye immediately and steal focus, so if you can, at least wait until that passerby with the luminous pink jacket has walked out of the frame before snapping away. Check the photo once you’ve taken it and see if slightly changing your position omits some distractions, such as overhanging wires.
3. Avoid zooming in
Although some phones now have dual lenses, which imitate the effect of optical zoom, generally speaking zooming in too far on a smartphone can drastically diminish the image quality. Instead, cropping the photo after taking it can help with retaining the quality and result in a much less pixelated photograph.
4. Put someone in the frame
There is undoubtedly a time and a place for landscape-only photos – they are, in fact, my favourite thing to capture – but sometimes adding a subject can really improve an image. This could be your travel companion, a stranger (preferably with permission or with their faces obscured – make sure to check out the rules regarding photographing in public spaces where you’ll be travelling!), or even yourself (with the help of a friend or a handy portable tripod).
5. There’s no shame in editing
Did you ever see something beautiful, take a photograph to capture it and then be disappointment when you look at the viewfinder? Cameras these days are very advanced but there are so many external factors that can alter the scene by the time it gets to your camera.
The example I’ve included above is a simple one: I spotted a brilliantly yellow flower and wanted to capture it, but my phone seemed to wash out the very thing I wanted to show: the colour. A few tweaks on Lightroom and the photo looks much more like what I actually saw.
Even if you don’t have specific photo editing software like Lightroom or Photoshop, your phone will allow you to play with colours and light, and these can make such a huge difference to the end result. The only thing to bear in mind is to avoid over-editing, which can result in a distorted image that could take away from the shot you’ve taken.
6. Capture the details
When it comes to taking pictures when you’re travelling, specific landmarks and statues will feature in almost every visitor’s photos, but if you hone your eye to snap some of the more interesting details, you’ll end up with a more interesting collection of images to look back on.
7. Don’t be afraid to look stupid
Whether you’re taking a photograph, or just posing for one, remember that the people who may be giving you funny looks right now will forget about you as soon as they turn the corner, so strike your craziest pose and make your photographs unforgettable. Getting down really low – I mean literally lying down on your tummy in the middle of a busy square – can be the difference between an okay photo and an amazing image.
8. Leading lines and rule of thirds
There are certain, simple photography ‘devices’ to employ that can be difference between an ‘okay’ photo and a great photo. Just like a brightly coloured object can instantly draw attention in pictures, so-called ‘leading lines’ draws the viewer’s eye to a particular spot in a photograph. Leading lines can be as simple as road markings or a beaten path along a trail.
The rule of thirds dictates that an image be split in to nine equal parts, where focal points should ideally be positioned on the four intersections, or the four lines, of your nine rectangles.
I will add a disclaimer after mentioning these photography devices: rules are made to be broken and you shouldn’t stick to them rigidly but depending on the shot, they can help to enhance the resulting image.
9. Just keep snapping
One photograph is rarely enough. Sometimes you can be lucky and have your composition, light, angle all spot-on the first time, but if you change your position or perspective slightly and click multiple times, you significantly raise your chances of getting the perfect shot. The beauty of digital photography is that we can just delete what doesn’t work later. In addition, the more photos you take, the more you’ll learn how to take a good shot!
© 2018 | Sarah McLarkey | All Rights Reserved
1 thought on “9 Tips to Improve Your Travel Photography | The Geocaching Junkie”
Thank you, Sarah. Great reminders. I have especially learned about not zooming with my cell phone. Hope all is well, and that motherhood still includes time for your blogging and geocaching.