How to take pictures while traveling - a ready-made scheme and common mistakes

The headline is a bit loud, but I no longer know what else this article could be called. Naturally, it will be about my personal experience and how I shoot with my camera. I can't speak for everyone at once. I am sure that someone photographs in about the same way, someone in a completely different way, but until you try it yourself, you will not be able to work out your own scheme of actions. Let's start with shooting conditions and typical mistakes..

The content of the article

All parts of my FAQ for aspiring photographers:

one. Which camera to choose for a novice photographer
2. What lens is needed for what and what to choose
3. Basic Digital Camera Settings
4. How to take travel photography
five. How to process photos in Lightroom and how to store them
6. Example of a photo bag and travel backpack
7. How to photograph the starry sky
0. What I photograph when traveling

Shooting conditions

The fact is that due to the imperfection of technology, we depend on the time of day. I will not go into details about the technique, I will just say that we are talking about the amount of light in the dark and about the dynamic range.

Twilight and night

If you shoot at dusk or at night, then you will be sorely lacking light, the pictures will be dark or blurry. Turning the ISO to maximum, a fast lens and a tripod can save you.

ISO can be twisted somewhere up to 400-800 for simple cameras and up to 1600-3200 for better cameras. Further, there will be strong artifacts and it is not a fact that such a photograph will be watchable. Check empirically what value suits you.

A fast lens will give much more light than a regular lens, but you will lose sharpness due to DOF. Well, if it's a completely dark night outside, don't flatter yourself, you will have to use a tripod..

A tripod is an excellent and budget solution, much cheaper than high-aperture lenses and expensive carcasses with high working ISOs. Only one minus - your object must be static, otherwise it will smear due to long exposure. Although sometimes blur only decorates the photo. I wrote separately about that, how to shoot a starry sky.

Dynamic range

We are accustomed to seeing with our eyes very well in almost any conditions. And when we look at the resulting photographs, we wonder why they are so different from what we saw. The problem is that camera sensors have a much lower dynamic range than the human eye. And that is why, a frequent occurrence is photographs with a littered sky, when the sky is not blue, but bright white overexposed, or vice versa, the sky is of a normal color, but a very dark forest / earth (everything below the horizon). The camera is simply not capable of always capturing too bright an area and too dark at the same time so that both of them are visible with normal illumination (and the eye can). By the way, cheap soap cameras have a very small dynamic range, so DSLRs or good mirrorless cameras give advantages, but here you need to know the nuances.

No areas too dark, but sky and water are inundated

There are almost no areas that are too dark, but the sky and water are inundated.

Too dark shadows, but already normal sky and water

Too dark shadows, but already normal sky and water

Not only does the dynamic range problem arise outdoors, but also indoors, when the room is dark and daylight comes from the windows..

the window cannot see anything at all, but the room is visible

You can't see anything in the window, but you can see the room

You have to choose either the normal sky in the window, or you can see what is in the room

You have to choose either the normal sky in the window, or you can see what is in the room

How to shoot and when

  • It is better to take pictures during the working hours, that is, in the morning and when the sun is already approaching sunset. First, the difference between the brightest point and the darkest point will be much less than during the day. And, secondly, when shooting in the middle of the day, very hard shadows are obtained, it's not beautiful. Look at sunset photos for comparison, when the light is soft and warm, it feels like a grandma's blanket in chilly weather..
  • When photographing on a bright sunny day, try to do it so that the sun is shining in your back, unless of course you want to get a blue sky. It is clear that if your object is a waterfall, then you cannot rearrange it, then if there is a possibility, then let at least the sun be at an angle of 90 degrees to the shooting line (shines in your ear).
  • Choose an exposure so that the frame is darker than necessary, and not vice versa, focusing on the sky so that it is at least a little blue. This is where the semi-automatic modes and exposure correction, or the manual mode come in handy. I assure you, it is much easier to draw out the dark areas in the program than the light ones. And too light areas cannot be pulled out at all..
  • Shoot in RAW, it is much easier to pull something out of them during processing.
  • When shooting a subject / person in backlight (when not only the subject itself is in front of you, but the sun is shining directly into the lens), it is best to use a flash, even a built-in one. Then you can adjust the exposure to minus, and there will be fewer shadows on the face..
  • You can apply a gradient gray filter to the lens. But only applicable if you have an even border between a bright sky and a bright ground..
  • And if you really want to get confused, then check out what exposure bracketing and HDR photography are. In short, instead of one frame, several are taken with different exposures (dark photo, medium, light), and then in a special program, the desired piece is taken from each of the photos, from one sky, from another earth. There are also built-in HDR modes for JPEG photography.
In the next article about processing, I will tell you how to make such a photo from the one that was above.

In the next article about processing, I will tell you how to make such a photo from the one that was above.

How I photograph when traveling and at home

My photography scheme (oh, how loud it sounds again) does not depend on whether I am traveling somewhere or just walking around my native Moscow. Since I am not a wedding photographer, I don’t shoot various love-stories and don’t go to photo studios, most of my shooting takes place on the street: landscapes, casual passers-by and architecture. Occasionally also indoors.


Let me remind you that at the moment I always have two lenses with me: the standard 24-105L and the 11-16 wide. It is called a regular one for a reason, but because it is always wound on the carcass, and the shirik is there sporadically.

People, close-ups, long-range shots, reportage, sometimes landscapes, I almost always shoot at 24-105. This is convenient when a large zoom, you can take pictures next to you or zoom in. Portraits also suit me quite well with this lens (at 105 mm). A DSLR with convenient control and such a lens allows you to zoom in / out, change settings, and generally navigate in a split second.

I mostly shoot landscapes at 11-16 to fit as much as possible. With the advent of shirik, the need to make panoramas by gluing several frames has disappeared. Of course, the width does not allow me to make a real panorama when it is 180-360 degrees, but the angle is enough for me. Even wider, you can photograph architecture perfectly, I like how it breaks geometry (not for everyone). In general, with the help of it it is very cool to look for some angles that are inaccessible to the ordinary eye and the ordinary lens. Perhaps you have seen such a technique in our blog or on other blogs - shooting from ground level, when the camera is placed on the ground, or is very close to it. Here with a width it turns out very well.

Paris. Taken from the ground on a soap dish, I really like this photo

Paris, shot from the ground on a soap dish. I really like this photo, Daria shot


I use Aperture Priority 90% of the time. Since my subjects are mostly static, or at least not moving too fast, shutter priority mode is not particularly necessary. I already wrote in an article about basic camera settings, what values ​​and rules I use, I will not repeat now. That is, I set the aperture, and then I just keep track of which shutter speed the camera chooses. If something doesn't suit me, then I quickly turn the exposure compensation wheel in one direction or another. As a rule, in the negative, because the main problem is the lack of light and, accordingly, there is not enough stock of capabilities from the equipment. Nevertheless, if I mention at least some value, then in general cases, when I am not going to shoot anything on purpose, I set the aperture somewhere F5.6.

Also in this mode, I often set the exposure compensation in advance to -1/3, -2/3, -1. This allows me to gain a little over shutter speed or aperture. Yes, the frame turns out darker than necessary (underexposed), but this is easily stretched later in Lightroom without loss, because I shoot in Raw. I will add that I often set the ISO a little higher than necessary, almost never lower it below 400, so that there is a margin for the settings. Since my working ISO is up to 1600 (in my opinion), there is no point in lowering it below 400 at all, well, only if I do not shoot a waterfall at a long exposure in sunlight, when, on the contrary, I have to twist everything in the opposite direction to reduce too bright light. In the cheapest DSLRs or in mirrorless cameras, I think, if possible, it is worth lowering it below 400.

I almost always have one point focusing. On the previous camera, it was only the central point (it is the most accurate, because it was the only one with a cross), now sometimes I move it to the place I need (now I have all the points with a cross). Naturally, if possible, it is better to move it so as not to build up the central compositions. But, if this is not possible, then how to shoot at the center point? We focused on the subject by pressing the shutter button halfway, moved the camera to the side to get a non-central composition, and pressed the shutter button. Try different ways to shoot and see if your camera misses or not..

How to take travel photography

How to photograph when traveling. Photo by Katya Kuchina.

Some nuances

  • If I'm on a photo hunt, then I never turn off the camera and keep it around my neck. Only in this case, you can not miss the shot. And in general, putting the camera in a bag / backpack and then getting it out again quickly gets boring. An exception is a hiking trip, when you can hook a not cheap camera to some stone or snag. When hiking, the camera is always in the trunk and on the shoulder.
  • When I know that I will take reportage photos, in addition to the turned on camera, I also try to predict the frame and set the settings in advance (sometimes in manual mode, it's easier this way). And when you have to shoot very dynamically, then I remove the focus by one point and set the automatic selection. Occasionally I use tracking autofocus. Report on wet new year made entirely on the machine, there were just a million takes.
  • If I really want to take a certain frame, then I can do a lot of takes with different settings and different angles. Then I leave from this literally a couple of photos after decimation.
  • To build a composition, I often use the rule of thirds (either immediately when shooting, or then cut out in Lightroom). This is when the frame in my mind is approximately divided into three parts horizontally and vertically, and my subjects are located on these lines. Not fanatically, of course, I follow this, but often. This is mainly manifested in the fact that the horizon is not in the middle, but slightly higher / lower. And people are not in the center of the frame, but to the right or to the left.
  • I can't figure out the landscape composition, I just see it. Perhaps I do not see it the way another person would see it, but this is a certain look of my own. But I don't know how to take portrait photos at all, because I don't understand how shadows fall, and how to place a person in order to improve a photo. But in general, it trains, I just don't really need it.
  • In those rare moments when it is necessary to reduce the brightness of the light, I use a polarizing filter, for example, to shoot a waterfall during the day. You can still use gray, but I don't have it. I also use a polaric in the mountains, and sometimes for landscapes to make the sky bluer. The latter works only when the sun is at 90 degrees to the shooting line (shining in your ears), this is a feature of polarizers. And the polarik is also good for removing reflected light (showcases, glare on the water).
  • I often use a tripod if I shoot pictures at dusk. This is much better than raising the ISO and opening the aperture. The only negative is to carry it with you.
  • If I take a shot with a person in which he plays the main role, then most often I shoot him close. I really do not like photographs where several people stand at their full height at the monument, occupying only half of the photograph in height, figs you can see who is there.
  • I also don't like the format «I am standing in a column at the monument in the center of the photo with a stone face». This is some kind of horror, even for a family archive will not work, boring. Better to fool around and grimace in the photo, or at least look away somewhere into the distance with a philosophical air. When we traveled with a group in Thailand, he forced everyone to express emotions, otherwise there would be no such lively and cool photos.
The rule of thirds for composition

The rule of thirds for composition

P.S. Something turned out so long, I hope it's not too boring, and understandable. If anything, ask questions in the comments. Naturally, it does not pretend to be true, and this is just how I do it, which does not have to be correct 🙂