There have been many instances I’ve heard of where someone has got back from their holiday only to find their photographs have turned out quite different than expected. This can often be because they have not been there at a time when the light was at its best (i.e. best in the morning at 8am) or arrived just after a festival or a week too late.
Even though you can’t have entire control over weather, lighting, festivals or events (sometimes things are cancelled due to bad weather, in which case you can’t control that) you can be prepared in other ways so you get the best shot for your trip.
A really good way to get the absolute best from your travel photos is to read the Lonely Planet’s Guide to that area if that’s possible. If that’s not possible then you can ask a travel agent about how to find some more local knowledge of the area before you go. I suggest asking them about a month or a couple of weeks at least, before you go, so you can prepare yourself as much as possible. One example of good preparation might be that if you are going somewhere in summer you might want to stock up on extra polarizing filters, or buy an extra lense hood to keep the sun out of your lens to reduce flare.
If you are just in the thinking stages of a trip and combining your love of photography, then check with a travel agent first about what time of year is best to go to that area. They will have access to more local information; very handy especially if you’ve never been before. They might be able to recommend website for you to look at to get an idea of weather, what things are best to photograph at night, where to get the best shot for a famous mountain or countries icon, what exotic animals are around to get beautiful photos for wildlife photography, etc. You get the idea.
Another great idea for your travel photography is finding out what customs the place has. For example there might be a religious festival that has certain restrictions on photographers being there. Don’t ask me to quote exactly when and where, but I do know that this does exist.
Another way to get fantastic photos is to look at professional pictures taken of that city or place. You can emulate the composition as much as possible. For example if you are planning to go to New Zealand then look at pictures of postcards on the net of the places in New Zealand you want to visit and make a list of all the things that impress you about that picture. If you can’t find any pictures you like, go to your trusted travel agent again and ask for brochures on the area and look at the pictures on the covers and inside.
Bad weather doesn’t mean bad photos. You may have planned your trip to a lovely tropical location in the summertime. In summer in the tropics there can be flash flooding and storms. But instead of cursing, you could try getting out there (as long as you are safe of course) and taking some beautiful black and white rain–on–a–city–street type of photos. You can also take advantage of rain by taking some beautiful macro shoots of rain landing upon different species of leaves and plants. Or perhaps you want might want to photo that storm coming in over the city or sea. You can adjust your aperture to a smaller number to get a greater depth of field if it’s a long distance shot.
Much of your success overseas or traveling in your own country comes from getting local knowledge first. Local knowledge is important from not only a cultural aspect but from a environmental and physical aspect too.
By Amy Renfrey