Ever wonder what it takes to snap the perfect pic? Globe trotter and professional photographer Kristin Repsher reveals the secrets to taking beautiful travel photos.
What photography gear do you prefer to use while traveling?
I love my Nikon Df with 24-70mm f/2.8 lens for travel photography. I travel with extra lenses for ultra-wide and telephoto shots, but I find that the 24-70mm stays on my camera at least 75% of the time. I’ve experimented a number of times with smaller, more travel-friendly camera bodies but you just can’t beat the quality that a full-frame camera offers.Along with my camera and lenses, I always carry a tripod and filters with me, particularly so I can do quality night shots. My tripod is a Vanguard Alta+ carbon fibre tripod so it’s incredibly light. As for filters, I have a polariser and a range of neutral density filters to help cut light out of a scene so I can do longer exposures.
What is the secret to taking beautiful travel photos?
Don’t get to a location and start blindly shooting in every direction. Often, a new place will be overwhelming and you’ll want to get photos of everything, but trying to squeeze everything into one shot will result in a cluttered photo that doesn’t necessarily show how the place felt to you.
I usually like to take a few minutes when I arrive to look around and get a feel for where I am and what is really important to the scene, and then I focus in on those elements and compose my shot around them. Below I describe some of the rules I tend to follow when composing my shots (although like all good rules, they are made to be broken as well!).
Tip #1: Get down low
(Photo: Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park, Canada)
Crouching down to take your photo can make a huge difference. This angle of view is often more appreciated because it is not the standard eye-level view that almost everyone sees. It also lets you capture more details of the foreground, such as the uneven lines of a cobbled street, or in this case, the reflections of the canoes in Emerald Lake.
In this case, it meant a precarious balancing act as I tried not to fall into the water while crouching just on the water’s edge!
Tip #2: Go off the beaten path
Don’t just stay on the beaten track — meaning the road or walkways from which everyone else is taking photos. If it’s possible (and there aren’t signs saying it’s dangerous/not allowed), step off the path and look for a different angle on the scene.
In the case of the photos above, the first one was taken from the road, whereas the second one was taken after I (very carefully) walked out onto the rocks beside the road. Had I not done this, I wouldn’t have seen the perfect reflection in the fjord, as only the tip of it can be seen in the first photo.
Tip #3: Use perspective
(Photo: Snapper Rocks, Gold Coast, Australia)
Sometimes, you’ll find yourself in a place that begs to be captured without any evidence of the hand of man — for instance, an epic mountain landscape or a rugged seashore. Being a landscape photographer, I’ve taken more than my fair share of these myself!
However, it can often be hard to convey just how vast a landscape is if there is no point of reference for the viewer. If you can find an angle that incorporates a person, it can really amplify the effect of the photo. For instance, in this photo, the wave would not seem nearly as large if it didn’t look like it was about to engulf a fisherman and his son!