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Lights, camera, action: How to take the best holiday snaps

August 19, 2016

How many times have you come back from your holidays with a camera full of average photos? There may be one luckily timed, fluke shot where you think you’re the next David Bailey, but it doesn’t go much further than that! Below are some easy pointers on how to take great photos that really catch the essence of your trip away.

Sunshine shots

We all want to get away for some sunshine on holiday, but bright natural light can be a nightmare for getting a good photo. Usually, the advice is to always shoot with your back to the sun, but this often results in a bright and unflattering photo of a lot of squinting people! Shooting directly into the sun instead can be very effective – just make sure that your subject is blocking the sun from your view and ensure you never look directly at the sun through the viewfinder – just use the camera’s screen, it’s less straining on your eyes.

This method gives a good effect with some interesting areas of the picture highlighted by sunlight. Shots are trickiest when the sun is at its highest around midday, while dusk and dawn will give the best results. You can always create your own shade with a hand or umbrella if the sun is proving difficult.

Rise and shine!

Try getting up early and taking a walk with your camera before breakfast. The light is beautiful at this time of day with warm colours, the sun low in the sky and possibly a lovely clearing mist. Another bonus is there are no people around, so your shots can be made without interruption and you can spend as long as you like composing your picture without being shouted at by frustrated locals trying to get past you!

Night life

Don’t be afraid to take pictures at night. Photos of cityscapes, festive lighting in the street or sitting around a campfire can be your most effective shots. We suggest positioning your camera on something solid if possible, to keep it steady – this reduces blurring and picks out individual lights beautifully. Use a fairly high ISO setting for night shot -1600 ISO should be ok.


What’s your favourite subject?

Take some time to consider the photo you are taking.  When looking through the viewfinder or screen of your camera, take in the whole surroundings- not just what is in the centre of the shot. You may see something that will make a better photo, or you can change the position to make it more effective. It’s all about seeing what is around you and choosing your subject carefully; it’s not about how good your camera is… driving a Ferrari doesn’t make you a better driver!

Less is more

There is nothing more annoying than that person who is constantly taking photos! In the age of ‘selfies’ and smartphones people live their lives glued to the screen. Take in what is around you before you get the camera out. This will lead to a better photo, as you are considering your surroundings before shooting. You will have better memories of this place and a great photo to capture those memories. Returning from holiday with 500 average photos- 90% of which will be deleted or never looked at again is not ideal. 50 decent photos that are photo album or even wall worthy is a much better idea!

Respect the locals

Years ago, the Masai tribes people believed taking a photo stole your sole. Be aware of local customs and etiquette when it comes to photography – you don’t want to offend somebody or give other photographers a bad name! Always ask before taking a photo of somebody or their possessions for example on a colourful market stall – just ask the stall holder if you can take a picture, they are usually happy to oblige but it is only polite, wherever you are in the world!


Don’t fake it!

The editing options on modern cameras and camera phones are endless! But it is always obvious when a photo has been ‘adjusted’ too much. Try and produce an image that is as close to as you saw it as possible. Saying that, don’t be afraid to play around with the settings the get the perfect shot – the automatic default setting is not always the best! Take advantage of amazing natural light and colours that really give your photo an edge you simply cannot replicate with editing.

Compose yourself

Whether its people, symbolic subjects or nature, consider playing around with how you compose the scene. Off-centre shots are a really simple way of making the photo look that bit more professional and losing the dead space that lays either side of a subject when it is shot in the dead centre. Filling the frame is another good composure trick –move in close and fill as much as the frame as possible with the subject so it is not lost in the surrounding landscape and has a real impact.

Flash! Master of the perfect shot.

Don’t use flash indoors do use flash outdoors! Flashes tend to produce harsh, flat light that is rarely complimentary to your subject so avoid using it indoors. When possible, if you are shooting indoors in the day, use any natural light that is coming into the room i.e. place your subject near a window or skylight. Probably the hardest to get right is if you are taking photos indoors at night. Try and flood the room with as much light as you can - turn on whatever lamps you have at hand. This will help reduce harsh, flashed-out subjects, as well as other problems like red-eye. On the other hand - flash can be a big help when it comes to shooting outdoors during the day. Even in bright sunlight, forcing your flash to fire can help create a striking photo, as this kind of bright day flash will fill in the shadows and even out harsh contrasts.



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