ULTIMATE TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY RESOURCES LIST
From overrun tourist spots to hidden gems, as travellers, it’s only natural for us to want to document our journeys.
Photography is nothing new. Travel photography is nothing new.
But what IS new, compared to previous generations of travellers, is the volume of travel photography out there today. Anyone can start a travel blog, anyone armed with a smartphone can start a travel Instagram page.
But you don’t want to be just ANYONE. Do you?
We are constantly responding to questions about our photography and camera gear. Especially our underwater photography and snow photography.
We’ve learnt plenty of tricks along the journey from photography hobbyists to semi-professional, selling photos to tourism brands.
SO, we’ve put together this ULTIMATE list of travel photography resources, including every item and programme we use, as well as some basic tips to help turn a good photo into a GREAT photo.
The following guide is broken up into the following sections:
We are Nikon users through and through. I’ve dabbled in Canon but always come back to Nikon. It’s like our native language – switching brands is akin to learning a new language.
The Nikon D7200 is our newest addition, after upgrading from the D3200. It’s considered an ‘enthusiast’ digital SLR – a bit more than an entry level camera, but not quite a semi-professional. It’s ideal for travel bloggers wanting to advance their photography skills beyond the basics and start selling their work.
I love how the D7200 has two SD card slots (perfect for travel when you’re shooting all the time), as well as an updated processor, built-in Wi-Fi and is great in low-light conditions.
Here’s one of the first low light photographs we took with it back in Fiji – these colours were the result of a great sunset and long exposure, with the only light editing in Lightroom to crop, tone down the highlights and add a little vibrance.
This zoom lens is my favourite because it’s fast, clear and has a great zoom. The Tamron zoom lens is a slightly cheaper lens than the Nikon alternative, but it’s perfect for the work we do.
It gives us a chance to get some great captures from a distance – like this shot of one of the Japanese macaques at the Jigokudani Snow Monkey National Park in Japan:
After carrying around a kit lens for the first few years, we’ve finally upgraded and forked out for a wide angle lens – the Tokina 11-16mm. It’s a fabulous wide angle lens at a fraction of the price of some of the other camera brands out there – but still produces quality results. It works well in low light situations and astrophotography.
It’s not always practical to lug around a full camera kit – which is why having a smartphone with a decent camera is so important to capture those unexpected moments.
The iPhone SE has the same rear camera as the iPhone 6 and 6s, but is in the body of the 5. It’s surprisingly good quality – although we’re looking forward to what the new iPhone 7has to offer for photographers with a bit more flexibility.
What travel blogger doesn’t have a GoPro these days? The Hero 5 is great for both video and taking still photos. We use ours on the mountain, underwater and to get that wide-angle island view like this one on Beachcomber Island in Fiji.
It’s not DSLR quality but still captures incredible moments.
We use the Olympus Tough TG 860 (read our review here) for all our underwater photography. It’s an affordable option for getting started in underwater photography without having to spend thousands on housing for the digital SLR. The newest Olympus Tough cameras also shoot in RAW which offers more flexibility post-production, as well as shooting Ultra HD 4K video.
The camera has some cool art filters which are fun to play around with, as well as dedicated underwater settings to help capture the true colours underwater, which get lost the deeper you go. It’s also shockproof – so quite hardy and handles snowy climates well.
The Olympus Tough by itself is waterproof to 10 metres, which is fine for snorkeling, but as scuba divers we need to go deeper. The PT 057 housing brings it down to 40m.
If you have the Tough TG-3 or TG-4you’l need the PT-056 housing instead. This actually offers more flexibility with your photography as you have the option to change lenses, which you can’t do with the PT-057.
There’s only so much you can do with a built-in flash. An external strobe like the Olympus UFL 3 helps you get the most out of your shots by effectively positioning light to bring out the colour while reducing backscatter.
We use the Olympus Fibre Optic Connector to connect the strobe to the housing. Some of the newer models allow this connection to take place wirelessly.
The short arm and long arm positions the strobe in the right place, while staying attached to the underwater housing.
Like the Olympus Tough, the GoPro on its own is waterproof to a level. But it’s not waterproof enough to take with us diving. The Super Suit brings its waterproof rating down to 60m (196ft).
Having both the GoPro and the Olympus Tough allows us to have a camera each and capture both video and still photos.
Usually we use the Olympus for still photography as it brings out better colours, while the GoPro is our video camera. As you go deeper, colours fade, which is why a Red Filteris crucial for the GoPro Hero5 to retain the colours underwater.
The lens hood helps prevent light hitting the front of the lens, reducing glare. It also often means better contrast and richer colours. Don’t forget to get a lens cover to protect from scratches.
A tripod is essential for any long or slow exposures to keep the camera steady so the rest of the photo is sharp. Ours has multiple adjustments on the legs to be able to position on unsteady or rocky land.
If you’re planning on doing some ski photography or backcountry photoshoots, then a proper camera backpack is crucial for protecting your gear, while being comfortable on your back. We love the Dakine Mission Photo Backpack, with rear entry and padded compartments for not only all your camera gear, but extra pockets to hold anything else you might need. It also fits my 15inch Macbook Pro.
There are straps and clips on the outside which allow you to carry your snowboard as well if you’re hiking up the mountain.
We love the removable camera compartment.
These two little items help us when snowboarding, skiing, hiking, biking, scuba diving and simply wandering around.
When it comes to editing photos and video, Macbooks and Mac computers are the way to go. In our opinion, the clarity and visuals are far superior and these things are crucial if you want to take your photography serious.
While it may take a while to get used to and figure out how to make edits, the Adobe Creative Suite is our number one choice for photo and video editing. The subscription also allows us to have Lightroom for Mobile – an app version of the full Lightroom which syncs back to my computer. Goodbye Instagram filters!
There’s a great photoshop tutorial on Urban Pixels which I use to help really make my photos pop before saving them for the web:
As for underwater video, there’s a great Lightroom tutorial over at Backscatter.
I know some people feel that presets are a bit like cheating, but I find them helpful for getting started with inspiration. Presets are similar to a photo filter, but I tend to use them as a starting point for editing, then carry out my own editing afterwards. Sleeklens has a great selection of presets, from landscapes, HDR, sunsets, portrait, urban and many more, as well as some great resources and photography tutorials.
How awful would it be to lose all your photos…And I’m afraid that is a reality, thanks to hideous things such as total computer failure and meltdowns, as well as theft.
Back them up to the cloud, to an external hard drive, to at least one other source. You MUST back up your photos. It’s not worth risking it.
I use two external hardrives and iCloud. Obsessive? Paranoid?
No. Just very, very careful.
My favourite is the Seagate BackUp Plus Slim 2TB Poratable External Harddrive. It’s a slim design and lightweight, perfect for travelling, while holding a whopping 2TB. And it’s pretty – always a bonus.
The second hard drive is the 1TB Passport for Mac. This was the first external hard drive I ever purchased and works a charm, but if you’re taking lots of photos, go for the 2TB version.
We also back up to the cloud, just to be extra safe. In the event of a fire and all my belongings were burnt to a cinder, at least my iCloud storage would save me.
I do love a good tutorial magazine and book.
The main ones in my collection at home:
My FAVOURITE photography magazine. Brilliant tutorials, gear guides and new ideas specifically designed for Nikon users.
The first ever photography magazines I ever started purchasing. Relevant for all camera users and another source of excellent tutorials and tips.BDM’s Creative Series offer tutorials, advices and techniques for Photoshop, including a very detailed everything-you-need-to-know-about-every-Photoshop-tool section. Lifesaver!
The bible of underwater photography! This book by Alex Mustard has a huge focus on lighting, and how to use light to create stunning underwater masterpieces, without spending a fortune on expensive equipment.
Phew! That’s a big travel photography resource list – but now you know EXACTLY what we use. Everything listed has been personally tried and testing by us. There’s nothing on this page we haven’t used ourselves.
Have you ever wondered why your photos never do the scene justice? Or why two people can take a photo of exactly the same scene, yet the photos come out incredibly different?
There are a few tricks which you can apply to every time you press the shutter which will turn your average photos into great photos.
Let’s run through these 3 Must-Dos for every travel photographer.
What are you trying to capture?
Composition is extremely important when capturing a scene. A boring or flat composition won’t get any attention, but an interesting perspective and well-thought out composition will stop people from scrolling on.
Pick out what the most interesting parts of the scene and focus on capturing those.
Taking a landscape photo? Consider where you want the viewer’s eye to be drawn to and frame your shot around that.
Portrait photo? Zoom in to crop out any distracting background.
Try using the rule of thirds – imagine the scene is divided into a grid of 9 sections. Line up the most important aspects of your scene within this grid, trying to keep the horizon in either the top or bottom third.
KEEP IT STRAIGHT:
The most frustrating thing amateur photographers can do is mess up the horizon. There’s nothing more off-putting than a wonky horizon.
The horizon line should always be straight, unless you are deliberately tilting your camera for an angular shot. This really only works well for artsy and intriguing subjects.
There’s absolutely no excuse whatsoever to post a photo in Instagram that is wonky as a result of ignorance. Even if you don’t shoot it correctly the first time, you can use a straighten tool on any photo editing app or software to correct it.
Dull photos are exactly that – dull. Unless you’re deliberately trying to take a moody photo, chances are you’ll need to lighten up your photo. Increase the brightness and make your images pop. Be careful not to overexpose.
Usually, a photo can be dramatically improved in post-production by lowering the highlights and lightening the shadows.
There are many more tips and tricks to effective travel photography, but these are some of the basics to get you started. A good composition and effective lighting are crucial to getting a good shot.
Take time to get familiar with your camera and its settings – and keep practicing!
DISCUSS: What’s your number one challenge you face with travel photography? What are your favourite travel photography resources?
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