Ep 24: Planes, trains and automobiles, baby: How to take great travel shots

Ep 24 artwork

Many people think that you need to go to a exotic locations to take a great travel shots. And many photographers end up with countless vistas of landscapes. However, if you want awesome travel shots, the devil is in the detail – and knowing exactly what time of day is going to capture THAT magic moment. In this episode, Gina and Valerie talk about what you need to do to prepare for your trip, your must-dos when you’re on the ground and how to make the most of your shots when you get back home.

This week’s theme for #ginachallenge is (unsurprisingly) “travel”

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Show notes

Capture w/ Mark Seliger

The 10 Most Expensive Photos in the World

Gina’s favourite quote this week:
“While you are alive collect moments not things, earn respect not money and enjoy love not luxuries” – Aarti Khurana

Before you leave home

  • Research your destination.
  • Label EVERYTHING you own.
  • Photograph all your gear on your smart phone both in and out of its bags so if the airline loses your stuff you can describe it really easily.
  • Check #’s on Instagram, 500px and Flickr and do a Google search.
  • Use Google Maps to have a look around.
  • Look for interesting activities that might be happening.
  • Look for possible locations you want to visit while you are in a city.
  • Market days
  • Other cultural activities

What to pack

  • Power board
  • 2 x phone chargers and spare back up portable charger
  • Small gifts to hand out to children and people you meet
  • Business cards
  • Notebook/journal
  • International adaptor x2
  • Load apps for your computer or smartphone including translation, sunrise and sunset, Google maps or something better
  • Comfy shoes (not Prada sling backs, Valerie Khoo!)
  • Thermals/gloves/hats
  • Pick your travel companion very carefully.

Gear (the essentials)

  • Backpack that is comfortable with lots of pockets for all your accessories
  • Thick straps that are comfortable and easy to access pockets
  • Rain cover is a bonus
  • Lowepro Passport Sling III Pack, Black LP36657
  • Lowepro Pro Roller x300 Camera Bag (Black)
  • Laptop in protective lightweight case
  • Think Tank also has some awesome bags
  • External hard drive (Lacie)
  • Travel tripod Manfrotto
  • Canvas bag to hang off tripod for extra stability
  • SLR Canon 5d MK111 (because it’s very light)
  • 24-105mm the perfect walk around lens
  • 2 x camera batteries
  • Battery charger
  • Memory cards +case
  • Spare case for used memory cards
  • Torch
  • 10 stop ND or variable ND
  • Reflector
  • White card for food shots
  • Small mirror

If it’s a bigger trip

  • 70-200mm
  • Speedlights
  • Pocket wizards
  • Soft box

When you get there

  • Have a really good look at all the postcards so you know what NOT to shoot.
  • Get to know the locals and be respectful.
  • Get off the beaten path away from tourist spots.
  • Know your gear, this is not the time to experiment. If you are not comfortable shooting Manual mode then shoot Aperture Priority (A on Nikon and most other cameras AV on Canon).
  • Wear the right gear both for comfort and respect for the culture of the country you are traveling to.
  • Find a good local guide to take you around.
  • Pick a great location to stay in. A great view is really easy to photograph when it’s just outside your window.
  • Walk everywhere as much as possible.
  • Change local currency into really small notes so you have money to tip anyone you photograph.
  • Set up an app on your phone or notebook to take down the details of anyone you photograph so you can send them the images you take.

Practical tips for taking better travel photos

  • Get up early. Avoid the crowds. There is nothing better than having an entire city to yourself.
  • Sunrise and sunset images are beautiful for landscapes but street photography looks amazing at anytime of the day. I love working in hard bright light.
  • Shoot little details like street signs, newspapers, bikes shop fronts.
  • Look for different views of iconic landmarks, shoot a reflection in a puddle or car window, the back view or glimpse through a laneway.
  • Ask locals to pose for you and make an image rather than take one. You will end up with a far more powerful shot than one you tried to sneak in.
  • Shoot Raw.
  • Shoot natural light even in very low light. Flash “kills’ the vibe.
  • Try shooting lifestyle wide open F4.
  • Try different angles high, low.
  • Landscapes can be beautiful but adding a figure gives a scene perspective.
  • Think about how you are framing your subjects. Use natural elements to frame such as doorways, windows, trees.
  • Don’t be afraid to shoot in the rain.
  • Shoot at night using long exposures.
  • Shoot silhouette or backlit.
  • Use objects on the street to prop up your camera for long exposures ( ire hydrants are the perfect height).
  • Take a timelapse from your balcony of a sunset or sunrise.
  • Use a canvas bag filled with rice, beans or Nutella jar to weigh down your travel tripod for extra stability.
  • Crank ISO and shutter speed to avoid camera shake.
  • Tape up the logos on your camera so it looks a bit cheaper.
  • Photograph the things that inspire you. Shoot from your heart not your head.
  • Leave the 70-200 at home if you want to look inconspicuous.
  • Back up your files each day.
  • Keep used memory cards in a separate and clearly labeled cardholder.
  • Always carry a spare battery and plenty of cards.
  • Leave the camera in your room for some of the time and just enjoy the location.

What happens when you get home

  • Rename your files to include the city and date, e.g. back up Rome15_001.
  • Have a min of 2 back ups.
  • When sharing your images on your website, try and be conservative and select best 3-5 from each city as showing off the best 300 will dilute the impact.
  • Get your favourite images printed and framed.
  • Postcards
  • Create a photobook with Blurb, SnapFish, Mixbook.

#ginachallenge: “travel”


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About Gina

Gina Milicia is one of the most widely known and respected photographers in Australia. She is the master of capturing that ‘magical moment’... READ MORE

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