Architectural Photography: How to Avoid Cliché Shots

If we had a dollar for every cliché architectural shot, we’d probably have enough to straighten the Tower of Pisa — and relieve tourists of having to prop it up by hand.

Although these kinds of photos help postcard printers, they don’t do you or the architectural landmarks any favours. 

Instead of arriving on location seeking originality, often we’re subconsciously herded to familiar vantage points, replicating what millions have captured before us and reducing our man made marvels to one-dimensional structures.

The world doesn’t need any more of those photos—and either does your portfolio.


Here are 7 ways to avoid capturing those cliché architectural photographs.


Capture them anyway

Like all clichés, there’s truth behind them. ‘Postcard’ shots have been taken over and over again for a reason—they look undeniably good. By getting them over and done with, your inner-tourist satisfied, you now have the freedom to concentrate on finding more creative compositions without being tempted to revisit the clichés. Get them in the bag and out of the way.


Find fresh angles

It doesn’t matter how many times a building has been photographed, there is always another angle. Every architectural structure, iconic or not, holds infinite facets to explore.

  • Form
  • Material
  • Dimension
  • Space
  • Story

If you feel that the architecture doesn’t offer you much variety, don’t forget you have a plethora of options right there in your hand.

Easier said than done we know, but all it really takes is an open mind and time if it’s handy.


Demote the landmark

Original shots can be had even if the main attraction isn’t the star of the show. For example, you want to shoot the Eiffel Tower. To ‘demote’ the landmark, you could:

  • Put it in the background with an unorthodox focal point in the foreground
  • Feature it out of focus or mostly out of frame
  • Allude to its presence through shadow, reflection or tightly cropped features

Demoting the landmark not only arms you with more options, but allows you to capture the surrounding context—environmental, cultural, historical.


Dive into details

God lives there. So do the shots you want. There’s nothing wrong with popping on a wide-angle lens to fit the subject entirely in frame, but getting up close and personal allows you to invite your viewers to peer through a more intimate lens.

Try:

  • Finding patterns e.g The Eiffel Tower’s latticework
  • Cropping well-known details e.g. Sydney Opera House’s tiles
  • Highlighting an inconsistency e.g. a broken window

Embrace lousy weather

There are three reasons why shooting when it’s raining, snowing or whatever-ing outside presents opportunity. For starters, when it’s unpleasant outside, there are fewer people out and about snapping photos, giving you the ability and freedom to take your time and take tourist-free photos.

Secondly, because few are shooting in bad weather, there aren’t many photos of the subject in ‘bad’ weather. This is your chance to get that unique shot.

Lastly, all weather conditions come with their own set of advantages. Overcast can provide you with moody lighting; snow, with wondrous white space; and rain with movement. It’s about seeing the situation as half glass full. (Just be sure to take extra care of your gear.)


Shoot off-peak

Better light and no tourists? No brainer. Lighting in the early morning and early evening aka the golden hour is your best friend everywhere you shoot. The unrivalled colour and warmth of golden light make every subject look stunning and the long shadows give you plenty to play with. It really does pay to get there early or stay back late—that extra bit of effort goes a long way.


Involve more people

Put simply, there is no architecture without people. Exploring the relationship between the two allows you to capture and comment on everything from joy to irony to the political climate. Where there is manmade, there is most likely man, so you won’t be in short supply of shots. Invite them into frame and discover the story waiting to be told.

 

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Shooting Sunrises: The 10-Point Checklist

Getting out of bed before the sun itself is a labour of love.

Before you go through all the effort required to find and shoot the perfect sunrise, it pays to write a to-do list.

Thankfully, we’ve written it for you.

☑ Be early

Rise before the shine.

Arriving at your spot 60 minutes before dawn sets you up for sunrise shoot success.

Overkill much?

Fortune favours the well-prepared and one hour prep time isn’t much when you consider:

  •  The very first signs of light aka twilight actually start well before dawn The sun may not be visible, but twilight’s blue-hued lights can produce unique, breathtaking results. Once the sun peeks over the horizon—you’ve missed it.
  • Just because you’re on location, doesn’t mean you’ve found your shot
    Allow time to wander around, frame your perfect shot(s) and adjust for unforeseen changes like cloud cover or rained-out terrain.

☑ Pack a torch

Sunlight isn’t the only light you need to capture.

If you’re following our first point on the checklist, it’s going to be dark when you arrive.

It’s really a practical matter of safety and convenience.

Packing a torch or headlamp means:

  • Avoiding accidents while scouting locations
  • Setting up your gear and camera settings with ease
  • Having a light source for creative effects e.g. light painting

☑ Pack a tripod

It’s the foundation of all good sunrise photography. (Literally.)

Even if you’re not taking long exposure shots or your stabiliser tech is top of the range, a tripod is a must—always.

If you don’t have one, invest in a sturdy, good quality tripod.
Depending on where and when you shoot, consider a tripod that has:

  • A hook under the head that allows you to hang weight to help you steady your shot against wind or uneven terrain
  • Vibration dampening technology to reduce shake
  • The option to attach spiked feet for setups in the dirt, sand or water

☑ Check the weather

Get to know the weatherman.

The success (or failure) of most landscape photography is determined by the weather.

But how can you predict whether a sunrise is going to be good or not?

Part science part luck, it comes down to learning how to translate weather forecasts.

Conditions to take into account include:

  • Cloud cover
    Clouds simply act as the light’s canvas.
    Mid to high-level clouds are the most effective canvases, as they reflect the rising sun’s colours the best.
  • Air purity
    Clean air is highly effective at scattering and showing off bright-coloured light. When is the air cleanest of particles? After a rain or windstorm.
  • Humidity
    High humidity mutes colours because of the water content in the air. Shooting in cooler seasons will increase your odds of getting more vibrant colours.
  • Wind
    The wind can be your saving grace or worst nightmare because it can have a positive or negative impact on both cloud cover and air purity.

Generally speaking, for ideal sunrise conditions, look for:

  • Mid to high-level clouds
  • 30-70% cloud coverage
  • Clean air
  • Low humidity
  • Calm winds

☑ Bracket your exposures

It’s all about conveniently covering all your bases.

Bracketing is the technique of taking multiple shots of the same subject using different exposures—some underexposed, some overexposed.

Why bracket?

  • Your camera’s light meter doesn’t always get it right
  • Finding the right exposure through trial and error and changing your settings between each shot is time-consuming

There are two main ways to bracket:

  • Automatic bracketing
    Most digital cameras include automatic exposure bracketing.
    Turn it on and your camera will automatically take several shots (three or
    more) at different exposures. You can then review them all in post.
  • Manual bracketing
    Manually adjusting the aperture or shutter speed is another way to bracket.
    Simply change your aperture and/or shutter speed values up or down to let more or less light in. However, keep in mind that adjusting both of these settings can affect things like depth of field.

☑ Shoot during Golden Hour

That magical hour when it’s your time to shine.

The blue hour is the period of twilight in the morning when the sun has not yet breached the horizon and produces shades of blue.

The golden hour is the period just after sunrise (or just before sunset) and it creates a light that simply cannot be replicated.

Both should be taken advantage of to capture a range of shots and hone your different skills.

But what makes the golden hour so special?

  • Warmth
    Light has a spectrum of temperatures that correspond to different colours. Without getting too into it, during the golden hour, the temperature is in the yellow range—that unmistakable, highly coveted golden hue.
  • Diffusion
    In the early hours, the sun’s light has to travel through more atmosphere than at any other point in the sky/day. This makes the atmosphere act as a diffuser, softening and reducing the intensity of direct light—like a giant light-box!
  • Directional
    When the sun is low in the sky, it creates longer, softer shadows.
    Having long shadows in shot helps you paint and capture a more dimensional sunrise and landscape. Plus, because your exposure is more even, it’s easy to define and properly expose your fore, middle and background.

☑ Get focussed

What do you do when you can’t autofocus?

It’s hard to focus your camera in the early morning, but not impossible.

  • Aim for a bright spot
    Simply switch to Live View (it’ll be too dark to see through your tiny viewfinder), switch to manual focus and manually focus on a light source e.g. the moon, a star or a lighthouse.
  • Use your torch
    We told you it would come in handy.
    Shine your light on an object that’s at least three metres away from you, focus your camera on it and then switch over to manual focus and shoot.
  • Open your aperture
    Open up the aperture as wide as possible.
    Now that your camera can ‘see’ better, focus anywhere, then switch to manual focus and increase the f-number back to normal.

Tip: You can combine this method with the torch technique.

☑ Change locations

Don’t be afraid to switch up your position.

There’s something almost honourable about staying steadfast and committing to one spot to get that perfect shot.

It can also just be really boring.

If you don’t think your spot offers the right shot, or you’ve got what you need—move.

By covering different angles, not only can you collect more unique shots but you are teaching yourself to:

  • Be decisive and learn on the go
  • Take advantage of the windows of opportunities you are given
  • Be flexible

But what happens if you end up in a worse shooting location?

There’s always tomorrow.

☑ Gaze away from the Sun

The effects of the sunrise can be as captivating as the sunrise itself.

The sunrise might be the star of the morning show, but it’s got an amazing support cast.

Broaden your mind and your viewfinder to see what’s happening around and as a result of the sunrise.

For example:

  • A mountain range washed with vibrant sunrise colours
  • The sun or cloud’s reflection in a body of water
  • The silhouettes of people or natural landmarks

☑ Stay a little longer

Don’t pack it up so soon—the show may not be over.

There are several reasons to hang back after the sunrise:

  • You might witness Crepuscular rays beaming from behind the clouds.
    Piercing upwards or downwards through the clouds, their lines produce great elements to feature in your image.
  • True to their nature, clouds change shape and location with the wind all time. What might have been obstructed or overshadowed a moment ago, might well turn into a one-of-a-kind shot.
  • You’ve spent so long witnessing the sunrise through the lens. Take a moment to take it all in.

***

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A Quick Guide to Slow Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is one of the three pillars of photography.

  1. Shutter speed
  2. Aperture
  3. ISO

It primarily determines two things:

  • Exposure
  • Amount of blur

However, when you understand how shutter speed works, you can do so much more than simply manipulate the brightness or amount of blur.

In this post, we’re going to take a quick look at slow shutter speed photography, and go through the creative shutter speed techniques that are ‘must-masters’.

What is shutter speed?

Every time you take a photo, a small flap called the shutter opens and closes to let light reach your camera’s internal sensor, which creates your image. Shutter speed simply describes how long the shutter stays open.

Fast shutter speed means that the shutter is only open for a short period of time and slow shutter speed means the shutter is open for longer.

How is it measured?

Shutter speeds are measured in seconds, or fractions of a second. For example, a shutter speed of 1/100 means 1/100th of a second or 0.01 seconds.

This is also known as the ‘exposure time’ because it’s the amount of time the sensor is exposed to light.

Most cameras offer a wide range of shutter speeds, starting at just a few thousandths of a second and going up to several seconds. Some give you even more control, allowing you to hold the shutter open indefinitely.

What does it do?

When the shutter stays open for a longer time (slower shutter speed) the object in motion will appear blurry in the photograph because that same object is recorded in multiple places on the film or sensor as the object moves across the frame for as long as the shutter is open.

The longer the shutter is open, the more light reaches the film/sensor, resulting in a brighter overall image and more recorded movements of the object (blur).

…this is where the fun comes in.

Slow shutter speed is your window of opportunity to get creative.

What you’ll need:

  • Tripod
    It’s frustratingly easy to capture camera shake if you’re going handheld.
    A tripod is crucial no matter how steady you think your grip is.
  • Camera
    Most decent DSLRs on the market will do.
    You don’t need a top of the range camera to pull off top-notch shots.
  • Remote shutter release [optional]
    A remote shutter release is a device that lets you trigger the shutter remotely to avoid moving the camera when you press the button.
  • Neutral density filter [optional]
    • ND filters black out the light so that your shutter can be open for longer. They’re recommended if you’re experimenting with long exposure during the day.

Running Water

Shutter speed: 1/2 seconds or slower
Equipment: Tripod, ND filter

Setup:
Because you’re capturing a moving scene, it’s important to have elements within the frame that remain static to highlight the moving smooth blur of water.

For example, if you are shooting a waterfall, compose and focus your shot of the water but be sure to include protruding rocks or trees to add contrast in movement and detail.

Tip: Use an ND filter in bright light or you won’t be able to use a slow shutter speed and get a properly exposed image.

Light Trails

Shutter speed: 10-15 seconds or slower
Equipment: Tripod

Ever wanted to capture and track the motion of evening traffic or bustling nightlife? Thanks to slow shutter speed, you can capture these streaks of light, otherwise called light trails. The longer the exposure duration, the longer the light trails.

Setup:
Simply steady your camera and tripod and frame your shot. Be sure to experiment with different angles and different shutter speeds to achieve your desired light trails.

Tip: Make sure that your shutter speed is long enough to capture longish light trails. You don’t want to cut them off too soon as you will have some unwanted short trails in your image.

Panning

Shutter speed: 1/30 to 1/60 seconds
Equipment: ND Filter

This one’s a cool one, but a tricky one.

Panning is a technique where you pan to follow an object in motion to capture the object clearly (sharp) and render motion blur to the rest of the image. Unlike the other techniques, a tripod’s not going to help you with this move.

Setup:
This technique is best done by tracking the motion of your subject, turning your camera to follow its motion and releasing the shutter during the process, while continuing to pan.

Getting your timing and coordination down at the start might be slow going, but having this trick up your sleeve is well worth the effort.

Tip: The shutter speed will depend on the speed of your subject and how much panning effect you want. Experiment in the recommended range and adjust accordingly.

Light painting

Shutter speed: 2 seconds or slower
Equipment: Tripod

Just about any light source can be used to create a light painting, from a flashlight to your phone to party sparklers.

Setup:
Simply set up your camera in a dark room or outdoor setting with the ‘painter’ out of frame. As soon as you take the photo, the painter is then free to paint or write different patterns with their chosen light source.

Tip: The exposure duration depends on how much time you need to finish your drawing. Allow for extra time if you want to finish out of frame.

Ghosting

Shutter speed: 5 seconds or slower
Equipment: Tripod

This technique is sure to get heads turning, and it’s shockingly easy to pull off.

Setup:
Start with your ‘ghost’ subject out of frame. Once you open the shutter, have your subject simply movie in frame and plant themselves in different positions to capture them as a semi-transparent ‘ghost’.

Tip: Consider a 5-15 sec exposure (depending on the lighting) with the ghost standing still in any given position for no longer than half the exposure duration.

Star trails

Shutter speed: 1 hour or slower
Equipment: Tripod, fully charged battery

Bring warm clothes because this long exposure shot can take hours—but it’s worth it.

Long exposure shots of the night sky are at the extreme end of the slow shutter speed effects. We’re talking shutter speeds over an hour.

Setup:
This effect lets you capture the motion of stars in the sky as star trails. The longer the exposure, the longer the trails captured.

If you are shooting in the Northern Hemisphere, take the time to locate the Polaris star (North Star). When in frame, it’ll give your image a pivot point around which the rest of the stars rotate. Sorry Southern Hemispheres, we don’t have an equivalent.

Tip: Check weather conditions before heading out. The last thing you want is getting there and discovering an overcast night with low star visibility.

Racking the Lens

Shutter speed: Variable
Equipment: Tripod optional

This last long exposure effect doesn’t have a recommended shutter speed and you don’t even need a tripod.

If you’re going to attempt this one, you’ll need to be fairly well versed with your shutter speed settings, as well as your aperture and ISO.

Setup:
Simply set your shutter speed to a reasonably long exposure and then compose and focus your shot as normal. While taking the shot, between when the shutter opens and shuts, zoom in or out.

It seems easy enough, but pulling off your desired effect takes a lot of experimenting with different light and settings. All part of the process!

Tip: Choose a shutter speed long enough to zoom your lens from one end to another. Things to consider are the level of available light, type of lens being used and amount of movement in frame or from your camera.
***
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Travel Etiquette: Photographing Locals

The rules are pretty clear on what you can and cannot shoot when travelling.

Mountains. Bridges. Bodies of water. Yes.
Taj Mahal. The Louvre. The Sistine Chapel. No.

But when it comes to people, well, there’s a little more to it.

We’ve all known those travellers who use zoom lenses or covert camera tricks to snap photos of locals without their knowledge and permission. Admit it, you’ve probably taken a few in your day too. The thing with taking surreptitious shots of unsuspecting people is that it’s not only risky, but you miss out on personal interactions that often lead to memorable experiences—and shots.

Follow these rules of etiquette to make sure your candids and portraits are met with nothing but a smile and nod of approval.

Assume you’re being seen

This automatically encourages you to act appropriately and act accordingly. With your intentions clearly on display for the world to see, your body language will in turn project a more disarming manner for potential subjects.

Put yourself in their shoes

How would you feel if you were walking down your street and a stranger dashed across the road to ask you if they could take some photos of you doing your groceries? Or dropping your kids off at school?

Be overly sensitive in every situation and approach only as you’d want to be approached. This doesn’t mean simply being polite and courteous. Often it might mean leaving the shot entirely out of respect for their time, privacy and practices.



Be culturally sensitive

Every culture is different, as are the individuals within them. If you aren’t travelling with a guide or local friend, do your due diligence and read up as much as you can about the ins and outs of your destinations.

Not only do you reduce the likelihood of you running into any drama, but you increase your chances of connecting with a willing subject.

Ask permission

This really is a tricky one simply because there’s no right or wrong answer.

Some firmly believe that photographers should always ask for permission out of respect and courtesy, even if it’s a simple nod of the head and a gesture with the camera. Those who disagree argue that certain moments dictate that you need to take the shot when you see it and that some of the most famous photos of people wouldn’t have been possible if permission was asked first.

At the end of the day, it’s a judgement call. Following the other etiquette rules and reading the situation will more often than not lead to the right call.

Ask yourself: Does this photo depict a stereotype of people?

Think about the common imagery associated with your destination and its people, images that you have been exposed to online or on the news. Before you take that photo, ask yourself if it is contributing to a negative generalisation, or is it offering a fresh new perspective?

Ask yourself: Does this photo depict your subject with dignity?

Again, would you want strangers photographing you in situations that you deem invasive or compromising? Choose only to take and share photos that frame people in a good light.

Share with your subject

Permission’s been granted, and the photo, taken.

Share your shots with your subjects as a way of thanking them for letting you into their lives. This small gesture is such an intimate icebreaker, allowing you to connect with locals in a way that is liberated from things such as language barriers.

Inform them of the intended use of their photo

This last one is important because it involves the law and, unlike asking for permission, is not up for debate.

Firstly, always ask your subject(s) if they mind if your shot can be published. If you aren’t able to communicate this, at the very least make sure your subject is aware that you may use the images. If you wish to commercially use your photos, you might even need to submit a model release form to make it all legal. As a rule of thumb, be sure to do your homework first and bring along any forms, passes or licenses that might be required of you.

To gain more practical knowledge into the wide world of travel photography, join our online course ‘Travel Photography with Richard I’Anson’ here.

How to build a photography portfolio (properly)

Thinking of starting a career in photography?

No matter what you shoot or what skill level you’re at currently, your photos deserve a proper portfolio.

Think about all the countless hours that go behind every shot.
All those unmarked hours spent setting up your shoot, huddled over your laptop in post, and not to mention all the practice that lead up to you capturing those single moments.

Don’t let those hours be spent in vain.

Here are 7 rules to remember when building your photography portfolio so you always frame your photos in the best possible light.

More is not merrier.

Leaving out photos can be tricky for photographers because you want to show off the depth and breadth of your skills. We understand. However, you should see it as cutting the fat as opposed to cutting out favourites.

Start by removing entire sessions. One or two shots from a session is all you need. Time-poor viewers aren’t interested in seeing a dozen shots of the same subject.

What’s more, paring back your selection shows that you are selective and value curation.

Let your shots speak for themselves.

If they’re already worth a thousand words, there’s no need for a thousand more.

If sharing the specific gear you used or the image’s backstory adds to the viewers experience. Keep it. If it doesn’t. Lose it.

If you are presenting your work in person and the viewer wants to know something, they’ll ask, which can be a great way to develop dialogue or narration throughout the presentation.

Work towards being a master of one.

No one expects you to be a master from the get go. Not even clients. But they do want to see that you are specialised in one or a few subjects/styles. You want to demonstrate that you can do the one thing they’re after, and do a great job.

That means if you want to focus on wedding photography, avoid peppering in corporate headshots or those macro shots of insects that you’ve been experimenting with.

Aim to be a photographer than can shoot a few things well and not a photographer that can shoot everything pretty well.

Bookend your book with your best.

Start with a good impression and leave on a good note.

Of course, you’re aiming to have a portfolio filled with equally strong images, but starting and finishing with a bang is a simple way to put your best foot forward.

Don’t use flash.

HTML trumps flash, hands down.

Flash sucks. it’s slow, it requires constant updates for rendering, and it doesn’t show up on some mobile devices.

Sequence sells.

Even if you want to take your viewers on an emotional journey, the path must be logical. Arranging the sequence of your portfolio by mood, colour, composition, movement or a combination thereof create a seamless flow for the viewer.

Get a different perspective.

Photography is an extremely personal practice and it’s only normal to feel defensive over your snaps. But seeking out advice from an expert or someone who’s been there and done that is one of the most effective ways for you to get better. In fact, it’s what separates the good from the great.

Seek feedback from those who genuinely want to make you better, and not just feel better.

Sorry, Mum.

To gain more practical knowledge into the wide world of travel photography, join our online course ‘Travel Photography with Richard I’Anson’ here.

Top 10 Travel Photography Destinations 2019

There are great photo ops wherever you go—and you don’t have to go far.

However, it does help when you find yourself surrounded by breathtaking landscapes, charming cities and picture-perfect moments that you’ve never encountered before.

We’ve researched and prepared shot lists for the top 10 places that are perfect for expanding and honing your travel photography skills. If you’re looking for that ‘next place’ to see and capture, look no further than this list.

1. Lake Tekapo, New Zealand

Milky way at the Church of the Good Shepherd. Lake Tekapo, New Zealand
Lupins on the lake shore. Lake Tekapo, New Zealand
Mount John’s Observatory, Mount John. Lake Tekapo, New Zealand

Recommended shot list:
– Lake Tekapo
– The Church of the Good Shepherd
– Mount John
– Stargazing in Tekapo (Dark Sky Reserve)
– Lake Alexandrina (15 minute drive away)

2. Thimphu, Bhutan

Thimphu city, Bhutan
Dochula Pass. Thimphu, Bhutan
Thimphu Market. Thimphu, Bhutan

Recommended shot list:
– Dochula Pass
– Buddha Dordenma
– Domkhar Palace
– Tiger’s Nest (Takstang) monastery
– Thimphu’s ‘Weekend Market’

3. Chefchaouen, Morocco

Medina. Chefchaouen, Morocco
Medina. Chefchaouen, Morocco
Cascades d’Akchour, in Rif Mountains. Chefchaouen, Morocco

Recommended shot list:
– Old City and Medina
– Rif Mountains
– Cascades d’Akchour
– Plaza Uta el-Hammam
– Ras el-Ma

4. Lijiang, China

Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Lijiang, China
Tiger Leaping Gorge. Lijiang, China
Lijiang Ancient City. Lijiang, China

Recommended shot list:
– Tiger Leaping Gorge
– Lugu Lake
– Lijiang Ancient City
– Jade Dragon Snow Mountain
– Dry Sea

5. Barcelona, Spain

Sagrada Familia. Barcelona, Spain
Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter). Barcelona, Spain

Recommended shot list:
– Las Ramblas
– La Barceloneta
– Pedraforca
– Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter)
– Sagrada Familia

6. Kyushu, Japan

Hashima Island. Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan
Takachiho Gorge. Miyazaki Prefecture, Japan
Mt Aso Caldera. Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan

Recommended shot list:
– Hashima Island (Nagasaki Prefecture)
– Yutoku Inari Shrine (Saga Prefecture)
– Takachiho Gorge (Miyazaki Prefecture)
– Mt Aso (Kumamoto Prefecture)
– Beppu (Oita Prefecture)

7. Patagonia, Argentina/Chile

Bariloche in Nahuel Huapi National Park. Patagonia region, Argentina
Fitzroy and Laguna-De-los-Tres in Los Glaciares National Park. Patagonia region, Argentina
Puerto Varas with volcano Osorno in background. Patagonia region, Chile

Recommended shot list:
– Bariloche (Argentina)
– Puerto Varas (Chile)
– Los Glacieres National Park (Argentina)
– Puyuhuapi (Chile)
– Marble Caves

8. Oaxaca, Mexico

Oaxaca city. Oaxaca, Mexico
Hierve el Agua. Oaxaca, Mexico
Church of Santo Domingo de Guzman. Oaxaca, Mexico

Recommended shot list:
– Oaxaca’s Zocalo (main square)
– Hierve de Agua
– Ancient Mitla Ruins
– Templo de Santo Domingo
– Zona Arqueológica de Monte Albán

9. Porto, Portugal

Porto city. Porto, Portugal
Ribeira—the old town of Porto. Porto, Portugal
São Bento Train Station, Porto, Portugal

Recommended shot list:
– Waterfront at Bairro Da Ribeira
– The Dom Luís Bridge
– Mercado do Bolhão (market)
– Vila Nova de Gaia
– São Bento Train Station

10. Sapa, Vietnam

Temple on Fansipan Mountain. Sapa, Vietnam
Thac Bac Waterfall (Silver Falls). Sapa, Vietnam

Recommended shot list:
– Fansipan Mountain
– Mu Cang Chai (rice terraces)
– Thac Bac Waterfall (Silver Falls)
– Sapa Main Market
– Muong Hoa Valley

To gain more practical knowledge into the wide world of travel photography, join our online course ‘Travel Photography with Richard I’Anson’ here.

The 10 Commandments of Wildlife Photography

There are some rules within every discipline of photography that are meant to be broken in the name of exploration and experimentation—but not these ones.

These are the 10 commandments every photographer should follow religiously when they go ‘wild’.

1. Thou shalt be ethical

When you step into the wild, you are stepping into someone’s home.

Showing your subject and its surrounds the respect they deserve lies at the core of wildlife photography. That means not baiting or feeding animals, leaving the natural order of things unmanipulated and undisturbed and always putting the welfare of your environment before the shot. 

2. Thou shalt shoot in ‘golden light’

Midday is not your friend.

The ‘golden hours’ are the two hours after sunrise and the two hours before sunset. This is when light is soft, warm and perfect for your shots. Not only is your camera better able to capture and render ‘golden  light’, but your photos will possess a quality that simply cannot be replicated.  

3. Thou shalt know thy subject

Behind every great photo is a photographer who did their homework.

Read up on everything you can about your subject. For example, if capturing animals, read up on their surrounding environment and behaviours, or for plants, when they are in full bloom and if they’re
safe.

The more you know about your subject, not only do you increase your chances of getting some great shots, but you can avoid putting both you and your subject in a compromising position.

4. Thou shalt know thy gear

It’s not about the gear you’ve got, it’s how you use it.

Whatever your kit looks like, make sure you know your gear inside out and intimately. Firstly, because there’s no point having a top-end telephoto lens if you don’t know how to work your DSLR settings, and
secondly, you never know what is going to pop up in your viewfinder, so you’re going to want to be ready with every trick at your fingertips.

But it’s not all ISO this and aperture that.

Make sure you have gear that protects your gear. If you’re hitting the outdoors, be sure to invest in clothing and accessories that provide you and your equipment with protection, safety and comfort.

5. Thou shalt go incognito

Camouflage is key.

If you want to capture animals in their natural state, you have to do everything you can to not alarm them or bring attention to yourself. That doesn’t mean you have to go into full commando stalker mode, but unless you’re just shooting trees, it does call for some efforts to blend in to the best of your ability.

 

6. Thou shalt not use flash

Most pros avoid using flash.

Not only is a sudden burst of white light a great way to scare off or even provoke your subject, but the flash also produces a harsh, unnatural lighting that cheapens your shot. Remember to disable it before your next outdoor shoot!

7. Thou shalt focus on the eye

It’s all in the eyes.

Just as we feel connected with each other through eye contact, the same goes for photos of wildlife. The eyes capture emotion and character and if they aren’t in focus, the image doesn’t quite have the same effect or connection.

8. Thou shalt consider the background

The background is just as important as the subject.

Avoid cluttered or distracting backgrounds so that your subject remains the focal point and doesn’t get ‘lost’. Also be aware of ‘ugly’ backgrounds. You might have pulled off a great shot, but if the background hasn’t been considered, you will often be forced to either crop or scrap your photo.

9. Thou shalt be patient

Patience isn’t a virtue. It’s a necessity.

The wild is exactly that. Wild. It’s unpredictable and doesn’t play to your timing. If you want that photo that few are willing to wait for, then get comfy because waiting will always be the name of this game.

10. Thou shalt practice

Practice makes perfect.

The more practice you put in, the more you’ll get an eye for what looks good, and when that happens, the magic happens.

To gain more practical knowledge into the wide world of travel photography, join our online course ‘Travel Photography with Richard I’Anson’ here.

Richard I’Anson: A Look Behind The Lens

We sit down with your course mentor, Richard I’Anson, to pick his brain and get the story behind the man, behind the lens.

Q: Your iconic images for Lonely Planet make you one of the original ‘travel influencers’. Do you remember the image that first inspired you?

A: When I was planning my first seven month trip, I remember clearly opening a pictorial guidebook and there was an image of a Nepalese porter with a Himalayan peak behind him and I just looked at that and thought — I’ve got to go.

Q: What was your first camera?

A: A Yashica 35-ME rangefinder. I got it for my 16th Birthday.

Q: What’s the biggest difference between a hobbyist and a pro?

A: Hobbyists find it difficult to separate their emotion from the photo. It’s easy to fall in love with a photo just because you took it, or because of what is captured. It could be an exotic temple that you’ve never seen before. But objectively, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a great photo. Pros are able to see the shot for what it is, without being influenced by emotion.

Q: How about the difference between a good shot and a world-class shot?

A: There’s a big difference. I’ve had thousands of images published in my 30+ year career and out of this, I’d say I’ve only captured a couple of hundred that might be considered ‘world-class’.

Q: Travel photography on social media; good or bad thing?

A: Overall I think it’s a great thing. My main issue with platforms like Instagram is that they can give people the illusion that they’ve taken a great photo based on the number of likes and comments from friends and family. But again, most of the time, this is purely based on an emotional or non-critical judgment. What I try to teach my students to do is to look at a photo objectively and critique it based on core principals.

Q: What is it that inspires you to teach your craft?

A: When I started, we didn’t have the internet and it was difficult to come by information on photos and photographers. I want to share what I’ve learnt with as many people as I can. Plus, I’ve found that by helping others, I am forced to reflect on my work and practice and in the process, hone my own skills and understanding.

Q: Any advice for the next generation of travel photographers?

A: Ultimately, the only way to practice and get better is to go out and travel. If you can, find someone to be a mentor who has been in the business for a long time to review your work objectively. From a practical standpoint, focus on building a collection of photos to show people that you can complete the task at hand—that you can deliver.

Q: Wrapping things up, ‘success in travel photography’ in 10 words or less?

A: The right place, at the right time, all the time.

To gain more practical knowledge into the wide world of travel photography, join our online course ‘Travel Photography with Richard I’Anson’ here.

The Road Less Travelled & Expand My. World

Dear Travellers,

The Road Less Travelled is a community of people who appreciate and love to travel. Our mission has been to create a place where people can come together and share travel stories and photography.

We’ve been building our community of like-minded people since 2010 and we appreciate every one of you for being a part of our journey.

We’ve been a little quiet lately because we’ve been working on something really exciting. It’s something our fans have been asking for and after a lot of hard work we’ve finally launched. We believe travel is all about learning and exploring new things and we’re here to help you do just that.

Introducing our new brand, ‘Expand My World’ featuring an in-depth course in Travel Photography by world-class master photographer, Richard I’Anson, to help you capture your unique travel moments with confidence on your next trip. Our aim is to enable you to take photographs of memories that will last forever and images that you’re really proud of. After all the best way to tell a story is through great images.

Join Richard’s course to find out why travelling to take photos is very different from taking photos while you’re travelling.

Richard I’Anson is a travel photographer who has had the privilege of getting paid to travel the world and do what he loves over the past 32 years. He has worked in over 85 countries and on all seven continents, building a career based on his twin passions for travel and photography.

He’s published eleven books including four editions of the best-selling Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Photography and large format pictorials Australia: 42 great landscape experiences, Nepal and India: essential encounters.

Richard’s Travel Photography course covers both the technical and artistic aspects of travel photography. We encourage you to continue sharing your travel photos and stories on Expand My World and with the help of our world-class photographers you’ll improve your skills and expand your world.

We’d love to hear your feedback so please get in touch.

Kind Regards,
The Team @ Expand My World
(formerly known as The Road Less Travelled)