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Basic Holiday Photography Tips

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Category: Landscape and Travel

A Beginners' Guide To Photographing Holidays - Make sure you read this guide before going on holiday so you come back with better memories.

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Holiday season is approaching again and the time of year when you'll no doubt be dusting off your old camera or considering buying a new one. This article will help you take better pictures, avoid disasters and maybe make you think a bit more before you press the shutter.

This article was updated on the 02 June 2011.

Coast Panorama


You only have to go to any popular tourist spot to see camera-clutching individuals out in their droves, each clambering to the same old spots to take the same old pictures. I wouldn't be surprised if the ground is eroded in certain places as certain spots have provided support for thousands upon thousands of people pointing their cameras to take pictures. Now here's an idea. We already have maps with scenic reminders and signposts with pictures of cameras suggesting you stop the car step out of the door and snap away.  How about some tripod manufacturer concreting one of their best selling models into place so you can get exactly the same picture! What I'm eluding to is it's better if you can get off the beaten track to take your pictures. If you're in a coach party and the coach stops, walk up the road and see if there's a better viewpoint. Coaches have to stop in laybys and that's not always the ideal vantage point. Often shrubs or trees block the view, and there's likely to be rubbish strewn all over the place. But the main thing is you want have the same picture that everyone else has. You can usually buy those at the postcard shop.


Look for ideas

Talking of which, postcards, taken by the professionals, often give you ideas and point out not only the obvious beauty spots on a map but also the less ventured locations. When you stop in an unfamiliar village or town, it's always worth checking out the local postcards to see what previous photographers have discovered, and then plan your trip to include that location and take your own versions of the postcard shots. Use their ideas as inspiration for your own pictures, and use these on other locations.

Wonky won't work

There are several simple tips to help you take better pictures with your camera. The main thing is to check the viewfinder just before you take the shot. Look for obvious problems such as trees or lampposts growing out of heads, horizons at an angle and fingers straying over the lens. Also avoid covering the flash when taking pictures indoors. Using a tripod will help ensure the horizons straight and yyou can also buy Hot Shoe Bubble mounts that can be placed onto the hot shoe of a DSLR camera to help ensure your camera is level.

Wonky horizon
Top: Wonky horizon.
Right: Quick crop in PS to fix it.
Wonky horizon fixed

In the sun

If you're lucky you'll have good weather, lucky for your tan, but maybe not for your picture taking. The sun when high in the sky casts hard shadows and bright highlights that create too much contrast making detail in shadow areas become black and highlights washed out. Here's where your built-in flash will help. No it's not just for parties and indoor frolics, the flash can be used to put detail back into shadow areas and also adds a sparkle to eyes (known as a catch-light). Use it when you can see harsh dark shadow under the nose and chin. Some of the more advanced cameras offer a fill in flash that reduces the output to suit the situation. These give more life-like results.



If you're a sun worshiper and head for the beach watch your camera. Cameras don't like salt water or sand and if either elements come into contact it's a recipe for disaster. Either buy a special waterproof pack that houses the camera and lets you take pictures with it in place, or buy a waterproof camera or a single use splashproof camera.

Under a pier


Photos of people


When you go abroad you're likely to see interesting characters and will be eager to snap these locals in their natural environment. While some will be happy to pose, you must remember you are invading their privacy so don't go prodding your lens here, there and everywhere without understanding the culture of the locals. You can often go on tourist trips to villages that have been set up to show what life is like in the real villages and, as you've paid to go, there's no harm taking pictures. If you want to tread further a field do some research before you go.

In from the out

When you've been out taking photos in the cold and then go indoors for the evening meal, pub or nightclub you're camera will probably steam up. This is because of the quick change from cold to hot. Allow the camera time to climatise before you take pictures. Taking it out of the case will speed this up. Also keeping it somewhere warm when you're out well narrow the temperature gap. If your compact camera's viewfinder is steamed up you can wipe it clear but don't forget to do the lens too. You may have a clear view but the lens is what takes the picture and the results will be foggy. Use a soft, clean cloth and wipe gently in a circular motion.


Lastly, if you have an expensive camera make sure your insurance covers it. You don't want to damage your camera or have it stolen before you find you're not covered for damage or theft.

Find the tripod to suit your needs at www.manfrotto.co.uk.

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