A Pro’s Quick 5-Step Guide to Travel Photography

2. Search for clean backgrounds

Let’s be honest: Nobody looks good with a tree branch sticking out of the side of their head. Power lines, trees, and street lamps are notorious for sabotaging even the best of photos. The easiest way to improve your photography is to avoid distracting background elements by changing your position or moving your subject. Shooting from a lower angle and using a wide aperture—in other words, shortening the depth of field—will help blur out and lessen any distractions. Exclude any bright colors from the image that draw attention away from the subject.

3. Chase flattering light

When you find a landscape you want to photograph, return to the location multiple times throughout the day to document the changing light (if possible). Pay close attention to the quality and direction of both natural and artificial light. Haze, mist, and fog act as natural filters, which can mute colors and reduce contrast in your image. To determine the sun’s direction and type of shadows that will appear in your photograph, hold your hand into the light. This allows you to choose your angle and position your subject appropriately according to the most flattering light. The best time of day for portrait photography is known as the “magic hour”—thirty minutes before and after sunrise or sunset, when light is softer and more dynamic. The best sunset photos are usually before or after a storm when clouds add a dramatic, contrasting effect to the sky.

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