Fancy impressing your friends? Here's how to take better pictures in a few easy steps
1 Photograph locals Landscapes and buildings are important aspects, but people make travel photos come to life. Regardless of the location, take more pictures of the local people that you meet. These photos will depict the heart and soul of any destination. Just remember to ask permission, particularly when photographing women.
2 Enrich the photo If your lens accepts filters, buy a circular polariser. This can enrich blue skies, cut through haze and wipe glare from reflective surfaces to intensify colours for a more dramatic effect. Be sure to rotate the polariser while composing the shot, and watch the effect changing as you vary the filter’s position.
3 Fill the frame Whether your subject is a person, building, animal, or a large blossom, crop tightly to avoid including extraneous elements. Zoom in (or simply move closer) until your primary subject fills the frame, excluding secondary subjects that might compete for the viewer’s fleeting attention.
4 Take twilight photos If you’re out in the evening, be sure to capture some buildings as they reflect the beautiful warm light during the last hour before sunset. This is also a great time to get natural shots of beaches, mountains and the desert. Also, try to wait for the magic 10 to 15 minutes just after sunset when the sky will appear to be a cobalt blue in your pictures.
5 Take candid shots While everyone takes pictures of people posing at familiar landmarks, be sure to capture them involved in some activity as well: sandboarding down a dune, riding an uncooperative horse or interacting with the local people. Photos like these will be great for telling the story of your trip, as will slice-of-life shots of people going about their business.
Carry a small tripod
If you find a full-size tripod to be cumbersome, consider a tabletop tripod; buy the most rigid model you can find. Or check out the Gorillapod (www.joby.com) with its flexible gripping legs that can wrap around a street sign, a tree branch or another solid object, providing firm support for the camera.
Find a better angle
All too often, entire groups of tourists snap away at a scene from a parking area or a sign indicating a ‘photo spot’. While that may be fine for a first shot, be sure to explore the area from other viewpoints. At the very least, this will ensure that you don’t come home with the same pictures of the Burj as every other visitor.
Shoot more verticals
Cameras are most convenient to use in a horizontal orientation. However, many subjects lend themselves ideally to a vertical framing: buildings, mountains, people, head-and-shoulder portrait subjects, flowers, trees and so on. More ‘active’ than the ‘passive’ horizontal shots, the vertical photos may very well become your favourites.
Try night photography
You can get great photos after dark, too, especially in brightly lit areas where commonplace scenes take on an extraordinary aura. Remembering the need for personal safety, look for flood-lit fountains, towers and buildings as well as scenes that include colourful neon signs. When the streets are wet, the reflection of colourful lights will add zip to any cityscape. With thanks to Peter K Burian of Gulf Photo Plus (www.gulfphotoplus.com)