Category Archives: photography

5 Essential Tips to Elevate Your Drone Photography

Just out of reach of the longest selfie stick and the lowest hovering helicopter, drones can capture what no other technology is typically allowed or capable of capturing. That’s particularly liberating in a world where 350 million photographs are uploaded to Facebook daily.

1. Fly Prepared

Find a location worthy of your drone’s battery life. Start from a place of inspiration – for example, follow aerial photographers on Instagram (I have a pretty good drone photography feed if I do say so myself). Then, make a list of nearby locations and regional points of intrigue. Utilize tools such as Google Maps to examine the feasibility of each of your ideas. If you were to go there, think about what the backdrop of your image might be and how the light would interact with your subject at different times of the day.

2. Light Your Way

Endeavor to fly when the light is most tantalizing. Golden hour refers to the soft yellow-tinted light that fills the skies as the sun begins and ends its journey across the horizon. Blue hour is another special stage in the day when vibrant blue hues take over the sky before sunrise in the morning and after sunrise in the evening. Light is a crucial ingredient to every photograph and these special times of day offer visual opportunities for artists both on the ground and in the air.

3. Composition with Intention

Lines, patterns and geometry are some of the most potent compositional elements in this new, high-flying medium. Lines have incredible implications for the compositionally aware as they have the power to direct the human eye from the foreground to the background of your photograph. Patterns are of paramount importance in drone photography as height allow pilots to discover visual rhythms that can easily go unseen from the ground. Lastly, geometry is a pillar of thoughtful framing because shapes, particularly ones that interact with one another, keep our eyes moving throughout the frame.

4. Effective Perspective

Obviously, the main compositional advantage that you control with your UAV is perspective. As a result, seek out visual drama that a different angle can bring to life. Remember that the best photographs aren’t necessarily taken at maximum flight altitude. Usually, the drone photography sweet spot exists just a few feet above your head. At about 10-100 feet high, you can create clean but nuanced imagery with foregrounds, middle grounds and backgrounds capable of guiding your viewer through a unique visual experience. It’s also at this height where you can best capture the unseen.

5. Charged Up

Snag multiple drone batteries for the best photographic experience. With one battery, you can explore the entirety of your environment and envision a shot list of notable perspectives, compositions and frames. Sometimes, you can also venture to distant scenes that show visual promise and begin to discover the unexpected. Then, you can devote your entire second battery to executing your shot list to perfection. If you aim to capture moving imagery as well, snag a third battery in which you can fully devote your efforts to captivating cinematography.

3 Golden Hour Photography Tips

If you’re a photography enthusiast, we’re almost positive you’ve heard of the infamous golden hour. A compositionally magical time of day, this key block of time is best known for offering artists some of the most flattering possible natural light to work with in developing stunning shots. For those who want to make the most of Mother Nature’s golden hour opportunity, here are some of the best ways to take advantage:

  1. Time it Right- When should you be ready to shoot? According to experts, the golden hours happen during the first hour right before the sun rises and during the last hour of light right before it sets. At these precise times, the sun is closer to your subject because it’s going through more of earth’s atmosphere. Because of this key positioning, it will shed a stunning, soft, diffused light on your shot. Predicting these exact times can be tricky, especially depending on where you’re located. Lucky for you, this NYIP grad developed a Smartphone app for photographers that will do the calculating for you.
  2. Perfect your Lighting- Depending on the look you’re trying to achieve, there are different ways you should adjust accordingly to take advantage of the golden hour glow. If the subject you’re shooting is facing the sun head-on, golden hour lighting will give your shot a naturally warm feel (that you can further enhance if you’d like via post-processing). To backlight your images, the sun will be behind your subject instead. If this is the case, your most important adjustment should be to your exposure, to make sure you’re capturing the correct tones of your subject.
  3. Get creative- If you want to create a halo look around your subject, either place the sun behind your subject or make sure the background is dark. It can also be helpful to try a lower camera angle if you’re looking to achieve this.

A Guide to Photography for Beginners

Learn to Take Amazing Travel Snaps

Let’s dispel a myth right away – you don’t need to be a professional to take travel photos. You just need to know the basics of your camera and follow a few rules. Some of the best photos you’ll take will be from being in the right place at the right time, and that happens often when you’re travelling.

I have broken this short guide into five sections to give you some fast tips on travel photography. Happy snapping!

Equipment

There is no standard equipment for taking photos but when travelling you best make sure you have the necessities with you. Most people will be taking a point and shoot or a DSLR due to space constraints. For both cameras the following is recommended:

  • Make sure you have a big enough memory card for the camera – Rather than buy one huge memory card, I would recommend buying three or four smaller ones and keep them separate from the camera. That way if you lose your camera you don’t lose all of the photos.
  • Bring a charger – Nothing is worse than being in a foreign country and the battery on your camera dying, and spending all afternoon trying to find a place that might sell your charger.
  • A padded bag – There is a strong chance you will be knocked around on trains and buses. Make sure you get a bag padded enough to take these blows. Nothing is worse than opening up your bag to find it in pieces after being kicked on a bus.
  • A small tripod – Most cannot take a bit 6ft tripod. But there are some really nifty 1-2 ft fold down ones that fit in a handbag. They aren’t very big but if you want to do self photographs, scenery or night time shots they are a god send.

Using the Camera

Before you go look at your itinerary and see what landmarks there are. But more importantly look at what else there is. Remember that the locals know the best places. If they talk about a park or a museum then it might be worth a look. Most countries know what a camera is and most countries are used to tourists. If you are in a place where there is a lot of action then keep your camera to hand. But not obviously. Do not walk around with it hanging round your neck all the time. I tend to have a hoodie on that it tucks into or if it is warm it sits at the top of the backpack.

Don’t just look. Observe. With your camera to hand and an eye for a picture you can often get very spontaneous photographs. If you are in a place where there aren’t a lot of tourists and you wish to photograph the locals the best way to approach it is to not have your camera out. Put it away, go up to the locals and talk to them. Mention you are taking photos and get it out. Show the camera to them and to an extent let them have a go. Once they are comfortable with it then ask if you can take some photographs. The trick with kids is to take one photo and show it to them. Often enough they then laugh and play up to the camera creating a better photo.

Remember you are just a tourist taking photos. You are not doing anything wrong. So don’t act like it. Be friendly, and talk to people. Don’t just walk up take a photo and run away.

Settings

When thinking about settings the best thing you can do is learn about what you have got. If it is a point and shoot then learn what each setting does. Most have settings for indoors, low light and outdoors. Make sure you know when to use these settings. There are no perfect settings to take a photo but there can be wrong settings. So learn what each of them does. If you have a DSLR your horizons are massively widened but so are the settings. If you camera has a manual setting then learn to use it. Start by grasping a basic knowledge of Shutter speed, Aperture and ISO. There are plenty of YouTube tutorials showing you how to use these. All have an effect on the light and texture of a photo. The best tips to have are to leave it on auto if you are unsure. But when you get to grips with how to use light in the manual setting the world is your oyster.

If you are comfortable with the manual setting then here are a few tips:

  • For photographing people, use a high shutter speed as they move and become blurry otherwise.
  • For scenery you can have a slow shutter speed. A slow shutter speed often makes things like a sunset look more glowing.
  • If you have a tripod, use it. Especially at night. Slow shutter speeds at night need a tripod otherwise they come out blurred and/or ruined. Unless you are an abstract artist that is.
  • Place the subject off centre. A simple photo of a girl leaning against a wall is much more interesting and aesthetically pleasing if she is off centre. It’s not rocket science but placing the subject off centre and following a rule of thirds can turn the most boring photos into something worth looking at.
  • Depth of field is an important setting. This is controlled by the aperture. A small number means a short depth of field and a large number means a bigger one. The rule of thumb is that for people use a small number. This focuses more on the person and not the background. For buildings and landscapes use a large number as this gives you the longer depth so more of the subject is in focus.

What to Look For

If going to a place where there are lots of tourists try to give another angle on things. For instance rather than just standing by the Eiffel tower, go to one of the side streets covered in graffiti and shoot it from there. Give the viewer something different. Once you find your subject, find your angle. How do you want your image to end up?

Side streets and off the beaten path is where I shoot my best stuff. Go to the places you wouldn’t have considered before. You can do this while still staying safe. Don’t just rock up into a ghetto with your camera out.

While people are shooting the landmark, shoot the people. Sometimes the most interesting thing about a landmark is the people there to see it. You could take a photo of the leaning tower of Pisa. Or you could take a photo of the girl on her dad’s shoulders pretending to push it over not realizing her ice cream is about to fall on his head.

Most importantly, capture what you are doing. If you are having fun at a bar with some new friends get the camera out. Don’t worry about being all artsy with it, capture the moment. If someone tells a joke take a photo of everyone laughing. You will look back on that photo and remember the joke.

Scenery

When taking photographs of scenery, take one or two. Get the setting right and move on.  There is no point taking 10-15 photos of the same object. Try to make use of the golden hour. The golden hour is the hour before sunset where everything looks magical. People walking along a beach look like they are from Baywatch. The sun setting over tall buildings makes them look like mountains. Use it. Your surroundings may be boring during the day but during the golden hour they have a whole new perspective.

Look up! Don’t keep your camera street level. Look up to the sky and the scenery up there. The quagmire of coloured roofs in Amsterdam or the spiral buildings of Moscow.

Look down! Get on your hands and knees, take photos of things a foot off the ground. A flower sprouting in the middle of a Berlin pathway. A hedgehog sleeping in a bush by The Louvre.

Mastering the Art of Travel Photography

How to Nail the Perfect Shot and Become a Great Travel Photographer

I really love photography. I love taking photos, I love visiting photography exhibitions and I love talking about photography with friends, but as with most creative activities, I find my inspiration and drive comes in bursts.

I’m sure photographers of all skill levels will agree that sometimes it can be a real struggle to find the inspiration to get those ‘killer’ shots. It’s sometimes taken for granted, but inspiration truly sits at the heart of all great photography and, for many keen photographers, this is where much of the value of travel lays.

Beautifully vivid magazine shots of Indian markets may inspire others to visit, but the inspiration to take those great photographs will have undoubtedly come from the fascination and sense of wonder the photographer felt when he or she was there, amid the bustle and shouting and smells. This is the symbiotic relationship that exists at the heart of travel photography. Travel inspires photography and photography inspires travel.

Thinking Ahead

It’s probably fair to say that I’ve never been one of life’s natural planners but when it comes to travel photography, there is definitely value in forward thinking; especially if you’re only planning a short stay.

Run an internet search for destination advice on almost any location and you are likely to find a wealth of useful information, but it is also likely to be quite generic.

Advice specifically written for photographers is surprisingly thin, so if you want to find the best photo spots it will probably require some old-fashioned manual research.

If you are serious about taking good photos, plan your trip with photography in mind.

Finding your way to those iconic photo spots overlooking the Grand Canyon or Machu Picchu is generally easy to do with little or no planning, but an adventurous traveller looking to capture post-civil war urban decay in the former Yugoslavia, or a budding photojournalist hoping to immortalise the essence of village life in Sub-Saharan Africa, would be wise to plan ahead.

Perhaps the easiest approach to location scouting is to simply look at where other photographers have taken great shots. One way to do this is to browse through online photo galleries and travel magazines and look at the captions. Glossy travel magazines will offer more professional shots but are generally costly, so buying a stack of new issues probably isn’t wise. Look for second hand ones in charity shops. This is a great way to find inspiration. Working out where the photos were taken relies on the accuracy of the photo captions. Some magazines are good for inspiration, but caption accuracy tends to vary. For sound commercial reasons, magazines rarely offer much that pushes the boundaries, but the aspiring amateur can afford to take more risks.

Geotagging is the process of adding map references to photos. Geotagged photos should carry the information you need to get to the exact spot on which the picture was taken. Many photo gallery sites will also show you the photograph’s Exif data.  This is very useful for learning how to recreate a particular style. Exif data contains all of the technical information about a photo, so you can see for yourself which camera and lens were used to take a photo and even the aperture and exposure settings used by the photographer.

The point of photo research should, of course, be to find new destinations that will inspire you, not to find pretty pictures to recreate. When you arrive at your well-chosen destination, turn on your inner artist; explore, interpret and capture the place in your own unique way.

Getting in the Zone

If you are serious about getting good photos, you need to become one with your camera. If you don’t feel you know how to use your camera properly, figuring everything out while travelling might mean missing great photo opportunities early on in your trip, something you are likely to regret later.

Spend time learning how to use your camera at home and practise using it in different situations and with different light levels. Even if you know your camera inside out, a few weekend photography excursions near to where you live should go a long way to ignite your photographic inspiration before you go.

Time might be tight when you are travelling, so deciding what to shoot may require some strategy. Some iconic shots will be obvious. Look through your lens while standing in front of the Taj Mahal, gazing upon the beautiful symmetry of its architecture perfectly reflected in the water, and you’ll no doubt find yourself composing a classic shot that many generations of tourists and photographers have taken before. There are of course many reasons why this has become a classic shot, so line it up, take your own version, and then move on to something a little more outside-the-box.

Taking Pictures of People

Photographing people up close takes a bit of courage, which can be difficult at first. Starting off with some easy subjects is a pretty good tactic. Bartering with market vendors and getting them to allow you to take a portrait as part of your offered price is a bit crafty, but quite effective. Save introducing this till the end of the barter; you’ll eventually accept their final price, but only on the condition that they let you take their picture.

Unless you want a portfolio focused on the market vendors of the world (which might actually make a nice little project), you’ll need to build courage quickly and become confident asking people if you can take their portraits. Look and act the part, respect others’ wishes but don’t be down-hearted by people saying ‘no’ and don’t let the time constraints around each individual portrait cloud your longer-term creative development. Learn from each shot and try new angles and techniques with each new photographic subject. Patience and hard work will pay off over time.

Think Like a Travel Photographer

Imagine the (not at all uncommon) scenario of standing among a large group of photographers, shoulder-to-shoulder on a tropical beach; all looking out on a tranquil sea, all trying to get that perfect image of the setting sun reflected in its calm waters. Try as you might, your shot probably isn’t going to be the best of them, and even if it is, there are likely to be dozens of other photographers with an almost identical shot.

Simply taking ten or twenty steps backward and looking down the beach might reveal a highly photogenic scene; scores of photographers, lenses glistening in the blaze of the setting sun, all looking out in wonder. Originality in photography is often about seeing the trees that make up the wood.

The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.Dorothea Lange

I’m a firm believer that with the right balance of skills and inspiration a decent photographer can take a great photo of almost anything, from the most grandiose of skyscrapers to that mundane pile of nails in your dad’s shed. Your own interests and photographic style will play a big part in determining what you shoot as well as the way you shoot it. If you have a well-honed style, then be sure to do what you do best, be that finding amazing textures, composing minimalist landscapes or capturing urban decay. Travelling will of course give you great scope to do these things, but try not to get too hung up on staying consistent with what you’ve done in the past while you’re away.

Think like a travel photographer. Imagine you haven’t paid for your own trip. A magazine such as National Geographic has hired you and sent you to your destination. What kind of brief would they give you? I mean it, actually think about it…

It might seem a bit childish to play ‘make believe’ in this way (and I guess it is), but the ‘thought experiment’ does serve a purpose.

Taking a few minutes to reflect on this myself, it is clear that the kind of destination photographs travel magazines favour tend to be vivid, bright and iconic. The best photojournalism always tells a story.

A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed.Ansel Adams

The most memorable portraits are those that are emotive, capture the essence of a person’s mood and contain some clear cultural identifiers. Simply taking the kinds of shots that would inspire you to travel is definitely a good place to start, but it is worth taking a moment to note that the kind of shots a skilled photographer might covet aren’t always the same shots a potential traveller might appreciate.

Truly great travel photography should be photographically brilliant while also able to appeal to a general audience that lacks, for the most part, the technical knowledge required to appreciate exactly what makes it so good.

The true ‘art’ of travel photography is not in simply learning how to take photos when travelling, but in aspiring to create images of far-away places that get a reaction, that inspire photographers, travellers and non-travellers alike.

Enjoy Yourself

Above everything else, make sure you have a great time while taking photos on the road. No matter how much you love photography, if you are taking a gap year to go travelling, you’ll probably come home with regrets if every travel memory you have engrained on your conscious mind has been made while peering through a viewfinder.

If you are travelling for a prolonged period, taking time off from the camera can be every bit as important as driving yourself to take photos. Sometimes the best inspiration comes from just relaxing and enjoying the wonders of life and nature, just so long as the camera is always to hand when you need it.

It’s very easy to get obsessed with getting the best shot wherever you go. At times you’ll learn to love this obsession as it drives your photography to greater and greater heights, but you’ll also need to learn when to cut your losses and move on. If you only have a few days to spend in Rio de Janeiro, and you end up spending all of your time in its outskirts trying to get interesting shots of life in the Favelas, you’ll miss out on seeing the likes of Christ the Redeemer, Copacabana Beach and Sugarloaf Mountain.

Colourful capture of a lake in Ireland

A photographer is like a cod, which produces a million eggs in order that one may reach maturity.George Bernard Shaw

Chances are that if you are travelling on a gap year, you are going to visit places you’ll probably never get the chance to go back to, so snap happy! When not in ‘travel photographer mode’ it’s fine to shoot hundreds of average shots which just capture memories for your own benefit, as long as these don’t end up in your travel photography portfolio. Do the touristy things too. Get strangers to take pictures of you standing in front of iconic buildings, get snapshots with nice people you meet on your travels. Make the most of the experience. Enjoy yourself.

7 Things To Do Besides Take Photos

Photography Fatigue: There’s More to Travel Than Filling Your Phone

There comes a time in everyone’s life when they’ve had enough of clicking the shutter on their camera. It may take years, months, hours or even minutes but at some point I can guarantee the average person will get photography fatigue and just want to put the camera to one side.

I travel with a Go Pro, an iPhone and a point and shoot camera, I feel ridiculous but they’ve all got their purpose. Sometimes I even add a DSLR on top of that too. I’ve increasingly noticed lately that I’m just not in the photography mood, and as a full time blogger, my snapping can come more from duty than from love.

I just feel like people are taking all these photos, thousands for every trip, but what do they do with them all? Is it not better to live an experience for real, rather than view it from behind the lens?

1. Look up

When I went on safari in the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania everyone was stuck to their viewfinder. You can get the same view as they did if you Google ‘Ngorongoro Crater’ and for a lot cheaper too. The fun of actually being on safari is looking up, looking around and trying to spot the wildlife for yourself. Safaris are all about feeling the savannah air and looking out to the expanse of the landscape. I understand wanting a photo of the wildlife, I want one too, but when you get home all you have is a photo of a lion like everyone else who’s ever been on safari. You won’t have that feeling of what it was like to be on a safari because you were too busy setting up the camera for the shot.

2. Talk

Instead of looking down, sorting out your camera or clicking the shutter for the tenth time, how about talking to someone? We’re so quick to hide behind our technology these days. In the olden days of disposable cameras, which I just about remember, you’d ask someone else to take a photo (and make a new connection) and you’d take the one or maybe two because they cost 30p per photo to develop. Now it’s all selfies and 7 snaps before you’ve even sorted your hair. Trust someone else to take a photo once in a while and strike up a conversation while you’re at it.

3. Draw or paint

Do people still paint anymore? I’m guessing that if ever anyone made some sort of graph showing the amount of paintings done per day compared to the amount of photos taken, the lines would cross somewhere around the late 1990s. From 2005ish the photo line would be off the chart. Painting a scene is a great way to really look at an image, to notice all the nuances and characteristics and to record them for yourself. Instead of taking the obligatory photo of a landmark or site as you walk on through, painting gives you the time to actually really sit and look at it properly.

4. Write

Sure, a picture paints a thousand words and all that, but what about writing a few verses on what you see? It doesn’t have to be for any sort of publication but the notes you write now on how you feel will me sacred memories when your gap year is over. If you’re quickly progressing from destination to destination it’s surprisingly easy to forget the details and how you felt at the time. Writing when you’re on you gap year gives you the perfect opportunity to actually sit down and think about all the amazing things you’ve done, rather than just relying on your memory or the photos on your iPhone.

5. Experience

How about you don’t do anything but just soak up the experience and live in the here and now? Put the camera down, any other thoughts to one side and just focus on the here and now. Work your way through your senses when you reach a moment in life you’d normally photograph and think about how it affects each one and enjoy it.

6. Take your time

It’s easy to get caught up in attractions, to follow the crowd and eagerly get onto the next thing before you’re ready all to get the perfect shot, orshots. Take time out at a destination. Have a cup of tea, a picnic, or simply sit and people watch. Find out what it’s like to actually be there rather than just to see it and snap it.

7. Quality photography

Obviously I’m not suggesting you give up taking photos all together, but maybe cut down on the snap happy attitude and go for quality over quantity. Think about how you want to frame the shot and take time to set it up. Don’t fill your phone with half hearted attempts at photography that waste time and memory – go for the money shot. Done!

Tips to Make Money from your Gap Year Photos

Money for Nothing, Clicks for Free

Not long ago, I made lots of money for doing absolutely nothing.

I hadn’t won the lottery, and the size of my student loan hadn’t compelled me to join some kind of criminal organisation (yet). All I did was sell the licensing rights to my gap year photos.

A few months earlier, while kayaking in New Zealand, a baby seal clambered onto the back of my boat. I grabbed my camera and started filming. Back in London, I reminisced about my incredible trip by posting the footage on Reddit. When this proved popular, I sold the photos and a short clip to the news agency Barcroft.

While I didn’t make millions, and you won’t find me gracefully swan diving into piles of cash any time soon, I did make enough to recuperate the cost of my return flights. As a graduate returning from a gap year with a hefty overdraft, this was a welcome development. Selling your story to a news agency is a great way to earn some extra funds. Here’s how to do it.

I’m in – what can I sell?

If you’re hoping to go the same route I did, you’ll need a story to tell. The clue is in the name really: news agencies buy news. Think about what yours could be, and then offer the chance for someone else to tell it with one complete media package.

Note: Make sure you don’t post any photos on social media if you want to include them, because outlets can and will lift them without paying you.

In my case, I had photos and videos of the seal, as well as photos of me in the park and near Adele Island, where the seal caught up with us. These were later used to illustrate my story in news articles and videos. It helps if your story is particularly news-worthy or quirky.

You don’t need to worry if your camera isn’t high-tech and your photos aren’t perfect – I used an old underwater camera, which I’d dropped in the car park just before heading out. If your photos are the only ones available of a great story, then the agencies will no doubt still be interested.

Next step: negotiating

So you’ve got your photos ready – what next? You’ll need to find agencies to pitch to. This sounds scary, but just search online and start emailing.

They can specialise in different things, like animal videos or celebrity gossip, so try to find one that fits. In your email, explain what happened and include some sample photos as a taster. I didn’t watermark mine, but it’s probably a good idea to do so. It also helps if you have evidence that your story will be successful – I sent the URL to my Reddit post.

If you have a good story, it won’t be long before you get responses. I emailed Barcroft with my seal video, and within 10 minutes they gave me a call.

The news agency will take a cut of whatever they sell your story for, so use this call to negotiate how big that cut is. They’ll probably start by offering you 50:50. It doesn’t hurt to play hard ball – I didn’t accept the first offer and ended up with a better deal.

If you’re selling a video, it’s important to make sure you’ll also get paid for the YouTube views. These will never amount to more than a few pennies unless your video is the next viral sensation, but it all adds up.

Another thing to watch out for is the contract’s length. Make sure you can cancel your agreement with the agency at any point, because you never know who might offer you more money down the line. Also ensure that you will retain the copyright, because this means you’ll still be the owner of your material.

What happens next?

Once you’ve hashed out the agreement, you’ll be sent a contract. Make sure you read it carefully, and check everything you agreed has been worded correctly. Once the contract is signed by both parties, you can store it in a safe place and send your files.

Now, all you need to do is wait – the agency will handle the rest. You’ll be sent statements of who your story has been sold to, and it won’t be long before you see it popping up online. Mine appeared in the Daily Mail and the New York Post, to name a few!

You’ll only get a statement when you’ve made a sale, which is fun because you’ll receive variable amounts of cash out of the blue.

5 Tips for Taking Gap Year Photos

Gone are the days of taking a cheap disposable camera on your gap year – now, anyone can get their hands on a camera that’s capable of capturing great images. But how do you achieve shots that are truly jaw-dropping and stand out among the mass of shared photos online?

Make sure you read these top tips before you head out on your travels.

1. Pack the right gear

Have you ever tried capturing that once in a lifetime experience on camera, only to find that you don’t have a back-up battery to hand when your current one inevitably dies? Battery life is crucial to ensure you capture the best footage, but there are dangers to recording for long periods of time.

Keep in mind that your camera can overheat, which can damage it or stop you getting your footage or photo. Look out for cameras with their own heat management system to help avoid overheating when capturing high-resolution footage. Ensuring you pack the right gear is vital for ensuring you get the perfect shots without any setbacks.

2. Know your equipment

Get used to your equipment before you head off on your travels. Having the right size camera is crucial too; something that’s small and easy to fit in your pocket is ideal if you need a camera that’s convenient to use at any time and in any place. Be sure to gain a good understanding of what its strengths and weaknesses are so you don’t miss out on the opportunity to capture something amazing all because your camera takes a few seconds to fully switch on.

Explore different settings on your camera, experiment with burst mode and slo-mo, and don’t forget about the self-timer as it gives you the chance to get into that shot you’ve spent so long setting up. Of course, settings such as Electronic Image Stabilisation (EIS) are ideal for when you need to compensate for any tilts, bumps and shakes when recording footage.

3. Add a human touch

There’s nothing wrong with capturing the view of a vast landscape which looks totally untouched by humans, but it can feel like something is missing. Try adding people to your photos to give the shots some more personality and to provide a real sense of scale. This will help you to showcase how amazing a location really is to visit. If you can get yourself in the pictures, then it also gives you bragging rights to prove that you’ve actually been there.

Don’t forget to make the most of the range of accessories you can get for your camera. Additions like selfie sticks and handlebar or head mounts can take your pictures to the next level to help you take even more amazing shots.

4. Go waterproof

You never know when you might need to protect your camera from an accidental splash, or when you want to take a dip in a lake surrounded by beautiful scenery. When finding the right waterproof housing for your camera, be sure to choose something that’s designed to be compatible. You can even attach a floating grip to your camera if you’re worried about it sinking into the abyss.

An extra tip: if you are worried about damaging your equipment, then make sure it’s all covered by your insurance.

5. Have fun

Don’t forget to have fun when you’re out exploring every nook and cranny of each new place you visit on your gap year. Get locals involved, try striking new poses, and don’t be afraid to do something that you’ve never tried before. The more you get stuck in, the more you’ll relax.

Remember to use a camera that makes downloading your pictures and footage straight to your phone easy and quick, so you can instantly edit and share that amazing shot to your social media channels for your friends and family to see.

Ensuring you have the right equipment is key to capturing great photos. Thanks to advances in technology, many cameras are capable of capturing every step of your travels whilst staying extremely lightweight and compact. This is the perfect combination that allows you to see and do more as you continue on your gap year.

Digital Camera Cleaning and Maintenance

 Cleaning Lenses, Sensors, Mirrors…

Digital camera cleaning and maintenance is something many photographers (including myself) neglect to do with sometimes costly consequences.

It is too easy to come home after a days shooting, whip out the memory card, have a play with your new images and forget all about maintenance of your kit.

If you are like me, anything new that I buy over time (car, motorbike, watch, glasses etc), get cleaned immaculately at least once a day. Then after a few weeks it falls to once a week or so and then just “on the odd occasion” or when they look really dirty.

Because photography is my livelihood, I have to physically make myself grab my camera bag, go and sit somewhere quiet and take a good half an hour to an hour after a shoot to clean every piece of equipment that I have used.

This kit has cost thousands and its cleanliness has a direct bearing on the quality of my images and the longevity of its use. Not only that but as I upgrade my equipment, I may want to sell on my old cameras at the best price.

These are the checks that I make;

Digital Camera Cleaning and Maintenance – Lenses

Obviously take great care when cleaning the glass, it is what makes the lenses so expensive and costly to repair or replace. Use only fine tissue paper and alcohol solutions that are designed for camera optics. Clean both the front and rear elements using a blower brush first to remove any dust particles.

The last thing you want to do is scrape even the smallest piece of dust across your lens.

Make sure you clean the brush or replace it often too otherwise you simply end up smearing minute particles of grease and dirt onto the lens.I also use the bristles of a blower brush to clean in between the moving parts of the external barrel. This prevents a build up of dirt over time and maintains smooth operation whilst helping to prevent dust from entering the internal optics.

Digital Camera Cleaning and Maintenance – Camera Sensor

The most talked about and asked about issue with Digital SLR maintenance is the sensor and the accumulation of dust. If you are altogether unsure of how to go about it, wait until any sensor dust is at a point where it is unbearable (most specs are easily and quickly removed in editing), and then take it to be professionally cleaned.

Damaging a sensor is expensive…

If you intend to do it yourself, just be careful. Set the camera to manual with a 30 second exposure. You will need time to clean the sensor but using the bulb setting (“B”) could be a mistake.

If whilst cleaning the sensor, you accidentally close the shutter you are in danger of damaging the mirror, shutter, sensor or all three. Even if you use a remote release set to “B”, the batteries on the remote could give out and close the shutter prematurely.

With a fully charged battery in your camera and a 30 second delay, you know where you are.

Once the shutter is open, hold the camera up so that the sensor is facing down, and use the blower (without the brush) to blow any dust away from the sensor.

N.B. The camera is held this way to allow any dust to fall out of the camera and the brush is removed in case it touches the sensor and adds grease smears or dust to it rather than removing it.

If the sensor is really dirty, you are able to buy cleaning kits with swabs where you physically touch the sensor to “swipe” away dirt. Again, you need slight of hand and great care to do this so if unsure, seek professional help.

Digital Camera Cleaning and Maintenance – Mirror/focussing screen

Unless I can barely see through the viewfinder (exaggeration), I tend to leave the mirror and focussing screen alone apart from a quick blow/swipe with the blower brush. The only time I would give it more attention is if it were to run the risk of transferring dust to the sensor.

Dust on the mirror or screen has no effect on the final image so any dust you see on these through the viewfinder, won’t affect the photograph (although excessive dust on the screen “may” affect the accuracy of focussing).

Once again, be careful as the mirror in particular is extremely sensitive and easily scratched.

Digital Camera Cleaning and Maintenance – Outer casing

Even though it is mostly aesthetic, it is still important to try and keep the external workings clean. The dirt on the outside can easily make its way inside, particularly if you change lenses often with dirty hands.

I give it a quick once over with the blower brush first and then a quick rub with a lens cloth or dustcloth. I usually do the outer parts before the inner. This reduces the chance of dirt transferring itself inside.

Digital Camera Cleaning and Maintenance – Accessories

Most accessories have mechanical or electronic workings so it is just as important to keep these clean to help with their longevity. For example, the battery contacts in a speedlight or remote switch need a quick clean now and again just to prevent any build up of dirt or even rust.

A failing accessory can be as disastrous as a failing camera in certain situations, especially paid ones.

Digital Camera Cleaning and Maintenance – The Bag

This is something that many people wouldn’t consider but the quickest way for cameras, equipment and accessories to become dirty is if you have a dirty camera bag or holdall.

Dust, dirt, sand and even bits of Mother Nature (leaves, grit etc) are easily accumulated when out and about.

Remove all equipment once in a while and just Hoover/vacuum the bag thoroughly inside and out.

All of this seems a bit tedious but once I have done it I feel surprisingly good and happy with myself. I also know that when I go out shooting or turn up to a paid job, the equipment is in tip-top condition.

The Camera Phone

 The Camera Phone With Video, Worth Upgrading To?

In the past we have considered adding a section devoted to your camera phone to ATP but felt the resolution and popularity of most mobile phones with cameras didn’t justify it. Now however, most mobile phones being manufactured include a high quality camera and video feature as well as all the other goodies that they pack into mobile phones these days.

Do you use the camera much on your mobile phone? Do you use the video? How important would you say the camera feature is when buying a new cell phone camera? Please share your thoughts, ideas and images at the bottom of this page, we would love to hear from you!

We will start to incorporate camera phone photography into ATP now that they have better:

  • Resolution
  • Flash
  • Mega-pixels
  • Quality
  • Ease of uploading images to the web
  • Focussing
  • Tracking
  • Video
  • Face recognition
  • …the list goes on

So it may be time to start looking into how to take better photos with your camera’s phone.

Because these mobile phones and their cameras are so incredibly portable, we are seeing a huge surge of images being taken at venues that:

  1. Don’t allow traditional cameras
  2. Are generally not suited for bulkier cameras

Camera phones are great for parties, nights out, day trips or anywhere that you don’t want the hassle of taking a traditional DSLR or even a compact camera out as well as your mobile phone.

It has opened up a whole new world for many people and I expect that quite a few people who started taking snapshots with their mobile phones have upgraded to a better, more dedicated camera such as a bridge or DSLR once they found they had a talent or love for photography.I find it amazing how photography has become so incredibly popular over the past decade and I think much of that is due to more and more people getting hold of a decent cell phone camera.

However, you need to be aware of the limitations and drawbacks that come with a camera within a mobile phone though as you may sometimes find it frustrating trying to get decent images.

The traditional photography rules still apply regardless of the size, shape or type of camera you are using…light plays a bigger part more than ever.

The sensors on these cameras are so small that any imperfection or lack of light will show up big time in the form of noise for example. Low light still means slow shutter speeds which can lead to blurry images from camera shake.

Even though the cameras in mobile phones are way more advanced these days, they still have to abide by and use the old rules as a guideline.

  • Hold the camera steady
  • Use flash if needed, low light photography will be poor with a mobile phone camera
  • Pan with a moving subject to ensure sharp images
  • Gently squeeze the shutter, don’t stab at it
  • Compose the image well using the rear LCD screen
  • Use both portrait and landscape orientations
  • Look for a decent and different viewpoint
  • Remember the shutter lag (a camera phone will have a longer shutter lag than a traditional camera…shutter lag is the time between pressing the shutter and the image being taken)
  • Use the zoom if you have one but remember you are more likely to get camera shake the more you zoom in

Tips To Photograph Water

 As the weather gets warmer, many photographers are getting back into the habit of heading outside to run through a variety of nature and landscape shots, one of the most popular being photos of various bodies of water.

If that’s a compositional niche you’re looking to practice, here are a few pieces of advice for you to review before getting started:

  1. Exposure- In most cases, underexposing photos of water is your best bet for achieving the most flattering look. Otherwise, you will likely create too many highlights and the entire shot will appear a generally jarring, too-bright shade of white. One exception to this of course, and an additional recommendation of ours, is if you are working on an overcast day. While many people mistakenly think cloudy days should be avoided when it comes to outdoor photography, we disagree. Check out our tutorial on overcast photography here for some details on why.
  2. Filters- Photographing water is also a great opportunity to use a polarizing filter. If there are distracting reflections you want to remove in favor of a more serenely flat, placid look, this is the tool you should reach for. On especially bright, sunny days, this will also help you remove any unwanted glare.
  3. Reflections- If interesting reflections are a part of your compositional vision, consider the benefits of creating appealing symmetry when composing a reflective shot. If you need some advice getting started, here’s a brief video guide on photographing symmetry.
  4. Motion- If you are photographing a moving body of water like a waterfall or rapid river, you need to adjust your shutter speed accordingly in order to freeze the motion in a way that fits your artistic vision. If you’re not familiar with which shutter speed to use, check out the link for a helpful chart.