Because I keep hoping and dreaming about traveling to see my sponsored children one day, I like to look at different travel tools and books. Recently, I borrowed five travel photography books from the library, and I would like to share these books with you. Each of these books are great for learning tips and tricks about improving your photography skills, especially while traveling.
I’Anson suggests those who wish to improve their travel photography skills obtain ‘flexibility, patience, energy, strong social skills, and technical and creative abilities’ (see page 10 of the book). In the book, he describes the advantages and disadvantages of using different types of cameras, lenses, filters, tripods, flash units, and other camera accessories. He then goes over the pros and cons of using a film camera versus a digital camera as well as types of digital cameras to buy. In the next section of the book, I’Anson describes photography rules, such as shutter speed, aperture, measuring light, exposure, depth of field, etc. He writes about the importance of shutter speed on pg 96,
“Avoid camera shake by selecting a shutter speed the same or higher than the focal length of the lens.”
He also describes the importance of good composition, such as rule of thirds, framing, viewpoint, orientation, and focus. These key points of composition are traditional rules that beginning photographers are taught in photography classes. By following the rules of composition, your pictures will turn out way better. He then also covers how lighting affects your picture quality. In part three of the book I’Anson describes ways to protect your camera and equipment as you travel, especially in different weather conditions. In part four, he explains different photography subjects, such as people, landscapes, cities, special events, markets, sunrise and sunset, moving subjects, wildlife, and from the air. In the last section of the book, he gives tips on what to do once you get home to look at your photography. I’Anson’s travel photography guide covers pretty much everything you need for travel photography, and this book is definitely one that I recommend you read if you are looking to improve your photography while traveling some place new and different.
National Geographic is world renowned for their travel photography, so I figured I should check out a book by their photographers. This is a slim guide packed with lots of examples and tips of how to get the best travel photography. Robert Caputo writes on pages 8 and 9 about the necessity of research in aiding a photographer take the best pictures:
Photographers for National Geographic spend a lot of time doing research. This helps us figure out what’s there – what the place is about and what subjects we need to cover. Read brochures and travel books. Go to libraries, bookstores, or onto the Web.
Researching the most famous and important sites of the city or country you are traveling to will help you know where to hunt for photographic subjects. If you happen to check this book out, one of my favorite pictures is on pages 10 and 11 of La Morra, Italy; the photographer really captured the beauty of the town and the outlying vineyards. Caputo also explains that researching the customs and rules of a particular place is important so that you do not act offensively (see page 15 and 17). A more surprising tip is found on page 22:
Getting lost is actually a way to see new things and meet new people off the beaten path according to Caputo. Caputo’s book also features National Geographic photographers, such as Ira Block, Sarah Leen, and Jim Richardson. Caputo shares what photography equipment you should take and how to pack the equipment. Composition is also covered in this photography book, which shows that it is important to all photographers. Caputo’s photography guide is well written and includes beautiful photographs to learn more about photography. One particular photo that I would like to practice is on page 126, where the photographer takes a picture of the reflection of a subject in a car window; the picture is striking and a unique way to look at things. This photography guide is a must read for learning how to take your travel photography to the next level.
Adam Bronkhorst’s book differs from the other two because it focuses on taking pictures with your smartphone. Smartphone cameras have become more advanced in recent years, and of course, a phone is usually easier to pack than a professional camera and its equipment. Bronkhorst gives a quick guide to understanding the camera on your smartphone, and it’s important to remember this particular piece of advice on page 15:
“Your phone’s camera is never going to be able to take the same quality images that a dedicated camera can. Mostly, you’ll notice this in low-light situations. But don’t be put off by this. … Just know the limits, work within them, and use them to your advantage.”
Bronkhorst then explains how to use light to help take good pictures with the camera on your phone as well as the rules of composition. One particular tip that I have decided to use is to turn on the rule of thirds framing helper on your smartphone; it will help you take better photos using the rule of thirds. Throughout the book Bronkhorst shares the most helpful apps for taking, editing, and sharing pictures with your phone; the apps that I have decided to add to my phone from the apps that he suggests include:
- Snapseed – available on App Store and Google Play
- Enlight – available on App Store
- Retouch – available on App Store and Google Play
- Afterlight – available on App Store and Google Play
One app that I am a little surprised that Bronkhorst did not include was the Blue Time app, which shows when the right times for certain lighting conditions for taking pictures where you are located. Other travel sites that focus on travel photography recommend the Blue Time app, which is available on the App Store and a similar app is available on Google Play. However, the Blue Time app might be newer than Bronkhort’s book, which was published in 2012, and might explain why he did not recommend the app in his book. If you are looking for more tips and apps for creating beautiful photography on the go, Adam Bronkhorst’s Snapp Shots book is a great guide.
If you do not have enough room in your luggage to pack a professional camera for traveling, it is time to take a look at packing your iPhone as your camera. Michael Fagans book explains just how to accomplish this; Fagans reveals 60 pictures that he has taken and the apps he used to make them look great. The first app that Fagans introduces is the Hipstamatic app (available on the App Store), and he discusses how he uses this app throughout the book. Hipstamatic allows the photographer to make pictures look like they have been taken with a certain type of lens, film, and camera. One book that Fagans mentions is The Great Picture Hunt 2: The Art and Ethics of Feature Picture Hunting by David LaBell; I may have to search for this book to learn even more photography techniques. On page 45, there is a great picture of the sky above the Padre Hotel in Bakersfield, CA; Fagan’s advice on page 45 to get such a great photo is:
“Sometimes, luck favors the prepared – but other times, luck favors those who are willing to hustle and get into the right position!”
For an Ansel Adams Tribute, on pages 66 and 67, Fagans descibes using the Hipstamatic’s Loftus Lens and Rock BW-11 film settings to take a picture of a waterfall similar to what Ansel Adams would take. Fagans lists all the apps and tools he uses for his pictures on page 126. This guide is an interesting introduction to using the Hipstamatic app on your iPhone, and while it is a good book, I would not conclude that it is even close to all-encompassing of taking pictures with an iPhone. This book is worth a look if you would like to know more about Hipstamatic’s ability to create good photos.
Dan Heller’s book is a guide for digital travel photography using a digital camera. Heller explains, “The First Step to Better Pictures,” is Composition (page 19). Rule of thirds and using frames and lines in pictures will help your travel photography stand out, which is taught in most photography classes and is reiterated by Heller. Heller also shares that we photographers should expect to do image processing, which is using software and processors to make the colors and lighting in the picture closer to what the actual subjects show. However, he did not go into detail on which image processing tools to use. He does share a couple of websites that give reviews on photography equipment:
Throughout the book, Heller shares information on what different lenses do and how types of equipment are helpful in certain situations. Heller also has tips on photographing children, which may prove useful if I eventually get to visit my sponsored children. In the last section of the book, Heller shares the ins and outs of extended exposures, including fireworks, star trails, waterfalls, fog, and lightning. My favorite part of this book is the information on extended exposures, and on page 111, Heller explains just how tricky lightning pictures can be:
“The frequency of lightning will affect the overall exposure, and there are no guidelines (other than experimentation) for how much exposure time you should allow.”
I personally have tried experimenting taking pictures of lightning before, and I could never get just the right shot. Heller’s advice encourages me to try again. Heller’s book on digital photography is a good one to get an idea on what types of pictures to practice.
Each of these books explain just how to take your digital and smartphone travel photography to a a new level, and I cannot wait to try some of their tips!
Have you read any of these travel photography books? Are there other travel photography books that you would recommend? What are your tips for photography?