Called the Queen of the Adriatic, Venice has a setting that no other city in the world can rival. It is a network of rii (streams), canali (canals) calli (streets) and campi (squares). The richness and charm of Venice does not derive solely from the presence of significant works of architecture and art (Bellini, Tiziano, Veronese, Tintoretto, Palladio, Sansovino, and many others) but also from the general layout of the city and its way of life.“The rules change in Venice,” I’m told by Janys Hyde, long-time Venice resident and friend. For me, Venice is pure magic. In some ways the city is like a movie set tho’ it’s not fair to minimize Venice to make believe.
Venice is unique among all great cities of the world in that its streets are full of water. Made up of 118 islands only two to four feet above sea level, crisscrossed by 117 canals, and connected by some 360 bridges, its main avenue is the curving Grand Canal, its buses are the vaporetti. There is no other city in the world of this size and sophistication where the automobile is absent.With no better way to explain, Venice is all about the water.Janys tells me “when furniture is delivered to your home, it’s done by boat or when an ambulance is called it arrives on the water.To truly understand and ‘get in touch with Venice’ one must embrace the water.”Embrace I did, and instantly, feeling a sigh of relief from the usual bells, pollution and whistles of the big city.
The richness, color, light, texture, and history create a scene of overwhelming beauty. Venice is the city of canals, stunning Venetian Gothic palaces, intimate restaurants, and intrigue. Whether slipping along the canals on private water taxis, strolling the labyrinth of meandering alleyways, or sipping a Spritz to the mellifluous sounds of a live orchestra, there are plenty of ways to experience this charming mecca.Once the economic pulse of Europe, Venice is replete with many cultural and historical activities and treasures. In fact, there are few more memorable things than a cruise along the Grand Canal, disembarking among the cooing pigeons at St. Mark’s Square.The whole city is an extraordinary architectural masterpiece in which even the smallest building contains works by some of the world’s greatest artists such as Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese and others. While the glories of the past are evident at every turn, the outlying neighborhoods and islands are still animated by a villager lifestyle which must have been unchanged through the centuries. The Lagoon of Venice is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
No one seems to be in a hurry and no one seems to be trying to own the sidewalk as they stroll with friends and greeting passers-by.I love the quiet of Venice.No motor vehicles nor loud noises,just the slap slap of the water against Venice’s buildings and people calling out to each other. The incredible shifting light from dawn to dusk changes the dramatic mood of this Italian jewel and can fill the soul with a sense of pure fulfillment.I could have loved Venice on my own but Janys and her husband, Claudio graciously opened my eyes to “their Venice” and ensured I made it my own. Janys sums my Venetian experience best by saying “it is like a never ending story.Falling in love with Venice is a love affair which is difficult to shake off.Once you fall, you are lost and there is no way to appropriately tuck Venice neatly into a little box.”And fallen I have. There is no doubt in my mind that you, too, will not only be mesmerized but also madly deeply in love before you leave Venice.
Digital Photo Magazine interviewed me about photographing Istanbul. What a treat to visit Istanbul, but to photograph this great city, too? Wow. Istanbul offers photo opportunities wherever you turn.
What was it about Istanbul that made you want to capture it on camera?
The Ottoman architecture of Istanbul, it’s minarets reaching to the heavens, the colourful spice market, Grand Bazaar presented a vivid image in my mind.Hypothetically, I had been photographing Istanbul even before I arrived. I had seen a myriad of photos while researching my trip and visualized how I would capture the various scenes differently. Once my feet hit the pavement, it seemed as if I had already visited the city, making my task of capturing the city on camera all the more easy.Additionally, having grown up in Tripoli, Libya, re-discovering the Islamic world has been high on my list.Istanbul has been only one stop with regard to this journey.
Istanbul is famous for its beautiful Ottoman architecture, such as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque and so on; artistically, do you think you did it justice?
Ottoman architecture is brilliant, isn’t it?The style completely captures my imagination, and there is a fairytale magical element I’ve not seen elsewhere.My eye is drawn towards curves, and lines, so Istanbul was ideal for me as a photographer.Hour upon hour I studied Hagia Sophia, Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque), Süleymaniye Mosque, Basilica Cistern following each curve and line.I have thousands of images I captured in Istanbul. My aim was to take the viewer on a journey with a different perspective. I’m confident I achieved this.
Moving on to the Hagia Sophia; with it being such an imposing building, did you find it a challenge to photograph?
Absolutely.With Hagia Sophia being so large, and the buildings around it, I found the square to have the best perspective.At night, Hagia Sophia glowed beautifully with its lights, and a fantastic reflection can be found in the fountain.While up close, I could capture particular architectural elements, but even with my 18mm super wide lens the entire structure could not be captured until I found myself in the square.I did walk the perimeter of Hagia Sophia numerous times to assure myself the best perspective had been found.At night Hagia Sofia is pure magic.
The Hagia Sophia has been home to both Eastern Christianity and Islam; do you think you managed to capture those historically spiritual elements?
Hagia Sophia is a feast for one’s eyes, with or without a camera. I vividly remember being awestruck upon entering the first time. The blend of Eastern Christianity and Islam is beautifully evident in this structure, and my camera worked overtime more than once.While I was well aware of the symbols before me, capturing each through my journey through this marvel, it was not until I viewed my images later that I knew each element had been covered. That said, I focused on the overall beauty rather than single out one element over another.
What were the significant differences in photographing Istanbul during the day and at night?
My preference is capturing any city during the night hours as their beauty shines far brighter to my eye during this time.Details in architecture are more pronounced against the night sky, the lights and motion of Istanbul make the city seem more vibrant and vivacious, yet the character stays the same.With fewer people walking the pavement, I can more easily “touch the soul” of a city during the night time hours, and my creative eye wakes up.Additionally, there is more of a challenge for me to capture urban areas with long exposures as rarely do I use a tripod, and I must discover ways to keep the camera steady as well as test various exposure times.
This is Iceland. An island with the wild North Atlantic Ocean to the south and the Norwegian Sea to the north. A place where you might sometimes think you’re on a different planet. A country whose population is often dwarfed by the number of tourists who visit. Home to the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. A small island with landscapes larger than life.
If you’ve never visited Iceland, drop everything and go now. Of all the countries I’ve visited around the world, Iceland is not only cool (and I’m not referring to the temperatures), but it ranks near the top of my most favourite places in the world. I’ve visited Iceland numerous times dating back well before it became a wildly popular destination. There were few hotel choices when I first visited. Today there are an abundance of hotels in the city centre of Rejkjavik.
Reyjavik alone is charming enough for you to know you’ve chosen the right travel destination. The city centre is relatively small and most definitely walkable. You’ll find numerous bars, restaurants and shops and outdoor public spaces to sit back and watch Icelanders go by.
But it’s the majestic landscape that will capture your heart and imagination. The mountains are glorious. The glaciers are enormous. There are plenty of tours that will take you to the top sights. Private guides will take you to places few others see. If you prefer to go on your own, rent a car. Navigating Iceland is easier than finding your way in your home town. Traffic and direction signs are in Icelandic but it doesn’t matter because you can’t get lost. Drive the southern route and you’ll see everything mentioned in this blog post. Drive northward and you’ll feel as if you have Iceland to yourself and the landscapes are even more impressive.
Geysirs burst steam in the air constantly while some erupt like clockwork. The landscape is fascinating if you’re a nature lover. They are literally everywhere so you can’t miss them. If you fancy waterfalls, Iceland has those, too, and they are mightily impressive.
If you’re adventurous like me, head to the local airport and ask a pilot to fly you over Iceland in a small plane. It is from the air that you will truly appreciate the grand size of the glaciers. I’d like to say they are the size of Texas except Texas is vastly larger than the entire country. But, you get the idea. The lakes, the rivers, the evident flow of lava when a volcano erupts, the mountains and desolate landscape are even more stunning from up above.
Iceland is also a photographer’s paradise and playground. It’s safe to say you can’t take a bad photograph in Iceland. Plan to travel with your DSLR. You’ll probably want to print some of the photographs you capture. At the same time, have your iPhone or any mobile phone handy. Smartphones are brilliant when you want to capture a quick photo or video.
I’ve included some tips to consider when using your iPhone for travel photography.
12 iPhone X Camera Tips You Won’t Want to Forget should help you to improve the images you take with that omnipresent camera system. It should be noted that most of these tips can be applied if you own any of the other iPhone models or even other camera phones.
1. Turn on all the lights in the room
This is a great place to start immediately improving the quality of the photos you capture with your iPhone. The pitfall you are immediately battling when you grab for your iPhone over your DSLR or Mirrorless camera is in the fact that you are working with a MUCH smaller lens in front of a MUCH smaller sensor. What this means is that your iPhone is not all that good at collecting light. Yes, that statement applies to the iPhone X as well.
When light collection is inefficient, noise can become a problem quickly. But don’t fret, I have a solution. Add light. It really is that simple. Turning on every available light will immediately enhance the quality of your image. The lights in your house are most likely placed up high (probably near or in the ceiling) and they will be familiar and flattering. This will immediately improve your photos making them sharper and reducing overall noise.
2. Turn on the flash
This is clearly related to the first tip. More light = better iPhone photos! iPhones have the tendency to not use the built-in flash as much as they should. Now, while it is a point light source and thus a harsh light source, it is also probably not strong enough to overpower your ambient light. Rather, it will add to it as a fill and reduce overall noise in the image.
Since the ambient light is still present, you shouldn’t end up with harsh, ugly shadows. That is, unless you ignored the first tip. Just make sure you’re not expecting the flash to cover any great distance. It has an effective range of about 7 feet before the inverse square law renders it less than useless.
Do be aware of the possibility of your flash not matching the ambient light in terms of color temperature. This is supposed to be less of a problem with “True Tone” flash. However, the lighting in a house tends to be very warm and can really give your flash away. Play around with it and see what works best in your given situation.
3. Utilize “Portrait Mode”
One place where the limitations of a mobile device for photography start to become more apparent is when trying to take advantage of the physics of optics to do things like create a shallow depth of field. Enter computational photography.
This is going to be a buzz phrase as we move into the future of photography. A huge strength of the iPhone X camera (like the 7 plus and 8 plus) is the ability to recognize the subject, separate them from the background and create a fantastic and convincing bokeh. While it’s not perfect, it is pretty darn good and getting better with each iteration.
While in the main camera, simply swipe into “portrait” mode and the camera will do the rest. You will notice that it doesn’t work horribly well up close but you must be close enough for it to separate the subject from the background. 7 to 8 feet works pretty well. The phone will actually tell you things like “Move Farther Away” or “Place subject within 8 feet” to help guide you to the optimum subject distance to make the feature work. Also, be sure that your background is a decent distance behind your subject. This will help the system work better.
The software takes over and creates a great bokeh that will separate your subject from the background and improve your portraits.
If you’re living in the world of the iPhone X, you also have access to the lighting adjustments in portrait mode.
4. Tap on screen to adjust focus and exposure
An often-underutilized functionality built into the iPhone experience, dating way back to the early versions of the iPhone Camera app, is the ability to control the exposure. Many people simply stumble onto the feature.
The way this works is by simply touching the screen where your subject is. This sets the focus point on the image. Now, with your finger still touching the screen, drag it up and down to adjust the overall exposure. Now you’re in a perfect position to nail your iPhone photo exposure every time!
This works especially well with subjects like sunsets where the camera wants to automatically select an exposure that is far too bright, blowing out the details in the sky. Drag down to “under-expose” and boom… perfect sunset shot.
Another level of functionality in this feature is the ability to lock exposure and auto focus. Once it’s set how you like it, just hold on the screen for two seconds and you will see the AE/AF lock indication pop up. You can then recompose your image without the camera changing focus or exposure settings.
5. Don’t pinch to zoom when taking pictures
“Zooming” by using the pinch gestures on screen. Technically, you can’t zoom on an iPhone. Zoom would be changing the optical focal length of your lens. Pinch “zoom” is digital “zoom” and amounts to a simple cropping of the image. Of course, with the X and with the Plus versions of the iPhone, there is the option to use the second “2X” camera. But this is really more of a lens swap, or technically it’s a complete camera swap to a different system, different sensor, everything.
Note: There is a HUGE caveat with the “2x camera” that I discovered while writing this article. When lighting conditions are not optimal, the iPhone camera app always uses the main 1x camera and when you tap 2x, it uses a digital “zoom”. This is because the 1x camera has a slightly larger sensor and a slightly brighter aperture. In order to know if you’re actually utilizing the 2x optics, cover the telephoto lens (leave the main lens unobstructed and that is how you’ll know you’re covering the correct lens) and switch to “2x”. If you’ve actually switched over the image should go dark. If it does not, you are using “digital zoom” and you’re better off just using the 1x camera.
Pinch zooming is really just cropping the image live and then taking the photo committing the photographer to the exact composition they had when they hit the shutter. A far better approach would be to take the photo without zooming in and then crop later to get the desired effect. Then there is time to make it perfect and/or change it later on. A sort of non-destructive workflow applied to capture in-camera.
The other alternative, and one that is especially useful if you do not have one of the iPhones with the handy two camera setup on the back, is a set of clip on lenses that can be attached to your phone. There are tons of these on the market and many of them actually work quite well (see tip #8)!
6. Panoramas can be useful
This one might seem obvious, but I want to point out a couple of less obvious ways to use this feature. First, the obvious. Sometimes you just want a panorama. Shooting several photos with sufficient overlap and then hauling said files into Lightroom or Photoshop or your editor of choice to merge to a panorama is simply too much. So, engage panorama mode, start the exposure and slowly pan from left to right. Done.
One spot where it might not be so obvious to use a panorama is in a situation where you don’t necessarily need the sweeping 180-degree view. You can take short panoramas (is that a contradiction in terms? I don’t care) you have my permission. This is a way to achieve a slightly wider angle of view both vertically and horizontally while, at the same times, adding a fair bit of resolution.
Another useful tip with panoramas on the iPhone is to remember that they work in the vertical orientation as well. The process is the same, just hold your phone in landscape orientation at the start of the panorama and pan from low to high. Now you have a beautiful photo of a very tall subject in one shot.
The panorama mode comes with a couple of caveats and these are not unlike panoramas with larger photography equipment.
You’re likely to have some significant distortion, especially if you’re close to your subject. This can sometimes be OK and other times it can be fixed in post.
Moving subjects don’t play well with panoramas. Sometimes this can lead to some interesting stitching errors.
7. Rotate your phone rather than your body when taking a panorama
This is obviously part of tip #6, but I gave it its own heading because it will help you just that much. It has to do with parallax and other forms of distortion that are possible when the camera moves rather than rotates. If you have no clue what that means, don’t fret, just understand that you will end up with superior results when you rotate your phone rather than your body with your phone out in front of you.
The same principle is true when shooting panoramas with a larger camera system. The idea is to rotate around something known as the nodal point. With your phone, just think of the camera itself as the nodal point and you’ll probably be close enough. Throw a longer lens on and have objects near and far in the frame, and it becomes important quickly.
If you want to try an experiment that will help you understand the concept, do the following:
Hold your finger up in front of your face about a foot or so away.
With one eye closed, line your finger up with some object in the background (something about 10 feet or more away works best)
Now rotate your head and notice that your finger appears to shift position as your head rotates. This is the same thing that is happening when you hold your phone out in front of you as you rotate your body to create a panorama. It can mess things up pretty quickly.
Now try again, but as your head rotates, try to keep your finger and your target object lined up. If you are able to do this, you are rotating around the nodal point of your eye! Stitching a panorama that was taken with the camera rotating around this nodal point is much easier and much more accurate as the elements in the frame do not move relative to one another.
If you have a hard time with this, consider mounting your phone on a tripod as you would when taking a panorama with a larger camera system (more on tripod benefits in tip #9).
8. Invest in some external lenses for more iPhone photography fun
As with more traditional photography setups, good glass is critical. External lenses are a great addition to your iPhone. Be it the X, or the 8 or any of the previous iterations. Now, obviously the X and the 8 Plus (as well as the 7 Plus) have the extra camera with the longer focal length but why would you want to stop at two setups?
Right now, there are countless options for adding lenses to your iPhone setup, be it the X, 8, 8 Plus or any of the previous models. Oh, and the phones made by the other manufacturers too. I’d start by looking at the products offered by Moment and Olloclip.
There is also the option to look into the less expensive “clip on” lenses that are available. Be careful though as many do not sport stellar quality. Now seems like a good time to mention that many of those #ShotOniPhone ad spots you see were indeed done with the iPhone, but usually use high-end lenses adapted for use in front of the iPhone camera to create final product. So, if you’re really into mobile photography on the iPhone or any other device, a GOOD set of external lenses might be worth the hefty investment.
9. Use a tripod for excellent results
This kind of sounds like a general photography tip you’ve probably heard before, and it is. This is especially true when working in low lighting. Now, the iPhone X is not going to contend with its larger sensor equipped counterparts in low lighting (see tips #1 and #2), however it does hold its own when compared to cameras placed inside smartphones.
A tripod will help to reduce camera shake that can be a result of the longer exposures needed in these low light environments. This benefit is especially true when using a 3rd party camera app to manually control exposure keeping shutter speeds long and ISO down. Longer shutter speeds equal more light equals less apparent noise. They also equal the need for a tripod. A device like the Joby GripTight Mount will help you to easily attach your phone to any tripod via the ¼ -20 thread. A handy little piece that you’ll hardly notice in your camera bag.
10. The wired headphones your phone came with can be used as a cable release
Everyone knows about the iconic white ear buds that come standard with every iPhone. What not everyone knows is that the volume buttons that are built into those very headphones can be used as a cable release to avoid camera shake when taking a photo! Simply attach your headphones to your iPhone via the lightning port (using the supplied adapter with a normal 3.5mm headphone plug works as well) and when you’re ready to take the photo just click volume up or down.
This functionality is an extension of the ability to use the volume buttons on the phone itself as shutter buttons. A helpful tip if you like the tactile properties of an actual shutter button. Or if you need the ability to trigger your camera without touching it.
If you want to go a little more “high-tech” or you just plain love Bluetooth (and who doesn’t love Bluetooth?) you could try something like what I use, which is the Joby Impulse Remote Control.
11. Use HDR
HDR is a very popular and yet often criticized technique in photography. The basic premise behind it is to create an image where detail is remains in the very bright and very dark parts of an image where both exist. Part of the limitation of cameras in general, and especially that one that you sometimes use to make calls with, is the lack of an ability to catch these details in the highlights and shadows.
Your iPhone camera app has the built-in functionality to take multiple exposures and automatically blend them together into a seamless image showing all of this wonderful detail. It does it quite well I might add. The only real drawback is that if you have a moving element in your frame, the stitch can fail, just the same as with more traditional forms of image capture. HDR does not play well with moving subjects.
When you have a scene that has a significant difference between the bright and dark parts and you want to maintain that detail and your scene lacks moving subjects, use HDR.
12. Optimize Your Video
I love using my iPhone for video purposes. It does a fantastic job in a large variety of situations. Try not to forget that it’s there. Do pay attention to the settings as they must be accessed through the settings app in the iPhone (I really wish that I could change them on the fly from inside the camera app).
The iPhone X will shoot at various framerate settings from 720p/30 frames per second (fps) to 4K/60fps. I should note that the 4K/60 option is not available in my Canon 5D Mark IV. So, in my case, this is a great tool! Be aware of the space required for the 4K/60 video though. Apple has a handy guide built into the settings screen showing you the space required for each framerate/resolution setting.
In order to drastically increase the quality of your video, I recommend getting a gimbal for your phone. If I were to buy one today, I would gravitate toward the DJI OSMO Mobile. This device, or one like it is designed to stabilize your footage giving it a much more polished, professional look.
There are fifty shades of green, and none of them are jaded.Welcome to Ireland!It’s said that Ireland, once visited, is never forgotten, and for once the blarney delivered treasure to be kept for a lifetime. The Western Irish landscape has a mythic resonance, the country’s history is almost tangible with ruins standing the test of time and its people seem put on earth expressly to restore faith in humanity as their warmth and humor will make all feel welcome.
My dear friend Daragh and I set out for an adventurous experience second to none along the Connemara Loop which is situated in breathtaking North West Connemara, County Galway, Ireland.Following the Loop, we were taken on a journey through an ever changing landscape of craggy mountain peaks, spectacular expansive sandy beaches, the wild North Atlantic, mist covered lakes, pre-historic bogs and shady glens.All exemplify the peaceful solitude and rugged beauty of the West of Ireland.A landscape peppered with quaint but lively villages where all the convenience of the modern day is available alongside an opportunity to step back in time to a more relaxed and friendly era.Though the roads are rather narrow for this West Texas driver there was no getting lost although the wandering sheep may be inclined to cause a traffic-jam here and there. I must admit, too, to closing my eyes the first few times I drove past a tour bus leaving Daragh convinced he would not reach his 40th birthday, which we were there to celebrate.
One can easily get lost forgetting the trials of the world while rejuvenating the soul and centering the mind in this small area of the universe. Connemara is an area comprising of a broad peninsula between Killary Harbour and Kilkieran Bay in the west of County Galway or south west Connacht. From the rugged Twelve Bens mountain range in the north through lake-rich Roundstone Bog to the golden beaches reaching out into the Atlantic Ocean, you’ll know you’re in Connemara by the light that constantly changes the mood and tone of the landscape and the incredible reflections on the almost still lakes.Connemara has long been regarded as the real emerald of Ireland and I must concur this was a feast for this photographer’s eyes. The natural terrain and unspoiled environment offers a wonderland of sights and experiences. The people are warm, friendly and extend a hospitality which is the essence of Ireland as were greeted with a smile, a gentle hello on the street or the single finger “Mayo Wave” while driving.It is difficult to not feel as if you’re right at home in this land far from home.
As William Thackery quoted in 1842: “one of the most wild and beautiful districts these wild mountains over which the clouds as they pass or the sunshine as it comes and goes casts such a variety of tint, light and shadow.”I would venture to say not much has changed since the time of Thackery’s quote but this traveler appreciates a slower pace where the days still pass quickly though the abundant green Irish landscape whispered in my ear to take a deep breath and let go of the pressures of the city.
“I love Paris in the spring time I love Paris in the fall I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles
I love Paris every moment Every moment of the year I love Paris Why oh why do I love Paris Because my love is here
I love Paris every moment Every moment of the year I love Paris Why oh why do I love Paris Because my love is here”
There are so many iconic sights and neighborhoods in Paris so you can’t go wrong anywhere you go. My best suggestions are learn how to efficiently use the Paris Metro and know where your walking so you can navigate your way on foot.
If you know a handful of French words and can string together a sentence, use them. The French appreciate anyone who tries to speak their language. Parisians might chuckle at you, but they mean it in an admirable way.
Being in Paris is more of a feeling than rushing around checking off a list of things to do and see. Walk along the Seine River and wonder what it must have been like a hundred years ago. Bring out your artistic flare and imagine what it must have been like for Gertrude Stein to give Picasso, Henry Matisse and Ernest Hemingway their big break. Splurge and enjoy proper French cuisine at a Michelin Star restaurant.
Feel the energy of Paris. Have a sordid affair and know first hand what romance is. Paris is romance and as she shines and glows at night. Take every bit of her deep into your soul. And if you want to take the words affair and romance literally, know that the French make great lovers. Trust me, I speak from experience.
Throw caution to the wind and let yourself go. This is what Paris is for me. Go visit Paris for a once in a lifetime experience. And while you are doing this, you’ll pass the brilliant Parisian sights along the way. Snap a few photos, if you must, but take my advice and you’ll have memories to last you forever.
If you’re keen to capture Paris with your camera, know Paris is a playground for photographers. Keep the following travel photo tips in mind as you click your camera’s shutter.
Get Up Early and stay out for sunset
The Blue Hour is my favorite time of the day. It’s also the best time to shoot, so get outdoors one hour before sunrise and one hour before sunset. The lighting is incredible, as is the lack of tourists.
Always Ask permission
Don’t be shy about taking photos of people on your travels, but always ask. It’s impolite if you don’t. Plucking up the courage is daunting, but the worst they can say is no.
Practice and Watch
Photography is a lot of fun, but it’s also challenging. Before you go on your next adventure, research techniques, attend workshops, watch how-to videos on YouTube, and practice. Practice a lot. Improving your craft will make snapping on your travels rewarding.
Ever taken a photo of a beautiful landscape only to find later on that you weren’t holding your camera phone straight? Don’t worry—you’re not alone. Luckily, your iPhone can automatically straighten an image or you can do it manually in the phone editing app.
Choose Your Background
When you travel, you’re often spoiled with choices when it comes to taking photos. So when picking your background, look for lots of texture, patterns and color.
Get Into Nature
Get outside and into nature on your travels. Hike trails, climb mountains, explore forests, and swim in waterfalls.
Take Natural Shots
Sometimes posed photos on your travels can lack a certain authenticity. Shoot your subject doing something from his or her normal daily life; crossing the street, exploring a marketplace, and lunching with friends are great places to start.
Use the Rule of Three
When taking photos on your travels, divide the image into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, otherwise known as the rule of three. It’s well known in photography circles that if you place the subject along these lines or at their intersections, it creates more interest in your images.
Photograph a Variety of People
Photograph people dressed in national costume as well as locals handpicking fruit in a market—mix it up between men and women, children and adults to get a variety of photos.
This is my favorite tip because shooting Instagram photos from higher ground equals an amazing view. Try it! And, try going down low, too.
Lighting is King
The difference between good lighting and bad lighting is simple—natural light. Always shoot in natural light, and avoid using flash on your phone. If you still can’t quite get the image bright or light enough, simply use the brightness tool in a photo-editing app.
Use a Great Caption
Even though Instagram is a photo app, sometimes (if not all the time) the caption is just as important. Use puns, humor, and emotive descriptions to connect with people.
Get Off the Beaten Path
Some of the best photos I’ve taken have been when I explored beyond the beaten path. My Kathmandu images and Macao photos are a great example. Road trips are perfect for taking photos where there is no one other than you and the landscape in front of you.
To give a subject perspective, whether it’s a waterfall, a mountain, or a bustling city, get a person to stand in your photo wearing a bright top or jacket to give the photo perspective.
Don’t Stop Traveling
It’s simple. To take the best travel photos, don’t stop traveling and exploring. Whether it’s your own city, a road trip out of town, or an adventure abroad, never stop moving and taking photos. Practice does indeed make perfect.
I had first seen it from Cancale, this fairy castle in the sea. I got an indistinct impression of it as of a gray shadow outlined against the misty sky. I saw it again from Avranches at sunset. The immense stretch of sand was red, the horizon was red, the whole boundless bay was red. The rocky castle rising out there in the distance like a weird, seignorial residence, like a dream palace, strange and beautiful-this alone remained black in the crimson light of the dying day.
The following morning at dawn I went toward it across the sands, my eyes fastened on this, gigantic jewel, as big as a mountain, cut like a cameo, and as dainty as lace. The nearer I approached the greater my admiration grew, for nothing in the world could be more wonderful or more perfect.
As surprised as if I had discovered the habitation of a god, I wandered through those halls supported by frail or massive columns, raising my eyes in wonder to those spires which looked like rockets starting for the sky, and to that marvellous assemblage of towers, of gargoyles, of slender and charming ornaments, a regular fireworks of stone, granite lace, a masterpiece of colossal and delicate architecture.
As I was looking up in ecstasy a Lower Normandy peasant came up to me and told me the story of the great quarrel between Saint Michael and the devil.
A sceptical genius has said: “God made man in his image and man has returned the compliment.”
This saying is an eternal truth, and it would be very curious to write the history of the local divinity of every continent as well as the history of the patron saints in each one of our provinces. The negro has his ferocious man-eating idols; the polygamous Mahometan fills his paradise with women; the Greeks, like a practical people, deified all the passions.
Every village in France is under the influence of some protecting saint, modelled according to the characteristics of the inhabitants.
Saint Michael watches over Lower Normandy, Saint Michael, the radiant and victorious angel, the sword-carrier, the hero of Heaven, the victorious, the conqueror of Satan.
But this is how the Lower Normandy peasant, cunning, deceitful and tricky, understands and tells of the struggle between the great saint and the devil.
To escape from the malice of his neighbor, the devil, Saint Michael built himself, in the open ocean, this habitation worthy of an archangel; and only such a saint could build a residence of such magnificence.
But as he still feared the approaches of the wicked one, he surrounded his domains by quicksands, more treacherous even than the sea.
The devil lived in a humble cottage on the hill, but he owned all the salt marshes, the rich lands where grow the finest crops, the wooded valleys and all the fertile hills of the country, while the saint a ruled only over the sands. Therefore Satan was rich, whereas Saint Michael was as poor as a church mouse.
After a few years of fasting the saint grew tired of this state of affairs and began to think of some compromise with the devil, but the matter was by no means easy, as Satan kept a good hold on his crops.
He thought the thing over for about six months; then one morning he walked across to the shore. The demon was eating his soup in front of his door when he saw the saint. He immediately rushed toward him, kissed the hem of his sleeve, invited him in and offered him refreshments.
Saint Michael drank a bowl of milk and then began: “I have come here to propose to you a good bargain.”
The devil, candid and trustful, answered: “That will suit me.” “Here it is. Give me all your lands.”
Satan, growing alarmed, wished to speak “But —”
The saint continued: “Listen first. Give me all your lands. I will take care of all the work, the ploughing, the sowing, the fertilizing, everything, and we will share the crops equally. How does that suit you?”
The devil, who was naturally lazy, accepted. He only demanded in addition a few of those delicious gray mullet which are caught around the solitary mount. Saint Michael promised the fish.
They grasped hands and spat on the ground to show that it was a bargain, and the saint continued: “See here, so that you will have nothing to complain of, choose that part of the crops which you prefer: the part that grows above ground or the part that stays in the ground.” Satan cried out: “I will take all that will be above ground.”
“It’s a bargain!” said the saint. And he went away.
Six months later, all over the immense domain of the devil, one could see nothing but carrots, turnips, onions, salsify, all the plants whose juicy roots are good and savory and whose useless leaves are good for nothing but for feeding animals.
Satan wished to break the contract, calling Saint Michael a swindler. But the saint, who had developed quite a taste for agriculture, went back to see the devil and said:
“Really, I hadn’t thought of that at all; it was just an accident, no fault of mine. And to make things fair with you, this year I’ll let you take everything that is under the ground.”
“Very well,” answered Satan.
The following spring all the evil spirit’s lands were covered with golden wheat, oats as big as beans, flax, magnificent colza, red clover, peas, cabbage, artichokes, everything that develops into grains or fruit in the sunlight.
Once more Satan received nothing, and this time he completely lost his temper. He took back his fields and remained deaf to all the fresh propositions of his neighbor.
A whole year rolled by. From the top of his lonely manor Saint Michael looked at the distant and fertile lands and watched the devil direct the work, take in his crops and thresh the wheat. And he grew angry, exasperated at his powerlessness.
As he was no longer able to deceive Satan, he decided to wreak vengeance on him, and he went out to invite him to dinner for the following Monday.
“You have been very unfortunate in your dealings with me,” he said; “I know it, but I don’t want any ill feeling between us, and I expect you to dine with me. I’ll give you some good things to eat.”
Satan, who was as greedy as he was lazy, accepted eagerly. On the day appointed he donned his finest clothes and set out for the castle.
Saint Michael sat him down to a magnificent meal. First there was a ‘vol-au-vent’, full of cocks’ crests and kidneys, with meat- balls, then two big gray mullet with cream sauce, a turkey stuffed with chestnuts soaked in wine, some salt-marsh lamb as tender as cake, vegetables which melted in the mouth and nice hot pancake which was brought on smoking and spreading a delicious odor of butter.
They drank new, sweet, sparkling cider and heady red wine, and after each course they whetted their appetites with some old apple brandy.
The devil drank and ate to his heart’s content; in fact he took so much that he was very uncomfortable, and began to retch.
Then Saint Michael arose in anger and cried in a voice like thunder: “What! before me, rascal! You dare — before me —”
Satan, terrified, ran away, and the saint, seizing a stick, pursued him. They ran through the halls, turning round the pillars, running up the staircases, galloping along the cornices, jumping from gargoyle to gargoyle. The poor devil, who was woefully ill, was running about madly and trying hard to escape. At last he found himself at the top of the last terrace, right at the top, from which could be seen the immense bay, with its distant towns, sands and pastures. He could no longer escape, and the saint came up behind him and gave him a furious kick, which shot him through space like a cannonball.
He shot through the air like a javelin and fell heavily before the town of Mortain. His horns and claws stuck deep into the rock, which keeps through eternity the traces of this fall of Satan.
He stood up again, limping, crippled until the end of time, and as he looked at this fatal castle in the distance, standing out against the setting sun, he understood well that he would always be vanquished in this unequal struggle, and he went away limping, heading for distant countries, leaving to his enemy his fields, his hills, his valleys and his marshes.
And this is how Saint Michael, the patron saint of Normandy, vanquished the devil.
Another people would have dreamed of this battle in an entirely different manner.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence (available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.5/au/)
Consider nearly 400 ancient bridges to cross, tall campaniles defining the city’s skyline, stone walkways, 150 canals, 139 churches, a myriad of fascinating museums, St Mark’s Square and Italian gelato that will satisfy your tastebuds as you meander your way through the timeless islands.
There are no cars in Venice. The roads are indeed the city’s canals and if you want to be transported, your only choices are the iconic gondolas, private water taxis and public waterbus which is the vaporetto. If you’re lucky, Venice will experience a mild Acqua Alta while you’re in St. Mark’s Square as there’s nothing quite like it.
You might feel as if you’re on a movie set as Venice doesn’t seem real at first tho’ the city is indeed a living breathing real place where people live and work. Be respectful as tensions toward tourists run a bit high these days.
Be prepared to think you’re lost but also be prepared to throw away your map as a map will only frustrate you. Meander your way through the narrow alleys and simply be pleasantly surprised when you reach one of the public squares where you’re sure to find shops and cafes.
Venice is splendid to discover. Take your time and take it all in. The city is pure sensory overload. Enjoy the video presentation with images captured purely with an iPhone.
If you’re keen to learn more about how to capture great travel photos with your own mobile telephone, consider the following photo composition tips :
When you look at a scene with your naked eye, your brain quickly picks out subjects of interest. But the camera doesn’t discriminate – it captures everything in front of it, which can lead to a cluttered, messy picture with no clear focal point.
Remember, don’t let your camera rule you. You rule the camera!
What you need to do is choose your subject, then select a focal length or camera viewpoint that makes it the centre of attention in the frame. You can’t always keep other objects out of the picture, so try to keep them in the background or make them part of the story.
Move in close to cut out other parts of the scene Silhouettes and shapes make strong subjects The balloons radial lines draw you into the frame
Fill The Frame
When you’re shooting a large-scale scene it can be hard to know how big your subject should be in the frame, and how much you should zoom in.
In fact, leaving too much empty space in a scene is the most widespread compositional mistake. It makes your subject smaller than it needs to be and can also leave viewers confused about what they’re supposed to be looking at.
To avoid these problems you should zoom in to fill the frame, or get closer to the subject in question. The first approach flattens the perspective of the shot and makes it easier to control or exclude what’s shown in the background, but physically moving closer can give you a more interesting take on things.
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and take every picture with the camera held horizontally. In fact, I was taught to shoot this way and only this way. It took time for me think of turning my camera vertically.
Try turning it to get a vertical shot instead, adjusting your position or the zoom setting as you experiment with the new style.
When you are a newbie, or just starting out, it’s tempting to put whatever you’re shooting right in the centre of the frame. However, this produces rather static, boring pictures. One of the ways to counteract this is to use the Rule of Thirds, where you split the image up into thirds, both horizontally and vertically, and try to place your subject on one of these imaginary lines or intersections.
Let me say, however, this is an overrated approach.
Instead, move your subject away from the centre and get a feel for how it can be balanced with everything else in the scene, including any areas of contrasting colour or light.
There are no hard and fast rules about achieving this kind of visual balance, but you’ll quickly learn to rely on your instincts – trust that you’ll know when something just looks right.
A poorly composed photograph will leave your viewers unsure about where to look, and their attention might drift aimlessly around the scene without finding a clear focal point.
Lines exist everywhere, in the form of walls, fences, roads, buildings and telephone wires. They can also be implied, perhaps by the direction in which an off-centre subject is looking.
Horizontal lines lend a static, calm feel to a picture, while vertical ones often suggest permanence and stability. To introduce a feeling of drama, movement or uncertainty, try the dutch tilt technique.
You can need nothing more than a shift in position or focal length to get them –wider angles of view tend to introduce diagonal lines because of the increased perspective; with wide-angle lenses, you’re more likely to tilt the camera up or down to get more of a scene in.
You can also introduce diagonal lines artificially, using the ‘Dutch Tilt’ technique. You simply tilt the camera as you take the shot. This can be very effective, though it doesn’t suit every shot and is best used sparingly
Even though photographs themselves are static, they can still convey a strong sense of movement. When we look at pictures, we see what’s happening and tend to look ahead – this creates a feeling of imbalance or unease if your subject has nowhere to move except out of the frame.
You don’t just get this effect with moving subjects, either. For example, when you look at a portrait you tend to follow someone’s gaze, and they need an area to look into
For both types of shot, then, there should always be a little more space ahead of the subject than behind it.
Don’t just concentrate on your subject – look at what’s happening in the background, too. This ties in with simplifying the scene and filling the frame. You can’t usually exclude the background completely, of course, but you can control it.
You’ll often find that changing your position is enough to replace a cluttered background with one that complements your subject nicely. Or you can use a wide lens aperture and a longer focal length to throw the background out of focus.
It all depends on whether the background is part of the story you’re trying to tell with the photo. In the shot above, the background is something that needs to be suppressed.
Bright primary colours really attract the eye, especially when they’re contrasted with a complementary hue. But there are other ways of creating colour contrasts – by including a bright splash of colour against a monochromatic background, for example.
You don’t need strong colour contrasts to create striking pictures, though.
Scenes consisting almost entirely of a single hue can be very effective. And those with a limited palette of harmonious shades, such as softly lit landscapes, often make great pictures.
The key is to be really selective about how you isolate and frame your subjects to exclude unwanted colours.
Have you seen movies where a person looks through a keyhole? On the viewer’s side, the side where the person looking through the keyhole, the scene is dark and perhaps ominous? Through the keyhole might be a mysterious scene or even something magical?
As viewers of the movie, we are taken into a scene and we feel as if we’re part of the action. Not only is the actor in the movie looking through the keyhole, but we are as well. We see what the actor sees at the very same time. We feel the suspense, angst, shock, horror, joy, enchantment – whatever emotion the moviemaker wants us to feel, we feel it, too.
This is an effective method in moviemaking and cinematography as we become part of the action. This is also an effective method in photography.
As photographers it is important to draw the viewers of your photographs into your image. Your photograph is the keyhole, so to speak, that allows viewers to experience or view what you have seen and captured with your camera. If your viewers can be drawn into your photo, then they will feel the emotion or feeling that you’re trying to convey. And, if you can draw viewers in and make them feel a certain way, then you my friend, are not a picture taker but instead a photographer.
How do you draw people into your photographs? You begin by mastering photo composition. You master photo composition by practicing all key elements until they become second nature to you. Becoming a great photographer really is that simple tho’ it is a lot of work.
One suggestion regarding photo composition is to challenge yourself. One way to challenge yourself is to change the camera you use. For example, if you typically shoot with a digital camera of any sort or a mobile phone, let’s say, then switch to a film camera for a day or even a week.
You can pick up inexpensive film cameras at ebay. And yes, you can still purchase film and have it professionally developed.
I have a variety of film cameras but for this blog post I chose the Fisheye camera from Lomography. I also chose black and white film. Better still, I chose London as my backdrop.
The cool thing about Lomo’s Fisheye camera is the captured image is actually a circle with a pronounced black border. Basically, the result is like looking through a keyhole – at least that’s how I see it.
I’ve included a variety of images I captured over a week’s time. The shots are entirely random tho’ you’ll recognise some of the scenes. Have a look at the photos. Are they the best images of London you’ve ever seen? No. They are not the best images I’ve seen either. The better question is – have you seen London portrayed this way before? Unless you’ve practiced this same photo exercise, your answer is undoubtedly a no.
Photographing a familiar scene in a new way with a new perspective and with a camera you’re not entirely familiar with will allow you the freedom to explore and test your creativity.
It is easy to be comfortable. It’s easy to always surround yourself with the familiar. The easy way is not the best way to improve your photography skills.
You will grow by challenging yourself. You’ll reach new levels of achievement by stepping away from your comfort zone.
It’s safe to say you’ll surprise even yourself by creating a masterful composition that draws your viewer into your vision. And in the end, involving the viewers of your photographs is exactly what you want.
The following is an exerpt from “Alice Through the Looking Glass”. Notice how Alice first envisions what life might be if she and kitty could go through the looking-glass house. In an instant, Alice does go through the looking glass and she takes us with her when she does. This is exactly what you want to do with the viewers of your photographs.
“But this is taking us away from Alice’s speech to the kitten. ‘Let’s pretend that you’re the Red Queen, Kitty! Do you know, I think if you sat up and folded your arms, you’d look exactly like her. Now do try, there’s a dear!’ And Alice got the Red Queen off the table, and set it up before the kitten as a model for it to imitate: however, the thing didn’t succeed, principally, Alice said, because the kitten wouldn’t fold its arms properly. So, to punish it, she held it up to the Looking-glass, that it might see how sulky it was—‘and if you’re not good directly,’ she added, ‘I’ll put you through into Looking-glass House. How would you like that?’
‘Now, if you’ll only attend, Kitty, and not talk so much, I’ll tell you all my ideas about Looking-glass House. First, there’s the room you can see through the glass—that’s just the same as our drawing room, only the things go the other way. I can see all of it when I get upon a chair—all but the bit behind the fireplace. Oh! I do so wish I could see that bit! I want so much to know whether they’ve a fire in the winter: you never can tell, you know, unless our fire smokes, and then smoke comes up in that room too—but that may be only pretence, just to make it look as if they had a fire. Well then, the books are something like our books, only the words go the wrong way; I know that, because I’ve held up one of our books to the glass, and then they hold up one in the other room.
‘How would you like to live in Looking-glass House, Kitty? I wonder if they’d give you milk in there? Perhaps Looking-glass milk isn’t good to drink—But oh, Kitty! now we come to the passage. You can just see a little peep of the passage in Looking-glass House, if you leave the door of our drawing-room wide open: and it’s very like our passage as far as you can see, only you know it may be quite different on beyond. Oh, Kitty! how nice it would be if we could only get through into Looking-glass House! I’m sure it’s got, oh! such beautiful things in it! Let’s pretend there’s a way of getting through into it, somehow, Kitty. Let’s pretend the glass has got all soft like gauze, so that we can get through. Why, it’s turning into a sort of mist now, I declare! It’ll be easy enough to get through—’ She was up on the chimney-piece while she said this, though she hardly knew how she had got there. And certainly the glass was beginning to melt away, just like a bright silvery mist.
In another moment Alice was through the glass, and had jumped lightly down into the Looking-glass room. The very first thing she did was to look whether there was a fire in the fireplace, and she was quite pleased to find that there was a real one, blazing away as brightly as the one she had left behind. ‘So I shall be as warm here as I was in the old room,’ thought Alice: ‘warmer, in fact, because there’ll be no one here to scold me away from the fire. Oh, what fun it’ll be, when they see me through the glass in here, and can’t get at me!’
Then she began looking about, and noticed that what could be seen from the old room was quite common and uninteresting, but that all the rest was as different as possible. For instance, the pictures on the wall next the fire seemed to be all alive, and the very clock on the chimney-piece (you know you can only see the back of it in the Looking-glass) had got the face of a little old man, and grinned at her.”
Mont Saint Michel is a small rocky islet, roughly one kilometer from the north coast of France at the mouth of the Couesnon River, near Avranches in Normandy, close to the border of Brittany. It is home to the unusual Benedictine Abbey Church (built between the 11th and 16th centuries) which occupies most of the one kilometer diameter clump of rocks jutting out of the ocean.
It is connected to the mainland via a thin natural land bridge, which before modernization was covered at high tide, and revealed at low tide. Thus, Mont Saint Michel gained a mystical quality, being an island half the time, and being attached to land the other : a tidal island.
In 708 the Archangel Michael appeared to Aubert, Bishop of Avranches, and commanded him to build a chapel on the top of Mont Tombe, a rocky island in the middle of an immense bay. Overawed by this apparition, Aubert obeyed and built a sanctuary to the glory of God and Archangel Michael.
Throughout its long history, Mont Saint Michel has had many roles. First a religious sanctuary with its monastic communities, it became a place of worship with its immense pilgrimages, a centre of intense academic activity with its production of manuscripts and illuminations, a symbol of national resistance with the glorious feats of arms of its knights and a formidable prison when the priests were ousted in the French Revolution of 1789, putting an end to the religious vocation of Mont Saint Michel.
In 1870 Mont Saint Michel ceased to be a prison. It became a historic monument which gradually became a tourist centre.
The religious vocation of Mont Saint Michel was re-established in 1965 with the arrival of monastic communities from Jerusalem perpetuating Mont Saint Michel’s thousand- year old spiritual heritage.
In 1972 UNESCO classified Mont Saint-Michel as a “natural and cultural World Heritage Site”. Mont Saint Michel is also called one of the “wonder of the Occident”.
How does a gentleman travel? The answer is simple. A gentleman travels the easiest and most convenient way possible. In the literal sense, a gentleman travels by commercial plane, private plane, his own plane, a friend’s plane, big boat, small boat, privately chartered boat, SUV, chauffeured driven car, Business Class and First Class, over mountains, over oceans, up and down escalators, on foot, subway, train, metro, cable car, and even a camel or a mule.
In a deeper sense, a gentleman travels to discover the world. The sights, sounds, aromas, tastes and touch of an unfamiliar place expand the knowledge of anyone who travels. You can travel across your neighbourhood, your city and even around the world. No matter where you go, you’re sure to receive an education you’ll never find in a classroom or a book. You can learn a wee bit from television tho’ television really is a black hole that steals your time away from more meaningful things in life.
The cultures and the people we meet along the way teach us that we are all just trying to make it. We simply try to make it in different ways. But everyone you meet along the way will teach you something you didn’t know before. If you’re lucky, you will learn a lot about yourself as well.
Travelling around the world with my camera I am afforded stunningly beautiful opportunities to capture what is before me. I am often awestruck at man-made structures. I’m often in complete wonderment being amongst Mother Nature’s magical creations. But, what moves me most are the genuine souls of varying cultures who unconditionally help to uncover special parts inside of me.
Whether a divining wind sways me, or a guiding hand shifts me, I always find myself in the path of strangers who sequentially become my brothers or sisters. Perhaps this is sheer luck. Perhaps I have a sign on my back that says – “Hey! I’m a nice guy. Come talk to me.” Perhaps not knowing why is of no great importance and I accept my good fortune without question.
There is a peacefulness with this which I hold very close to my heart. Quite honestly, these are moments never obtained with the click of the shutter. These moments of building new bonds stay etched in my mind.
Travel is one of the most rewarding and powerful gifts we can give ourselves. You can obviously give the gift of travel to others. I’ve said this many times throughout this blog tho’ I’ll say it again. Travel is one of the best educations you can ever receive. There is no substitute for travel.
So, how does a gentleman travel? A gentleman travels with an open heart and an open mind. He travels with eyes wide open. He rarely travels with a set agenda. A gentleman travels with few expectations. And, he takes each day as it comes.