As the pandemic restrictions continue to lift, many of us are dusting off our camera bags and planning trips. But how can we come home with photos we’re excited about? Here are three quick tips to help you make your travel photos unique.
We’ve all been there. We’re on a trip with our camera and looking at a famous landmark. We can’t wait to take a photo to share when we get home. But we don’t feel very inspired. It’s as though every photo of the landmark in front of us has already been taken. We want our travel photos to be unique but can’t figure out how.
Some people are really organized! They do research ahead of their trip, combing through photography websites like 500px. I’m always so impressed with people who have the time before they shut their suitcases and lock the door… I’m usually not that relaxed before a trip. 😉
Other people even search on Google Earth, looking for good vantage points to shoot from. I was lucky enough to be on a trip to Shanghai with someone who had done that before the trip, and I came away with a unique evening shot of the Oriental Pearl Tower, shot from an overpass above a highway. (f/22, ISO 100, 5 seconds. Shot on a tripod!) I would never have found that spot to shoot from by just walking around! And, frankly, it took a while for me to gather the courage to walk out on the shaky overpass. I’m not a big fan of heights!
But what about the rest of us? How can we make our travel photos unique?
Tip #1: Frame your landmark with branches to make your travel photos unique!
For this tip, you’ll need to allow some time to scout around, but not before you leave home. Instead, when you arrive at the landmark, your job is to look around and find something to use as a frame.
I shot this photo of the Capitol Dome in Washington, DC, through the trees. (f/4.0, ISO 100, 1/1250 sec.) We were with a group of friends and scheduled for a tour of the building. Fortunately, our tour time was early in the morning, and we arrived soon after dawn to wander around. (These friends were members of a Navy flight crew. Trust me, Naval Air always arrives early. I’ve been married to one of them for 37 years, and I’m still adjusting to this concept! 🤣)
This gave me plenty of time to search for different angles. Of course, having the warm early morning sunlight on the building made it even better.
Tip #2: Add water to make your travel photos unique.
Later in the day, we went for a walk around the Tidal Basin. I was able to frame this photo of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and its reflection using trees near the water. I would love to go back in April! These trees are cherry trees, and they blossom in the spring! (f/4.0, ISO 100, 1/1000 sec.)
Then I turned and got a shot of the Washington Monument and its reflection in the same water. (f/8.0, ISO 100, 1/400 sec.) If you look closely, you may wonder why the marble stones seem to change color on the building! Well, in 1854, the society that was building it ran out of money. When construction resumed twenty-five years later, they used marble from a different quarry. I’ve included a link below that tells the story.
Tip #3: Try a lower angle.
You’ll find the World War II Memorial between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. It’s at the end of the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool. As we wandered around the World War II Memorial, I noticed a waterfall to one side. I thought it would make an interesting frame and create a unique travel photo.
For this shot, I bent down low, with the waterfall and a small body of water between me and a path that ran along the edge of the Reflecting Pool. And then I waited. I was able to capture ducks, runners, a woman with an umbrella, and this father and daughter.
I like this one the best of all the shots because of the girl’s gesture. They were walking their bikes along the path, and she paused to look at the Lincoln Memorial in the distance. I intentionally shot it at f/4.0 and focused on them. (f/4.0, ISO 100, 1/1600 sec.) That put the waterfall out of focus. I wasn’t worried about the Lincoln Memorial being out of focus since it’s still clearly identifiable.
Bonus Tip: Take the hero shot, too.
If you have time, don’t forget to take the photo everyone takes. Here’s why. You’ll get home and be sharing your unique travel photos, and someone will ask you where the usual shot is. (f/8.0, ISO 100, 1/160 sec.)
Then you can show one to them, and they will suddenly really appreciate your unique shots. 😎
Now it’s your turn:
You can read more about the marble on the Washington Monument here: https://bit.ly/WashingtonMonumentInfo
Want some more tips on using your Aperture settings to create unique photos? You can find them here: https://www.carolinemaryan.com/creative-ways-to-use-aperture/.
If you’re not sure how to set your Aperture, click here to learn more: https://www.carolinemaryan.com/camera-mechanics-workshops-info