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Travel Photography Tips to Help You Take Beautiful Images in 2019

Looking to up your travel photography game? Whether you are ready to invest in a fancy DSLR or even a drone, or happy just sticking with your smartphone, our photography tips and tricks below will make your images shine and stand out in the mix.

Get Snap Happy with Your Smartphone

Compared to a few years ago, phones are so advanced that the inclusive camera of a smartphone has the potential to capture some stunning images when travelling and is also a good tool for taking travel videos while you’re on the go. Some of the top smartphones on the market.

  • iPhone X – excellent portrait mode, larger aperture for low-light pictures, water resistant. From $1029.
  • Samsung Galaxy S9+ – manual mode, shoots in RAW format, incredible low-light features, super-slow-motion video. From $999.99
  • OnePlus – cheaper option for a high-quality smartphone, high resolution on the front camera (for better selfies), wide-angle lens. The upcoming model, the OnePlus 7, is rumoured to compete with the best smartphones on the market. From $769.

In addition, shooting on your phone means you can post directly on Instagram and other platforms as you travel, which will save you a ton of time later on in your trip. Don’t be afraid to use filters to enhance your best camera phone photos before posting, which brings us to the subject of apps.

person holding a smartphone taking a picture of a beach scene
Smartphones are the latest in travel photography

Top apps for travel photography

Read on for some essential apps travel photographers should consider in 2019.

  • Do it for the ‘gram: Instagram is still a favourite photography sharing medium for all kinds of images, but especially travel ones! Instagram allows you to take, edit, and share pics directly to your account in a few clicks.
  • Manage your social media accounts with a management app: Connect your other social media accounts to Instagram for instant sharing throughout all platforms. If you’re using anything but your phone to take photos, you’ll need to upload images to Instagram via a management app such as Hootsuite or Sendible.
  • Shooting manual mode on iPhone: If you shoot with an iPhone and want to use manual mode (which doesn’t ordinarily exist on the phone), you can download Camera+ from your favourite app store.
  • Edit your pics and get the best filters: Evergreen apps such as Snapseed and VSCO remain essential choices for adjustments and enhancements. Not only that, but they have filters that will make your photos seemingly pop off the screen.
  • Get the best night pictures: For good night images, try the NightCap Camera app to enhance your dark shots.

Get Professional with a Camera

Before setting out in search of your perfect travel camera, ask yourself the reason behind your travel photography needs. Are you taking travel pics to document the destinations – as a reminder and memory to share with your friends and family? Or are you trying to make money from your photos? Decide on the purpose before your trip so that you can pick the camera that’s right for you. Travel cameras really range in price, and we’ve outlined the best of travel photography in 2019 for you below, including some tips on how to capture those unforgettable moments when travelling.

DSLR

Best for: travel photography enthusiasts and creatives

DSLR means a digital single lens reflex camera: it’s the type of camera where you can easily change and switch lenses. The camera is a camera body and a detachable lens, and you change them in order to take kind of photo you want. Canon, Nikon, Leica, Sony, and Olympus are all top camera brands used by professional travel photographers around the world. You can choose between a number of DSLR cameras depending on your needs, but here are a few top DSLRs:

Note: All prices stated are approximate and include a starter lens.

*new as of April 2019

DSLR full-frame

Best for: professional photographers

In short, a full-frame camera has a larger image sensor, which results in higher-quality images that lose minimal quality during post-production. Therefore, if you want to produce professional quality images, a full frame is the way to go (but not a must to sell travel photography). Here are a few great ones for 2019:

  • Canon EOS 6D Mark II – 26.2 MP, high performance, top quality RRP C$1999
  • Sony Alpha 99 II – 42.5 MP over-achiever camera for big budgets RRP C$3999
  • Nikon D610 – not the latest but a great value, lightweight full-frame with 24.3 MP RRP C$1225

Note: All prices stated for full-frame are for camera body only.

woman holding a camera taking a picture
Use a DSLR for your portraits and travel photos

Mirrorless cameras

Best for: avid travellers who want to take quality photos without the weight of travel photography gear. More professionals are opting for mirrorless too.

We’re not going to get real technical here but basically, a mirrorless camera is a compact size DSLR without a reflecting mirror inside. They are not better or worse than a regular, mirrored DSLR but they are smaller and lighter, which makes them easier to travel with. There are more and more travel photographers making the switch to mirrorless and compact camera systems for their lighter weight and ease of travel. Here are a few good quality mirrorless cameras:

  • Sony’s Alpha (a series) cameras are full-frame to produce magnificent, unrivalled images RRP from C$850 (body only).
  • Olympus PEN F features a 20 megapixel live MOS sensor, image stabilizer, and full high def video recording. Expect to pay around C$1475 for the body alone.
  • Canon EOS M100 is compatible with a wide range of Canon mirrorless lenses and features HD video recording too. Retails for C$999, including lenses.

Point and shoot cameras

Best for: beginners, amateurs and anyone who wants quick and easy

As has been noted, more people want something that is easy to carry on flights (and beyond), yet still takes decent photos. And if you’re a travel writer who wants to submit photos with articles, a point and shoot can still get the job done.

The best compact camera is one that fits your needs and your budget. Here are a few good ones:

Dive into the Deep End with an Action Cam

Want to capture the action on the go? The GoPro is the leading action camera for adventure and extreme sports. Not only are they excellent at capturing fast movement and producing high-quality video (and images), but they are also tiny, waterproof and can fit in a pocket. They make the best vlogging camera too. The GoPro gives the viewer a sense that they are journeying with the subject, so it’s best for travel vloggers who want to take their audience on an adventure.

The newest version is the GOPRO 7 Black. It has an incredible stabilizer to produce 4K HD videos, it’s waterproof to 33 feet (no waterproof case needed), has a touch screen and to keep up with tech trends, it’s voice activated. Expect to pay around C$550.

GOPRO may be leading way the way for action cameras but there are other brands available. If your budget is limited, try the Yi Lite (retails for about C$150). This certainly cannot rival GOPRO, but it still gives good quality videos, has an LCD touch screen, and decent image stabilization function. It’s not waterproof, so you’ll need to purchase a separate case for water images.

drone shot of people swimming at the beach
View from a drone

Take to the Sky with a Drone

It’s not a shock that drone travel photography will become even more popular in 2019, thanks to an increase in available technology, as well as the fact that altitude and perspective are priceless commodities when it comes to travel imagery.

The great thing about drone photography is the amazing aerials you can get, which are hot property on photo-sharing platforms like Instagram. Back in the day, the only way photographers could get a bird’s eye view of, well anything, was to hire a pilot and small aircraft. Drones are massively cheaper than all that. Also, a drone can get in places, such as canyons, that a plane cannot. But, there is skill involved in flying them so take the time to learn and know the risks involved before you take to the skies.

Popular 2019 drones for travel photography include:

  • The DJI Mavic Air – foldable, lightweight, perfect for travelling. The lightweight drone has a 12MP camera, takes 4K video, and is so small it will fit in a backpack. Expect to pay around the C$1400 mark.
  • DJI Mavic 2 Pro – similar features to the Air to produce brighter, clearer, more detailed photos from its 20MP camera. C$2400.
  • Parrot Bebop 2 – affordable, beginner, good quality pics from its 14MP fisheye lens camera. Reasonable price of around C$500.

No matter which drone you choose for travel photography, be aware that drone photography isn’t the free-for-all it once was. Moreover, drone photography has become subject rules and regulations around the world so please be informed before flying a drone. This CNet article provides a great round-up of everything you need to know about (legal) drone photography.

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Travel Photography Tips: Take Your Images to the Next Level

man holding a professional camera at sunset by the beach
Take the best photos using some travel photography tips

What makes a good image? And what’s the best way to capture the beautiful destinations you’ve adventured to and the memories you’ve made? Read on for some tips and tricks for travel photography so you can take your images to the next level.

  1. The composition is everything. Never put a subject in the centre of a photo. Use the ‘Rule of Thirds’. The ‘Rule of Thirds’ is photography class 101. Imagine your frame is divided into thirds, vertically and horizontally (some cameras display this feature in the viewfinder or LCD). As a rule, position subjects on the intersecting line in the first or last third of the photo. The same goes for horizons. Never have a horizon in the middle of a photo. Ordinarily, position it on the upper or lower third of the viewfinder before taking the shot.
  2. Straighten the horizon. Carrying on from above, always straighten the horizon, unless of course, you are going for an arty travel pic. Just FYI – a crooked horizon rarely works well. You can also straighten it in post-production editing.
  3. Include people (when appropriate). Travel photography is much more interesting with locals in the shot. Make sure to be courteous and always ask people first, even if you have to mime because of a language barrier.
  4. Get the timing right. Ever heard the term ‘golden hour’? It’s that spectacular light during the hours of sunrise and sunset which gives images the most delicious softness and colour. Photos taken in the mid-day sun produce lots of shadows, which is not always desirable, especially on people’s faces.
  5. Fill the frame. Another professional trick is to step closer and fill the frame with your subject. Play with this one and you’ll see amazing results.

In general, don’t overthink it. If it looks good to you, then take the photo. Keep it simple. Trust your eye and adjust your techniques according to circumstance and destination. Stay authentic and real, as opposed to what the most popular Instagrammer is doing. Sincerity is the best way to achieve incredible travel photography.

The problem with following trends is that they can change in the blink of an eye. What’s hot today is not tomorrow and trying to keep up can be exhausting. Although it’s always good to follow the beat of your own drum, there are a few trends for 2019 worth noting.

  • DSLR cameras will not mean “best” photos. Smaller, easier, and more compact is the way forward. Mirrorless and smartphones are top choices for travel photos this year.
  • Videos will eventually overtake still photos.
  • Outdoor and nature photography will attract more attention.
  • Authenticity is more powerful than set-up, posed portraits. So go out and get candid!

Put These Tips to Use!

Now that you’ve found the best camera for travel in either the best DSLR camera or the best phone camera, get ready to capture beautiful images at your next travel destination. Use the Skyscanner app and search tools to source cheap flights, hotels, and car hires around the world.