How many times have you looked at an amazing image and thought “lucky you”? Most of us have at some time or other, probably also thinking we’d have done a better job in the circumstances!
Travel photography is generally about being in the right place at the right time, which can be a question of luck. Capturing a moment which has true wow factor, the right light conditions, mystical scenes of mist spilling into valleys or an eagle feeding its chick requires timing. Those lucky enough to live there have ample opportunities, photographers blessed with the time and budget to remain in destination may also get several opportunities.
The rest of us, only have limited time to spend in the destination, and guess what, to be there with exactly the right conditions we’ll need to be lucky.
That may not seem to explain why particular travel photographers still seem to manage to obtain stunning captures, which inspire the rest of us to pick up a camera. There’s probably a couple of explanations for this:
- The more often you travel and place yourself in the way of possible photography opportunities, the more likely you’ll be lucky and the more often the images produced will reflect this.
- Good photographers have an eye for an image, usually visualising it before making the capture.
- They also know their equipment really well and how to get the best possible results from it.
- By using good quality editing software and knowing how to use it, they are able to compensate for any minor flaws in the actual capture.
The first of these points is probably the most important; taking great images, means being out there with a camera as often as possible. This doesn’t necessarily mean travelling to far off, exotic locations, though of course that would be nice. Interesting and beautiful photography will certainly be possible closer to home, possibly even on your own doorstep. Just get out regularly with the camera, put yourself in the right place and you’ll be surprised how lucky you become.
Taking this approach will also help with the other three points, especially getting to understand your equipment. The more familiar you become with your camera, lenses, tripod etc. the faster your photography will improve. Learn all of the basic functions, the quickest ways to access them and which knobs and buttons to use.
It’s also important to anticipate the type of image you’re looking to capture. Landscapes require higher apertures for greater depth of field, possibly a tripod too, street photography probably won’t need so much depth of field, but faster shutter speeds to capture the action, macro photography will need plenty of light, shallow depths of field so wide open apertures are often employed along with a tripod.
Anticipating the scene will ensure you’re able to take a quick shot as soon as it presents itself, before conditions change or the action moves on. Knowing how your camera works, will enable necessary changes to be made efficiently to ensure a top quality capture.
In quickly changing circumstances however, it’s important to get the image first, worry about having the right settings later. Pause for just a moment and the opportunity will be lost, a slightly less than perfect capture is preferable to no capture at all!
Once the scene is recorded, those that know their equipment well, may then have time to change settings and improve the quality of the capture.
If there’s one thing which should be taken away from this, it’s that to become a lucky photographer, it’s imperative to provide more opportunities to be lucky.
Get out more, always carry a camera and you could soon become one of those lucky sods.
Iain is an ex-military man, and served as a Warrant Officer in the Army Physical Training Corps. This enabled him to become highly qualified in a large number of adventurous activities. Participating in many expeditions to many parts of the World which this satisfied his wanderlust.
He now works freelance as a writer and photographer and enjoys finding adventure wherever he travels. He publishes the popular travel photography based website Mallory On Travel, an adventure travel guide for the everyday adventurer by a former adrenalin junkie.