In recent years, there has been a democratization of photography. This has been made possible with the availability of affordable digital cameras and, more than anything else, with the popularization of camera phones. Along with these, came apps such as Instagram and Facebook, that allow us to share in real time almost anything we see and photograph. In a matter of a few years, we could all unleash the photographer inside us.
With the events above, there was also a phenomena that started taking place: the use of photography filters. Through Instagram and similar apps, we are invited to use a series of predefined filters and adjustments to enhance the look of our photos. And because these filters are so readily available, the truth is that most of us end up using and abusing them quite a lot. Rare are the photos that, now-a-days, are shared with no filter or color corrections of some sort.
We all seem to be doing the same mistake advertisers and media do with the use of Photoshop: we are altering the way things really look. And, what’s worse, we are underestimating the natural beauty of the world around us, by adulterating its colors, its textures and, ultimately, its essence. Sometimes, instead of making our photos look better, we end up destroying the visual life of the things we are trying to capture through photography.
When it comes to travel photography, the over usage of filters is extremely common. We see landscapes with skies so blue, grass so green and colors so vibrant that they almost look like paintings. There is nothing wrong with using filters to make your photos look better. But there is also a lot right with sharing photos of the things you are lucky enough to see during your travels, in a way that reflect what we REALLY observe. And, let’s face it: most times, reality looks pretty damn good as it is!
So, how can you make sure you take good photos without having to adjust them later?
The key is LIGHTING. Whether you are using a DSLR or your camera phone, photographing with good natural light tends to accomplish good results. In fact, this is the main ingredient to keep in mind for good looking images.
Golden Hour (during sunrise or sunset) is a pro photographer’s favorite time to click for a reason – try it out and you’ll understand why. The softness of the sunlight during those hours of the day applies a layer of sweetness to the images (landscapes, portraits or even food photos) that no digital filter is able to emulate.
Avoid the use of flash and photographing indoors with white light as colors and textures will get washed away by the excess harsh lighting.
If you want to achieve eye-catching images, look for colorful things to photograph. Don’t forget that people and actions, more than filters, can add life to your images. Don’t be shy and get up close to your subjects. The most important thing is to capture the feeling of a place and, for that, you’ve got to let yourself go in the moment (instead of trying to fix it up later in the filters library).
There is no right or wrong when it comes to the use of filters in your photos. But remember that, just because filters exist, you do not necessarily have to use them. If they won’t add to the quality of your image, it may be better to skip them altogether.
Enjoy your travels and don’t forget to share them with others. And, remember, showing the world as it really is in your photos can be as inspiring and powerful as treated images… and, in many cases, even more!
Needless to say, all the photos included in this article are #nofilter.
Zara is a Portuguese blogger who quit her job in Dubai in 2011 to travel around the world with her husband Ashray, from India. They’re the team behind Backpack ME, a travel site that aims to share tips and ideas with people all over the place, inspiring them to go travel, no matter where they come from!
A&Z are East meets West and Backpack ME is all about a multicultural perspective on travel: http://www.bkpk.me
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