My 10 Tips for Better Vacation Photos – Part 1


My 10 Tips for Better Vacation Photos – Part 1

I travel a lot and try to capture my impressions and experiences in pictures for those who stayed at home. I think everyone who goes on vacation feels like that. I returned from my last trip to South Africa with thousands of photos. I encountered local conditions that ranged from bright sunshine to rainy skies. Using the pictures of this trip as a guide, I’ve compiled my ten tips for better (vacation) photos. I’ll start today with the first part; the second part will follow next week.

1. Time of day – making the most of the Golden Hour

Even if I prefer sleeping in a bit on my holidays, I like making use of early mornings or late evenings to capture the incomparably soft light of the low-lying sun. The Golden Hour, i.e. the hour before the sun sets or rises, bathes the surroundings in warm red and golden colors. The buildings of V & A Waterfront in Cape Town seem surreal in the light of the setting sun, just like little construction models.

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2. Backlight – playing with light

One old photography rule states that a photographer should always have the sun at his or her back and should never take photos directly into the light. If you take a photograph directly into the sunlight, you will end up with a pale picture with dull colors. In spite of this, every now and again it is worthwhile to break the rules of photography. In this picture the evening sun is reflected in the ocean and bathes the surroundings in a milky warm light. The result is a wonderful interplay of light and shadow. A border made of light is created where the horizon and the ocean meet and the trees and palm trees frame the picture as silhouettes.

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3. Rain Weather – dynamic clouds

Rainy weather doesn’t really invite you to take photos. Unfortunately, when you’re traveling you can’t choose the weather and you have to put up with whatever nature offers you. I don’t want to forgo my travel pictures just because of the rain; thus, I try and and capture the special moments. The moment immediately prior to a storm, for example, when the sky grows darker, a few of the sun’s rays try to fight their way through the cloud cover, and nature puts on an impressive play of light in contrast to the dark clouds, heavy with rain.

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4. Gray sky – limit the section

A gray sky and dull contrasts are not exactly the best conditions for a photo. If the motive does not seem to stand out at all from the background, I often use this simple trick to help me – limit the section so that as little as possible or even no sky at all can be seen. I have limited the section of this picture afterwards so that the sea lions are more prominent.

However, always remember to protect your camera from strong rain – by taking cover, or using an umbrella or foil.

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5. Timing – the right moment

Rocky Shores is the name of a rough bit of the coast in the West Coast National Park in South Africa. It was particularly important for me to showcase the huge, massive rocks and to capture the dynamic of the roaring sea at the same time. Therefore I waited for the moment when a big wave crashed violently over the rock and seemed to swallow up the gigantic stone with a splash. I used the continuous shooting mode to take a series of pictures until I had the desired result.

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When continually looking through the viewfinder, however, you should not forget one thing: Enjoy the moment before it becomes a memory.

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Christina Nagel-Gasch

Christina has been blogging on ‘mrsberry’ about everything that makes her happy. And that’s quite a lot. Her colorful topics range from travel reports over everything about family, her love for digital photography and analog lomography to DIY tips and delicious recipes.

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