Lighting for a Travel Photographer

When taking photographs on a vacation, work assignment or a trip abroad, travel photographers must always be cognizant of the lighting they are working with. Lighting is the factor that can make or break a photograph, and it is one of the most important aspects of truly capturing the scene. This is especially true of travel photography, where a photographer is hoping to either capture a memory or show another person what it is like in faraway places.

  1. Using Flash

    • Travel photographers should be cautious when using flash on their cameras. Be sure to only use flash when the situation calls for it, such as an indoor shot that lacks the ideal lighting situation. Sometimes, outdoor photos on a very bright day or in a shady spot require the use of flash as well. Travel photographers should adjust their flash levels accordingly in order to not overexpose a photo. The goal of using the flash should be to even out the lighting levels in order to achieve the best results in the photograph.

    Not Using Flash

    • In most situations, travel photographers should avoid using the flash on their cameras. Most travel photographs are taken in outdoor settings with plenty of light available. In these situations, flash could overexpose a photograph. Travel photographers should have a goal of providing the most natural, truthful rendition of a given area, which is why it is best to utilize natural light. In low-lighting situations where a photographer is not using a flash, a camera should be set up on a small tripod in order to keep the equipment steady.

    Lighting Direction

    • Travel photographers should always consider lighting direction when taking a photograph. Front lighting often provides the best, most natural lighting for a photograph, but it can overexpose some colors in the shot. Side lighting allows a photographer to take dramatic landscape shots, because the shadows presented in the photograph reveal new and exciting details of the area. Back lighting is a unique way to capture a subject with a landscape in the background. The shadowy figures and objects in the photograph will draw attention to the photograph and bring out a new perspective on the landscape itself.

    Lighting at Night

    • Many travel photographers are also inclined to take photographs are the places they are visiting at night as well. Many popular landmarks and attractions are lit up at night, and can make interesting and dramatic photographs. Travel photographers should be sure to check the color balance before taking a nighttime photograph, and should always use a tripod to ensure a steady shot. For nighttime shots, photographers should use long exposures in order to account for small apertures.

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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images

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