Want to capture spectacular travel pictures ? Then you must learn to master lighting.
You see, while camera gear , composition , and post-processing are all important parts of travel photography, light is often the make-or-break factor. If you get the lighting right, your images will look eye-catching and also dramatic – but if you get the lighting wrong, then your images will turn out boring, flat, and otherwise uncomfortable.
(I’m not talking about artificial lighting. I love to use natural light in my traveling photos, and I very rarely travel with an external adobe flash because of the extra weight. I’m also not a huge fan from the flashed look. )
Therefore , in this article, I share four fundamental tricks for travel photography lighting, including:
- The best times of day in order to shoot travel photos
- How to think about the weather and its effect on lighting
- How to adjust your position in relation to the light for incredible results
So if you’re ready to be a travel lighting master, then let’s dive right within!
1 . Start by shooting at the right time
Natural light adjustments constantly .
Depending on the period, you’ll get very different varieties of lighting – and very various results. That’s why you should at all times pay attention to the time when planning your travel photography outings.
You see, while there is no best time of day for travel photography, various kinds of lighting work well for different moments, so you should always tailor your lighting to your subject (or vice versa).
- If you want to create beautiful silhouettes or soft, golden-lit travel pictures, schedule your outing throughout the golden hours (the hr or two after dawn and the hour or 2 before sunset). Golden-hour light is great for dramatic architectural picture taking, it’s great for landscapes, plus it’s great for portraits, too.
- If you want to highlight color and detail, routine your outing for a greatly overcast day. Obviously, it isn’t really always possible to anticipate this in advance, but the actual best you can, and don’t be afraid to change your plans as required. Overcast lighting is wonderfully diffused, and it’ll allow you to capture close portraits, architectural details, plus landscapes that focus on the subject (not the sky! ).
- If you want to create street-style shots, then plan to capture when the sun is bright and high overhead. Search for interesting shadows, embrace the high-contrast effect, and experiment constantly.
- If it is magical, ethereal landscape or even cityscape photos, plan your photoshoot for just after the sunlight sets. This time is known as the blue hr , and it’ll provide you with stunning skies as well as sufficient light for some foreground details.
Bottom line: When planning a vacation photography photoshoot, check the climate. Then, just before you depart, check it again. Plus always have a backup strategy in place, just in case!
2 . Carefully analyze the place when you arrive
Once you arrive on place, before you take out your own camera, spend some time looking around and evaluating the light.
In particular, pay attention to the lighting quality and the lighting direction .
The lighting quality primarily depends on the time of day and weather conditions factors discussed above, but these can change rapidly, so it often pays to take one more seem before you shoot. Also, should you be shooting indoors, the light might be diffused or blocked by walls and windows, so it’s a good idea to really look at the light and see exactly how it falls.
The lighting direction is determined by the position of the sun (if you’re outside) or the placement of the windows (if you are inside). And by working intentionally with different lighting directions, you can radically improve your photos.
Front lighting , for instance, is great for lighting up subjects evenly. It’ll get you highly detailed photos, however it tends to lack drama. (A lack of drama isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it’s just an effect you should be aware of. )
Backlight , on the other hand, is full associated with drama. It creates silhouettes, celebrate lens flare, and it produces rim effects that seem incredibly artistic. On the other hand, backlight isn’t great if you want to create detailed and/or documentary images.
Finally, sidelight is a great way to produce dramatic-yet-detailed images. Because sidelight drops on the subject from an oblique angle, you get beautiful shadows, plenty of texture, and a well-lit subject. It’s a terrific way to create captivating landscape plus architectural images, especially when the sun is low in the sky.
Naturally , the lighting direction is usually fixed – you can’t inquire landscape or architectural topics to move, after all! – yet by selecting subjects in line with the light, you can maximize the standard of your shots.
3. Select gear based on the lighting situation
Before you head out on a take a trip photoshoot, make sure that you bring the right gear for the job.
If you plan to be capturing in bright, midday light, you can often take just your standard camera and lens. You won’t require a travel tripod, you won’t need a special lens, and you won’t need a
If the atmosphere is overcast or you are working indoors, I’d recommend bringing a good travel tripod , especially if you plan to shoot scenery or architectural scenes. You’ll want to narrow your aperture for sufficient depth of field , but that will require a slower shutter swiftness – and if you don’t have a tripod, you will end up creating blurry photos.
If you’re capturing around sunrise or sun, a tripod will once again come in handy. The light will be too dim to allow for a strong depth of field at handholdable shutter speeds (plus you can use the tripod to produce beautiful long-exposure images). A web-based shutter release is a good idea, as well; it’ll let you fire the particular shutter without generating camera shake.
And if you’re shooting after dark, a tripod and a remote shutter release are absolutely essential. The exception is if you plan to do travel street photos – and if you do, I’d recommend using your largest-aperture lens and a camera with impressive high-ISO capabilities .
By the way, if you plan to do nighttime astrophotography, a wide-aperture lens and also a high-ISO camera are also important. You’ll need to shoot with f/2. 8 or broader to prevent movement in the superstars, plus you’ll often need to crank your ISO up to 1600 and beyond.
4. Don’t be scared to photograph in poor weather
I have talked all about the value of golden-hour lighting, blue-hour lighting, plus bright sunny days…
…but sometimes you will get stuck with bad weather, and you’ll wonder whether it’s worth going out in any way.
You want to know what I think? Bad-weather days are amazing for take a trip photography .
You see, while bad-weather illumination is often dim, it’s very soft, which helps bring out colors and emphasize details.
Plus, bad weather can also produce spectacular lighting, especially when the sun fails through the clouds before, right after, or during a rainstorm.
And rain, snow, or sleet can add that extra bit of oomph that’ll make for award-winning shots.
Of course , you will need to protect your gear – I’d recommend holding a waterproof rain cover at all times – and you’ll need to keep yourself safe, as well. But if you’re adequately prepared, bad-weather photography can be incredible!
Travel picture taking lighting: final words
Now that you’ve completed this article, you know all about lighting in travel photos – and you’re ready to head out and capture some gorgeous images!
Therefore think about the weather. Think about the time. Think about the light direction.
And enjoy your travel adventures!
Now over to you:
Do you have a popular type of light for take a trip photography? How do you plan to adapt your travel photoshoots in the future? Share your thoughts in the comments below!