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Touring and exploring

Inspiring settings for budding photographers

Catherine Philip July 14, 2017

If you’re heading off for a spectacular holiday abroad and want to improve your photography skills, follow these suggestions to capture images you’ll cherish forever.

Tips to remember:

  1. Use your outward flight to get accustomed with the features on your camera app
  2. Compose your shot around your subject and frame out anything that does not tell your story
  3. Work with the shadows and available light source to create drama, especially in overcast conditions

Ozone Bar – Hong Kong

Capture a dramatic cityscape from our favourite watering hole, the Ozone Bar atop the Ritz Carlton in Hong Kong. Go with the manual focus to avoid your lens getting confused with reflections or glare, then double check your image to get the best possible results. Realistically, unless you can gain access to roof top bars, shooting panoramic city views through windows may be your best option.

Arches National Park – Utah

Experiment with natural light, shadows and dramatic rock vistas in Arches National Park. These sandstone arches will have you whipping out your camera at every twist and turn of the trail. Here the trick is know which structures are best in the morning and those that are better captured during the late afternoon. You’ll also want to approach the arch you’re shooting from the correct angle so that the light, the rock itself and the background are visually balanced.

Coco Palm Dhuni - The Maldives

Beautiful images of the Maldives can be taken from a seaplane – minutes before you touch down at your castaway island. The tip here is not to place your camera against the glass because the vibration from the engines will diffuse your image. Cup your hands around the lens to cut out reflections, turn off your flash mode and use the manual setting rather than autofocus. Incorporating the frame of the window or the wing of the plane will also add context and concentrate the eye better on the subject matter.

The Masai Mara – Kenya

To photograph wildebeest roaming through the Masai Mara stay at the Mahali Mzuri Camp between July and September. Be selective here, you’re waiting for that moment. Digital cameras allow you to take hundreds of pictures, but it’s not the shot of the lion asleep in the grass that will astound you, but the close-up of the lion yawning, baring its fangs, or the moment of affection between an antelope and its young that you’ll treasure forever. The Mara is a photographer’s dream location because of the staggering number of animals, the open grasslands make them easy to spot, plus the wide backdrop adds context and scope.

Cherry blossom season – Japan

The cherry blossom season in mid-late march is the perfect time to capture the essence of Japan in a single snapshot. Check that the blossoms are in bloom. Seasonal weather can affect the progress of these delicate buds and you might have a wasted journey if you’re timing is out. If you’re shooting, say, pink blossoms, look for contrasting background or foreground colours to showcase your subject. Avoid the direct light of midday, it could whitewash the image, but try the more complementary hours of morning and later afternoon instead.

Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque – Abu Dhabi

Blue sky, ivory minarets and domes and precise Islamic architecture is a photographers’ paradise setting. Blend into your surroundings and dress appropriately, long trousers and arms, head and shoulders for women are advised in this setting. Do your research and note when the mosque is closed for tourists (Fridays). Note that the mosque looks equally beautiful both in close-up detail of minute patterns and from a distance using wider angles to capture the architecture against the startling landscape.

For more opportunities to capture stunning images worldwide visit our culture holiday pages for inspiration on everything from temples to clifftop citadels or try our safari pages to photograph the Big 5 in their natural habitat.