Improve your travel photography

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6 tips for holiday photography

1. Use the HDR feature - If using a smartphone, your camera may have a HDR (High Dynamic Range) feature. This is a good setting to use in low lighting conditions. It takes 3 photos at different exposure levels and mashes them all together with software to create a better picture.

2. Turn off the flash and use the available light - Unless you're taking happy snaps or selfies, flash photography can often make your images look dull and boring. This is because the light (the flash) is coming from the same direction as the lens. What you can do is experiment by using the available light source (e.g. the sun) that doesn’t come from the same direction as where you and your camera are positioned.

3. Expose for highlights - This is one of the most important tips for photography in general. What does this actually mean for your smartphone camera? To put it simply, by tapping on the brightest part of the image, this will set the focus and exposure for that point. If using a point-and-shoot or DSLR, expose for the brightest part of the image then re-frame the shot.

4. Stabilise yourself and your camera - Do whatever you can to keep your camera steady. This could mean supporting yourself / your hands against a tree, building or against a wall. Camera shake is the most common reason why your night / low light photos end up blurry, so if you can eliminate this you'll get much sharper pictures.

5. Limit the amount of gear you take - For the camera enthusiast who may have a good collection of equipment, don't take all of it if travelling. Establish what you think you will need and take only a few items. The last thing you want is to be carrying a lot of equipment with you that you won't use.

6. Engage with your "street photography" subjects - Thinking of doing a bit of street photography? Generally this is all about images of people. Instead of photographing them from a distance without them knowing, try striking up a conversation with them first. Ask if they are ok and comfortable with you taking their photo. If not, that's ok. However you'll find most of the time people are more than happy for you to do so and you're images will be so much better for it.

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Michael Christofas is a professional freelance photographer based in Melbourne. He is accredited with the AIPP; the Australian Institute of Professional Photography.

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