This guide is aimed at photographers interested in documenting their travels through their lens to give them some basic summer picture ideas to improve their photos. And if you're contemplating some summer adventure ideas, these tips will help you capture them in your camera.
It's that time of the year when bright hues, the smell of green grass and fresh flowers, and fresh fruits and vegetables fill the air. A sense of flourish in the process that started with the first leaves of spring gathers pace with the coming of summer. Summer is finally here; with it, there is a sudden spurt in Mother Nature's myriad activities. Summer is also the best time of the year to take images if you're a travel photographer.
The start of summer is usually welcomed worldwide as a time of togetherness when people spend time with their friends and loved ones. People worldwide take a well-deserved vacation during the start of summer, which is also about halfway into the year. Needless to say, this is also the time when a lot of travel photos are taken.
A Guide to documenting your summer journeys
Take plenty of images – the best way to document travels is to take plenty of images. Explore more and shoot more. Never delete your images until you've reviewed them on your computer. We recommend never deleting an image because you never know what kind of improvements will come up in the future in image editing software, allowing you to salvage those images.
Here are some summer photoshoot ideas you can use. Summer is the season of colors; it's about fun, watersports, and travel. So, try and capture those in your summer photos. When you visit new exotic places, try to capture the people, the food, and the culture.
Research is a critical element of good photography. Before you visit a place, read a few books or research on the internet about the place and make your travel notes. Go beyond the obvious cheesy guidebooks that tell you about the touristy attractions. Learn about the places that the locals go to, the food that the locals eat, and the things that the locals like to do if you want authentic images and authentic experiences – when in Rome, do as the Romans do.
Summer travel photo ideas
A frame within the frame overlooking the city – Sometimes, we're so obsessed with being in the frame and the moment that we forget that the whole purpose of travel photography is to share our experiences with those not on the trip – our viewers. So, this technique of using any means possible to capture a frame within a frame - e.g., a window that opens to the view of a major landmark, can make for an interesting composition.
Getting hotels in prime locations can be very expensive, but if you can shoot at restaurants or any public places where you do not have to rent a room, you can try this technique.
Street food photography – Asia is a paradise for street food lovers. And if you love photographing food, this is a great place to try that out – both eat and shoot images. Summer can be a little hospitable in some Asian destinations, but if you can cope with the heat, you will have a great time capturing mouth-watering images.
The technical side of travel photography
A tripod is often an underrated tool when it comes to shooting travel photos. Most people prefer to travel light; therefore, a tripod feels unnecessary. With the extra weight, the hassle at security checks, and then carrying it around during the day, tripods are often considered an avoidable burden.
We believe that a small tripod is a must-have for every travel photographer. We can't stress that fact enough. With a tripod, you can experiment with long exposures, capture sharp landscape images with a lot of detail, and experiment with focus stacking and HDR imagery – something that's impossible to shoot with hand-held shooting techniques.
You can check this resource for more ideas on landscape photo editing.
If you love photographing landscapes and long exposure shots, a remote trigger is a must-have for you. As the name suggests, a remote trigger allows you to trigger your camera without using physical pressure to trigger the shutter release. This offers a few advantages.
When you don't have to press the shutter release, you can avoid the camera's movement triggered by your finger. For a long exposure shot, that helps.
What if you don't have a remote trigger? Use the delay-shutter mechanism of your camera.
ND filters are like sunglasses for your camera. They help you cut the amount of light that enters your camera. Using an ND filter, you can shoot with a wide-open aperture in broad daylight. You can shoot a beautiful shallow depth-of-field portrait in broad daylight without blowing away the highlights.
But more than that, an ND filter is an excellent tool for shooting long exposures. We recommend choosing a variable ND filter if you're interested in an ND filter. These filters allow you to adjust the amount of light the filter stops by turning the filter thread. Alternatively, you can use a square/rectangular filter system that will enable you to stack multiple filters according to your needs.
Circular polarizers are your best friend if you're a travel photographer. Even the best landscape photography tips will fail if you don't have one in your camera bag. Apart from the ND filter, that is. Circular polarizers help you to achieve beautiful blue sky and lush green vegetation by cutting through atmospheric haze and reflection. If you don't have a circular polariser, you can use the Sky Enhancer AI tool under Enhance AI in Luminar Neo to improve the sky in your photos. Alternatively, the Atmosphere AI tool can also help you to fine-tune your images. Feel free to explore these tools to improve your travel and landscape images.
Camera settings for different scenes
Although you can always edit your photos in post, capturing most of what you envision in the camera should be your primary focus. A simple photo editor can help you get more out of your shots, but it's never an alternative for good photography skills.
There are no single camera settings that work in every situation. As a travel photographer, your first job is to understand the scene, the available light, and the best attributes of the place you can capture with your camera.
The next task is to choose the right focal length and the right aperture for the shot. If you're shooting in a crowded street and want to capture the place's vibe, choose a wide angle and a small aperture. This will ensure that the angle of view you capture is wide and the depth of field is expansive.
If you're shooting your significant other and want to have a slight bit of soft background blur effect (bokeh), shoot with a combination of a longer focal length and a wider aperture.
Shutter speed will always depend on the subject and the ambient light. If your subject is fast, use a fast shutter speed. In low light, push the ISO to a number where you can balance sharpness and noise. Luminar Neo has you covered if you encounter too much noise in your compositions.
During the day, pay attention to the highlight warnings and always set your exposure for the highlights rather than the shadows. You can always salvage details from the shadows, but if you blow your highlights, they're gone for good.
Useful mobile apps or editing tools to enhance your travel photos
Even if you can't control the direction or intensity of the light at a place, you can learn the direction and timing in advance, and therein lies your chance of staying a step ahead of the game.
How to do that?
Some useful mobile apps will guide you to the exact time of sunrise and sunset and where the light will appear on the horizon. It can also tell you where the sun will be at a certain time of the day. This information can be invaluable for you.
The Photographer's Ephemeris is a tool that stands out from the rest in terms of interface and usability. Too bad, though, there is no Android version of the same. You can only use the iOS version if you're an iPhone/iPad user or the desktop version that can be accessed with a browser, and no installation is required.
If you're on an iOS device, Google Maps or Apple Maps are the preferred option for route planning and general destination research. But as they say, the easiest adventure map you can follow is the one you make yourself. So, feel free to amend and make your own map that's easier for you to follow.
For inspiration and to check out the kind of photos that have already been shot of a place, you can use Instagram.
What essential photography gear and equipment should I bring on my travels?
Apart from your camera and a wide-angle lens, you should bring along a tripod, an ND filter, and a circular polarizer. Apart from these, you can also invest in a remote trigger.
What are the best tips for capturing stunning landscapes and natural scenery?
Study the place you're going to visit. Look up the images already shot on platforms like Flickr and Instagram. Before tinkering with the camera settings and focal length, study the light.
Are there any specific camera settings I should use to enhance my travel photographs?
No. No single/specific camera settings work in every travel photography scenario. You've to adjust your camera settings depending on the scene, the ambient light, and the frame you want to capture. You need to take a few images and decide the right settings for your shot. Always shoot with the widest frame, and you can always crop using an online photo editor.
What creative composition techniques can I use to make my travel photos more visually appealing?
Here are some cool summer photography ideas that you can explore. Capture reflections using a puddle of water or any wet surface. Capture reflection on a glass surface or use the creative double exposure technique that can result in some really cool effects. Framing is another cool technique to guide a viewer toward the main subject of the scene.