Melissa C. Koh

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Our travel photography secrets

Lifestyle

We don’t claim to be masters of photography but when it comes to getting that Instagram-worthy image, we’ve learnt a thing or two thoroughly from our many travels.

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of our travel photography tips and hacks:

Always be prepared to capture unplanned moments.

The first tip is simple and the easiest to adopt. But results are immediate.

Be ready for when the picture opportunity comes your way by having your best camera slung around your neck or at least in an easily accessible compartment of your bag. Sometimes you find a spot with the best diffused lighting while shopping in Ubud market and given how crowded it is, you don’t really have the luxury of time to stop and take your camera out of your bag.

Know your angles but don’t let them restrict you.

Angles can easily be the deciding factor between “Meh.” and “Mama Mia!!!”. Keeping in mind your preferred angles for full body shots, portraits, scenery or architecture definitely comes in handy.
However, our advice would be not to apply a cookie-cutter method to angling your photos.

The best photos tell a story and so how you capture the photo depends on the message you want to convey. Take this image of me amongst the beautiful hydrangeas we spotted near our accommodation in north Bali for example.

Normally James would shoot from waist level when capturing me full body to make me look more proportionate. However, in this scenario, the same angle would not do the hydrangeas any justice and so we adopted a top down angle. See the difference it made!

We could go on and on on how the perspective of the picture conveys different story angles (pun intended) but we’ll save those tips for another blog post.

Know your colour (wheel).

Travel photography at times involve framing the traveller (yes that’s you or your travel companion) in the shoot.

Wearing a bright yellow dress so that your don’t blend in with the trees and blue sky in your surroundings ensure you don’t get “lost” in the photo.

Ensuring that the subject of the photo is in a contrasting colour from the back drop also helps the picture to pop, drawing your audience’s attention to what you want them to focus on.

Begin with the end in mind.

Know the shot you want to take and prepare for it.

If you’ve watched our pre-trip packing on IG Live, you would know that we pack our equipment and, for me, my outfits based on the destination and type of shots we want to take.

Given that our most recent trip was to a tropical setting with tons of swimming pools and beaches, we definitely made it a point to bring along our GoPro Hero Black 5, Go Pro Super Suit Dive Housing for Hero5 BK and Telesin GoPro Underwater Dome Port that we just purchased a week before the trip.

This water proof dynamic duo helped us to capture our fun moments playing in the villa pool.

It totally sucks to run out of space.

We honestly can’t say this enough. Photography, for us, is about capturing moments and these moments are often transient, temporary and happens in a split second. It would totally suck to get all excited about capturing a fleeting moment, quickly framing your shot, pressing the shutter button, only to realise that you can’t because your memory card’s run out of space.

Carry an ample stock of memory cards with you and monitor the amount of space you have left (or get one with lots of storage. We purchased a couple with 64 and 128 gb of space and sometimes they’re still not enough to last throughout the day especially when we’re capturing both pictures and videos).

When you don’t have your own photographer or need to capture long-exposure shots.

Self-photography (and I don’t mean just selfies) is something James and I are all too familiar with. Most of the time, it’s just the two of us on trips.

James is usually the one behind the camera but there are photo opportunities or experiences that are best captured with a loved one in frame. When Nat or Melvin aren’t around, a good tripod becomes the next best and necessary alternative.

A tripod is also a must to get the best results for long exposure shots. (e.g. Star gazing)
Be sure to get a tripod that’s light (as you don’t want to burst your baggage allowance) but stable at the same time (in case of windy conditions). James and I carry around our trusty Sirui Tripod and Fujifilm XT2 for all these special moments.

And to avoid those unglamorous images of either you or your partner running back into the frame, you can invest in a remote control that will allow you to take the picture at your on timing. (This one’s probably next on our to-buy list)

Embrace aerial photography.

We definitely did not know what we were missing out on until we started taking pictures and videos with our drone.

The first trip that we brought the drone was on our trip to Maldives last year. (We actually purchased the drone on iShopChangi and picked it up at the airport when we departed! So it was literally fresh out of the box!)

Once you’re past the initial teething stage of learning how to control the drone, flying the drone starts getting addictive and you start looking forward to getting a bird’s eye view of all the destinations you travel to.

For those who enjoy telling a story of their travels, getting a drone image of the landscape is an excellent way to set context and introduce your audience to your surroundings. The sky’s literally the limit when it comes to the perspectives and angles you can get with the drone, so get creative!

However, do remember Uncle Ben’s last advice to Peter Parker.
“With great power comes great responsibility.”

So do take note of the following points before you take to the skies:
* Check online if the area is drone-restricted.

* Access weather conditions. Make sure winds aren’t too strong and try not to fly when it’s raining.

* Ensure connection with your controller is secure. We’ve witnessed someone losing their drone because connection failed.

* Practice makes perfect. The more proficient you are with the drone, the less likely you’ll get into a accident. So find a safe place to practice and level up your drone flying before you start getting ballsy with your piloting.

* Check with management when you’re flying near your hotel as they may have drone restrictions to protect guests’ privacy.

We hope you learnt something from reading our list of photography tips! Drop us a comment below on which tip you’ll try out during your next holiday!

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