5 Tips for the perfect travel photo

Lizet Wesselman - 05/03/2022

5 Tips for the perfect travel photo

Lizet Wesselman - 05/03/2022

When you travel, you want to see and do as much as possible and you probably want to take pictures of it. Sometimes it’s difficult to plan this in such a way that you don’t have masses of people in your photos and you have the right light. Especially if you are somewhere for a short period of time and fill your whole day with fun activities. Try to put some structure in place and think about what you would really like to photographs. This way you can plan around it and make sure you create that perfect moment for these specific places.

1. Get up early

Best when: you want to take photos without other people, especially ideal for portraits and generally crowded locations.

If you are not a morning person, this is quite a task, but it is really worth it. Most people don’t go out at 7 am if they don’t have a reason to, so this is the ideal time to see your favourite spots empty. You may have to deal with a few other photographers, but they are usually friendly and everyone gives each other space to take a picture of an empty spot. It is often actually quite sociable! Make sure you are there around sunrise for beautiful soft colours in your photos. It is advisable to arrive half an hour before sunrise so that you have time to find your perfect spot and then the colours are often already very nice.

2. Sunset colour spectacle

Best option when: you want to take pictures of nature or in remote places where there are few people or lots of space. For example, a beach or in the mountains.

Sunsets can be a beautiful spectacle, and there are perfect spots to enjoy them everywhere. The disadvantage is that many people know these spots, so it’s often very crowded. Do you want a photo without people? Then you will have to be creative or lucky. Sometimes a beautiful portrait is not possible without people standing next to it. Beautiful pictures of the surroundings are often easier at sunset. You can arrive early and grab the best spot, or find a new spot that is less popular. Often if you walk a little further you will have the same view but without the people.

How do you know if the sunset will be beautiful? Unfortunately, you don’t. Usually, a sunset is unlikely when it was cloudy all day. But if the sky closes in on sunset and rain is expected for the evening, it can be a beautiful sight. A clear blue sky ends up in a layered sunset, while clouds can make the colours visible throughout the sky. But when it will turn orange or pink, and whether there will be many colours at all, is not really predictable.

3. Golden hour

Best option when: you like warm colours, but not necessarily the bright sunrise or sunset colours. Especially nice for portraits.

During the golden hour a beautiful golden glow falls over the world. On clear days, this gives a beautiful effect and automatically makes your photos warmer. Ideal in warm locations and especially nice for portraits. Because it gives the skin a nice natural tint. Golden hour is the hour after sunrise and the hour before sunrise. See below photo to see what beautiful effects you can create with this light.

4. Blue hour

Best option when: you want to take pictures of cities, for example beautiful streets, illuminated buildings such as the Eiffel Tower or for astrological pictures.

The counterpart of the golden hour is the blue hour. This is the hour before sunrise and the hour after sunset. In these hours, the light is often a bright blue colour, in contrast to the dark colour of the night. It is really a transitional phase between day and night and gives a nicer colour play in your photos than taking photos at night. Again, after sunset, it is likely to be busy. So if you want to photograph quiet streets, you will have to get up early again.

5. Mystical fog

Best option when: you want to take mysterious photos, for example in the woods, by a river or in the mountains.

Fog is a fantastic natural phenomenon that can really add something extra to your photos. When it is very foggy, it can be a thick white wall. But when it breaks open a little and the sun shines through it, it can be magical. It is also a beautiful sight from the top of a mountain. If you are above the clouds, it hangs in the valley like a soft blanket. How do you know if it will be foggy? When the humidity is higher than 90% and the dew point is (almost) the same as the temperature, the chance of fog is very high. Of course, as with a beautiful coloured sunset, for example, there is never any guarantee. But you can keep track of whether it is worth trying. Usually, fog occurs mainly in the morning, so there is a good chance that you will have to get out of bed in time for it.

When will the sun set?

Do you find it hard to remember all this and have no idea when sunrise or sunset is? Fortunately, you can do a lot of Googling. There are schedules per location, where you can find all times for the whole year. The closer you are to the equator, the more regular these times are. Are you further north or south? Then part of the year it is light as early as 6 am and sometimes as late as 9 am. The later, the later you need to get out of bed. There are also apps that provide this information. The app golden hour (android) provides a detailed display of the day’s light. You can see, up to the minute, what time it is in the golden hour or the sunrise.

For the fog data I use WeatherBug (Android / Apple). Here you can see the dew point, temperature and humidity hour by hour. It does not always indicate when it will be foggy, but with that data, you can see for yourself. If the humidity is close to 100% (or at least above 90) and the dewpoint and temperature are about the same, your chance of fog is very high. 

What if you can only photograph at daytime?

Are you going on a day trip and it is not possible to photograph around sunrise or sunset? Then you are dependent on the light that you have. This certainly makes it more difficult, but there is not much you can do about it. You just have to hope for some clouds, so the sun isn’t too strong. The use of lens filters can help in such a case, as they provide better light and colour balance. You can also use the weather conditions in your photos. Be creative with shadows or turn a rainy day into something dark. Unfortunately, we have no control over the weather and sometimes you have to make do with what you have. Be aware of the influence of the week, such as harsh shadows, and try to take your photos from the right angle to turn this to your advantage.

Good luck and have fun on your next photo trip!

Are you travelling solo and struggling with ways to be in the photo yourself? Here are some tips.