Photography basics: Great city break shots
Let’s face it, we’re all planning our next getaway from the dingy winter weather. City breaks are a great way to reinvigorate and enjoy some photography. Even if you’re purely a point-and-shooter there are still some photography basics which can help you get better shots.
There’s a bunch of advice on photography basics across the web. None comes much sounder than that from the Jessops Academy. I’ve covered similar useful sunset and winter nuggets from them previously and as a keen snapper myself, will be putting some of these into action on any jaunts this year.
Research your city break
The first of the photography basics is research. Before you arrive in the city, research the best places to visit and top tourist attractions. See how others have captured it before and think how you might like to capture it. Look at the perspectives and angles that have been used and think of those that haven’t. Take a look on Google Street View at the surroundings for any potentially unexplored vantage points, rooftops and terraces nearby that you could also capture. Also consider what would be the best time of day to take this photograph. Ask yourself, is it lit beautifully by the setting or rising sun? Or maybe it would look great with the sun bright and high in the sky, casting gorgeous shadows and rays of light?
Master the ‘rule of thirds’
The ‘rule of thirds’ is a multi-generational tip that will pay dividends for years to come. The secret to mastering this technique is to visualise a grid of lines running horizontally and vertically, breaking the image into thirds. Using the ‘Live View’ shooting screen will allow you to display the ‘Thirds’ grid to aid in visualising and achieving this.
Composing your key points of interest in the image by placing them in one of the thirds or intersecting points on the grid will instantly draw attention to them and make the photo pleasing to the eye. Take a few moments before you snap away to consider composition, lighting and angles before hitting the shutter button.
Stabilise your camera with a tripod or support. Tripods today are compact, light and agile so won’t take up precious space in your cabin bag. A tripod will minimise any camera shake which is the most common cause of blurry pictures. Don’t forget a tripod’s best friend is a remote release. If you don’t have one you could also use the self-timer to trigger your camera, this helps to further eliminate any vibration from pressing the camera’s shutter button.
Think about foreground detail
Including something in your foreground – a statue or monument, a fountain or sun dial, even a steamy coffee while you take five minutes to relax – will add a sense of scale and context. It can also lead the eye into the picture, balance the frame and add a point of interest.
Challenge your skills
If you’re spending the day exploring the city then try setting yourself a theme, for example, architecture, reflections, colour or contrast. If you’re visiting a city renowned for castles and beautiful buildings then focus on that for the day; using different composition, distance, angle and perspectives to challenge how you portray your chosen subject.
Pack your accessories
Some simple accessories will help you in your quest to take better holiday photos. A table-top tripod will take up a tiny amount of space in your suitcase and can fit in your pocket when you’re out. It’ll make all the difference to your pictures. Keep some extra memory cards to hand plus a spare battery or two for longer day trips: there’s nothing worse than running out of juice in the middle of a photo adventure. Ensure the camera bag or case you want to take will hold what you need. Make sure it’s comfortable enough to carry on days out. Consider bags that sling across your back and have a little extra space for a bottle of water or a small bite to eat.
Finally, print them out!
Are you guilty of taking hundreds of holiday pictures only to leave them stored on your camera? Don’t let your holiday become a distant memory as soon as you step off the plane. Get creative by making a gallery wall of your travels. Alternatively, tell the tales of your adventures with a photobook you can show friends and family.
Admittedly I’m guilty of this. This was never an issue in the days of Capital Cameras on the high street. But now, with the ability to store high numbers of images, it’s easy to leave good shots on the card. These photography basics should really help to make simple adjustments so you see great results.