Top 5 tips that will take your travel photos to the next level

Have you ever thought that your travel photos would be better if you had more expensive, high-end camera or lenses? Your equipment doesn’t make the photo. The tips below may seem like the most obvious advice you’ve ever read. But for some strange reason, a lot of my friends believe that everything revolves around the equipment they have. Nothing is further from the truth. Let me share with you the tips of subtle editing and how to create “insta-worthy” photos from your phone or just a pocket camera.

Tip #1: Editing Whites and Blacks – Adjust the white and black points of your photo to avoid “flatness”.

I use Lightroom to adjust the white and black points of my photo in lieu of contrast or exposure (You can also adjust using “black point” tool on the iPhone).

White & Black Vs. Shadows & Highlights

White and Black points are different from shadows and highlights. The Whites and Blacks adjustment tools control the very brightest and very darkest parts of your image. We can think of highlights as the brightest points in an image where you can still find details of your photo, which means your photo is not washed out to completely white. Similarly, shadows are the darker areas of your photo where you can still see most details without being a pitch black image.

It helps to think of blacks is tied with shadows. The highlight tool will not adjust the white point of your photo, the shadow tool will not adjust the black point. So I usually set my black and white points first, then use the shadows and highlight adjustment tool to control the range the brightness of points that are too dark or too bright.

2015-07-17 20.56.41Edit (1 of 1)

Tip #2: Editing Shadows & Highlights – Adjust shadows and tone down the highlights for better balance.

All photo editing apps should have adjustment tools for shadows and highlights. To improve the quality your photo, balance out the exposure by increasing or decreasing the shadows and reducing the highlights to increase the brightness of the darkest parts of your photo. The result is a brighter, more even-toned photo. I usually avoid increasing the brightness of my photo purely through “brightness” adjustment tool, which may result in overexposure.

For the photo below, I increase the “vibrance” a little to emphasise the colour in the photo with no filter.

Non edit (1 of 1)Edit (1 of 1)

Tip #3: Rule of Thirds – Composing your photo using the Rule of Thirds.

I go by the “Rule of Thirds”. I break my photo down into thirds horizontally and vertically, so it’s split into different sections. The aim is to place key points of the photo into those sections and help frame the whole image in a way that’s appealing and more focused or less cluttered. You can use your camera’s “grid” feature, which displays a rule of thirds grid directly on your camera screen.

Before you take a photo, ask yourself: What are the key points of interest in this shot? Where should I place them on the grid? Paying attention to these details will improve the look of your photo.


Tip #4: Viewpoints – Perspective, perspective, perspective. Let it be your mantra.

Ever heard a saying: “a picture tells a thousand words”? Perspective creates the stories. It’s easy to create flat images. Since photographs are two-dimensional, it’s your job to use the elements to add depth to your images.

Don’t be afraid to try new angles, lenses, and techniques, and have fun experimenting with ways to add a sense of perspective to your images!

Here are some examples:

Using people to create a sense of scale.  

Try different angles and avoid basic compositions.

Pick up on interesting shapes and textures 

Blend in with the people and culture, and don’t carry your huge backpack (or a fanny pack) to avoid unnecessary attention. 

Tip #5: Filters- Choosing the perfect filter that fits the narrative of your photo.

I love VSCO app. VSCO is best known for its preset filters, a similar concept to the filters on Instagram, but much more varied and easier to control. A1, A2, A8, HB1 and HB2 are my favourite filters in VSCO. I use VSCO in conjunction with Lightroom to get the best end result on my image (with a few adjustments of course).

However, the whole idea is not to over-do it. Please don’t go crazy with filters. It has to match with the story you are trying to convey through your picture. It has to flow with the tone and feel of your picture. Remember, less is more.

Example #1: 


Example #2: 

DSC00240Day 02 Edit-43

Example #3: 

DSC00157Day 02 Edit-9

Bonus Tip! 

Be daring and creative. The only way to find beautiful, unexpected epic places is to simply be curious and explore. If you’re visiting a place, explore every nook and cranny of the place (Safety is a priority though!) and drive away from the tourists. Push your own boundaries to go to, simply be curious and explore. If you’re visiting a place, explore every nook and cranny of the place (Safety is a priority though!) and drive away from the tourists. Push your own boundaries to go further.

 “The world is full of wonderful things you haven’t seen yet. Don’t ever give up on the chance of seeing them.” – J.K. Rowling 

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