3 Quick Tips for Taking Postcard Quality Photos on Vacation

Family Travel on 08.31.11
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Photos by Britt Reints

Most of your favorite photos from your family vacations will probably end up being pictures of the people with whom you traveled. However, occassionaly the scenery itself is so spectacular that you really want to find a way to share it with friends back home. You could buy a postcard from the nearest gift shop and rely on the professionals to tell the world what you saw, or you can use these three simple tips for capturing beautiful photographs of the places you visit. I recently took some of my favorite photos ever at Niagara Falls and these are the tips I used.

3 Tips for Taking Great Photos of Places

1. Plan for the morning or afternoon light.

Use morning or afternoon light

The middle of the day is when you're most likely to find yourself visiting your favorite tourist attractions, but it's the worst time to photograph them. A sun that's high in the sky will cast harsh shadows and often create washed out photos. The best time to photograph landscapes is early in the morning or late in the afternoon - think sun up and sun down. If you're visiting a natural landmark, try to plan your day so that you arrive early or stay a little later to get the best chance at a great shot.

2. Use a tripod.

night photo of niagara falls

I have a tripod I carry with me everywhere and have used exactly once. It's kind of a pain in the butt, but it's absolutely worth the extra effort if you're trying to capture a stunning landscape. A tripod helps you capture sharp details and is especially useful when you're shooting in low light. You can get a tripod for about $20 at camera shops or big box retailers.

3. Use a remote or timer.

Close up of the falls

Like a tripod, a remote or your camera's timer is crucial for taking photos that require a long exposure. Any little movement, even if you breathing, can cause enough blur to ruin a landscape picture. A remote is a must-have tool for sharp photos at night or during sunset.

Bonus tip for people who understand a little bit about a camera's manual mode: a high Fstop number and low (slow) shutter speed is perfect for waterfalls or sunset photos.

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