Travel Photography Tip: 05

Travel Photography Tips is a section giving a variety of advice for using photography while traveling. The usual advice goes something like this, “the best camera is the one you have with you” or “use only your cell phone”.  Both are useful tips, but this section will go beyond that.

How to Create a Dynamic Composition

Often times, while traveling we are in a rush to see as many things as possible. This may leads to photographs that are not very dynamic. Personally, before I travel somewhere I search the places on the internet and I often see really amazing pictures of the locations I am about to visit. As someone who has been a student of photography for 20 years, I realize that every photograph I take will not be amazing. However, people who have not studied photography often look at travel photography and think these photographers just have a gift to get such great shots. This is not the case. The majority of the photographs  travel photographers take never see the light of a computer screen. They edit only the best photographs for display.

With travel and other types of photography there is often a dynamic element in the frame, whether it is a moving object or bright contrasting colors. I would suggest that the photographers get these exciting shots by employing Henri Cartier-Bresson’s idea of the decisive moment. For Cartier-Bresson, the decisive moment was the exact moment all of the elements came together within his view finder to create a bold composition. This means, he would find a scene which he thought would make a good canvas for a photograph. Then he would wait until something activated the scene, meaning he would wait for something to happen. He might wait anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. As we travel, unless we are traveling with the express purpose of making travel photographs, we might not be able to wait several hours in one spot to make a single photograph.

In the photographs above, you can see the birds have activated the space around the building and created a more interesting photograph than the photograph without the birds. My suggestion is to take your time, do not rush through a place. You can spare a few minutes to see if something happens. However, unless you have nothing but time or you really want to get something specific I would not spend hours in one place. A few birds or a person walking through the scene can make all the difference.

Also, I would suggest taking more than one photograph of a scene. That is really how I got the birds. I was not rushing, I took several photographs re-positioning the building in each one and the birds happened to fly through my frame. You can’t always count on capturing fast moving objects if you are not ready with your finger on the shutter release.

Hope this helps!

Happy Photoing!

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By |2018-10-12T16:33:41-05:00February 24th, 2017|Travel Photography Tips|0 Comments

About the Author:

Betsy Williamson is an assistant professor of art in the state of New Mexico. Before coming to New Mexico for this job she was an adjunct professor throughout Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, teaching photography and art appreciation. Between September 2015 and May 2017, she took a break from teaching to pursue art, research and life in India. Now she is back to teaching and part-timing it in India.

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