Play with your equipment for better travel photos

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Posted in Photos By Mark and Dale

Every gay man grasps the importance of handling equipment with skill.  If you pay attention to your photography equipment as joyfully as you do (ahem) other types of equipment, your travel photos will improve.

Don’t let photo snobs persuade to invest in a cumbersome and expensive camera.   (Especially if you’re a novice photographer.) People often express surprise when I tell them I get great shots and video on my iPhone, with minimal extra equipmentEven my colorblind husband Dale, who admits he has the visual arts talent of a Holstein cow, takes good photos on his phone that I’ve used on this site.

What you buy online or at a camera shop matters less than your important photographic asset — your EYE!  Any decent camera can produce photographs that will give you a lifetime of memories. Train your eye to recognize and frame images you see, then point your equipment in the right direction.

MMOB TIP:  One of the most valuable pieces of equipment I own is my Smooth II 3-Axis Gimbal by Zhiyun.  I get smooth, non-jerky video using a light-weight and easy-to-use accessory that I use constantly when I’m doing video.

The time around dusk is perfect to bring out the details in the clouds and skin tones.

Flash is not your friend

Unless I am in a very dark space, I tend to not use flash. Instead, I look for a spot that has available light and use that source to light the subject. You might be on deck at dusk where you could find an existing light by the pool or on a wall to light the walkway. Many times, this type of lighting can add a mysterious mood to your images to give them a unique feel. Since you will most likely be shooting at a slow shutter speed, it might be wise to carry a portable tripod with you.

The ‘golden hour’ in Dubrovnik, Croatia provided a perfect opportunity to capture the lighting in the city.

Take advantage of the golden hour for gorgeous travel photos

The hours just after and immediately prior to sunrise and sunset provide the best natural photo lighting.  Pruisehotographers refer to this period as the “golden hour” because of the magical golden orange color of the sky. At other times of day, harsh sunlight can give your images a washed-out and overly-contrasted appearance.

Use the golden hour to train your eye and play with your photography equipment to gain expertise in using it. Go out on deck for those perfect shots of the ship or a shot of you on deck with the shimmering ocean in the background. The golden hour lighting is soft on the skin and tends minimizes flaws and enhances everyone’s appearance, whether you won the genetic lottery or not. (If you’re single, images taken in this light are perfect for Grindr or Scruff. You’ll look like a golden god in your selfies.)

Golden hour also offers ideal lighting for that Instagrammable couples love pose on your stateroom balcony. Make sure to get on the correct part of the ship to catch that golden light. Golden hour never lasts long, so make your hair and clothing adjustments in advance so you don’t miss this brief period of perfect lighting.

Less is More

I go back to the room at night, relax, and discard more than half of my photos. I only keep the best. When I get home (or when I’m languishing at the airport) I edit them down even further. One perfect image is worth more than a dozen botched attempts.

Don’t miss the boat

Travel photography should enhance your trip, not spoil it with extra worry. Don’t spend all your precious travel time hunched over your phone or camera, agonizing over getting the perfect shot. Take time to look up and see the sky, gaze at the horizon, or watch the ocean slip by.

I always go out alone to the stern just before bedtime. I love to stare at the ship’s wake, enjoy the hum of the engines, and do some healing, deep breathing.  This is my favorite time on a cruise. Sometimes I take a photo or video during this relaxing self-care time. However, I don’t permit concerns about angles and lighting ruin my relaxation. Relax, and play with your equipment, until you feel comfortable enough to gain the results you want.