Ever chanced upon stunning photos shared by your friends and wished that you too could capture such beautiful images? Well here today, I will be sharing some simple tips to help you improve your photos captured while on exchange and beautify your Instagram feed that will make you the envy of your friends.

        @ St Hilda’s, Melbourne | Australia

Before I began, there are some points that I must make clear first. I am by no means a professional photographer. In fact, I am a self-taught. I have never attended any photography classes. I picked up my knowledge from studying resources available online during my free time and look to improve my skills through practice and a process of trial & error. Hence, I am writing this post based on what has worked for me and will hopefully do the same for you.

I love traveling and will also be heading on exchange to the United States come January so I was extremely excited when I was asked to write a post for ExchangeBuddy, to share some photography tips with you, my fellow students leaving Singapore to explore the world. Well, here we go!

 

 

TIP 1: DON’T WORRY TOO MUCH ABOUT THE KIND OF CAMERA YOU ARE USING!

Contrary to common believe that you need expense photography equipment, DSLR type of cameras which could cost up to thousands of dollars to capture amazing photos, your smartphone cameras are actually capable of capturing some surprisingly stunning footage.

I use an IPhone 6 (The image on St Hilda’s was shot using an Iphone 5C) and it has served me well on many occasions (yes, I also do own a DSLR) so don’t fuss too much about the gear when embarking on your exchange:) If you are concerned whether your smartphone camera is sufficient, you might want to consider getting add-on lens attachments that could be mounted onto your smartphones (much more affordable) to boost its capabilities.

 

TIP 2: DO YOUR RESEARCH BEFORE HEADING OUT!

 

When you travel in groups, which a lot of you will on your exchange, often the majority of the planning/research is left to one or two enthusiastic guy (that’s me) and the rest are simply just too lazy or can’t be bothered to find out more about the destination. Well if you are one of the latter, you are missing out on a lot! Planning, “googling”, finding out the scenic sights to visit, how to get there, where is the best ice cream parlor located at, where to shop etc, is all part of the fun of traveling! It increases your understanding of the area, gives you a sense of ownership over your itinerary and most of all, really psyches you up for the trip! So the next time before you head out, do you your homework first!

Researching on your travel destination is key to taking good photos. The internet has millions of photos that you can take reference from to aid you in constructing your own special shot. Browse through online articles and blog posts for tips/recommendations on the best photog spots in the city. I tend to look for articles written by locals which are often insightful and are helpful in uncovering less touristy, lesser traveled sites.

 

@artofvisuals, eclectric_shotz, andyto

Social media platforms such as Instagram, are also good sources of inspiration that could enhance your imagination and change your perspective of how you view your surroundings. One of my favourite feeds is @artofvisuals which share some really spectacular photos.

 

 

TIP 3: SUNRISE & SUNSET

Sunrise @ Lake Toba | Indonesia

The early bird catches the worm! This is indeed true for photography because sunrise and sunset offer some of the best timings to capture photos. Especially for large objects, such as landscapes and buildings where it might not be feasible to control the lighting. Hence one should utilize the golden hour to give some strong side lighting onto the landscape to reveal more texture and shape. Sunrise & sunsets also add beautiful streaks of colours to your photos and gives them more impact and drama. Therefore, if you travel itinerary allows for it, do hang around awhile for sunset or head out early to catch the sunrise at the potential photo locations that you have identified from your online research.

 

 

TIP 4: ADDING THE HUMAN FIGURINE INTO YOUR PHOTOS

@ Wave Rock, Perth | Australia

One of my favourite ways to compose landscapes photos is to add a human figurine into my pictures. The human figurine which tend to appear as tiny, draws for a great comparison with the overwhelming presence and raw power of mother nature. I believe it also adds life to the landscape and makes the photo more interest so this is something you might want to consider when you compose your photo.

 

@ Lancelin, Perth | Australia

 

TIP 5: PHOTO EDITING

Let’s be open about this: All professional photographers edit their photos. Editing can really make a HUGE difference to your photos! It can help compensate for the type of camera you are using, poor weather conditions that deprive you ideal lighting etc. Professionals edit their digital photos using software such as Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. Sadly, most of these are not free and requires substantial knowledge to operate them.

A large majority rely on the photo tuning options and filters provided by Instagram. Though Instagram allows you vary image brightness, saturation, exposure etc, its functions are limited. Its photo tuning options only allow you to adjust pictures as a whole and not individual segments. Luckily for us, there are several free mobile photo editing apps available in the market that are simple and easy to use. My favourite is: SNAPSPEED.

TIP : SNAPSPEED offers a wide range of tools that includes Cropping, Transformation, Image Tuning etc. The two particular tools I would like to highlight are Brushes & Selective. Brushes & Selective enable users to adjust the exposure, contrast and saturation of specific segments of a photo while leaving other portions untouched. Tips and guidance for new users on how to properly utilize its tools, are also available for new users under the Insight tab so simply just play around with the options and observe the changes they bring about. Have fun!

ExchangeBuddy is a student-led platform that encourages students on exchange to share their experiences and handy tips. Do drop us an email at [email protected] if you are keen on contributing to our site! You can also like/follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more regular updates! 

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