There has never been a more difficult time for photographers to be able to capture unique photos. From iPhones to high-end DSLRs, photography has become mainstream.
So to capture unique photos you have to work harder. This could mean new undiscovered locations (which is harder to find these days). Or you could try some of these travel photography techniques to help you capture unique photos.
Look for motion blur in your photos
Whenever you are photographing anything that is moving, you can add motion blur into your photos. It doesn’t have to be something that is fast-moving either. This technique involves using a slow shutter speed to capture the movement of a subject. This can be someone walking, running, dancing, water, the sky and even light trails from things like cars in night photography.
It is a wonderful way to make your photos look more dynamic. For any sort of long exposure photography, you will need a tripod. Set your camera on the tripod and select a slow shutter speed.
How slow will depend on the subject you are photographing. For example, fast-moving waterfall might only require a shutter speed of 1/80 sec for motion blur. Whereas clouds in the sky might need longer exposure of 30 seconds or more.
Experiment with different shutter speeds to see how you can add motion blur to your travel images. This is one of the best photography techniques to use whatever level you are at.
The diorama effect
Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of this technique, not many have. It is an effect that happens when you use a tilt and shift lens. These lenses are made for architectural photography and stop converging horizontal lines (where building look like they are falling backwards). But they also produce a really great illusion of blurring parts of a photograph so it looks like a miniature model.
These lenses are very expensive but fortunately, you can re-create this effect using any lens and a bit of post-production. Start by capturing a wide-angle view from an elevated viewpoint (these work best). Next, start to blur parts of the image around your main subject in Photoshop or Lightroom. What you should end up with is an image (see below) where the main subject is or part of the image is sharp but the rest is blurred.
Try it out on some photos you have already taken and you’ll see the different that it makes.
Look for silhouettes
Silhouettes can be a great addition to your photography portfolio and really help diversify it. But capturing a good silhouette requires careful thought and composition.
You need to start with an instantly recognisable object with simple shapes. It also need to be back-lit (i.e. light source has to be in front of you). You then need to expose the image to keep the sky from being clipped (too bright).
If you find that your silhouette isn’t dark enough, stop down the shutter speeds a couple of stops to get the desired effect.
Use the usual photography composition techniques such as negative space, the rule of thirds and leading lines to place your subject within the frame.
Drones have become widespread over the last few years. Whilst they still can’t match the quality of high-end DSLR and Mirrorless cameras, they can offer new opportunities that are not possible otherwise. Not just elevated views but even angles and panoramas that a person simply couldn’t get to. But drone photography should be done in the same way as photography from the ground.
Too many drone photographers get caught up in the aerial view and forget the basics that help create a good photo. Even if you are using a drone, you still should pay attention to things like light and the composition to be able to shoot amazing drone photos.
Take a selfie
This is one of the best travel photography tips that I can give anyone. Taking a selfie doesn’t have to mean a cheesy portrait taken with a selfie stick. This is more around art directing your shot and adding yourself to the scene to tell a story.
For example, take a photo of a landscape shot and whilst it might look great, it will likely be similar to thousands of others. Now take the same photo with you sitting or standing in the foreground (with the right clothing and equipment) and suddenly you have a different shot. More and more these days editors are looking for photos that show an experience rather than a post-card type shots. By putting yourself in the scene, that’s exactly what you will be doing.
It’s pretty easy to take a selfie. All you need to do is to put your camera on a tripod and set it to a timer.
Alternatively, there are lots of gadgets that you can connect to your camera to remotely trigger it. There are also apps that help you see a live view from the camera which will make positioning yourself easier. It’s then just a matter of taking shots reviewing them and adjusting where necessary.
Some other photography techniques
There are plenty more photography techniques that you can use to give your photos a unique look and feel. Here are some others to try out:
Low angle view – we talked about drones to capture elevated or different angles. Don’t forget that you can also get really low to the ground and capture photos from there. You will get a completely different look to an image from a low angle.
Post-production – it’s not just when you take the photo that you can try to capture something unique. You can also add this uniqueness in post-production. For example, you can play around with brightness, contrast, and saturation. You can even try things like a bleached or aged effect on a photo making it look completely different to what you captured before.
Black and white photography – we all see the world in colour, which is why sometimes black and white photography makes us look at a scene twice. This type of photography makes you think about compositions, contrasts and shapes much more than colour photography. As a result, you may find yourself taking photos that you wouldn’t have done otherwise.
These simple creative photography techniques will help you capture unique photos. But remember the should be used in conjunction with things like good light, composition and ultimately an interesting subject. Try them out next time your photographing and you may be surprised by the results.
YouTube – Why not take this opportunity to check out our brand new YouTube channel for tips, advice and some inspiration.
Instagram – Check out our photos on Instagram
Facebook – Join our Facebook group and share your photos and chat with other beginner photographers.
Even though we may not be able to travel right now, we are already planning our trips for 2020 and 2021. Our UK workshops in the Yorkshire, Cornwall, Glencoe, Dorset, Lake District, Cotswolds or London will be starting again soon.
Kav Dadfar is a writer and travel photographer who has written over 400 articles on photography. He is also a judge on the Wanderlust Travel Photography of the Year competition and a speaker at camera clubs and events. He has years of experience shooting assignments with his images having been used by some of the biggest brands in the world.
This photography techniques article is subject to copyright. Words and photos by Kav Dadfar (That Wild Idea). Copying or reposting of photos or article elsewhere is strictly forbidden. Please contact us if you would like to use this feature on your website.