Expert Advice: Optimal travel photography for amateurs
About the interviewee: Brett Andrew Stone
He is a photography representative at Mike’s Camera in Mill Valley, CA. He has a unique wealth of knowledge about photography, and teaches photography classes in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is also an amazing freelancer photographer.
In your opinion, what are some photography basics us amateurs should be aware of?
1. It’s important to take pictures from different perspectives, try to move around shoot from different angles. For instance, try to shoot over the tourists, instead of including the back of their heads.
2. Composition is key! Rule of thirds, is an essential photography composition technique that I highly recommend to use. If you envision that you draw 2 vertical and 2 horizontal lines of the site you are trying to capture, then you want to position the important elements of your photo, at the point where the horizontal and vertical lines meet. An easy way to remember it, is also that an off-center composition, is often more pleasing to the eye, rather than having the subject right in the middle of the photo. It’s actually one of the biggest photography mistakes people do, to center people/objects in the middle.
3. Experiment with light is another key factor. Move around, to find the best light for that particular place and time. Don’t forget to experiment with the flash too, as it has an immediate effect on your outcome of the light in the picture. Play around with reflections if you see any, it usually adds extra patterns and captures unique photos.
4. Get closer when taking portraits, animals or action shots. There is always the option to crop later, if needed. Try to get into the mindset to be “In the camera”.
5. If you are going to a place with unique architect or scenery, and you want to leave with beautiful photos. I recommend doing some homework before you depart, and search for ideas of what you think are “good” photos at that specific location, for instance hashtag (#) the location or “fickr” the point of destination.
What do you personally like best to photograph?
I have always liked to photograph new places, it inspires me to see new places and try new things. Whatever is interesting on the go.
Is using an iPhone a no-no?
No! It’s limited, but if you have it with you, it should result in good pictures. I’m a believer that the best camera is the one you have with you! Luckily for some, the quality of iPhones are getting better and better.
What are the best photo editing softwares?
1. Adobe Photoshop, provides serious editing functions. You should try to take your best photograph, and then Photoshop will help you edit it to perfection.
2.Adobe Lightroom, is a platform to host photos but also organize, edit & share them. However, editing is not to the same level as photoshop.
When buying a camera, what are the key attributes to think about to buy the right camera?
The best camera is the one you have with you! If you feel it’s a hassle to carry it with you, don’t buy it. It’s very important you like to carry it around. A fancy camera, doesn’t automatically give you good photos - practice is key!
The size of the camera, sensor size, and lens are all extremely important attributes.
What are your “insider” tips to someone who wants to pursue optimal vacation photography?
Experiment with different “modes”, don’t just shoot in automatic. The unique modes in a camera will provide creative value to your photographs. Invest in a good camera, and trust your instincts (insider voice) when shooting photos.
Take a lot of pictures, you can always delete later. However, photograph with an intension, and have fun!
If you were buying a camera for travel, which one would you choose?
Sony RX1000 (iii/iv version), this is a compact camera, yet has a larger sensor, but not a lot of zoom. However, it has a good quality lens built-in, and has a large maximum aperture. Best of all, it fits in your pocket!
Panasonic ZS100, this camera has a large sensor, more zoom, touch-screen and a view finder so you can easily see in broad sunlight. Also fits in your pocket.
Sony A6000, this camera not only has a larger sensor, but it has the flexibility to play with different lenses. The screen tilts, which helps with various angles (especially when shooting architecture). Interchangeable lenses, leaves you with many different options. I would say this one is one step closer to professional photography!
For further photography advice, please contact Brett directly.
Brett Andrew Stone
@ Mike’s Camera
214 Strawberry Village
Mill Valley, CA 94941