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Travel Photography For Beginners

Updated on September 12, 2012

Banff Canada

Using landscape setting.
Using landscape setting. | Source

Basic Photography for Beginners

At first I thought I was the worst possible person to write an article on travel photography for beginners. Then it occurred to me that by my very lack of technological know-how I may be just the person to write such an article.

I also have a closet full of travel pictures from the 1970’s to the present. Some of them aren't very good. Some are pretty darn good. I like taking pictures!

I have reduced how to take a good picture down to some very few components. I am not the best at applying too many technicalities. For example, I worked in offices for nearly thirty years and to this day it takes two or three tries to get the staples in the stapler correctly. I KNOW how it is done, I am kinetically deficient. I am all thumbs.

So, here is what I have learned from thirty years of traveling and taking pictures on every continent except Antarctica. (It is too cold in Antarctica for my travel tastes.)

Rio Grande Valley, New Mexico

Taken from a car while driving on I-25 with the camera set on the sports setting.  Also, color enriched by the computer photo manipulation program.
Taken from a car while driving on I-25 with the camera set on the sports setting. Also, color enriched by the computer photo manipulation program. | Source

Icelandic Poppies

Taken at Lake Louise in Canada.  Close-up setting used.
Taken at Lake Louise in Canada. Close-up setting used. | Source

1. Digital Cameras

Buy a nice digital camera. Make sure it has fully automatic functions. That means you put it on automatic settings, point and shoot! I like the picture to be exactly what I see through the view finder so that means I buy an SLR, single lens reflex camera. An SLR is a method whereby there are mirrors in the camera that cause some reflective magic whereby what you actually see in the viewfinder IS exactly what you are taking a picture of. Give me a non-SLR and I will cut off your head while you blow out those birthday candles.

The camera will have automatic settings labeled, close-up (flowers), sports (sports and out a bus or car or train window,) landscape, portrait (people or pets,) and full auto. I like the specific labels and use them rather than the full auto. I have lots of bus shots done on the sports setting. The sports setting is fast and will stop motion and not give you a blur (most of the time.)

Make sure you can download the images to your computer. The camera should come with a nice little cord that affixes to the camera and to your computer. Note, make sure the camera is switched off until it is completely connected to the computer. A power surge from the computer may damage your camera if you plug it into the computer while the camera is switched on.

Also, make sure the camera has enough picture capacity. How many pictures can it take? Do you need additional storage chips? This depends on how many pictures you plan to take before you can get to your computer and download the photos in your camera. Buy storage chips that go in the camera if you are going on that once-in-a-lifetime Europe trip and plan on taking hundreds of pictures. Fill up the chip, remove it and insert another one.

You need lots of pixels too. Pixels are how many little dots make up the image that you see. The more the pixels the better the picture will blow up when you down load it to your computer. My camera has 15 mega-pixels. That is enough for me.

Lastly, I recommend that you read the literature that comes with the camera no matter how boring it is. I have read/skimmed the literature and when I have a problem I have a vague recollection where in the literature that I can find help. Also, find the web site for your particular camera model and bookmark it. Heck, download it. You never know when you will need that information.

Put the disc from the camera that goes into your computer in a safe and organized place. You never know when you will need it!

Museum Banff Canada with Low Lighting

Museum lighting, before and after manipulation with a computer program.
Museum lighting, before and after manipulation with a computer program. | Source


Light is one of the most important considerations. You need to take pictures in natural bright light whenever possible. Don’t face the light. Keep the light at your back. If you are taking a picture of people try to NOT have them directly face the light either as all you will get are squinting people! So, the light should come from the side. Light from the sun is brighter and shows color better than light generated by all man made lighting. If you take a photo in a less than perfect lighting situation, your camera should automatically flip up the flash and compensate for you. But do remember that the flash light does not radiate more than 10-15 feet out. It also will cause a glare. Take a look at the picture on your camera’s view screen and gently correct how you point your camera if the picture is all glare. Sometimes, I use glare as a neat picture addition! I have all kinds of pictures with reflections in them and I just say I am artistic.

Annie May in South Dakota

Annie May sees her first parade. Using portrait setting
Annie May sees her first parade. Using portrait setting | Source

3. Framing.

Frame your picture with the subject in the middle of the frame. This will keep your subject in focus. Remember, you have purchased an SLR so people will really be where you see them in the camera sight.

You can correct many framing mistakes if you have a camera with lots of pixels and a basic computer manipulation program. This means you chop the picture up and re-position the center of the photo with a basic computer program. Many cameras will allow you to focus up on a subject by gently holding the shooting button down, and then moving the center of the picture frame up, down, left or right and then when you shoot the item you focused up first will be what is focused on even though it is no longer the center of the picture.

4. Take a Class

DO take a basic camera course at your local community college or photography store. Make sure it is a basic course. This means you are taught basic operation of your SLR digital camera. Talk with the teacher BEFORE the class and then buy a camera before you take the class. Play around with the camera. Give yourself permission to make all the mistakes you want. Take the ego out of this or you will never get the hang of your new camera.

5. Photography Manipulation Program.

Learn a basic computer picture manipulation program. Here is what your program should be able to do; download, re-size, cut-up, and shrink and enlarge. Remember, I am not a techno person, so I work with Microsoft Publisher. That is it. No fancy programs for me. It is the same program you do the church newsletter with, make out invitations, and birthday cards with. I think it is pretty darn intuitive and the symbols at the top of the page do exactly what they say they will.

If there is not a program you are already familiar with, do take a class at community college or join a camera club.

I am taking my own suggestion here and joining a camera club. I hope to find someone who uses another program and learning an additional program.

5. Storage

Store your pictures in a couple of places. There are free on-line storage services and there are computer back-up systems you purchase yourself. You can simply print them or put them on a disc or fill up a thumb drive. You may also Email them to a store and have prints and or discs made for you. The storage method doesn't have to be elegant but if your computer crashes you risk loosing all your photographs. ACK!

Take a look at the storage web site for Snapfish:


I currently have the best camera that I have ever owned. It is a Canon Rebel model. I am a Canon person because that brand was the first good camera I ever owned and therefore, I know how to use that brand. While I recommend Canon I know there are other brands that will be very suitable.

So, I hope this helps a bit. If you love taking pictures and are not very technical, this may indeed, be quite helpful! By the way, do not even show this article to your camera techno friends and family.

Keep snapping those pics!


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    • NMLady profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from New Mexico & Arizona

      Thanks! Daughter-in-law is from Borneo. Hope to see Indonesia some day! (Husband went over for their marriage....I did not get to go!)

    • prasetio30 profile image


      5 years ago from malang-indonesia

      I love photography. Thanks for writing and sharing wonderful tips about travel photography. Voted up!


    • NMLady profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from New Mexico & Arizona

      Thanks dinkan53.... will take a look at your hubs!

    • dinkan53 profile image


      5 years ago from India

      I love to take photographs and happy to see those photographs. Thanks for sharing, voted up.

    • NMLady profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from New Mexico & Arizona

      Thanks dagohglund..... As you can see I am enthusiastic but of limited knowledge! I do love taking pics though! The ability to just download them to my computer really created my current enthusiasm!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I used to do 35 mm photography and got reasonably good at it. I got away from it when I developed cataracts. Not knowing that I was losing my eyesight I wondered why my pictures were getting so bad. I dropped photography for many years. Now that my eyesight is restored I am taking it up with a digital camera but having a hard time gaining my former enthusiasm. voted up, useful. sharing

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      6 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Useful and interesting tips. Thanks for sharing.

    • NMLady profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from New Mexico & Arizona

      Good luck Night Magic.

    • Night Magic profile image

      Night Magic 

      6 years ago from Canada

      Thanks, a lot of good tips for me. Maybe my pictures will turn out better now.

    • NMLady profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from New Mexico & Arizona

      Thanks YogaKat I love my Canon too!

    • YogaKat profile image


      6 years ago from Oahu Hawaii

      I am very happy with my Canon SLR . . . great advice about using landscape, close up and other modes. I need to address my storage issues soon . . . I am thinking the thumb drives will work best for me. Voted up.

    • NMLady profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from New Mexico & Arizona

      glad you liked it!

    • savingkathy profile image

      Kathy Sima 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Great tips for beginners. Thanks for sharing.

    • NMLady profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from New Mexico & Arizona

      awww, thanks Mattie

    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 

      6 years ago from Oakland, CA

      I think you were exactly the right person to write this Hub! Your photos are fantastic, and you've clearly distilled your experiences into advice from which we can all benefit. Well done.

    • NMLady profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from New Mexico & Arizona

      Yes, I got better.....all I have to do is retrieve some pics from years ago to appreciate that! Thanks Millionaire Tips!

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 

      6 years ago from USA

      These are great tips for taking good photographs. I take my little point and shoot with me everywhere, and I think I'm getting pretty good at watching my composition, and fixing mistakes on the photo editing program that came with the camera.

    • NMLady profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from New Mexico & Arizona

      I have not had much luck with those stock sites. I find that my old pics scanned into the computer can be manipulated to work most of the time. Use to be a SLR cost $1K ACK! But now even Costco has them around $200.00 Yeah, a lot of money but well worth it.....unless you are better at visualizing the pic than I am. I cannot tell you how many once in a lifetime shots that I took came out with headless people. lol

    • cprice75 profile image


      6 years ago from USA

      Voted up and useful. I'm not very knowledgeably in the photography field. Do you use any of the photos for stock sites? I tried with a cheap-o camera and it didn't work out. May have to invest in one of those SLR cameras shortly.


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