Hooked on Travel Photography
BY BHONG ODAL
In this maiden edition, Bhong Odal talks about travel photography and what makes him pursue it. He also provides tips on which camera is best for travel photography.
The Passion in Travel Photography
Travel Photography is a subcategory of photography that involves capturing images of an area's landscape, people, cultures, and history.
Snapping photos is one thing, but diving deeper into it is a whole different ball game.
Part of being a travel photographer goes beyond visiting one place to another, you figure out the similarities or differences between places. If you wish to pursue it, capturing its essence and being able to show that on camera is what you must do.
Knowing the stories that you want to tell from your travels is also something which certainly falls under the description of what I call a 'Travegrapher', a mix of both a Traveller and a Photographer.
Colored houses in Baguio City, Philippines
“ My life is shaped by the urgent
need to wander and observe, and my camera is my passport "
- Steve McCurry
I love telling stories, and what better way to do it is to document my travels, and the places I go to.
Especially in the age of social media, where technology provides us a platform where we can share these photos we've frozen in time virtually.
Travel photography helps me capture some of the most beautiful places. Capturing moments, the different cultures, and most of all, it brings back memorable memories with your loved ones and friends.
Every place I go to explore has its own particular look, character, and ambiance. To capture photos that are good and lasting, you should be able to capture beyond the literal look of it. It should have a soul, emotion, and relevance to drive your audience.
Portrait painter in Hanoi, Vietnam
A Sailboat on the way to Granville Vancouver B.C. Canada
Sunrise at the Merlion Park, Singapore
Sunset at Ankor Wat, Cambodia
Busy Street of Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco, USA
Malacca Trishaw, Malaysia
Best Travel Camera (what you need to know)
Picking the right travel camera should be the one that suits your needs and budget. Are you looking for lightweight portability? Something weatherproof? Professional image quality? Reasonably priced? Or should it be a well-rounded model for landscapes, portraits, street photography, and can also handle vlogging?
You may not be looking for a travel camera right now because of the COVID-19 Pandemic. But when these restraints are over, and the veil is lifted, it would be a good idea to prepare and make use of this time to learn before you explore the wonderful world of Travel Photography. This article will help you to find the best travel camera to buy.
Based on my travel photography experience, I can say that there is no perfect travel camera. Different people will have different needs and budget for choosing a particular camera.
Picking the right travel camera varies on subjects that interest you most. If you fancy is street and night photography, I highly recommend a camera that has a big sensor and fast lens.
If you love shooting landscapes, a good wide-angle lens would be nice to have in your travel bag. And by the way, as I’m not as young as before, I prefer to carry a much lighter camera for my travels.
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Important Travel Camera Features
As an afterthought, it might also be a good idea to add music set up to inspire you while you shoot.
Here are some important features you should know in selecting your travel camera :
HD/4K VIDEO – Most quality travel cameras can shoot video up to HD 1080p. Some even have 4K capabilities — which most people won’t need unless you’re doing professional work. Travel cameras that can shoot in 4K are generally more expensive.
WIFI/BLUETOOTH – Some cameras have their own wifi network, allowing you to upload your photos instantly to your computer or smartphone. This can be handy if you want to share travel photos on social media without a computer – this is one feature that I really like, especially when posting on Instagram.
INTERCHANGEABLE LENSES – High-end mirrorless and DSLR cameras have interchangeable lenses, allowing you to pick the perfect lens for different situations. Smartphones and compact travel cameras usually have fixed lenses.
WEATHERPROOFING – Will your travel camera hold up against the elements? Some cameras are better protected from moisture and dust than others. If you plan on shooting in very dusty or wet environments, it helps to have strong weatherproofing.
RAW – Not all cameras shoot in RAW format. Camera RAW basically saves the image without any internal modifications, as opposed to JPG. It’s preferred by advanced users for more leeway when editing their images with software in post.
STABILIZATION – Some cameras or lenses offer Optical Image Stabilization (OIS). This feature compensates for “handshake” on slower shutter speeds, to help keep images sharp in low-light situations. Some cameras also have internal sensor stabilization, for even better results.
SIZE & WEIGHT – Gone are the days when a bigger camera means a better camera. If you want to travel with your camera, you’ll want something small & lightweight. Luckily technology has improved a lot.
MANUAL SETTINGS – Professional photographers want the ability to manually control all camera settings to dial-in the perfect shot in different situations. Pick a travel camera with full manual control if you want to improve your skills.
MEGAPIXELS – Many people assume that more megapixels are better. This isn’t always true if the sensor and processor aren't as good. However, more megapixels on a large sensor will give you higher detail, and allow you to “crop” your image without reducing the quality.
APERTURE – Lens aperture is measured in 'f' numbers, like f/1.4, f/2.8, f/4, etc. The lower the number, the better it will perform in low-light situations (but are more expensive). Lower numbers also create a nice “bokeh” effect in portraits. It also provides you a shallower depth of field, that gives you a blurred background.
ZOOM RANGE – A zoom lens lets you get closer to the action, especially for wildlife or people. But the bigger the zoom the bulkier a camera gets. The amount of zoom is a personal preference. For travel, having the option to zoom in without changing lenses is a good option.
As a travel photographer, having fun should be the main thing where you can translate that experience to your audience. Ultimately, we believe that Travel photography goes beyond the destination but should focus more on your experience. I hope these tips will help you out on your next journey, do watch out for the next issues where we dive deeper into the art of travel photography.
Bhong Odal is a passionate travel photographer and a former exphat who's also the senior adviser of Born in Film and PhotoNation International.