A few handy photography tips may be all you need to bring those mediocre holiday snaps to life and create memories you will want to revisit again and again long after you return home.
For many travellers, a trip to Southeast Asia ranks high on their list of holidays to remember, especially of they choose to rent a private villa and make the absolute most of the experience. Thanks to digital cameras and smartphones, it has never been easier to record all the best moments of your vacation.
Whether you are snapping shots of Bangkok on your iPhone or taking time to capture a perfect Phuket or Bali sunset, a little planning on composition, colour and lighting will ensure you holiday album becomes a set of photographs that tells a real story.
The stunning coastal scenery on islands like Phuket, Bali and Koh Samui provides the perfect chance to capture some breathtaking sunset shots. For photographers that want to make the most of the coral hues in the sky as the sun dips behind the sea, it is definitely worth staking out a few prime locations well in advance. Places from where you can see the sun track all the way down into the sea are always a good place to start. Find out what time the sun actually drops and get there at least half an hour beforehand to capture the colours that will dance across the sky. Like any other photographs, sunset shots always look better when a striking focal point is in the frame. If you can incorporate an intriguing silhouette into the shot, like a mountain range or a palm tree, it will add more context to your photograph.
Holiday images captured in exotic locations like Thailand are never complete without a selection of beach photographs. However, long landscape shots with no point of interest can often end up looking a little flat and boring. A good way to spice things up is to find a central shape or object to focus on. Honing in on a hidden pattern in the sand, waves crashing onto the shore or even a person walking along the beach can add a little depth, feeling or texture to the shot. When it comes to the composition, try to make sure the sea isn’t sloping downwards in the frame. Also try and keep your horizon off centre (one third of the way down in the frame is good) to avoid chopping the image in half.
A Feast for your Eyes
If you want to savour the tangy taste of Asian food long after you get home, it is worth taking a few photographs of the dishes you enjoy on holiday to give your taste buds a reminder. You can then also note down ingredients and ask the chef in your villa for the recipe. However, food photography can often be a little trickier than people imagine, so adhering to a few basic rules will vastly improve your shots. First of all, try not to use a flash. Over exposure will flatten the dish and erase any natural shadows that provide depth and texture. Secondly, don’t let your food sit around for too long before taking the shot. Ingredients like leaves and herbs can start to wilt and look distinctly un-appetizing quite quickly. Finally, find the best angle to capture the texture of your dish. The composition of some dishes may look best from above, while other creations with lost of ingredients (like Pad Thai) will probably look better when taken from a lower angle.
Capturing the Mountains
The islands in Thailand are home to multiple mountain peaks, and Bali is famous for its volcanoes. When it comes to taking great mountain photography, however, you have to deal a lot more shadow in the landscape and therefore need to plan shots carefully. Because of strong light from above, the detail beneath the shadow of the mountainside can easily be lost. The time of day is therefore very important, while for more serious photographers, it is worth considering a graduated neutral density filter, which can help you to darken the sky a little so you don’t lose the details under the shadow blanket. Mountain shots are similar to beach shots in that sweeping vistas can often end up looking a little lifeless. Try and retain a point of interest to keep your photos vibrant.
In the City
Street photography is one of the best ways to capture the life and soul of a city. In vibrant urban centres like Bangkok, or even smaller towns like Seminyak, the most compelling photographs often embody the movement of the places. To capture this energy at its best, go somewhere that guarantees motion. Streets crowded with human traffic or roads flooded with glowing car lights in the evening are often a good place to start. Moving to higher ground to capture the hustle and bustle can also present a unique angle that will transform a standard, flat image into a photo that will jump from the page and tell the story of the location.
by Wayne Hue