Priceless pics: 5 ways to capture better photos on your next vacation

(BPT) - If you’re already planning your next fun vacation, congratulations! New places, people and experiences await.

Whether you’re into adventuring, sightseeing, bonding with friends and family or just relaxing, anticipating an upcoming vacation can be a great way to soldier through the colder days of the year. Being able to look forward to new destinations can make our regular, staid work routines easier to navigate.

Part of the appeal of a vacation can be the chance to gather meaningful photos that preserve treasured memories. That's true whether your goal is fun family memories at a theme park or breathtaking shots of exotic flora and fauna. Regardless of your level of expertise and destination, you can bring home better photographs if you use the following tips on your next journey.

• Don't rely on your smartphone. It may come in handy for occasional snapshots, but pictures meant to preserve precious memories call for an actual camera such as a DSLR or mirrorless that enables creative, high-quality images, better low-light performance and faster auto-focus.

• Invest in a capable camera lens. Regardless of the quality of your camera, the functions enabled by your lenses will dictate the scope of photos you’re able to take. Whether you’re shooting inside, outside, close up or far away, your lens will make the difference between a professional-grade photo and something best left in your camera roll. Fortunately, a range of high-quality, multi-use lenses are available from Sigma at prices that won’t ruin your vacation budget. Don’t pack your bags without including the tools that can help capture the best shots of your life.

• Choose highly photographic locations. Naturally, you’ll feel more inspired to get out your camera when vacationing in a visually compelling locale. Research places that will motivate you and challenge you to use your skills. The New York Times reports that travel companies are increasingly offering photo op excursions especially for hobbyists, thanks in part to the popularity of photo-sharing apps. “The travel industry is catering to this growing interest in a fun way,” says travel consultant Janine Yu. “After all, what more enjoyable way to learn how to improve your camera skills than by exploring a great destination at the same time?”

• Time photo sessions for optimal natural lighting. When planning your travel agenda, slot in plenty of time to take advantage of the daylight hours. The so-called “golden hours” most optimal for photographers are the two to three hours after sunrise and before sunset.

• Protect your equipment. If you’re flying, plan to carry on your camera bag. If airline restrictions require it to be checked, insure it well against loss and damage. Choose a sturdy but lightweight bag that offers padded compartments for your camera body, lenses and flash units, seeking ergonomic features that make it comfortable to carry. Disassemble and cushion all removable parts to protect them en route. Remember your charger, lens wipes and cleaning supplies, but limit your lithium batteries to two to meet TSA restrictions.

• Learn the best techniques for photographing people. You could spend years studying this topic, but basic strategies might include starting with a 50mm prime lens for its wide capabilities, and perhaps switching to an 85mm prime for more classic portraiture. Shooting at a speed of 1/125 sec or more helps you avoid blurry eye and facial movement. Note that all skin tones look best in early morning or early evening light.

Great photos are one element of your vacation you can enjoy long after you've returned to your normal routine. Make preparations ahead of time that allow you to capture the best possible images while you're off on your next adventure.

Recommended for you