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Travel Photography Tip #3: Magic Hour

You don’t have to be a professional photographer to take the perfect travel photos; all you need are some good techniques. The magic hour is an hour after sunrise or an hour before sunset, when the natural light is perfect for capturing your subject in all its glory.  

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You don’t have to be a professional photographer to take the perfect travel photos; all you need are some good techniques. A great picture doesn’t have to be perfect but it should be visually stimulating and pleasing to the eye. I’m no pro, but I do take high-quality photos and it’s because I follow my own guidelines. I can remember just a few years ago, I was completely an amateur and my photos looked like it. After some practice and a little research, I was able to pinpoint some important rules to taking great travel photos.

Today we will talk about when to take pictures, focusing on the time of day. Lighting is important to a photo because it allows all aspects to be clearly visible. The magic hour is terminology that every photographer, professional or amateur, should understand. The magic hour is an hour after sunrise or an hour before sunset, when the natural light is perfect for capturing your subject in all its glory.  

A good photographer will get up early or stay out late just to get the right shot and this includes the magic hour.  Photos not taken during these magic hours are often too bright or not illuminated enough, so it rewards the shutterbug for their efforts. Overcast skies resemble the lighting of the magic hour, so pray for cloudy skies; your photos will thank you.

EARLY

Waking up early can be very beneficial for capturing some amazing photos. If you are trying to take pictures in an already busy tourist area, getting up before the sun rises will help you beat the crowds. Nobody is clamoring to look at crowds of people in line to see an attraction, so beat the rush and get there early. You won’t be the only one with a camera early; it’s a common practice among professionals.   I can guarantee that your pictures will be better without hordes of people and your subjects will be clearer.

If you are searching for the magic hour, you had better find out when sunrise and sunset are. Knowing this will help you be in place when the magic hour strikes.

The weather will have a bearing on your pictures, so check the forecast to see if your early rising will be worth the trouble. The mornings are often more gloomy than evenings so be prepared for an overcast sky. Many will think that overcast skies are bad for photography, when in fact, it makes the magic hour last much longer.

By waking up early, you get an interesting view of things seldom seen by tourists. Most tourists travel on similar schedules, making attractions busy during popular times and photos less unique. I like to see how huge operations like farmers markets are set up; it lets you see how the locals live, which makes for excellent travel snapshots.

LATE

Staying out late to get the images you desire is a great technique for taking amazing travel pictures. I’m sure you’ve seen photos of cityscapes, with the downtown lights twinkling in the night sky. These are some of my favorites vignettes, showing just how bustling a city can be. I like to take these and compare to see which locals I visit have the most active nightlife.

Some cities, like Las Vegas, just look better at night. Vegas is a city that at night looks like one of the eight wonders of the world and during the day, it looks like one of the saddest, worn out cities imaginable. You want the vibrant color of the city lights with an almost black backdrop, so I advise you search for that magic hour. If it is too dark, the shadows can overtake the beauty of the photo and you may lose some contrast.

When shooting at night, I also recommend using a tripod, to help stabilize your camera. Many times, cameras at night will use a higher sensitivity lens, which takes longer to actually take the picture. This time taking the picture means you must keep the camera stable the entire time or it can easily be out of focus.

Remember to use these tips and you will be taking radical travel photos in no time.  The magic hour or Golden Hour is short-lived, so be prepared and take some amazing photos.

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Destinations

Zip Lines For The Adrenaline Junkie

We talked to our travel team and came up with our favorite zip line adventures around the globe so you can keep on zipping you crazy zipper!

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     Riding on a zip line is the thrill of a lifetime. There is nothing quite like jumping off and feeling the wind rushing through your hair as you propel over various bridges or trees. No matter where, you’re bound to feel like a true superhero. We talked to our travel team and came up with our favorite zip line adventures around the globe so you can keep on zipping!

Zip World Velocity
     If you find yourself in Wales then be on the lookout for the longest zip line in all of Europe. This thing travels along 1,600 yards… you will definitely be getting your money’s worth here. You will take a long, effortless ride over beautiful mountains and water, glazing over many beautiful sites. We suggest you have a convenient camera handy. If that sounds too big for you, they have a smaller version available to you as well. You can still get your thrills without freaking.

El Monstruo
     Puerto Rico is home to many great zip lines but none better than “El Monstruo,” translating to “The Monster” in English. This is officially the longest zip line in the world according to the Guinness World Record books. This line is astoundingly 8,300 feet long so you will be zipping on down for over a mile. Jungles are cool, especially when you get to experience them from a bird’s eye view, literally! You will be one fast bird too, considering this ride gets up to speeds of 95 mph so if you’re looking for a serious thrill then this is the one for you.

Cloudscraper
     Thrillseekers beware, the Cloudscraper is scarier than you may think. This zip line is super high up and will definitely make the hair on the back of your neck stand up when you take in the whole experience. You will get a beautiful view of the incredible Royal Gorge as you fly overhead. You’ll feel a lot like Wile E. Coyote right after making a wrong turn, except you won’t fall when you look down, you’ll just scream in ecstasy as you enjoy your fantastic ride.

Zipflyer
     When most people think about Nepal they don’t think about the awesome thrill-seeking adventures they can partake in besides climbing Everest. Well, maybe Everest will soon take a back seat to zip-lining thanks to the Zipflyer in the Himalayas. This zip line is unique because you will partake in a 2,000-foot vertical drop that will leave you squealing with delight. You better be an adrenaline junky if you want to take this zip line on because it is for sure to shock and amaze you all the way down.


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Destinations

Souvenirs That Won’t Cost A Thing

Spend all of your money on traveling safely then use these tips to take home some free or practically free souvenirs that are great mementos from your fantastic vacation that you can hold onto for a lifetime.

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     Traveling costs money. We all spend so much on airline tickets, lodging, as well as destination and touring costs. Rarely do we plan on saving enough money to buy souvenirs. Don’t bother skimping on your lodging or flight just so you can buy some souvenirs. Make sure you’re staying somewhere safe so that you make it to that lodging safely… and in one piece. So, we recommend spending all of your money on traveling safely. Therefore, rather than buying pointless purchased items, use these tips to take home some free or practically free souvenirs that are great mementos from your fantastic vacation that you can hold onto for a lifetime. 

Photos

     You’re going to take dozens of photos when you’re on a trip – those evoke many more memories than some small tchotchke you buy at a shop. A refrigerator magnet is not worth 1,000 words. In fact, it’s worth about 2 words, refrigerator, and magnet. A photo, however, reminds you of your memorable trip. Plus, there’s typically a far more interesting story behind it compared to the refrigerator magnet. People will much rather look at your photos than your magnets and your trip will seem a whole lot more dazzling when you show them. 

Postcards

     Postcards are photos that have been taken by another party but have already been printed for your convenience. Postcards aren’t free but they cost hardly anything and they’re sturdy enough meaning there’s a strong chance they’ll survive the trip back home. If you buy a vase or something similar, odds are that it’ll break when you attempt to transport it home. Further, the designs in foreign countries are very unique – making it very different compared to whats at home.

Sand and Seashells

     Talk about cheap! Filling a zip lock bag with sand and shells is the cheapest souvenir possible. You may feel a little funny spending a day on your vacation scooping sand into a bag, but once you get home and throw the sand and shells in a jar you will be left with a beautiful memento from your trip that will surely be the envy of all of your friends. 

Ticket Stubs

     You’re going to go see these wonderful sites and shows while on vacation anyway. So why not save your ticket stubs so you have a free piece to not only remember your historic trip to the museum, theater, or concert? Ticket stubs make great mementos and are often linked with some of the most memorable moments of your trip. Therefore, save the stubs and bring them home. All of these souvenirs are way more meaningful than ones you can buy in stores, anyways.


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When A Sweet Tooth Travels Around North America

We spoke with our colleagues and compiled a list of three of our favorite cities that are chock full of sweets.

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     So, you have a crazy sweet tooth but no one nearby has quite the ideal selection to satisfy your sugar-addicted palette. What are you to do? You might be able to find poor/cheap knock-offs on Amazon or another online candy conglomerate, but we both know your true feelings. You won’t be sweetly satisfied until the real-deal sweetness touches your tongue – sending your dopamines into a frenzy. When the cravings hit, there’s no turning back. 

We talked to our colleagues and compiled a list of our favorite cities that are chock full of sweets so you can satisfy your sweet tooth while on a lovely vacation. I mean really, why can’t you have both?

OCEAN CITY, NEW JERSEY

     Ocean City is known for its historic boardwalk. There are a variety of specialized shops that sell all the sweets you can imagine. From ice cream to fudge to taffy, you will find it all at the Ocean City boardwalk. Bakeries, candy shops, and ice cream parlors will leave you foaming at the mouth and you’ll be in a sugar coma in no time. But don’t worry, if you need to get your salt levels up then just hop in the ocean and take a few swallows. Now your salt and sugar levels are balanced out. Is that how it works? We have no idea, we’re not scientists. Whatever your plans are, Ocean City has you covered when it comes to your east coast needs. 

ST. CATHARINES, ONTARIO, CANADA

     If you love donuts, then St. Catharines is the place you’ve got to check out. This place has a huge selection of donuts, so bring a big appetite and some waist-expanding pants. You can put down dozen after dozen of donuts and never eat the same one twice. One store alone offers up to 20 different donuts each day. So, expand your donut horizons while stuffing your face. Donuts are heavenly and so is St. Catharines.

LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA

     The home of Snoop Dogg is also home to the ice cream capital of the US. Residents in this city eat more ice cream than any other city in the country. Now that’s a lot of ice cream! You can find the regular flavors everywhere, or you can experiment with new ones like goat cheese, whiskey fig ice cream, or salted caramel fudge. No matter what kind of ice cream you want, you’ll find mounds of it in the LBC. Now that’s what I call sublime.

Remember, your hometown surely has a secret treat that you’re not really aware of but remember, a vacation can bring you much more than just some R&R. Let it bring with it the sweets of your dreams. 


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