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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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Travel

Stop Checking Your Bags And Start Living Free

Don’t Check your Luggage Airlines and airports are modern marvels which I’m amazed run as well as they do, but even well-oiled machines have their problems. Hundreds of airplanes, thousands of people traveling in different directions and each with bags of personal belongings, mistakes are bound to be made. There are too many moving parts […]

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Don’t Check your Luggage

Airlines and airports are modern marvels which I’m amazed run as well as they do, but even well-oiled machines have their problems. Hundreds of airplanes, thousands of people traveling in different directions and each with bags of personal belongings, mistakes are bound to be made. There are too many moving parts to trust a machine that big, that’s why I never check my luggage.

 

I hate checking my luggage when I fly and you should too. Checking a bag just complicates things and is essentially a waste of my precious time. I’ve logged hundreds of thousands of airline miles and the one thing I can definitively say is that checking luggage is bad news.  

I’m a professional traveler, one who lives out of a suitcase for weeks at a time and I never check my bag with the airlines. Checking luggage is another cost that these airlines tack on to an already hefty price tag. Checking bags cost extra money that I’d rather spend on my trip. Some airlines do offer free checked bags but restrictions usually apply, so its best practices to figure out your carrier’s baggage rules ahead of time.

 

Not only do most airlines charge you to check luggage, they regularly go lost and sometimes are even ransacked by airport employees. My mother had her digital camera stolen from a checked bag, granted she shouldn’t have checked her digital camera in the first place.  Theft and damaged bags is a serious problem that airlines and airports don’t seem to take seriously.

It’s no secret that airlines lose luggage and never give you a good excuse as to why. Many times they are just delayed because they missed a connecting flight, but any delay in not having your personal belongings can really ruin a trip.

 

Is there anything worse on a trip than the airline losing your luggage? How about checking your suitcase and when you get to your destination, something of value has gone missing? These scenarios can ruin a perfectly good vacation, so why put your fun in the hands of others? I’ve been burned by the airlines enough to learn my lesson and hopefully you can learn from my experiences too.

If you learn how to pack your carry on bag correctly and only bring the bare essentials, anyone can forgo checking of bags altogether. Now I understand that not every trip allows you to go checked bag free but to ease your travels I suggest you make an effort. Packing smart and planning ahead are your two keys to victory and a hassle-free experience.

 

I always tell people that if you can’t wear something multiple times during a trip then you probably don’t need to bring it. Of course, circumstances arise where you need to bring something special, in these cases you can make sacrifices to make it all fit. I tend to pack one less of everything I think I need. If I’m packing two pairs of jeans, I’ll toss one last second and go with my gut.

Always remember that hotels have laundry and it’s easy to do a quick load or two mid-trip to essentially double your wardrobe. Resorts and higher-end hotels will even offer a laundry service so you don’t even have to break a sweat. I love staying at AirBnb’s where you can choose laundry as one of your search criteria, so you know you’ll have in-house laundry.

For some people packing light is a terrifying ordeal and you can’t imagine not having choices. Sounds like my wife, but once she planned ahead and packed smart, she was amazed at how convenient packing light truly is. Save yourself the hassle of having a bulky bag when you get to your destination and enjoy the freedom of packing light.

Time is the most valuable asset we all have and you only get so much, so save as much as possible by not checking a bag. Arriving at the airport hours in advance and waiting at the gate for an hour or so is a real drag and is seriously cutting into your pina colada time. Save yourself an hour on each end of your flight and get your vacation on.

 

Tips to Pack Smart

Russian Doll

Everything has a home when you are packing smart, so learn from the Russian Dolls that your grandmother probably had. Russian dolls perfectly fit inside each other to save space, think about this principle with packing. Socks balled up can fit inside your shoes; extra purses should be packed with underwear or other small garments. If you pack like this then you will be amazed at how little space you actually need.

Plastic Bags

Pack each individual article of clothing in a plastic bag that has a zip top enclosure and vacuum seal each bag by sucking excess air out.  This packing trick is an excellent way to make extra room in your luggage and also helps you organize your bag.

Make a List

I’m a list maker and a double checker, but these practices actually help with packing smart. I try and plan out my outfits by checking what the weather will be like and packing accordingly.

Layers

Layers are your best friend when packing light. Believe me when I say that three shirts and a windbreaker pack much easier than a bulky winter jacket. Each layer can be worn separately to create varied looks.

Pack smart, pack light and never check your luggage again.


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Travel

Woman Finds A Puppy Abandoned In An Airport Bathroom With A Note

What would you do if you were traveling in an airport and you found an abandoned puppy in a bathroom with a note detailing how it was abused? Well, that is exactly what happened recently at the McCarran Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada.     A woman found a tiny 3-month-old chihuahua mix with a […]

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What would you do if you were traveling in an airport and you found an abandoned puppy in a bathroom with a note detailing how it was abused? Well, that is exactly what happened recently at the McCarran Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada.

 

 

A woman found a tiny 3-month-old chihuahua mix with a note that said the owner was fleeing an abusive relationship and couldn’t afford to take the puppy with her but didn’t want to leave it with her ex-boyfriend who has already physically abused the dog.

 

 

The note said, “Hi, I’m Chewy, my owner was in an abusive relationship and couldn’t afford me to get on the flight. She didn’t wad to leave me with all her heart but she had no other option. My ex-boyfriend kicked my dog when we were fighting and he has a big knot on his head. He probably needs a vet. I love Chewy so much, please love and take care of him. XOXOXOXOXOXO.”

 

 

 

Luckily the woman who found him alerted authorities and the little guy has since been relocated to Connor and Millie’s Dog Rescue. This rescue has covered all of little Chewy’s veterinarian bills and has nursed him back to health. Now, the story of little Chewy has gone viral and there are tons of families that want to bring him home.

Chewy is being fostered and is currently up for adoption but so far, Connor and Millie’s has been absolutely flooded with people wanting to adopt the little guy. The ending to this story is very happy as he has another shot at a good life with a family that will love and cares for him.

 

 

It’s things like these that make us realize it is good in the world and we just have to look for it extra hard sometimes.

Animals shouldn’t be mixed up in our relationships and especially not in fights. If you see something say something…
Animal abuse is a serious crime and should be treated as such.

Luckily, little Chewy got out and is finding a new, safe home.

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Travel Photography Tip #1 : Vantage Point

Vantage Point: A beautiful and instagramable travel photograph doesn’t just appear out of nowhere, instead, it is created. Photography can make anybody nervous and unsure about your approach, but a good eye is a start. Having a keen eye is crucial to being a photographer, but what about us normal, non-professional picture takers? That’s why […]

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Vantage Point:

A beautiful and instagramable travel photograph doesn’t just appear out of nowhere, instead, it is created. Photography can make anybody nervous and unsure about your approach, but a good eye is a start. Having a keen eye is crucial to being a photographer, but what about us normal, non-professional picture takers? That’s why I made this blog, for people who want amazing pictures but don’t know where to start. Let’s get your Instagram account some hearts and maybe some recognition from your friends and family.

I’m no Ansel Adams or Annie Leibowitz, but I sure as hell can take some cool travel pictures that will turn heads. I take the time to know the proper protocol that a professional may follow and I practice. That’s what is so convenient about digital photography, you can trial and error all day and all you have to do is erase your memory card and start all over again.

 

My first tip for taking amazing travel photography is Vantage point. This is the view that a photograph is taken from. When I speak of vantage point being important to photography, I’m talking about changing up the normal human eye level view. The most common vantage point for travel photography is eye level because it’s the easiest. Sometimes to make an omelet you must crack a few eggs.

A novice photographer will take most pictures from eye level and the results will look average at best. To spice it up here are my 4 keys to changing your vantage point.

 

1- Height

Get above the action to make a photograph memorable. A bird’s eye view is always a crowd pleaser because it’s not our normal view. The higher you get the grander the scale will become. A little work like climbing up a ladder or scaling some stairs will increase the majesty and magnitude of your photos.

 

2- Look Around

When taking a photo from eye level, scan around and see if something up or down takes your attention. A simple scan of your environment will sometimes reveal a very interesting subject and angle. Architecture and statues will benefit from this perspective. Sometimes an unusual perspective will be fascinating for the viewers. 

3- Subject’s Perspective

This is a harder concept to grasp but when shooting a subject, look at the world as it would. Meaning that if you are shooting a dog, try getting low and shoot it as if another dog was taking the picture. Similarly, if you are shooting a stature, try and get up to a higher vantage point to shoot it at eye level.

 

4- Get Dirty

This may be the most important and most overlooked tip for taking a great travel photograph. Sometimes you have to get dirty to get the job done. We all know you are wearing your new outfit but if you want a lasting pic, maybe you’ll have to ruin that shirt if you want the shot. If you aren’t totally prepared to lie on the ground or stand in a puddle to get the angle that makes the subject look epic, you will fail. Don’t be afraid to look odd, twist your body to contortionist levels to snap the most impressive picture.

Good luck out there and hopefully changing your vantage point will start you on the road to taking professional level pictures and ramping up your Instagram account.

 

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