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Travel Photography Tip #4: The Rule of Thirds  

Taking travel photographs used to be easy. We just pointed the camera and shot. But now that our standards are higher, we need to use what’s known as the “rule of thirds” so our photo composition is more pleasing to the eye.

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Taking travel photographs used to be easy. We just pointed the camera and shot. The pictures didn’t always end up looking good but they were physical reminders of the trip we took. Now that our standards are higher, we need to use what’s known as the “rule of thirds” so our photo composition is more pleasing to the eye. In this article, we’ll explain just what that rule is all about.

Ever since digital photography has taken off, we have been able to immediately see if the picture is good or not. Our expectations have been raised so much with all the high-quality pictures online. Let’s look at what the rule of thirds is and how you can best apply it to make your travel photography really stand out.

Composition

First lets understand what composition is and how it makes pictures more appealing. Composition is arranging the elements of a picture so they are most engaging to the viewer. So you want to frame your photographs in a way that more people will find it interesting and enjoy looking at it. That’s what the whole idea of photography is, making it look neat so people will want to view it.

Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is a standard way of composing your photographs where the picture is divided up into thirds vertically and horizontally. These guidelines are not really there but you can mentally use them for reference when lining up your shot. By dividing up the screen we can now place crucial elements in the intersecting areas. These lines signify places where visually stimulating pieces are placed.

If you have a landscape picture with trees and a barn, you’ll want to take the picture from a vantage point where the barn and trees are in different thirds. Doing this will make the picture more visually favorable and therefore a better travel photography.

Examples

A simple way to understand this principle is to never center your subject in the frame. Instead, put your subject on one of the thirds horizontally, so they are off-center and the picture has more depth. Or, if you are shooting a landscape, try not to split the screen in half by the horizon, instead put it on a third. By dividing the photo into thirds, you make it more appealing and visually attractive.

 

Fortunately, most cameras nowadays have a grid function, which superimposes a grid over your viewfinder or LCD screen so you can properly line up the shot. Using the grid is the easiest way to train your eye to think in the rule of thirds.

When you are about to take a travel photo, its important to understand what the subject is and what the key points of interest are. Where should you place these elements in the picture so it’s most favorable and looks the best? This is what using the rule of thirds to take a fantastic photo is all about.

When you are out and about, try seeing things in the rule of thirds and line up your eyes as if you were framing up a pic. Being a photographer isn’t too hard as long as you follow some pretty easy steps. Take your time and don’t rush the shot, it’s supposed to be your memory so make it count.

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Guides

Travel Photography Tip #7: Have Fun With A GoPro

The GoPro has revolutionized the way we can capture our adventures at every angle and during every exciting moment. 

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In this installment in my series on travel photography, we’ll discuss the importance and awesomeness of the GoPro. I feel like I should mention that I have received nothing from GoPro and am only writing this on my sincere recommendation.

The GoPro has revolutionized the way we can capture our adventures at every angle and during every exciting moment. The camera shoots still photos and video with an interesting fisheye lens. They are waterproof and shock resistance so you can basically do any activity with these bad boys capturing every moment.

The best part is GoPros are very affordable, the batteries last a long time and you can take GoPros where normal cameras can’t go. You can shoot for hours on one battery life and memory card and these cameras can literally anywhere and under almost any circumstances.

The only caveat is the fisheye lens takes some getting used to. I advise some practice shoots before your big trip so you can get accustomed to the camera and lens.

Here are my tips for taking the best GoPro photos and video.

KEEP IT STEADY

These little cameras are super sensitive so make sure you keep them steady. Any movement can make the video seem shaky or images seem blurry. Remember this when you are taking video the most as movements can really affect the quality of the video. Of course with an action camera movement is going to happen, so try and make the movements smooth.

These things shoot incredible video and stills so practice makes perfect and getting used to the lens takes some time.

SHOOT FROM THE HIP

With this I mean, remember that this camera shoots with a fisheye lens, so you must account for this when lining up your shot. Try to shoot for a lower center and you will have the best composition possible. Luckily with digital photography, we can mess with the composition in post to correct little adjustments. If you are taking a selfie with a GoPro, remember to aim lower so you capture your whole body instead of just your face and a lot of sky.

TIME-LAPSE

Try out the time-lapse function of the camera to get the best selfies. Remember to switch the camera angle and your expression to get the best picks. You can trash the unwanted ones later, but the time lapse is a great tool. The camera shoots in bursts from 2 to 10 seconds in between shots.

GET THE RIGHT ACCESSORIES

Accessories make the GoPro so accessible and adventure ready. Make sure you get the right accessories for your trip. What are you going to be doing and where?

WATER

Grip Floatie: Get the floatie grip for snorkeling and scuba trips. This handle extender also acts as a float in case you drop your camera from excitement.

Surf Mount: Get the surf mount obviously if you plan on hitting the ocean waves. It clips to the nose of your board so you can get some awesome shots of you ripping up the waves.

Anti-fog: Get these inserts for your waterproof housing so your camera doesn’t fog up and become unusable.

ADVENTURE

Chest Mount: Get the chest mount for hands-free adventures. Your camera mounts directly to your chest so you can record first-person video form some awesome locations.

Selfie Stick: These convenient devices have gotten a bad rap, they are extremely useful and a must buy.

Sticky Mounts: These one time stickers can be mounted on anything and gives you the opportunity to get some interesting and exciting camera angles.

MAKE SURE THE LENS IS CLEAN

This is serious, these little cameras can get dirty easily and a small smudge on the lens or housing can ruin all your pictures. Carry a lens cleaner and constantly check your lens for the best pictures possible.

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Destinations

Unique Japanese Christmas Treat: KFC Chicken!

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One of the holiday season hallmarks, especially during Christmas Eve, is a sumptuous feast joined by family members. This tradition is celebrated across the globe, including Japan. Let us take a look at how the Japanese celebrate their Christmas Eve.

Unique Christmas Meal

Colonel Sanders seems to be making a buzz this year with his controversial movie and his famous Kentucky Fried Chicken Recipe as a Japanese Christmas treat! Yes, you heard that right! KFC for Christmas? It is one of the unique traditions in Japan that makes for a beautiful Christmas.

The Origins: KFC as a Japanese Christmas Treat

Buying KFC chicken as part of the Japanese Christmas Eve menu is very typical according to some local Japanese folks, including Naomi, who have waited in line practically the whole afternoon to purchase a KFC party barrel which is comprised of heaps of KFC chicken, coleslaw, mashed potato, and even a Christmas cake! According to Naomi, this is a tradition she took up even from her parents, who had the same habit of buying the KFC Party Barrel for Christmas Ever. Apparently, Naomi is one of the many local Japanese folks who partake in this unique Christmas tradition.

Happy Holidays from Colonel Sanders

So how exactly did KFC become a popular tradition in Japan? This dates back to the 1950s after World War II, where Japan was slowly bouncing back from its economic setbacks from the war. According to a history expert, Japan was in a place where their economic power was slowly building up, and they were able to indulge in consumer culture. Because of the Western influence, the US was something that Japan adhered to and looked up to – and it was also during this time that western restaurants started setting up franchises on Japanese soil. The likes of Mister Donut, Pancake House, and Baskin-Robbins began to establish their western roots in the Asian country, and KFC was no exception. KFC first launched its restaurant in Nagoya, Japan, back in 1970. Ten years later, KFC expanded to over 300 stores across the country and made over $200 million per year.

During the early 1970s, Japan did not have an established Christmas tradition as less than 1% of the Japanese population identified themselves as Christians. KFC saw this as a huge gap and a marketing strategy. It launched its “Kentucky for Christmas” campaign, which markets a KFC meal during the holiday season as a way for families to bond together over good food. They have also launched the party barrel, which was a perfect Christmas feast for the Japanese families.

However, there are conflicting stories on how KFC became a Christmas tradition. One perspective mentioned that KFC falsely advertised that KFC was the usual holiday meal in the United States to boost its sales. Another story noted that a foreigner visiting Japan requested KFC to deliver their world-famous chicken using a Santa suit. Others said that the chicken was a replacement for turkey for the western celebration of thanksgiving.

No matter the origins of how KFC became a favorite Christmas eve meal, it seemed to have worked because sales are up to during the holiday season. KFC raised $63 million from December 20 to 25 in 2018 alone! People also started to get in line beginning December 23 to taste the yummy KFC chicken with 11 secret herbs and spices.

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Guides

Travel Photography Tip #2: Choose The Right Camera

The 2nd chapter in our series focusing on getting the best out of your travel photography. 

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Choose the Right Camera 

Travel photos can be wonderful reminders of the amazing trip you took or can be horrible reminders of your photography failures. Don’t let the pictures be bad memories, instead follow my ongoing tips on travel photos and be the expert we all know you can be.

This tip is an important one; chose the right camera to fit your travel wants and needs. Cameras are so high tech nowadays that anyone can take amazing photos with little to no training or they can be nightmares.

Who wants an out of focus picture?

Who wants to carry all these lenses and extra batteries around? 

Where did I leave my camera charger?

Can this camera get wet? 

Do I go old school and use film or should I stay in this century and go digital?

So many questions and I’m here to answer them all.

First, let’s talk about what you want your camera to do. Do you want supremely detailed portraits of locals? Do you want basic landscape pictures to show your family your travels? Do you want a camera to take snorkeling and mountain climbing with? Ok, I can help. There are three main types of cameras I’ll discuss: Point and Shoot, DSLR and Underwater.

 

Point and Shoot:

Also known as CDC or Compact Digital Cameras, these wonderful little modern marvels are usually less than $450 USD and extremely durable. These are your basic digital cameras that you and many of your friends use. These are your best option if you’re worried about price, portability, and weight. They are small, cheap and travel easily. You won’t need a separate camera bag, extra batteries or annoying film canisters. Current point and shoot cameras take fantastic photos and are affordable, so they are a great choice for backpackers and light travelers.

All photos are stored on memory cards that are tiny in actual size, so their portability ratings are very high.

 

DSLR

DSLR stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex, which to the layman basically means they have a mirror that reflects the camera’s image for finer details. DSLR will give you better depth of field and has many more lens options. These higher-end cameras are better for shooting sports wildlife and portraits. The larger lens creates more details but is much more fragile. I recommend a separate camera bag for =your DSLR and all its lens, batteries and accessories.

These cameras range anywhere from $500 USD for the baseline models all the way up to $10,000 USD. The pictures taken by these are fantastic and super high definition. I recommend these style cameras if you want to take your photography a little more seriously and want to invest more money. These cameras can be money pits since there are so many accessories and optional things to purchase.

 

Action Camera

These class cameras are your waterproof and shockproof phenomenon. GoPro is the industry standard and has really exploded on the photography scene. The whole market was basically just created recently and the technology has begun to rapidly improve. These cameras, along with the appropriate cases can turn these into indestructible beasts. With added attachments, they can be secured to surfboards, helmets, and extenders to really get the most out of them. GoPros have recently become very affordable with the base package starting around $250. They shoot in fisheye lens standard but with adjustments, they can shoot in regular aspects.

I recommend these bad boys for any adventure travelers or backpackers since they can shoot movies or stills with the simple push of a button.

Hopefully, these tips help you choose which camera type is perfect for you.

Happy photo taking and memory capturing.

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