South African blogger Natalie Roos provides her top tips for taking amazing photographs

There’s nothing like travelling to a dream destination to inspire photography or reignite a passion for the art. The bright blues of Chefchaouen, warm yellows of India’s Golden City, the icy whites of Iceland’s jaw-dropping landscapes — it’s enough to turn even the most casual happy-snapper into a wannabe pro. When it comes to capturing a dream trip in a series of great photos, preparation is key. 

1 A good setup

My essential travel setup consists of a mirrorless camera (Fujifilm X-T10) with an 18–35 mm kit lens and a 35 mm fixed lens. It’s light and easy enough to carry around everywhere from a food market to a mountain trail, and these two versatile lenses are perfect for switching out between shooting landscapes or cityscapes and people shots or food. I also ensure I have a drive with me to make sure I can immediately store all the photos I take.

© Natalie Roos
© Natalie Roos

2 Accessories are key when travelling solo

I like to be in my travel photos so if I’m travelling alone, I’ll take a lightweight tripod everywhere I go. I’ll take time to set up my shot before stepping in and using my phone to shoot using my camera’s Wifi and mobile app. If you’re too shy to do this, I recommend looking around for a couple of travellers who are taking pictures of each other, offering to get a shot of them together then asking them to just press the shutter release 10 times while you’re moving around in front of the camera. it takes several shots to eventually get to one great picture which is why I use a tool like the LaCie DJI Copilot since it allows me to upload all the pictures I’ve taken without the need for a laptop. This allows me to take several pictures, effortlessly transfer the entire batch and keep shooting new content.

3 Always ask first

Before I shoot any pictures of people, I’ll ask if the subject minds being photographed. It can feel intimidating but offering a quick smile and a ‘Do you mind?’ while pointing at the camera is easy to understand in any language. It’s especially important to remember this when shooting pictures of kids — I’ll always ask the adult with them whether it’s okay before I take a picture.

4 Light is your friend

When shooting at night, a tripod is essential. Use whichever of your lenses has the lowest aperture or take it down to the lowest possible setting. Then set your ISO up to between 800 and 1600, depending on how dark it is. Set your shutter to stay open for 10 seconds and set a two-second timer so that pressing the shutter release doesn’t cause your image to blur.

I also try to shoot at golden hour — the hour just after sunrise and just before sunset. This light creates ideal shooting conditions with soft golden hues that are great for both landscapes and portraiture. If you are shooting in the middle of the day, you can take your IOS all the way down to around 400. In bright light, you can set your shutter speed to around 125/1000. A polariser will also help you work with bright light by filtering the harshness of the sun’s rays.

5 A good edit is everything

Great editing can really take your photography to the next level. I use Lightroom on desktop and mobile to create a uniform grading aesthetic across all my images. You can create your own look and feel in Lightroom and save it as a preset to add to all your images, or you can buy presets made by your favourite photographers and adjust them to suit your images. Using presets cuts down the time it takes to edit your images and helps you create a style for your own photography.

© Natalie Roos
© Natalie Roos