Most of us love to travel and it is getting to be that time of year again when we venture out to wander a bit more frequently. Taking photographs of your travels is an important aspect; we naturally want to document where we go and what we see and do. Cell phone technology has changed the way we take photographs and most of us rely on our phone as our only source to capture our memories. DSLR cameras can be big and clunky to carry with us day in and day out when exploring and point and shoot cameras, although much smaller don’t offer us much more control then our phone cameras. When you consider how good cell phone cameras are these days coupled with the portability it is almost a no brainer.


If our cell phone camera is the only thing we are taking on our adventures, it might be nice to have a bit more control. We talked a bit in past tips and tricks about lenses and tripod mounts you can get for your phone, these make it nice to zoom in, zoom out and stabilize the camera but how about exposure? Have you ever been in a situation where you pointed your camera at a scene and when using the cell phone default camera and your image either ended up being too bright or too dark? This is typically because your phone camera chooses one portion of the scene to both focus and base your exposure.


VSCO is a great camera solution that offers both an excellent camera with more flexibility for capturing an accurate exposure as well as some great editing tools we will cover shortly. So, everything is bundled neatly in one little package.


VSCO does offer a exposure option that lets us capture an image based on the one point exposure/focus point, this is useful in some situations where the scene is well lit, not too bright or too dark in any one area. Sometimes a scenario will become tricky when part of the scene is in shade and part brightly lit. In the image above, this single focus/exposure point is placed on the shadowed landscape at the bottom of the frame. You can see that the camera exposed for this dark area and overexposed the scene.


In the above image, the opposite effect is happening. When the focus/exposure point is placed in the bright sky, the image becomes very dark and almost black in the bottom. With the VSCO Camera you can easily touch the screen with 2 fingers rather then one to break up your focus and exposure points.


In this final image, the exposure is placed on the horizon, a good average for brightness in the scene while the focus point is placed on the rocks closest to the camera. With this small adjustment you can capture a more true-life exposure of this otherwise tricky scene to capture.  Here is one more example of a tricky exposure scenario where this VSCO feature came in handy.


Some other tips to consider when shooting on your travels:

Always look for good light! Light is going to be the number one thing that will improve your photographs. Of course you cannot always be shooting at sunrise or sunset but look for ways that the light reflects off a surface or rakes across a texture.


Look for details! Less is more most often and focusing in on an interesting feature will sometimes be more interesting then trying to include too much in one photograph.


Tilt the camera! This can sometimes be distracting if you do it for not reason but sometimes lining the camera up with a strong line in your composition can emphasize that line or pattern.

Look at everything! This might take some practice but with a little effort you will start to notice subtle details that might have escaped you before.

Some of our favorite travel photographers:

Sam Abell: Sam Abell worked for National Geographic for many years and traveled the world. He often speaks about light and how finding and working with good light is key to making striking photographs.

Timothy O’Sullivan captured images of his travels in the west back in the 1800’s! Not only was the camera he used extremely large, sometimes as large as 20×24 inches but he also had to process the images he captured during the journey. This involved a very complex dark room carted by a wagon as part of his gear.


© Timothy O’Sullivan


© Timothy O’Sullivan


© Timothy O’Sullivan


© Timothy O’Sullivan

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