Improving Your Image Through Visual Communications

Journalist - Photographer - Writer

Saturday 29 August 2009

5 tips for taking better travel photographs

By Darren Stones

When travelling, photography can be an integral part of your journey. Sure, we all enjoy savouring the sights, tastes and tourist hot spots, however travel photography provides opportunity to create and enjoy a memorable experience.

Here's 5 tips to assist you to take better travel photographs:

No. 1 – Use the golden hour for better landscape scenes

Serious landscape photographers utilise the golden hour to their advantage. Inspect the best landscape photographs, and you’ll notice that the sun is generally low in the sky. The first and last sunlit hour of the day produces a softer light for quality landscapes.

Even though photographing during these times can be difficult due to a busy travel schedule, make the effort and you’ll be rewarded with better quality images.

Dog Rocks, Batesford, Victoria, Australia IMG_4013-1_Dog Rocks

No. 2 – Photograph people

Taking photos of people is a vital part of travel photography. People like to know about people and they like to know what they look like. So, take people photos and expand your portfolio.

A city or town is about its people and culture – not just its buildings and scenery. Walk around with a smile, greet people as you pass them, and become part of the surroundings.

If you see someone engaged in an activity, approach them in a friendly manner. Introduce yourself and tell them you’re a visitor to the region. Tell them you’re a travel photographer who likes to take photos of people. Ask if you can take their photograph as they’re engaged in an activity. Go in close with a wide-angle zoom to create a dynamic portrait.

Candelo Hotel, New South Wales, Australia,  Bobby O'Brien, Nobby McMahon & Kevin Slater IMG_2253_Bobby_O'Brien_Nobby_McMahon_Kevin_Slater

No. 3 – Stick around for sunset, and linger a little longer

When travelling, most people don’t take photographs at sunset, preferring to dine and savour a region’s tastes. Take a look behind you when the sun is setting as it may be highlighting buildings or trees.

Sometimes the best photographs are taken during sunset. Stay for the afterglow, because this can assist in producing unique architectural shots. With fading light, and street lights aglow, it’s an ideal time to photograph buildings.

Beechworth, Victoria, Australia, bank IMG_9968_Beechworth

No. 4 – Image format

Some subjects look better in portrait format compared to landscape. If in doubt, shoot both formats. When you’re home analysing your photos on the computer decide which looks best. For instance: lighthouses can be framed tightly in portrait format, or, framed in landscape with interesting surroundings.

Split Point Lighthouse, Aireys Inlet, Victoria, Australia IMG_5300_Aireys_Inlet

Split Point Lighthouse, Aireys Inlet, Victoria, Australia IMG_5312_Aireys_Inlet

No. 5 – Less is more

I believe the best travel photos are uncluttered and simple in composition. There’s a tendency amongst less experienced photographers to try and fit everything in, with the eventual image becoming a lot of tiny objects.

I’ll share a method I use. At times, I’ll slowly walk around with the camera to my eye searching for a strong composition. Of course when doing this, take care of where you walk, otherwise you could end up on your backside or over a cliff.

Perry Sandhills, Wentworth, New South Wales, Australia IMG_6322_Wentworth

Commence planning your next journey with the intention to create attractive travel photographs. Research the places you intend to visit via the internet, newspapers, magazines and travel guidebooks.

Sharpen your photographic eye before you leave by photographing in your local area or nearby region. Increase your chances of producing quality travel images by researching, preparing and skilfully executing.

Happy travels.

View the Darren Stones Australian Travel Photography video on YouTube.

Friday 28 August 2009

What is a good travel photograph?

By Darren Stones

I’m no expert on the matter, so don’t shoot me – please. When looking at travel photographs I look for a definite subject. How many times have we seen a beautiful sunset photograph which doesn’t contain a subject of interest within the frame?

Photographs of beautiful sunsets are common, but what lifts an image above others in the pack? Usually, it’s a definite subject in the frame besides that of the lovely coloured clouds and sky.

Large black areas without detail in a photograph tend to detract from an image. Photography is all about light, and the skilful use of it enhances the subject matter you’re photographing. The less black areas in your photos the better – I believe.

Whether it’s an outdoor candid portrait, a landscape or seascape, a building or other architectural feature, lighthouse, etc., the good use of light is paramount in impressing viewers of your images. View good travel photography and analyse why you like particular images. Where will you find good travel photography? Travel guide books, newspaper travel lift-outs, travel magazines, travel brochures, and the like.

Include a definite subject in the frame which creates interest in your travel photograph.

Dog Rocks, Batesford, Victoria, Australia IMG_4013-1_Dog Rocks
Dog Rocks by Darren Stones
2008 Grenfell Henry Lawson Festival of Arts Bronze Statuette Winner

I view many travel photographs each month, and the one’s that impress me are those that have a definite subject that’s well lit, interesting and not over manipulated. Large black areas in a travel photograph are not really conducive to holding my attention, so I generally move on to other images quite quickly.

Of course this is just my opinion; however I believe I have a better idea of what is an attractive travel photograph as compared to 10 years ago. I suppose this has come from years of viewing published photographs, practical experience, being published in various publications, received awards and sold and licensed images. No intent to blow my trumpet, just giving some sort of background to how I’ve developed.

In travel photography, it’s best to create images which are a true representation of the subject as they are the images which seem most attractive to people.

One of the best ways to improve your travel photography is to actively seek a critique. Internet forums are an excellent avenue to seek opinion on your work, and if you spare time to give some advice to your peers, you’ll generally receive such in return.

So, put your work out there for others to view, actively seek a critique, and give a bit back to those who assist you. What have you got to lose? Quite frankly, I think you’ve got plenty to gain from the interactive experience. You’ll be on your way to making better travel photographs.

Here are two sites where my Australian travel photography is exhibited:

Online print sales gallery:
Flickr Photography Gallery:

Thursday 27 August 2009

Tribute to the Man From Snowy River

By Darren Stones

A permanent monument recognising The Man From Snowy River has been created by artist Brett Garling, Outback magazine reports in their Aug/Sep 2009 issue. The monument is planned for unveiling at Corryong, Victoria, during The Man From Snowy River Bush Festival due to be held at Corryong on 8-11 April 2010.

The sculpture is in the finishing stages and local fundraising efforts are continuing with a goods and services auction featuring AFL legend Ron Barassi as guest speaker and sales of personalised pavers for $50 each.

To date, the Corryong community of approximately 1200 has raised $83,000, with the auction hoping to achieve an extra $30,000.

Corryong, Victoria, Australia IMG_8028_Corryong
Rural scene at Corryong, Victoria, Australia. Photo: Darren Stones.

Friday 21 August 2009

Canola field at Warracknabeal, Victoria, Australia

By Darren Stones

It's that time of year in Australia again where canola can be seen growing in rural areas and what a magnificent sight it is.

Whilst travelling in the western districts of Victoria in a southerly direction from Mildura I noticed the rugged landscape looking a little dry. Was a thrll to spot a few emus grazing in the scrub as I enjoy photographing our native animals in their natural environment.

Driving south along the Henty Highway approaching Warracknabeal, I spotted a healthy looking canola crop and couldn't resist photographing it.

After setting my camera on the tripod, I noticed an appoaching band of rain was beginning to enhance the overall scene with an added touch of drama. More rain is needed to give the canola crops a much needed boost so they'll flourish in readiness for harvesting during October-November.

Warracknabeal, Victoria, Australia, canola IMG_6399_Warracknabeal
Canola field along the Henty Highway at Warracknabeal, Victoria, Australia

This photograph can be purchased as a gift card, laminated print, matted print, mounted print, canvas print, poster and framed print via my sales agent, RedBubble. See following link for more details:

Wednesday 5 August 2009

Lake Daylesford

By Darren Stones

Lake Daylesford is a gorgeous location to spend a few hours. A walk around the lake provides a beautiful view of the Boathouse Cafe` and colourful reflections on the lake when the afternoon sun is shining. The cafe` is a beaut spot for a meal, or coffee and cake. This photograph can be purchased as print products, or can be licensed. Details below.

Lake Daylesford, Daylesford, Victoria, Australia IMG_5365_Daylesford
Lake Daylesford, Daylesford, Victoria, Australia

This photograph can be purchased as a greeting card, matted print, mounted print, canvas print, framed print and as a poster via my online sales gallery. If you'd like to preview the Lake Daylesford image, and the various product options, click links below for details:

Medium size framed print

Monday 3 August 2009

Junee, New South Wales

By Darren Stones

When I think of Junee, I think of the railway station. Things seem to move at a slower pace in Junee and that suits me fine. The friendly station master at the station said: “Nothing moves fast around here mate and there’s not much to do. If you like railway stations and trains, then you’ve come to the right place.” She’s right!

The Countrylink XPT service passes through here as it travels between Sydney and Melbourne. Nice blue trains that go quite fast – unlike the locals who seem to have time on their hands. Even the dogs walk slow.

If you like old buildings with exceptionally wide verandahs, come to Junee! There’s also a brilliant cafe`, which name escapes me, and a newsagency that occupies prime land. Other stuff here, too, like the Junee Correctional Centre which accommodates those rascals who haven’t paid their parking fines.

Rugby League star Laurie Daley – he with the big snoz – was born in Junee, so that’s testimony to good minerals in the local water.

Also, if you like your choo-choo trains take a peek at the Junee Roundhouse Rail & Transport Museum.

Junee Railway Station, New South Wales, Australia IMG_4451_Junee

Junee Railway Station, New South Wales, Australia IMG_4452-1_Junee

Junee Railway Station, New South Wales, Australia IMG_4463_Junee

Junee, New South Wales, Australia IMG_4467_Junee

Junee, New South Wales, Australia IMG_4468_Junee

Things to do:

Junee Roundhouse Museum
Harold Street
Junee NSW 2663
Phone: (02) 6924 2909

Junee Railway Station
Single Platform
Altitude 301 metres
You can’t miss it

Cootamundra, New South Wales

By Darren Stones

Cootamundra has more to offer than gorgeous wattle trees. Bradman’s Birthplace was restored by the Cootamundra City Council and honours Sir Donald Bradman.

Granny Scholz, the mid-wife who delivered “The greatest batsman the world has ever known” Sir Donald Bradman on 27th August 1908, operated a small private hospital in the front room of this building at 89 Adams Street, Cootamundra, New South Wales, Australia.

Stroll through Jubilee Park, which features bronze sculptures of Australian Test Cricket Captains, including a lifesize sculpture of Sir Donald Bradman.

Bradman's Birthplace, Cootamundra, New South Wales, Australia. IMG_4516_Cootamundra

Bradman's Birthplace, Cootamundra, New South Wales, Australia IMG_4520_Cootamundra

Cricket Captains Walk, Cootamundra, New South Wales, Australia IMG_4485_Cootamundra

Cricket Captains Walk, Cootamundra, New South Wales, Australia IMG_4491_Cootamundra

Things to do:

Bradman’s Birthplace
89 Adams Street
Cootamundra, NSW 2590
Toll Free: 1800 350 203
Phone: (02) 6940 2100

Cricket Captains Walk
Jubilee Park
Cootamundra, NSW 2590

Sunday 2 August 2009

Narrandera, New South Wales

By Darren Stones

Here's a few photos taken at Narrandera, New South Wales, Australia. Located on the Newell Highway, Narrandera is an ideal spot to spend a couple of days whilst travelling to other locations in the Riverina region.

Check out the Murrumbidgee River and the town’s historic buildings with their wide verandahs. Plenty of pubs in the town for a soothing ale or chardonnay.

Narrandera, New South Wales, Australia IMG_4185_Narrandera

Narrandera, New South Wales, Australia IMG_4179_Narrandera

Narrandera, New South Wales, Australia IMG_4175_Narrandera

Narrandera, New South Wales, Australia, Newell Highway, windmill IMG_4140_Windmill_Narrandera

Narrandera, New South Wales, Australia IMG_4191_Narrandera