You don’t need to be a professional photographer to take breathtaking photos during your travels. All it takes is good lighting and a well-positioned camera to snap the perfect shot. In fact, taking beautiful pictures is one of the greatest joys of traveling! Long after returning from an amazing trip, the photos you’ve taken while away will send you on a trip down memory lane every time you look at them.
Sometimes, though, even if the trip was absolutely amazing, none of the pictures come out quite like you wanted them to. Whether because of unfortunate lighting conditions, or some random dude standing in the background and ruining the entire shot, the results can be disappointing. Thankfully, it is the 21st century, and photo editing tools are now widely available for anyone who wishes to enhance their shots.
Annoying details that prevent you from having shareable travel pics from perfectly instagrammable places can be infuriating -- so much so that we’ve become accustomed to filters and other editing practices that can bring out the best in our photos and remove all of the negative elements.
If you want to bring your editing game to the next level, check out these top ten tips for editing your travel photos like a pro that will help you transform even the worst photos into works of art!
Presets save a ton of time
Editing a photo to perfection can sometimes take hours. Setting the appropriate color scheme, lighting, manipulating the details and shadows -- all of these are time-consuming activities and aren’t even necessary in order to achieve the desired effect.
If you have Lightroom installed, you need your photo enhanced quickly, and you don’t really care about the fine details, try to look for Lightroom preset collections online to have your travel pictures transformed almost instantly!
Presets are basically pre-determined combinations of settings, and they are especially useful for people who like to keep their Instagram posts in a coherent color and tone scheme to give an "artsy" feel to their profile.
Adjusting the contrast
In layman’s terms, contrast in a picture is the difference between the light and dark parts of the image. When adjusting this aspect of a photo, you’re accentuating that difference in order to get the effect you’re after.
For example, say you have a really great photo of yourself standing on top of a cliff during a sunset. If you want to accentuate your silhouette against the sun, the contrast slider is where you can manipulate these light and dark sides of the picture. This will enable you to make yourself stand out more against the background.
Blemish correction, also known as “image healing,” is a really neat technique used to remove certain parts of the image that simply do not fit the rest of it. This method is especially useful when editing portraits, as it can easily get rid of facial imperfections.
You can also use blemish correction to remove entire physical objects or people who are ruining the shot. There is nothing more annoying than a random guy making his way into your picture by stepping into the background at the wrong time. With the help of image healing, you can get rid of him in a matter of seconds, even using free, simple software such as Snapseed. All it takes is to carefully select the area that you want removed, and voilà! The background invader is no more.
This is another technique that allows you to manipulate the lighting in your photos. Unlike the contrast tool, it allows you to select the particular areas in your photograph that you want darkened or brightened.
You should consider vignetting your photos whenever you feel like the lighting does not quite match your expectations. It might not be enough if the shot was completely botched, but it can work wonders to correct minor shortcomings.
Crop to get your point across
One of the most enticing aspects of travel photography is the fact that it allows you to showcase some of the most remote or fascinating aspects of nature or ways of life in exotic cultures.
Sometimes, getting the exact shot that you want is impossible -- you might be limited in how close you can get to the subject of your picture, or you might be photographing a landscape with the aim of bringing one of its particular elements to focus.
Whatever the reason behind it is, cropping your photographs will help you bring the intended subject of your picture into the foreground, making it the focal point of the piece. Moreover, it’s childishly easy -- you won’t even need additional software to do it, since most smartphones nowadays come with built-in cropping tools.
Get the temperature just right
Imagine this: you just arrived in a tropical paradise somewhere off the coast of Southeast Asia, but all of the forecasts predict cloudy weather for the duration of your stay. How are you going to get all of those sunny, tropical photos you wanted?
Thankfully, in 2020 you don’t need to give up on those beach pics. Most editing applications come with the option of adjusting temperature in photographs, with varying degrees of detail. It will make it seem like the weather was perfect the entire time! Be sure to spend some time on getting the temperature work right, as you can easily overdo it and make the picture seem unnatural.
This one will come in handy, especially if you are one of the more artistically inclined types and want to expose certain colors in your photograph -- whether it is parts of some ancient buildings, or naturally occurring colors in an image depicting plants and wildlife.
The simplest, most straightforward way to effectively adjust the color tone of the entire picture is the "saturation" tool. It will breathe new life into your photographs, or on the contrary, tone the colors down if that's what you need. You can even turn the picture into a black-and-white shot by simply moving the saturation slider all the way to the left.
Straightening is as simple as it gets and the basis of editing your travel photos. And just like cropping, it comes as a built-in feature in most modern devices. Using straightening, you can turn the photo by whatever number of degrees you want in order to fix the angle at which the picture was taken, or rotate it in order to depict your content in a different perspective.
Check your blacks/whites
This is a part of color work, but it deserves to be a category of its own because of the impact of shades of black and white on the entire composition of your photo. Adjustment of the blacks and whites also comes as a separate slider in most editing apps.
It is recommended that you tinker with these for a little while when editing your travel photos. The whole process is very straightforward. By sliding to the right, you can make the whites brighter and the blacks darker, bringing more focus on particular elements or diverting it away from them.
Squeeze out everything you can from the camera
Okay -- this may not be an editing tip per se, but it is the most crucial part of making your travel photos look gorgeous! You can't go into taking a picture with the mindset that it doesn't matter really how you take the photo since you'll fix everything during the edits.
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Editing software is incredibly powerful nowadays, but it doesn't have the power to turn a terrible photograph into a good one. If your photo doesn't have any redeeming qualities, there will be nothing positive to bring out in it when it's time to retouch it.
Do you already apply any of these tips? Are there any other steps you use for editing your travel photos like a pro that we didn't include in the article? Let us know in a comment below!