National Geographic photos are a synonym for exceptional photography. In this video from Advancing Your Photography channel, you will learn how to achieve this kind of shots. Award-winning photographer Robert (Bob) Holmes teaches you how to master the techniques that will give your photos the National Geographic style. He shares some secrets of recognizing and catching the perfect moment and light, and these can help you make your travel shots NatGeo worthy.
Learn how your camera reacts to the light
First of all, Bob points out that it’s important to be aware of the light and what it does to the subject. However, it’s even more important that you know how your camera reacts to it. Film and digital camera don’t react the same way to the light, and not to mention that they see much different from our eyes – and all this is something to keep in mind when chasing or setting the light for your shots.
Practice makes perfect
To learn how your camera reacts to light, you should practice. Shoot under different light and observe how your camera behaves. This will help you understand the light and always know what the end result is going to look like.
Bob Holmes mentions two types of light he often shoots in, the first of them being Rembrandt lighting. This lighting technique can be done using only one light source, and it provides a simple and natural result.
The second type of light is Vemeer lighting. It’s a soft and diffused light, like the one coming in through a window. It’s great for photographing people, and Bob uses it extensively.
Get to know your subject
When you photograph people, don’t spend time on setting up the light and the gear. Instead, use the time to get to know your subject and form a connection. Then, take as little time as you can to actually take the shot.
Control light with minimal gear
Sometimes you can’t (or won’t) take too much gear. It can get in the way, and you should be able to control the lighting without setting up too much equipment. So, rather than light someone, move them to the light you can find in the scene.
The golden hours
It goes without saying that the golden hours are the best time to take shots. Bob’s advice is to “be out before sunrise, and have dinner after sunset.” Use that gorgeous golden light of dusk and dawn to your advantage.
The blue hours
Other than the golden hours, the blue hours also gives fantastic results. When the cold light of the blue hour is combined with the warm interior lights, it can give an interesting, eye-catching contrast.
The midday sun
Most photographers will agree that the midday sun is the worst part of the day for shooting. But when you’re traveling, you’’ sometimes be forced to shoot in the conditions far from ideal. So, take the best from the harsh midday sun.
Move your subject in the shadow to make the light more flattering. You can use something to bounce the light, and I love Bob’s DIY approach – he uses newspapers for this purpose. It’s important to be a problem solver and try to use what you have to get the best results.
You can also shoot into the sun. Bob shares a photo he took, where the sun created rim light on the faces and emphasized the smoke – which wouldn’t look like this if the sun wasn’t behind the women.
Understand difference between your eyes and the camera
Just like you need to know how your camera reacts to the light, you need to be aware of the difference between your camera and your eyes. The see the light differently, and your eyes will always compensate for the color and intensity keep that in mind before taking the photos.
Expose for the highlights
The final tip from Bob is not to blow out the highlights. When you take photos with the digital camera, “expose for the highlights and let the shadows look after themselves.”
So, to sum up – pay attention to the light when you shoot travel portraits and make the best out of it. Learn to look for it, but also to use the best of it. And finally, to know your subject before you take the shot, and also – get to know your camera and how it sees the light. Practice and the results will certainly show.