Snap & Share: Take Great Vacation Photos

Sep 07, 2012

Everyone loves to show off pictures of their vacation—and a photo album is the best way to relive a great one. You worked hard to get there, so make sure you’re prepared to capture special moments. Here are some tips for keeping vacation memories alive.

Practice Makes Perfect

The first step toward shooting great vacation photos comes before you leave home: Familiarise yourself with your camera. Camera controls can be daunting for newbies, so read the manual carefully and give special attention to the function of each control. Aim to be able to select the right setting and make adjustments quickly if a shot doesn’t come out the way you expected. You don’t want to be learning how to use your camera while the perfect shot is slipping away before your eyes.

Perfect Group Shots

One of the most common types of vacation photo is a group shot filled with friends, family and travel companions. Once you’re at the place you want to shoot—the beach, an amusement park, a campground— think about how the background should appear. You need a location large enough for your group that also provides visual interest. A forest may seem interesting, but if you can only see a few bare tree trunks behind your family, you might be better off relocating to a hilltop or a nearby stream.
With your group assembled, remember to shoot several photos rather than just one. This will provide alternatives to the inevitable shots of blinking companions and distracted children. Move around while you shoot to capture the scene from a variety of angles; you never know when the perfect composition will arise. Finally, don’t forget to keep the sun to your side. People squinting into direct light never makes for a pretty picture.

Shooting the Sunset

The sunset shot is a classic vacation photo, and with a little preparation, it’s not difficult to pull off. Sunsets are all about timing, so make sure you’re prepared well in advance. The best photos may present themselves before the sun hits the horizon, so start shooting early.
Composition is another major concern. While a shot that includes the ocean, a few clouds and a pink sky is a good start, it can also be dull. Add foreground elements by moving away from the water’s edge. Trees, houses or figures watching the setting sun can add interest, and their silhouettes can be striking. Play with the aperture setting while you shoot to create interesting colour effects. All Samsung cameras let you adjust the aperture with the push of a button.

Shooting at Night

Nighttime photography is tricky. No matter what you’re shooting—the moon, fireworks, a campfire—the key is to keep the camera still. A tripod is almost mandatory unless you want your photos to be blurred—a cool effect if you want it, but annoying if you don’t.
If your camera has a Night mode, turn it on to auto-configure your camera’s settings for shooting in the dark. If not, use a higher ISO level, but remember that your shots will tend to have more noise; that is, marred by coloured speckles or snow. A little experimentation will give you a sense of how far you can push the ISO.
A flash will light up a nearby subject, but if the subject is more than 10 or 20 feet away (depending on the power of the flash, the type of lens and the subject), the flash will do no good. Even if it lights up the subject, it may cause red eye, an annoying effect that happens when a person’s pupils are dilated by the darkness. You can remove red eye with software on your PC later, but it’s best to avoid it in the first place.

Water Photography

People or pets playing in the water can make for fun imagery. But what type of effect do you want? If you’d like to see a moment frozen in time—water droplets suspended in the air—set your shutter speed to its fastest setting. If you want to capture a sense of movement, say, when shooting a waterfall, set the shutter speed longer. This will give water an evocative flowing appearance.