Composition is one of the most important elements of photography, and one that can mean the difference between an interesting and powerful image compared to a lifeless boring image. In this post I will be explaining various techniques that should help you with your travel photography and to take much better pictures.

Here are composition techniques to help you take better travel photographs.

Use Reflections

Using reflections is an amazing technique for taking more interesting travel photographs. If you use Instagram then you’ll find that images that use reflections will likely get a much better response from your followers. To capture images with reflections you can use water such as lakes and rivers, puddles, or windows and other elements. It’s important to note that hoping to get reflection shots if it’s windy or raining, or if there are boats or other objects moving on the water will be hard as the water will likely be disturbed rather than still.

Night photography with the Canon 6D Mark II
Using a water feature for reflections
Using a window for reflections - Photography
Using a window for reflections

Use Leading Lines

Leading lines is one of the most powerful composition techniques for taking awesome photos. This is where you use elements in the scene to lead a viewers eye to the main subject. This may be a fence, path, roads, architectural elements and so much more. To make it work you may need to crouch down low to the ground when taking photographs, so as to draw more attention to where the eye should start. Or if you are in a high viewpoint then roads may help with this technique.

For this first image I crouched down low to get the composition.

Leading lines and photography
Leading lines and photography

And for the image below I had a higher viewpoint. The eye would start on the bottom left and be drawn towards the person and then the background.

Photography - Using leading lines
Using leading lines

Frame your Subject

Using elements around you to frame your subject, such as trees, windows, arches and other features can be very effective. As well as adding more elements to your image it’ll draw your viewers into the final subject. It can also be a good way to remove skies when they aren’t that interesting such as seen below.

Framing using architecture - Photography
Framing using architecture

Add Depth and Layers

Another great composition technique for taking better travel photographs is to add depth and layers. This means that your scene may have a foreground, such as rocks, a midpoint which might be a person or boat, house etc, and then a background, which may be mountains, a city etc.

Photography - adding depth and layers
Adding depth and layers

The below image has flowers in the foreground, the town in the middle and mountains in the background.

Ko Phi Phi - Viewpoint 2
Adding depth to an image with lots of layers

Get Low

Getting low to the ground is a great way to capture nice images. It is especially good when you are taking pictures of streets that have nice cobbled pavements. Or when you are taking pictures of landscapes consider using grass, flowers and other natural elements. When using this on landscapes sometimes using a wider aperture and blurring your foreground works well.

Photography - Getting low for composition
Getting low for composition
Nights in Colmar
Using cobbled streets when getting low

Get High

Getting high will often help to get good photos as you will be able to capture perspectives that were otherwise difficult to achieve. This might be from up towers such as below.

Prague view from Old Town Hall Tower
Getting high perspectives to create an interesting composition

Rule of Thirds

One of the biggest and most famous rules for composition in photography is to use the “Rule of Thirds”. This is where you divide your scene into 9 square and then would use the intersections where they cross to place the most interesting element. Generally, it means you wouldn’t have something or someone in the centre of the photo, but rather to the edge off centre.

Rule of Thirds Example - photography
Rule of Thirds Example

Zoom and Compressing

Using a zoom lens such as 100mm+ and using it to compress a scene can work well. Such as a picture with a person and a mountain, but where the mountain is far away, by using a zoom lens this would make the mountain and person seem so much closer together. I don’t have a great example of this, but you can see some examples in this post: How Lens Focal Lengths Will Affect Background Compression by lensrentals.com.

Combining Composition Techniques.

As well as using just one composition technique, you can combine multiple techniques. Such as below where in the first image I am using reflections and foliage to frame the image.

Lake Bled at Sunrise
Framing a subject using foliage and also using reflections

And in this image I am using leading lines on the bridge and also framing with the castle in the top right corner.

View from Old Town Bridge Tower
Leading lines and Rule of Thirds

Summary

I hope these composition techniques give you ideas on taking better travel photographs. They are not strict rules and can be broken. If you have any other suggestions please feel free to leave a comment.

Other posts you may like:

5 Easy Tips To Improve Your Travel Photography
Ultimate Tips for Travel Photography
Photography Basics – Composition

More posts on Travel Photography

Posts on Instagram and Photography Spots at various destinations.

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Composition Techniques For Better Travel Photographs

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