How to Take Better Travel Photos

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Travel and photography seem to go hand in hand.

A month before my 2007 trip to New Zealand I wanted to take better photos than what my point and shoot had been taking.

Fortunately, my ex (you know the one I left to travel) is a great photographer and gave me an old Canon film SLR from the 1970s and a crash course on how to take photos.

I had never considered myself a creative person before that but I fell in love with photography. When I returned from New Zealand I bought a used DSLR. Ten thousand photos later I travel with a Canon 60D with three lenses.

I spend a lot of time reading about how to take better photos.

My frustration is that most sites list the basics or get too technical there seems to be no in between– I get that we’re supposed to shoot in the golden hour but what next?

Well Beth from Beers and Beans has finally told me.

getting out of auto

Bethany is an amazing photographer.

She isn’t the kind where you look at it and think wow that is a technically perfect photo she is the kind that makes you feel something and think wow I wish I could do that.

She just launched an ebook called Getting out of Auto and I cannot express how amazing this guide is.

Part One includes all the basics, the stuff that seems complicated like f stops and aperture.

But instead of just stating what they are, she actually explains them in a way you can understand with lots of photos.

Where was this guide when I kept forgetting when I was supposed to use a low or high aperture?

The second part moves beyond the basics and gets into practical things.

She gives great tips for how to use light, shoot landscapes and solid food photography tips.

She tells you how to do the cool things that you see in other photos but you can’t figure out how to do, like:

  • The starburst effects from the sun – it’s turns out I was using too large an aperture
  • Or how to use my flash at night without it looking washed out
  • Or how to use my autotimer for things other than taking a photo of myself
  • She finally explained what that dharma initiative looking eye was doing on my camera
  • Or…now here is the big one that sealed the deal for me …how to shoot into the sun to make the cool sun flares without everything else looking dark


Okay so have I convinced you how amazing this book is? Because I have a few friends who frustrate me because they shoot on auto which means they just have very expensive point and shoots

It drives me crazy.

But what I think is crazier is that Beth is only selling this book for $10! I took a beginner’s photography course that was one night only and it was 60 bucks and her explanations are so much better.

If you click through to her site she has a list of everything she teaches you like landscapes and food photography and how to use light better.

She inspires you with all the cool photos she’s taken and explains how she did it.

You will learn to take better photos.

The links to her site are affiliate links which means for every referral I send her I get some money for it but it did not influence this post at all.

In fact I plan to email a few friends to tell them about her book because I really believe it is the best introduction to photography book.

I’m not a beginner but it’s really inspired me to get back on the road and take more photos.

Especially sun flares!

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Have a DSLR and don't know how to shoot other than on auto? Read this about how to take better travel photos.

Join the Conversation

  1. The Travel Chica says:

    This seems like a very realistic review of the book. It seems perfect for me. I have the basics (which I sometimes forget) and just need to continue to build the foundation.

  2. Thanks for the tip! I’m going to check out the book. 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Julie let me know how you like it. I was so impressed by how she explained things.

  3. This looks like a good book for either a beginner or a more advanced photographer.

    The price is reasonable and this is the 2nd good review I’ve seen 🙂

    Looks like it is time to order one.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Gene please comment back and let me know if you think it’s as good as I do!

  4. I agree – this is a great book! Thanks to Bethany I am now shooting almost exclusively in manual mode and adjusting the white balance (something which previously baffled me) myself.

    I have a 50D and also travel with 3 lenses – 24-105 f4, 10-22 and a sigma 30 1.4. Which are you using, out of interest? 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I seriously had no idea what spot metering was, I had heard about it but thought it was difficult until she explained it in a photo.

      I had so many issues with it and am excited to get out in the sun.

      I had a 40D but it JUST broke and I unexpectedly had to get the 60D. We have similar lenses. I travel with the 50mm 1.4 which is my food lens, the 10-22 which I adore and I just use the crappy 18-135 kit lens. How do you like the 24-105. I was thinking about getting it.

      1. I used to have that 50 but found I prefer the slightly wider focal length of the 30mm.

        I travelled with a girl in Mongolia who had the 35mm 1.4 L on her 40D, which I have been coveting ever since! It took amazing photos (plus she had the steadiest hand of anyone I’ve ever seen.)

        The 24-104 is versatile and perfect for travel. Nearly all my shots from South America have been taken on it.

        I decided to get it over the 24-75 because of the slightly longer focal length, the weight (MUCH lighter – I honestly think the 24-75 is too heavy for travel) and the cost (MUCH cheaper).

        The only downside is it’s only F4 and its performance in low light (despite the IS) is pretty miserable so you’d need to use the 50mm for all your low light shots.

        1. Ayngelina Author says:

          You know I really do hate how I have to step back in restaurants with the 50mm, it is so sharp though I the 35mm is as well.

          I tried the 24-75 once but it was WAY too heavy for me. But upgrading my zoom to the 24-105 is on my list. Unfortunately the new body was unexpected so it will be a long time before I get it.

  5. Christy @ Ordinary Traveler says:

    Bethany did a great job with this book and I agree that she should be charging more.

  6. Jade Johnston says:

    Hey! This book sounds really interesting. I just got a canon 550D (I was going to get the 60D but then the 550D dropped so much in price that I just could not justify not taking the savings!), and I am struggling to learn how to use it properly.

    I was wondering, what lenses do you travel with? I have the two kit lenses that came with the camera ( 18 – 55 mm and 75 – 300 mm), but I am thinking of getting rid of those two for the 18 – 200mm IS lens. What do you think? I also have a fantastic little 50 mm 1.8 lens.

    All tips are appreciated!

    1. Jade Johnston says:

      PS You did a good job of selling this to me…. I just bought it 😀 Hopefully we will soon see an improvement in y photography … YAY

    2. Ayngelina Author says:

      You know lenses are so much important than the body anyway. I think Wes from Johnny Vagabond also shoots with the 550D and his photography is amazing.

      The 50mm is good, I have the 1.4 and love it.

      I don’t think Canon does very good lenses that have a long zoom length so I don’t like the 18-200 or the 75-300. I find all of the lenses are soft. If I had to buy one Megan’s 24-105 is the one I would buy – although I can’t afford it.

      I travel with the 50mm 1.4, 10-22 and my kit lens 18-135 which I don’t love but its ok.

      It depends on what you like to shoot but if I were you I’d keep your kit lens and buy a wide angle 10-22, I don’t know a single photographer who would travel without it. Awesome for city stuff and creates incredible skies.

  7. Love this book – one of the most beautiful books on photography I’ve read…

  8. Bought it! Thanks for the tip. See you in a few days!

  9. Another awesome review of Bethany’s eBook! I loved the book as well. Learned quite a lot.

  10. I have read other good reviews of this book, and your review has sealed the deal. I’m ready to click on over. 🙂 At this point in my life (meaning that I lug around gear for a kid and a baby and have a tight budget), I cannot carry around a large camera and lenses, so I bought the Canon G11 (and I love it!). I used to know a lot about all the manual settings, and I hope that this book will help me sharpen my skills. And soon I hope to get a dSLR. 🙂

  11. Glad to hear you liked the book. Beth is a great photographer and I’m looking forward to checking it out!

  12. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures says:

    Definitely buying it! 🙂

  13. People who have a very expensive camera and only shoot in auto mode also annoy me! I can tell immediately when someone is shooting in manual or auto. I want to go up to them and give them a quick lesson. 🙂

  14. Sounds like a book I need to get my paws on.

    I loved photography when I was a teenager, but have gotten so use to having a professional photographer around, that I have gotten sloppy with my own. Time to change that.

    Thanks for this kick in the butt.

    ~ Emme

  15. I bought the book a while ago. Highly recommend it!

  16. We’ve got it — and we support your endorsement! 😉

  17. David @ MalaysiaAsia says:

    Hi Ayngelina, good recommendation. Honestly, I would say that it takes lots of practice and a good eye to take nice pictures. Sometimes lenses make a whole world of change too. I’m in the market for my 5th lens too.

    Love what Kelly M said in her posting. LOL!

  18. Shirlene from Idelish says:

    At such a reasonable price, this seems like a great book for anyone!

  19. i hope the book is also available here in manila..

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It is an snook so you just buy it online just click through the link in this post.

  20. I guess its time I buy the e-book. Another blooger I follow, wrote a blog post about this exact book back in December! Good to know many people recommend this e-book and it’s true $10, is a steal!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I haven’t met anyone who was disappointed with it. It’s a fantastic book.

  21. Flashpacking says:

    As an amateur travel photographer really enjoyed reading these excellent tips. Hopefully my own travel photos will improve when I invest in a new camera.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Definitely get the book, Bethany should be charging so much more for it.

  22. Escape Hunter says:

    Canon 60D, that’s cool!
    I’m with my new Nikon D5100. Love the flip LCD screen. Would still like a better camera, though… This is light and quite comfy.
    Will probably go for another Nikon…

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      This post is a bit old, if you look at my recent Christmas list post you’ll see that over a year ago I switched to an Olympus OM-D E-M5 mirrorless camera which is small and so much better for traveling.

  23. Uptourist says:

    Trust me. I have thought about looking for a photography class just for my travels. It is just so hard to capture the moment as you see it. To preserve it so that others may enjoy it like you do.

  24. Never received ebook or order confirmation

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      If you didn’t get the order confirmation or ebook please try again as it should work!

  25. I do have the affinity towards photography. It interests me in a lot of ways. And probably learning about it could mean very helpful for me. I do capture sunrises, sunsets and landscapes. mostly with nature, for I find them magical.

  26. Your advices are great!!! I love your photos, if you have take these photos following them, I hope to consider these tips on my next trip and to have those beautiful memories.

  27. As a traveller i love to capture all the moments i saw. I read lots of articles about taking pictures tips but in your article some points are unique which i really liked. I am not a professional photographer but if i will travel continuously then in future i will become a professional photographer. LOL

  28. Tracey Warbey says:

    That book seems like a good investment for a novice photographer but maybe it could come in handy to a veteran such as myself 🙂

    Its affordable and I’ve read good things about the book so far… maybe I should get one! If not my cousin could use it I’m sure!

  29. Nguyen Huong Giang says:

    I am seeking some idea, experiences. I really like your writing style. But you have many creative ideas than me. I just back from Bagan, Myanmar, I will write as you. Let it be!

  30. I’m a Nikon girl and hobbiest photographer (when I get the time). Thank you for the book recommendation, I will take a look. I learnt much from a guy called Mike Browne on YouTube, he’s worth checking out because he explains things in simple terms too.

  31. Sherry Trautman says:

    I need a great down to earth photography book that does exactly what you said, shows me how to take the cool shots I see on Instagram, like starbursts. Sounds perfect!

  32. Nice Post and good advise.

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