Do you plan to visit Greece? Do you want to capture the moment, and share it with friends and family? Or do you want to create amazing art pieces? Whatever the reason is, here is a quick guide on how to take the best pictures during your vacation in Greece!
Before you even arrive in Greece is advisable to prepare and think about the following:
Greece is a relatively large country with a large diversity of landscapes. From the blue sea to the rugged mountains and from the picturesque villages and the ancient ruins to the big cities. Each of them has something different to provide. So check your itineraries and plan your photos based on the location you are visiting. This will help you to identify the photography styles you may use, the activities you are going to do and the gear you will need!
For inspiration, you can use tools like Instagram, Pinterest, or Google Maps. Apps like The Photographer Ephemeris or PhotoPills can help you plan your shoots with tools like sun and moon location, altitude difference, and more.
Tip: Make a list of all the important locations you are going to visit in Greece and the pictures you would like to take.
Are you going to enjoy a relaxing vacation next to the sea eating wonderful Greek delicacies? Or are you going to a rigid Greek island for climbing and windsurfing? The activities you will enjoy are as important as the location. They will help you determine the photography style and the gear you are going to need.
Tip: Next to the list of your locations add the activities you are planning to do.
You can revisit a location but you can never turn back time. Maybe the most important factor when it comes to natural light photography.
Here are three reasons why:
Photography is a word deriving from the Greek words for light (φώς) and writing (γραφή). Light has many qualities, like intensity, direction, hue, and more.
Before you take any photo think about when the light in each location has the qualities you want. Commonly shooting during the golden hour will give you wonderful results. This is the first hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset. The golden hue and the steep angle of the light will convert a boring landscape or a lifeless portrait into a wow-deserved one.
Tip: Be creative with the light. Even harsher mid-day light can hide some amazing opportunities.
How many times have you wanted to capture the beauty of a building or a breathtaking landscape and people kept continuously walking in your frame? I know it is frustrating, that is why planning when to visit each location can make the difference. Are you planning to take landscape photos without people, visit the location early in the morning or at night. If you prefer street photography and you value the interaction with the locals, then visit the locations later in the morning or the evening hours.
Tip: Crowds can be destructive to your pictures in Greece. But by using the human element in your photos you give character and scale to them.
Many of the attractions are open only during specific hours and days. To avoid any nasty surprises, check the schedule of the attraction you are planning to visit a few days earlier.
Tip: In Google Maps you can check how busy an attraction currently is or even the expected crows per day and hour.
Do you love the serenity of landscape photography or do you prefer the fast pace world of street photography? Usually, the location you are planning to visit will determine the style of photography you will use. But in Greece, an idyllic beach can be minutes away from a busy city. And of course, food is everywhere in Greece.
Tip: Focus on one photography style but stay flexible.
You may think I have gone crazy. What do clothes have to do with your pictures in Greece? Let me explain.
Which month are you planning to visit Greece? Will it be warm or cold? Sunny or cloudy? Those are questions you need to answer. Check the weather before you hop on the airplane or step in your car. Choosing suitable clothes will be a life changer especially when you carry a bag with a camera, a tripod, and a few more accessories.
Do you want your travel partner or even yourself to be part of your photos? Pose in front of the whitewashed houses of Santorini or next to the Parthenon. Wearing clothes and accessories that are complemented by the background can elevate your pictures in Greece.
Tip: During the winter months Greece can be cold with snow, rain, and wind. Be prepared.
Last but not least in your preparation efforts is the gear. What camera and accessories you will pack depends on the location, activities, time, and the photography style you are planning.
Action cams and smartphones are by far the winner if you don’t want to carry a lot of gear around.
An action camera, like GoPro or Insta360, can do a lot. Photos and videos, underwater or on top of the highest mountain. And newer smartphones have several lenses with different focal lengths each.
Nothing can surpass the image quality of a digital camera. With the help of different lenses and a tripod, you can photograph almost everything. If you are willing to carry the extra weight and invest the time then a digital camera will be your best friend.
• Unique captures
If you are all about capturing the most unique photo, then a drone can do wonders for you. From high in the air you can unveil secrets of locations that remain undiscovered from the ground. Just remember to follow the local rules for flighting your drone.
If you decide to have your trusted digital camera with you then you will need to choose what type of lens you will take. A wider lens (14mm to 24mm) will be suitable for landscape pictures in Greece. While a fast nifty fifty lens (50mm) can be used for portrait or street photography photos with a beautiful soft background. And a longer lens (longer than 70mm) can be great for photographing objects at a long distance or details of buildings and other subjects.
When you are into photography you can go on a shopping spree and never stop. As someone that done this mistake, there is only one accessory I always have with me. A sturdy small tripod. The rest are good to have but not a necessity. ND filter, polarizing filter, and straps are some of them.
Tip: Quoting the famous photographer Chase Jarvis “the best camera is the one that’s with you”.
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Taking the picture
Now the fun part starts. You prepared everything and you arrived in the beautiful location of your choice. What do you need to do to capture the best possible pictures?
You know the location you researched online and you figured out what time you need to be there. But people are everywhere and your pictures in Greece can often look too crowded. Adapt to your environment. Walk a bit further, where it is not crowded and you have a different angle on the subject. Or decide not to take a landscape photo but rather a photo from above with your drone and show how people and nature can co-exist. Many variables can change when you are on location, like the weather, the subject, or your planning.
You are ready to capture the moment. But before you press the shutter you need to think of what and where to place all the elements in your photo.
For a more interesting composition try to include depth in your photo. By including a foreground, a middle ground, and a background element. Create separation between the subjects and draw the eye to the main subject.
• Rule of thirds
Most cameras, phones, and action cams have a setting to enable a rule of thirds grid. Simply put, you divide the photo into 9 equal rectangles. Try to align your main subject with the corners of the central rectangle. This will provide a sense of movement in the photo.
• Dead space
Not every part of your image needs to be full of interesting things. Try to include one or max two interesting subjects. The rest of the space in the photo can be empty, you can say blunt, but it actually has an important purpose. Direct the eye of the viewer to the subject.
• Leading lines
Use the secondary elements in your photo as the leading line. Leading the viewer’s eye toward your main subject. Those can be as big as a river or as small as a crack in a wall.
You can use the elements in your environment as a natural photo frame, surrounding your main subject. Tree branches, a window frame, and more can be used to create this effect.
Tip: Be creative. Use the rules above as a guide but don’t be afraid to break them.
All digital cameras have different modes. But even smartphones and action cameras nowadays have. So use them to your advantage. What are those photo modes and why they are useful?
• Manual mode
In this mode, you need to set up the aperture, the shutter speed, and the ISO manually. If you are not familiar with the exposure triangle and you want to learn more, I will explain these modes in detail in another article. In short, aperture and shutter speed affect the amount of light that hits your sensor. ISO is the light sensitivity of the sensor. A combination of those exposure elements will create the picture you want. All digital cameras have a manual mode. But mobile phones and action cameras usually have a fixed aperture, and you are only allowed to change the shutter speed and ISO.
• Shutter priority
This mode allows you to change the shutter speed while the camera automatically adjusts the aperture and ISO. All cameras, phones, and action cams have shutter priority mode. It is best to use this when photographing fast-moving subjects with a lot of natural light.
• Aperture priority
Best used for portrait or landscape photography. Generally in types of photography in which the depth of field is important. Do you want to have a blurry background to separate the subject? Or do you prefer everything in a photo to be in focus? Again it is your choice and the camera will adjust the rest to come up with good exposure.
Your vacation should be a relaxing and enjoyable experience. But you also need to respect the locals and others around you. Ask permission for photographing someone while doing unique work. Or ask permission to enter someone’s garden to photograph an amazing view. Smile and be friendly!
There is a lot to learn about photography. The most important is to always have a camera with you and think creatively. Enjoy taking pictures in Greece, capturing your best moments!
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