WHEREVER you travel this summer, getting an amazing landscape or cityscape of your local area is an absolute must. This often ends up becoming the photo that reminds you most of your trip, and if you're creating an album of your travels, it's important to have a good location shot to put the rest of your images in context.
One of the biggest challenges you'll face is that popular tourist destinations are almost always teeming with people, which can make it very hard to get a clean image. To get around this problem, work at sunrise when there's hardly anyone around, and with luck you'll get soft, dawn light too. If you're on holiday with other people, this is also the time when you're least likely to disrupt their plans, giving you a little more time to get out on your own.
Scout out your location for a couple of days to find the best shooting positions. Look at postcard stands and do some research on Google to figure out the favourite spots used by other photographers. You won't necessarily want to replicate these, but they'll give you a good starting point.
Use an ND filter
In some locations, such as central London, there may not be any time of day or night when there are no people or cars at all in the scene. In this case, try using a 10-stopNDfilter, also known as anND1000 or Big Stopper. This will allow you to shoot with very slow shutter speeds - typically as slow as 15 seconds in bright midday sun - completely blurring any moving objects and rendering them near-invisible. We recommend SRB's circular 10-stop filters, which range from￡25 to ￡40 and offer excellent image quality. Check your lens' filter thread size before you order.
Even if you don't use a filter, working around first light will mean slow shutter speeds, so you'll need to keep your camera perfectly still. Of course, it's not always possible to take your full-sized tripod on your travels, so you might want to pack a mini tripod, such as Manfrotto's Pixi Evo. This model folds to 21cmso fits comfortable into a kit bag, weighs in at just 267g, and can support 2.5kg. Alternatively, try a beanbag like the Ball pod, or a flexible tripod like the Gorilla pod. For long exposures, it's also worth throwing in either a shutter release cable or a wireless trigger so you can fire your camera without risking camera shake. These remote releases are incredibly small and light, so are very easy to pack, and start from around ￡15. To the right we show you how to set up your camera to get the best shot.
FIND OUT SUNRISE TIMES
A photography app, such as PhotoPills, will tell you the exact times for blue hour, golden hour and sunrise for any given date and location.
Expert advice Set up your camera for the best results
1 Shoot wide-angle
For landscapes and cityscapes, it's best to shoot with as wide a focal length as possible. On a DSLR kit lens, this is usually around 18mm, although on most cameras this is the equivalent of 27mm due to the APS-C sized sensor. As such, a lens like Sigma's 10-20mm is perfect. Similar wide-angle lenses are available on mirrorless systems - see more for our travel lens group test.
2 Choose a narrow aperture
When using a wide-angle lens, you're more likely to have both extreme foreground and background in frame, which means you'll need a very large depth-of-field to ensure everything is sharp. With your camera in aperture-priority mode, choose a setting of f/16. Don't go any narrower or image quality will begin to falter. Set ISO to 100 for minimal digital noise.
3 Achieve pin-sharp focus
With your camera set up and ready to go, find an attractive composition and turn on single-point AF. Choose a point around one third of the way up the frame, and half-press to focus. Then switch your lens to manual focus using the AF/MF switch on the lens, and you're ready to shoot.