The leaves are turning. Now is the season to grab your camera and capture those rich reds, yellows, and oranges we've come to associate with autumn. Yet while fall brings with it some fiery colors that light up any landscape, not all seasons and places around the world are as convenient for the aspiring travel photographer.
Here are a few basic color tips for capturing the essence of a place, even those with softer and more mundane hues.
5 Tips for Capturing Color
Tip 1: Look for the Unexpected. Whether it's a neon pink car parked next to a dull brown building or a brightly colored umbrella, unexpected bursts of color that break up regular scenery make travel shots interesting.
Tip 2: Seek out Complementary or Contrasting Colors. Looking for colors to tell a visual story is a composition technique that is used to convey the "mood" or "feeling" of a place.
Tip 3: Find the Light. The direction or angle of light in a photograph can add a sense of drama to an otherwise lackluster location. Avoid your camera's flash and look for natural or other sources of light.
Tip 4: Zero In On a Single Color. Focusing on a single color allows you to appreciate more intricate details within the subject itself.
Tip 5: Search for Patterns. Lines, textures, forms, and shapes all provide a sense of harmony within photographs. They can elevate a simple travel shot to fine art photography.
Examples: Capturing Bermuda's Colors
There's no better time than now to head out to Bermuda, a tiny island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. From its bustling capital harbor city, Hamilton, to its charming UNESCO Heritage town of St. Georges, the island is currently celebrating its 400th anniversary with a slew of cultural events, festivals, and nautical activities.
Visitors to the island are instantly welcomed by a variety of very soft colors—from pastel colored buildings to light pink sand beaches and translucent, turquoise blue waves. Here are a few examples of how I applied the tips above on a recent trip to Bermuda.
Unexpected Color: With acres of lush green all around me, finding a fresh and unique angle became challenging until I stumbled across a flock of chickens, "the unexpected". Including them in the shot instantly added a sense of place.
You may be surprised to find that Bermuda has some of the best golf courses in the world. Lush green landscapes on rolling hills with unpredictable weather patterns also make them some of the most challenging.
For more on golfing in Bermuda, check out Fodor's Secrets from a Golf Pro.
Pink Sand Beaches
Complimentary/Contrasting Color: With stunning pink sand providing a natural contrast against the light blue water, you really can't take a bad beach photo on the island.
That's right. Bermuda is one of a few places on earth where dead coral and other dark red invertebrates mix with white clam and snail shells to produce pink debris that gives its beaches their light pink hue. As the sun sets, the sands take on a deeper hue, providing a beautiful contrast to the island's clear blue waters.
Horseshoe Bay Beach is "the beach". This is where locals and visitors alike go to hang out.
Strange Light: By leveraging natural and even artificial sources of light within the cave, I was able to get a more otherworldly shot which using the camera's flash would have ruined.
Did you know Bermuda is also a spelunker's paradise? The island has an impressive network of over 150 limestone cave systems filled with azure blue pools and imposing stalactites and stalagmites. This also means Bermuda has one of the highest concentrations of limestone caves on earth. The most popular remains Crystal Caves, discovered back in 1905. There, you will find million year old (yes, 1,000,000 years) stalagmites and stalactites and crystal clear pools with a visible depth of 55 ft.
Single Color: By zeroing in on a single color, which in this case was a light teal blue church, other intricate details of the subject can be noticed.
Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000, quaint St. Georges is where modern day Bermuda was born. Back in 1609, this is where the English fleet heading to colonial Jamestown in Virginia wrecked.
The entire town is dotted with cute little multi-colored houses and small churches which flank narrow alleys you could spend an entire day exploring.
Find Patterns: As the sun began to set, I noticed patterns of shadows cast by the hotel balcony and quickly seized the opportunity. Finding unique patterns all around you can significantly spruce up boring subjects.
While our natural instinct is to run towards the beach to capture a spectacular sunset, why not take a different twist on the classic sunset picture? This time of day produces vibrant colors that when cast on other subjects, can make them more interesting.