Improving Your Travel Photography: Working the Subject

July 11, 2017

Check out this sneak peak of our Online Learning Course, On Location in NYC: Improving your Travel Photography, taught by photographer and Instagram influencer Natalie Amrossi (@misshattan). This course consists of video content as well as PDF guides and interactive content. You can find this course, as well as other courses on the Canon Online Store.

Working the Subject

When traveling, a lot of our pictures are based around a single subject. A single picture of that subject may not tell the whole story. By working the subject we will use all of the techniques we have available to create different looks at a single subject. Let’s start with one of the most iconic subjects in New York City, the Brooklyn Bridge.

You can start your photographic adventure even before arriving at your destination. This image was taken from the airplane just before landing at LaGuardia Airport.

Again, before actually arriving at the bridge, a couple of shots from the taxi. These pictures help establish the scene and show where we are going.


First take an overall shot to establish the scene. This picture is cropped to panorama proportions from a single image.

Next is the overall shot composed a little tighter with a zoom lens. Once we have the overall shot, get in even closer. Here we are using the rule of thirds for our composition.

Now move around a bit and try another angle.

This time along with the rule of thirds we added a framing element to help isolate our main subject.

Let’s try one more using framing. The flag helps get rid of the dead space of the blue sky as well as show that it’s a windy day.

If you have the time, waiting until late afternoon gives us the really nice warm light of sunset.

We establish our subject with the overall shots. Let’s also show where we are by photographing the details.


We can also use our subject as a background for our friends.

While our primary interest is the bridge, don’t forget to look around. This fountain was in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Here we are using the Brooklyn Bridge as a frame for the Manhattan Bridge.

Once it’s dark, we have an opportunity to create an entirely different image of the bridge. This is a 30 second shutter speed to give the water a smooth silky look.

As with any subject try using a vertical composition.

We finally have our shots of the Brooklyn Bridge, but we are not done yet. Let’s try something different by zooming the lens during the exposure.

As you can see there are a variety of ways to work the subject. Try all the tools you have available. Different lenses and camera angles can create totally different images. Using the rule of thirds, framing and other compositional tools create impact and make your images more compelling. Don’t forget the detail shots. And most of all… have fun!

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