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Name: CAROL POLICH
Country: MONTANA, USA
What’s in the bag: Canon 7D, Canon 5D Mark II, Canon Lenses – 70-200 F2.8, Canon 500 F4; Sigma Lenses – 10MM fisheye F2.8, 150 macro F2.8, 12-24 F4.5-5.6, 24-70 F2.8
How much time do you spend travelling for photography a year? At least 4-5 months are spent travelling for photography and writing.
Favourite photography subject: I’ve always enjoyed photographing active wildlife behaviour. Watching for key behaviour in wildlife helps you to anticipate action and be that much quicker on the shutter release, and I know how to expose for my medium tones. In other words, I’m quick with the technical side of photography.
In North America, for example, when the bison’s tail goes up, it means either “charge or discharge” and I’ve been behind the camera when either has occurred.
Sand dunes and the desert are my favorite places to be for landscapes. Being aware of nature’s elements is key to surviving the extremes. Dunes can be COLD in the early morning while you’re trekking up the slopes and they can heat up rapidly as the sun rises over the horizon. You don’t want to be in the dunes under the harsh light and very hot sands! Neither do you want the photo desperately enough to ruin the equipment when the wind whips up in the dunes!
Most photographic country? Southern Africa – namely South Africa and Namibia and throughout the American southwest.
What’s the best photo you’ve taken? My library spans 23 years of film and digital in which I have diversified with nature photography. I have many favourites, from sand dunes in Namibia to wildlife in South Africa, from fighting zebras, to snarling lions and not to mention my North American wildlife within Yellowstone National Park. I have several favourites where it’s either an unusual behaviour, or it’s spectacular lighting to help make that image standout within my several thousand image library.
What first got you interested in photography? I’ve always been interested in “taking a nice picture” but never took my imagination or creative eye very seriously. I “fell” into being a pro photographer when on a whim I began selling my photos in South Africa and a few in the USA of landscapes. I still was not serious about photographing until, after 6 years of submissions, my work began to “take off” and catapulted me into the pro photography world – on film, 1997.
What was your first big break? I expected little of my photography in the late 1980s to mid-1990s. It took a film developer to see something beyond what I was seeing in my own work. With his encouragement, I started submitting randomly and selling my photos to postcard, calendar companies and then South African magazines. All the while, as a freelancer, I kept my fingers crossed as to sales. By 1997, I could hardly keep up. Again, this was all freelancing for travel and clothing catalogues, magazines, etc with hundreds of photos within submissions and never knowing if they were going to sell.
I won the 1996 Nat Geo Traveler photo contest with a photo of a Namibian sand dune but this win did not “establish” me. It was more my own “dogged perseverance” and it still is this way to this day!
Tips for budding photographers? First, LEARN the few important functions on the camera.
The greatest input I’ve received thoughout the years has been from the publishers themselves. They know what they’re looking for and can give you these tips in which, when out in the field or travelling to a location, gave me direction and I could then focus on this instead of just shooting away.
I always called on the TELEPHONE and introduced myself or, when on the road, I met with publishers who knew my work but not the person behind the camera.
In the 21st century, it’s much, much more of a challenge because anyone can “take a picture and happy snap”. Everyone has become a professional photographer, but it isn’t true. It has become “computerography” with the actual “art of photography” dead in the ground. The publishers with a discerning eye can see the difference and you, as the photographer, need to have the patience and perseverance to develop the artistic eye as well as the technical side of using the camera.
Practice and build a library. The more you practice you have, the more your eye develops and then evolves. “Friends want to be friends” and most often, they do not have a discerning eye … go to others who have an artistic eye and can be openly critical and can tell you how to improve. You just have to listen and set your ego aside!
Tips for taking photos? Envision what you want to photograph. And then, always POSITION yourself to your subject according to your light source!
Next assignment: My “next assignment” has pushed me into the classroom teaching the different levels of photography, starting with beginners. There is nothing more irritating than to see $1000 plus cameras in anyone’s hands with everyone shooting in P or AUTO modes!
I also enjoy going into the field workshops throughout the western USA. Check out my website www.wildnaturetrails.com and “help push me into my next assignment” … the teaching of the Art of Photography.
More photography reading:
* Where to place your subject
* Some great tips on street photography
* Photographing sunrise and sunset
- by Richard I’Anson
The great artists of the past discovered that by placing the main elements of a composition at points one-third of the way from the edges of the frame their paintings became more dynamic and interesting. This technique is known as the ‘rule of thirds’ and is a very practical place to start when deciding how to compose a photograph.
It helps prevent the great temptation of going for the ‘bull’s-eye’; that is, placing your subject in the dead centre of the picture. Resulting images are often boring and static, as the eye is drawn to the centre of the frame and stays there, taking in little else in the picture.
When filling the frame with a close-up of a person’s face, try placing their eyes one-third from the top of the frame. When taking environmental portraits, place the subject’s head away from the centre of the frame and your pictures will instantly look a lot less static.
The auto-focus systems on many cameras are constructed with the focus and exposure sensors in the middle of the viewfinder, and this is often the reason subjects are placed in the centre of the frame. Most cameras, including compacts, have a focus-lock facility that you should become comfortable in using so the technology doesn’t impede your ability to compose creatively.
In the first photograph, the subject’s head is in the centre of the frame or the bull’s-eye. The diagonal lines of the roof beams lead the eye away from him. The chair and scraps of rubbish are further distractions. I took the second photograph after removing the junk and standing on a chair to shoot from a different angle. The priest’s head is now in the bottom third of the image. The blank spaces of the first photograph have gone and the statue is more relevant.
It is just as important to use the rule of thirds when photographing portraits. When you look at this picture your gaze should go immediately to the subject’s eyes which are placed in the top one third of the picture. I indicated to this woman in sign language to lift up her hat a little so that her face was not covered in shadow.
The Golden Mean
This is a design concept which expresses a similar sentiment to that of the Rule of Thirds, which some claim to be derivative of Golden Mean. Without getting bogged down in too much detail, Golden Mean is actually a mathematical concept which, when unravelled, can explain why certain images give pleasure to the human eye. It’s also found in naturally occuring elements such as the arrangement of petals in sunflowers and the design of shells. The rectangular shape of man-made objects such as stamps, iPhones, movie screens or television sets can also be attributed to the rectangular boundaries of the Golden Mean; further still, it affects the way television and movie sets are designed and the way subjects are filmed. It’s also the reason why photographs of objects such as spiral staircases are so appealing.
Golden Mean’s design can provide photographers a guide to which they can place the individual elements of their image in order to give it visual balance. It looks something like this:
The theory of Golden Mean can be applied to anything but it works well for portraits.
Got some questions on Golden Mean? Check out some instructional videos here.
Get more ace travel photography tips from Lonely Planet photographers
See some of our image galleries
Buy Richard’s book on travel photography (now available on iPhone and iPad!) – now on SALE!
- additional guff by Kylie McLaughlin (@kaymc_laffers)
Words: By Richard I’Anson
In many countries life is lived on the street. Meals are cooked and eaten; clothes, bodies and teeth are washed; games are played and business is transacted; all in full view of the passing public.
As with all people photography you’ll have to develop your own approach to taking pictures of people on the street, but you will require a quick eye and shutter finger, as the aim is to capture fleeting moments that you often can’t anticipate.
Street photography is one of the cornerstones of traditional photographic genres, where the everyday and happenstance take centre stage as subject matter over the more sensational public events like annual festivals and familiar iconic structures. Walking the streets looking to capture unique moments is a fun, interesting and challenging goal to set yourself, and the shots make a nice counterpoint to the more exotic imagery typical of travel photography.
Although the magic of the moment should take precedent over technical perfection, you can influence the outcome by finding an interesting location where there is a fair bit of activity and good light and then wait for things to happen around you. Good places to get started are the obvious centres of human activity, such as city squares, marketplaces, restaurant precincts, shopping centres, places of worship and transport hubs. However, for a general introduction to daily life no matter where you are, set off in any direction and you’ll witness people from all walks of life going about their daily activities. Look to photograph them up close, at work, individually and in groups, posed and unposed. Each picture will add more depth to the impression of the destination you’re able to communicate through your photographs.
Tips: Set you camera so you’re ready to shoot at a moment’s notice. Keep the aperture on middle ground, such as 4.0-6.3. Don’t be afraid to push the ISO up a little higher to keep your images sharp (400+).
Light: To get high-contrast shots such as those from Merten Snijders, search for the light in places that are otherwise dark and wait for someone to walk into your frame.
Good street photography camera: Fuji X100. For street cred and subtlety, and for its ability to shoot high-res images in low-light at high ISOs.
Read: Magnum Stories, by Chris Boot.
Get the definitive guide to travel photography, by Richard I’Anson.
Learn how to compose your shots
The importance of capturing your subjects in the correct light
How to make the most of your festival photos
- additional words by Kylie McLaughlin (@KayMc_Laffers)
- By Richard I’Anson
Environmental portraits add context and allow the viewer to learn something about the person. This kind of portrait lends itself to the use of wide-angle lenses. The wider field of view offered by 24mm, 28mm or 35mm lenses allows you to get close but still include plenty of information about where the subject is. Getting close also ensures nothing comes between the camera and the subject at the vital moment and is an essential technique in crowded situations such as markets and busy streets. The use of wide-angle lenses also allows slower shutter speeds to be employed to maximise depth of field.
This is important because the location is an integral part of the picture. Look to add variety to your environmental portraits by capturing both formal shots, where your subject is looking into the camera, and informal shots where people are busying themselves with something and interacting with others. People at work make excellent subjects for achieving this combination of shots. They’re often less self-conscious in front of the camera because they’re occupied with familiar activity, and you’ll be able to capture them looking into the lens and at what they’re doing. Markets and workshops are great locations to capture images of people in an interesting environment.
People at work or occupied with an activity make excellent subjects for environmental portraits. They’re often less self-conscious in front of the camera because they’re engrossed in what they’re doing, as was this weaver at a village shop. The 24mm wide-angle lens has allowed me to get close enough to fill the frame with the craftsman and his work but still include plenty of the interesting location in which he is working.
After taking a few initial shots of the two musicians entertaining the lunchtime crowd at Le Select Café, they invited me to join them at their table. This gave me the opportunity to be more directive, which I needed to be because I knew the fi rst shots hadn’t worked. Getting the musician to turn his back on his audience, just briefl y, solved the light problem and also let me include the café sign and some of the setting, placing the musician in context. Working close to the subject with a 24mm wide-angle lens has slightly distorted the head of the guitar but works well to draw the viewer’s eyes to the musician.
If you’ve got a zoom lens with a focal range around 24–105mm and you position yourself well, you can often take an environmental portrait and a frame-fi lling, head-and-shoulder portrait without changing position. Add variety by shooting the wide shot horizontally with the person looking away and the close-up vertically with the subject looking into the lens.
You can’t see a lot of the skateboard, but there’s enough to indicate that this is what the subject is into. The background is just as subtle but the colours and graffiti connect to the subject’s clothes and skateboard to create a contemporary urban environmental portrait.
Other travel photography blogs that might catch your eye:
Read our tips on how to take everyday portraits on the road;
Light, and how to capture it;
How to get unique shots of iconic images.
Get the ultimate guide to travel photography, penned by our very own Richard I’Anson.
While you’re there, pick up a copy of his beautiful pictorial on India: Essential Encounters.
Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano started erupting in January 1983 and has remained continually active ever since. The amount of lava coming out of the vent varies greatly from day to day, which can flow all the way to the ocean, creating a great cloud of steam as the 2000 degree lava meets the cold sea water.
As the molten stream flows slowly downhill, red chunks of lava shoot up through the air from various openings in the earth. You can feel the heat from these small, glowing pieces of rock as they fly over your head.
You can borrow torches from the Park Services to wander near the lava flows in the dark. The most dramatic views are seen during the late afternoon and remain until after dark, when the red hot rocks glow. Avid visitors are drawn to stay until dawn.
Photographers may dare to set up their tripods, however, the ground is hot enough for the soles of your shoes to melt if you stay standing in the one spot for very long. Camera lenses can feel the heat too, becoming too hot to touch their metallic surfaces.
If you stay until dawn, you can snap visitors strolling past steam clouds at the water’s edge where lava enters the ocean.
Being around fresh molten lava is a seductive experience and it’s hard to tear yourself away. The Kilauea eruption may have been continuous for 28 years, but each visit is different. It is not always possible to obtain compelling images of the action; the lava may smoulder instead of flow. There is not always a large steam cloud at the interface with the ocean, and the red lava can be hidden below the surface of old, hardened lava.
As it turns out, the best photographs I’ve taken of Kilauea were on my very first visit in 1991. Despite various later efforts, I was never able to improve upon, or even equal, those initial images.
- words and pictures by Mark Newman
Visit www.hawaiianlavadaily.blogspot.com to find out what’s happening at Kilauea. Be sure to check with the National Park Service before you go to see what areas you can trek to and what’s restricted because, as Mark reiterates, conditions change frequently.
Check out these top ten volcanic hotspots from the Lonely Planet Images library:
Streetscapes, and how to photograph them
Tips on capturing sunrises and sunsets
How to bring your images to life through movement
- Words by Richard I’Anson
Everyone takes sunrise and sunset photographs from time to time. It’s almost an initiation rite on the path to becoming a photographer!
There’s not much skill required to take sunset photographs. Generally, all you need to do is point your camera in its general direction and you’ll get something that is bright and colourful. And your viewers will love these photographs.
Try to include something interesting in the foreground or middle ground. Generally speaking, the foreground or middle ground will be a silhouette, because the sunset or sunrise itself will be much brighter, and you’ll be pointing your camera directly into the sun.
If you include the sun in the photo, sunlight will directly enter your lens. It can bounce around inside a bit and create flares and haloes. There’s not much you can do about this, although the effect can be altered depending on the aperture selected (a smaller aperture will produce a smaller flare).
If in doubt about your exposure, try underexposing by one or two stops as you will get better colour saturation.
Rather than photographing the sunset itself, turn around and see what’s happening elsewhere. It’s the light from the sunset that makes great landscape photographs, rather than the sunset itself.
There are a couple of issues to be aware of:
When the sun is below the horizon, behind cloud, or isn’t in the frame, meter readings are usually accurate. If the sun is in the frame, override the recommended meter settings or the image will be underexposed (leaving you with a well-exposed sun in the middle of a dark background).
This effect is exaggerated with telephoto lenses. To retain colour and detail in the scene take a meter reading from an area of sky adjacent to the sun and then recompose.
Modern cameras with advanced metering systems handle these situations pretty well, but it’s still worth using a couple of extra frames and overexposing by half a stop and one stop to be sure.
Bracketing sunrises and sunsets is recommended, particularly if the sun is in the frame. If you have a compact camera avoid including the sun in your composition, or at least take a couple of shots: one with and one without the sun.
My first inclination with sunsets is to find a subject – boats or swaying palms, usually – to silhouette against the bright, coloured sky. However, the intense colours, interesting clouds and not-so-common lake-like reflections in the sea on this particular evening didn’t need any support.
You don’t always get lens flare when the sun is in the frame; it depends on atmospheric conditions, the angle at which the sun strikes the lens and the quality of the lens.
Street photography more your thang? Check out this blog on streetscapes.
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