From the travel desk: Tips for taking winning vacation photographs

  • December 29, 2012 - 12:02 PM

On vacation, I sometimes try my family's patience. Just one more shot, I think, as I ask my daughter to move so her face is in the sun, or I squat down for a better angle of a scene, even as the rest of my gang starts walking away.

I am not a trained photographer, but as I try to take striking pictures of lands far or near, I have one great asset, and it is shared by most fellow travelers: a digital camera. It gives me immediate feedback and, most important, it lets me take hundreds of shots.

Keep shooting, because the more photos you take, the better the chances that you'll get a winner. This is only one of the tricks I have learned from the professional photographers at the Star Tribune. Here are some of the other tips they've taught me.

Remember the rule of thirds. This is a basic rule of composition. Draw four imaginary lines, two horizontal and two vertical, through an image, then place the subject of the image at one of the intersections of those lines. (Many digital cameras and smartphones can superimpose those lines on the viewfinder.) These points of intersection are natural focal points. If you follow the rule, your subject won't be in the center of the image, which can make for a dull shot.

Be mindful of the background and framing to ensure that your subject is the showpiece, not some unintended distraction.

Get low or climb high. Unexpected angles can imbue a photograph with eye-catching drama.

Each week on this page we run a travel photo by a reader. Follow these tips and then send us your photo (details at right) and perhaps yours will be one of our picks in 2013.

Send your questions or tips to travel editor Kerri Westenberg at, and follow her on twitter @kerriwestenberg.

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