What is M43 Travel Photography?


Krabi Tourist Boats in Thailand
Watch Will Tang explain why he changed from Full Frame to Micro Four Thirds

So what is M43 travel photography? Well basically, it’s travel photography using the light and compact micro four thirds camera system.

The massive advantage of using this system is that it is at least half the size, weight and price of the equivalent full frame system, without the need to sacrifice your image quality.

The advantages far outweigh any perceived benefits of a full frame system such as low light performance and shallower depth of field.

I say “perceived” because these shortcomings of the smaller sensor in m43 cameras can be overcome by smarter shooting. (Yes, ultimately, full frame will have better image quality but 99% of the time nobody will notice.)

For example, the IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization) of m43 is second to none and will allow you to handhold in darker conditions without a tripod.

As far as DOF (Depth of Field) is concerned, it’s really a non-issue if you use any of the pro and premium f1.2 and f1.8 lenses.

Have you ever seen photos from the Zuiko 75mm f1.8? Absolutely “Bokehlicious.”

What is Travel Photography?

Travel photography isn’t only about your vacation snapshots, but mainly concerns capturing a feeling, an emotion, or a flavor of a destination. It’s about storytelling; the people, the landscape, the mood, and the area.

However, you needn’t travel to exotic places on international vacations to accomplish this.

Exploring local or not too distant places also falls into the realm of travel photography. It’s a way of recording local neighborhoods, nearby towns, and cities.

When having the opportunity to photograph people in their local surroundings, there are certain principles that I strive to remember. For example, remember to respect people’s privacy and to uphold their dignity.

Contextual & Non-Contextual Photography

I’ve already mentioned contextual photography; an excellent method to achieve this is by considering the subject’s background.

It’s best if you can make a minimally distracting image, which adds context to the person being photographed and conveys a story or message.

One more technique used for portraits is ignoring the ‘contextual’ rule. Do this by finding a bright, well-lit area which is dark in the background.

The lighting will accentuate the subject’s face, making it pop out. This works very well in capturing the attention of your viewer.

Many of my best photos taken of people during travel have been where I’ve tightly framed my subject’s face. This is achieved by either creeping in near to the subject or using a zoom lens.

Take Candid & Natural Photography

Aim for natural, unposed photos – Posed photos indeed work well and should be part of your photographic repertoire, however, overused they can downplay the authenticity of your portfolio.

Take pictures of people going about their normal daily life, when they are at home, their workplace, or strolling the streets.

Most often than not, my travel shots of people over the years have been of just one subject alone in the photograph. This has become a natural style which I’ve become aware of recently.

Having a 2nd or 3rd subject in your image changes the whole atmosphere of the photograph. The photo moves away from being about one person and his environment to a relational style photograph.

The viewer now tries to imagine the relationship between the subjects, which enhances their interest and boosts the mystery of your image.

Vary Your Photos

Photos of people donning their national costume will naturally draw the interest of traveling photographers. Even though these photos are beautiful examples of the culture, I don’t think they are indicative of the contemporary culture of that country or region.

Generally speaking, people don’t usually wear their traditional clothing, e.g., in Japan, the kimono is only worn on special occasions and is not the daily choice. Of course, you’ll be able to see this tradition dress at a show or tourist attraction, but not necessary in everyday life.

Always try to vary your subjects to portray the diversity of society better. Photograph people of different gender, ages and socioeconomic status, which will leave you with a very diverse cross-section of the population of that country. This will tell a more exciting and compelling story.

Travel photography is so much more than people photos though. It encompasses every discipline of photography, which includes landscape, wildlife, nature and architecture photography.

Build Rapport with Your Subject

Although spending time with people may contradict the pure art of most travel photography, which can be unplanned and carried out on a whim.

If you get the chance to chat and get to know your subject before your photographic session, you’ll be able to delve into the story of your subject in more detail. This will translate to your audience through your photos.

This can lead to some candid, gritty sequences of photos via various techniques like alternating between prime & zoom lenses, and changing the surroundings, especially as the subject becomes more relaxed around the camera.

Maintain Eye Contact

Maintain eye contact through your camera for taking those spur of the moment photographs, while balancing them against the more contrived and posed ones.

It’s fantastic to discover what kind of images you can capture when people aren’t anticipating the shot.

Those shots will likely involve people interactions, which often expose genuine emotions. I’ve discovered that shooting in continuous mode produces more realistic images if the conditions allow.

Choosing M43 Lenses

When choosing lenses for my travels, I like to carry lenses between 7mm to 150mm (14mm to 300mm in FF terms) focal lengths.

Implementing a wide angle lens can create exciting shots, though you need to be mindful of distortion; particularly of your subject’s face (unless that was your intention).

Longer focal lengths will always produce more aesthetically tailored portraits and be less intimidating to your amateur subject.

In regards to those sweeping cityscape, landscape, and tight architectural photos, the wide angle is still a welcome addition.

Conclusion to M43 Travel Photography

Do you enjoy traveling and want to have a better travel experience?

If capturing breathtakingly beautiful images without the bulk, weight, and pricing of larger sensor camera systems sounds sensible, then you must seriously consider acquiring a m43 camera and lenses for your travel escapades.

John Eather

I'm an Aussie living in Japan who enjoys traveling and photography. Please visit this website and explore the wonderful world of Micro Four Thirds photography. Discover the advantages of carrying a small yet powerful camera system.

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