Three Camera Accessories for Travel Photography

Posted April 22, 2013 by Paul Xymon García in Photography
Yi Peng Lantern Festival 2012, Chiang Mai, Thailand

At the Yi Peng Lantern Festival in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Let’s face it. Average travelers who are interested in travel photography do not have the budget to afford fancy, high-end cameras most professional photographers trot the globe with. Though you do not really need a fancy camera to take great photos, having a powerful camera in your hands when you travel certainly is certainly an advantage. So what is an average travel photography enthusiast to do? I have learned that camera accessories help. They help a lot. Here are three camera accessories I often use to take my travel photos.


Graduated Neutral Density (GND) Filter

A camera filter is a glass panel placed in front of the lens. A GND Filter is one in which half of the glass is clear while the other half is of neutral density. Neutral density simply means the glass panels helps neutralize, modify, or reduce the intensity of the colors and light in your shot. A GND Filter, therefore, helps you control the differing light levels in your shot. It is especially useful for landscape photos because in a landscape shot, the sky is almost always brighter than the ground. Without a filter, you either get an overexposed sky (too bright) or an underexposed ground (too dark).

Port, Honda Bay

Tourist boat ready to board visitors to Honda Bay in Puerto Princesa, capital of Palawan province in the Philippines.

So, in order to compensate for these differing light levels, you place a GND Filter in front of your lens. The upper part of the filter (the part where the sky is) is darker than the lower part (the part where the ground is). Thus, it gives you well-lit composition. GND Filters comes in different colors, too, so that you can use a blue one for a blue sky on a sunny day, an orange one for a sunrise or a sunset, etc.


Circular Polarizing (CPL) Filter

Like a GND Filter, you also situate a CPL Filter in front of your lens. A CPL Filter is a type of filter which blocks waves of polarizations different from its own polarization. It sort of puts in order the different directions of polarizations of the light that goes into your camera. This simply means that a CPL reduces reflections from surfaces such as glass or water. In addition, it also darkens the sky. Ultimately, it means that you can get deep, vivid, and brilliant colors when you take photos. This is especially useful for travel photos as there is usually an abundant source of light outdoors, the perfect place to use a CPL Filter. Personally, I love using my CPL. It is almost always attached to my lens. Sky becomes bluer and the colors of the lower part of the frame more brilliant.

Great Wall, Mutianyu

A Ming tower in the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China still stands after thousands of years of existence.



Finally, the third camera accessory which helps me take great travel photos is a tripod. You fasten your camera on top of your tripod so that you can have some stability when taking a photo. This is especially useful for shots taken at night when you have little light available, thereby forcing you to go below a shutter speed of 1/100. With a tripod, the objects in your shot remain sharp. That is unless, of course, you are producing long exposure shots, in which case a tripod is also useful, only this time, you are trying to achieve blurring of certain elements.

Hanoi Night Lights, Vietnam

The Vietnamese capital of Hanoi becomes especially lively in the evening rush hour.

These three accessories help a lot in taking travel photos. The best part is, filters are small and easy to carry. As for the tripod, you can look for a smaller and lighter one to take when traveling. With these three accessories, you will be taking great travel photos in no time.

About the Author

Paul Xymon García

Paul Xymon Garcia is a Filipino, born and bred in Manila. He studied journalism and is now pursuing a career in travel writing and photography. His stories and photos have been published in several Philippine-based publications such as CebuPacific Smile Magazine, Meg Lifestyle Magazine, and Travel Magazine. He has contributed to a photography exhibition organized by the United Nations Population Fund. He blogs at

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