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Some tips for smartphone travel photography

Someone rightly said, ‘a picture speaks a thousand words,’ which simply means a picture is worth a thousand words. In today’s scenario, we can’t just agree more. We all are photographers to some extent, without the tag of ‘professional photographers,’ but that does not keep us from exposing our talents.

Today’s social media is an example to this. The platforms enable even an amateur to grab eyeballs and enjoy some instant fame. Now, if you are not aware of white balance and shutter speed, that does not just mean that your pictures won’t be great. At times ‘fluke’ too can work wonders and take you places; the only important thing is―never stop trying.

And to give wings to your passions, your smartphone will serve your purpose, it is better than you think. This article will be focussing on two things, travel and photography. So, here comes some tips to take better travel photos with your smartphones, which will help you improve your result dramatically. And the timing cannot be more appropriate than World Photography Day, which is celebrated on August 19.

Wipe the lens

Let’s start with basics; and the first thing to note is wipe the lens. Since most of our phones don’t have a sacred case, they are casually kept in pockets or in our handbags, thereby collecting all the dust. While travelling, a fleeting moment has to be captured with great finesse, and during that moment, you just can’t stop to clean your lenses; so better be prepared.

Know the limits of your smartphone

First, understand what your smartphone is capable of doing. Stop yourself from over-expecting. While most cell phones have a single lens and wide-angle focal length, there are models with dual lens in which you get a bit more versatility with the slight zoom. Either way, know what you are zooming at. If you think your smartphone can zoom into the top of Eiffel Tower, you will face only disappointed as the resulting image will be pixelated close-up.

Then shuffle around the ‘settings’ to learn their specific functions and experiment how they will affect your photos. Check if you can shoot in ‘manual’ option, which helps in turning images from grainy to great.

Opt for natural light condition

There may be times when you capture images via a cell phone, the result is incredible, however, there is something called low-light conditions, where most of us struggle. Most smartphones are not enhanced with high-end technology to counteract a dark environment without reducing the quality of images. But, if it becomes absolutely necessary to take a photo at night, try to click with some artificial light.

Get a better camera app

Yes, one of the hacks of capturing great travel images is to download a third-party camera app instead of using the one that comes installed on a phone. The third-party apps are enhanced with high-end features enabling your smartphone to shoot a bit like a DSLR with manual settings and option to shoot RAW, which is basically an uncompressed type of file allowing you more flexibility to edit your images.

Play with ‘focus’ and utilise exposure compensation

You need to play a bit with your ‘focus’ option in your phone. If it is not adjusted right, tap the screen and adjust the focal point. Again, most of the phones and even the built-in apps come enhanced with the exposure compensation, which actually helps to lighten or darken an image.

Grab some additional smartphone accessories

Your phone is called smartphone for a reason, and with appropriate accessories, you can expand the functionalities of your phone beyond expectation. Some accessories that you can consider adding to your shopping cart are flexible tripod, wide angle pro lens, Bluetooth remote control, and extra memory card.

Landscape photography

It is often considered one of the most important things of travel photography. Capturing landscape images via a smartphone can be quite easy. The most important thing to consider while trying to get a good shoot is exposure control. Exposure typically means how light or dark you image will come out overall.

Thus, you don’t need expensive DSLRs to capture great images. Further, the load that huge cameras add to with heavy gear and other equipment, is enough to put a kink in your neck and shoulders. All in all, smartphones are best for travel photography. They are always in your pocket; images that you capture via smartphones can be easily transferred and shared; and the best part is that you can directly post it on social media. With more likes on your photos, your ‘barometer of popularity’ will see some action for sure.

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travel

10 of the best train journeys in Europe

A new book on rail travel across the continent showcases gorgeous scenery, historic routes and adventures at a slower pace.

Railways in Europe are many things. With their grand stations, history and evocative destinations, they evoke a timelessness that is absent from the uniform experience of flying. In recent decades, high-speed services have complemented classic routes, while the demand for more climate-friendly travel has grown and new options have sprung up, including a recent wave of night trains.

Lonely Planet, which for nearly 50 years has championed a down-to-earth, connected style of travel, has produced a new Guide to Train Travel in Europe aimed at unlocking adventures by rail from any starting point on the continent. Here the authors pick fantastic journeys from the book.

Paris to Berlin – fast or slow

A well-established network of high-speed trains and a huge choice of slower options connects two of Europe’s great cities. A glorious three-country tour would allow you to head from Paris to Brussels, travelling on to Cologne via the space-age architecture of Liège-Guillemins station. Cologne’s cathedral is so close to the station you can hardly miss popping in before boarding an onward ICE German fast service to the capital, which takes less than five hours. To see more than the immediate surroundings of the station buildings in each city, book separate tickets for each leg at trainline.com, or add in a stop of a few hours or an overnight booking via Deutsche Bahn (bahn.de). A high-speed connection from Paris via Frankfurt is also possible.

Amsterdam to Vienna on the Nightjet

One of several recent additions to Europe’s sleeper train scene, the Nightjet service operated by Austrian Railways (oebb.at) departs every evening at 7pm or 7.30pm from Amsterdam. As you doze off, the train will trundle alongside the Rhine, passing Cologne and Koblenz, then continuing south-east through Germany and entering Austria at Passau. A 9.19am arrival in Vienna ensures time for a lie-in and breakfast. This train can easily be combined with the Eurostar service from London or a ferry from Newcastle to Amsterdam, or from Harwich to Hoek van Holland.

Loop the loop in North Wales

Some of the world’s most beautiful narrow-gauge railways can be found in Wales and two of the best can be combined in a loop that takes in the mountains and coastal scenery of Snowdonia. Catch a service from Llandudno Junction – which has main line connections – down the Conwy valley to Blaenau Ffestiniog. Change for the celebrated Ffestiniog Railway, a distinctive steam-hauled service that winds 13 miles down to the coast at Porthmadog. Return via the sublime steam service of the Welsh Highland Railway under the summit of Snowdon to Caernarfon, where you can catch a bus to Bangor and main line services.

From Bastia to Ajaccio through the Corsican interior

The Chemins de Fer de la Corse (Corsican Railways) is a narrow-gauge railway centred on Ponte Leccia – from where three main lines head to Ajaccio, Bastia and Calvi, all providing incredible views of beautiful and rugged terrain. The route linking Ajaccio and Bastia is the longest and most celebrated, taking three and a half hours, so is best done with an overnight stop, rather than attempted as a day trip. Corsica is well served by ferries from mainland France such as Toulon, Marseille and Nice, opening up a tempting train-and-ferry route from the UK.

Dublin to Madrid by train and ferry

It is possible to head from Dublin direct to mainland Europe. A largely single-track line skirts the Irish Sea heading south as far as Wicklow before veering inland and stopping in the appealing county town of Wexford, set on the estuary of the River Slaney. It’s a short hop along the tracks from there to the port of Rosslare for the twice-weekly ferries to Bilbao, which take about 30 hours. Then it’s a five-hour rail journey on to Madrid. Recommended stops take in Burgos’s treasured cathedral, the former Spanish capital of Valladolid and Segovia’s Roman aqueduct and Alcázar fortress.

Venice to Palermo – across the water in Italy

Heading from top to toe in Italy, this dramatic journey’s potential stopping points need no introduction. Fast Frecciarossa trains connect Venice to the gastronomic centre of Bologna in 90 minutes, with Florence 40 minutes down the line. An hour and a half further on you’re in Rome. From here the south of Italy opens up. For one of Europe’s most unusual rail experiences take a train service all the way to Sicily. At Villa San Giovanni in Calabria, you and your carriage board a dedicated ferry to Messina, in Sicily, from where the hectic fun of Palermo is a slow-rolling four and a half hours’ ride away along the coast. There are several daily intercity and night services that run from the mainland, via the ferry, through to the Sicilian capital including sleepers direct from Milan, Genoa and Pisa.

From coast to coast, via a mountain high – Oslo to Bergen

A contender for Europe’s best train trip, the Bergen Line (Bergensbanen) thunders past southern Norway’s mountains and lakes between Oslo and Bergen, reaching 1,222m at Finse station, where a snowball fight is generally on offer. The trip takes nearly seven hours, which passes quickly in a blur of incredible scenery on a comfortable intercity service. There’s scope to do a longer version of this route taking the Norway in a Nutshell tour, which includes the Flåm Railway – possibly the world’s most scenic branch line – and a boat journey through Nærøyfjord and Aurlandsfjord.

Paris to Barcelona on the slow train

These cities are linked by a fast train, but there’s a leisurely route south through France to the Pyrenees via Limoges, Toulouse and through magnificent rural and mountain scenery to Latour-de-Carol. While it’s possible to reach Latour-de-Carol by direct night train from Paris, you would miss the slowly unfolding views you can enjoy when doing this journey in daylight. From Latour-de-Carol a commuter line runs all the way to Barcelona and takes just over three hours. Possible stops along the way include fortified Ribes de Freser and Ripoll, home to an ancient monastery and a good starting point for hiking trails.

Budapest to Split on a sleeper

During the summer there’s a tempting night service between Hungary’s capital and the Adriatic. In recent years the train has left Budapest at midnight, getting into Split after lunch. En route it passes the Hungarian holiday playground of Lake Balaton and Zagreb, Croatia’s capital. Once on the Adriatic coast, buses head south to Dubrovnik, while ferries and catamarans radiate out to nearby islands.

Locarno to Domodossola through the Swiss Alps

Pretty much any journey in Switzerland promises jaw-dropping scenery, and on several routes trains run slowly specifically to show off the mountains, rivers and lakes that can be seen from the window. Travelling between Locarno in Switzerland to Domodossola in the Piedmont region of Italy, the Centovalli (Hundred Valleys) Railway is a short but scenic service past 52km of waterfalls, chestnut groves, church-topped villages, deep ravines and vineyards. Highlights include the Isorno Bridge near the village of Intragna and Intragna’s gorge.

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travel

Tips to help you for your first international trip

Traveling abroad can be an exciting and fantastic experience, but it can also be stressful and overwhelming for first-time travelers. To ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip, it’s important to prepare ahead of time and familiarise yourself with some basic international travel guidelines. Here are some essential tips to help you confidently navigate your first international trip.

Get your documents in order

Make absolutely sure you have all the required paperwork available and ready to go before you depart. This covers your plane tickets, passport, visa (if necessary), travel insurance, and any other documentation related to your journey. Make sure your passport and visa are still valid at the end of your journey by checking their expiry.

Pack smart

Consider the temperature, lifestyle, and events you’ll be taking part in while preparing for a trip abroad. Take into consideration that you’ll carry your baggage while packing so that you’re prepared for your journey. To simplify and reduce stress on your travel, only carry what you really need.

Be aware of local laws and regulations

Learn about the rules and laws that apply in the country you are going to before you depart. This includes restrictions on things like speed, drinking, and several other this. Make sure you abide by all rules and laws to prevent running into trouble with the law while travelling.

Plan your transportation in advance

Plan your transportation choices before you depart. This covers your transportation plans for getting to and from the airport, getting around while you’re away, and returning to the airport at the end of your vacation. Make sure you have all the necessary information, such as maps, taxi numbers, and bus schedules.

Use local transportation

An excellent approach to save money and get a taste of the local way of life is to use local transportation. If you’re brave and don’t mind being lost, it may also be a lot of fun. Just be cautious when traveling by local transportation because of thefts and other security issues.

Learn some basic phrases in the local language

Your journey will be more pleasurable if you can converse with locals and learn a few simple words in their language. Additionally, it can demonstrate to locals that you’re polite to them and involved in their way of life.

Be mindful of your surroundings

When you’re traveling, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings at all times. Keep an eye on your belongings, be mindful of local scams and dangers, and be respectful of local laws and customs.

Respect the local environment

Finally, when you’re traveling, it’s important to respect the local environment. This means being mindful of the impact your actions have on the local environment and being mindful of the local wildlife and natural resources.

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travel

6 genius travel tips from business-trip pros

If you don’t have much experience with traveling for business, then it’s easy to find the entire process stressful and overwhelming. But if you do travel frequently, it’s important to figure a few things out.

Here are a handful of helpful travel hacks you could gain from ten minutes’ conversation in an airport terminal with any experienced business traveler.

1. Avoid checking luggage whenever possible

The goal of business travel is to save as much time as possible by being proactive and efficient. In this light, one of the best tips is to avoid checking luggage whenever possible. By bringing only carry-on luggage, you avoid the extra time it takes to check luggage and find it again at baggage claim. More importantly, you avoid the risk of your luggage being manipulated or put on the wrong flight.

How can you possibly fit everything into one carry-on piece of luggage and a personal bag? Well, start by leaving things at home. Even traveling internationally for business, you can leave extra gadgets, bulky items and clothing behind.

Remember that you really need only a few outfits. “Unless you’re traveling to an extremely remote location — where your water supply is limited – there’s virtually no need to bring extra clothes, when you can do a quick sink wash and line dry,” Luggage Council notes. “You could also splurge and use your hotel’s laundry services.”

2. Pay a premium for direct flights

If you’re paying for your own flights, it’s easy to choose the cheapest option. But the cheapest option isn’t always the best option. Connecting flights are sometimes necessary to get from one location to another, but look for direct flights if at all possible.

With each connection, you are not only increasing the amount of time it takes to get from “Point A” to “Point B,” but also increasing the amount of risk. With each leg, there’s a possibility for a delay. If your first leg is delayed, you risk missing your second leg, which then compromises your third leg, etc.

If you can reasonably afford it, pay a premium for direct flights. This will save you a lot of stress and wasted time in uncomfortable airports.

3. Check in online

There are always unexpected delays on travel days. From the alarm that doesn’t ring and traffic on the interstate, to long security lines and issues at the baggage counter, uncontrollable factors will always be in play. So, when you get the chance to speed something up, take full advantage.

Thankfully, most airline companies now let you check in online within 24 hours of your flight. This one little step can save you a ton of time at the airport — especially if you aren’t checking baggage.

4. Always carry these items in your bag

Every experienced business traveler has a few simple items he or she needs to carry on every trip. These vary from individual to individual, but learn what’s important here by studying your peers. One important item is a portable cell phone charger. You never know when you’re going to need to charge your phone but won’t be able to find your charger (or an outlet).

Another strange, yet effective, item is a tennis ball. “Bring a tennis ball with you when you’re traveling,” experienced traveler Brian Povinelli says. “It’s great to roll under your feet and even under your thighs to keep you from getting stiff/sore. It’s small, inexpensive and easy to replace.”

5. Kill the germs

Airports, rental cars, hotels, and taxicabs … they’re all full of germs. In order to stay healthy on your business trip, do everything possible to avoid germs in obvious places. That’s why you should always carry three things in your bag: hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes and Bacitracin.

Antibacterial wipes should be used to clean down airplane table trays (which are rarely cleaned between flights). And sanitizer should be applied before eating anything. Apply a small drop of Bacitracin to each nostril to keep those pesky germs at bay.

6. Try negotiating with rental car agencies

If you’re renting a car upon arriving at your destination, consider inquiring about an upgrade. There’s a big difference in comfort between compact cars and premium cars. Plus, if you’re wining and dining clients, it’s always good to be thinking about your image.

“Premium cars can cost an arm and a leg, but counter reps will negotiate much lower prices if they are available when you pick up your car,” says Brian Kelley, The Points Guy. “Ask at check-in if you can upgrade to a higher category, and if they quote you a price, be sure to negotiate since they won’t start at their best price.”

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