When you’re not busy writing papers or preparing for presentations during your study abroad experience, you’re probably enjoying the beautiful country of Costa Rica during an excursion. You’ll get to visit some of the most beautiful natural wonders on the planet, and of course, you’ll want to make sure you snap some pictures. Everyone picks up a photography minor while in Costa Rica, so here are some things I’ve learned and been taught by Veritas staff.

A real photography student, named Ximena, explained to us last week the “Rule of Thirds.” The way it works is that you have to imagine your camera has a grid that divides the image into three columns and three rows. Those lines that divide the image intersect at four points. If you place the object of your picture at one of those points instead of dead center, it will be much more visually pleasing to your audience.

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Make sure you also take into account light contrasts and opportunities when you take pictures. Differences in brightness and areas where shadows are cast can dramatically alter how your picture appears. If possible, use natural light because of its greater aesthetic appeal.

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When the object of a picture’s focus is set against a background, it is often interesting to play with the focusing of your camera to sharpen the view of one part of the photo against another. This can create an attractive image while also setting it in front of a nice background.

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Furthermore, perspective changes can give your audience a view they normally wouldn’t consider. Generally we take pictures looking at an object head-on, with very little change in its vertical axis. However, if place your camera directly above or below the subject of the picture, you may be surprised at how your picture turns out.

However, the most important thing to remember is that despite all the great photos you’ll take, you don’t miss out on the experience itself. It’s completely okay to enjoy practicing your photography skills, and there are few better places to do it than Costa Rica. Just make sure you’re living your experience as well.

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Another important thing to remember is that you don’t need an expensive or professional-level camera to take some great photos while studying abroad. Generally your phone camera will provide excellent-quality pictures. It makes sense to just use your phone, since you’re probably going to be carrying it with you anyway.

 

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