Travel Photography Tip – Border Patrol

Where you point your camera can make or break a travel image.

Cutting an ankle, trimming words on a sign or letting a tree branch come out of someone’s head ruins an image so conduct a “Border Patrol” before you press the shutter. When travelling your vacation brain doesn’t see the bus in the background, the litter in front of your subject or wires piercing through a head while your camera’s brain records it all. Quickly check your image edges in your viewfinder or LCD screen and move yourself forward, back, left or right, wait for people or vehicles to get our of the way, zoom your lens in or out to avoid cutting an an ankle, wrist or knee (your image viewers feel the pain!) and your travel images will be significantly improved. Sometimes there is no time for border patrol so just take the shot.

Border Patrol before shooting!

No Border Patrol = Bad Image!


Border Patrol was done on this image. Click for fine art print

Step back: Border Patrol was done on this image. Click for larger version

Fixing Bad Images by Cropping

Some photo opportunities require a quick grab shot without any time for “border patrol”. While photographing in a fresh market at the UNESCO site of old Antigua, Guatemala I spotted several Mayan fruit sellers chatting and strolling towards me about 50 feet away so I quickly shot off one frame with my zoom lens at 200 mm. Suddenly they turned right down a lane and were gone forever. With no time for border patrol I had cut off their ankles and created a half person on the left. Fortunately I had a solution to the lack of
border patrol – simply crop the image! All photography software has a cropping capability and it can be used for quick fixes. The resultant cropped image was such a huge success it was actually picked as an editor’s choice in Canon’s European professional network (CPN) competition a few years ago and published in Geo Saison (Germany) magazine. Here is the before and after versions:

both Antigua

Image on the right is cropped. Click to view.


Use the Clone Stamp Tool to Fix

Watch for tree branches!

Oops! Watch for tree branches!


A few months ago while on a travel photography guest lecturing assignment on Oceania’s cruise ship Insignia Around the World voyage we visited the Portuguese island of Cabo Verde (Cape Verde) off the coast of Africa where I captured a panoramic scene of Mindelo  and the beautiful coastline of of São Vicente island from a mountain top. The last frame of the multiple image series included a photographer (hi Ryan!)  capturing the same scene but I did not notice the tree branch coming out of his head (well, I was on the cliff’s edge with no fence and was more more worried about falling off the cliff than taking the time for border patrol). The easy solution was to use the clone stamp tool to remove the branch and incorporate the edited image in the final panorama as shown below.

Cape Verde Panorama. Available as a fine art print

Cape Verde Panorama. Available as a fine art print

Simple Objects Can Change the Viewer’s perception of a Scene

Sometimes the presence of a simple object will change the viewer’s perception of what an image is about. While visiting the tiny Akato Viepe village of  in Togo (on the west coast of Africa, in the Ako River valley) and during an amazing welcome ceremony by the Village Chief (actually a King), his royal family and the villagers (this colorful event will be the subject of an upcoming post) I came across what appeared to be a father and daughter leaning against a mud wall and wearing beautiful and colorful African fabrics. Having asked permission (see prior Blog post on How to Photograph People you do not know) I photographed the both of them and then a close-up of the young daughter. To get a good composition of the two I had to include an unusual object at the same wall- an empty gin bottle! I photo journalist would likely be fired for removing the gin bottle while a fine art photographer would likely remove it for aesthetic reason. Here are both versions of the scene and each conveys a totally different message – what would you do? Please comment below. The gin bottle can be easily removed in a few seconds with the often used clone stamp tool.

Compare the Two Images: With or without Gin Bottle? Click on Image for my Choice

Compare the Two Images: With or without Gin Bottle? Click on the image for my Choice

Border Patrol – Summary

Remember that image edges breath – don’t cut them. How do subjects interact with their environment and how to objects (buses, gin bottles, wires, tree trunks) interact with the subjects? Do a border patrol – simply move a bit, wait, zoom in or out and simple cloning or cropping edits can make your bad travel images sing! Border patrol is a must for every travel photographer.

About the Authors. David and Anna Smith are World travel & fine art photographers, Bloggers, photography and fabric arts workshop leaders, key note speakers and cruise ship guest lecturers, Their world image archive: Interface Images and Celebrate the World fine art gallery.  David has just published a brand new series of online travel and general photography courses, visit their blog Travel Photography Tips & Adventures for more. Please share our Blog posts on your social networks. 


David Smith on Travel Photography – a Podcast Interview by Rick Shetty of Digital Nomad Mastery

Rick Shetty a good friend and online entrepreneur master with Digital Nomad Mastery who is travelling the world with his family. He recently interviewed David Smith of Interface Images on the subject of World travel photography and his travel stories. This interview is about an hour long but some may find this interesting. Enjoy!

Digital Nomad Mastery Podcast Interview about World Travel Photography with David Smith

Check out David’s Smith website and links below:

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Brand New and Better Apps for Travel Photographers

Brand new and better apps for photographers are being released every day. Here are some of the new ones which will make your travel images better.  In fact some of these news apps add important camera features previously available only on higher end cameras to your newer smartphones. Be sure to update your device’s operating system or getting a newer device as some of these news apps need the latest and greatest. These new apps are so good that you might reconsider a new smart device purchase instead of getting a new or camera upgrade. (Wow, I though I would never say this!). The convenience of a smart phone in your pocket while travelling beats the clunking cameras and heavy camera bags and back breaking back packs. The quality of the bigger lenses in cameras is much higher than the tiny lenses in smart devices but watch for new technology solutions to narrow the lens quality gap between the two.

New Apps to make your device’s camera act like a good one

  • Cogitap Software has released a series of individual $1.99 apps for the iPhone and iPad each of which gives a highly creative tool for capturing amazing travel photography just like a sophisticated camera does. The tools include slow shutter cam, burst mode-high speed and night modes; and for the iPhone only an HDR Fusion and Bracket Mode apps. To access these apps open iTunes and search for them by name or Cogitap.
New apps from Cogitap Software

New apps from Cogitap Software

The Cogitap Night Modes app slows down your shutter speed and increases the ISO (sensor sensitivity to light as shown in the following screen shots. Be sure to rest your device on a firm surface for a sharp image.

Night Modes App by Cogitap

Night Modes App by Cogitap








TheCogitap  Slow Shutter Cam app gives you slow shutter speeds for highly creative effects.


Slow Shutter Can app by Cogitap

Slow Shutter Can app by Cogitap












  • A highly rated photo editing app
  • create collages, write on a photo
  • High end portrait processing (eg. glamor style)
  • free

One of our favorite photographers is Luana Oliveri a destinations services manager with Oceania Cruise Lines. She does incredibly amazing self portraits with her smart phone and gives them a glamor boost using the Picarts app. Check out her Facebook where she regularly posts here artistic jaw dropping portrait images as she travels the world. Thanks Luana for giving us permission to mention your body of work and Facebook link. You rock! Here is a sample of one of her beautiful self-portraits using Picsart:

Luana Oliveri cell phone self portrait using the Picsart app

Luana Oliveri beautiful cell phone self portrait using the Picsart app














Must have and Superior Photo Apps for your smart device

  • The $3.39 “Manual” App by Little Pixels gives high end camera functionality for your iPhone 5 and up, iPad or iPad touch..  This includes Control of shutter speed, ISO, White Balance and amazingly  exposure compensation as well.  You need to update your IOS operating system and search the app store under iPhone apps.
  • The Camera FV-5 for  Android devices costs $3.90 and provides many higher end camera features such as exposure compensation, ISO, light metering mode, focus mode, white balance, program mode, Exposure bracketing and the option to shoot Raw files (as DNG format).  These are ground breaking features for a smart phone with one app. Why pay hundreds of dollars for a new camera when you can spend just $4? Perhaps poorer cell phone/tablet lens quality and image resolution/size is a factor?



Here are some other photography apps that have been around some time and are still worth considering.


Snapseed – for all devices, a Google company

  • Single tap Auto Correct
  • Tweak your photo with Tune Image
  • enhance specific objects in your photos
  • filters: Drama, Vintage, Grunge, & Tilt-Shift
  • Add Image Borders
  • Easy online sharing tools.




  • A top photography app: Respected smartphone photographers would not be shooting every day if not for Instagram’s vibrant and supportive community, and having a place to share everything they shoot.
  • It continues to change the world’s relationship with photography.  Comment feedback and likes are immediate.








  • For tablets either Mac or Pc
  • produce collages
  • cool filters
  • Free





  • Include high-quality presets by well-known smartphone photographers
  • Frames
  • Textures
  • a “clarify” tool for equalizing an image’s exposure
  • editing tools with precise controls












  • A great camera replacement app @ $2.99





  • All hardware but Windows phone





DSLR Remote Control App

  • from OnOne Software
  • To fire some Nikon/Canon SLR’s remotely from iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad





Don’t have GPS on your Camera?

  • Use the Android/Iphone app: GPS4CAM fFor geotagging without a camera GPS
  • Lite/Free or Pro/$4





If our readers use and recommend apps suitable for travel photographers please include the app details in the comments section below so others can share and use your joy!

About the Authors. David and Anna Smith are World travel & fine art photographers, Bloggers, workshop leaders, key note speakers and cruise ship guest lecturers, Their world image archive: Interface Images, fine art gallery: Celebrate the World, on line photo courses  and Blog: Images-Connecting the World.  


Travel Photography Story: Creating the Around the World Quilt in 180 Days

Our Anna Smith served as the Around the World Quilt co-coordinator for this first time and amazing creative fabric arts project. Here is her photo story….

Around the World (ATW) quilters aboard the Oceania Insignia 2016 World Cruise have reason to celebrate. Their ATW quilt creation is a stunning work of fabric arts and has just been completed! 35 ATW guests and entertainment staff from beginners who have never sewed before to expert quilters contributed a total of 72 8×8 in. blocks depicting ports of call and activities during the 180 day around the world cruise adventure on Insignia. Each block was uniquely created on board using a wide variety of fabric arts techniques from simple embroidery sewing, elaborate fabric painting, needlepoint, photo transfer to crazy quilting, chain and applique stitching. ATW quilters gathered each sea day in the Horizons lounge where natural light, peaceful background music and a welcoming ambiance enabled block creation, quilt design and story telling creative juices to flow. The 4pm high tea awaiting the quilters was an added bonus.

Around the World Quilters with their finished quillt

Around the World Quilters with their finished quilt



At the beginning of the voyage fabric artist and frequent Oceania Artist In Residence Anna Smith coordinated the design, production and assembly of the ATW Quilt and aided by AWT Hostess Trica Walsh. Anna taught beginners embroidery and various quilting and stitchery techniques and offered suggestions on fabrics and materials to obtain during ports of call visits. Each quilter shopped for, designed and assembled their blocks with anticipation and excitement. The multicolored ATW quilt backing purchased by Anna in Luanda Angola contributed to the quilting frenzy on board. Teamwork, a sense of pride and creativity was abound. When Anna left for home in Capetown she stated “I shall return – with sewing machine, quilt borders colored to match the guest’ block colors and needed quilting supplies” and she did just that in Tahiti. Using a self standing design wall, the quilters carefully laid out each block and carefully experimented with the quilt design until ready for final assembly.

Guest Sukey created a map of the final quilt showing the name of guest who made that block. The team busily stitched borders to each block. Anna’s sewing machine and guest Joan’s sewing machines worked overtime to add sashings, piping, borders and bindings and final quilting of the ATW quilt. A fun quilting bee atmosphere was shared in what is affectionately known as “It takes a Village” while the team stitched the quilt batts and quilt back to the quilt front in a huge circle while the quilters shared travel stories and fun times.

When Insignia General Manager Victor Conceicao initiated the ATW quilt project with Anna Smith at the beginning of the World cruise in January 2016, no one expected the high number of participants, number of blocks created and especially the creativity, passion, pride and teamwork that ensued. The first public showing of the completed quilt at an ATW reception near the end of the World Cruise was packed. The quilt will be on public display on board and ATW quilt raffle proceeds of over $4500 will go the to Insignia crew welfare fund.

Anna and husband David Smith (travel photography guest lecturer) just published a digital photo story book about the ATW quilt project and here it is!  You can browse the pages by clicking the front cover of the book below


The book is available as a high quality Blurb hard cover book or an instantly downloadable eBook. Order your copy by selecting the appropriate link below:

ATW Quilt Book on Amazon (available about July25) : $59.00 plus shipping:
ATW Quilt eBook (available now) $9.99:

Anna Smith resides in West Vancouver, BC where she instructs fabric arts, quilting and photo transfer classes at art galleries and quilting guilds. She has served as a fabric Artist in Residence on the Insignia, Marina and Riviera ships and has lectured on exotic fabrics of the World on cruise ships worldwide. Her works have been have exhibited in art galleries, offices, stores and museums. Her husband David Smith is a frequent cruise ship guest lecturer and workshop leader on travel photography. For more information contact Anna Smith via their web site

About the Authors. David and Anna Smith are World travel & fine art photographers, Bloggers, photography and fabric arts workshop leaders, key note speakers and cruise ship guest lecturers, Their world image archive: Interface Images and Celebrate the World fine art gallery.  David has just published a brand new series of online travel and general photography courses, visit their blog Travel Photography Tips & Adventures for more. Please share our Blog posts on your social networks.  


Selfies Around the World – a 2 minute hilarious video

The selfie phenomenon increases to expand across the world and across different cultures.  Having recently completed major worldwide trips to Asia, South America, North America, Africa and Europe  David and Anna have captured people doing selfies and photobombs worldwide. You might even find a few shots of the themselves doing selfies.David recently covered the subject of selfies and photobombs for travel photographers and how to up your selfie game in a recent post in this Blog.

Here is a fun 2 minute video of candid moments of people doing selfies around the world.  Please share this post on your social networks. Enjoy


Easy Panorama Travel Images – Part 1

Shooting the Panorama

I always wanted to take this shot…. and I did on my last trip to New York City. This is a 360 degree panorama of the interior of the Grand Central Station. How did I avoid the same moving people getting into different sections of this image? The first with the correct answer by posting in the comments below this post gets a free lifetime access to my new online Travel Photography Amazing Tips & Techniques or Easy Photography Tips for Cruise Ships & Ports course .

This post – Part 1 will cover shooting the panorama with your camera. My next post as Part 2 will cover software stitching, enhancing and printing your panoramas.





Digital cameras and recent software updates make the creation of quality panorama images of your travels very easy. Travelers frequently come across truly amazing photo ops with sweeping landscapes, buildings with unique architecture and beautiful lobbies or pastoral scenes or sunsets that a single wide angle lens setting simply misses the total grandeur of the scene. Cruise ships frequently visit ports of call where panorama techniques will better  capture the scene as you arrive, leave the port, or tour around. Visit a prior post Photo Tips for Tours & Shore Excursions

Some new digital cameras enable the creation of excellent panorama images in camera with one shutter click using a horizontal video mode where you pan across the scene with your camera. The camera automatically coverts the horizontal video to one wide panorama image in camera. However, this post will feature how to stitch and merge a sequence of individual photos taken with a traditional digital camera and later with computer software.

Here are the steps for creating panoramic images.

1. Planning your shots before photographing the sequence of shots to be stitched and merged later is important. If the scene is quite narrow (eg.
long distance shot of a city skyline) you will want to shot with the camera held horizontally and if the important elements in the scene are more
tall than wide (eg. close to city buildings, scenes with an important foreground) shoot with camera vertically or turned 90 degrees. When I have
time, a shoot a set of shots horizontally and vertically to cover all my bases. Most are not aware that photo merge features not only merge a
photo sequence in one line but also sequences in multiple lines (meaning you can shot the side of a building, say shooting floors 1 -4, then
shootings floors 5-8, etc. thereby eliminating the need for an expensive super wide angle/fish eye lens)

2. If you have a polarized filter on your lens consider removing it since the angle of the camera to the sun changes as you move the camera
across the scene thereby varying the degree of polarization in each shot. Some software products with a photo merge feature sometimes reveal
significant banding in the final panorama images due to the tonal changes from the different levels of polarization in each shot. However
Photoshop Element Version 6 and up and Photoshop CS3 and up use photo merge solutions that solve this banding issue quite well so removing the
polarized filter may not be required.





3. Shoot the first shot of a panorama sequence with your arm in the shot (then shoot the same shot without the arm) so when I look at tons of
thumbnail images in my editing browser I can quickly spot the first of a  panorama sequence by looking for my arm in a shot. Shoot slowly holding the camera
steady, feet apart and elbow to your chest and be sure to overlap each image by at least 30% when shooting. Use a horizon line, road edge or
building feature to ensure you panning shots are lined up. Ideally a tripod should be used but I never carry one anymore while travelling.

4. Use good composition and avoid centering the horizon line. For example if the foreground is exciting (a blue lagoon) and the sky is boring,
place the horizon in the upper 2/3 of the shot. If it is a dynamic sunset scene place the horizon in the bottom 1/3 of the scene. Sunset shots are dramatically improved by underexposing by at  least -1  or -2 EV.  See a previous post on capturing dramatic sunsets.





5. If you scene is close to you (eg. in a small room, objects within about 50 feet) you will get panorama distortion effects arsing from the fact
that the optical center of your camera (the nodal point) is never the same as the tripod screw position or hand held pivot point of the camera.
This is called parallax error but is not an issue for most travel panoramas since most of your panorama features will be far away.

In the next post, Easy Panorama Travel images – Part 2 I will cover the common steps on using panorama stitching features of several software
products, how to enhance your final panoramas with stunning color and black and white effects and where and how to get your stunning panoramas
printed. In the meantime, feel free to post comments and online links to your own panorama creations and please share this post on your social

Readers are welcome to order fine art prints of my panorama images with worldwide shipping  for their own enjoyment. They will look great in an office, board room, over a fireplace, in a rec room or a hallway. Click on any of the images in this post for  printing options and prices. Visit our fine art image collection at Fine Art America. Enjoy!  Watch for the next quiz: Where’s David & Anna? for prizes.

David Smith is a world travel and event photographer, travel writer, Blogger, keynote public speaker and cruise ship guest lecturer.  Visit his online photo gallery Interface Images, “like” his Facebook Page , subcribe to his Blog Images-Connecting the World and order museum quality art prints at his Fine Art America print gallery.  He has also recently published two online photography courses Travel Photography-Amazing Tips & Techniques and Easy Photography Tips for Cruise Ships and Ports.  These fun, informational and  inspirational online courses include live online video, comprehensive handouts and more and can be downloaded to computers, tablets and smart phones. Each course is only $39 and are sponsored by Udemy the leader in online education where all courses have a 100% money back guarantee.  Blog subscribers can take use the coupon code $10FF at checkout

Amazing Tips & Techniques

Amazing Tips & Techniques


300pixelstipscruisersintroimage39For Cruise Ships and Ports