5 Simple Tips To Make Travel Photos Look Their Best In Post Production

This article has links to products that we may make commission from.

Brighten up your travel photos with these easy tips…

Taking good travel photos is always challenging, and in most cases you won’t have the luxury of finding the perfect shot or waiting until the lighting and other conditions are ‘just right’. That is why good travel photography is only partially about the photos themselves, but also about the touch ups and post processing that go into them. We use filters that attatch to your camera’s lens to capture the perfect shot, but when that doesn’t work, we need to turn to editing software.

A desk with a laptop, couple of notebooks and an iPhone

Table of contents:

  1. Straighten the photo
  2. Re-frame the photo
  3. Carefully remove unwanted elements
  4. Adjust the saturation levels
  5. Balance the highlights and shadows
  6. Bonus: Find the right photo editor

While there are a number of ways you could touch up travel photos so that they look good, these five tips will prove particularly useful:

1. Straighten the photo so that it is level

Most of the time you probably intend for your travel photos to be level – but in practice it is nearly impossible to take a perfectly level travel photo. The good news is that straightening a photo by editing it is trivially easy, and the effect it can have makes it more than worthwhile.

Straight Horizon
A straight horizon makes all the difference when shooting landscapes. (Credit: Paul Morris)

Most editors have a dedicated levelling or straightening tool, though in some it is part of the crop or rotate tool. In any case, adjusting your travel photos so that the horizon is level should help to make them look more balanced.

2. Re-frame the photo by cropping it

Another easy way to touch up your travel photos is to re-frame them by using the crop feature. Considering you probably didn’t have time to frame the perfect shot while traveling, re-framing it during post processing will let you take your time and carefully consider the composition of the photo.

It may be a good idea to use compositional techniques such as the ‘Rule of Thirds’ when re-framing your travel photos. It can act as an invaluable guideline to help position your subject and the other elements in your photo.

3. Carefully consider how to remove unwanted elements

Sometimes there may be elements in your travel photos that you want to remove – but when you do you should carefully consider your options. While there are various tools that can help to remove elements or blemishes, most will replace them with a ‘best guess’ of what is behind the object – which may or may not be ideal.

The other way to remove elements is to crop them out. For this to be an option the elements need to be located in the proximity of the edges of the frame, and you will want to weigh the effect cropping will have on the rest of the photo’s composition too.

4. Adjust the saturation levels incrementally

One of the most commonly used method of touching up the color of travel photos is to increase their saturation – so that the colors are more vibrant. However oversaturated images will look very unnatural, and that could make your travel photos look worse.

Saturation in Travel Photos
Just the right amount of saturation can help bring photos to life. (Credit: Timothy Eberly)

While adjusting the saturation of travel photos is a great way to touch them up – you should incrementally adjust the saturation levels to find a good balance. Start by finding a saturation level that has vivid colors but still looks natural, then slowly increase or decrease it until you feel it looks best.

5. Balance the highlights and shadows in the photo

Because the lighting in travel photos is almost never perfect, many photos tend to have areas that are too bright, and shadows that are too dark. In most cases it is best to balance these, by slowly adjusting the exposure, highlights and shadows.

Simply put, the exposure will adjust the overall brightness including shadows and highlights – so it is a good place to start. After that you can fine-tune the shadows or highlights specifically to your satisfaction.

Finding the right photo editor

If you can’t wait to get started and touch up your travel photos, you should try out Movavi Photo Editor. It will let you carry out photo touch up quickly and easily, without forcing you to go through a steep learning curve.

Movavi Photo Editor
Movavi Photo Editor

Using the features in Movavi Photo Editor will allow you to touch up your photos in all of the ways listed above. To be more specific you can use the levelling tool to straighten it, the crop tool to re-frame it, the object removal tools to get rid of unwanted elements, and the adjustment tools to tweak the saturation, exposure, highlights, shadows, and more.

To be honest there are lots of other useful editing tools that you could use, such as artistic filters, portrait touch up tools, automated enhancement options, and more. Be sure to explore everything Movavi Photo Editor has to offer if you have the time, as it will let you create some truly impressive travel photos.