An image of a girl swimming in the sea is edited in Pixlr Editor


Fed up of saturating Facebook photo albums with generic ‘here’s the beach’ and ‘frankfurter legs’ shots?

I know I was. For years I struggled to take photos that really captured the atmosphere, excitement or beauty of my travels. Instead I returned home with reels of photos of myself smiling nicely/sunburnt over a generic pasta dinner. Girl likes a linguine.

While never lacking in ideas for the style of photography I wanted, I’d let an imaginary hurdle get in the way of my creativity: Budget. Studying photography at college seemed to have had a negative effect on my…well, negatives (awful). I’d been spoiled with the latest photography equipment and editing suites and thought the only way I could achieve the photos I envisioned, was with a Mac and Adobe licence. Money, and the lack of it, had stopped me before I’d even started.

But it’s not true. Sure, I’m no Marsel van Oosten, but I’ve abandoned the linguine pics and my budget friendly, affordable travel shots are starting to reflect the beauty or emotion of each moment as it really was – helping me to create albums that, in time, will stir real memories. Not just an appetite.

Finding a camera that won’t break the bank

As we started planning the itinerary for our latest trip to Croatia, it soon became obvious that there was only one type of camera that was going to keep up with us. We needed an action cam and a range of accessories to go with it. Problem is, action cams aren’t cheap. With the latest, high performance action cameras coming in at close to 300 pounds, purchasing one + accessories for your one-week trip to Spain hardly seems justifiable.

We found a solution. The Kiwi and I did our research and found Redleaf, a camera hire company who’ll let you hire GoPros and accessories for your holidays. I raved about them in our ‘How to travel on a budget‘ post, and I’ll rave about them again. For a fraction of the cost, we entered Croatia armed to the hilt with two GoPro Hero 4s, various waterproof attachments, chargers and a gimbal.

The GoPros allowed us to seamlessly flit between shooting on land and in water, from kayaking through caves to hiking ancient fortresses. The wide-angle lens ensured we captured our entire surroundings and the inbuilt WiFi meant that we were able to sync the cameras to my phone for a spot of social media bragging.

Beth Woolway and Marlen Walker sit on top of the Kotor fortress walls looking down on the old town of Kotor, Montenegro
Wide angle lens of the GoPro Hero 4 captures the majesty of Kotor, Montenegro

Editing without paying / resorting to piracy / selling a kidney for Adobe Photoshop

I was once an Adobe snob, I still am in my day job. In my blog-time however, I depend on several free desktop and mobile editing suites to get me the same, professional results.

Editing photos, on your phone? In an app?! Quelle horreur I know. But mobile apps have become pretty sophisticated and I find that they give great results for editing my photos, on the go. Especially when I don’t want to have to travel with a laptop just to put up a couple of Instagram pics.

Snapseed is my go to on the road. A Google owned app, Snapseed is available for free for both iPhone and android users and offers an extensive range of editing tools, stashed within a slick and easy-to-use interface. I use this tool for all of the standard editing processes, but where this app really excels is with its ‘Selective Tool’. As shown below, with the selective tool I can choose specific areas to edit the brightness, contrast and saturation, without having to apply any blanket changes to the entire image.

Editing a photo of a girl swimming in the sea through Snapseed app
Photo of me swimming off of Dubrovnik, Croatia being edited on an iPhone with the Snapseed app:

PicsArt is another goodie. I generally tend to use this one supplementary to Snapseed, each app having its own areas where it excels. For Pics Art it’s the overlapping photo tool. This works particularly well with a camera that has a ‘burst’ or ‘timelapse’ function (lots of pictures taken at short intervals over a period of time).

If you have two similar images but each one has something preferable to the other and you can’t decide which one to choose, you don’t have to. Simply lay your images on top of one another and erase the parts you don’t want, keep the parts you do. This is great for if you want to remove a mark or a photo-bombing tourist from your shot.

Screenshot of an image of a man swimming underwater in the sea being edited on PicsArt app
Editing an image of the Kiwi swimming at Sveti Stefan, Montenegro on an iPhone on the PicsArt app:

For the desktop, I couldn’t achieve any of my results without Pixlr Editor. For those familiar with Adobe Photoshop, this suite and its editing tools will be instantly recognisable and easy to use. Think of it as a simplified (ripped-of) version of AP. For those unfamiliar with it, there are a bunch of tutorials out there to help you get to grips with it. Simple tweaks or entire overhalls of your images can be achieved with this editing suite, for free. Get it in your life…

An image of a waterfall at Plitvice Lakes, Croatia is edited in Pixlr Editor
Editing a split photograph taken at Plitviče Lakes, Croatia in Pixlr Editor:

These are the ‘cheats’ that I use to keep the bank balance in tact without compromising on creative travel photography. If you have any more suggestions then please do let us know in the comments below! We’re always on the lookout for new tools and tech so if you’ve got a budget friendly recommendation, then get in touch. Tag us in your travel snaps using the hashtag #kiwiinkernow, we look at them all and love the inspiration you provide! Go team!

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