Here are four simple practices that can (I promise!) instantly improve your photography whatever the subject.
As long as it is practicable and safe, keep your camera in your hand, with all settings ready to go. Aim to follow the 3-second rule: that you can have your camera ready to capture within 3 seconds of seeing something you want to record. Modern cameras can start up in under 1 second, so that gives you 2 seconds to frame and focus.
Foretell the future
Read the signs ahead of you and around you to try to anticipate what will happen. As when you’re driving a car, you look ahead to assess road conditions just before you arrive, travel photography is about assessing the situation as it develops so that you’re ready for what happens next. This gives you more time to get into position, fine-tune camera settings and also assess the risk and safety features of the situation.
Do not chimp
The image preview of digital cameras is often touted as one of its great features, but relying on it too much is also one of the worse habits photographers can get into. Checking the image preview — aka chimping — interrupts the flow of picture-making, it takes your attention away from the subject, and the preview is not a totally reliable check anyway. It may give a false impression of sharpness and colour. Train yourself from using the preview image while photographing, but check previews only during downtime when you’re sure nothing worth photographing is happening e.g. at lunchtime, or in the hotel at night.
Visualise your image before framing up
Before you pick up the camera, have some idea of the image you wish to capture. Do you want as much of the scene as possible, or do you wish to limit the image to some small, significant details? In the process, you arrive at an idea of the zoom setting you need, if only that you’ll be at the widest end or the most zoomed in. If you have the zoom setting roughly set by the time you lift the camera to your eye, you will save crucial seconds. If you have little time, you can make the exposure immediately. At any rate, it will take less time to fine-tune the zoom setting than to hunt around trying to work out which zoom setting is best.