Matt-Glastonbury-Camping Mission Beach

Photography tips to Instagram like a #boss in Tropical North Queensland

I can’t scroll through Instagram without getting Insta-envy.

Not only do destinations give me wanderlust; the way they’ve been photographed leaves me head scratching about why my photos of the same place simply don’t pop!

I’m not sure when everyone got so good at Insta-photography, but I suspect it was while I was distracted with the X-Pro II filter, selfies and tilt-shifting the beejezus out of my pictures.

To brush up, we brought  three digital influencers to Tropical North Queensland and convinced them to reveal their photography secrets to help you make your friends double tap with Insta-envy.

Snap like a #boss with these photography tips from @seanscottphotography, @youngadventuress and @mattglastonbury:

Underwater love

Snorkelling Fitzroy Island

Alright @seanscottphotography, we saw this photo on Instagram and our spidey senses tell us there’s more to underwater photography than just a point and shoot.

To get this shot, Sean used a Canon 1DX 14mm 2.8 in an AquaTech water housing, which looks like an astronaut’s helmet encasing an actual camera.

We love the perfect composition of this shot with our Green Island dive-child @islandjems swimming through the Great Barrier Reef.

Want to recreate it yourself? Use these settings:


1/250 sec

ISO 400

Tip: Composition is all about an interesting subject matter to give your image the wow factor it needs.

Shady character

Curtain Tree Fig_ Liz Carlson

How tricky is the Curtain Tree Fig to shoot? I’ve tried twice and failed miserably.

Despite looking like it’s stolen from the set of Avatar, this tree is a photographer’s nightmare with dappled light, long shadows and a stream of tourists popping into frame.

This didn’t put @youngadventuress off, who snapped this magic image on her Canon 70D with a 10-22mm lens.

To get this snap, Liz used a wide-angle lens to capture the full-size of the tree. A low angle, shooting up, with Liz in the frame (also wearing a cute hat) helps emphasise the sheer size of this tree.

Use these settings at the Curtain Tree Fig:


1/40 sec

ISO 100


Tip: Place a subject or object into the frame to reinforce scale and create drama.

Island sunburst

Fitzroy Island Resort

Sure, it helps when your subject matter is as photogenic as Nudie Beach on Fitzroy Island, but there’s more to taking a good photo than just closing the shutter. We love that @seanscottphotography framed the subject between the rocks and also positioned the sun to just peek through the trees.

His signature starburst was taken on his Canon 1DX 11-24, with an aperture of 22.  Sean recommends a high ISO for anyone shooting without a tripod – a handy tip for those playing at home.

Have a go yourself:


1/200 sec

ISO 400

Tip: If hand-holding a camera, don’t forget to pump the ISO for a crisp pic.

Aerial love

Great Barrier Reef Aerial_Liz Carlson

If you’ve gone to the effort of getting an aerial view of the reef with Nautilus Aviation, you want to be taking more than just memories of the ride home with you. Prepare your camera to capture the action.

Shooting from a moving vehicle is hard enough, let alone a helicopter over the Great Barrier Reef with so much content to shoot. @youngadventuress snapped this gem with her Canon 70D with 17-55mm lens and #nailedit.

Key to her success was a fast shutter speed, which reduced the movement in the picture.

Adding the boat below helps tell a story and we’re dying to know – who’s in the boat… Captain Jack Sparrow is that you?

Try it for yourself:


1/400 sec

ISO 100


Handy heli tip: Super shutterspeed is your friend to get clear shots when you’re moving.

Camp life

Matt-Glastonbury-Camping Mission Beach

With palm-fringed beaches, sunrises over the water and the bright blue Coral Sea at its doorstep, it’s easy to see why Mission Beach isn’t shy for the camera.

Even the most beautiful destination still needs a little bit of Hollywood staging and @mattglastonbury brought a tent to create this perfect picture, which has been regrammed a whopping 36 times and counting!

Matt used his Canon EOS-1D X to capture these tootsies and recommends a medium f-stop value (like 7.1) to keep both the foreground and distance sharp.

Set up a tent, lay back and try these settings – just don’t forget to get a pedi first!

f -7.1

1/500 sec

ISO 160

@17 mm

Tip: A low f-stop value (f1.2-5.6), defocuses more of your scene. A higher f-stop value (f5.6 to 22) will keep more of it sharp.

Watercolour canvas

Matt-Glastonbury-Vlasoff Cay

It’s hard to get a bad shot of Vlasoff Cay, but you can get a blurry one. It’s one of the jewels in the Great Barrier Reef’s crown and you want to capture the watercolour effect of each layer of the reef as it fans out from the sand.

This stunner was taken from a helicopter, on the pocket-sized Canon EOS M3 by @mattglastonbury. A high shutter speed was Matt’s friend, preventing movement in the image.

If you can only choose one camera to take onboard, he suggests you choose a lens that can zoom, in case you need a wide angle and a close up. You never know what you’ll see in flight! Cue whales breaching and dolphins tail slapping.

If you find yourself in a helicopter over the reef, these settings should help you out:

f -4.5

1/1000 sec

ISO 100

@14 mm

Tip: Prevent window reflections in your snaps by shooting away from colourful objects within the helicopter cabin (colourful T-shirts, caps, neon bikini tops etc).

Spidey shine

Matt-Glastonbury-Sunrise at Nerada Tea Plantation

Sometimes it’s the small details that make the biggest impression.

This little spider’s web didn’t look like much to the naked eye, but by playing with focus, @mattglastonbury was able to create this magic on a smaller camera, the Canon PowerShot G7 X.

Find an interesting focal point (big dew drop) and try playing around with different compositions by aligning different subject matter in the background with your point of focus.

Focusing can be tricky with such a small object, so it’s worth locking the focus manually first, then moving the camera into range with your preferred composition.

To create your own web-masterpiece like Matt’s:

f -7.1

1/320 sec

ISO 200

8.8 mm

Tip: Keep your camera as still as possible. If you can’t use a tripod, try stabilising your hands by holding and leaning them near the centre of your body (where you move the least).

Starry palms

Matt-Glastonbury-Castaways Mission Beach

There’s nothing like a spell-binding star shot, especially when you combine it with the winning mix of palm trees, golden sand and the beauty of Castaways Mission Beach.

@mattglastonbury took this shot on his Canon EOS-1D X and credits a good tripod and shutter release to stop you knocking the camera when it’s ‘go’ time as key to starry-image-success.

The rest is fairly textbook: Shoot with the lowest f-stop value your lens will allow, use the highest ISO possible (but try to keep graphical noise levels to a minimum) and use a shutter speed of around 15 seconds if you want crisp stars. A shutter speed over 15 seconds might mean you’ll start to see star trails behind your stars due to the earth’s rotation.

If you plan on editing, always shoot in RAW. You can convert it to JPG when you export your edited image and share it.

Capture the stars with these settings:

f – 2.8

13.0 sec

ISO 2500

@16 mm

Tip: Still confused? Check out this step-by-step post on how to shoot the perfect star trail.

Do you have any hot photography tips you can add? Share with us in the comments below.