This post is part of the #NoFilter Challenge from London City Airport, proving that a destination as beautiful as Madrid doesn’t need to be filtered to be drop-dead gorgeous. It can take care of that all on its own, thankyouverymuch. Photos in the challenge will be judged by Jade Conroy from MSN Travel UK, so I hope I’ve chosen good ones!

A shockingly chilly winter week spent in the beautiful city of Madrid. What could be better? The fountains may have been frozen, but I felt a warm welcome from the friendly people, hearty food and incredibly ornate architecture at the heart of this city.

Everything was so lovely, I didn’t even need to break out my DSLR to capture it! All the photos you’re about to see were taken with an iPhone 4S and have not been altered in any way.

Now, on to the important bits: how do you go about taking the perfect #nofilter photo? I’ve got some tips to get you started…

Think about light

I don’t mean natural vs. artificial light – who can control that when traveling anyway? I mean think about how the light is hitting that statue you’re looking at. Take the time to walk around and find its most flattering angle before snapping away! The time of day can also affect how your photos look. Head out during “magic hour” – the golden period just before sunset – to get some spectacular shots courtesy of mother nature.

And keep in mind that taking a photo into the sun is usually not a good idea, unless of course you’re getting some cool rays or a shadow effect on your main subject! Like this light coming through the soft leaves in front of the gorgeous Palacio de Cristal.


Framing is important

Shoot your subject slightly off-center to make your shot more visually engaging. Look for odd angles and unusual subjects to make your photos unlike all the others on Facebook, or go for a classic with a twist! I grabbed this shot of the oft-photographed Palacio Real de Madrid and I’m still proud of it!

Madrid Off Symmetry Photo

But of course, if your subject is a beautifully manicured garden, then symmetry is your friend! I couldn’t resist these perfect repeating patterns in the rose gardens of the expansive Parque del Buen Retiro.


Focus on details

The fascinating little things that give a place its character are definitely deserving of your lens time. Capture the everyday shots that speak to the heart of the city, like this colorful display at the famous El Rastro flea market.


And don’t forget to look up! You never know what intricate details you’ll see on the top of these lovely old buildings. Let the architecture do the heavy lifting to make the photo beautiful!

Finally, think about capturing people. The local shopkeeper waiting for customers, the crowds at a Sunday market, the young couple sharing a kiss on the banks of a frozen river. As beautiful as nature is, it’s the people that make a city come alive.

Use that panorama feature

Sometimes the scene in front of you is too grand to be captured in a standard shot. Use the panorama mode on your smartphone or camera to gather the full impact of the scene. The incredible Plaza Mayor in the center of the city is absolutely deserving of this kind of shot, and it needs no help from Snapseed.


If all else fails, just take a shot of your delicious tapas and you’ll inspire enough envy in your friends that your photo skills won’t matter. :)

Want more Madrid tips? Check out my top 5 spots in this gorgeous capital.

What are your favorite photography tips? Spill in the comments! 

  • Inher30s

    Love your photos – I recently came back from a very hasty one day jaunt through Madrid too – but my photos aren’t nearly as good! Did you make it to Mercado San Miguel?

    • Kit Whelan

      Thank you! I think your photos of the Mercado San Miguel are fantastic, definitely giving me an acute case of hunger and wanderlust :) Going to add it to my to-see list for my next trip!

  • Paige Miller

    Love that shot of the palace! And of course the panorama of Plaza Mayor is great!

    • Kit Whelan

      Thanks Paige! It’s easy when you have such beautiful subject to work with :)

  • Elizabeth Locke

    Love your panoramic photo in Plaza Mayor! So beautiful!

    • Kit Whelan

      Thanks Elizabeth!

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