If you're like me, photography is not just about weddings and portraits. I love getting outdoors with my camera and exploring the mountains and forests around my hometown of Seattle, Washington. Anything from a day hike to a multi-night backpacking trip is always an opportunity to photograph my adventures and share these beautiful landscapes with others.
I recently went on a camping trip with photographer Scott Kranz and he shared with me some tips he would prescribe to anyone interested in capturing images that are as epic as the adventures they take. Whether you are a weekend warrior, a new hiker or an elite athlete, consider these tips to take your outdoor adventure photography to the next level.
1. Adventure better.
The first step, Scott says, is an obvious one. The adventure makes the photos. If you choose a poor adventure, your photos probably won't be that spectacular. Ask questions about where you want to go and the adventure you want to take. Will you check out a popular spot, or will you venture to an “untapped” location that few have reached? Will you keep it local, or will you travel to a bucket-list destination?
2. Do your research!
There is no such thing as too much research. Scott suggests getting to know the lay of the land before you even step out the door. Check Google Earth to get a birds-eye-view of your trip. Search hashtags on Instagram to see what other photographers have captured along the trail. Don't feel afraid to reach out either to locals in the area you're traveling to.
Following sunset and sunrise as well as the moon phases is important for a photographer. You'll want to plan your departure and trip length so you're in the right spots when the light is just right in the golden hours. The moon is important too if you're a night photographer trying to capture the Milky Way.
3. Bring the right gear.
Packing the right amount of gear and the tools you'll need on your adventure are not only vital to capturing great photos, but to survival. The adventure you take will impact the choices in gear. Scott mentions you might not want to bring a heavy DSLR and multiple lenses if you're climbing many thousand vertical feet in elevation to a mountain summit. In addition, you'll have to debating on bringing other camera gear such as tripods, batteries and memory cards. Having too much is just extra weight on your pack and having too little can cause a great trip to end short.
Camera gear isn't the only thing you'll need to pack. Remember you will need to make sure you have enough water, clothing for warmth and food to keep your energy up and your body safe. Always carry a first aid kit and tell people where you are going and when you plan to be back.
4. Scout it out.
You can do all the pre-trip research in the world and it still won't prepare you for what it's like when you're there on the ground. Take time during the trip to scout out the area for the best campsites and locations to set up your camera. It's ok to backtrack on your hike to evaluate multiple destinations.
5. Be ready!
Have your camera ready. Scott says it sounds simple, but it's easy to forget. The best photos can come and go unexpectedly. Having your camera packed away in your backpack until you reach your destination is no way to hike. Have your camera setting set and your camera out and ready all through your adventure.
6. Use a subject.
Scott says what often distinguishes adventure photography from landscape photography is the use of a "foreign" subject or subjects. A person, tent or other external object can add perspective and scale to a scene. Adding in objects from your trip also gives your photographs a sense of what it took to get there and capture the shot.
7. Find a unique perspective.
You know the photos. The same bridge or roadway shot on Instagram that everyone takes when visiting a specific spot. Make your photos unique if you want them to stand out. Scott suggests photographing your subjects form higher or lower angles, or from close up or far way. Put different people in your scene or lag behind and watch them venture away into the wilderness. If you just try and recreate photos that others have already taken, you may be left with a great photograph, but it's not unique to you and your adventure.
Getting back home safely is only half of the adventure when it comes to photography. Now comes the "post-adventure" editing processes. Scott says to make sure your horizons are level, touch up highlights and shadows and bring out the details in your subjects. Shooting in RAW gives you the most latitude in post-production and is especially useful in outdoor adventure photography when your highlights and lowlights can be extreme. Spending a little time with your photos before you share them with the world can make them go from great to unforgettable.
So if you're a photographer looking to get outdoors with your camera or if you're an adventurer looking to capture your travels, these tips will help you come away from an epic adventure with some epic photographs. Now get off your laptop and get exploring!
All images used with permission.
[Via The Outbound]