Adventure photography tips: A beginners guide
Want to be a better photographer? It starts with understanding the fundamentals of photography. In this photography tips and tricks guide I walk through a few basics for beginners on how to up your photography game.
Always be a practicing photographer
Something I truly believe… if you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward. Study other photos and ask yourself why is this shot so awesome or why does this image fall short? What did the photographer do right and what could be better? Everything you learn will be added to your toolkit and should be referenced in the future. You’ll come across a similar situation and having more tools (knowledge) in your arsenal will inevitable help create a better image.
NEVER STOP LEARNING!
Learn from others but also learn from yourself. Ask “How could I make this image better?”
The best camera is the one you have
What’s the best adventure photography camera?
I get this question all the time. It’s the one you have! Whatever camera you have, even if it’s a phone, use it and learn to use it to its full potential. Remember the camera is just a tool. If you work on your fundamentals listed here, I guarantee you’ll be out shooting pro camera owners that lack the fundamentals. Get out and practice, practice, PRACTICE!
Shoot in RAW FOR MAXIMUM FLEXABILITY
Shooting in RAW mode gives you the most amount of information. With all that information you can bring out details in the dark areas where shooting in jpeg wouldn’t. In this example I couldn’t get a proper image if I exposed this for the average of both brights and darks. I would have lost details in the bright parts of the image (highlights) if I exposed for the dark parts (shadows). So I exposed for the bright parts knowing I had the information needed in the shadows to brighten up in post processing.
THE RULES CAN HELP COMPOSE TECHNICALLY PLEASING IMAGES
The Rule of Thirds
A tried and true concept that is used every time I pick up my camera. If you divide your composition into three equally spaced vertical and horizontal rows and columns, your subject should fit on a line, and ideally, on intersecting lines. The concept being if you place your focus on the intersecting lines your composition will be more balanced. Therefore enabling the viewer to interact with it more naturally.
Learn when to break the rules!
Center your subject for dramatic effect
Rules of photography should be thought more of as guides. In most cases they should be respected and applied. If you’re going to break them have a good reason to do so. This picture of a tree breaks the “rule of thirds”. By placing the subject in the center it offers the most amount of void on both sides. Thus telling the viewer there is no other tree around like it. This composition now tells a story of seclusion and solitude, expressing the individuality of the tree.
Get a different perspective
I mean this quite literally, bend your knees and get low. On the opposite end go high and whichever direction, find a fresh perspective. Everyone sees the world from roughly the same height, so when you’re taking pictures find a unique angle that’s outside the norm.
Add depth to your images
Foreground | Mid-ground | Background
One of the attributes to a great landscape photo is having a good foreground, mid-ground and background. The more information you can add to a scene the better (as long as it’s not distracting). Think of the foreground as another piece of information you’re giving to your audience. It’s also a small element that can take an image from flat to amazing!
leading lines to help draw the eye
Focus your audiences attention by drawing lines to your subject
Use leading lines to help direct your audience to your subject. Your photos should have a clear subject and confusion builds if people don’t know what they’re supposed to focus on. Make it clear to your audience by using natural lines in the frame that help focus attention on the subject. This could be a road, railroad tracks, a river, logs, land formations, etc.
contrast is king - it helps to define your subject
Exposure | color | texture | motion
All these things can help provide contrast that helps to define your subject. The human eye is naturally drawn to high contrast elements, so use this to your advantage and help direct attention to your subject. Contrast can come in different flavors, shapes, brightness, colors, textures, motions, etc.
frame your subject to focus attention and add depth
Let mother nature frame your subject
Anytime I can incorporate foreground in a way that adds a sense of place, the better. If it can help to draw your eye to the subject, even better. This technique is sometimes pretty rare to come across but when you do, take advantage of it (remember tools in the toolkit?). File this one away and you’ll be glad you did!
Shutter speed helps define time
Play with time for cool effects
Shutter speed is usually responsible for changing exposure and controlling motion blur. With the help of a neutral density (ND) filter (think sunglasses for your camera) and a tripod you can set your shutter for a longer period of time to capture things in a different way. Try this on moving water, clouds or lights. However, remember longer isn’t always better.
the hard truth that pays dividends!
Wanna be a better photographer? Ask to be critiqued
As artists we are easily bruised. We put our heart and soul into what we do and because of that we have a hard time hearing negative comments. Ask someone (literally anyone) for their opinion on your images and listen (without debating) to what they say. You don’t necessarily have to act on their comments, but hearing how people interpret (right or wrong) your photography is good to know. Trust me, if you can swallow your pride and act on this it will change you for the better!
You’re closer to becoming a better photographer!
Take a second to pat yourself on the back!
The simple fact that you made it through all those tips means that you are passionate and committed to your craft. If you found this article of value make sure to share it on your social media channels for your friends to see! Also follow Alaska Photoventures for more tips, tricks and of course your favorite episodes!