Adventure photography tips: A beginners guide

How 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.

 

Me taking a helicopter trip to Knik Glacier.  Watch the video here.  PC  Lay Renner Photography

Me taking a helicopter trip to Knik Glacier. Watch the video here. PC Lay Renner Photography

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

 
PC Traejen Scott

PC Traejen Scott

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

 

BEFORE

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AFTER

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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

 
In my “ Explore A WW2 Fort ” episode I explain how I got this shot during the perfect time.

In my “Explore A WW2 Fort” episode I explain how I got this shot during the perfect time.

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!

 
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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

 

STANDING UP

Standing up. I mean it’s still a gorgeous sunset reflecting off the water…

Standing up. I mean it’s still a gorgeous sunset reflecting off the water…

KNEELING DOWN

Knees bent. Getting the camera really low, near the water. It adds more of the foreground water and because of the depth of field you get some cool bokeh (the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light) in the water.

Knees bent. Getting the camera really low, near the water. It adds more of the foreground water and because of the depth of field you get some cool bokeh (the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light) in the water.

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

 
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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

 
So many lines in this one. The tree line, the reflection from the tree line, the gravel bank and the water. All these lines help to funnel your attention to the mountains in the background.

So many lines in this one. The tree line, the reflection from the tree line, the gravel bank and the water. All these lines help to funnel your attention to the mountains in the background.

The line from the rope is the biggest leading line that leads you to the pier. There are a few others, can you spot them?

The line from the rope is the biggest leading line that leads you to the pier. There are a few others, can you spot them?

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

 
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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

 
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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

 
Using roman candles to light up the sky. The streaks are from separate blasts but over the time of 30 seconds the camera captures all the blasts during the exposure time.

Using roman candles to light up the sky. The streaks are from separate blasts but over the time of 30 seconds the camera captures all the blasts during the exposure time.

Over the course of this seven second exposure the water had enough time to come up the beach and back out. The result offered the reflection of us. It also smooths out the waves to give it a dreamy/ethereal look.

Over the course of this seven second exposure the water had enough time to come up the beach and back out. The result offered the reflection of us. It also smooths out the waves to give it a dreamy/ethereal look.

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!

If you’re looking for more check out these great articles.

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Creative Life

The Ultimate Guide to Photography