Outdoor Photography Tips | How Do The Best Photographers Always Get The Good Shot
Want some photography tips from the best in the business? We asked a bunch of our favourite outdoor photographers for their top tips and tricks for shooting outside
Have you ever scrolled through a collection of outdoor photographs, maybe on Instagram, maybe somewhere else, and thought “Why don’t mine look like that?” If so, you’re most definitely not alone. The inanimate nature of hills and mountains means many of us underestimate them but, despite improvements in tech, capturing their beauty is an art form that can take years to master
To help you get to Jedi outdoor photographer status sooner, we’ve asked a some of our favourite camera wielders to give us some of their top tips for adventure photography. Head outside equipped with this kind of knowledge and you will, we have no doubt, soon see an improvement in your work.
Paddy Scott – Landscape, Adventure and Outdoor Photographer
“Think hard about your gear, what you take, and where you pack it. You want your kit to be light enough that you can keep up with whoever or whatever you are photographing. Equally important is to have your equipment accessible. If a lens is not to hand, you won’t use it.
“When you arrive somewhere, don’t get your camera out immediately, take a beat to acclimatise and drink in your surroundings. A few moments spent just looking, without worrying about the camera will give you much better images in the end.
“Take a beat to acclimatise and drink in your surroundings”
“Any photograph is about composition and light. There were none better at understanding these things than the painters of the Renaissance. They are still so relevant today, especially to photography. Look at the works of Rembrandt, Rubens, and above all, Carravaggio. Look at the way they use composition and light; a bit of research on the computer will pay dividends out in the field.
“Invest in suitable gloves. If you fingers stop working, you won’t be much use as a photographer.”
“Light conditions are everything in landscape and outdoor photography. Maximise your chances of snagging the best conditions by arriving at your chosen spot just before sunrise. When the sun is low the light is softer and more flattering, casting beautiful long shadows over the landscape.
“A little sleep deprivation can go a really long way in improving the quality of your shots”
“An additional bonus is that you’re more likely to have the location all to yourself. A little sleep deprivation can go a really long way in improving the quality of your shots.”
“Don’t shy away from getting out with your camera in bad weather. When I first started out I used to only really get out taking photos when the forecast was perfect, but in recent years some of my favourite images have come from the wilder days on the hill.
“Foul weather can add a lot of drama and excitement to an image”
“Foul weather can add a lot of drama and excitement to an image, and it’s also in these conditions that you often witness some of the most exciting displays of light in the mountains.”
“Get to know your lenses as well as you possibly can, and plan accordingly. Sometimes you can get away with just a small selection of a couple of favourites, especially if you’re just taking photos for fun; or you might take the whole arsenal on a day trip where you’ve got energy to burn. You obviously want to avoid the situation where you miss a golden opportunity by not having the right lens, but you can also give a set of shots a collective style by choosing to use a more limited range.
“At the end of the day it’s a fine balance and you need to get comfortable making the call on what to take and what to leave behind for each shoot, especially as you’re going to be the one carrying your kit all day!
“Get to know your lenses”
“As with everything, this takes plenty of practice to get it right. You’ll have days where you’re kicking yourself over one missed shot, and days where you don’t swap a lens once despite bringing everything including the kitchen sink, so try not to beat yourself up too much when you get it wrong.
“Also, whenever possible allow fellow crew-members to help carry your kit, your joints will thank you later. Just make sure they’re not out of ear-shot when it comes to crunch time and you can’t find your 85mm.”
“I think my advice (because I’m going down the documentary photo / film career route) would be to ask yourself what story you want to tell with your photo(s) – especially when creating a series, and especially when including people in your work. Being talented at composition is one thing, adding feeling is another, and something I’m still working on.”
“Ask yourself what story you want to tell with your photo”
Hannah Bailey – Photographer, Comms, Producer, Storyteller In Action Sports, Outdoors & Nature (Based In Scotland)
“When out shooting splitboard touring in the snow, sometimes I feel like an octopus, with multiple arms holding poles, gloves, camera lenses, lens caps and the camera itself. The key is to make sure everything is tied on, and within arms reach, this will make your life easier, make you feel at ease and in turn help you get the shot.
“Helps you to be the one-human-band you need to be to shoot in the ever-changing conditions”
“My gloves have wrist ties, my bag has pockets in the waist straps for easy access and I’ll have lenses in side pockets within reach. Helps you to be the one-human-band you need to be to shoot in the ever-changing conditions of the snow.”
“Patience. Slow down your body and your mind and tune into nature on ‘Nature’s Time’.
“Slow down your body and your mind and tune into nature”
“Things in the outdoors don’t move and happen within our artificial construct we call time. So when you’re out there you need tune out the manmade world and listen and look closely and get yourself on Nature’s Time, then you will see and hear stuff you hadn’t before.
“For me that’s when the great photos start coming. You notice the way light falls on things, the textures of plants, smaller insects, shapes and natural patterns you hadn’t seen before. For me it’s all so therapeutic”.
“When shooting adventure sports, it is important to have your camera close to hand. This enables you to be able to shoot what happens in real time, often you don’t get a second chance. Being ready in the moment is key. This is especially important when you are working on technical terrain, as the last thing you want to do is empty your bag to find your camera or ask people to wait or do it again.
“Having your camera readily accessible is always going to be a compromise to your physical performance, primarily as it gets in the way and often means altering how you move and operate, especially when climbing. However, it’s definitely a compromise worth making. I carry mine on my waist and for me this is the best position I’ve found so far.
“You have to put yourself in the firing line”
“One of my favourite ways to shoot action sports is getting as close as possible and shooting with a wide lens (Sony 16-35mm F2.8). Often you have to put yourself in the firing line and your camera gets covered in snow / water / mud but the end result is always worth it. It’s a style I find which gives the feeling of being right there in the shot.
“Be prepared to shoot in all conditions, often the wild weather results in the best shots. Cameras are fairly hardy and can handle a good beating from the elements, but there are ways to make life easier on your camera. I recently bought a Think Tank cover to use when it is seriously wet. It has been a brilliant investment. Another really important thing to carry when it is wet is a pocket full of lens cloths, especially when you are filming. Have one pocket for dry cloths and one for wet.”
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