Adventure photography has continuously become more and more popular for outdoor photographers, thanks to new technology in cameras, and the outlets of social media platforms like Instagram, that are very photography-friendly. You may have seen some posts that are routinely labeled as “epic” and want to know how to create the same awe-inspiring feeling in your own photographs.
The good news is you can! But, just like in other fields of photography, composition is extremely important when you want to start dabbling in epic scenes. Let’s look at some tips to help you start shooting better adventure photography.
1- Always have your camera on
Like a lot of photographers, you may suffer from battery anxiety, the fear that your battery is going to die and you’ll miss that one shot you’ve been waiting for your entire life. Well, when you constantly have your camera turned off, you’re probably going to miss more amazing split second shots, than if your battery died. That’s why you should always leave your camera on when you’re out shooting adventure photography.
Are you out hiking with your friends? Leave the camera on. What about spelunking in some caves? Leave the camera on. What if you’re zip-lining through a jungle canopy? First, leave your camera on, and then hold on to your camera tightly.
You won’t have to worry about battery anxiety if you properly pack, including extra batteries to take with you. Simply leave your camera on, never put your lens cap on, use a lens hood to protect the lens, and take a micro-fibre cloth to clean the lens. Your fear of the battery going dead should never stand between you, and freezing an adventurous moment in time.
2 – Put yourself in the frame
Adventure photography features people living their lives to the fullest, by placing them in amazing landscape scenes. But, what if you aren’t in nature with anyone else? I’m sure you’ve faced that dilemma before. Well, instead of feeling like all is lost, think outside the box and put yourself into the frame.
It may feel a bit strange at first to feature yourself in a photograph, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do,in order to get the shot! If you’ve never done this before, all you have to do is mount your camera on a tripod, and set it to the 10-second delayed timer. Once you press the shutter and the timer starts, get into position, and wait for the camera to do its thing.
You might want to also set your camera to take a series of shots once the ten second timer is complete, to be sure you get a suitable photograph. Many cameras have the option to use the timer, or one with continuous shots. Sometimes you might not get in place fast enough, but using a multiple shot sequence will allow you to have a couple more frames to get into position.
3 – Subject placement in adventure photography
Subject placement is extremely important in adventure photography. You want to feature your subject (the person out adventuring) in the landscape, without any distractions or limitations. Anyone viewing your adventure photograph should never be confused about where the subject is, or what they are doing.
It doesn’t matter whether your subject is close to the camera, or way off in the distance. What matters is their placement in space. So, when you’re inspecting a landscape, and trying to decide where to place your subject, always look for a solid color or a negative space to place them.
The people in the landscape will stand out against a solid color and negative space, to allow your audience to locate the subject immediately. The last thing you want when you show a photo, is someone trying to find your subject because they are right on the horizon line, or lost in a pattern of shadows.
Not only will placing your subject in negative space clearly reveal where and what your subject is, but it will also eliminate any boring spaces in the photograph’s composition.
4 – Choose a better perspective
Perspective, or point of view, in photography ia always important when you’re trying to show a scene more creatively. Think about it; everyone walks around all day seeing everything at eye level. So, if you want to show something differently, shoot a perspective that isn’t at eye level.
Getting lower to the ground gives your subject in adventure photography a larger than life feel. This is usually shot with a wide angle lens, to fit a low perspective foreground, and the landscape into one photograph. Low perspectives show the importance of a person or activity, more than the landscape surrounding them.
Higher perspectives feature the landscape more than the subject, making the natural elements of the frame seem larger than they actually are in reality. These points of view are usually used to look down on your subject, while allowing you to show more of a landscape as well.
5 – Show scale
Do you remember doing science projects in school where you’d have to collect photo evidence of your specimen, by placing a pencil or coin next to it to show its size? Well, that’s called scale. You use an object of a well-known size next to your find, to give your audience an idea of the actual size of the specimen shown.
You can actually do the exact same thing in adventure photography. Everyone knows the average size of a human. However, when you show a photograph of just a cliff, it’s difficult for someone to get a really good idea of how large the cliff actually is.
The solution is to incorporate a well-known average size (in adventure photography that would be a person) into the frame, so your audience is able to get a much better idea of how large and grand the landscape actually is. This is a tremendous composition technique to use whenever you feel absolutely dwarfed in nature.
6 – Think about using silhouettes
Silhouettes are another great technique that you can use in adventure photography. Whenever you’re stuck in a bad lighting situation, one that has too much dynamic range to be able to capture both your subject and the landscape in good light, go directly for the silhouette shot.
To use silhouettes effectively in adventure photography, place your subject on a solid line within the scene. This could be either a horizontal or a vertical line. For example, you could place your subject on a hiking trail, or on a vertical wall, while rock climbing. Next, compliment your subject by placing an interesting background behind them, such as a forest or sunset.
The key to an effective complementary background is to create a composition that features your subject first. This goes back to what you learned on subject placement in adventure photography. Never overpower the subject of the photograph by hiding them in a complementary background.
7 – Make your audience jealous
Lastly, make your audience jealous with your adventure photography. Compose an adventure photograph in a way that makes people want to go where you went, and do what you did. The overall goal of adventure photography is to get people outside, exploring new places.
Let your audience live vicariously through your photography. When you’re able to do that, you’ve definitely stepped up your adventure photography game.
So, by all means, get out and document your adventures!
Do you have any other adventure photography tips to share? Or perhaps some of your favorite adventure photography images? Please do so in the comments below.