Thursday, July 11, 2013

Seven Tips For Awesome Road-Trip Pictures

Comedian Steven Wright said, "Everything is within walking distance, as long as you have time."
By Rick Sammon Published in Shooting
1) Tutumcari, N.M., Canon 6D, Canon 17-40mm lens.
1) Tutumcari, N.M., Canon 6D, Canon 17-40mm lens.
Comedian Steven Wright said, "Everything is within walking distance, as long as you have time." A variation of that quote: "Everything is within driving distance, as long as you have time."

If you have the time, road trips are a great way to see, experience, enjoy—and of course—photograph roadside America (or whatever country in which you are driving). Road trips offer photographers the advantages of being self-contained and traveling on their own schedules. Simply put, road trips offer freedom—freedom to come and go as you please, and the freedom to shoot what you like, for as long as you like.

Earlier this year my wife, Susan and I made a trip to the "Mother Road," Route 66, or more accurately, parts of Historic Route 66, as the Interstate Highway System has killed the original Route 66.

The parts of Route 66 that we visited and photographed, between Albuquerque and Las Vegas, were awesome. Sure, we made some cool pictures, but we also met some wonderful characters that added to the Route 66 experience.

In this article I'll share with you some of my favorite images from that trip, along with some tips, gained by doing numerous road tips over the years, that will help you get the most out of your next road trip.


Planning is the key to success with any photo shoot, and that's especially true for road trips. In planning your trip, consider that you're basically chasing the light. You want to be in cool locations in optimum lighting conditions, when shadows and highlights come together for awesome images.

Smartphone apps can help you to be in the right place at the right time. Two apps I recommend are Sun Compass and Sun Seeker. These show the position of the sun at different times of day, so you can predict when you'll be shooting into the sun, away from the sun and so on. These apps also help you to plan your shots: if HDR (High Dynamic Range) is needed, if a tripod is necessary for low light shots, if the front of a building will be illuminated, or in the shadows, etc.

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