The summer is almost over. Pretty soon, we'll all be getting ready for the winter and the freezing cold months ahead. But I know some of you are still going to make the most of it and get out there for a few weekends in the fall while the weather is nice. If so, the following tips are for you. The fall is a great time to get out and explore. Go ahead and enjoy it before it's too late.
You are almost always forced to make some kind of compromise when you go camping. Unless you are camping right next to your car, you won't be able to take all of your equipment with you. That's why it's important to know which kinds of photos you want to take before you leave the house. Is there a landscape you want to capture? What about birds and other wildlife? Will you need a flash? Let the shot determine the gear.
Pack Light. You'll Be Thanking Yourself Later.
Do whatever you can do minimize the amount of equipment you are carrying. Not only does this make your trip easier on you, it reduces the risk of damage to your equipment. I can't tell you how many freak rainstorms almost claimed my beloved Nikon. Many photographers bring their lightest camera with one medium-range (35mm to 100mm) lens. Some just bring a point-and-shoot.
You will probably want to bring a tripod as well, but most of the high-end tripods can get pretty heavy. I suggest purchasing a light weight camping tripod or even a monopod. These things are great. They aren't as stable as the more expensive ones, but they do the job and lighten your load. You can find them at most photography and camping stores.
Take Advantage Of The Early Morning And Twilight Hours
This almost goes without saying, but camping and photography go really well together for this reason. Maybe I'm just an early riser, but when I am out camping, I am almost always wide awake just before the sun rises. Don't stay in your tent after the mandatory 5 A.M. pee! Get out, explore, and take a ton of pictures as the sun is rising. The best photos of my career have come from these early morning sessions.
If you can, I would suggest getting up even earlier and hiking to the prettiest view nearby. Scout it out beforehand and get a good estimate of how long it will take you to get there. Tell everyone else in your party the night before. That way, they won’t be freaking out all morning while you’re taking the best photos of your life. Hopefully, you can con someone into getting up early and joining you.
The twilight hours are just as important. I'm usually cooking up a feast at this time, but I should really be out taking photos. If you are going to make a big dinner, schedule it for the late afternoon (about 4 P.M.) and take some pictures on a full stomach. This is a great time to take pictures around the camp fire. As it gets darker, you lose light and end up with blurry photos of your family and friends.
Night Time Camping Photos
To take great photos at night, you'll need a good flash or two, something to reflect them off and a good camera. All add to the weight of what you are carrying, and to the item list you'll need to replace if stolen. So I normally don't take any photos if my family and friends at night. It's just too much hassle.
So try this - If there’s an approaching storm, go ahead and take some pictures of lightning. You can also set your digital SLR on a tripod and point toward the sky. Keep your shutter open for at least 5 minutes (using the bulb settting), and you’ll get some really cool photos of the stars moving across the sky. The backcountry is the best place to take these kinds of pictures because there is no light from nearby street lamps and buildings competing with the stars.
I’ll leave it up to you to experiment with these ideas. If you’re out camping this summer, send me some photos from your trip. I want to use a few of them in future articles to explain some photography best practices.
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