James StanburySee other Advice articles filed in ‘On the road’ written by James Stanbury
We're sure we don't need to tell you that motorhome holidays can create marvellous memories to last a lifetime. But if you feel your photography skills are lacking or you just want a few pointers to help you take better photos on tour, we're here to help!
In part one we covered the basics, to help you get snapping with confidence. Here in part two, we explain how these basic principles can be applied – and share other photography tips and hints, too.
When doing landscape photography, timing is everything. For example, the bright midday sun will create harsh contrast between the shadows and brighter areas, however overcast skies will give the most even lighting, but also potentially the least exciting picture. And, if possible, shoot the picture with the sun to your left or right, as sideways illumination tends to give the image the most depth.
Tripods are rarely needed to get the right exposure. You’ll adjust your zoom lens for a wide-angle shot and you’ll likely have ample natural light to allow a decently fast shutter speed. Although, of course, tripods can still be handy for getting the details right, such as making sure horizons are perfectly level.
When you are taking photos of landmarks, normally they are much too big to be influenced by flash. So, as with landscapes, pick your time carefully to get the best possible light.
If the available light is too direct, it will make some parts of the structure heavily shadowed, while others will be exceedingly bright. In that case, give up trying to photograph the whole lot. Concentrating on either the bright, or the dark, part will yield better results.
Personalise the picture by including yourself, your other half, or other members of your group in it. Often this also helps to illustrate the scale of the landmark you’re capturing. In some cases, including locals in the image and how they interact with the landmark authenticates the picture.
For a really edgy photo, move in close to the landmark and bring your zoom right back. This creates a different effect from standing a fair way back and zooming in.
Be aware of the limitations of flash when taking photos indoors. It’s fine for illuminating a small group or object close to the camera, but it will have little effect in enormous rooms.
In these circumstances, a tripod, or even a monopod, will come into its own. If you don’t have one handy, but slow shutter speeds really demand one, it’s often possible to shoot successfully, hand-holding the camera, if you lean against something solid and fully relax before snapping.
You should also be aware of the limitations of tripods and image-stabilising lenses. Yes, they allow perfect exposures even at slow shutter speeds, but anybody moving while the picture is in progress will appear as a blur. With especially long exposures, people doing their best to pose motionless may still not come out sharp.
For photographs in most informal situations, a mix of ambient light and flash usually yields the best results. If you have a separate flash gun and the room’s ceiling is white, try bounce flashing (aim the flash to the ceiling to use it as a giant reflector) for amazingly natural results.
The sky will always be brighter than the rest of the picture because, obviously, it is the main light source outdoors. This often causes it to appear white in a photograph.
Generally, it’s only possible to capture a detailed sky if the sun is behind you. Using a polarising filter on the lens also helps to even out the differences in brightness between the sky and the land.
If the sun’s direction will cause the sky to white-out in your photograph and you cannot come back to retake the scene at a different time, then restrict the sky to as small a part of the picture as possible. However, if the sky looks dramatic and it’s possible to capture it fully, don’t be afraid to let it dominate the picture.
Now armed with our expert photography advice, we hope that you feel better prepared to capture the many stunning views, striking landmarks and magical moments you're sure to encounter next time you go touring in your 'van.