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Sometimes the best trips begin at the driveway. Not the ones that lead to an airport or train station, it’s the trips that wander the open road. In the United States alone, there are over 4 million miles to explore. Of course, some include those that run past your house or a non-descript strip mall, but many take you through some very beautiful places.
Road trip photography lets you capture the sights you encounter along your way. It’s also a great opportunity to capture in car photos while the journey is happening. The vehicle and its occupants are a big part of the journey. Open road photography is an art form you can practice and pairs oh so well with travel by car, truck, camper, or whatever you drive or ride.
Here’s a few pointers to make sure your next road trip pics capture everything along your travels.
Plan Your Trip: Pre Trip Location Scouting and Planning
Knowing where you’re going is key to a successful road trip. There are also better times to visit those places. If you’re looking to capture some great beach sunset photos, be sure that beach faces the setting sun. Some beaches are best for sunrise photos.
Research the places and routes you’ll take getting there. Make sure your gear is working properly. That includes your vehicle, your camera equipment, and ways to power your equipment and backups. Have a map handy in case you’re lucky enough to find places your navigation doesn’t work. Bring a travel tripod to take smooth panoramas.
It’s tough to stay organized on a road trip, especially a long one. You’ll be juggling memory cards, batteries, lenses, filters, a travel tripod, not to mention clothes, snacks, and whatever else we travel with. It can add up to a lot of stuff, so ask yourself what you really need to bring.
Keeping your photo gear simple and light makes you more likely to grab your camera and take a photo when you see something interesting! The best road trip pictures often end up being of things you almost didn’t take a picture of. Photo gear that’s accessible lets you easily take a picture that you might not have bothered with otherwise.
If your road trip is happening during a busy travel season, the most photogenic locations get crowded quickly. So get up early and capture the unspoiled beauty of nature or even a city street without extra subjects appearing in your shot. Experience shooting during the morning golden hour, a special time of day shortly after sunrise when the tones of light are very warm, and bathe everything in a beautiful golden light.
Think Before You Shoot
It’s easy to lift the camera and shoot. Your favorite, go-to setting is ready to capture the shot, but getting stuck in a routine can be bad for creativity. To stay fresh, pause before you take any road trip images and consider a few things:
- Check Composition – Capture more than a snapshot by making sure your composition is strong. Think about your subject placement and your foreground & background elements. Are you practicing the Rule of Thirds?
- Where’s the Light Coming From? – Light is everything in a photo, so be aware of where it’s coming from to avoid underexposing or overexposing your road trip photos.
- How Could the Shot be Improved? – Take a quick look and see if there’s anything you can do to improve your photo. Would a different position give you a better angle? What if someone poses in it to give the scene a sense of scale?
- Horizon Straight? – A crooked one sticks out like a sore thumb. You could fix it later, but you’ll end up cropping out part of your photo to straighten the horizon.
Include The Road
Nothing captures the magic of open road photography better than, well…the open road. Including a stretch of lonely highway in your photo can really convey where the wheels have actually been. And please, take photos only where it’s safe to do so. These shots also create great in-between imagery of your various destinations if you want to tell a story with your photos.
Take notes as to where the photos were taken if possible. Record the names of the towns, people, and things you photograph. This may come in handy when chronicling your road trip story.
Amazing landscapes and prominent monuments are great subjects to include in your road trip photos, but don’t overlook the little moments like setting up camp or the steaming coffee cup at a local diner. Do not forget photos of locals from your travels. Along with their individual character, they’re also apt to share spots you don’t find in the brochure.
Look for funny road trip pictures to include with the scenic ones. They add humor to a sometimes monotonous element of being on the road, mile after mile. Throw a pair of rabbit ears on an unsuspecting photo subject. Capture someone with a mouthful of sandwich.
Don’t Forget Your Road Trip Photos
Once the car is back in the garage and the maps and gear are stowed for the next trip, do something with all those road trip pictures. After posting and sharing some, while the story and the details are still fresh in your memory, create a portfolio photo book featuring your best photos and every detail that helps tell your road trip story.
It’s easy with Motif because it works seamlessly with Apple Photos. And, your best photos will be printed on the best quality paper by an industry leader in professional printing.
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