How to do outdoor photography – or at least, how to try! (Part 1)

How to do outdoor photography – or at least, how to try! (Part 1)

Looking out from Flattop Mountains, Anchorage (AK)

This series will look at how I tackle outdoor photography. My particular style is a kind of travel photography – I try to make memories out of photons. Whether it’s hiking a local trail or discovering a National Park in the USA, my approach remains fairly consistent. I do occasionally deviate from this method, but not often. YMMV. I’ll cover how I got into photography, what I’ve learned about it and how I do it. One thing is for sure: the order of these articles will not match the order in which I learned how to shoot – nor will it necessarily match the order in which you want to learn. They are written based on my current thinking when I try to explain how best to shoot while being active in the outdoors. Click on any photo in the article to see a gallery of my other outdoor images.

Gull Island, on the way to Seldovia from Homer (AK)

Over the last 4 years or so, I have developed a keen interest in taking pictures. It all started when we were on a trip to Victoria’s high country (in Australia) and I took a shot of an old hut that was used in the movie “The Man from Snowy River”. It was a good shot and people liked it. I wanted more of that positive feedback and so kept trying to get good shots. By sheer volume of images taken (and by sharing with friends and family) I did get more praise. The pictures were only mediocre, though.

Into the green heart, Seward (AK)

I went through a long period of internet reading: What is PASM? When is the golden hour? Why should I have a “fast” lens? Where can I read more about lighting? Whose work do I respect? All of these questions and more were researched, endlessly, in my quest to become a better photographer. Actually, I lie – kinda. These were things that I read about (eventually) but I first read about GEAR! What camera, lens, bag, tripod, flash, special-bubble-level-thingy should I BUY? Because we all know that buying gear is what makes you a better photographer!

Seriously though, without unlimited broadband internet, I would have spent thousands of dollars just on the information that I read over those first few years. I guess one of the things that I really enjoy about photography is the learning involved: technique, style, subject blah, blah, blah. So what did I do with all of this new knowledge? I bought some gear (more on that particular train-ride later) and continued shooting. I still think that much of my stuff is so-so, and I still suffer from G.A.S, but I am pretty sure that I produce more consistently good work now. My wife and I travel quite a lot and spend most of our leisure time outdoors. This means that I focus most of my photography on making nature/landscape images. I end up doing mostly “run and gun” type of stuff, because my wife keeps on walking and leaves it up to me to catch up after the shot! A bonus is that my fitness has to be up to scratch or else I can’t keep up.

Next time, we will look at a list (of sorts) that tells you what I have learned about outdoor photography. It will cover two main scenarios:

  1. Hiking/biking/skiing (or whatever) and casually taking memory snaps and
  2. Hiking with the express purpose of taking pictures.

Dall sheep sit on a mountainside in Denali NP (AK)

Evening light and fireweed, Palmer (AK)


One response to “How to do outdoor photography – or at least, how to try! (Part 1)

  1. Pingback: How to do outdoor photography – or at least, how to try! (Part 2) | cruxdevotion·

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