HOW TO TAKE BETTER ADVENTURE TRAVEL PHOTOS FOR INSTAGRAM

Photo by @janppeter

There’s no doubt apps like Instagram have changed the way we see the world. It’s a great way to share your adventure travel photos. To connect with like-minded people from all corners of the globe. It also provides you with 24/7 inspiration for your next adventure!

Capturing those perfect moments isn’t easy, it takes a lot of practice. But it’s worth it!

Stepping outside with a camera opens your eyes to everything around you. It creates opportunities and allows you to capture your amazing adventures. The great thing about photography is sharing your experiences with friends and inspiring others.

ADVENTURE TRAVEL PHOTOS

This category of photography is unique. The people taking the photos are also the people who take part in the adventures. Being a participant allows you to understand the subject. You can also get up close and capture the emotion. If you want to take photos of the adventure you need to balance your time between doing and shooting.

Although many action sports require your 100% attention, you might be able to shoot the way there or capture the moment as a spectator. If you’re going as part of a tour, ask your tour operator if you can take a GoPro on a helmet mount. This is usually possible.

We’ve been taking photos of adventure travel for a long time. We’re always learning, evolving and improving our techniques. We’re definitely not professionals in photography. Yet we are professional adventure sports guides and live this lifestyle day in and day out.

Along the way we’ve picked up some basic principles of how to capture the moments of what we do. Here are some tips and tricks to help you nail that perfect shot on your next trip.

CAMERA

“The best camera is the one you have with you” … cliché but true.

While there are an endless amount of camera and lens combinations. This post will focus on smartphone photography. Most of us carry our phones everywhere we go, and they have great camera’s built in! If you shoot high action and water based activities, something like a GoPro camera is worth considering.

CLEAN THE LENS

Your phone spends time in a handbag, in your pocket, on the table and so on.

It also has a teeny tiny lens. Any dirt you pick up will stand out in the final shot. The ideal way to clean your lens is with a micro fibre cloth or similar. To be honest, anything soft will do the trick. Please don’t use anything rough. You will scratch your lens and say goodbye to those crisp travel photos.

LIGHT THE WAY

Subtle details, especially in low light can be picked up by pro level cameras. A smartphone just won’t capture the same detail. The more light you have the more detail your smartphone will pick up. Simple.

KEEP IT STEADY

Holding your camera or phone with two hands will keep it still and produce a sharper photo. The same applies for how you push the shutter.

Using the button on the screen for example often causes the phone to move when taking the photo.

If you can use a button on the side of the camera, this is preferable. On an iPhone, you can use the volume button. Keep in mind, you should always aim to squeeze the button instead of just pushing it.

DIGITAL ZOOM

Don’t use it. Using this method enlarges the image on the screen by making the pixels bigger. This also makes the image blurry and uhm, ugly. If you need to zoom in, crop your photo when you edit it, giving the impression you were closer to the subject.

ADD-ONS

Smartphone lenses are quite limited. It’s just not possible (yet) to have a full featured lens in such a small device. This is where aftermarket lenses like Olloclip or Moment come to the rescue. They allow you turn your static lens into a variety of different styles such as a wide angle or macro.

There are also many aftermarket cases such as hitcase or lifeproof worth considering. Especially if you’re going to be getting wet, dirty or generally thrown around. These will help protect your phone so you can capture the action while getting involved.

…or just buy one of the latest Android phones from Samsung, which are waterproof!

BURST MODE

As we’re discussing adventure travel photos, it’s worth mentioning burst mode.

When you’re shooting fast-moving action, it’s always tricky to time your shot to perfection. Most cameras, including smartphones, have a burst mode. This allows you to capture many images in succession. Now you can capture the perfect moment with ease!

AUTOFOCUS LOCK

This one of the most simple and most powerful creative photography techniques. It is most noticeable when you have your subject up close in focus and blur out the background.

Many of you may not know this, but you can achieve this effect on Android and iPhone’s. You do this by holding your finger down for a second or two on your subject. This will lock the focus on your subject. Experiment with it, I’m sure you’ll love the results.

PATIENCE

This could refer to the time of day, or just waiting for the right moment to push the button. Think about the story you’re trying to tell with your image and what you have to work with.

For example, consider taking a photo of Jungfrau mountain from the centre of Interlaken. Do you want to give the location context by waiting for a paraglider to come into the frame?

Maybe you’re photographing lake Brienz. If you time it right, you could capture a jet boat buzzing past. Why not try both? Take a photo of the empty lake and one with a moving object and see which one feels more compelling to you. It’s all personal preference.

We’ve always found for adventure travel, capturing movement tells a bigger story. Consider this photo taken at The Adventure Park in Interlaken, Switzerland. It took a while before there were three people on the three different levels. I’m sure you’ll agree that the result is amazing and it was worth the wait.

SCALE

Putting things in perspective helps provide a sense of scale. You can achieve this by having something in the foreground.

Think of a big waterfall, now imagine someone abseiling through it.

When taking a photo of another person, you could get up close and capture the emotion. You could also step back and showcase the context of what it feels like to be in that environment.

This photo is of an Outdoor Interlaken guide helping a guest rappel a 50m wall into the Grimsel canyon. It shows us both a close subject and one in the distance.

FINDING LINES

You may have heard about the rule of thirds, or the golden ratio when talking about photography. It’s no different when you’re thinking about composing your Instagram photo. Look out for unique perspectives. Look for lines that guide the viewers attention.

These can be simple things. Like a path disappearing into the distance (see below an example of a train line). It could be a river flowing through the scene. It could also be a variety of lines such as a jetty reaching up towards the horizon, making the image more dynamic.

Think about taking the viewer on a journey… lead their eyes with the lines you capture.

There are fundamental principles of framing. Some of which we mentioned above. Don’t hesitate to throw these out the window. It’s always good to experiment and get creative with how you show your subject. Try moving around your subject, get up high, get down low, maybe an extreme close-up looks best?

POST PRODUCTION

That’s a scary way of saying “learn how to edit”. It’s easier than you think! Almost all adventure travel photos need editing. We have far more senses in our vision than a camera can capture. This is one of the main reasons people edit their images. It brings the image closer to how you saw the scene with your own eyes. You may also have felt certain emotions in that location which you can show in the edit of your photo.

Instagram makes this easy by providing a set of simple editing functions within the app. You can crop and apply filters, as well as adjust brightness, contrast, and colour. There are lots of basic editing features so have a play around and find what works for you. If Instagram’s own tools aren’t enough there are many 3rd party apps you could use to get the look you desire.

Some noteworthy apps we use include:
Lightroom (free, iOS and Android)
VSCOcam (free, iOS and Android)

INSTAGRAM

A few things to keep in mind when taking photos for Instagram.

Instagram in 2016 allows any aspect ratio. Yet, the optimal size is 1080 (wide) x 1350 (high). Try to keep this in mind when composing your shot. There will be situations where you can’t tell the story without a wide landscape. Just remember that people generally look at their phone in portrait mode.

INSPIRATION

Here are 10 accounts that will make you want to get outside and explore!

Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit!

A photo posted by Jan Peter ↟ @earthgrammers (@janppeter) on

Tag someone you want to do this with! 👇🏼 @thefifthlocation

A photo posted by Extreme Sports Page (@extremesports.page) on

Picture yourself standing in the place of @monkyseemonkydo . Now go out there and make it happen… #lifehappensoutdoors

A photo posted by Life Happens Outdoors (@lifehappensoutdoors) on

Do you have any other tips or favorite accounts you follow?

We’d love to hear about them!

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Outdoor Adventures in Interlaken Switzerland
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