Taking Photos in the Chacosphere: Tips from our ChacoPro, Andrew Maguire
Posted On: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - Chaconians
As Chaconians, we all love being outside and looking for that next great adventure. Whether it's biking through the streets of a bustling city, paddling white water or hiking thin ribbons of trail at 13,000 feet. At Chaco we think it is important for us to remember and document these adventures. Modern technology has made capturing these moments quite accessible and affordable with smaller tools like the iPhone and GoPro that you can easily throw in your pocket or pack and access while on a long trek. If you’re like me, and desire a higher quality photo and don't mind the extra weight...the DSLR camera is the way to go. No matter what camera you have on you, it’s important to capture the elements and surroundings of each adventure in the Chacosphere so we can revisit and share our experiences for years to come. Here are four quick ChacoPro tips that will ensure you get some sick photos on your next adventure!
1. GET OUT OF THE CAR: My first ChacoPro tip...and maybe the most important element that will ensure you get a better photo that your friends, is to GET OUT OF THE CAR! Many of the great natural wonders of the world are now accessible by road and have man-made “lookout points” along the way where you can park and take photos. While the view may be stunning...there really isn’t much keeping you from getting a different shot than Joe and Sally sitting in the car next to you. A great photo is only as good as the story that goes along with it. Park you car, get on the trail, and start shooting. You won’t be disappointed.
2. COMPOSITION: What are you framing in your shot? What is the point of interest in the scene? What is it you want to capture in this photo to take back home and share with your friends? These are all questions that we should be asking ourselves while taking photos. These questions all sum up what is known as composition. When we are in the process of taking a photograph, the first thing we do either in our head or through the viewfinder of the camera is to compose the shot. Good composition is what sets a photograph above a snap shot. We should be conscious of the elements in our surroundings so that when we take a photo we are capturing all that is important in the scene whether it be a portrait of a friend with the Grand Tetons behind them or a wide landscape shot of Arches in Moab.
3. EXPERIMENT: In my field of work, I usually find myself in some pretty epic landscapes, so it isn’t too hard to get a “good” photograph when you’re surrounded by mountains, waterfalls, canyons, etc... I'm sure many find yourself in a similar situation when you’re out on an adventure during vacation or on the weekends. This brings me to my third ChacoPro tip. We know thats its possible to get some great shots, so why not take a bit of time and risk to try shots that are a bit different and more unique. Try changing your vantage point. Many folks will stop and take a photo from a standing position and place the camera to their eye and CLICK. Point of View (POV) is a termed used in photography and film that refers to various vantage points such as worms eye view (on the ground looking up), birds eye view (shooting from above looking down) or over the shoulder (from the photographers eye). These POV angles will give your shots a different perspective and and extra oomph that will make you look like a pro! Other things you could experiment with while you're out shooting is framing. Framing deals very closely with composition, which we discussed earlier. Think of framing as a picture frame. A picture frame holds a photo or artwork and provides a border around the media. We can create natural frames while we are shooting in the field with elements like holes in the rock, leaves, grass, trees, etc. We can shoot through the elements to highlight features or people behind them. Check out the examples below that illustrate this technique.
4. LIGHTING: Besides composition, good lighting is one of the other key factors that set good photographs from poor ones. There are two times during the day where the sun sits in the sky and provides the most optimal light. This is referred to as the “Golden Hour” or “Magic Hour”. This is the first and last hour of sunlight during the day that produces a beautiful soft and golden light. When I am on location shooting for Chaco, we usually start our shoots quite early in the morning around 5-6am so that our crew and models are hiking on the trails during this golden hour. We will also take advantage of the golden hour in evening as the sun is setting. This doesn’t mean you can’t get good photos during the middle of the day. The light is just a wee bit harsh and more difficult to work with. A way to soften the harsh effects of mid day light is to find shaded areas under a tree or rock that you can place people or pets under too shoot nice portraits.
Boom! Four quick and easy tips to get you out in the field taking pro photos. See you in the Chacosphere - Andrew
All photos © Andrew Maguire 2013