For many of us half the fun of going on an adventure to a far flung location is capturing the memories with that perfect picture. If you’re anything like us though you find that most of the time the picture doesn’t quite do it justice! That doesn’t seem to be the case for adventurer bikers Simon and Lisa Thomas , who’s photographs seem to transport you right to the spot they were taken from. We’ve always wanted to be able to take pictures like theirs so we’ve roped them into running a masterclass in Adventure Photography at the upcoming Armchair Adventure Bootcamp and have their top ten tips to share now. These tips have been hard earned and are little pockets of wisdom that Simon and Lisa have picked up from their 18 years on the road! Check them out and get snapping!
Tip 1. Back to School
This first tip is not rocket science and to be honest it’s about as exciting as “stationary drills on your bike.” Here it comes… Learn how your camera operates. Yep, that means digging around, finding the manual and flipping the pages. If that’s too much hassle, a quick search on YouTube will get the job done. However, you need to know what the buttons and dials do on your chosen camera. If you don’t, you likely won’t capture boast worthy images.
Tip 2. Angle of the Dangle
Everything we see through life is at eye level! So, a great way to get and hold a viewers attention is to show them something different by shooting your images from an unconventional angle. Shoot from an elevated angle as your friend speeds toward you up that twisty hill, or lie down at ground level and shoot as they lean in toward the apex of that glorious curve. Just don’t stand upright and point and click. You’re better than that, so just be creative and delete what doesn’t work.
Tip 3. Fix Your Flash
Don’t wait until nightfall to get busy with your cameras flash. Most people think that flash is just for shooting at night…wrong! If you’re shooting into the sun, either during the day or at sunset, use “fill flash” as an effective and powerful way of ensuring that your foreground is properly lit. It might be your mate, your bike or a rider speeding past you, but having them lit properly is a game changer and moves your photography up a level. It’s how the pro’s do it!
Tip 4. Do, When you don’t
Many of the most memorable ADV images are powerful because the rider is dealing with some type of dramatic geographical challenge or weather extreme. These types of shots, make us feel something because we imagine ourselves as the rider in that snowy mountain pass or thunderstorm or sun bleached desert. The impressive part of this process is often overlooked. It’s take incredible presence of mind, shear will and impressive discipline to ride through a dangerous climate or intimidating landscape and pull out the camera, set up the tripod and actually record the moment. So, if you want epic, then pull out the camera at the exact moment that you least actually want to. It’s going to be tough, but that’s what it takes. Are you up to it?
Tip 5. Focus
Before you press the button and click the lens, work out why you’re taking the photo. What’s the story you’re trying to tell? What is it about the subject, the landscape, the bike or the moment that is important enough to you to want to share? Decide and then fill your lens with just that. Shoot only what’s important to you. If it’s the overwhelming scale of the landscape that your about to ride into then tripod up and shoot wide to capture the scale. Don’t try to be overly artsy. Just remember to have fun by shooting what you like and you’re photography will improve. Always include a bit more in your frame than you really want as you can always crop but you can never create more of the scene you didn’t capture.
Tip 6. Location, Location, Location.
In order to photograph and capture that dream ride into an extreme or remote location you’ll need to plan ahead if you have any hope of capturing the stunning image that you have imagined. Research what’s photo worthy in the regions ahead. What are the expected temperatures? How cold is it going to get and how will those temps effect you and your gear? If you’re riding into arid regions, consider how much time you have in that location to capture the shot’s you want before your water runs out. A little internet research will keep you safer and waste less of your precious time on site giving you greater opportunity to capture a few truly inspiring images.
Tip 7. Giddy Tri-pod up
Yeah, it’s not exciting but much of what goes into creating some of the worlds most stunning images isn’t exciting and often much of the effort that goes into the creative process is rarely shared. But, strapping a small tri-pod to your bike means you’re prepared. A tripod will give you room to breathe creatively if you aim to photograph yourself or your group on that next trip abroad. It also gives you the best chance of riding home with magazine cover worthy images. No one is impressed by a blurry photograph.
Tip 8. Weird?
One of the greatest aspects of travelling around the world is the sheer amount of truly weird shit we get to see. Some of it we just couldn’t make up and would be impossible to explain had we not captured a few photos. The next time you see something that looks weird or special in some way on your next ride, pull out the camera and capture it. Sounds simple right? The challenge is it is always easier to not take the photo than take it. You are guaranteed to always regret the great images you forgot or chose not to take.
Tip 9. The Universe is Yelling
Some of Lisa and my favourite images weren’t planned. When the universe gives you biblically stunning light, or a jaw dropping landscape ahead, then heed the call, pull out your camera and get shooting. It doesn’t happen often and NO it probably wont get better around the next bend. Remember, “A good picture taken now, is better than a perfectly planned photo NOT captured tomorrow.”
Tip 10. Take your time
Photography should be fun, rewarding and creative. So, do yourself a favour and take your time, to work out why you want to take the photograph. Consider the composition of the shot. Shoot more images than you think you need and play around with the buttons and settings on your camera. Alter the light settings, increase and decrease the ISO levels and if you have the option, throw on a few different lenses rather than just sticking with the one already on the camera. Essential; if you have a beer nearby, then crack the bottle, take a sip and enjoy the process.
Those tips should get you pointing in the right direction but for the full picture grab yourself a ticket to the Armchair Adventure Festival Bootcamp! Simon and Lisa will be running a two hour masterclass on how to take snaps like those above and you’ll have access to a full weekend of other live workshops and presentations, including Adventure Travel Filmmaking with Austin Vince.
You can use the discount code: 2RTW at the checkout for 10% off too.