RV Travel Photography Tips

RV travel photography seems so simple.

Compose your photo simply. Remove all nonessential elements. Zoom in or move in. Photo above Fort Edmonton Historic Park, Edmonton, Alberta. Each part offers a unique look and feel. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Compose your photo simply. Remove all nonessential elements. Zoom in or move in. Photo above Fort Edmonton Historic Park, Edmonton, Alberta. Each part offers a unique look and feel. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What could be easier than traveling to a natural oasis full of majestic and spectacular beauty with a camera and a handful of memory cards and a spare battery and taking some amazing landscape photos?

But, when you arrive at your location, you find that it’s a lot harder to take a decent travel photo than it looks.

You take the RV trip of a lifetime with dreams of capturing those magical experiences. You anticipate a memory card full of captivating images to share with family and friends. But instead, you end up with mostly uninspiring photos that fail to do your adventure justice.

Digital is not difficult to shoot and good results are achievable, but one needs to know the basics of photography. Travel photography is easy once you master some basic techniques and secrets.

The combination of good lighting, the right exposure, and a suitable composition either make an photo outstanding or destroy it altogether.

By standing relatively close to the large rocks in the foreground I was able to accentuate them and lead the viewer’s eye into the middleground and mountains in the background. Also notice how the road in the middleground leads the viewer’s eyes through the image. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

By standing relatively close to the large rocks in the foreground I was able to accentuate them and lead the viewer’s eye into the middleground and mountains in the background. Also notice how the road in the middleground leads the viewer’s eyes through the image. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

The quality of light can make or break even the most carefully composed photo. The best light for landscapes occurs twice a day and is commonly referred to as the Golden Hour or Magic Hour. The Golden Hour is generally about an hour or so after sunrise and an hour or so before sunset.

In general, good photos result from careful attention to some basic elements of composition—the placement of the objects in the photo. It relies heavily on the photographer’s choice.

Photography is about seeing—how we COMPOSE what we see. In the process of making any photo, there are two important decisions to be made:

  • What to include in the frame
  • What to exclude from the frame
When you take a photo and choose where things are placed within the frame, know why you’re doing it. Photo above The Old Wine Truck at Red Rooster Winery in BC (British Columbia) Wine Country (Okanagan Valley). © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When you take a photo and choose where things are placed within the frame, know why you’re doing it. Photo above The Old Wine Truck at Red Rooster Winery in BC (British Columbia) Wine Country (Okanagan Valley). © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Remember that less is more. Compose simply. Remove all nonessential elements.

Move closer. One of the most common mistakes of beginning photographers is to include too much in the photo. Help to draw attention to the most interesting part of a scene by subtracting anything that’s not interesting. Move in closer by getting closer, by getting lower, by whatever means it takes.

The Rule of Thirds is a powerful compositional technique for making photos more interesting and dynamic. The Rule of Thirds is based on the natural tendency of the human eye to be naturally drawn to a point about two-thirds up a page and towards sets of three. The Rule of Thirds states than a photo is most pleasing when its subjects are composed along imaginary lines which divide the image into thirds — both vertically and horizontally—so that you have nine parts.

We need to choose our composition carefully to convey the sense of depth that was present in the actual scene. Depth can be created in a photo by including objects in the foreground, middle ground, and background. The foreground should provide a clear and interesting pathway into the scene and lead the viewer’s eyes into the background.

Rather than only shooting from eye level, also consider photographing from high above, down at ground level, from the side, from the back, from a distance, from close up, and so on.

Notice how the Rule of Thirds is used in placing of the green heron with space for the bird to move into the frame.© Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Notice how the Rule of Thirds is used in placing of the green heron with space for the bird to move into the frame.© Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Try changing your point of view—get lower, get higher—and see how it affects your scene.

You drive up to the scenic lookout, get out of the vehicle, grab your camera, turn it on, walk up to the barrier, raise the camera to your eye, rotate left and right a little, zoom a little and take your shot before rushing off to the next scenic lookout.

However this process rarely leads to the WOW shot that we’re looking for.

Remember, taking digital photos costs nothing; so go out and experiment, shoot a lot, and see what you come up with.

Let’s not forget the most basic rule for shooting great photos: Take your camera with you everywhere you go…and take lots of photos.

You can’t “capture the moment” if you don’t have your camera.

Worth Pondering…

No matter how advanced your camera you still need to be responsible for getting it to the right place at the right time and pointing it in the right direction to get the photo you want.

—Ken Rockwell

Leave a Reply