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Photo Tips From The Field


By Kalyn Holl, Expedition Guide

Selfie sticks, GoPro, drone cameras, Instagram, Facebook. We have a photo-centered culture. With a camera at our finger tips at all times, we’ve moved from an era of snapping a quick photo with our smartphones to taking hundreds of photos on cameras that we happen to be able to chat with our mom on. 

This past week, the Legacy had the pleasure of cruising with PF Bentley, a world renowned National Geographic and political photographer. He came aboard with many tips and tricks to help us improve our travel photography skills. We loved these tips so much, we thought we’d share them with you too.

1. Rule-of-thirds

Composition is everything! If you have a hard time imagining the rule-of-thirds, most cameras, including smartphones, allow you to place the grid lines on screen for you. When composing your photo, don’t place your subject directly in the middle of the image. Instead place your subject on one of the “x”s where the horizontal and vertical lines of the grid intersect. This will help give your photo a little more character and make it all the more pleasing to look at.

2. Exposure–The  Triangle: ISO, Shutter Speed, Aperture  

ISO - This is the sensitivity of the camera to light (this used to be ASA in film cameras). Try to keep your ISO as low as possible, 100 or 200. If you are shooting a particularly dark subject, you can brighten your photo by raising the ISO a little. But be aware, the higher you raise the ISO, the grainier your photo will be. So if you want crystal clear images, stick with that low ISO. For those night sky photos, grabbing a tripod and using a long exposure (long shutter speed) will make for a clearer photo than a higher ISO.

Shutter Speed - Many cameras have the ability to switch over to manual mode. If you can’t, no problem, shoot away in automatic and do some adjusting on the computer. However, it can be fun to change the settings in different situations. For example, change your shutter speed to something slower than 1/60 if you want to show a little motion in your photo. Ie, moving water.  Set your shutter speed faster if you want to stop motion to capture fast moving objects such as a breaching whale. 

Aperture – The aperture is the opening in your lens that allows light into the camera sensor. The higher the number, the smaller the aperture opening. If you shoot with a wide open aperture, you’ll notice a dramatic depth of field. Notice with the picture below, I shot this with a wide aperture, or F 5.6. The background is blurry but my subject, the shell, is in focus. This helps to draw the viewer's eye. 

However, sometimes you might want to have your entire photo in focus.  In this case, you would want to use a very high number aperture or high F stop such as F22.


3. Take a lot of pictures – This is probably the best tip. If you don’t take pictures, you’ll never improve and never get that perfect shot. So take a lot of pictures!

Here are some items you should always remember to have with you when photo adventuring:

  1. Water – Carrying water on any length of adventure is always important. A half day hike could easily turn into an all-day adventure and staying hydrated is important. Snacks are also a good idea. 
  2. Space blanket – Having an emergency space blanket can become a life saver if you find yourself out later than expected
  3. Headlamp – This is important not only if darkness catches up with you, but to light up your subjects in interesting ways at dusk    
  4. Tripod – Great for stabilizing your camera in low light or for those awesome long exposure shots.    
  5. Towel – So you can dry off your camera during those rainy days. It also works great to cover your camera when using a tripod during long exposures.   
  6. Waterproof pack for your gear – You never know when that rain will start coming down or your feet are swept out from under you while crossing that rushing stream. 

So, with these tips, get out there with your camera and all the proper gear. Take a lot of pictures and find some great adventure. 

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