Photo School: Tell Your Story
Every thru-hike is unique. So make sure you come back with photos that don’t look like everyone else’s. Whether you’re shooting on a phone, a DSLR, or something in between, here’s how to capture your own personal journey. BY GENNY FULLERTON AND BEN “ROOST
Capture your hike with these techniques.
Vary your subjects. A slideshow of landscape after landscape will be boring, but a slideshow of landscapes, people, campsites, gear, and wildlife will capture the experience.
Get within a foot of small things so they are almost touchable, making people feel like they were there.
Shoot better portraits. Get in close so your subject’s head fills at least 50 percent of the image height, forcing the background out of focus. If you’re in patchy light, make sure the person’s face is either fully lit or fully shaded, for easier exposure.
Think about what you’re shooting. Before raising the camera, ask yourself, “Is this an action shot, a landscape, a portrait, or a detail shot?” It will help you decide what to keep in and leave out.
Show your progress with a repetitious shot that changes as you advance. Example: rocks spelling out 500 miles, 1,000 miles, and so on.
Put yourself in the shot every so often by including your legs or feet or using a 10-second timer.
Improve your landscape photos. Get low for a new perspective. Try extra foreground. A person adds a sense of scale.
Read the light. Shoot with the sun coming from the side to emphasize the shape of the terrain. No choice but to shoot into the light? Underexpose (so you don’t blow out the clouds) and lighten the shadows in processing. Then add some extra blacks. To expose for the sky on a phone, touch the brightest part of the sky on the screen.
Process your photos. Get a smartphone app (try Lightroom; it’s free), but apply half as much change as you think you need. Over-processing can destroy sharpness and a realistic look.
Avoid using digital zoom. Image quality suffers. (All phones are digital zoom except the iPhone 7.) Good: Crop the image later. Better: Get closer to your subject.
WHITE CAP MOUNTAIN, MAINE
BIG BRANCH BROOK, VERMONT
RAINBOW STREAM DAM, MAINE