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

Backpacker - - CONTENTS -

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

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