With warmer weather finally arriving, it's a good time to take your camera on a planned photo walk. This, of course, could be on a paid for type of course but you can also design your own. Staying as close or venturing as far as you like from your home.
Photo by Daniel Bell
1. Check The Weather
Have a look online and on the TV the night before you leave and on the morning of your walk. If you're off hill walking low cloud's not good news if you want to walk higher up and blistering, bright sunshine isn't a photographer's friend no matter where you walk. There's more chance of you dehydrating too on a warmer day so either wait for cooler temperatures or pack plenty of water if you're still going to head out in it.
2. Dress For The Weather
Stick your head out of the door and see what the weather's like and if it is sunny do still pack a waterproof just in case.
3. Tell People You're Going
Make sure someone at home knows where you're going and give them an estimated time of when you'll be back so if you do get lost, they'll know to come and find you. Take your mobile with you so they can contact you but do remember you can't get signal in some remote locations.
4. Plan A Route
Don't be over adventurous as you, plus kit and stopping to take photos means, generally, you won't have the time to walk very far. A quick, short route that circles back on itself will be fine, in fact a one/two hour walk that takes you into a town/village or just around the area you live in would be perfectly good if you've not tried a photography walk before. If you do want to venture into the countryside you might not want to climb up too many steep hills on your first walk but you don't have to get too high to shoot interesting sweeping vistas. Try walking along the side of a river or through the woods instead.
5. Capture A Variety Of Imagery
Of course, there will be plenty of wide landscapes to capture out of the city but don't overlook shooting a few close up shots too. Look out for flowers, interesting patterns in bark and insects on your trail. If you see something in the distance, a waterfall for example, but don't have the time or energy to get closer to it use the pulling power of a longer focal length to bring it to you. This will help isolate it from the wider scene and also bring detail into the shot that may not have been seen if you shot it with a wide lens. Closer to home get up higher to stop problems with converging verticals and this will also give you the chance to capture some cityscapes. In between the buildings look for reflections and interesting detail/patterns roof tiles, brickwork, fences and other objects create.
Photo by Joshua Waller
6. Pack The Right Lenses
Wide-angle zooms are good for capturing sweeping landscapes with interesting foregrounds while telephoto zoom lenses are good for picking out detail and compressing perspective. To save on weight pack just one zoom lens that covers all the focal points you need. For close up work, pack a macro lens.
7. A Tripod Is A Must
It's always a good idea to take a tripod along, particularly for landscapes, where the built-in spirit level will help you ensure your horizons are straight. You'll also need one if you're planning on stopping to shoot some slow shutter speed shots of lakes, rivers and waterfalls. If you're planning a long-ish walk you'll need a need a light-weight model. Pack your remote shutter release with your tripod too for those slow shutter speed shots where shake will really be noticed.
8. You'll Need A Good Pair Of Shoes
You need a pair of shoes/boots that are comfy, it's a good idea to make sure they're waterproof and you'll thank them at the end of your walk if they support your ankles. Having a good sole which gives good traction is also a must if you're heading off the pavement.
9. Remember The Filters
Find room in your camera bag for a polarising filter and an ND filter as they don't take up too much space but are very helpful tools on sunny days when you need to use slower shutter speeds or when reflections are a problem. An ND Grad filter can be useful too for balancing out the exposure of the sky and ground.
10. Pick The Right Camera Bag
If you're off on a long walk, as well as having space for your camera and lenses make sure there's room for spare clothing, water, food and a compass. But don't carry a bag that's too big, though, as walking is tiring enough on its own without having to carry a large bag that's half empty.
Photo by Rick Hanson
11. Always Carry Spare Batteries And Memory
You don't want to run out of power or space to store your photos when you're only half way through your walk so always pack extra.
12. Don't Forget The Torch
If you're planning on photographing sunrises you'll be setting your kit up and walking while it's still dark and without a torch this can be a little tricky. So your hands are free, take a head torch with you to light the way. Of course, if you're staying closer to home you'll have street lights so this item's not something you'll need in your bag.
13. Other Essential Accessories You Will Need
Take a lens cloth to wipe dust and moister off your lens, a lens hood will help stop glare, a compass will guide you along your chosen route and a map will stop you getting lost. If you're heading out for quite a few hours make sure you take food, water and plenty of snacks with you. Make sure the clothing you're wearing is lightweight and it's often better to layer up rather than heading out in just one coat. If it's a sunny day pack your sun cream as even if there's a slight covering of cloud, the sun will still get you if you're out in it all day.
14. Find A Friend To Walk With You
Taking a short walk on your own is fine but if you're going on a four mile hike take someone else with you so if you do get lost or worse still injured, you won't just have yourself to rely on. If you're going with a none-photographer they may also help you carry your equipment and hold your bag while you're taking your shots. Do go with someone who has a slight interest in photography though as they can help you look for good locations to shoot in/of and if they don't have an interest in photography at all they'll just get bored of stopping and waiting for you to take your photos.
Photo by Daniel Bell
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