5 Tips for Better Day Trip Photos
1. Start as early as possible. If you are driving directly to your destination, you can start at whatever time you wish (you might not be happy about it when your alarm clock rings at 3am, but those sunrise photos will make it worthwhile)! If you are taking a train, bus, plane or ferry, you will want to aim for the earliest scheduled route. Depending on the time of year and the schedule, this might not actually be early enough to get you to your destination in time for sunrise. However, you can make the most of it by taking photos in transit which will not only help capture your journey but also give you less typical sunrise photos.
Likewise, stay as late as possible, which in my case unfortunately meant we had to catch the last ferry, which departed at 4:30pm. On a Saturday. In summer. The scheduling was disappointing in that regard, so in future we'll plan at least an overnight trip to capture the evening golden hour and sunset.
2. Capture the details. As the day wears on and the light becomes harsher, change your focus (pun intended). When landscapes are washed out and cityscapes are a blinding contrast, find some shade and look for the small things. These will add variety to your photo album and help evoke memories of the day.
"Remember the wild mink we saw on the sandstone rocks who hurried away across the sand?"
"Oh yes, and we followed his tracks, two by two, all around the rocks!"
"And what about all the tiny crabs we found when we helped some little kids lift rocks on the beach in search of sea life?"
"They were so happy with each rock we turned!"
Sometimes the best memories come from photos that aren't taken at a distance.
3. Shoot for contrast. By this I mean, look for subjects well suited to contrast such as buildings or textures and make the contrast a feature. Be careful, because you need to shoot purposefully so that your images are not simply the result of poor timing/lighting. One common way to bring out the best contrasts is to shoot in black and white (or convert it in post-processing if necessary).
4. Take the road less traveled. After lunch, we jumped in our little car and did just that. Thinking I was taking a shorter route, I ended up driving us along a narrow, extremely pot-holed gravel road with no shoulders. The road appeared to go ever up through forest of trees and ferns, and it was actually quite pretty but most of my attention was spent navigating our way around pot holes. Eventually we reached the top, where there is a small parking lot at the edge of the bluffs. From here, we had stunning views over Active Pass and the Gulf Islands. The journey was a little hair-raising, but definitely worth the effort.
5. Photograph your transportation. Ok, you've already taken a couple of these shots earlier in the morning but keep going. After all, your time in transit is likely a bigger percentage of your trip when you're only out for one day than when you go somewhere and spend a week at that location. Show the journey as well as the destination. This is a good chance to take photos with your fellow travelers, and stretch your creativity.
How do you get the most from your photos on day trips? Share your tips in the comments!