How to take better 4WD’ing photos

Taking truly incredible shots isn’t something anyone can do. It takes a lot of skill, creativity, dedication, practice and patient. However, with just a bit of technical skill, you can still take great photos.

Here are our tips for 4-wheel-drivers & off-road adventurers to help you lift your photography game. Regardless if you’re using a $3000 DLSR or a phone camera, the same principles still apply.

Think about your shot

This is the first and absolutely most import tip. Most people just go in guns blazing, snapping away and occasionally fluke a good shot or two, but if you take a moment to think about the photo you’re trying to get, you will get it.

Think about things like what you want your photo to show, where you’re standing and what’s going to happen in the scene you’re photographing.

Stand in the right place

Now that you’ve thought about the shot you want and what’s going to happen in the shot, take a look around at the location. If you’re taking an action shot, look for the best place to stand where you’ll be able to see everything without anything blocking your frame.

If you’re taking a scenic shot, it’s important to think about where the light is coming from. Shooting towards the sun with a phone or low budget camera is a recipe for horrible photos. Try to position the sun behind you or with light coming from a side of your frame.

Frame it!

Don’t just stick the subject or action in the middle of your frame and click away. This is why the first two points are important. If you’ve thought about it and anticipated what the action is going to be, you’ll be able to frame accordingly to keep the action within your shot and get a nice composition.

Keeping the action in the shot is only part of framing a photo though. Another part is getting the action in the correct spot within the frame. If you’re shooting a vehicle crossing a creek for example, you want to give the frame some leading room in front of the vehicle to see where it’s heading. But that’s not to say push the vehicle way into the edge of the frame. Always remember the Rule of Thirds! Split your frame into thirds imagining lines vertically and horizontally and then use these lines to help frame your subject or action.

On many cameras you can turn on a grid that layers these lines over your screen to assist you.

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Move back!

I see way to many photo posts that are captioned something like “Great weekend at this awesome place.” And the photo is just a picture of a car, so close that you can’t even see anything else. If it’s such an awesome place, show us!

When you’re parked up to take a photo, take a few steps back. If your car fills the frame you’re way too close. Remember the rule of thirds and frame the subject with a bit of breathing room to reveal other things in the shot.

Learn about your camera

This is more related to having a higher end camera or at least one with certain shooting modes or manual adjustment. Read the book, learn about things like shutter speed, ISO, etc.

Even if you’re not confident shooting full manual, still learn about some of the technical aspects of photography in order to understand when and why to use specific shooting modes.

Sports mode for example, isn’t just for shooting sports. It usually refers to fast shutter speed. A faster shutter means less motion blur or smearing in your photo, which is perfectly suited for actions shots where a 4×4 might be moving fast or you are panning the camera fast.

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Change things up

Get some variation in your shots. Change where you stand, move out further or in closer, frame objects in the foreground sometimes, get down low or climb up a hill. Doing this obviously gives you diversity between your photos but it also helps you become more creative with your photography.

Seek inspiration

Follow photographers or people who take interesting photos on social media and then take the time to look at their photos. It takes longer than a couple of seconds to appreciate a photo, so slow down take a moment and look at what makes it good, the framing, the action, position of the camera, camera techniques used, etc.

Reflect

With practice the thought and technical process of taking a photo will all become second nature and you’ll be able to pick and plan your shots in seconds. You might get a little too comfortable taking photos however, and bad habits can set in. A great way to continually progress your skill is to look back at your photos once and a while.

Every so often I like to have a quick browse through photos from the last few months. I look at what could have been done to make the photo better. You can pick up on any bad habits you might be making or things you want to change and keep that in mind for the next time you’re shooting.