Gareth McGuigan hosted October’s Wilderness Photography Escape near Brisbane. He’s managed to marry together an insatiable love for the outdoors and a strong passion for photography to showcase some of the best areas to explore in South East Queensland. Here he shares some tips on how anyone can become an adventure photographer…
# 1 Get Some Equipment
Before you even start first you’ll need some important gear, most importantly a camera! I currently use a Canon 5DS and the Canon 6D. You don’t need to splurge a fortune on a camera though, so don’t let money get in the way! Beg, steal and borrow your first camera and work up from there.
Next would be a sturdy tripod, if you will be doing a lot of hiking I suggest you look for something lightweight as you’ll want to go easy on the kilos.
If the destination you are planning on shooting requires you to set up camp overnight then you will also need your essential camping gear (i.e. small tent, hiking mattress, food and plenty of water).
Once you have all your camera and camping gear you’ll need a suitable backpack. Choose wisely as you’ll want something comfortable on those long hikes and climbs. I have a trusty 60L pack which has served me well over the years.
# 2 Do Your Research
Research is so important, and by research I don’t mean looking at someone’s incredible Instagram post and then heading straight out to the location specified and recreating it. My program of choice is Google Earth; I will literally spend hours finding hills, valleys and mountain spots I think would make for an excellent adventure, then I will see what the surrounding landscapes look like from the closest road with street view. Once my spot has been chosen I will use Photo Ephemeris — this site gives me exact information on where and when the sun will rise and set.
# 3 Know Your Limits
It’s very important that you know your limits before attempting any mountain trips, which often require a high level of fitness to complete. If getting outdoors and creating your own adventures is what you want, then I would suggest you find something physically exhausting to occupy your time between adventures!
# 4 Getting ‘That’ Shot
So you’ve just hiked for hours, you’re exhausted but you’ve reached the top of that mountain you’ve always wanted to get to. The first thing you MUST do is sit back and enjoy where you are, don’t forget you do this not just to get killer shots but also because you love getting outdoors and pushing yourself to explore new places. In order to enjoy where you are and get that shot you’ve been planning you need time.
Time is everything here, first you relax and enjoy, then you plan where exactly your shots will be. I usually aim for one banger shot planned and try and get a couple more before and after the time comes to fire off the camera for the main shot.
A few things to remember when it comes to getting your shot:
- Have a clear goal of what your trying to create
- Aperture control for depth of field
- Composition to share what you see and feel
- Exposure, which includes ISO, Aperture and shutter speed
- Be ready for the moment, it can come and go fast
- Shoot in RAW format, gives you more to play with when you process your images
# 5 Processing The Image
How you process your images is entirely up to you but Lightroom is by far the best program to use if you’re looking to keep things simple. I like to jump between Lightroom and Photoshop depending on what I’m trying to portray in my images. Try experimenting with these tools:
- Tone Curve
- Split Toning
- Graduated/Radial Filters
The internet is an endless resource when learning how to edit your images, so spend some time looking at different tutorials to see different styles you like.
# 6 What To Do With The Finished Product
If your goal is to make this your living then the first thing you need to do is create a website to share your work. Not only is this a great place to show your portfolio but it’s also a great way to get genuine work. Make sure it is clean and simple to navigate.
Next you should upload your images to whichever social media platforms you are on, I recommend Facebook, Instagram and 500px. Find a good time of the day to upload and make sure you are engaged with your followers. Always be grateful for any likes or comments you receive.
Always remember to have fun with what you are doing and to strive to always find something new. If you keep this attitude you will stand out among the many who don’t have the motivation you have. Good luck!
If you would like us to notify you when we launch future events, sign up here