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Simple Tips to Capture Your Outdoor Adventures

Have you ever taken photos on an adventure in the outdoors, and when you come home to show your friends they just don’t truly represent the scene your eyes witnessed? Or maybe the photos don’t do justice to the jaw-dropping views you saw in person?

Well, I’m going to teach you simple tips to capture your experiences so you can immerse your friends and family in them with you. Best of all, you don’t need fancy gear to value from these tips; the simple smartphone will do the trick!

Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is a simple method for naturally framing your subject to get a more balanced photo without having to place your subject in the center of the frame. The best way to use this method is to envision a 3x3 grid in the view you want to capture. Fit each ⅓ portion of the frame with a different set of elements. In the outdoors, it’s common to consider the sky, land, and the subject for each portion. A helpful tool to make this easier is by adding a grid to your smartphone camera by going to your settings app. Here is an example where I placed my subject at the bottom, a waterfall in the center, and the sky at the top. 


Playing with the angles you hold your camera is the best way to take unique photos and immerse viewers into your journey. There are five general perspectives you can use to capture your photo: bird’s-eye view, high angle, eye-to-eye, low angle, and bug’s-eye view. 


This is typically the most difficult perspective because it’s hard to place yourself directly above the subject you’re shooting. It is also one of the most unique because humans typically view scenes from the ground up, so your efforts will be rewarded if you can pull it off! A drone makes these easier; however, it’s not necessary.

High Angle

Less extreme than the bird’s eye, a high angle is simply identifying your subject and placing the camera slightly higher. This can be easily obtained by raising your camera above your head and angling it slightly downward. You can also be on a rock or hill that is slightly higher than your subject. I love using this to make my subjects appear smaller and vulnerable in a large, vast landscape.


This angle offers the most intimate perspective with your subject and the viewer. Match your camera to the same plane as the eyes of your subject. This may require you to get lower or higher depending on the height of your subject. For landscape shots, this would mean you’re simply standing and holding your camera up to your face as you shoot.

Low Angle

This is found by matching the plane of your subject, lowering your camera, and then pointing your camera upward. This is helpful if you want to emphasize your subject and make them appear larger.


Placing your camera low to the ground, AKA “bug’s-eye view”, is one of my favorite methods for getting unique photos! It’s easier to obtain than a bird's-eye view, and you can get very creative with it. Consider placing your camera low to the ground in front of puddles to document dream-like reflections. This is also handy for long trails as it shows a lot of details in the foreground and tells a narrative of the hike you’re about to endure. Here is an example of me using a bug’s-eye view while I was snowshoeing and I placed my camera in one of my post-holes.

Capture the Mood

As you embark on your adventures, think of ways to capture the environment you're in. Is it windy? Capture the ripples on the water, or the trees swaying from side to side. Is it hot with minimal shade? Find creatures or friends hiding in the minimal shade to show how life copes with such bearing heat. Don’t be scared to get creative and find ways to include the elements in your photos! Also, include photos of the gear you used to make your adventure possible. What size backpack, type of shoes, food choices, and volume of water were all necessary to be comfortable on your trip? Keeping the mood of your adventure in mind when taking photos helps put your audience in your shoes and get a taste of what your journey was really like as opposed to just documenting various landscapes you came across. 

Now that we have covered some simple strategies to spice up your photos, you’re ready to get out there and document your awesome journeys, and share them with your friends and family back home! As you’re out there exploring, keep these tools: The rule of thirds, perspectives, mood, and mind.

Happy trails!

All photo credit to Danny Jaeger