Taking pictures, especially great ones requires time, patience, great eye but also some luck. However, when traveling luck may not always be on your side. When you are driving in a car, you see this amazing view but there is nowhere to stop a car, if you are on a train it will definitely not stop for you. What should you do? Be prepared for unexpected. This way , when you see a great view or wildlife in the distance or by the road, on the road you can be ready to take a picture.
You ask how to do that? Here are some pointers from my trips around Ireland and Iceland:
- Always have a camera with you and ready for taking pictures. Obviously, not possible if you are driving, so…
- Explore a place with someone, who will be happy to do the driving
- Clean the windshield, dirt can make it hard to autofocus
In many places in Ireland and Iceland it was impossible to pull over and stop. Mostly because the roads are narrow, they have no shoulder and traffic is unpredictable so stopping is not an option. Just check out the images below, both from Ireland. Even if the road seems clear do not stop to take pictures if there is no space to pull over.
Now, how can you prepare and what should you do to make those images look the best you can?
- Mount a fast lens on your camera, it could be your primary or secondary camera
- Using a zoom lens is preferred as you can end up with nice pictures of the dashboard, also being able to zoom in on objects further away can actually get you a nice image
- While sitting in a car test the light you get through the windshield and remember that you may be going in different directions or light can change, so adjustment may be needed
- You want to use high shutter speed, settings above 1/800 will be preferable, but you could get away with slightly slower speeds too
- Use high ISO, that can cause some noise in the images but using ISO 100 is just not a viable option when taking pictures from a moving car or train
- You have to use autofocus, manual focus is just not going to do it and best setting is AI Servo setting allowing you to photograph moving objects
- In order to make your life easier, you can use Shutter-Priority AE mode if you wish and set your shutter speed to upwards of 1/800 and your camera will adjust the rest when you are taking a picture
Here are some examples of pictures taken through the front windshield of a road ahead. Probably the most classic images you may see also probably the easiest to take. I use a manual mode only, which is a bit more challenging but gives me more control over how I want the image to look.
In most cases if you are driving in a car, you will be in a front seat with your seat belt on and with your primary view being forward. Technically, you can also take pictures to your side, through an open or closed window. Those can be a bit more challenging to get the speed correctly set for the photographing an object of interest. The closer the object is to the car the more likely it will be fuzzy. You can see that effect in the image below, with flowers closest to the road are fuzzy. If you do not get shots you want the first time just keep trying. It is worth it to just practice so next time you can get a great photo.
One other interesting point is that when you taking pictures from a car your horizon can get skewed, so more than likely you will need to do a little bit of rotation of your images.
This last image was actually taken with a Zeiss camera on my Lumia 950, amazingly sharp and beautiful picture of the clouds clearing up. With a phone camera the rules are the same as with a real camera. Do not be afraid to take photos out of a car or train, just remember to set up your camera correctly and practice. Good luck!