Roadside Photography

Text & Photographs By Linda Phelps  © All rights reserved.

Roadside photography is a fun activity while driving on a long trip. It gives you a nice documentary on  Linda Phelps the scenes you see along the road. In addition, it takes the boredom out of a long drive. Here I am sharing with you my formula for catching "grab" shot from a fast moving are window that I have developed over a long period of time. Naturally you must have a person who is driving the car. My husband likes to drive. Therefore, I am free to capture all the photos of the scenes that look interesting to me.
The camera set up:
My camera is a Canon 20D, but you can use any digital camera. The idea is to make the camera have a fast shutter speed. I set my camera to the AV mode. I like to use this mode because I have more control over the depth of field to produce nice grab shots. It is much better for this kind of photography. I usually use an ISO of 100 or 400. You adjust the ISO for the available light. Then I set the f-stop 4.5. This formula has worked for me using several different digital cameras. If you choose to set the ISO at 400, you can then use a higher f-stop to give you a larger depth of field.
First, keep an eye out for interesting features along the roadside. Weather permitting, it is best to roll down the window. If you need to keep the window closed, ware dark clothing and avoid having any thing bright or white in the car next to you. This helps to cut down reflections is your choose to set your camera on an angle with the window. For no glare in your photos, place the camera lens close to the window.
 Linda Phelps It is good to focus each shot about one third of the way into the scene you want to capture. The land is the distance moves slower than the part right beside of the road. Keeping this in mind, plan your shot so you can crop off the bottom-blurred portion of the frame. If you see a nice subject or scene coming toward you, you may have time to pre-focus your camera before the scene comes into the area where you can capture the photo nicely. Panorama images are popular now. If you have to crop a blurred section or empty sky, you will still have great photo for use for prints.
Capturing the scene:
It is important to consider where the sun is as you shoot from a fast moving car window. Your photos will have better saturation is you shoot with the sun of the opposite side of the car. You can also use side lighting where the sun is in front or behind the car. Back lighting to tricky, but it can be done.  Linda Phelps
You can include the road in your composition as seen in the panorama view. I do not like to do it often. There are times where a curving road enhances the scene. For these I shoot through the front window of the car.
You can angle your camera lens forward on the side window. I wish there was a way to safely remove the corner post of the car! I have caught it in photos a number of times. Sometimes this kind of shot can be saved with a closer crop. The delete key is my friend when I get poles or some other obstruction in the way for the subject matter. You will get these from time to time. If they are small, you can clone some of them out of the frame.
Naturally, shoot straight out the side window is the best. You will get great shots without reflections in them.  Linda Phelps
The camera can be angled backwards as the car goes slightly past the part you want to capture in the frame. I have had good experiences shooting this way. You just pan your camera behind you (after pre-focusing the distance out the side window) and click the shutter. It is often like shooting blind. If the shot works out, it will have a nice composition. The subject matter ends up being on the left part of the frame. These are fun to do, because you are sure you caught the essence of the scene as you whizzed by it.
It is amazing that you can add some nice photos to your collection from your trip. It is nice to have a feel for the road included with your other vacation photographs.

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