Photography Tips For Geocachers

To go geocaching is a golden opportunity to bring the camera. Beautiful nature combined with usually very cool places. Here are some tips on how you can take better photos that will make the fun caches you visit justice.

General Advice

Get to Know the Camera – Experiment, test the various functions and buttons, read the manual. The automatic functions do a good job, but if you know what you’re doing the results will be even better. It makes it easier to transform your ideas from mind to reality. If technology is not your cup of tea, don’t let it discourage you – trial and error is more fun.

Angles & Perspectives – Keep the angle in mind. A shot of a house straight on can appear boring, but frog or bird perspective, or simply a few steps to the side, can make a great difference.

In this photo, the perspective - the low angle - is what makes the shot different. The clouds break up the sky.

In this photo, the perspective – the low angle – is what makes the shot different. The clouds break up the sky.

Clean Background – What’s behind your subject can make or break a good photo. A clean and simple background usually works the best, otherwise it can easily become messy and distractive. Alternatively, aim for a blurry background, which you can read more about further down.

Step Up Close – Don’t be afraid to take close-ups, both of people and of other objects. A flower is so much more beautiful when singled out than when in a cluster.

Rule of Third – Don’t place the object in focus in the middle of the photo. To make it look more in harmony, put it a bit to the side. Mentally divide the photo with two lines horizontally and two vertically, creating a grid of nine squares. Place the object in one of the places where the lines cross, and let any natural lines in the object or background follow the mental lines. Many cameras have these lines optically placed on the screen, making following this rule just too easy.

Cropping – Of course, you can crop your image on the computer later. But keep the composition in mind already before you click the button. Where should objects be in relation to each other?

Colors – Let a colorful detail stand out, or make sure that the colors in the shot match up and go well together. Watch out so that the foreground and background don’t blend together. Warm colors (yellow, orange red, etc.) give a cozy, happy and active feeling. Cold ones (blue, green, etc.) feel heavier and more depressing, but can also be calming and soothing. There’s a reason for why hospital walls and clothes are usually white and blue.

The red detail with black and white background works very well in this shot. Notice how the simple but blurry background adds a lot to the image.

The red detail with black and white background works very well in this shot. Notice how the simple but blurry background adds a lot to the image.

Light – Light and how it’s set is perhaps one of the most important aspects of what makes a great photo. Sharp sunlight can make the shot too shadowy and over exposed. If it’s cloudy there’s a risk of the shots being grey and boring. When photographing indoors, try to use natural light from windows rather than electric light to avoid the shots becoming orange.

Flash – Flash straight on is a big no-no since it will often make the subject ghost-like and grey, or in worst case over exposed and white. Using a flash straight on when photographing in the outdoors can lighten up the object when the sun is shining from behind it, though. If you have an external flash, make it bounce in the roof or on a wall to soften the blow, so to speak. But when possible, try to keep the flash off for more lively results.

A Detail in the Foreground – Put focus on a small detail and let the background blur out. This creates a simple but nice effect.

Blur – In a similar way, you can make the foreground blurry and have a detailed object in the background. Or you can pan the camera at the same speed as a moving object, which will make the background get a cool, blurry effect. This required that you have a long shutter speed, though.

The blurry tulips in front of the actual subjects help create a depth in the photo. The red tulips also add to the feeling of love.

The blurry tulips in front of the actual subjects help create a depth in the photo. The red tulips also add to the feeling of love.

Contrasts – Create contrasts both colorwise and symbolically. Good versus evil, warm against cold, a dirty plastic container in green, beautiful grass.

Warm and cold colors. It's the contrast between the blue flower and the more intense, red background that makes this photo interesting.

Warm and cold colors. It’s the contrast between the blue flower and the more intense, red background that makes this photo interesting.

People

Facial Expressions – When photographing people, keep body language and facial expressions in mind. They are what make humans appear human and not just an object. Photos often seem too organized when the one being photographed is told what to do, but directing is essential. Try to get the situation to look natural.

Go Stealthy – One way of avoiding unnatural shot is to simply take them when the subject doesn’t know. That’s when the real emotions appear, creating life.

Realistic expressions are tricky to capture if the photo is posed. Take photos when the subject doesn't know, to capture the true moments of emotion.

Realistic expressions are tricky to capture if the photo is posed. Take photos when the subject doesn’t know, to capture the true moments of emotion.

People Up Front, Buildings in the Background – Tourist photos tend to showcase a very large building with a very tiny person standing next to it. Instead, put the person on an arm’s length in front of the camera and the building in the background.

Two Last Ones

Think in Images – When on your geocaching hike, try to imagine your shots and look for interesting things to include in them. Think about how to take the shot, what to place in the background, what angles to use and so on.

Click Away – The final advice will be the most important: click away! Some situations are impossible to predict and you don’t always have to get the camera out and ready to prepare the shot. On top of that, you’ll become a better photographer as you learn to think like one and get familiar with your equipment.

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