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Tips for Drive-By Shootings

Photos sometimes have to be taken on the fly – especially when you’re traveling. It’s just not possible to stop and set up every panorama you want to capture, or you’d never get anywhere!

Contenintal Divide

Crossing the Continental Divide

The problem? Getting a good shot when you’re moving is a challenge – the target is bobbing in the viewfinder, traffic obscures your line of site, and then the road turns and the target disappears! But, there’s the thrill of the chase. Sometimes it ends in disappointment. But sometimes – when it all comes together – it’s like winning the lottery.

So, grab your point-and-shoot, line up a driver, and take to the road with our tips to make your moving photography … well … moving.

1. Choose a camera with image stabilization. It will automatically correct for most uneven pavement. We use a Cannon PowerShot A3000 IS.

2. Keep the windshield clean. Squashed bugs do not photograph well.

3. Avoid sun glare by removing all objects from your dash and holding the camera close to the windshield or rolling down your window.

4. Unless they are adding to the composition (and they rarely do), keep side view mirrors, oncoming vehicles, and guardrails out of the shot.

5. Timing trees, utility poles and road signs is tricky. This one will take a little practice.

6. Remember, if you’re using a digital camera – and most of us are these days – taking photos costs you nothing. Shoot away! Deleting a bunch of bad photos is easy compared to the losing forever the way the sun looked against the clouds.

Sounds ridiculously easy, doesn’t it? I assure you, it’s a lot to consider at 55 miles per hour! Don’t believe us? Here are some of our “out-takes.”

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  • Sasha says:

    Great tips!!! I always struggle to get really good shots but I'm definitely gonna test out these tips next time and hopefully get much nicer pics! Thanks for the tips! :)

  • RJ Peters says:

    Another great advantage of digital is that you CAN PhotoShop some of the glitches and artifacts out. You got some great shots… many familiar, as I used to live in the mountains and had many opportunities to get photos. I took some of the same ones!

  • Melspetpals says:

    Great photos guys! I think the hardest part about traveling is not wanting to stop every time to get a great photo. Good advice. My only addition would be, if you see a shot that you know is going to be priceless, it's “the” shot, stop and take it.

    I still regret not catching a photo in rural Montana of a old, old cemetery surrounded by American flags as the sun set behind the mountains. It was “the” shot. My sister and I still talk about it.

  • Nice pics and great advice! Whenever I try to do the “drive-by” pic, it always ends up a blurry mess :(

  • Tiny says:

    I do this all the time when traveling :) Your pics reminded me of our trip to the southwest US in 2004. Took 300+ pics. 90% of them while the car was moving. Had some great shots. Old digicam didn't have image stabilization so some turned blurry.

  • It get's even more interesting when you're using a DSLR where you can't use any sort of view finder. With that you have the option of contious shooting at several frames per second, so maybe it evens out. :)

  • Michele C. Hollow says:

    What beautiful photos. We recently traveled on Amtrak to FL and my hubby, Steven, took some great photos while the train was moving. It is a challenge.

  • Kim Clune says:

    I encountered every one of these issues when we drove up the Pacific Coast Highway. As you say, make sure the windows are down and windshield is bug free. Of course, another alternative to removing these barriers is to do what we did… rent a Mustang convertible. :) We bundled up, went “top down,” turned on the heat and drove through Yosemite's snow taking incredible shots all the way!

    Doesn't the Winnebago come with the convertible option? lol.

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