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Photo Tips: Capturing a Trailscape

Posted by Loren D at Oct 03, 2013 02:55 PM |

Last year, WTA introduced a brand-new category, Trailscapes, into our annual Northwest Exposure Photo Contest. Learn how to shoot a great trailscape and then enter the contest by Oct. 20.

by Paul Raymaker

Last year, WTA introduced a brand-new category, Trailscapes, into the annual—and currently running —Northwest Exposure Photo Contest. But what is a “Trailscape”?

Simply put, the concept behind trailscapes is to combine the best of both outdoor worlds—landscape photography and hiking trails. After all, it’s the trails that get us into the landscapes. They’re just as important as the snowy peaks, sparkling lakes and flowery meadows, so they deserve some special attention. This year WTA wants you, the reader, photographer and potential contest winner, to go out and find those gorgeous prize-worthy trailscapes.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Focus on the trail and utilize the location

Find a location on the trail that really emphasizes what you love about the hike and your surroundings. As you set up your shot, try to transport the viewer right into the location where you’re taking the photo. If you have a sweeping view of the landscape, use a small lens aperture to increase the depth of field, keeping the entire scene in focus. If wildflowers are blooming along the side of the trail, focus on the flowers, using a large lens aperture to make the flowers pop from the background, and let the trail fade away into the distance.

Let your eyes take the hike

When framing your trailscape, let your eyes “walk” through your camera’s frame on the trail. Does it keep you interested? Does it make you wonder where the trail goes? Does it make you feel like you are actually walking on the trail? Also, as you’re “walking” through your image, look for any clutter or distractions that could detract from your scene, and remove them by repositioning yourself or your composition. If you can engage the viewer—or the judges—in ways like this, you’ve got a successful image.

Boulder Creek Paul Raymaker
“ In this image, I wanted to guide the viewer through amoss-draped, mysterious section of the Boulder Creek Trail by letting the trail turn just out of sight, forcing theviewer to wonder what's around the bend.” — Paul

Show the judges something fresh

Last year, WTA received more than 1,400 images in the Northwest Exposure contest. In order to get noticed, your photo needs to show the judges something different, creative and eye-catching. Take a hike at sunset to capture amazing colors in the sky. Present a dog’s view of the trail. Showcase a wildflower display that makes the judges wish they were in the scene and not sitting behind a computer, simply looking at the photo. Finally, take tons of photos and keep experimenting.

When you enter the Northwest Exposure Photo Contest, you have the chance to win a great prize and get your photo published in the Northwest Exposure calendar. But even if you don’t win in the contest, your image might still be published in a later issue of Washington Trails magazine. After all, as a hiking magazine, WT needs and uses more trailscapes than any other type of image in the magazine, so your chances of getting published with a good trailscape are worth the effort. Good luck!