Adventure in Travel and Taking Amazing Photographs

Photographs of Moraine Lake are breathtakingly beautiful.

Adventure travel and photographs?  As a matter of fact, these are a few of my favorite things!

For me, one of the greatest attractions of adventure travel is the opportunity to combine exploration and documentation.  Of course, photos taken along the way serve as a reminder of great trips past and motivation to plan the next.

Pup Seals on the beach in Washington State, Mormon Row Cabins in Grand Teton National Park, Slot Canyons in Arizona, Mules on the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim hike. These are all targets of my camera’s viewfinder.

So, what is my “Every day Carry” for camera gear while traveling?  I shoot full frame DSLR gear and it is not tiny.  I carry two camera bodies (Nikon D4 and Nikon D610) along with an assortment of lenses.  On a typical hike, I am outfitting these bodies with a 24 – 70mm and 16 – 35mm lens.  This gives me the ability to go wide and up to 70mm zoom.

By far my favorite “Every day Carry” item is the Cotton Carrier camera vest.  This vest allows me to easily carry this gear while keeping both hands free.

Here are some basic photography pointers for camera enthusiasts of all skill levels:

Travel and Photography

An exposure is a combination of three things:

Aperture Size
Shutter speed
ISO setting

Aperture – the size of shutter opening. 

This controls how much light enters the camera.  The smaller the number (i.e. F2.8) the larger the shutter opening and the shallower the DOF – Depth of Field, (i.e. Focus on a flower and it will be in focus, but the background will be delightfully blurred (bokeh).

The bigger the number (i.e. F22) the smaller the shutter opening and the deeper the DOF.  Take a picture of your dog on the back porch and both the dog and the background will be in focus.

Shutter Speed 

With a faster shutter speed, you can freeze action.  Slower shutter speeds can create motion.  (Waterfall)


The lower the ISO (100), the less sensitive to light is the sensor, but the higher quality the photo.

The higher the ISO, the more sensitive to light, so in dark settings, a high ISO will allow for a faster shutter speed for good pics in low light.  (Because low light plus slow shutter results in blurry pictures).

I will use a high ISO for indoor pics without flash or dark outdoor shots.

Rule of Thumb

I shoot 99% of my shots in Aperture Priority mode, (“A” setting on Nikon, “Av” setting on Canon).

The beauty of Aperture Priority is that it allows you to choose Aperture setting (i.e. F16 for landscape or f4 for low light and shallow DOF) and the camera will choose the proper shutter speed for a proper exposure.

Two other things:

Focus Points

Your camera will allow you to choose Multiple Focus Points or Single Focus Points.  (Look in your manual or search on Internet).

Multiple is good for landscape, groups of people, etc.

Single Focus Point allows you to choose a particular thing to focus on (flower) and, with a low f-stop (f4), let you blur the background.

Auto ISO – your camera probably has an auto ISO setting.  Read your manual, or go on the Internet, and read how to set this.

Also, by choosing auto ISO, you build in more automatic settings for properly exposed photos.

So, instead of having to remember to go to ISO 6400 in a dark room, you simply choose your aperture and then the camera will automatically select the ISO to allow for the faster shutter speed.  This is great for handheld shots in low light without having to use a tripod.

Finally, the beauty of digital camera photography is the fact that the film is free!  So practice and experiment with different settings!

Check out our Deserts of Arizona trip for some great photo ops!



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