Photography Tips from the Filmmaker behind our Tour d’Afrique Documentary
Laundon Peacock, founder of LP Visuals and the man behind our Cycling Cairo to Cape Town documentary, sat down to share his best tips for amateur photographers looking to capture great photos while on a cycling tour. This video is aimed at those looking to take pictures with a simple point and shoot camera or using a smartphone. Watch the video or read on for an overview of his tips.
Understanding the Differences Between Photo and Video
“Photos stand alone and videos don’t.”
Each image has to tell the whole story and with video you are composing multiple shots to piece together the storyline. You want each photo be able to stand alone and the viewer to be able to understand the scene.
The Rule of Thirds
“You just wanna put [the subject] a little bit on the left, or a little bit on the right. As long as you put your point of interest in the frame.. on that grid… you generally end up with a really awesome composition.”
If you divide your frame into thirds horizontally and vertically, there are four points where these lines cross just off center – a little to the left or right and higher or lower than the center line horizontally. Placing your subject on these points creates a very interesting composition and is a technique that the experts use.
Working with Natural Light
“Put light on the part I’m interested in.”
There isn’t that much control you will have on the lighting when shooting outdoors. On a cycling trip the vast majority of your photos will be done using the light from the sun, the moon, a campfire or a streetlight. Your best bet is to just deal with what you’ve got and make the best of it and take some time to think about where the light source is and how it’s affecting your shot.
The Key to a Better Photo
“Putting the effort into the image is what’s gonna make a good image. Is my lighting good? Is my composition OK? Do I like how this image is looking? Just taking those two or three seconds can change an average photo into something that is really good.”
There are lots of techniques you could learn, but truly the most important factor for taking good photos is time. Take an extra moment to compose and reposition your camera. Ask yourself if you have the best angle and lighting available to you, the best framing and use of the rule of thirds. Those extra moments where you take a serious look at what you are shooting can make the difference between an average tourist snap and a well composed and memorable photo.
Sharing Your Photos on Instagram
“I think what people are looking to see…those authentic, those real ones, the tough ones, those harsh ones. The raw stuff.”
Show people what your experience is like. Don’t try too hard to give them only the pretty and iconic shots. Show them the reality of the trip too. Using a local SIM card in each country is usually the best way to get connected and be able to post directly to Instagram from the road. The coverage in developing countries can be surprisingly good and you should have no problem posting pictures every few days, if not every day.
Keeping your Device Charged, and Photos Backed Up
“Some people brought a solar pack… others brought an external battery, charged it on rest days and then used that to charge [their devices] when there was no power.”
“You really don’t want to get to the end of a tour and loose a 1000 photos because you didn’t back them up. So having those two independent copies in different bags… that’s your best way to go about it.”
So make sure to pack a rechargeable battery pack and a compact external drive for your next cycling tour.