How to take a beautiful photo while you’re out cycling

You do the most epic journey, battling elements, soaking up views and gorging on amazing food. Then you get back, only to find the photos you took don’t look anything like how you remember the tour feeling. Sound familiar? Journalist Katherine Moore offers tips from Cycling UK for nailing those Instagram-able moments

Know your camera

Get familiar with how your camera or camera phone works. Find its strengths and weakness. If you know it doesn’t shoot nice shots at night, then don’t waste time trying to get the perfect shot when all the lights gone. Make sure you have the best settings selected and have enough storage space to keep those precious shots. It’s common (and often quite good) to shoot many shots of the same scene. Just remember to go through and keep only the best ones. 

Find unusual angles

The real challenge of photography is to surprise your audience with a photo they’ve not seen before. So, choose to find techniques that most people are too lazy to go for. That might mean; getting low to the ground or shooting through something, shooting at odd angles or extreme closeups, try underexposing and overexposing or using long shutter speeds. It’s best when you can capture something that is unique to that place or to the specific moment. Something ephemeral. 

Embrace editing

Unless you’re a photo purist (and there’s nothing wrong with that) getting the photo isn’t the end of the photographic process. You need to get familiar with photo editing software. Lightroom and snapseed are both free to download on a phone and quite powerful. Analyse your photo critically and try and decide what could make it more interesting. It might be adding contrast, saturation, vignetting, changing it to black and white or cropping the picture to fit it more closely to the golden ration will improve your shot. I find it helpful when editing pictures to try and remember how I felt when I was taking the picture and make the edit reflect that. 

Shoot the tough stuff

If you want to share the real experiences of your cycling holiday, take pictures when the not so fun stuff happens. Often, it’s these that make the most interesting parts of any story that you’ll want to tell afterwards. 

Learn to look for nice light

A photographer’s job is to capture good light. It takes a long time to get over the technical mountain that photography comes with. But every great photo stems from an appreciation of what great light looks like. Once you get familiar with your kit and stop getting side-tracked by how to operate it then you’ll have more headspace to consider composition and storytelling your pictures will shine. 

Bonus tip

Lastly, don’t forget to have fun. Learning something new is a great challenge and if you want to get better at taking pictures don’t expect yourself to get a banger every single time. Shoot lots, laugh at your mistakes and savour your successes  - just like your rides!