4 Tips For Photographing The American West

Much of the American west is still untamed and full of large swaths of wilderness that remain untouched by civilization. For people in the United States who have a passion for both travel and photography, there is perhaps no better destination than Colorado. Situated in the southern Rocky Mountains, the state has something for everyone, from the river canyons, to the arid desert, to the mountains. An outdoor photographer can spend years in Colorado and still not capture all of the state’s beauty.

However, traveling to some of the most rugged, isolated, and beautiful locations in the country does pose certain challenges. Here are three tips to help you.

1. Pack your camera gear properly

Packing The Camera for On the Go

Unless you already live in Colorado, you’ll have to do some traveling to get to these beautiful places. Going on the road with expensive camera equipment can be a nerve-wracking endeavor, to say the least. To get your camera equipment safely to your destination, make sure that everything is properly disassembled. Fragile items like the camera body, lenses, and filters will need plenty of protective padding. Also, remember to bring all those little items like lens cleaners, spare batteries, and a charger. And if you’re flying, avoid putting your camera equipment in a checked bag at all costs. Not everyone will be as careful with your equipment as you would wish them to be. It’s not a risk worth taking.

2. Use a proper backpack camera bag for photographing the outdoors

If you’re going to be hiking on trails and through forests, you don’t want to lug your camera equipment around in a traditional hard-shell camera case. Invest in a comfortable backpack camera bag  or side bag that you can wear for long periods of time, and properly protects your fragile equipment. The straps should be adjustable so the backpack sits in the right spot on your back; but they should also be padded to keep your shoulders comfortable. A good backpack camera bag will allow you to pack all your camera gear safely so you don’t risk breaking anything.

3. Wake up early

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This sounds odd, but if you want to catch some great pictures of wildlife, you’ll want to begin your trek in the early morning hours. Why? A lot of wildlife tends to be most active in the early morning, right around the time the sun rises. You can also catch wildlife at their most active during the evening hours. Either way, sunrise and sunset offer some of the best light to photograph in—most professional photographers call them the golden hours, because the light appears more soft and gold in photographs taken at these times than at other times of day.

4. Know the best places in Colorado to photograph.

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This state has many great locations that you can visit, from national parks to cities to monuments. A few of the most popular places include:

  • Dinosaur National Monument

  • Pikes Peak

  • Rocky Mountain National Park

  • Fish Creek Falls

When planning your trip, include plenty of free time to just explore. Remember, the best pictures aren’t planned, but rather are a product of being at the right place at the right time.