The Art of Adventure Photography: Capturing the Beauty of the Great Outdoors!

Reading Time: 15 minutes

Of all the genres, outdoor adventure photography is one of the most rewarding types. You get to capture a moment of great beauty that immortalizes a small part of nature.

Of course, there are many types of outdoor photography. You can go for landscapes, where you shoot the scenery all the way from far and wide to macro detail. Another popular option is astrophotography, where you take images of the night sky using long exposures. It’s quite spectacular when you can capture star trails or get a clear image of the Milky Way.

Another popular sub-genre of outdoor photography is wildlife photography. Capturing the creatures great and small that make up this world is intriguing and exhilarating. It also takes a lot of patience to get that perfect shot.

Then, you get outdoor adventure photography–the main focus of this article.

stonehenge with the backdrop of a crimson sky at dusk

What is Adventure Photography?

Adventure photography takes capturing the great outdoors to the next level. This particular style also often includes some form of extreme sport, and the photographer usually has to be actively involved in the sport while taking pictures.

Of course, the level of extremes can vary significantly. It can range from skydiving to paragliding to taking pictures while out on a hike. There is usually some kind of risk involved—climbing off the path with your camera on the side of a mountain to get the perfect shot, for example, is not always advisable.

As you can see, adventure photography is about more than just capturing a pretty landscape. It’s also not only about putting yourself and your equipment at risk. The goal is to push yourself further and to capture images of places and views that the average person can’t and won’t ever get to see.

man parachuting oin between two mountain ranges

The Gear You Need for Adventure Photography

Shooting outdoors in the UK comes with a specific set of challenges and requirements for your gear as you need to consider the potentially damp or rainy conditions that are so prevalent.

Adventure photography can make that list of requirements even more specific. You have to think about portability, weight, flexibility, power backups, and ease of use.


The first item on the list has to be the camera. You want something that’s lightweight and durable, and that’s built for rugged use. Mirrorless is probably your best bet these days because those camera bodies are much lighter than their DSLR counterparts and usually smaller.

Depending on how serious you are about your photography, you need to consider if you want a camera body that allows for interchangeable lenses or one that has a fixed lens. A fixed lens camera—often referred to as a point-and-shoot—is going to be cheaper, but it won’t give you as high-quality images as an interchangeable lens camera.

Of course, smartphone cameras are also great for adventure photography. Many of them come with camera sensors that are as good as any entry-level DSLR or mirrorless camera. You don’t get the same zoom and lens capabilities with a smartphone, but you can still capture amazing photographs, and your smartphone is going to be the most lightweight option there is.


Now, if you’re going to buy a camera with the option to change lenses, then you need to seriously consider your choice of lenses when you head out for a shoot and an adventure.

For this style of photography, prime lenses (fixed zoom) are not ideal because you have to change lenses for different focal lengths, and that will usually result in you missing the shot.

It’s far better to go with a zoom lens. If you can get one that ranges from 24mm-70mm, you’ll find that you can cover most scenarios with just that lens and you won’t have to bring any other lenses with you, saving on weight and space.

Just be sure to get one with a fixed aperture of at least f/2.8 so that you don’t have to compromise on exposure settings as you zoom in.

If your subject matter needs zooming in, then you will need to get a telephoto zoom lens too. A lens that can go up to 200mm and maintain f/2.8 is the perfect choice.

For wider landscape shots, you’ll want a lens that can capture up to 16mm to really get the full picture.

Power and Batteries

When you’re shooting in the great outdoors, you don’t have a steady supply of power for charging your camera and other gear. This means you need to have spare batteries; probably three or four to be safe.

It’s also vital that you ensure that all of the batteries are fully charged before you head out on your adventure.

It’s a good idea to have portable power packs and battery chargers that work on those packs too. If you can get a solar portable charger, that’s even better. Then you know you’re highly unlikely to run out of juice.

This is particularly important if you’re going on a multi-day adventure and are camping along the way.


Adventure photography isn’t just about shooting on the fly and capturing action moments. You might be heading into a place that’s extremely remote and wants to capture the night sky or lie in wait to capture a rare sighting of an animal.

For these instances, you need a tripod with you. There are plenty of options out there for sturdy yet lightweight tripods.

It’s really important to go for a good-quality tripod if you’re going to be in extreme weather or on rugged terrain.

You might think a cheap tripod that you don’t mind getting damaged or broken is a good call. The problem with these tripods is they can break too easily, and that could put your entire shoot and your expensive camera at risk.

You can get really small tripods as well that have bendable legs to wrap around branches or stones.

These are great for small spaces or getting unusual angles. You get options that can handle up to 3kg, meaning you can put a full DSLR with a pretty heavy lens on one of them.

A monopod can also be a good idea for adventure photography. They don’t offer the same stabilization as a tripod for really long exposure shots. What they can offer though, is a bit of extra stabilization against your body or the ground for photographs if you’re taking them from an awkward angle.

You can also use a monopod to extend your range and get a higher or lower angle than you could with just your arms.

Gear Bag

Transporting your equipment is an essential consideration for adventure photography. You need a camera bag that will safely fit all of your equipment into it.

The bag should offer easy access to your equipment so you aren’t scratching about in it to find the right lens, a new battery or a filter, or any other equipment you might need quickly.

Your bag should also be able to withstand the terrain and the weather conditions. It should be a durable fabric that’s waterproof or has a waterproof cover that’s easy to get out.

If you’re going to be hiking, a backpack is best, especially if it has a waist and chest strap. These make the bag far more comfortable to wear for longer periods.

Storage Devices

Depending on how long you’re going to be out on your adventure and how many photographs you plan on taking, you need to consider data storage. SD cards with a large storage capacity are an absolute must.

Consider getting two or three spares so you don’t have to worry about transferring images onto a hard drive while on the go.

If you’re going to be out on your adventure for several days, then you need to consider extra storage on top of your SD cards.

A solid-state hard drive (SSD) is great because there are no moving parts inside the drive, making it safer to transport without worrying about damaging the drive and corrupting your files.

In order to get your images onto the drive, see if it’s possible to plug the drive directly into your camera and transfer them. If not, you’ll need another device like a laptop or tablet with you to make the file transfer.

Accessories and Extras

Finally, you need to think about the adventure you’re going on. Will you need a GPS? Headlamp? Pocket knife or utility tool? Ground cloth?l Light reflectors? Etc.

These items will help you to make the most of your adventure and help you to get the best shot possible, aside from providing you with a good measure of safety and security during your trip.

And never forget the first aid kit!

image of a valley and lake in the UK for adventure photography

Mastering Adventure Photography: 12 Essential Tips & Techniques

Speaking of getting the best photographs, it’s important to note that adventure photography isn’t just about the gear you pack. There are quite a few other elements to consider, such as:

1. Know Your Equipment

In the realm of adventure photography, your equipment is an extension of your vision. A spectacular backdrop can lose its awe if captured with ill-set camera settings.

Familiarize yourself with your camera’s features at home—everything from ISO settings, shutter speed to aperture. Practice switching lenses or toggling between modes. If your camera has special features like image stabilization or specific shooting modes, get to know them.

The goal is to be comfortable enough so that when you’re out in the field, you can focus on capturing the moment, not fumbling with buttons.

What To Do:

  • Conduct a Dry Run: Practice taking pictures in your backyard or local park to mimic the conditions you’ll face.
  • Watch Tutorials: Dive into YouTube tutorials or attend workshops that align with your camera model.
  • Consult the Manual: Keep a digital copy of your camera’s manual on your phone for quick reference.

What You May Need:

  • Camera Bag Organizer: Keep everything accessible and safe. (e.g., Peak Design Everyday Backpack)
  • Lens Cleaner Kit: You need to keep those lenses pristine. (e.g., Zeiss Lens Cleaning Kit)
  • Portable Tripod: For those shots where stability is key. (e.g., Joby GorillaPod)

2. What To Wear

Clothing is the unsung hero in adventure photography. Given the unpredictable weather in the UK, dressing in layers is crucial. Invest in moisture-wicking fabrics to keep you dry, and insulating layers for warmth.

Breathable, waterproof boots are a must, especially if you’re venturing into wet terrain. Your clothing should provide mobility while offering protection from the elements.

Remember, you might be out there for hours, so comfort is key.

What To Do:

  • Layer Up: Adopt a layering system—base layer, insulation, and waterproof shell.
  • Check the Forecast: Always consult the weather forecast and pack clothes that are appropriate for the expected conditions.
  • Gear Test: Take a short hike in your new clothing to ensure comfort and fit.

What You May Need:

  • Breathable Jackets: Go for something like The North Face’s Venture 2 Jacket.
  • Quick-drying Pants: PrAna Stretch Zion pants offer great mobility.
  • Comfortable, Durable Boots: Consider boots like the Salomon Quest 4D 3 GTX.
image of a cascading waterfall with the picture of a man looking up the falls

3. Mind the Weather

When it comes to adventure photography, Mother Nature is your unpredictable co-pilot. Your entire shoot can be made or broken by weather conditions.

If you’re in the UK, where overcast skies are frequent, embrace it as an opportunity for even lighting. If you’re in snowy terrains, the snow can act as a natural reflector, but it can also create glare.

The key is to adapt your shooting style and settings based on what the weather offers you. Pack for extremes—don’t just bring along sunblock; include a rain sleeve for your camera as well.

What To Do:

  • Study Weather Apps: Utilize reliable weather apps for real-time information.Weather-proof
  • Your Gear: Invest in rain covers and weather-sealed bags.
  • Master Lighting: Overcast? Use it for portraits. Bright sunlight? Time for some silhouette shots.

What You May Need:

  • Weather-Resistant Camera Cover: Keep your camera dry with a Think Tank Photo Emergency Rain Cover.
  • High-Quality UV Filter: Protect your lens and improve your shots. (e.g., Hoya UV Filter)
  • Insulated Water Bottle: Hot or cold, keep your drinks at the desired temperature. (e.g., Hydro Flask)

4. Plan Ahead

When diving into adventure photography, your planning phase is nearly as vital as your shooting phase. Knowing your location’s ins and outs can be the difference between capturing the mundane and the magnificent.

A well-researched plan will guide you on where to set up your shots, what time is optimal for specific light conditions, and even provide alternatives if the weather decides not to cooperate.

In this way, your planning helps ensure you’re maximizing your time and capturing the best the location has to offer.

What To Do:

  • Location Scouting: Utilize tools like Google Earth or apps like PhotoPills to pre-visualize your shoot.
  • Sun Trajectory Apps: Apps like Golden Hour can help you know when the best lighting will be available.
  • Community Insights: Tap into local photography or hiking communities online to gather tips on the best spots.

What You May Need:

  • Topographic Maps: Get maps with detailed terrain features. (e.g., National Geographic Trails Illustrated Maps)
  • GPS Device: For accurate location tracking. (e.g., Garmin GPSMAP 64st)
  • Field Notebook: To jot down plans, settings, or observations. (e.g., Moleskine Classic Notebook)

5. The Golden Hours

The Golden Hours—just after sunrise and just before sunset—provide the most magical light for adventure photography.

During these times, the sun is low in the sky, producing soft, diffused light that eliminates harsh shadows and highlights textures.

This lighting can turn an average photo into an extraordinary one, imbuing the scene with an almost surreal, ethereal quality. Capturing the Golden Hours requires punctuality and readiness; there’s a small window, and it won’t wait for you.

What To Do:

  • Set Alarms: Don’t rely on your internal clock; set multiple alarms to ensure you’re up and ready.
  • Scout in Advance: Visit your chosen location a day earlier to pick out the perfect vantage points.
  • Experiment: Use the changing light to your advantage by trying different angles and compositions.

What You May Need:

  • ND Filters: Control exposure and balance the sky and land. (e.g., Lee Filters Graduated ND Set)
  • Sturdy Tripod: Capture sharp images in low light. (e.g., Manfrotto BeFree GT)
  • Remote Shutter Release: Prevent camera shake during long exposures. (e.g., Canon RC-6 Wireless Remote)
man crossing a hanging bridge as a subject fir outdoor adventure photography

6. Use the Rule of Thirds

The Rule of Thirds is a tried-and-true technique that works splendidly in adventure photography.

Imagine breaking an image down into thirds both horizontally and vertically, forming a grid of nine squares. Placing crucial elements of your composition along these lines or at their intersections makes the image more balanced and easier on the eyes.

This seemingly simple tactic can transform your photos from good to great, guiding the viewer’s eyes naturally through the frame.

What To Do:

  • Enable Grid Lines: Many cameras and smartphones have an option to display grid lines on the screen.
  • Practice with Post-Its: Stick Post-Its on a printed photo to understand how key elements align with the grid.
  • Review and Adjust: Use photo editing software to fine-tune your composition during post-processing.

What You May Need:

  • Composition Books: Master the art of composition with guides like “The Photographer’s Eye” by Michael Freeman.
  • Quality Editing Software: Software like Adobe Lightroom allows you to crop and adjust alignment easily.
  • Calibrated Monitor: For accurate editing, invest in a monitor known for color accuracy. (e.g., Dell UltraSharp U2718Q)

7. Embrace Negative Space

In adventure photography, sometimes less is more. Negative space refers to the unoccupied areas around your subject.

By intentionally leaving these areas empty, you make your subject the star of the show. It helps your viewers immediately identify the focal point and can inject a sense of scale and grandeur into the composition.

In an expansive landscape, for example, a lone hiker can pop dramatically against a vast sky or sweeping desert.

What To Do:

  • Be Mindful: Before pressing the shutter, examine the frame for distracting elements and adjust your composition.
  • Use Simple Backgrounds: Cloudless skies, calm waters, or even a blurred background can serve as excellent negative space.
  • Post-Processing: Use software to crop out distracting elements and heighten the focus on your subject.

What You May Need:

  • Wide-Angle Lens: For capturing expansive backgrounds that enhance your subject (e.g., Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L).
  • Photo Editing Software: Crop and edit easily with tools like Adobe Photoshop.
  • Photography Gloves: Keep your hands warm and agile for precise framing (e.g., Vallerret Photography Gloves).

8. Change Perspectives

When it comes to adventure photography, perspective can make or break a shot. Shooting from eye level might be intuitive, but it’s rarely the most captivating choice.

Changing your vantage point—whether it’s climbing a rock, lying on the ground, or even stepping into a river—can transform a mundane scene into a compelling visual narrative.

These shifts in perspective can reveal patterns, textures, and relationships in the landscape that you wouldn’t otherwise notice.

What To Do:

  • Be Willing to Move: Don’t get stuck in one spot; explore the area for new angles.
  • Use Tools for Height: Sometimes a little extra height can change your perspective dramatically.
  • Think in 360 Degrees: Look up, look down, and remember to check what’s behind you.

What You May Need:

  • Drone Photography: For aerial views, DJI Mavic Air 2 is a compact and capable option.
  • Extendable Monopod: Gain height or reach into difficult places (e.g., Manfrotto Compact Xtreme 2-in-1 Monopod).
  • Waterproof Housing: Get into bodies of water without damaging your camera (e.g., GoPro HERO9 Black with waterproof casing).

9. Focus on Details

In the grandeur of adventure photography, it’s easy to get caught up in capturing vast landscapes and overlook the small wonders.

But often, it’s the minutiae that truly enrich the story. Close-up shots of flora, fauna, and even textures like rocks or sand can evoke a sense of place, emotion, or time.

Imagine capturing the dew on a leaf, the intricate pattern of a butterfly’s wing, or the rugged texture of a cliff—these details can make your portfolio diverse and compelling.

What To Do:

  • Use Macro Lenses: These lenses are perfect for close-up shots where you want to capture intricate details.
  • Apply Selective Focus: Isolate your subject to make it stand out from its background.
  • Experiment with Angles: Sometimes a detail becomes more intriguing when captured from an unexpected viewpoint.

What You May Need:

  • Macro Lens: Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM for striking close-ups.
  • Ring Light: To illuminate small subjects evenly, such as Neewer Ring Light Kit.
  • Flexible Tripod: For low angles and hard-to-reach spots, GorillaPod is highly versatile.
the aurora borealis serving as a backdrop for two persons watching the northern lights

10. Capture the Action

Adventure photography isn’t just about serene landscapes; it’s also about capturing the thrill of the adventure itself.

Freezing a moment where a kayaker takes on a wild rapid or capturing the blur of a mountain biker speeding down a trail adds a dynamic layer to your photographs.

These shots inject energy and excitement, making viewers feel like they’re part of the action.

What To Do:

  • Master Shutter Speed: Fast speeds freeze action, slow speeds create motion blur.
  • Use Burst Mode: Capturing multiple frames per second can help you get that perfect shot.
  • Anticipate Moments: Whether it’s the peak of a jump or the splash of a paddle, being ready to capture key moments is crucial.

What You May Need:

  • High-Speed SD Card: To handle burst mode, like SanDisk Extreme Pro.
  • Telephoto Lens: For capturing distant action, such as Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8.
  • Action Camera: GoPro HERO9 Black for versatile, first-person viewpoints.

11. Post-Processing Magic

Taking the photo is only the first step; refining it in post-processing can elevate a good shot into a masterpiece. Learning the ins and outs of photo-editing software is crucial.

Even subtle adjustments in brightness, contrast, and saturation can add depth and drama to your photos.

Remember, the aim is not to deceive but to bring out the best in what you’ve captured.

What To Do:

  • Learn Basic Editing Tools: Start with simple adjustments and gradually move to more complex edits.
  • Use Presets Wisely: They can speed up your workflow but should be customized for each shot.
  • Keep It Natural: Over-editing can make your photos look artificial; less is often more.

What You May Need:

  • Adobe Lightroom: A user-friendly software for quick but effective edits.
  • Graphic Tablet: Wacom Intuos Pro for precise editing.
  • Calibrated Monitor: ASUS ProArt Display for accurate color reproduction.

12. Tell a Story

In the realm of adventure photography, your job isn’t just to show; it’s to tell.

A single shot can be breathtaking, but a series of photographs that tell a story is downright compelling. Imagine you’re documenting a mountaineering expedition.

The story isn’t complete with just the summit shot; you need the struggle, the camaraderie, the setbacks, and the small victories along the way.

A story-telling approach enriches your portfolio and gives your audience a fuller, more emotional journey to embark upon through your lens.

What To Do:

  • Plan the Arc: Before you start shooting, think of the beginning, middle, and end of your adventure story.
  • Capture Emotion: People’s faces, gestures, and even their gear can express a range of emotions that add depth to your story.
  • Use a Mix of Shots: Combine landscapes, action shots, and close-ups to create a multi-dimensional narrative.

What You May Need:

  • Multi-Lens Kit: Having a variety of lenses like the Sony G Master Series will enable you to switch between different types of shots seamlessly.
  • Portable Drone: Devices like the DJI Mavic Air 2 can provide aerial perspectives, enriching your story.
  • High-Capacity Battery Pack: A reliable battery pack like Anker PowerCore ensures that you won’t miss capturing any part of your narrative due to a dead camera.
man standing in between a high-altitude mountaintop overlooking the the clouds and horizon down below

What To Do With Your Photographs After Taking Them

Photography is never just about taking photos. You want to be able to share it with the world, too. There are many ways to do this as both a professional and an amateur.

Social Media

Platforms like Instagram and Facebook are ideal for sharing photographs. You can communicate with others in the field too. This is invaluable for people of all skill levels as there’s no better way to improve your photography or challenge yourself than to interact with people who know what they’re talking about on the subject. On Facebook, you’ll find plenty of photography groups where you can interact with others about your adventure photography.

Stock Websites

If you’re interested in making money from your photography, you can always consider selling photos on stock websites. There are many out there from giants like Shutterstock to the more elite services like Getty Images. Depending on your level of experience and the time you’re able to dedicate to your photography, you can find the right platform for you.

Your Own Portfolio Website

Any professional photographer should have a website to showcase their photos. An online portfolio is so important for selling what you do. You can have photographs on your website that are available for sale, and you can offer your services as a photographer. There are plenty of instances where an advertising company might want an adventure photographer to cover their clients’ products.

Summary: Get Ready to Explore

Adventure photography takes commitment and a fair amount of effort. You need to invest time into learning your craft and honing your eye. You also need to invest in the right gear so that you can stay safe and take excellent photographs.

The United Kingdom is a truly epic place with some gorgeous landscapes to capture. There’s the famous White Cliffs of Dover, Stonehenge, and so much more.

For those who really love the great outdoors, all this investment is completely worth it. Once you head outdoors in the UK, you’ll have endless opportunities to capture nature’s beauty in bold new ways.

Nature is never static, so every shot you take will be one of a kind.

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Guest Author Bio

Sara Terrell is a globetrotting hobby photographer with an insatiable wanderlust. Through her captivating imagery and compelling storytelling, she transports viewers to breathtaking destinations, igniting a sense of wonder and curiosity in their hearts. She contributes to a variety of online publications including, Format.

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