5 Tips for Taking Pictures in the Desert

Taking pictures in the desert can be an extremely rewarding experience for both seasoned and amateur photographers. Apart from showing people that you have actually traveled to the desert, you can also be the proud owner of some wonderfully artistic photos. The desert has a certain majestic and a serene quality that lends itself to really unique pictures. Even shots taken by an amateur can look quite professional when shot correctly.

desert photography tips

“Desert” captured by Naja (Click Image to See More From Naja)

There are, however, a few challenges that the desert environment places before photographers. Knowing a few simple tips can make your photo session produce truly breathtaking pictures.

1. Don’t take pictures with your back to the sun

This rule applies especially during the morning and evening times, when the sun is close to the horizon. The reason for this is that pictures look their best when there is a proper balance of lighting versus shadow detailed into the scene. When the sun is shining directly from behind you, the subject will be fully illuminated and there will be no shadows visible from the camera’s perspective. The image will therefore look flat and devoid of any depth.

2. Point the camera perpendicular to the direction of sunlight

This helps to get the best light and shadow details in the pictures. When light falls on one side of the objects being photographed, the other half will be cast in a shadow, creating a sense of depth.

3. Try to include a monolithic structure in the frame

Scale is important, especially when shooting a series of plain sand dunes. For instance, an infinite shot of sand dunes alone, filling the photo frame, might look monotonous and uninteresting. Adding any element, like a cactus or a camel in the foreground for scale and contrast breathes life into the picture.

4. Use a UV filter

A UV filter protects your lens from damage. The harsh light conditions in the desert can sometimes be too bright for the lens and film (if you’re using a film camera). Protecting the lens with a UV filter will help you get good pictures from your lens.

taking desert photos

“Once Upon a Time in the West” captured by Alberto Roseo (Click Image to See More From Alberto Roseo)

5. Protect the camera from heat and sand

Extreme temperatures can damage the camera body, the internal electronics, and the lens of the camera. So try to protect your camera by wrapping it in a light colored towel whenever the temperature outside is high. Also be sure to protect the camera from dust and sand particles. Be careful when changing lenses when there is a possibility of dust or sand particles entering the camera.

About the Author:
Rick Valence is a camera repair specialist at C.R.I.S. in Chandler, Arizona. Along with being a camera and photography enthusiast, Rick enjoys camera repair blogging in his spare time and traveling around the world to find exotic regions and experiences to photograph.

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One Comment

  1. Jan Timmons says:

    Thanks for the tips. However, ALWAYS try to avoid the use if NEVER and ALWAYS in a tutorial. I think few situations warrant such static rules; indeed, the photo in the example lacks two of the rules cited.

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