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How to Take Pictures from a Moving Car

You can have fun taking pictures out of the car window if you're willing to experiment.

My idea of a road trip is to go someplace cool and look at it. On the other hand, my husband and son think the point of a trip is to drive a big rented SUV. We drove from northern Illinois to Corinth, Mississippi, then to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, then to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, then to Shreveport, Louisiana, in three days.

Here is a rough idea of this crazy trip:

upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a5/Map_of_USA_with_state_names.svg

This meant a lot of hours in the car, so I entertained myself by taking pictures out of the window. I found this is not impossible, and by experimenting picked up some tips for getting good pictures. I used a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H10 with a 10x zoom lens and a distance attachment.

The slower the car is going the better pictures you'll get, so take advantage of going through towns and construction sites to look for interesting things to photograph. I took the picture of the iron bridge above while going through Tuscaloosa, looking for the University of Alabama.

Of course when we found the University, we had to drive slowly through it, so I got pictures of the buildings. This one is Bryant-Denny Stadium, where the University of Alabama Crimson Tide play football:

This is the home of the university president. I encouraged my son to try for that job, because it looks like there'd be plenty of room for his aged parents:

I got this sunrise picture driving slowly down the beach on the Gulf Coast:

But you can get pictures while going at highway speeds, too. Use the distance attachment to get clearer pictures. Use the optical zoom, too, but only turn it up about halfway, or you'll get too much zoom and a blurry picture. I made a terrible mess of the Mississippi River that way:

You'll probably get the best pictures of things that aren't moving, such as trees and buildings. I got this tree while going about 55 miles per hour, which I think is about 83 kilometers per hour:

You can get pictures of moving objects, too, though, as long as they're moving the same direction as you, like this truck. That's because in relation to you, they're standing still. I couldn't get pictures of oncoming traffic. If you want to, you'll need a much better camera than mine.

Sometimes if a picture is slightly blurred it's a good effect, because it gives the impression of speed, like this one:

The real trick with taking pictures out of the car window at high speeds is to be prepared. Say you begin to notice a lot of dairy farms, so you want a picture of some cows. Be alert for the next herd. When you see them up ahead, get the camera set the way you want it. Give them a little lead; take the picture before the herd is centered in the view finder because it will take the camera time to get the picture. This will require some practice and experimenting. You won't get every picture, but you'll be happy with the ones you do get.

Take lots of pictures because the more you take the better chance you have of getting some great ones. Sometimes the fun is not in the capture, but in the hunt.

If you get a picture that you think has potential, try editing it. You can do a fair job of editing even in Microsoft Paint. It may turn out better than you expected. This fish eagle didn't, but it's always worth a try:

A camera can give you a world of entertainment on a long trip even while you're still in the car. And after all, we have digital now, so you can take pictures all day and all night if you want. Just remember to bring the battery recharger!

Pictures by Kathleen Murphy

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments (12)

Cool! That gives me some encouragement to take more pictures.

Very interesting, I like takingpictures and yes, It's quite hard to take pictures when on the road. Thanks for the these tips.

I know it is really difficult to take pictures of moving objects and often many are blurry. Good advice and excellent tips. You also need to check if your camera has a feature for taking pictures of moving objects; often sharpness will be reduced but you don't have so fast blurry pictures.

Thank, guys! That's a good point, Erik. I like my camera, but I wouldn't mind upgrading to a better one.

Great tips for anyone wanting to learn about photography! I agree with Erik, it really does help because of the shutter speed.

I liked the fact that you have a kind of photographic diary of a road trip with your family. I also like the slightly blurry bridge photo which you have as your main image.

Thanks, Tanya and Peter. I didn't mention that my family kind of likes football. We passed up New Orleans to go to the Bear Bryant football museum!

Impressive!

Thanks! (A lot of the pictures turned out terrible!)

Excellent tips for taking photos from a moving car on a trip, thanks!

Thank you! I think the secret is to take lots and lots of pictures.

Great article this will help me out alot!

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