You bought the Jeep. You did a few upgrades maybe a lift and new tires. You planned an adventure with Florida Trail Stompers and now it’s time to hit the trail. How do you capture all the great memories? Really the options are endless. Whether you have a GoPro camera, a smartphone camera, tablet or a traditional camera, you are ready to acquire unlimited breath taking still shots or videos.
Before you embark on documenting your trail ride, there are few tips that can be incorporated that will help you construct amazing still shots and videos. These tips are just the beginning to creating lasting memories for you and the community of Jeep enthusiasts. Having your essentials such as charged batteries and empty memory cards ready is step one, what’s next?
A great photo or video tells a story. A visual story with all the components; an opening, a storyline and an end. The camerawork becomes the writing on the page. You become a documentary photographer as you share your Jeep adventures.
Using a GoPro
Camera angles are a great way to advance your videos. Get creative and mount a GoPro camera on your Jeep to get those wild shots of the mud spinning from around the tires, or from a side view mirror to see the branches coming into frame.
Take a walk around your Jeep and think about attachment points for your GoPro. Attaching a GoPro inside your vehicle to record the driver or passenger adds to the storyline of the documented ride.
Keep in mind, you will need to find different types of mounts to fit where you plan to attach your camera. Mounts can range from suction cup mounts that can go on the hood, side of the Jeep, or even the back to the types that can wrap around your side steps. For photography, the same principle for angles will work. Get those low-angle shots of Jeeps crawling to the top of a hill, or coming down a slope.
Using a Smart Phone, Tablet or Camera
The first step that is vital to the success of the video or photo is to position yourself so the equipment is steady. That may seem obvious yet, even a minor movement or shaking may require you to edit out what could have been the best captured moments of the day. The next and one of the best tips for smartphone or tablet users is to turn the camera of your smartphone or tablet to record in the horizontal position. When it comes time to edit, what you captured fills the frame completely. If you record in the vertical position, you will have the black bars on each side of your video frame which results in limited viewing and editing options.
(I was shooting handheld using an iPhone. I held the phone in the landscape position and slowly turned my body to follow the action. )
Drones, Gimbals and Stabilizers
As technology evolves, consumer friendly products are hitting the market. You can now get inexpensive drones and smartphone or GoPro gimbals and stabilizers. By using these products they can your shots have a cinematic style that will make your videos stand out above the rest. When using drones, just be mindful of restriction areas and look into permits.
(I was shooting handheld using an iPhone. FTS Member in the background is using a Osmo Mobile 2 gimbal.)
(FTS Member "Gipsy Danger" shot this clip using an Osmo Mobile 2 gimbal.)
(Mavic Pro 2 Drone was used for this shot.)
Helpful tips when you are at a playground area or trail and you want to shoot video or take photos from your smartphone, tablet or other types of cameras, take the following into consideration:
1) Movement - Follow the action with your device. Avoid any radical zooms or turning of the camera. If you move the camera left or right, that is called a “pan” and moving a camera up and down is referred to as a “tilt.” Have smooth movement and just follow the action. For video editing purposes, it is always nice to let the subject leave your field of view, or frame. When taking photos, get “up close and personal.” Get tight with that zoom and capture the thrill and excitement the driver and passenger are experiencing. All the while, keep in mind that safety comes first so make sure as you are getting those great photos and videos that you are careful with your surroundings.
2) Lighting - Lighting can be a huge issue in Florida. It can serve you well, or it can limit the quality of your video or photo. As you are deciding on the best position to video or take a photo, avoid any shots that are directly towards the sun. However, I once captured a trail ride and the way the sun was shining through the trees it was creating an effect that normally I would not want to create, yet in this case, with the angle of the camera and the action I was recording it made for a perfect scene.
3) Footage - If your end-result is to make a video of your adventure, you may think you shot enough footage during a trail ride. Chances are, you probably didn’t. You can never get enough video, or as we call it, “B-roll.” Just because you may have gotten 3 hours of footage, that doesn’t mean you have 3 editable hours of footage. So, take more than you think you will need so your story will be complete.
4) Editing - The editing process is always an exciting part of process. On a Jeep ride with my group, I get a feel for everyone’s mood and the energy level that is out there. On the trails, everyone is out riding their Jeeps, pushing their limits. Their friends or other members of the Jeep club are rooting for them to take that hill, or to get their Jeep through a mud pit. The energy and excitement from the ride helps me pick out a suitable song. So, what makes a great song? Something upbeat and something that just fits the mood. You want something that will keep the viewer excited as they watch the incredible footage that documents that amazing trail ride.
If you plan correctly and take your time with your shots, you can easily turn a full day of trail riding into a great memory to share with others. Who knows, after a few times, you may be the next YouTube sensation!