Taking a picture from a moving vehicle is difficult, but certainly doable. If you don’t have to press pause on your adventure to pull over to the side of the road, then why would you, right?
You can get yourself a crisp and high-quality image from the comfort of the passenger seat (yes, we don’t recommend employing these tips while driving). There’s no need to compromise anything when it comes to taking a picture from a moving vehicle.
Read on for a few tips to get it just right.
7 Tips For How to Take a Picture from a Moving Vehicle
It doesn’t matter if you’re a vlogger trying to shoot killer B-Roll or if you’re on a road trip and just want to capture awesome memories, these tips will help you in your quest to take photos from a moving vehicle (videos too!).
Note, there is no single tip to mastering this style of phone photography. At the same time, if you employ all seven of these tips, you’ll be slaying the game in no time.
So, let’s get to teaching you how to take a photo from a moving vehicle.
Photography Tip #1 – High Shutter Speed
Turn that shutter speed up high. Oh, you don’t know how to adjust your phone’s shutter speed? No worries – there are modes on your phone that will do it for you.
The “sports mode” setting on your camera has got the right idea – you need a fast shutter speed to eliminate any potential blurriness from a moving picture. This idea goes for both perspectives – if the camera is moving or the subject is!
Generally, the higher the shutter speed, the better. Don’t go below 1/500 of a second when shooting from a moving vehicle, and ideal results will be around 1/1000th of a second.
It all depends on your speed, of course, so mess around with the manual settings to get it just right. Need some help using manual mode? We’ve got some tips and tricks for you if you do.
Remember that the faster your shutter speed, the more light you need. Trying to take a moving picture in the early morning or late evening will be tough. Take a few practice shots while adjusting the ISO to see what effect it has.
Photography Tip #2 – Multiple Shots or Burst Mode
Even if you do everything right, there’s no way every shot will come out perfect. That’s why we always recommend – regardless of what kind of photography you’re doing – to take more than one!
The idea of taking lots of shots is doubly important when you’re moving 70 miles per hour in a vehicle down the highway. Bumps, jostles, or just the vibrations of the care will undoubtedly throw your shot off.
The best solution to this unavoidable problem is to take shots in burst mode or continuous mode if your camera allows it.
Pro Tip: Most cameras will use one of those modes automatically if you hold down the shutter.
You can practice using burst mode before getting on the road. Some ideal things to practice on are pets and sports – or really anything with quick movement!
If you’re driving, your opportunities are fleeting and few. Don’t get hung up on getting a specific angle. Multiple photos of the same shot allow you to consider the scene from various angles.
Plus, remember that the road will probably give you a different vantage point just up around the bend.
Photography Tip #3 – Hold Your Camera Close to the window (or get it outside!)
This one is probably obvious, but the window is the closest focal point. You can eliminate the problem of glare or incorrect focusing by rolling the window down, or by getting extremely close.
You don’t want any debris or bugs on the window to obscure your shot, so double check your positioning and focus. Again, only by rolling down the window this problem is eliminated. At the same time, be careful not to drop your phone out! Maybe a nifty handgrip could help you be sure that your grip is ironclad.
Being close to the window will also help you avoid those annoying glares or reflections. An excellent tip to combat glares and reflections is to come at the shot from a different angle if you have to!
Photography Tip #4 – Keep it Steady
Easier said than done, yes.
Just like holding anything on a bumpy road, there are a couple of time tested techniques to use. Keep in mind, though, that if you come up with anything that works for you, just go with it!
For starters, hold the object (in this case a camera) in both hands. By doing this, more control is being exerted over the camera.
Minimize your contact with the seat. The more you’re touching the seat, the more you’re being affected by the movement of the car – its vibrations and any bumps it may encounter as a result of the road. Also, be sure to sit up straight and don’t lean on anything.
We know these tips sound obvious, but they really can help in taking photos from a moving car.
And finally, try to hold your arms loosely – don’t lock your elbows or wrists. It’s also a useful tip to try to move with the car. At the same time, just be sure to take an overabundance of photos, and some of them will be sure to turn out.
Does all that sound hard? Well, it is. That’s why they make those camera stabilizers we talk so much about!
Photography Tip #6 – Shoot Far Away
I shot as we got closer to Grand Teton National Forest in Wyoming. Even with an old iPhone 5, no quality external lens, none of 2020’s best gear, and out of a moving vehicle, and this is still a passable shot. Why? It is of a vast landscape, and it’s taken from such a distance that detail isn’t crucial Here’s the long and short of it – if you’re moving, it’s going to be hard to shoot up close. It’s also worth noting that you shouldn’t be zooming anyway!
You’ll only have a split second to make the shot (if you’re moving fast, that is). So, it’ll be hard to get the correct focus in such a small window of time. As previously mentioned, though, you should be using some sort of burst mode, so there should be several well-focused photos from which to choose.
Issues with focus shouldn’t really be a problem since the subject of your moving photos usually consists of landscapes. Even if there is a particular subject to your picture from a moving car employing the burst mode technique should ensure that you get at least a few good photos.
Oh, and if you’re shooting that mountain way far off, you’ll have all the time in the world to line it up. Shooting in RAW will also give you lots of power when editing.
Photography Tip #7 – Use Sports Mode
As a last resort, try this. Most cameras have a “sports mode” option (sometimes called action mode). A running figure usually depicts it.
While it differs from camera to camera, this mode generally does two things:
- Increases your shutter speed – which makes sure that you get lots of high-quality photo in a little amount of time
- Sets your camera to burst or continuous capture – while this is similar to the burst mode we discussed earlier, it does have its minute differences. Experiment with both modes to find out which one is best for you and your smartphone photography style!
These settings are meant to let you capture moving objects with clarity, and boy do they help.
Definitely use this if you need to capture something on the quick. If you’ve got time to prepare, though, you can probably get some better settings with some tinkering in your phone’s manual settings.
The Wrap Up: Taking a Picture from a Moving Vehicle
So you’re going to increase your shutter speed and limit the camera’s movement to take the best picture from a moving vehicle, right?
If you answered no to this question, then we recommend scrolling back to the top of this post and giving it another read.
We do feel it prudent to mention, though we said it already, that these tips should only be used form the passenger or back seats. Using your phone while behind the wheel of a car is dangerous, and taking a picture from a moving vehicle as a driver is comparable to texting.
Just don’t do it.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, have you got any tips for taking pictures while moving? Take any great photos while traveling? Let us know in the comments section below or tag us on Instagram.
We’d love to see your work.