The Roads Less Traveled

Ideas for new photos can come from where you least expect it. I don’t know what your commute to work is like each day, but by taking some extra time and traveling some dusty back roads, I’ve found a whole new world of photographic inspiration.


We all hit lulls in inspiration and sometimes all it takes is a change of venue to get the creative spirit going again. I’ve recently experimented with my lifelong love of music and put down my photography for a while.

After diving into music with all my might for a year, I am now able to do both music and photography. And they are harmonious, to say the least. I get inspiration for music from photos and vice versa.

Here are some of my music:

Driving Shots

I had long driven back roads to avoid the highway life of bustle on my way to work each day, and I had from time to time taken my camera with me. Now I am taking it each day and finding new things to photograph along the way. Sure it takes a bit more time, but it is worth it to get some great photos.

And sometimes it doesn’t take a lot of time. I shoot many photos right out of my open window as I am driving by. For example, photos I take of Winans Lake are from a roadway where I cannot stop but can go 35 mph with the window down and get some decent shots.



Early Morning

I find that photos I take are mostly early in the morning on my way to work. I have a better attitude and feel more like taking photos. I haven’t been worn down by the day, and I’m not in a great hurry to get to work. I stop and take photos out of my window, or pull over and get out of the car to take some shots. Whenever possible, I try to get off of the main road so there’s not as much traffic.

  1. I get shots without people because there are not many people up and around early in the morning in the natural areas I photograph. I can go to a lake and get a nice shot without boats on it and without anyone in the photo at all.
  2. When I do take photos of people, I get shots of “morning people” – those who are up and around. They have more expression than at other times of the day. Either they are tired, hungover, wired on caffeine, or in that waking state of calm.
  3. Atmospheric effects are at a high during this time of the day. Fog through the trees and steam from a still lake are plentiful.
  4. Morning is usually a time of calmness in wind and weather. If it is raining or foggy, there is usually not much wind. Photos come out more serene and with less blur. I can stop by a lake or dock and shoot a completely calm lake.
  5. I get to shoot in the golden hours of sunlight. Often the sun is a big part of my photos at this time of day. Daybreak is always different and the sunrises are different when taken from different perspectives.

Early Evening

I don’t take many photos in the evening where I get out of my car. Most are in my car and through the windows as I’m driving (with a small compact camera) or stopped (with a larger DSLR). I’m usually in a hurry to get home and I’m trying to unwind as I drive by listening to music or audiobooks.

  1. I get a lot of weather-related shots. If there is a rainstorm it looks kind of cool to see it through the glass of a car window. Sometimes I’ll focus on the raindrops going down the glass. Other time I take a wider view with an eye on the whole storm. I’ve captured lightning by chance in this way.
  2. I’m driving into the sun when I’m headed home, so I get a lot of sunsets over the roadway or through trees.
  3. Farm country is a good place to see harvesting operations going on during the fall and field preparations in the spring. I can get some photos of tractors and equipment during these times. Other times, I just like the look of a well-sewn field with the crops growing all green and beautiful in the setting sun.
  4. Again, like in the morning, I get to shoot during the golden hours. The light is better at this time of day than any other (except morning).

With volume anamorphosis (volume deformation) correction of 100 in both horizontal and vertical.



Camera – I choose one for a week or a day and shoot the same camera all day or all week long. Best is a DSLR, while a compact camera is great too. I try not to just have a cellphone camera because everyone uses those and the images are not so special. Don’t get me wrong, you can get great shots from them, but using a dedicated camera is a higher-level of commitment and it usually shows in the photos. I keep my camera in the seat next to me or in the bag on the floor, but always accessible so I can grab it with one hand and shoot.

Lens – If I use a DSLR or other interchangeable lens camera, I shoot with one lens all day. I don’t stop to take time to change a lens, but instead, shoot photos suited to a particular lens. This makes me look for the photo that fits the lens. For example, wide lenses demand sweeping vistas so I look for those when I have a wide lens on my camera. Zoom lenses can be the opposite of that and I use these for wildlife. When you think about shooting on your way to or from work, realize that you’re going to have more than one chance at each shot – just come back tomorrow. Sure that is not always true, but if you accept that and just shoot with one camera and one lens per day, it makes it more rewarding. Trust me.

Filter – I have a standard circular polarizer on my lenses. This comes in handy for every type of shot from capturing the wet leaves of a forest to seeing into the water of a lake without having reflections. It also protects my lens because I have the camera in my passenger seat and don’t put the lens cap on until done shooting.

Uploading – If I get a particularly good shot and want to share it immediately, then when I get to my destination I will pair my camera with my phone app and do some quick retouching and upload from there. Otherwise, I wait until I get home and upload them to the computer for retouching and distribution.

GPS – It helps if your camera has GPS capabilities. I have an add-on Canon-made GPS unit on my DSLR that tracks my location and tags to the photos. Some of my compacts already have this capability built-in. It is necessary to have the GPS unit or camera with GPS on for a while before shooting. It takes some time for the GPS to acquire position.