Everyone can take beautiful pictures in a landscape as stunning as Dinosaur Provincial Park. Here are some tips that can take your photos from simply beautiful to absolutely breathtaking.
The most important tip for taking spectacular pictures of the badlands is to be at the park! What can you do once you're here to increase the chances of getting that once-in-a-lifetime shot?
Tip #1 - Join a Photography Tour.
All of our tours offer fantastic photographic opportunities. Capture the Badlands is designed especially for photographers. Participants are guided into some of the secret areas of the natural preserve. They are given ample time to get the perfect shot in the wonderful evening light.
Tip #2 - Get up early and stay up late.
The warm tone of the light at sunrise and sunset brings out incredible color in sedimentary rock. The low angle of incoming light elongates shadows and emphasizes texture and depth. Midday light, on the other hand, can make colors and textures appear flat. Start before sunrise then nap through noon. Set out again just a few hours before sunset for the very best light.
Tip #3 - Embrace wild weather.
Calm sunny days are great for photos of animals or flowers. Clouds in the sky bring contrast and character to landscape shots. Storms can blow in quickly so be careful. Bare rock surfaces can become dangerously slick when wet.
Tip #4 - Explore and take your time.
There are an infinite number of vistas, views and subjects in the park. Spend time in the campground, on the interpretive trails, in the "scramble zone" inside the public loop road, and up at the viewpoint. Don't simply snap and then move on. Take your time! Crouch low, climb high or move around to find your own unique point of view.
Modern cameras have taken a lot of the guesswork out of getting great photos. Knowing a bit about how your camera works can make a big difference in taking your pictures to the next level.
Tip #5 - Understand aperture and depth of field.
For landscapes, use a small aperture - between f16 and f22. This will give a large depth of field, ensuring that as much of the scene as possible is in focus.
For subjects like flowers or fossils, use a large aperture - between f1.8 and f5.6. This will give a much smaller depth of field. It will keep the subject in focus but blur everything in front or behind.
Set your camera to manual or aperture priority to see the effects of different apertures.
Tip #6 - Experiment with focal length (zoom).
Using a wide-angle lens or "zooming out" on your camera can include more of a panoramic scene in a picture. We often think about this for pictures of landscapes, rainbows and wide-open skies. Wide-angle lenses also work well with people and plants if you get close enough.
Tip #7 - Try a tripod.
A tripod will keep your camera much more stable. This is important in low light or when using a small aperture. Setting up a tripod can help you consider the framing and composition of a shot. This can slow you down in a good way instead of simply snapping and moving on.
The key to amazing images isn't in the camera, it's in the eye. Even a basic point-and-shoot or cell phone camera can capture stunning scenes if you know what to look for.
Tip #8 - Consider background and foreground.
To set your landscape photos apart, try to place something interesting in the foreground of the frame. A compelling subject in front of a beautiful landscape gives a picture a greater sense of depth.
Tip #9 - Look for lines.
The badlands are full of incredible shapes, figures and lines. Frame shots to include lines that curve or point to the centre of an image. This will draw a viewer into the photo.
Tip #10 - Shoot all scales.
It can be tempting to focus just on the "big picture" of sweeping badlands landscapes. Don't forget to spend some time photographing the small stuff as well. Badlands flowers can pop with vibrant color. Sedimentary rock presents a mesmerizing array of textures and lines.
Tip #11 - Use backlight and silhouette.
To capture the dark outline of a tree, hoodoo, or person against the background of a badlands sunset
Tip #12 - Aim for animals.
The park is home to many photogenic animals including mule deer, cottontail rabbits and porcupines.
Even though some animals might seem tame, they are still wild. Give them lots of space. A good zoom lens (200 - 400 mm) will help to get a great picture from a safe distance.
Tip #13 - Beautiful birds
Some birds live in the park year-round. For the best birding, come early in the season (May and June) and head out early in the morning.
Tip #14 - Find the flowers.
You can find a surprising number of flowers in Dinosaur Provincial Park blooming throughout spring and summer. Two of our most famous flowers bloom in late May and early July.