Author: smokymountainoutfitter

November 1, 2018

How To Improve Your Outdoor and Nature Photography Skills For Your Next Hike

The outdoor has so much to offer. Once you get drawn to its beauty, you will want to spend more hours exploring even the subtle elements that make it so intense even in its stillness. Many hikers would even capture the moment, so they can keep it longer. They would rather spend days and nights even in unchartered territories just to have one of the most interesting as well as jaw-dropping captures that they can include in their photo essay. If you have the itch to explore the outdoors, it is a smart idea to bring the best camera for hiking, so you can also go beyond walking along the trail by keeping memoirs through the lens.

Taking stunning photos does not only depend on the camera that you bring with you, however. The right angle, composition, framing, positioning, and many other factors contribute to creating awesome pictures. So, before you head out for that next hike, make sure that you do your homework first. Read through these tips and see how you can improve your skills in creating phenomenal photos as you enjoy the stunning views on the trail.

Map and Study Your Route

How To Improve Your Outdoor and Nature Photography Skills For Your Next Hike

You will need to have some idea about the location that you will be exploring. This is the very first thing that you need to consider. Research various hiking spots and opt for one that can add stunning shots to your portfolio. Find a trail that will diversify your portfolio. Once you have decided which trail to take, you will need to map your route. Highlight significant spots that can give you a great subject to snap along the way. Apps like MapMyHike, AllTrails, Viewranger, and OS Mapfinder can help you plan your hike electronically. These apps also allow you to go offline so you can take your trail guide as you head out to your trail.

Keep Clicking That Shutter

There may not be a second chance to catch a photo opportunity that you see along the way. You will have to capture the moment as it happens. Just keep on clicking that shutter. On your way back, the lighting may have changed. You may also decide to change the route or decide to do something else that will extend the time of your hike, so you really don’t have the time to do it next time. As you map your route, take the time to arrange your hike around areas and subjects that you may want to capture, so you don’t have to rush past hot spots. Take note that some of your best shots will be totally out of your schedule or plan.

Develop an eye for unique shots

Nature scenes are a common subject for photography. If you are not able to take photos that will stand out, those photos will just be another collection. As you hike, look for an opportunity to capture striking images. Search for tree lines or long streams that will span the length or width of the frame of the photo. This will give some depth to your photography, makes it look interesting, and draw the viewer in.

Disregard the Obvious

You want something that will create an impact and leave viewers wanting for more and will spend more time gazing at your photos, so you don’t need to spend time capturing the ordinary nor the obvious subjects. Find an angle to portray nature in different ways. One way to do it is to use reflections and shadows as these will add interest to an otherwise regular snap. There is always a better way to do things, so you will have to do your own research. Check snaps available online to see how other photographers capture subjects. Study their methods and see if you can apply some of the techniques that they use.

Invest in additional gears

A tripod, additional lens, and/or a cable or wireless shutter release mechanism can help you create a better still image. Even if you are taking action photos, it will be easier to focus if you have something to place your camera on, or compensate for the small aperture, and, even add to a better camera stillness if you have these extra gears. Invest in good-quality gears that will help you create stunning images.

Work with the weather

Working with the variations in the weather can help you create dramatic scenes that will capture and draw viewers’ attention. Look for dark skies, rainbows, sunsets, mist, dramatic clouds, and so on and find the right angle to create a noteworthy snap as you go.

Find a more interesting point of view

How To Improve Your Outdoor and Nature Photography Skills For Your Next Hike

Take a little more time to get that perfect shot. You may go down the ground for a better view and have either a down low or a higher up vantage to take the shot. Don’t just click. Click at a better angle.

Consider the foreground

Place a point of interest on the foreground or that which is nearest to and in front of you. Take the shot at an angle that will create a depth into the subject and draw the viewers in it.

Choose a small aperture setting to maximize the depth of your image

A small aperture is a high f-number, like f/22 or f/32, and it lets less light in and requires a longer shutter speed to compensate for that. This gives a low exposure to the focal point of your snap but will give greater depth of field in your shots.


As a photographer, you will need to diversify to make your portfolio more interesting. Always look for a unique way to capture a scene or a subject. But you’ll have to start with proper preparation and studying the location where you will be hiking and taking photos. Getting things planned ahead will save you time and energy. You can also check your list for things that you may still need to your collection. Doing so, you maximize the benefits of exploring the wild. Not only that you know better about the place, but you also get a deeper understanding of how to apply the techniques that you learn from studying the techniques of other photographers to applying them as you take photos of scenes and subjects along the way.

October 9, 2018

How to Choose the Best Helmet for Cycling?

Whatever form of transportation that you use, you will always need to follow safety precautions to limit the probability of you getting hurt while in transit. Whether on the road, air, or sea, travelers or commuters are always briefed on how to use safety devices while on board the vehicle. In much the same way that you will need a seat belt when riding a car, so you would also need the best helmet for mountain bike. It just makes sense wearing one in any riding condition even if there are no laws requiring them.

Not every helmet will be made exactly the same, however. So, if you are on the lookout for the best helmet for cycling, you will need to consider some of the things that will be mentioned in this post. It is an assuring reminder, however, that all helmets sold in the U.S. are required to meet standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). There are also other helmets are that are endorsed by other organizations, such as the nonprofit Snell Foundation.

Manufacturers also conduct safety tests to help them standardized the manufacturing of these protective gears. Continuous tests and modifications have helped helmet manufacturers to create helmets that are light, comfortable, and able to withstand significant impacts. Even then, you will still have to consider some personal preferences when choosing a helmet to use for biking.

Consider these tips to help you decide which helmet to buy that is well-suited to your specific needs.

Types of Bike Helmets

How to Choose the Best Helmet for Cycling?

First, you have to note that there are different types of helmets. There are helmets made specifically for recreational activities. These helmets are also called multi-use and casual helmets. Other helmets are specified to be road helmets and others called mountain helmets. All of these helmets are designed to protect your head from impact while each is also made to be lightweight and comfortable.

Recreational helmets are a great option for recreational, commuter, road as well as mountain bikers. This type of helmet is also a popular choice of skateboarders and inline skaters. They are normally designed with visors to shield the wearer’s eyes from the heat and glare of the sun.

Road bike helmets, on the other hand, are preferred by road enthusiasts as they are designed to be of low weight. They also come with several vents and an aerodynamic design. These helmets do not usually come with visors as this will lessen the total weight of the gear and provide an unobstructed view if you are wearing the gear while in an aggressive riding position.

Finally, the mountain bike helmets that are often used by cyclocross riders are designed to ventilate well even at low speeds. Helmets of this type are designed with visors and an enhanced rear-head coverage. They are also made with a firm, secure fit that is crucial when moving within a rough terrain. Downhill mountain bikers and park riders prefer this type of helmet as some of these helmets also offer full-face protection for users.

How are bike helmets made?

Most helmets are made with an in-mold construction. This is preferred process where the outer shell is fused with the helmet’s inner liner without the use a liquid sealant. The finished product is light and durable, which is the common requirements of racers and frequent riders.


Another thing that you need to consider is the shell of the helmet. Most cycling helmets are made with a plastic shell or cover that holds the helmet together when there is an impact. It provides puncture-resistance and allows the helmet to slide on impact. This feature lessens the possibility of injury to the head and neck during impact.


Most helmets are also made with liners that are made of expanded polystyrene foam. On impact, these liners distribute the force to different directions to protect the head. When choosing a helmet to buy, you need to make sure that the liner fits your head firmly yet comfortably.

MIPS Technology

Another safety feature that some helmets are designed with is known as the Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) technology. This is the manner of constructing helmets in such a way that they will provide more protection from rotational forces during impact.

MIPS-equipped helmets are made with a low-friction layer that allows the helmet’s impact-absorbing foam liner to rotate slightly around the head when it meets impact. The foam liner moves only a few millimeters, but this can lessen the amount of rotational force that may have been transferred to your brain in certain impacts without it.


Ventilation or vents designed in helmets enhance wind-flow over your head. This keeps you feel cooler and more comfortable as you ride your mountain bike. The more vents that the helmet has, the lighter the helmet is as well.


There are riders who prefer wearing a helmet with a visor. Such a feature is very common on mountain bike helmets. This visor adds a fraction of weight and slight wind resistance, however.

Full-face protection

There are mountain bike helmets that are made with a wrap-around chin bar that is intended to provide face protection when going downhill mountain biking and park riding. Enduro racers like the added protection as well.

Other helmet features that you may want to consider are the straps and the hair port. Make sure that the straps are easy to buckle and unbuckle and make you feel comfortable when strapped.


The strap system should be comfortable and easy to buckle and unbuckle. As with the hair port, there are some helmets that are designed with a strap design that fits in a ponytail.


When looking for the best helmet for mountain bike, you’ll definitely need to choose one that fits well. You’ll need to try several helmets, even wear one that you’d found to suit your preferences, for several hours before you can actually determine whether the helmet that you picked fits you really well. It should sit level and not tilted on your head. It has to be placed about an inch above the eyebrows to keep your forehead protected.


Your helmet will be good to be worn for up to 5 years. If it has been involved in an accident before that, you will have to find a replacement for the helmet, however, even if it the helmet still looks intact.