Incorporating Roads

Like many people, my wife and I enjoy self-drive vacations and photography tours. Avoiding cities whenever possible, we like to explore the countryside. This article discusses incorporating roads into landscape photography. All of the images featured in this article were captured on the same day as we toured the Ring of Beara in Ireland.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Ring of Beara Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 14 mm, efov 37.8 mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-320

When doing a self-drive tour we always take time to stop at lookout areas. We always enjoy the panoramic views. The shape of these paved areas can be incorporated into a composition to help focus a viewer’s eye into the distance. These types of compositions can also create a feeling of scale and distance.

Ring of Beara Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 12 mm, efov 32.4 mm, f/8, 1/1000, ISO-400

We never leave a lookout area without looking in both directions as the road may have a very different appearance. In the photograph above you can see how a guardrail serves as a nice centre line as various elements converge in the composition.

Ring of Beara Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 12 mm, efov 32.4 mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-160

Incorporating roads into our compositions can also bring some additional context to a photograph. It is one thing to explain to friends and associates how tight buildings were to a road, and quite another to be able to show them a photograph.

Ring of Beara Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 10 mm, efov 27 mm, f/8, 1/800, ISO-400

Incorporating roads can help create a feeling of anticipation in an image. It can also provide important details about the self-drive journey and preserve memories of the driving experience.

Ring of Beara Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 100 mm, efov 270 mm, f/8, 1/640, ISO-400

Events can happen that you may want to capture as they confirm important aspects of your journey… such as the rural nature of the area.

Ring of Beara Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 26 mm, efov 70.2 mm, f/8, 1/500, ISO-400

As regular readers will know, my wife and I enjoy exploring ‘off the beaten path’. This often takes our travels onto very small, narrow roads. While driving in some parts of Ireland it was sometimes a bit of a challenge to differentiate between roads and the laneways of homes and farms.

Ring of Beara Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 11 mm, efov 29.7 mm, f/8, 1/800, ISO-400

Incorporating roads, especially when they form a ‘magic 7’ can add to the overall flow and balance of a composition.

Ring of Beara Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 10 mm, efov 27 mm, f/8, 1/1250, ISO-400

They can also serve as a very strong and dramatic leading line in an image.

Ring of Beara Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 10 mm, efov 27 mm, f/8, 1/500, ISO-400

You may want to create a layered look to your photographic composition. In these situations incorporating roads can provide a monochromatic element to accentuate the layered effect.

Ring of Beara Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 50 mm, efov 135 mm, f/8, 1/640, ISO-400

Sometimes our self-drive journeys will take us to wild and remote areas. The road that we find ourselves on may become the main focus of our photograph.

Ring of Beara Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 12 mm, efov 32.4 mm, f/8, 1/800, ISO-400

Incorporating roads into our travel photography can also help to bring depth to an image as well as context.

Ring of Beara Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 17 mm, efov 45.9 mm, f/8, 1/800, ISO-400

When my wife and I find ourselves on roads that have grass growing in the middle of them, we appreciate the remote and rural nature of our explorations.

Ring of Beara Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 37 mm, efov 100 mm, f/8, 1/640, ISO-400

Encountering free roaming livestock calls for some additional care and caution… and adds to the rural feeling!

Ring of Beara Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 44 mm, efov 118.8 mm, f/8, 1/400, ISO-400

The next time you’re on a driving holiday or photography tour, you may find that incorporating roads into some of your images may spark your creativity.

If you enjoyed the photographs in this article that were captured with the Nikon 1 system, you may find our eBook, The Little Camera That Could, of interest. This eBook is available for purchase and download. It is priced at $9.99 Canadian. Readers interested in purchasing a copy can use the link below.

Technical Note:
Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard process.

Ring of Beara Ireland, Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 10 mm, efov 27 mm, f/8, 1/400, ISO-400

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4 thoughts on “Incorporating Roads”

  1. Tom,

    I thought I was on the “weird” (wonderfully weird I must say) side when I say I like and am intrigued by images of roads, highways, trails, paths. Well, I like the aesthetic as well as metaphorical symbolism of roads. Roads say a lot of things about the place, the journey, or the destination itself. Introspectively, it says a lot about the road-taker, much like in photography and the arts — is one partial to the road less taken or the roads trampled by so many?

    PS. Love the pastoral image of sheep taking the road. Harkens back to the past but also at the same time, giving us the idea that ambulating by foot is still the way to go in the present.

    Oggie
    http://www.lagalog.com

    1. Thanks for adding your perspectives Oggie! My preference has always been ‘the road less traveled’ in terms of our photography tours. And, like M. Scott Peck’s book “The Road Less Traveled” taking this approach has been a guiding principle of life.

      Tom

  2. Very interesting article and excellent photography. I was in Ireland on a tour last year for the first time and I am not up to driving on the “wrong side of the road” and on these small roads to make it worse. But the photos sure are interesting.

    1. Hi Joel,

      Driving in Ireland does have its own, unique challenges. Fortunately I had quite a bit of previous experience driving right-hand drive vehicles so that was not an issue for me. The Irish roads did require a high level of concentration and awareness. Glad you enjoyed the photographs!

      Tom

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